Archive for the ‘House Warrior’ Category

House Warrior: Entropy Blues

Today the House Warrior faced down the Glass Bandits and the Cutlery Hordes, both of which rampage across kitchen counters and camp in sinks. How one person can use so many spoons, I’ll never know.

For now, the House Warrior reigns triumphant: but they’ll be back. They always come back.

One of the demoralizing things about house work is that it refuses to stay done. I had quite a pile-up of dishes, mugs, and silverware today, and I took the time to wash everything up and put it away. I’ve reclaimed a good bit of counter space by doing so, and actually had space to cook dinner for once. But cooking means making more dirty dishes, and pots, and forks and spoons. I was done this afternoon, all done, and now I’m not done anymore. I got most of the pots washed, but not the plate I used for my dinner, nor the forks and spoons used for cooking and eating. It seems no matter what, I always have “seed dishes” hanging around in my sink, waiting to grow the next crop of messy kitchen chaos.

A couple of different friends have quoted versions of this proverb to me before: “Before war, there is washing dishes and chopping wood. After war, there is washing dishes and chopping wood.” Some things, it seems, are simply constants. The stuff life is made up of, pleasant or not, pointless or not. I wonder what deeper meaning there may be in the constant-ness of washing dishes, but the House Warrior’s philosophy helmet is all the way over there across the room, and I’ll leave that pondering for another day.

What I’m wondering about right now is if a focus-shift may be useful, in facing down the always-returning hordes of dirty glasses and spoons. In the cosmic scheme of things, I will never be done with these daily, mundane tasks of running a household. There’s always more work to be done. So maybe looking at the cosmic scale isn’t the right place.

For a while this afternoon, I was done. I finished everything I set out to do: I washed every relevant cup, plate, and fork in my kitchen and put them away. I was done. And tomorrow, if I catch up on the leftovers from today, I’ll be done again.

I find the process of finishing things really motivating, which is why it’s demoralizing to think about a task (like washing dishes) as never ending … but what if I could think about it as an easy win, something that I can finish and check off every day, something that I can take to done on a regular basis? No matter what other ends are left dangling, what if I claimed a finish and a win for things like catching up on dishes, or dusting, or vacuuming, or folding laundry?

I wonder if claiming daily catching-up in ongoing tasks would help me build the sense of control that I lack in regards to my house, the feeling that yes, I really can keep this place in a state that I want it to be in, I can set up a home that reflects me more than an assortment of random things? I’m wondering if it will help me ditch the entropy blues, and start grooving to a more zen kind of beat when confronted with yet another sink-ful of dirty dishes?

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House warrior

I moved into this apartment about four years ago, and some of the things that were moved in then haven’t really moved again in the time since. I feel like that was the last time that this place was really clean and tidy; ever since, it’s just been a continuing slide of dust and clutteriness, that occasionally gets pushed back for a while here or there, but never really goes away.

The last few months have been sliding toward chaos again, entropy having its way with my rooms and possessions. I look around and don’t really like what I see, but have not had the will, or the focus or energy or something to fix it.

It’s more than a few months of slack effort, though. It’s four years of inattention and dangling loose ends, of never really making this place my own, other than the fact that it happens to have a lot of my stuff in it. I don’t always feel relaxed and happy here, even when it is cleaner than it sometimes is — when things are overly dusty and cruddy, it becomes very hard to relax indeed. I manage to sort-of not notice by keeping myself distracted, but when everywhere you look there’s something that makes you vaguely unhappy, it’s hard to escape completely.

I’ve got a guest coming to visit me in a couple of weeks, a very good friend who is going to stay with me for a bit, and that makes cleaning things up a more serious issue. I want my friend to have a nice time while she’s here, and part of that is giving her nice surroundings, as nice as I can manage.

But it’s more than that. I think about the day a couple of weeks ago when I crossed paths with my brother and nephew, Smiley Boy, while I was taking a walk into town toward their house and they were driving to my place to visit me. In the end, they went back home and I walked to their place and visited there, so that I could get a good walk in. But I was relieved when that was the final plan, because I would have felt ashamed to have them over to my house in the condition it has been. I wouldn’t have been happy to have my family there, especially my dear sweet nephew, who I want only the best things for. He’s really important to me and to a lot of other people, and if he’s going to be in my house, I don’t want it to be a dirty wreck.

So the space and conditions I’ve been living in is not good enough for someone I really love, but it’s good enough for me? Who am I, chopped liver? I’m a daughter and a niece, just like Smiley Boy, and I am also a sister and an aunt and a friend to a lot of really good people, and I’m worth taking care of just as much as any of them.

I wrote some things a little while ago about how I’ve lived with a sense that I’m somehow excluded from love and provision, that those things are available (and should be) for other people, but somehow not for me — that such things were just not intended for me. I keep thinking about that now and then, and I’ve been working to get to the bottom of that terrible, false idea and uproot it. I think that the way I keep my house is part of the same thing — that it’s just for me and nobody else is here, so it doesn’t matter what it’s like and it doesn’t matter if I’m not really happy, because it’s just for me anyway. I haven’t articulated it until now, but that’s underneath why things are the way they are around here. And that’s not how I want them to be anymore. I want a space that is open and clean and uncluttered, that has enough room for me and for things that I love, that makes me smile when I come home to it, that I wouldn’t be embarrassed about if someone came by unexpectedly. A place that nurtures who I want to be, rather than fighting against me.

I started making changes this afternoon, reclaiming my guest room from the evil forces of dirt and wickedness. (Or something.) I vacuumed, decluttered, discarded. There’s a long way to go, but battle has been engaged, and I shall be victorious.