My Neurosis, Let Me Show You It

Do you want to know what I am really looking forward to about not living in an apartment building?

Maintenance. The kind where they tell you that someone’s coming into your apartment on such-and-such a date to replace the HVAC filter or some other nonsense. We got one of those notes slipped under our door last week and we’re up for a filter change on Thursday. And while I am absolutely THRILLED to breathe clean air or whatever, I feel this ridiculous urge to make sure my apartment is completely spotless before the worker comes in to do the job. As in, I will be a total freak come Wednesday night.

We had to have someone come replace a light bulb in our kitchen awhile back (we don’t have a ladder and our kitchen light is our main light source for all 680 square feet of the apartment so we were like “HALP!”). I didn’t realize that Zack had called them to come. I came home and saw that someone had been in our apartment while the dirty laundry was prominently displayed in its basket near the front door and the floor needed some serious de-hairifying and the kitchen island was covered with mail and some dishes and OMG when was the last time we cleaned off the top of the fridge?! Later the guy who changed the bulbs saw me in the elevator and was all “Hey, I just changed your light!” and smiled at me. And that’s when I melted into a puddle and slid through the space between the elevator doors and dripped to the bottom of the elevator shaft, where I died of embarrassment. Because now? Not only did he see my apartment in such a state, but he matched my face to the filth! AIEEE!

Here’s the thing. The thing that is not normal or rational or sane. I honestly do not judge people for the state of their home. I am impressed when a person’s house is really clean and everything has its place, but if there’s dishes in the sink and clutter and looks like it could use some quality time with the vacuum cleaner, that’s fine with me. I think it’s silly when people get all worked up over cleaning and make it into A Thing I Must Now Flip My Shit Over. Six out of seven days there’s laundry strewn about my apartment and dishes either waiting to go into the dishwasher or clean ones waiting to be put away on the counter. We are TERRIBLE about letting mail and other random crap pile up on the island. And if it wasn’t for the Roomba…well, I just leave that to the imagination. So why do I feel like people are going to judge me for being an imperfect housekeeper?

I think some of the neurosis stems from my childhood (oh, how Freudian of me!). My mother was virtually a single parent until I was almost done with high school. She worked more than full-time and we kids were always really involved in after school activities, so cleaning often fell by the wayside. When company was due all hell broke loose and there’d be a flurry of dust rags and vacuuming and redistribution of crap into smaller piles that could be easily tucked out of sight. Those were always really stressful times for me, feeling so much pressure to get everything in order rightnowrightnowRIGHTNOW and hoping that visitors wouldn’t stumble upon the hidden junk. I get the same sort of too-much-pressure, near-panic feeling when I have a spur-of-the-moment visitor and my apartment isn’t “company ready.”

What I really need to do to minimize the stress is first: CHILL THE FUCK OUT. Take a deep breath and remember that I’m not perfect and no one expects my home to be perfect. It’s the place where I let my proverbial hair down and for me that means not always caring what my place looks like. Cleaning is not my top priority in life and that’s okay. Keeping 680 sq. feet presentable all the time is much harder than it sounds. Sort of counter-intuitive, I know. We have a lot of crap so clutter is a big problem. Also hair, with the three pets. The good news is that when Zack and I do a whole-house clean up it only takes us about an hour or so. Trade-offs, yes?

Next up on Things I Will Not Miss About Apartment Dwelling: When your husband opens the door and the poor unsuspecting neighbor across the hall catches you in your underwear!

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