Monday, September 01, 2014

BROWN: Mellowing of a ‘neat freak’

By LINDA BROWN, Hold Me up a Little Longer, Lord | 9/4/2013

Until about 10 years ago, I was a borderline obsessive-compulsive housekeeper. I did two things: I worked a full-time job and I cleaned.

Every object glistened with extraordinary care. Ours were the windows neighborhood birds flew into because they didn’t look like they were there.

Until about 10 years ago, I was a borderline obsessive-compulsive housekeeper. I did two things: I worked a full-time job and I cleaned.

Every object glistened with extraordinary care. Ours were the windows neighborhood birds flew into because they didn’t look like they were there.

There wasn’t anything of a cob web or dust bunny nature — anywhere. I knew in an instant where everything was because I took great care to make sure everything had a place of its own and stayed in its place.

My girlfriends scolded me for being such a “neat freak.” I responded by reminding them I couldn’t stand messes. They wanted to know how I knew that since I’d never had a mess in my house.

Then one day I hit “snooze” on the alarm clock so many times I seriously overslept. In the frantic 20-minutes I had to get up, get dressed and get to work on time, I forgot to make the bed.

When I went home for lunch I nearly died when I discovered my inattention to detail. There it was, early afternoon and my bed wasn’t made. I was so embarrassed, even though not a single soul knew of my blunder. I vowed right then and there not to ever again leave the house with the bed unmade — even if it meant being late.

Then one weekend I didn’t get the hard floors swept and damp mopped. Nothing bad happened. The sun still rose every morning and set every night. Nothing fell from the sky and bonked me on the head. In fact, no one even noticed.

It was about that time it occurred to me the Big Guy and I were empty nesters. There were no longer messy little children and sloppy teens sharing our living space. The dogs were older and no longer inclined to bring large quantities of the great outdoors inside on their paws.

In other words, there simply wasn’t enough dirt any more to warrant all that constant cleaning.

We talked it over and decided it was time to let go of the old ways and pay someone to do the cleaning once a month.

Through the years, once a month has grown to a more frequent schedule for our “domestic duo” to work their clean-up magic in our home. I’ve also become incredibly lazy over those years — a condition to which I personally thought I was immune.

During the long Labor Day weekend, I got it in my head that the master bedroom curtains needed laundering and the windows needed washed.

Since the last time that chore was completed, I’ve either shrunk or the windows have grown taller because now a step ladder needs to be involved, which means the Big Guy had to be employed because I don’t do ladders any more.

Since I was on a roll, I hung up the black skirt that had been flung over the back of the rocking chair since early June. While putting the skirt in the closet, I decided to “clean out” the closet floor which was ankle-deep in shoes. That task was so past due I threw away shoes old enough to vote and found a business card holder I’d been missing for about a decade. It had been lost so long the cards inside said I was general manager of the Ottawa Times Shopper.

By the end of the day, I was almost too tired to breathe and I felt like I’d been hit repeatedly by a truck.

Feelings of accomplishment aside, I think next time I get something involving cleaning inside my head I’ll just go lay down for a while until it passes.

Linda Brown is marketing director for The Ottawa Herald. Email her at lbrown@ottawaherald.com

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