Monday, June 1, 2009

My house is filled with toxic waste sludge

Ok, not really. But some days it seems like it.

I'm not a cleaner. I never have been. It's not something I grew up doing, it's not something I aspire to and it's not something I ever really practiced as a kid. Instead my mother took the reins of cleaning the house and then yelled at us in inconsistent spurts when it wasn't clean. We didn't do maintenance in my house. We didn't have a regular Saturday Morning Clean-up, instead the family waited until my mother blew her top, then we all grudgingly pitched in until she stopped spewing. Afterwards we relaxed back into our messy inertia until Mt Vesuvius threatened to kill us again.

Let me reiterate. I am not a cleaner.

As a result, my adult house is not so much filled with toxic sludge as it is with dust and cat hair and corners that haven't seen a dishrag for years. I truly need to hire a maid because the things that other people notice are messy in a house, I don't even see. I can't afford a maid though, and even if I could, he or she wouldn't know where to start and I wouldn't let her touch the thousands of papers that perch on any horizontal surface because some need to be shredded and some need to be kept and some need to be filed and no, I don't know which ones are which until I sit down and actually look at them.

I also have asthma, which means the dust and cat hair really do act like toxic sludge to me. They compromise my ability to breathe, they get in my eyes and make them itch while my nose starts leaking in sympathy. So whenever I get a brilliant flash of thinking I really should tackle this place the good intentions last about 10 minutes until the dust bunnies lay me out flat and wheezing on the bed for a couple of hours.

Seriously. It's not just an allergy attack--though that factors in as well--it's a flat out respiratory assault that usually lasts until I crawl into bed doped with medicine or deluding myself into thinking if I just go to sleep it'll all go away. You can see how this might interfere with my willingness to clean.

Now, the dust bunnies cannot be blamed for the dirty dishes in the sink, nor the mounds of laundry mockingly waiting to be folded. Nor can they be blamed for the soap scum in my bathtub, but they are a contributing factor, I swear. [Here come the excuses] You see, I'm the sort of person who likes to get the worst of it over with first, deal with it, get it done and walk away. It's not enough for me to spend the day picking up if I can't vacuum at the end of it. I don't like to clean twice (or even once).

Just let me do it, get it done and not have to look at again. (Come to think of it, this might be how I approach writing too. What do you mean I have to edit? I already wrote it, isn't that good enough?) So I find myself hesitant to start what I know I won't be able to finish.

Things they are a changin' though. Not too long ago, my husband, after a vacuuming incident that shall not be mentioned, bought me face masks. You know those kinds you see construction workers and people afraid of swine flu wearing? For the longest time I resisted. Some mental part of me was resistent to re-breathing my own expired air. It just sounds kind of gross. Then one day I knew I needed to tackle something in the house guaranteed to stir up the peacefully settled hair and dust, so I dragged out the face masks, strapped one on and get down to business.

Much to my amazement, I was able to work for a full 30 mins to an hour before succumbing to the usual asthma attack. There might be something to this face mask thing after all! Who knew? Then, I caught myself some piddling little cough that messed with my throat's ability to stay nice and moist. In Arizona a dry throat is not easily conquered by a bedroom humidifier or a hot shower. It sticks around being aggravated by every 8% humidity breath you take. So guess what I did? I strapped on that mask again and took advantage of all that damp air I was expelling. Heaven. Symptoms last half the time when you're smart about combating them.

Last night I combined the cough and cleaning and face mask together. It's funny to whip off a face mask to sneeze into a tissue, then settle it snuggly against your face while you go back to aggravating the very thing that made you sneeze in the first place. When I was done another 2 square feet of the carpet were free of debris and I had sucked down three cough drops, two puffs of the inhaler and a zyrtec.

Slowly but surely I'm winning the war against the toxic sludge. Next thing you know I'll be scrubbing the tub!

Currently reading: Wolf Tales IV
Currently reading: C is for Corpse


Erika said...

Are you in Arizona? What part? I understand exactly what you're saying though. I am not a cleaner either and since I can no longer afford to have someone come in twice a month and do it for me I'm having to learn to bear down and just get it done. Thankfully i have a kid home for summer break who I can make, er I mean, ask to do a lot of the chores during the day while I'm not there. *grin*

Venus Vaughn said...

I thought you knew I was in AZ? I'm in Tucson.

Don't forget to make, I mean, "ask" your kid to vacuum and if he or she complains about air quality... get 'em some air masks. Delightful things, I swear.

Erika said...

No, I didn't read your profile until you said something about Arizona. I'm slow that way. *grin*

Miss Mabel said...

I haaaates to clean too.

Why can't you make your husband do the vacuuming part, if you agree to do the washing stuff? (Eg bathroom.)

Also, apparently you need a vacuum with a HEPA filter, so the smallest particles--the ones that are allergens--don't just get tossed into the air.

Annnnd don't forget to toss your pillow into the washing machine, in hot water, because the dust mites etc settle into them.

And all this advice is just me procrastinating from working on my synopsis. :-)

Venus Vaughn said...

Miss Mabel,

Hi & welcome :)

I think my vacuum is a HEPA one, but even those need to be emptied. And after a husband uses it, apparently they need to be cleaned too...

After my fussing online last night I got down to brass tacks in the bathroom and swabbed parts of it I've never seen before. I still need to clean the countertops, but progress is being made. Slowly.