21 November 2007

Not such a clean freak

I just finished sweeping the house and cleaning the bathroom. It feels great to have things spic and span, but boy do I dislike cleaning. In fact, I dislike it enough to usually let things slide way longer than they should, and it's the Mister, not me, who most often suggests that we tackle the dust bunnies in the corner, because they are growing menacing and might take a hostage.

This fact has come as a great shock to me. I always thought that once I was living with my husband in our own house, it would be impeccably clean, and it would be no problem to maintain that cleanliness (and it would always smell like roses and I would be wearing an adorable perky dress...wait, speaking of cleaning, I think my brain has been washed...). This misapprehension stems from the fact that in previous lodgings, I was often one of the cleaner ones, taking the initiative when it came to cleaning duties and picking up scattered items.

But I realize now that although I might have a lower tolerance for dirt and clutter than some, I still have a much higher threshold than I expected of myself, and that this is especially true when it comes to cleaning the bathroom. I notice the grime, but I find that the annoyance (and gross factor) of having to clean it up can outweigh the annoyance of living with it, for quite a longer period of time than expected.

To be honest, I think there is a difference between how I feel about cleanliness in a rental vs. a place that we own. I have less motivation for maintenance here in Brussels. But that theory will still need to be tested, once the newness rubs off of the renovated apartment in Barcelona (right now, I'm a little neurotic about it, as evidenced by a freakout over paint splatters that the painters left in the bathroom tub and toilet. But seriously, they're the professionals: shouldn't they have been able to avoid staining our NEW bathroom furnishings?).

I think another reason for my surprising inability to maintain a squeaky-clean home comes from the fact that I just don't know how. I feel like I don't have a good sense of what kind of products work and what don't, how often things should be cleaned, and with what tools. I stand in front of the bathroom counter in begloved hands, ineffectually scrubbing with a wet sponge doused in some smelly chemical that I am not confident is the right product for the job (I also wonder about those chemicals: isn't there a more environmentally friendly way to clean?). Plus, we have a wicked hard water problem here, leading to impossible encrusted white stuff all over everything. I always have the feeling, when we're at the Mister's grandmother's place, that I'm missing out on some special cleaning gene: her sheets are always brilliantly white and smelll beautifully and are perfectly smooth, and the rest of the house is that way too.

I suppose that, although I can say I'm not good at cleaning, I am relatively good at being neat and tidy. I like things to be in their place, especially if they have a place (I really like putting away clean dishes, for example), and I do have a lower tolerance for piles of clutter. That said, my desk right now is an impressive mess, and although I'm itching to fix it, I don't really know where to put those piles of photocopies and that concert poster and those bills and so on and so forth...

The nice thing about being married is that we get to split up the jobs, and can make it a team effort. I always dust and sweep (because the dust bothers his allergies) and he always mops (because I hate mopping). I usually do laundry, and he always irons. Most of the time, I make dinner, and he washes the dishes. This last one gets a little thorny, though: I feel bad that he always gets the unfun end of the stick, and he often--understandably--doesn't feel like washing dishes right after a nice dinner. So they sit in the sink, but I really dislike a sink full of dishes, because it's visually offensive (see: above comments regarding things in their places), and makes using the sink for its actual function (getting tea water in the morning, for example) difficult.

Sigh. Well, maybe getting the hang of the whole cleaning thing is going to take some time, and by the time I'm as old as the Mister's iaia, I'll have a omniscient knowledge of how to clean, too.

Meanwhile, I'm thankful for a husband who splits the work with me, even steven. I'm thankful, too, for a house to clean in the first place, one that's warm and toasty and provides us with nice spaces to work and love and eat and sleep in.

Speaking of thankful, tomorrow is Thanksgiving! Like last year, it's going to be a little sad to be in Brussels on just a regular old Thursday night, which for me means choir practice. At least this year, the Mister is here, and we're planning to talk to my family when I get home from rehearsal. Also, I'm hoping that on Friday we can whip up some cranberry sauce and mashed potatoes and stuffing and eat a little meal of Thankfulness.

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