Category Archives: Cleaning

My Junkyard: Part 3

Those days where things were just messy were not that long ago, but I now look at them as the better days than I have. What I mean by messy and what you mean by messy might be different outlooks. I have known many people who are all worried about their place being a mess, then when you get there they have the laundry out. If you are waiting for more, you will be disappointed, because that’s it. The worry here was literally that the clean laundry that they had out and were folding, made their house a mess. I don’t even know how to processes a model of how a person like this thinks. That at the very worst is an incontinence, and only if I had my heart set on sitting in the chair they had been putting the clothes that they had folded. When you come to my house and I say it is a mess, you will step on clothes, and they won’t be clean and I won’t be folding them. There is a likeliness that you will need to ask me the color of my carpet, that is if you wanted to know that information, because you won’t be able to see enough of it to really tell yourself. That coverage will not only be clothes, there will be boxes, toys, paper, wires, and an odd assortment of other items. This is actually a nice way of what I think of as messy. My apartment clean is still messy by some definitions I have encountered in my life.

Now back when this was still the norm, I would get upset at my boys for not assisting me more in cleaning up. After all a lot of the mess is theirs as well, but I may have been expecting more of them than they needed to be doing, although I do still feel strongly in them doing a lot of the work. This all changed almost two years ago, when I started having regular pain in my back. I didn’t realize why at the time, but I slowly started having trouble bending over to pick things up, and then increasingly wasn’t able to sit on the hard floor to do the work sitting either. Clothes and toys started going left when dropped or thrown on the floor due to my pain. Then last year I finally had my back fixed, but the surgery has again left me with mobility restrictions and lack in mobility required for cleaning. What I needed to do, but had failed to do, would have been to set up a real organized plan before the operation so that I could go home with some peace of mind, but I did not do that. Instead I relied on the help from my father, which he would have to stop giving, and from my kids, which is a lot like juicing a stone. With a lack in help and me not being able to do a lot of the work, my place has started to cross that line from messy to dirty. I am not able to keep up, which is not an easy thing to admit, so that is reason to give me a break.

I still don’t have a lot of people to help me, and I have found that a lot of it has to do with my age. In a lot of my post surgical requests and visits from friends and family, I do get a lot of reactions about how its been x many months, I should be at 100% and getting this all done. If I say anything to the contrary, I usually get something about how the young bounce back or how I’m only in my early 30’s. The fact that I had a back fusion and give a year recovery time for, at best case, seems to somehow be made better by my age. This stigma pushed upon me from others has actually made it much harder to find help to get basic things done. There have been days when I am in a lot of pain when I dropped something I needed, keys phone what have you, and I couldn’t pick it up because I couldn’t bend. I didn’t know what to do, and so I looked at it. I have stood outside hoping that a neighbor would walk out so I could rope them into picking that item up for me. This has resulted in a new problem that compounds the first.

While I was already no good at cleaning, but now I am no able to pick anything up that is below waist level. While I have had a couple different grabber devices, there are always things you can’t pick up or move when you are limited to 20lbs and no bending. This took me back into dangerous territory of blame. First my dad for not coming over anymore, and then my kids that are there have of every month but do not always help in the cleaning. I again have people to blame, but the problem is that they aren’t to blame. While they are to blame, the kids that is, for not doing the parts that are their regular chores and getting those done would help a lot, they are not to blame for the whole thing and they did not choose me or my issues, they just got stuck with me. Nor did they have a vote in the surgery, and how that was going to complicate their lives. I would think they would have voted against it if we went back and asked them.

Now my house is back in one of those states were it is just too messy for me to know how to deal with. I have been through the stages of my cycle of embarrassment over the last month and depression where I felt too over whelmed by the magnitude of all of it that I just don’t think I can do anything. My kids don’t know what to think when it is like this, but get mad at me for making or causing the mess, when it really is all of our mess, I’m just not doing what is necessary to keep things cleaned up. They have called me lazy and dirty and these sorts of things that from anyone else I would justify my actions and ignore them, but from my kids, that do live in the apartment, and do see me clean, but at the same time see this cycle of the mess coming and going, being apart of the clean up and then maintaining it, only to see it go back to the mess it is now. It is when I know that they think of me like this that I feel the worst. It also isn’t like all I do is sit around or lay around the house. I do spend a lot of time doing both of those for my back these days, but I am also active, in my work out, in scouts, in my job, in helping my parents, and most of all in things I do with my kids.

I don’t really know how to end this because I am at that point, but I don’t have any explanations or solutions to this problem. I started the up side of the cycle today, which I can always tell by when I start picking up and putting away all the laundry. Not just what I need to get through the next week, but everything that isn’t clean. I noticed that there is a few things of concern to me that push that line from messy to dirty and I am starting to feel really bad about myself for allowing it to get to that point. Getting it clean isn’t a given when I start the upside, it is just a possibility. If my motivation remains long enough I will get the place perfect, or get it at least to a point that I am willing to invite someone else in to help. I do fear getting to that point though. The point in which the place is clean and just sitting in my living room is like a drug, taking in the wonderful feeling of sitting in a nice freshly cleaned room, knowing that it can easily slip into a disaster. If I knew how to not only how to keep it from slipping into that, but to be able to be present and aware that it was happening, then I might be able to stop it completely, but I have never figured out how I can have such a disconnect in what I am doing to the environment around me until I have gotten it to a point of over whelming disaster.

The only idea I have come up with is to make a checklist to go through the house and check everything on the checklist, which might help make me aware and keeping it up, but then how long do I do this checklist? What keeps me from putting things off when I notice them? The other issue is stuff. I am so attached to so many things and I need to just start throwing it all away. I don’t know how to get over this minor version of my dads hording, but I feel if I don’t, I will never get away from this. For now I am going to do what I always do with my problems and struggles, I am going to work on them one step at a time and write as much as I can about them. I will be working on a checklist, while I get things cleaned up, and hopefully find my way out. Maybe someone will read this and give me a new tool that I hadn’t considered.

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Posted by on May 16, 2013 in Cleaning


My Junkyard: Part 2

Knowing that I now can only blame myself for the messy life that I live everyday, even though I will still hold it against my dad, I now need to really conflict on the progression of the issue. I think there is more than one kind of messy person. Basically, I believe all messy people can be categorized into two groups. There are the people who are just messy, and the people who are dirty. What sets the two groups apart is not the amount of stuff they have, or even how it is scattered about their homes, but a simple measure of the amount of dirty things that are in their house as a result of being messy. What I mean by this is simple. Food, drink, mold, mildew, ect. These are things that cause a house to be dirty, not just messy. While my house is usually messy, it is usually a matter of too much stuff not put aways and tossed about, but you could pick it up safely, without the concern of running across something that would make you gag or that you would have to identify in a lab to know what it once was.

It’s an important distinction for me, because I have always said “I might be messy, but I’m not dirty.” I still think this statement can hold true, but I think that this is a fine line. A messy person only has to misplace one dish, drop one thing, before they become dirty without trying to be. If the house is messy enough then you can easily do that. After I moved out of my parents house is when I first started a real pattern of messy behavior. I went from having parents to clean up after me, to being on my own and having to cook and clean for only me. I learned all sorts of live lessons about how to tell which was your cleanest dirty shirt when you forgot to do laundry, and how to make “organized” piles of my stuff, so I knew how to find stuff. The only time this mess got cleaned is when my girlfriends stayed over or a friend needed a place to stay for a day or two.

It was in my second apartment when I realized a true cycle, that I have discussed with my doctor and a therapist at one time, in my cleaning. It starts with the perfectly clean house. You have to close your eyes and imagine everything put away, and straightened up. You can smell the lemon oil and carpet cleaner and a breeze through the house. This to me is a real happy place. I love this place, even in my crappy little apartment, it can be wonderful. In this place I make rules, because we are going to keep it this way. Then the first rule is broken by me. I leave a coke can out, or a dish on the table, or something from the car in the middle of the floor. A week goes by and a few more rules are broken, but for some reason, it what was told to me was some sort of disconnect, I have never fixed my first mistake. That can is still sitting on that table, and now with one there, the whole family and myself have decided a couple more wont hurt, besides we will pick them up later. Another week goes by, and a have done a few attempts to clean up but didn’t get far, and then I walk in one day, one or two months out, and realize that it has all gotten worse than it was before I cleaned it last time. The sink is full of dishes, there is barely a path to walk through the living room to get to the bedrooms, I can’t even lay on my bed, the bathroom floor has enough closes overflowing the dirty basket that you can no longer walk in there without walking over them, and I have no idea what happened.

It isn’t that I intentionally didn’t clean, I started out with a clean place, which likely took me taking vacation time, or even enlisting family or hiring friends to get to that point. I knew how to keep it that way, had a plan in place to keep it that way, even made a point to look it over everyday to make sure it wasn’t getting too bad that I couldn’t clean it up. Now suddenly I am living back in a junkyard made up of me and my kids clothes, wrappers, coke bottles, toys, and who knows what else just everywhere, but I don’t know how it happened. I honestly don’t I remember the clean, and now see the dirty, but somehow I missed the in between part where it was being messed up. Then seeing it in this state I know that it is not possible to get it clean. It is now an impossible task and I lock myself up and don’t know how to make it better. I don’t want to ask family or friends for help, they have all seen this before and I don’t want them to think so much less of me for not being able to keep cleaning after myself and my kids. What kind of horrible parent or person am I that I can’t provide a healthy clean environment for my children, but the qualifier always in there that I am messy not dirty.

This realization sends me into a spiral of depression, where I hide my apartment, I don’t invite anyone over, and never open my door all the way. I can’t risk everything I have because one person will think me to be this horrible neglectful father that can’t do simple chores. It becomes my messy secrete, the only thing in my life I don’t talk about, but becomes harder and harder as I go into my late 20’s and early 30’s. With more and more messes in my house, I become more and more comfortable with allowing these messes to build in my car. Where at one point I would occasionally take everything in my car inside, sort out the trash and put things away, I now don’t have room for anything else inside, so more and more stuff has to stay in the car. This only proves to be a solution that can work on a temporary basis, but worse of all, hiding your car is harder than hiding your house.

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Posted by on May 15, 2013 in Cleaning


My Junkyard: Part 1

This is both a difficult subject to talk about and one that is just as hard to explain. You could describe it in many ways, as a default in my brain that keeps me from learning from the past doomed to always repeat it, a compulsion, or the opposite of compulsion, as something I just never learned to deal with as a child and therefore can’t do as an adult, or you could just say it’s because I’m lazy and don’t care. I’m really not sure what the correct answer is myself, but I am thinking more and more that it is not only a problem, but one that I need to be able to openly admit to and then be able to openly discuss to help find a solution to.

What is this issue that I might be having, I know how vague I was and in reading my first paragraph back to myself, it appears that I could be talking about a number of horrible habits or addictions, but I am not, in fact it sounding like that makes me feel a whole lot better already. The issue I am having is simply cleaning. Doesn’t sound like much, and everyone has to do it, but I don’t, at least I intend to, but things get out of hand. I am getting ahead of myself though. Lets start from the start.

When I was little I wasn’t a very clean child and I was constantly getting in more and more trouble for not picking up my room or doing my chores and in return, I found more and more creative ways to take a short cut here, or avoid cleaning there. It doesn’t seem to be a big deal, after all, all kids avoid doing their chores. As I have gotten older, I have heard my dad’s same old stories about how bad it really was. Stories about me putting a board across the stuff on my bedroom floor because my dad told me I had to make a path or he was going to get rid of a lot of my stuff. While the correct answer here is to pick toys up, put things away and do some cleaning, my solution was to bypass the more time-consuming work and “make” a completely new path that went over the mess. Now why stories like this one are funny things my dad says about my childhood now, I began to think about my own kids. While they have a lot of stuff in their room, and it does get out of control quite often, when it comes to cleaning their room, they still actually clean their room and don’t try to bypass the harder work for an easier solution that may or may not work.

This is when I realized that I really had a problem, but it had started at a really young age. You might think I am jumping to conclusions, but in thinking a lot about it, piecing stories of my life together, looking into how I conduct myself now, and really watching how I do some of my smallest tasks, I find that I do this not only for cleaning, but a lot of other things as well. I also not only do it today, but in a lot of how I did things as a kid. There is another popular story of my dad’s where in I found a copy of my third grade math book, teachers copy, being discarded as outdated material by the department of a university that my worked for and I know work for. I checked to make sure it was the right edition and took it, after all they were putting it into the trash. I used it to answer questions for a long period of time in that math class. I was only caught because of a mistake that was in the teacher’s book that the teacher of my class had caught several years ago, but wasn’t corrected in my book.

I didn’t think there was anything was wrong with what I was doing, and still remember today wondering why they were calling what I did cheating. The objective of the class was to find the correct answer to the problems I was being given, no one had ever set parameters to what I couldn’t do to get to those answers. I had simply found a way around the hard work, and was still participating in class and getting my work done. I know now why that would be wrong, but I think on it now and also wonder what took so long for me to get caught. I didn’t think what I was doing was wrong, so I wasn’t hiding the book I was using. I pulled it out in class while doing my work, as well as at home. The only thing I can ever contribute to this is that there is something about how someone doing something wrong acts or looks. Maybe if I thought what I was doing was wrong or cheating I would have acted different and been suspicious and would have been caught with the teachers manual a long time before.

So, you might be wondering what any of this has to do with cleaning. Well, nothing, but I think it is all connected. I also am not sure if this is an innate built-in part of my nature or a learned behavior. You could say both or neither, but both of my brothers are also, in their own way and to their own degree, pretty messy people as well. So, there you go, people who grow up messy are messy, right? There is a problem with that, my dad. My dad is not only clean, but he is compulsive. If you can clean too much, he is sometimes at that line. If you really want to get on his nerves, just walk in his house and lay your keys on an empty space on the counter, don’t take your shoes off, or mention a spot on the carpet or table. He might blow up about it, or he might brush it off like it’s nothing or that he knew about it, but then you can almost calculate when he will look at it as he walks past every time after you point it out. Oddly he is a horder too, but he hordes in true compulsive ways. Every thing is in a box in his shed. Every box with a spot, and a label and he can almost walk through and tell you exactly what is in every box. He knows where everything is and everything has a place.

I thought a lot about this and thought that I had found the answer, it’s my dads fault. You will notice a theme where I blame a lot of different people for this issue of mine. My dad compulsively cleaned, and he did it everyday of my life, so I never did the cleaning myself, so when I went out in the world I didn’t have to tools I needed to know how to take care of myself. While this theory works great on paper and sounds so fool-proof, it doesn’t really work. The problem here is that story about me building a path over the stuff on my bedroom floor. See, my dad didn’t clean my room on a daily basis, in fact he only cleaned it when it came down to really needing to be done, and you were almost assured to lose stuff in the process, so you never wanted that to happen, and he always gave warning. Kind of like when the landlord posts that he’s going to inspect your place on Friday and posted the flyer on your door on Monday. You, even with a clean well-kept apartment, will make sure everything is in order. There is no reason for this most of the time, but we always do it. In my dads case there was punishment beyond anything my landlords now can ever do, he would pick out toys and cloths I didn’t need, according to him, anymore to donate, and then pack some of the stuff making a lot of the mess to lock in the garage until I learned to keep my room cleaner. If he was not only setting an example of cleanliness, but putting me in a situation of responsibility to do the same as a child, which had a set of punishment and rewards, it couldn’t be him, and that is disappointing, because I really wanted to blame him.

If it wasn’t him, then what about my mom, surely I can blame this on her. While has had the habit to leave a dish, coke can, or odd piece of trash out on a night stand or table, which my dad would later bitch about when cleaning that room, I don’t see my mom as a very messy person either. She might be more prone to making the mess than my dad, but she does still practice good habits of cleaning after herself and others. She was even usually the one to initiate the room cleanings, usually because some friend was coming over and she didn’t want the possibility that they might accidentally see in my room and embarrass them.

Really the only person that can be blamed for my messy behavior is me. I might not be completely at fault on a concise level, but even if it is just due to a genetic trait, it is me that has it. I think that it stems from a lot of things. I do exactly what my mother does with coke cans where after I drink the drink I leave the can. I just forget its there, and I have this idea like some cleaning, even when living alone, isn’t something I need to do, which could be me always expecting my dad to already having that done, even though my dad doesn’t live with me and I am the only one that can be expected to do that chore. While there may be reason that both parents, as well as others in my life, may have played a part in my development to be the mess person I am now, but their parts were small and not intentional. If anything the tools to learn and be cleaner starting at a much younger age were given to me, and I didn’t learn how to use them.

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Posted by on May 14, 2013 in Cleaning