So writers have a bit of a reputation for being—and I’m being kind here—filthy. I don't mean writing graphic scenes of handcuffs and handjobs filthy. I mean, like, we don’t clean. We’re all buried in our imaginary worlds and don’t have time to bother making our very real living space, well, livable. Or that’s what I tell myself.
It’s gotten bad in my cabin over the last few weeks, as I’ve been super busy working on The Good Boy with Lisa Henry (I’m going to make it a point to mention this book once per post, since I don’t know how to do actual promo. March 26th!)
But finally, yesterday, we finished edits, and I celebrated by cleaning my cabin.
If I’m right, there are probably several of you out there who are as terrified as I am by the prospect of cleaning. But it wasn’t so bad! Here I’ll share with you my step by step illustrated guide to tidying up your space.
1 Take the Amazon boxes off your floor and place them on the dog kennel. Now, take everything else on your floor—pens, CDs, your tax forms, the paper you wrote for Feminist Theater, dumbells, an errant grape, and put it in the boxes. Ta-da! Your floor is clear.
(Note: if you find the boxes look too neat on top of the kennel, you can always prop one at a jaunty angle using your old laptop and the expensive sweater your grandmother gave you for Christmas. Go ahead and put your partially finished jigsaw puzzle on the kennel too. Now the dog has shade!)
2 Make two piles on top of the TV of things that didn’t fit in the boxes. Good job!
3 Did you leave your hamper in West Virginia when you went home for winter break? Try creating a compact mound of dirty clothes on top of your stereo. Now you’re cookin’ with gas.
3a. Realize that all your clothes never have and never will fit into the cabin’s single tiny closet. Make a pile of clean clothes on top of the plastic bin in which you’ve stored more clean clothes. Place the bin next to the stereo-hamper. Just remember in the morning to pick from the pile on the bin, and at night, throw into the pile on top of the stereo.
4 If you still have more clothes, try storing your jeans and pants underneath the oils and vinegars in the kitchen cabinet.
5 Formal wear can go above the cereal and canned goods.
6 Not sure where the recycling center is even though you’ve lived here for nearly three years? Stash empty grocery bags behind the giant owl. You’ll take them somewhere someday.
7 The top of your fridge is a great place for your toaster, a few books, a bottle of Rex-Goliath, and the Brita pitcher.
7a Take your trash out. That mouse you killed last week has been in there for four days. Also the mouse is covered with the leftover chili you threw away the same night. Come on, you’re better than that. Get that chili mouse out of your house.
9 Doctor Flaps, Thurston Owell, Gollum, and Freddie Mercury. And the Washington D.C. paperweight.
You’re so close to cleanliness! And cleanliness is next to godliness. So basically, you’re god. Just a couple more little nitpicky things…
10 If you’re into oil painting but have noticed the fumes from your palette permeate your cabin's main room, go ahead and set the palette on the edge of the bathroom sink, where every time you bend to wash your hands, your hoodie strings will fall into the cadmium red.
10a. Are we having fun yet? In the main room, move your penguin mug of odorless paint thinner plus thinner-soaked rags from their usual spot directly in front of the space heater to a spot on the floor farther away from the space heater. Also remind yourself that “odorless” does not mean “free of the harsh chemicals that will one day give you cancer.” Consider painting outside.
11 Speaking of outside…An extra box of stuff from your floor makes a great patch for the hole your dog put in the porch screen. Is your student loan bill in that box? Too bad it rained and all the paper has turned to mush.
Also, are those pumpkins from Halloween? And you never even carved them? Sigh. It's okay; worry about it tomorrow. You've done enough for one day.
You did it! See, that wasn’t so bad. In fact, you could probably do this more often.