Wednesday, February 16, 2005

The “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf” Clean-Up

Well, it seems that over the past week or so my time-management skills truly have become magnificent. I have been such a model self-employee that I am comfortably ahead of schedule with my work assignments, so I’m giving myself the afternoon off.

Sadly, I am still a very capable squanderer of free time. It seems that when I know my time is my own, I find all sorts of ways of pissing it straight down the crapper. One huge time sucker is house cleaning. I just cannot do it any sort of a systematic way. I’m always interrupting one chore to attend to some patch of grime or two-year-old cobweb that happens to catch my eye as I shift clutter from a surface in one room to a surface in another room. I usually waste all of Saturday morning “cleaning.” And although I do manage to keep the house up to a certain minimum standard of presentability, it’s never quite as tidy and sparkling as I would like it to be.

Maybe this is hereditary. One of my mom’s favorite books was Peg Bracken’s I Hate to Housekeep Book. From this book my mom learned about the “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf” method of house cleaning. If you’ve seen the movie (or play), you’ll recall that George (Richard Burton) and Martha (Elizabeth Taylor) invite a young couple over on the spur of the moment. To tidy up, Martha, drink in hand, simply goes from room to room sweeping piles of anything and everything into the nearest drawer or closet, all the while berating George (if I remember correctly).

I’m sure my mom only thought of the "Virgina Woolf" as a stop-gap, emergency technique to get clutter quickly out of sight (although she employed it regularly and encouraged us kids to also employ it), but it sort of instilled in me a “good enough” attitude toward housework. And while I don’t toss library books down the laundry chute or shove leftover Kung Pao Chicken into the silverware drawer, I very quickly get to critical mass with housework and can do no more, even though there’s always more to be done. I’m in a perpetual state of feeling like I should be using my free time to get the house really, really spotlessly clean once and for all, but, of course, that never can and never will happen. Housework is pure thankless drudgery, and though I enjoy the end result, it never lasts long.

A rather successfully supressed molecule of Puritan work ethic is telling me that I should spend the rest of the afternoon cleaning the house, and earlier I did sort of move some of the crap on my desk to a storage bin and wipe down the dining room table and the kitchen counters (good enough!), but it’s already 2:30 and it’s a gorgeous, sunny day so I should be out enjoying it or what is the point of living? I’m outta here.


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