The Big Clean: Halfway Home

Yeah, halfway. Can you believe? I didn’t think I needed a room-by-room, play-by-play like I gave last year, so I opted out of it. I’m sure you’re all devastated.

The kitchen and both bathrooms are finished; today is my bedroom, and (if I’m making good time and feeling adventurous) Bear’s room (Bear’s room is officially scheduled for tomorrow, so if I don’t make it there today, no biggie; it’s basically a stretch goal, tbh). I count the two bathrooms as one because, honestly, both are very small, and one of them is technically a half-bath, so like — really, really small. But they are also the absolute least pleasant rooms to clean for obvious reasons, so knocking them both out in the same day and being done with it would likely have been the goal even if they were considerably larger.

The kitchen was the most time consuming room by far, because quarantine plus a whole lot of cabinets and drawers with not a whole lot of organization plus one person with an awful set of executive functioning skills equals absolute fucking chaos. The majority of clean time was cabinets, drawers, and the refrigerator (which, honestly, I don’t know that we’ve ever cleaned? And, hoo boy, was that patently obvious), but which was worth the effort, because damn if they don’t look amazing now. I legit keep opening the fridge just to admire it. It’s pathetic, maybe, but I will take my glimmers of joy where I can get them, and if you had seen the fridge in it’s before state, you too would be suitable impressed by its current state.

There are things, this time around, that I’m not doing; I’m not scrubbing down the walls, for one, and that’s probably the biggest change I’ve made. After last time (which was three years into living here) I realized there wasn’t such a significant change that it was was something that warranted being done every year, especially if we are consistent about dusting the walls as part of our weekly cleaning routine. Neither of us are smokers, we don’t burn a lot of things in the oven, etc. Aside from visible stains and marks (because we do have a kid, let’s be real), I didn’t touch the walls except to dust them. Let me tell you, it was a huge sanity-saver. I want to be thorough, but I also don’t want to waste my energy doing things that are unnecessary, especially this year, when my energy is so low in general. If I’m going to expend energy, I want to make it count. That energy can be put toward cleaning out my closet, or scrubbing the kitchen floor — something that actually needs to be done, and something I tend to shirk in the day-to-day.

Today is my bedroom, which is weirdly exciting. Since my wife started transitioning and collecting a shit ton of feminine accouterments — makeup and perfume and jewelry — but has not really thought about dedicated organization for them yet, this year’s Big Clean for our room includes a ton of organizing, cleaning out, and rearranging. I’m looking forward to finding permanent homes for her new possessions, and making them something integrated into our living space instead of just scattered across our bedside tables and bookcases.

Right now, I’m waiting on lunch to replenish my reserves, and then it’s back to work. I feel like once I get the house organized, the next thing on the roster is going to be doing a little shopping, since I’m determined to buy some new art for the house (since I’m incredibly dedicated to purchasing things that genuinely bring me joy this year) and I definitely need a new planner (since it looks like there will be an end to quarantine at least by mid-year (!!!) and even before that, I want to be able to organize my work stuff, home stuff, and personal projects in one place). And then it’s just… run down the year. I won’t be sad to see it go.

Hope you all are doing well, and finding a last burst of energy to set things in motion for a positive personal start to the new year.

Stay safe and sane. We’ll get there.

The Big Clean 2.0

So we are past Thanksgiving, which means — in my eyes at least — it’s basically Christmas. And once it’s (basically) Christmas, the year is (basically) over.

Can you believe??

There are some days I wake up and 2020 has felt interminable, and some mornings where I wake up surprised at the chill in the air because part of my brain has stalled out in mid-March, but either way, next week in the first week of December. 2020 has days left in it.

Fucking finally, honestly. Despite being cautiously optimistic about the new year — Trump finally ousted, several potential vaccines, a number of personal projects on the horizon — I’m trying not to get too ahead of myself. There’s still a ways to go, I know, and likely I’ll be spending the earlier part of the year still mostly homebound (which isn’t necessarily the worst thing, honestly). But, if I’m going to still be stuck at home, my home is going to be my fucking sanctuary.

So, it’s time to start prepping for The Big Clean 2.0.

I did a Big Clean last year; it was part of the earliest days of this iteration of the blog. Essentially, I made a massive list of things to do around the house, and tore the house apart, one room at a time, in the liminal space between Christmas and New Year’s. Walls were scrubbed, cabinets were reorganized, matresses were flipped, linens were laundered, closets were cleared out.

After spending most of this year in the house, rest assured that there is much to be done this year as well.

The purpose of The Big Clean — my entire point in doing it last year — was the idea that, I am most creative and more productive when I set myself up for success. I have considerable executive functioning issues, so the more scaffolding I can put into place to establish organization, routines, schedules, etc. the better my mental, emotional, and creative health. In the past, that has meant creating daily schedules and checklists, buying and organizing craft and home storage, and getting a daily planner.

Most of those items from last year have fallen by the wayside as my needs have changed and adapted to our “new normal;” my morning routine is significantly different to what it used to be, my nutritional and exercise needs are drastically different (and my health, as I’ve mentioned before, is suffering as a result), and my systems of organization need refining, especially as I am using my crafting supplies more frequently and need to figure out how to adapt the storage to be both more mobile (I do a lot of work in my living room) and more inconspicuous (for the same reason).

It also means refreshing my perspective, my goals, and my personal space — both online and off. My bucket list, for example, has lain stagnant on this website for a while — I frequently forget to update and check in on it, and it doesn’t get a ton of engagement. That last part doesn’t bother me per se — I keep it because I like documenting my progress in pursuit of goals for personal accountability, and that was a major part of starting this blog — but, sans regular engagement, I often forget that it’s there, and if I’m not checking in on it every once in a while, I’m likely not making any progress on it, either. That being said, there are also a number of goals I’d put on this list out of a feeling of obligation, and goals I kept off out of a sense of them being a bridge too far, and neither of those things is really conducive to keeping a bucket list. The items should be a true reflection of your personal goals and desires, and not dictated by how obligated you feel to achieve them (“I should really put ‘write a novel’ on there, even though I really don’t love writing long-form fiction, because isn’t that the ultimate Writer’s Aspiration?”) or how plausible they seem (“I mean, touring around Italy sounds amazing, but would we ever really be able to afford it?” Bitch, if you make it a priority and shop smart, you might). I will be moving my bucket list, going forward, to a social bucket list site — DayZeroProject, or one of the Bucketlists, .org or .net ,who knows — which I can still link from here, but through which I can also gain targeted engagement with likeminded folks, so that hopefully my goals will stay closer to the forefront of my mind than they do with the current, less dynamic system.

I’m also going to take down my art page and link instead to an off-site gallery — I’m currently on DeviantArt, and actually like the community, so I may stay there and link to my DeviantArt portfolio — in order to save space on my account, and I have a lot of poetry from past NaPoWriMos and other older, abandoned projects to include in my Writing archive.

This weekend, I will be setting the list of To Dos for The Big Clean 2.0; I learned some things from last year that I will be implementing this year (i.e., the proper order in which to tear apart a room to avoid driving yourself crazy; where you can cut corners without feeling like you’re slacking; where the extra time and effort is really needed, etc) and made some discoveries along the way (such as how satisfying it is to own actual art from independent makers as opposed to mass market trinkets, and how that’s going to be a goal of mine in 2021, as well as creating a place in my home to properly display it (that’s going on the bucket list; you’ll see).

Anyway, I have my work cut out for me this weekend, since along with all this planning, I have two piece of art I’m working on, and a lot of organizational stuff I need to do in order to prep for work on Monday and Tuesday.

Anyone else, with a glimmer of hope in their hearts, planning for the new year?

Stay safe and sane. Stay hopeful.

The Big Clean, Pt. Uhh… the Last One

And… it is done.

Here is the last batch of Before & Afters (or, really, mostly Afters, because I woke up with a massive dehydration headache, and it took me a woefully long time to realize that’s what it was (here I was trying to ply it with yet more coffee), so I spent the better part of the morning in a brain fog).  Sorry if it seems like a lot all at once, but I never posted the pics of the living room yesterday, and neither the hallway/transitional spaces in the house nor the bathrooms really deserved their own post (rest assured the bathrooms got a good cleaning, but they are both too regularly maintained (out of necessity) to make especially interesting Before & Afters).

Living Room Before:


Living Room (and Bedroom) Afters:


I suppose the question now is, what next?  My home is under control, so let’s tick off the first check box under Getting My Life Together in 2020 — what’s the next list item?

Developing a routine, I guess, because my neurodivergent brain is a complete and utter Hot Mess.

Honestly though, I don’t think it’s something I have to develop, it’s just something I actually have to utilize.  My main issue is organization, both of my living space and my head space (ADHD is a bitch, let me tell you).  Sometimes a couple of years ago — maybe a few, at this point — I made myself a set of checklists and organizers, one for a Morning and Evening routine, and one for a cleaning routine.  Both had been printed out, laminated, stuck to the fridge, and… promptly forgotten about.  Which is a shame, because for the few weeks I actually followed them, they really set a wonderful tempo for my life.  The morning and evening routine one was especially, surprisingly effective.  Getting up at a set time, showering in the morning (I was never a Bathe in the Morning person, but wow, it make a difference in the way you face the day), starting the day with breakfast and a glass of water (augmenting, not replacing, my coffee — I need my caffeine, thank you very much), and an uplifting podcast or video?  It really did sort of set the tone for the whole day.

The evening routine was the same.  As soon as my son went to bed, I would wash up, change into pajamas, make some tea, get my inbox to zero, read my blogs and catch up on social media, then turn on a podcast and work on a hobby before getting ready for bed and doing my gratitude journal.  I did breakfast prep, packed my bag, and laid out my outfit the night before as well, which made the morning transition so much smoother.  It was a hugely effective system that I abandoned… why?  Probably, if I’m being honest, because something derailed me temporarily (I was sick, or travelling, or something) and I never quite got back on track.

That’s a huge issue for me.  Falling of the wagon isn’t such a big deal, everyone hits bumps along the way and gets thrown off sometimes.  Never managing to get back on; that’s a big problem.  One that I really would love to leave in 2019.

So I guess the next thing to do is to tweak and update my checklists.  Bear is older now, so a number of tasks on my cleaning checklist need to be updated (he no longer has A Bath Day, he takes baths every other night, and I have phone alarms set for them), and my evening routine no longer includes MyFitnessPal (I’m still working on health/weight loss as a goal this year, just not using MFP), but the integrity of the routine overall still stands.  If I can use and stick to this, I think I have the good basis for having a happier, less stressful new year.

…Oh my God, am I ready?  Am I ready for 2020??

Tomorrow is New Year’s Eve; Bear is staying at my mother’s house, and Andy and I are going to a low key party at a friends, then probably coming back to do what we’ve done the last few years — eat chips in bed and watch old Bob’s Burgers episodes as the last minutes of the year tick down.

There are worse ways to ring in the next decade.

Also, have I mentioned how happy I am that I can stop blogging about nothing but cleaning for a little while?  And maybe, like… do some art?? Be creative?  Chat about literally anything else?

The Small Clean (Or: The Big Clean, Pt. 2.5)

My week. (Art by @nathanwpyle)

I’m on track…ish, for The Big Clean.  I have a few details to take care of in the living room — mostly carrying boxes up or downstairs, after packing away ephemera that had somehow made it’s way to the living room from other parts of the house, and vacuuming the couch before rearranging the pillows — but other than that, I’ve completed the living room!  Photographic evidence will be forthcoming, however, since I am a bit of a completionist, and I want to have the room in full working order before I show it off.

One of the things I did today that kept me from fully completing the task was I decided it was finally time to clean out the coffee table, which I suppose bears an explanation.

When we bought this house, one of the things I was excited about was that it had a partially finished basement.  It was neither nice enough nor spacious enough to really be of use for entertaining, but with the washer/dryer down there, it was a nice laundry room, and the built in shelving the previous owners had installed meant it also seemed like an awesome place to store our hobby supplies — board games, fannish collections, jewelry-findings, and most especially, art supplies.  We moved down all the aforementioned accouterments, refurbished an old desk, and thought that I’d finally have a craft room again.

Well, as it turns out, sharing space with the water heater means that our basement gets uncomfortably warm in the spring and summer, so for half the year, working down there wasn’t really on the docket.  Luckily we had, for totally different reasons (or maybe no reason besides a good price, since neither of us can now think what our original intention was) bought a storage coffee table.  That quickly because the home for all of my painting and art supplies, and man, let me tell you, it was not well organized.  Uh, it was actually not organized at all.  I had huge, unwrapped blocks of Sculpey tossed in beside empty Altoid containers (for altered boxes), dozens of magazine back-issues (for collage and decoupage), and brushes, palates, and art tools thrown everywhere.  It took me over an hour of concerted effort and a full garbage bag to clear it out, but dammit, I did it.  Given how one of my primary goals this year is to really focus on art, it seemed like now was the time to really get it done.

Look, you can actually see everything that’s in there!  And it all has a place!

That being said, I’m currently trying to decide what to do for the rest of the night.  I’m sort of itching to get started with art, but I also feel like I’m not in the proper headspace to start one of the “big” projects I’ve been ruminating on, so I’m currently torn between paging through magazines (I have a stack of mags from the entire last year that my mother passed on to me when she was done; it was never the top of my priority list, so I probably have about 36 magazines sitting by my couch, untouched!), or sifting through Pinterest for photo references for the projects I know I want to embark on.  I found a few useful ones for a series I’m doing using geometric shapes as framing devices (i.e., instead of drawing using the edges of the pages as boundaries, I want to work on vignettes confined to small square, circles, or other shapes).  I might continue on that path tonight, and bring a few magazines up to bed with me.

I am on track to finish by tomorrow night!  I’m very, very much looking forward to greeting the new year with a clean home, and will be ready to tackle a few more organizational quandaries tomorrow night (I hope).

The Big Clean, Pt. 2

I’ve been listening to this playlist the last few nights, when I’ve needed a bit of levity between mini-existential crises.

Today has been… rough.

Sometimes I feel like I’m being punished for wanting to live in a clean house.  My husband is a pretty “woke” guy in a lot of ways, but he still wears the blinders of a cishet white man, and cannot see the inherent discrepancy in our household workloads.  He is responsible for dishes, laundry, and finances (and honestly, I still often wind up doing the dishes, and his share of laundry is just the loading and unloading of the machine; I still gather, fold, and put away).

Literally everything else is on me.  Now, he’ll do a task if I ask him to, but he doesn’t seem to get why that shouldn’t be a thing — why my having to ask him implies that Literally Everything Else is My Responsibility by default.  Why asking him to help out suggests that he is doing me a favor, and not simply participating in the maintenance of his own goddamn household.

Argh, I don’t have the spoons to rehash all this right now.  I got done quite a bit, though not nearly what I had hoped to.  Part of that was a bad night, including an hour and a half of being kept awake by cramps, and then the general malaise that results from forcing yourself back to sleep when really, you’d completed a sleep cycle and probably would have felt better if you’d have just stayed up (even if it was 3:30 am).

As a result I got a late start.  Hopefully I get a better night’s sleep tonight and can start tomorrow closer to eight, which was the goal, instead of eleven, which was the reality.

Before and Afters for the kitchen (still have a few dishes to do, and the floor to wash):





Tomorrow is the living room and the downstairs bathroom (bathrooms are easy; they’re small and get very regular maintenance, especially with a little boy who, uh, is still trying to master consistently Peeing in the Potty).

In a gesture of peace, because he doesn’t want to undo any of my work in the kitchen, my husband is taking us out to dinner as soon as the menorah burns down.  Hopefully I can relax a bit and work on something for myself this evening.

The Big Clean, Pt. 1

So, The Big Clean has begun.

I am having a particularly difficult time accepting that, by dedicating myself to one room a day, the other three rooms (plus the full & half baths) are, more or less by necessity, temporarily being neglected.  This, coming hot on the heels of the holiday, means that the rooms of the house not currently being worked on look like absolute hot fucking garbage.

They won’t for long, hopefully.  My husband will tend to the dishes when he gets home, and take out the trash, and the house will be empty tomorrow while Andy is at work and Bear and I are visiting with my family, my sister, and her kids (which means, granted, The Big Clean will effectively be on pause tomorrow, but there will also be no one here to undo any of the progress).  Saturday means no work for Andy, who is going to spend some quality time with Bear while I get to work on the Big Stuff, like the living room (Christmas Ground Zero), and the kitchen (I just discovered more than one instance of mold in the fridge, and I am still gagging internally).

I’ve been wavering today between feeling totally amazing and empowered — I actually love cleaning when I have the spoons, because I love having a visual cue for my accomplishments — and feeling hugely defeated, because with me preoccupied, Bear has had sort of full run of the house.  Most of the day we’ve hung out together; he’s helped me out here and there, and sat by and played quietly when I didn’t need him and has generally been very good, but then he’ll disappear for a while and come back brandishing some Christmas loot that was definitely in a box with a hundred tiny pieces and, oh, Christ.

Still, that being said, his room is done and I feel so damn good about it.


Wiping down walls, filling up an entire trash bag with broken toys and old garbage, and two huge totes with old clothes, books and toys — my back is killing me, and I have my work cut out for me for the rest of the house, sure, but today’s effort were so worth it.

Tomorrow will be a nice respite, and I’m excited to see my sister and my niece and nephew, but I’m also pretty hyped about getting back to The Big Clean on Saturday.

I hope your days have been equally productive and satisfying.