If I began this year with an essay entitled “Slow” I can now conclude that things in our actual lives often contradict our noblest thoughts. For no sooner than I had decided to take it easy than I began, at 46, my busiest year yet: full time job, new paintings, and designing Faces New York – The Book, a retrospective of sorts, and an obsessive grind unparalleled in my life. Not to gripe - excitement has been high, and I have loved the project. But Lord, Lord it has left me with time for little else. From the moment my eyes flutter open (and after I have hit the brew button on the coffee maker) I am designing the book on the computer.
As a result I have apparently lost the will or the inclination to clean - my personal effects are scattered everywhere. I will have to admit that I have never been exactly regular in this department. I am more the type that goes through guilty scrubathons throughout the year. My pet theory is that there are only two types of people in this world: the clean and the tidy. As long as nobody is looking, the clean keep the kitchen and bathroom in order, usually smell nice, and let their clothes make a pyramid (politely ignored) at the foot of the bed. I am in the “clean” category. The tidy, whether the world sees or not, keep their surfaces pristine and the clutter whisked away. They are not scrubbers; peek into any corner and you will find their mounds of dustbunnies cleverly hidden. The tidy person’s obsession is only what the naked eye can discern. If there is a third “clean and tidy” category, well, trust me, I don’t know any of those.
I am approaching hoarding by now. New York apartments are famously tiny anyway, and any slippage is promptly rewarded with stacks of paper, coat hangers, dusty cough drops, multiple plastic to-go containers, old bottles of mustard, relish, soy sauce, and olives stacked in the fridge, abandoned computers, books books books (read and unread) and let’s not even talk about the clothes. My closet bulges. Laundry becomes a Sudoku exercise – where do they go after I have folded them? It might be safe to say that it would be easier at this juncture to move than to completely organize my apartment.
Not to over exaggerate; it is not like I am living like The Beale sisters and feeding raccoons or anything. But I have let things slip. Maybe I have always wanted to, like the slightly chubby person who just goes whole hog and gets fat. The seeds are there…all you have to do is give it a tiny bit of encouragement and presto you are a fat slob! It is all a matter of time and economics. Trust me it could happen to anybody. So I have built up these small paths I traverse through to get to the bathroom and kitchen, gingerly avoiding and delaying my housekeeping duties, and occasionally making my bed to convince myself that I am on top of things. Staying hard at work I only rarely look around and suddenly think that I should shake out the rug under the coffee table. But then I think nah, that rug has shoes on top of it, and they are under the coffee table. And I continue to sip my coffee and work on the computer.
My book, however, has just been completed, so the jig may be up. It may be time to confront my deep fear of picking things up and moving them around (if those things are yours this becomes a mini psychotherapy session each time) and just go ahead and get my house in order. Maybe I will see the light. Maybe I will move into the “tidy” category. This must be easier than having a monthly freakout and breathing in clouds of Comet cleanser. Or maybe, just maybe, I will grow up, get a bigger apartment, and hire a damn maid to help me.
Yes. Maybe I will do that.