I'm generally a pretty good neatener. I don't mind tossing magazines into the recycling bin or even occasionally loading the dishwasher.
In fact, I sometimes find it relaxing to create some semblance of order in our apartment -- or at least to move things around a bit so I feel as if I'm doing something productive.
Still, in a relatively small New York City apartment -- especially one inhabited by young children -- things tend to have a way of piling up.
As a not-so-subtle hint that I might need some help getting things in order, a friend recommended I check out Cynthia Townley Ewer's “Houseworks: Cut the Clutter, Speed Your Cleaning and Calm the Chaos."
In her book, Townley Ewer of OrganizedHome.com details the embarrassing incident that forced her to realize that she had a serious problem with clutter. Apparently, after her house was burglarized, the police surveyed the scene and declared that her bedroom had been ransacked.
"“No!" Townley Ewer explained. "That’s just the way I left it!"
After making peace with clutter, Townley Ewer became a born-again neatener, proselytizing to the (literally) unwashed masses that turn to her book and web site for homemaking advice.
I never realized that being a slob qualifies as an addiction. According to Townley Ewer, there are support groups for "Clutterers Anonymous," which applies the Twelve Step program to "issues of clutter and hoarding."
Luckily, I don’t things around here have become dire enough for me to join up anytime soon. I can only imagine what their meetings are like:
"I can’t help collecting coasters. My living room is filled with them."
"You think that’s bad? I’ve got a pile of newspapers dating back to 1986!"
The book begins with a multiple choice Cleaning Quiz:
“What’s the relationship with the vacuum cleaner?”
I didn’t realize we were having a relationship. I didn’t even know we were dating.
"How often do you remove dust from the home?"
Actually, Avo and I maintain a "shoe-free" household. To the annoyance of my more fashionable friends, we insist that guests remove their shoes at the door.
They assume it's because we are neat freaks. In truth, we are counting on their socks to dust and buff our floor.
My responses peg me as a "Dirt Dodger. Too often, you're discouraged about life on the home front. Remember, the truth: if you don't wanna, you ain’t gonna."
Okay, I admit it. I don't wanna. Should I just throw in the dust rag before I even start?
At the back of the book, Townley Ewer includes several pages of lists: freezer inventory, shopping lists, weekly menu planners, daily to-do lists and weekly to-do lists. They are left blank, presumably for the reader to fill them in.
Note to self: Add these To-Do lists to my To-Do list.