February 26, 2007

When we lost power in the December wind storm (the storm for which there was a naming contest! And dammit all to hell, I missed the deadline! I wonder if “The Big Wet Sloppy Blow Job” would have had a chance?), JB immediately purchased a heavy-duty generator because by god his family was going to stay warm if this ever happened again.

We woke up this morning to a dark and frigid house, and JB somewhat sheepishly informed me that while the generator was waiting patiently in the garage for just such an occasion, it was missing some kind of critical power cord that our electrician hadn’t delivered yet.

The chug and rumble of a nearby generator was audible in our silent household, and JB raised his fist and shook it. “Nemesis,” he snarled, referring to our neighbors to the south who have great landscaping, always go the extra mile with their holiday lights, and apparently own not only a generator but a power cord for it as well.

The electricity came on right before I left, which was a relief but didn’t give me enough time for a shower, which sucked in a big way because I didn’t shower yesterday, either, and while I can personally deal with one day of unwashed hair by telling myself it’s good to skip a shampoo every now and then—at least that’s what all the magazines say and they wouldn’t lie, would they?—a second day is just disgusting. I blasted my head with spray-on powder, which, according to the packaging is supposed to absorb oil and help you “extend a blowout” (which I assume is referring to a stylist’s work on your hair, rather than the type of blowout I’m much more familiar with), but there is only so much Bumble and bumble can do, you know? I’m oily and limp and repulsive, and just for extra shits and grins I have a zit right smack dab in the middle of my face, below my lower lip. It’s so obnoxious I’m tempted to give up entirely on concealing the fucker and dab it with glitter instead. (“What, this? Oh, it’s my labret piercing.”)

My hair is filthy, and my house isn’t so great, either. I am going to call a cleaning service this week, I think, because I cannot stay on top of it. It’s all I can do to maintain a relatively low level of clutter and chaos and keep deadly bacterial toxins at bay, and I want a cleaner house that that. I could spend more time doing it myself, but let me tell you, I got down and cleaned the living room hardwoods yesterday by scooching around on my knees and using, gag, vinegar, and afterwards a husband, a toddler, and a dog merrily trampled through with dirty shoes/paws, and I thought to myself, Self, this is bullshit.

I want someone else to do the deep cleaning, because 1) that’s not how I want to spend my time, and 2) when I do spend the time, I turn resentful and screechy and naggy about it, and I don’t like acting like some cartoon character who just needs a rolling pin to complete the cliché.

Plus, like I said I’m barely able to keep things going as is. In one non-workday I might have time to clean the kitchen, the living room, and clear off the dining room table. Then I make dinner and we feed Riley, and there goes the kitchen. One hour passes, and the table is covered with magazines, newspapers, laundry, coats, laptops, groceries, receipts, mail, and toys. Another hour after that, and the living room looks like a Toys R Us exploded and shot toy-shrapnel onto every available surface, there’s a four-inch layer of dog hair on everything, and somebody has spilled milk on the couch.

It’s like being on a gerbil wheel, forever moving but never making actual progress. I don’t know when people make time for things like cleaning tubs, toilets, shower stalls, waxing floors, and so on. Before you ask, JB pulls his weight around the house and then some, but he’s not the go-to guy for, you know, vacuuming.

So: a cleaning service. I think it’s time.

(Why is that so embarrassing? It feels like admitting that I can’t be bothered to wipe my own ass and thus have outsourced the work.)

P.S. I have a question for those of you who might technically inclined: on this website, when you view an individual blog entry the sidebar—when viewed by some computers—drops down the to bottom of the page, rather than hovering over there on the right in a helpful manner. This is especially annoying now that I’m taking the time to update the sidebar when I’ve updated these blogs. It doesn’t seem to do this from the main page, so I’m guessing there’s something borked in the “Single Post” WordPress code, but I don’t have the foggiest idea how to fix it. If you can see this issue, and you have some ideas for me, will you let me know? I’d be super grateful.


40 Responses to “Unclean! Unclean!”

  1. Zoot on February 26th, 2007 1:52 pm

    It looks like a CSS float issue – but I’d have to look under the hood to see…I’m going to do a “view–>source” and see if I can help you.

    Also? I have opted instead of hiring a cleaning service to just live in filth. It’s quite liberating. Until child welfare services are called, of course.

  2. angela on February 26th, 2007 1:53 pm

    I am single with no kids, so I have no excuse other than the fact that my commute can take anywhere from 3 to 5 hours daily round-trip, so when I get home, the last thing I want to do is clean. It’s hard enough to actually cook a meal for myself rather than drive into a fast-food joint, so cleaning is next to impossible to get done.

    I am trying to get someone to come in once every 3 weeks, but no luck. Two weeks (too pricey) or monthly (too long in between visits). Maybe I’ll split it with my BF and work a schedule for both our apartments.

  3. m on February 26th, 2007 1:57 pm

    Just a quick thing I noticed about the sidebar: it looks like it only happens on the most recent single entry, and I feel like it has something to do with the fact that the older ones have a forward link on the top right to go to, the most recent one obviously doesn’t. The problem’s somewhere in that area, I betcha!

  4. JennB on February 26th, 2007 1:58 pm

    I’ll admit that I have a cleaning service. She comes once a month and costs about $75 – I wish she could come more often, but the dough, she’s tight. This woman does a fairly good job of the nasty bathrooms & floor washing…. her dusting leaves something to be desired, though. But, hey, like those magazines that recommend that you only wash your hair every other day (I’ve actually started to do that, and Hair Day 2 isn’t so bad, but I absolutely agree with you that it can not extend to Day 3), they also say that you can burn calories while dusting your house and talking on the phone. Y e a h…. I’ll hop right on that.

  5. Pete on February 26th, 2007 2:04 pm

    Generators are great. I have a couple, the smaller one can handle the fridge and freezer and if needed the larger one can handle the rest of the house. The best part about having a generator is once you have them hooked up you will never have to use them. Kinda like keeping a condom in your wallet, sure way to stay celibate.

  6. Jan on February 26th, 2007 2:06 pm

    I hate to make more work for you (and don’t stress about getting help with the cleaning – we ALL need help now and again) but, when you link directly to the blog post from your email notification, there is no sidebar at all. You have to go to the home page to see the sidebar. The only way to get to another post is by clicking the link to the previous post on the left at the top. Or by going to your home page. Maybe that’s how it is supposed to be and not what you meant at all?

  7. Kelly on February 26th, 2007 2:10 pm

    Scrubbing our baseboards was my last straw too! I threw a hissy fit and we hired a cleaning lady last year. She comes once every two weeks and it is the best, let me repeat, the best money we spend. On the days that I come home from work to a beautiful, clean house, it is just terrific. I am in a great mood and since I’m not nagging (er, nagging less) at my husband, he’s happier too. And I’m much more likely to keep up on the maintenance cleaning when the filth is relatively under control. I did get some judging eyes from a couple friends and co-workers, but Eh! Screw ’em. They’re clearly jealous.

  8. Yams on February 26th, 2007 2:13 pm

    I use a cleaning service once a week. I sacrificed my frequent salon trips for this. Even though my hair looks like crap most of the time my house is spotlessly clean. I wouldn’t exchange one for the other now.

  9. mrsgryphon on February 26th, 2007 2:18 pm

    I love, love, love having a cleaning lady. She comes every other week and I can’t tell you how fabulous it is to come to a lemon-y smelling, cheerio-free floor and couches without cat hair. The (clearly coincidental! ha!) reduction in arguments about cleaning between the hubby and I is a definite bonus. Now he just asks “hey, when’s Kathy coming?” instead of bitching about the furry floors or the sticky stove. AND we are much more likely to keep up with the “maintenance” de-cluttering and tidying when we know she’ll be knocking on our door to do the “other” jobs.

  10. sooboo on February 26th, 2007 2:21 pm

    Who likes cleaning? Obsessive compulsives and my mother-in-law. What I’m saying is, if you can afford a service, go for it, and don’t feel bad. You’re a busy lady. When we bought a house I decided I could do without a second bathroom because I didn’t want to clean two bathrooms. The bathroom we had in our old place was so small that I could clean it while sitting on the toilet. There’s a time saving tip for you!

  11. Swistle on February 26th, 2007 2:29 pm

    Here is what I want to know about having a cleaning service: doesn’t it feel weird having someone else in your house? I feel so shy about having a stranger come in and clean, even though I so dearly desire it. I’m wondering if that feeling wears off, or if it’s something some people feel and some don’t, and the ones who feel it never get over it. I also feel like not showing someone else what a slob I am.

  12. Rachel on February 26th, 2007 2:40 pm

    sidebar thingamabob: Mine drove me batty for a long time and I think what finally fixed it was defining the width of every single item in my css in pixels and not in a percent, and making sure that those items were never too big to share.

    Just a hunch, I would think that perhaps it’s your comment form that’s messing things up. The text box is wider than the white area on my screen; likely that’s the problem.

    re: the cleaning service: I’m with the embarrassed people. Plus my problem isn’t so much the deep cleaning. I don’t mind doing that — in fact I actually kind of like it sometimes — when I can get to that level. THe problem is I can’t scrub the floors or whatever until I’ve got the clutter put away — and four people’s clutter is just overwhelming much of the time. Yay for kids who are getting big enough to clean up their own messes — that is SUCH a sanity saver.

  13. Moderndayhermit on February 26th, 2007 2:40 pm

    Try narrowing the width on the primary/container div…the navigation is falling because you have a set width for your container but the content is too wide, so it gets pushed down to accommodate the size.

    BTW, we’ve recently hired someone to come bi-weekly and I don’t think you should feel guilty. Give those moments to your family, no shame in that.

  14. warcrygirl on February 26th, 2007 2:41 pm

    Hooray! I”m not the only one who can’t seem to have that picture perfect house you see in magazines. Just remember this: Boring women have immaculate homes.

  15. Sherri on February 26th, 2007 2:43 pm

    I’ve always been jealous of your beautiful (and clean) house in all the pictures you’ve posted. Especially since you always have fresh flowers. I can’t post any of my pictures cuz I’d be embarrassed for anyone to see my dirty carpet! (I’ve got to learn how to use Photoshop or something). But I agree with everyone else, if I could afford it, and didn’t mind having people in my house, I’d do it.

    To Swistle – We had a cleaning service when I was a kid and I always hated it – she’d go in my room and move stuff around and I never could find it. I’m still the same way. My mom was staying with us for a while and she kept trying to clean and it drove me nuts. I guess it just depends on the person. But the thought of coming home to clean public areas….maybe I could just put a lock on the bedroom door.

  16. Mama Ritchie on February 26th, 2007 3:11 pm

    I went thru the whole guilt thing too when I hired a cleaning service last year. My boss actually talked me down. She told me that a) there are people who need this job and I’d be helping them make a living; and b) I really suck at housecleaning – which is true. I tend to hurt myself. You are a wife, mother, employee and freelance writer. In the 2 spare hours a week you have do you really want to spend it with Lysol and Soft Scrub? I didn’t think so. Find a good service. And then tell me who it is cuz I need a new one now that I’m here! (Just a warning – you’ll find yourself stressing out cleaning up FOR the cleaning service. It’s inevitable.)

  17. Mary O on February 26th, 2007 3:14 pm

    Just get the housecleaning service! You’ve been talking about it for long enough. =) Seriously, it will be the best money you’ve ever spent. And Pul-eeze… don’t feel guilty about it. I am a stay-at-home-mom where my WHOLE JOB is to take care of the kid and the house and I STILL have a lady come every two weeks to do the heavy duty cleaning. Nobody wants to spend their free time scrubbing toilets.

  18. Liz in Australia on February 26th, 2007 3:32 pm

    I’m at home 24/7 and I still can’t keep on top of the housework. Admittedly that means that my two kids are also home 24/7 and they are both enthusiastic and expert generators of chaos, but it’s also because I’m crap at cleaning and would rather enjoy my kids than frantically clean up after them all day. Get a cleaner and enjoy it! (do it for me too, because we can’t afford to *g*).

  19. Audrey on February 26th, 2007 3:50 pm

    We still don’t have Baby in the house, yet I feel like (with two cats, a dog, and a husband) that my cleaning the house is a moot point. I get one room clean and it lasts for mere minutes. Also, why must my husband STACK SHIT EVERYWHERE and proceed to tell me he can’t find/hasn’t seen something I’m looking for? I think a cleaning service is a wonderful idea, as long as you don’t mind things being messy in between appointments!

  20. Philos on February 26th, 2007 3:52 pm

    When I bought my condo, my agent gave me a certificate for a free cleaning from some company. I haven’t used it, I don’t expect to use it, I’m pretty sure I still have it, and I believe it does not have any kind of expiration date on it. Let me take a look for it, I’d be happy to send it to you if it’s still valid.

  21. Melissa on February 26th, 2007 5:19 pm

    Don’t think twice about it…call the cleaning service! I feel exactly the same way. We are in the process of selling our home and I have been losing my mind trying to keep the place clean with a toddler. Every other week, I have a lovely woman who comes and does an overhaul on the place and let me tell you it is worth every penny. She was referred to me through friends and I do actually trust her. Even if you just have them do the kitchen and bathrooms….so worth it!!

  22. Jacqueline on February 26th, 2007 6:17 pm

    I did not realise it should be a source of embarassment to have a cleaner. I have had one since 1999 and my son is only 18 months old. ;) I think it is much more important now I have said child, but realistically, it is a cost I was happy to bear long before I ever thought of having a child.

  23. MRW on February 26th, 2007 6:31 pm

    Do. It. We got a cleaning service even before we had a kid because my husband has never been a cleaner and doing it myself left me so crabby and bitchy it was straining our relationship. The alternative: nag him to help me, also left us both feeling really irritable. Hiring someone else to clean was one of the best relationship decisions we’ve ever made. I’ll cancel the cell phone, cable, or stop buying shoes before I get rid of the house cleaner. I just don’t bother to clean the house anymore unless we are having people over and it’s just before the cleaners come again. Best money ever spent. Rant over.

  24. Lisa on February 26th, 2007 7:06 pm

    Im all for the cleaning crew! Last year when my husband was deployed I about had a nervous breakdown being single parent as well as having to do all the cooking, cleaning etc. with no help. We hired a cleaning lady and for $40 she comes once a month and does everything from our laundry to getting the crumbs out of the silverware drawer. I can manage the ‘day to day clutter’ but its the deep scrub down that seems to be impossible for me while chasing after a toddler. So- if its a luxury you can afford- I say go for it. I think you’ll find its $ well spent!

  25. Jenipurr on February 26th, 2007 7:16 pm

    We’ve got no kids, but we’ve got six cats who do a lot of shedding. Plus we’re both so busy that the last thing we want to do when we come home is deal with the accumulation of cat hair and the massive amount of dust that comes from living in an agricultural area. We have a cleaning service that comes out every two weeks and they are worth their weight in gold. No more arguing over whose turn it was to vacuum; no more trying to keep up with the grime. Plus, the added bonus is that this makes us clear off all the counters and tables twice a month, since they will simply clean around piles.

    Go for it. It is definitely worth it.

  26. Sarah on February 26th, 2007 7:45 pm

    I feel exactly the way you do about Cleaning (with the Big C): “Self, this is bullshit!”. I don’t so it, and neither does Jon, but with a kid on the way, we’re in serious talks to hire a cleaning service. That, and get cable (I can’t even believe I just said that…).

  27. H on February 26th, 2007 7:48 pm

    Don’t feel guilty! I tried a variety of options — the freelance cleaner, the cleaning company, a freelance cleaning duo — and I couldn’t find anyone who was consistently good. The freelancers were good at the beginning, but then they’d start taking short cuts, forgetting to do things and my neighbor told me the length of time they were there got shorter and shorter. The cleaning company was much better, but very inconsistent. They didn’t send the same crew week after week and I finally gave up. I sure miss it, but decided to do it myself for a while. I hope you find someone who does a great job.

    And you will spend time cleaning for the cleaners, but what the hell. It’s better than doing the whole house yourself.

  28. Melanie on February 26th, 2007 8:36 pm

    Cleaning service sounds like an amazing idea to me. Why should you have to do it? You work hard at your job and your mommying, housecleaning is just crappy to add to that workload. And there is, of course, the fact that it’s totally ungrateful work. I read some quote someplace about how everyone notices when you DON’T clean, but when you do, no one says “hey, that spot where I threw that balled-up piece of paper yesterday? – you picked that up! Cool!”. Cleaning is really a thankless job. I’d hire a cleaner if I could afford it (I bet I could if I cut down on Dunkin Donuts/Starbucks runs) and if I didn’t live in an embarrassingly small two-bedroom apartment that should practically clean itself if I wasn’t so damn lazy.

  29. Amie on February 26th, 2007 9:06 pm

    I’d kill for a cleaning service, but I’m having a hard time convincing my husband. He’s still laboring under the delusion that my complete lack of motivation where house cleaning is concerned is a breakable habit. Pshaw.

  30. orangepeacock on February 26th, 2007 9:17 pm

    I would feel incredibly guilty about it, but then I live in an apartment, not a house. And my “sorta” grandmother was a cleaning lady when I was growing up, and I hated that she broke her back doing that all the time because she couldn’t find a better job and she was so old. I would just feel funny having someone else’s sorta grandma scrubbing my floors. I always wonder who picks up the extra work for women like her, because she’d do freelance cleaning *and* maintain a spotless in-home daycare, and in her sixties she could barely pay her bills with the money she scraped up from all that work.

    I felt even weirder about it all after reading “Nickel and Dimed” for a class. Boy. Good book, but very sad and frustrating to think about the societal/governmental problems that cause it.

    However, I think you have to do what you have to do to stay sane and keep your house healthy and liveable. If you hire a freelancer and treat him/her well, or hire a service that doesn’t abuse its employees, then you’re helping someone make a living.

  31. Lesley on February 26th, 2007 9:27 pm

    First things first, your web site aligns perfectly for me (Firefox browser,

    Second, I do wish I had your sense of humour re the occasional and thankfully rare obnoxious facial pustule It’s so obnoxious I’m tempted to give up entirely on concealing the fucker and dab it with glitter instead. (”What, this? Oh, it’s my labret piercing.”)

    I would, being me, never think of the glitter option, only sick leave.

    Outsourcing cleaning puts money in someone’s pocket. Think of it this way: you’re contributing to job creation and the local economy.

  32. Rayne on February 26th, 2007 10:30 pm

    Let go of the guilt and call the cleaning service. Schedule your house of the rest of the year and enjoy a clean toilet. Working and being a good mom/wife is tough enough without worrying about the underneath of your kitchen sink. I’m in school right now but the first call I make after going back to work will be a cleaning service!

  33. renmen on February 27th, 2007 12:16 am

    Don’t feel guilty about hiring a cleaning service – you *have* to. The way I look at it, what it boils down to is simply a matter of expertise. You know, I need someone to fix my plumbing, I call a plumber. I need someone to fix my car, I call a mechanic. I need someone to fix my house’s dirtiness, I call a professional cleaner! It’s just logical like that.
    Anyways, we found someone by asking around in the neighborhood, it’s the best thing ever, and I can say that I will never clean my toilets again. Do I feel guilty about that? Hells no!

  34. Ang on February 27th, 2007 7:48 am

    Oh how I would love to have a maid! Or even a cleaning service visit me once or twice a year.

    As far as your unwashed hair. I am with you on that one. I try so hard to skip a shampoo every now and then, but it grosses me out so bad!

  35. americangirl on February 27th, 2007 8:57 am

    I, too, feel guilty (somewhat) about my housecleaner, who, by the way, is here RIGHT NOW. And yet, my guilt is superceded by my desire for a clean house and a happy husband. So, I figure I’ll get over the guilt. We’re fortunate enough to live in an area where cost of living is relatively low, so I only pay $14/hr. SO worth it. I am a (mostly) SAHM, but my husband works 70+ hours a week, which leaves me feeling a little bit like a single mom with the responsibility of everything. So a cleaner just gives me that little boost…and the motivation to maintain it, too.

    So…I’d say go for it!

  36. nonsoccermom on February 27th, 2007 9:15 am

    I want a cleaning service so, so badly. I am sick and tired of vacuuming and sweeping crumbs, pet hair, and my hair. I hate cleaning toilets and bathtubs, and these days it seems like I can’t even manage to change the sheets on my bed often enough. Ew. In fact, maybe I’ll check prices on cleaning services right now. You’ve inspired me!

  37. Dawn on February 27th, 2007 10:18 am

    Oh, you will NEVAH regret hiring someone to clean your house. I’ve had various people for the last ten YEARS, with the exception of when I first moved to Houston and started dating my (now) husband. I finally told him one day how stressed out I was about all the clutter and cleaning that needed to be dealt with, and he started paying for someone to come every other week, so I paid for the weeks between (we got a recommendation from a neighbor), so to this day we have someone come once a week. I told him we’d go back to eating ramen noodles every night for dinner before I’d give up the housekeeping service.

    The bonus of having help like this, besides the obvious clean thing (and the clean smell!) is that you won’t end up just moving clutter around – I asked my housekeeper to put all clutter she finds in a pile on my bed; that way, I have to deal with it/put it away before I can turn in for the night, and then the house is REALLY straight. Love!

  38. Josie on February 27th, 2007 1:57 pm

    Third day hair takes a while to look decent. Eventually though, 3rd day hair can be great too. I’m too lazy to shower as much these days, I feel like I need to make up for when I took 3 showers a day in high school. How did my parents let me do that?

  39. Becky on February 27th, 2007 2:59 pm

    Do it…..it will be the best money ever spent. We had one for over a year and I LOVED Carol. She kept everything so tidy and wonderful. As for the guilt….in our case..Carol had benefits…so that was great for her….that and the company owner drove a new BMW every 2 years. So I didn’t feel guilty about it at all!

  40. Becky on February 27th, 2007 2:59 pm

    Sadly..we moved…and had to say bye to Carol.

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