I recently watched a pretty great movie on Hulu called “Shirley.” Elisabeth Moss plays author Shirley Jackson and at one point she’s having a depressive episode and just wants to sleep and doesn’t clean her house. Her husband disapproves and is like, “Bla bla bla I’m a jerk” (I’m paraphrasing), and she says, “A clean house is evidence of mental inferiority.”
This really spoke to me, mostly because I WANTED it to be true. I want to believe that the fact that my home is always a huge mess and I honestly don’t care means that I’m the smartest woman alive. That I have rich and varied intellectual inner and outer lives and have way better and more impressive things to do with my time than waste it cleaning.
It just has to be true.
Because I do not care about cleaning. Not one bit. I hate doing it and it’s annoying and feels like an inconvenience. There is no world in which I’m the person who would like “deep clean” their bathroom without (legal in some states) chemical enhancement. And even then I usually get bored a third of the way through and half ass the rest of the job.
I don’t even really think about disorder of my space in general. Honestly I don’t think I even see it. Like my brain doesn’t register that there is stuff thrown all over the place and I should pick it up. I don’t feel a NEED to pick ANYTHING up until there are piles on the floor that are physically blocking my way and I’m tripping over them. Then I’m like oh shit I guess I should get this out of the way. Wouldn’t want to break anything.
My anxiety is extreme and manifests itself in a variety of ways, and I am a perfectionist about some things in the sense that if things aren’t how I need them to be I get really freaked the heck out. But luckily (unluckily?) for me I have been spared from anxiety related to germs/cleanliness/overall disorder of a physical space. Perhaps I’m too busy feeling completely freaked out about other things to notice.
Speaking of mental bullshit, I also get depressed. Actual depression depressed, not like “sad.” When that happens I have a hard time even doing the basic things I need to do in a day, like go to work and make a living. BUT I DO IT. BUT I MOSTLY JUST WANT TO SLEEP THE WHOLE TIME. During these times all of my free time and energy goes toward just trying to keep things going and maintain the basic systems of my existence. Cleaning my home isn’t a basic system of my existence. I’m just telling you, it’s not.
My old roommate and I were roommates for so long I think in part because we had the same ideas about cleaning. Also we are besties but the cleaning (or lack thereof) connection really made things rad. When we had parties we would joke that we had to make our apartment, “people-coming-over clean.” And that would be just like regular clean for a regular person. But we were not regular. Because a clean house is evidence of mental inferiority and we were GOSH DARN MOTHER EFFING GENIUSES. TRY TO DENY IT. I’LL WAIT.
I will admit that OF COURSE the mansion/apartment/shack/house (hehe MASH) feels way better and more comfortable when it is clean and tidy. But what is the PRICE YOU MUST PAY for it to be like that all the time? The price of your mental capacity when you could be doing something smart or intellectual OR resting your brain to get ready for the next smart and intellectual thing? We only have so much to give, and we cannot do it all.
The world around us wants us to be cleaning, they expect it. At one point I read the rudest meme I had ever seen and it said, “If her house doesn’t smell like breakfast or cleaning products by 9:30am on a Saturday she’s not girlfriend material.”
HOW ABOUT YOU SUCK IT.
EVER THOUGHT ABOUT GETTING YOUR OWN FOOD OR CLEANING PRODUCTS? EVER THOUGHT ABOUT HOW I’M NOT WAKING UP UNTIL 1PM BECAUSE IT IS SATURDAY BUT THAT DOESN’T DISQUALIFY ME FROM BEING SOMEONE’S GIRLFRIEND?! Ugh I hate you.
Maybe one of the reasons why I’m so disinterested in cleaning is because… the patriarchy. Don’t tell me I should be cleaning because then I’m most definitely NOT going to clean and I will probably also run outside through some mud in my Dr. Martens and then stomp in your bed. That’s just the way it will have to go.
HOW DO YOU LIKE THAT SATURDAY MORNING, CHAD?!
Speaking of mud, and after thinking about this a little harder, I will say that my house is more “messy” than actually “dirty.” Like yeah it needs to be vacuumed, but there aren’t plates of half eaten food around or anything like that. You can’t leave half eaten food around! That’s how you attract creatures and then once you attract them the only way out is to kill them. And if I have to see a mouse struggling for its little mouse life on one of those glue traps I will definitely lose my shit.
Things need to be disinfected, food waste can’t lurk, etc. This basic maintenance DOES get done so don’t be afraid for my overall health. But I WILL have ten pairs of shoes scattered about my living room and a falling over pile of old magazines on my coffee table, clean clothes piled on every piece of furniture, dirty clothes all over the floor, backpacks/totes/purses I have used and then thrown on the floor after digging through them and transferring the necessities to a different bag, etc, etc, etc and so on and so on and so on this is the song that never ends. Yes it goes on and on, my friend.
As always this is my opinion, and I’m not trying to call you dumb because YOUR home is clean or tell you how to live your life. This is just what works for ME.
In the future someday maybe I won’t be poor and I can pay someone else to clean my home for me. It will be worth every penny, for sure. Until then, I suppose I will live among chaos.