I came across a solution to my inability to clean the apartment. First off, of course, I don’t do it alone. As I like to say, this is a frat house, or whatever the non-sexist equivalent is. Everybody chips in, and we all take turns nudging to get it done. But there are many weekend days when I am literally unable to get out of bed, greatly due to the prospect of household projects my husband has coerced me into agreeing to.
My son’s favorite show was once ‘The Comfy Couch’. In it, a girl-clown named Lunette would do the ‘10-Second Tidy’ at the end of each episode; a speeded-up taping of her shoving things under pillows, sweeping and straightening-out until the space and couch are again pristine, as in the top of the show. This inspired bit has been one way I’ve motivated my son, and myself, to get the surface insanity wrangled from time to time…but then there’s the infrastructure. Actual cleaning. Actual tossing. Making all those tiny, heinous choices. Replacing the cracked linoleum that is the kitchen floor.
No, no. Just too hideous. I’m too overwhelmed by the morass and multitude of tasks in every area of my life not to just pull the covers over my head and shut out the squalor. But I do not have that luxury, the ‘luxury of depression’ as a friend of mine once called it. I have a kid. And a spouse.
What to do? There are many modalities that have improved the situation over the years, from self-talk to yoga to better living through chemistry. But when all else fails, and confronting the task at hand feels like crossing an impossible abyss, I resort to magic.
Perhaps it’s because I hail from a theatrical background, and one rooted in the trenches of fringy, angry theater, but it occurred to me one Saturday that an impulsive embrace of my turned-inward anger was called for. To turn that anger inside out, I grabbed a pair of striped bloomers and a very short, swishy skirt (actors, even the one’s on hiatus, have amazing stuff in their closets, which is a blessing and a curse) a bustier and a too-small bowler hat, and with wild, manic intensity in my eyes, I descended on my family and the tasks at hand. Something shifted. Paralysis exploded into riotous laughter, as I set about hitting people with pillows and getting to work. And then, I couldn’t stop myself! Straightening, scrubbing, chucking…I even touched up the paint job in the bathroom that had been botched and left to hang there in error for years. It was as if I had been lifted and was being carried, the cleaning was being done through me…
Yes, the costume was the trigger, the primary ingredient of the spell. My family dubbed me Lunette’s crazy sister…the one who didn’t pass the audition. (Too much rage, I guess. I make a truly scary clown.) But something happened that day…
Fortunately, once the initial inspiration had passed, I discovered I don’t need the whole get-up…
Just the hat.
It’s all in the hat. Somehow, magically, the hat absorbed the break-through fuck-it energy of that day. And all I have to do is put it on. The hat has the power to transcend the deepest resistance, the most immobilizing states of mind. As I lift it to my head, I feel its power, in all its vintage, tattered dustiness. A glow seems to emanate from it, a glow that I infused it with. I have empowered the hat. Call me crazy, but the damn thing works. And believe me, Sista, I work it.
© Rahti Gorfien 2009
Thanks to Rahti for a great post, I’d say it makes a great Tip of the Week too: make chores fun!
Rahti Gorfien, of Creative Calling Coaching, is a Life Coach and Park Slope mom, specializing in mothers with universal and yet unique challenges to succeed both personally and professionally. She is also a regular contributor to Hip Slope Mama. Read and subscribe to her newsletter for additional tips and essays.