I used to clean my room, apartment, whatever it was, every Saturday. I was a good cleaner - I know how a room is supposed to be cleaned and I enjoy seeing the dust, grime, and cat hair disappear. I love being in a clean house.
But I hate picking up the clutter and crap that has to be picked up in order to get to the "real" cleaning. And as a consequence of living in a small household with one other academic (think lots of books and papers), one child, and two cats, my house doesn't get cleaned very often. And it always looks cluttered.
We have company this week, so on Thursday I made a Herculean effort to, if not thoroughly clean this cramped apartment, at least minimize the evidence of our filth and squalor. And it actually worked fairly well. Except for the visible dust on the less-noticeable surfaces and the stains of mysterious origin all over the light-colored carpet (why do they install those? no one with kids/pets/spouses should have a light-colored carpet), it looks pretty good.
And, for the past week, I've been going through our stuff in an effort to get rid of as much crap as possible. Although, in the years we've lived here, we've gained one child and a whole room's worth of child accessories, I actually think we've managed to end up with less crap than we had when we moved in. This accomplishment, by the way, is entirely due to my efforts, and owes very little to my partner, who would, if left to his own devices, become a Collier brother. (insert affectionate nudge here)
The kid and I put together an overfull box of toys to donate (I am so proud of him!), and I hauled out six garbage bags full of toddler clothes (I haven't even begun to look through the baby clothes yet). I also found enough random stuff - breast pump attachments, an electronic pest control device, a baby monitor, a couple of t.v. antennas, etc. - to fill another box, and now the hall closet is navigable again.
And for the last two nights, I've stayed up until 2am going through financial records. I've got the once stuffed "taxes" file drawer down to about half-full, just by pulling out things like credit card statements and checks for the shredder (I don't itemize, so it's ok). And even my great-aunt's secretary - which was once our version of Fibber McGee's closet - can now be opened without incurring injury from falling debris.
The rest of my household, however, are eyeing me with suspicion and guarding their stuff.