so clean!

My good friend and improv teammate, Sarah, recently sent out a request to a bunch of us saying that she’s looking to pick up some odd jobs for the next couple months so that she can make extra holiday cash. She offered services of all kinds – cleaning, errands, laundry – and I instantly wanted to take her up on the offer, especially because I knew it would help her out and I like her.

I did quit my job, but it turns out I’m not quite as broke as I thought I’d be. Actually, I don’t know what I thought. But I was prepared for it to be tight. I’m so lucky to have money, even if it’s just a little bit of money, coming into my life right now. Still, I’m as frugal as ever and spending money asking a friend to clean something, something I could just as easily clean myself, seemed outside the budget. So I put Sarah’s offer on the back burner.

But then I was making lunch in our kitchen on Friday and I noticed the ceiling fan. And it was pretty dusty. And that made me pretty annoyed.

You know that feeling you get when you look around your house, which you *think* is clean, but then you suddenly notice twelve varieties of dust bunnies under your desk, and then you remember that you need to do laundry, and that the vacuum cleaner needs a new bag and you haven’t gotten one yet, and that you haven’t looked under the couches since May? And you suddenly feel so overwhelmed that you just want to sprinkle dirt into your sandwich so that you can build up your immune system and be done with it?

For whatever reason, turning 29 has made me feel more like an adult than any age before it ever has. I’m sure the Age that does this for people is different for everyone. It seems mine is 29. NOW I’m an adult. I run a home. I go the grocery store. I don’t play games in my relationships. I make travel plans. I buy new shoes when I need them. I’m a real grown up. These are all things that were true the day before I turned 29 as well, but for some reason, they feel more real now than ever before.

So in turning 29 and in becoming a real grown up, I’m more irritated with a messy apartment than I ever have been. And it’s not that our apartment is an absolute disaster. We keep it pretty neat for the most part. But ceiling fans? No. I don’t ever clean the ceiling fans.

Why not?


For one thing, I’ve never lived in an apartment this big as an adult. I have to clean every room?! It’s overwhelming.

Plus, using up several hours each week cleaning my apartment when I was working full time (and spending anywhere between 11-18 hours every day outside the house) was the opposite of what I wanted to be doing. Kevin and I had an argument over the summer about how best to keep the place clean within our limited schedules. Maybe we’d institute a 10-minutes-a-day rule. Yeah, maybe. Or maybe we’d only bicker about it and never do it.

Also, I’m not one of those people that loves cleaning. I hate doing big cleans. Ugh, I hate it. Sure, once I’m in the groove, here we are, let’s keep going. But oh my god I’d rather do 1800 other things instead.

Plus we’ve got two damn cats. That potted plant is surely going to have its roots ripped out in a matter of days anyway. Why not just wait until that happens and THEN clean? Right, honey?

I have a TON of excuses! It’s almost fascinating. Look, we all have our weaknesses. And really, the long and short of it is that I have no idea what the hell I’m doing. YES, I know how to clean. But I don’t have the routine or the habits in place quite yet. And I haven’t exactly started doing much about it. Even though I want to. Even though I’ve decided that when you’re 29, you clean your ceiling fans.

I realized this as I stood in my kitchen the other day staring up at that stupid fan. Let’s remove it and throw it away, I thought. Like when my old roommate threw away all the silverware in the apartment because he didn’t want to wash it. I was actively and aggressively against his decision at the time, but now I’m rethinking my stance. Let’s just do that, I thought.

NO, I decided. Get it together, Jen. Just do a big sparkly kitchen clean! And you will feel so good.

And then I died inside. I do not want to, I thought.

And then I remembered – SARAH!


I can ask Sarah to come over here and clean this kitchen – the stuff we rarely get to like the tops of the cabinets, the inside of the fridge drawers, and the vast floor which gets mopped never. Maybe if she’ll do that big stuff, I’ll feel like I’ve gotten a head start! I literally stopped what I was doing and walked over to the computer to email her immediately. A few minutes later, we’d decided that she’d come over on Sunday to clean the kitchen. And I was elated. Spending money on something like this suddenly seemed like a great plan.

Inspired by the potential peace this may invite into my life, I decided that Kevin and I could clean the REST of the apartment while Sarah did the kitchen. It would be the perfect opportunity. We could listen to tunes and get shit done.

And that’s just what we did yesterday.

Kevin and Sarah got off to a great start. While I sat on the couch and geeked out on the computer for the first thirty minutes. To my credit, I was blogging! But still. Maybe this is part of the problem, I wondered. But once I finally got my act together and got to work on the living room, I was able to make some major progress. And Kevin whipped the bedroom into better shape than it’s seen in months, including a reorganization of the closet shelves. Huge.

And then, there’s my kitchen. Oh my beautiful kitchen. Sarah cleaned it in a way that it has never before been cleaned. And I’m not ashamed. I’m letting go of the fact that I couldn’t muster the resolve to do it myself and I’m just embracing the hell out of the gift she gave me yesterday. She cleaned ev-ery-thing. And you can tell. And I’m not going to go in there anymore because I want it to stay that way forever. Kevin, this is your warning. Do not set foot in the kitchen. We’ll eat in the tub.

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The whole apartment looks fantastic. And I’m so happy about it. I’m going to work hard to keep it this way because now that I have a running start, there’s no reason I can’t maintain this. I’m home often and I have two cats who are so offended by the vacuum cleaner that it’s almost hilarious, so why wouldn’t I run that thing a couple times a week, just to remind them who makes the rules around here. (They do.)

Here are a few shots of some of the reorganization in the living room and bedroom:

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I’ve never before paid anyone to clean my apartment. I grew up being sort of disturbed by the idea. Why can’t you do it yourself, I thought? Sure, it’s nice not to have to, but that seems pretty spoiled. I suppose that’s partly because my grandmother would never in a billion trillion years pay someone to do anything that she could easily do herself. But it’s her loss because it rules.

Now that it’s done, I cannot think of a better way to have spent that money. I don’t plan to keep doing it – that probably would be a waste of my money right now. But doing it this once was a fantastic decision. It sounds strange, but I would not have been this pleased with a massage, a nice meal, or even a week of yoga classes. This is better. I actually kinda feel like I gave myself those things anyway by giving myself this peace of mind. It was a little birthday gift To Me. Thanks for working so hard, Me. Here’s a clean kitchen. You deserve it.

And thanks, Sarah! Do you wanna move in?


6 thoughts on “so clean!

    • Thanks! Yeah, it’s big. It’s in Prospect Lefferts Gardens, which is off the Q Train – Parkside Avenue stop. It’s a block from the Southeast entrance of Prospect Park. My boyfriend lived here for a year by himself before I moved in and he did a great job choosing this place. It’s gonna be impossible to ever move, because it really is a awesome apartment.

      • I love it! I’d say don’t leave. The space and the light it seems to have is amazing 🙂 Those are rare and precious commodities in NYC apartments

  1. I agree, it is rare. The light is tricky, though. There’s very little direct sunlight which bugs me. There are two big doors that are also full windows at the front and back of the place but nothing on either side. And we don’t have a tub, only a big standing shower. So I want more windows and a tub in the next place we live. But I’m sure I could find something wrong with the next place too! 😉 I can’t imagine we’ll move any time soon.

  2. Oh, you KNOW I can relate to this post! I live in a 970 square foot house and you’d THINK it would be easy to keep it clean, but… you’d be wrong. 😉 It’s an OLD house, so even though it is little, there are a lot of little 100 year old cracks and crannies for dust and dirt to hide.

    For me it comes down to a question of opportunity cost: what could I be doing with my time that is more valuable than cleaning. Because yes, I might be spending money to pay somebody to clean, but they are much better at it than me, and it frees me up to dp (XYZ). I can see how this would be especially important in your current situation, where you could actually be generating income / revenue during your non-cleaning time.

    My biggest tip from here on out: now that the place is spic and span.. KEEP IT THAT WAY. Put yourselves on a schedule, even though it sucks… it will help you avoid the big clean. Mondays, the bathroom gets cleaned. Tuesdays, the bedroom. Wednesdays, wash bedding and towels. Thursday, etc… and take turns doing it… because then it is jsut 30-60 minutes out of your day each day, rather than 5 hours on one day, which is maddening (and then everything gets half-assed because who has 5 hours to clean!?)

    Congrats. It is okay to pay people to do things for you! After all, somebody is paying you to bake for them when they could do it themselves (but the end result wouldn’t be as good… just like hiring somebody to clean!)

  3. No matter how old I get, cleaning is still that thing that I want to whine about and say, can’t someone else do it? Only problem, I’m the only one to do it in this house. Ick! I might need to consider a maid, that or tie a mop and a broom to my dogs’ tails and get them to clean up after themselves. It’s a thought.

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