...and you will become that. Did I make up this axiom? Probably not, but I am going to "Practice Practicing" and see what happens. I will be training and conditioning myself in the Habits of Happy Housekeeping. Why, you ask? Because I am determined to become one of those people who find joy in organizing, who experience Zen-like states as they employ their sponges, brooms, dusters and toilet bowl brushes. I want to clap my little hands in glee when I look at the calm and peaceful surfaces that surround me. I hope to find inspiration and Nirvana. I want to experience Enlightenment in bathroom mirrors whose toothpaste freckles are a memory, in toilet seats that are not decorated in Newfoundland dog hair, in ceilings, nooks and lampshades that are bereft of spider webs, and in refrigerators that house no molding remembrances of last week's soup.
If I had wanted this to be easy, I would never have gotten married, or at the very most I would have married an anal man. I did not marry a perfectionist. I chose a lovely, relaxed man who supports all of my tactics and diversions that prevent me from being a paradigm of organization and neatness. I would have chosen to remain childless. I did not. Although my children are long gone from this house, their ghosts linger. I would have lived in the city with its paved streets, sidewalks and orderliness. Instead, I live in the country. There are no sidewalks, no paved driveways and citified order. I would have lived in a part of the country where there is no mud nine months of the year. I would not live where my family has to wear rain pants, boots and slickers while they work....and where those accouterments have a proper place. They would not be hanging at the end of the day on the railing by the wood stove. (In fact, I would not have that railing at all as it justs shouts, "Hang anything and everything on me! I want your wet socks, your jackets and rain pants. I can hold the dog blankets and wet laundry too!"
I am going to begin today. I shall put on my serene and dreamy countenance. I shall commence by gathering all of my equipment in an organized fashion. Perhaps we'll have a little group hug, my vacuum, sponge, Swiffer and me.
Oh, hold on a second. I seem to be experiencing a cold sensation in my feet. I am beginning to think this is all akin to a Do It Yourself Lobotomy. That could have dangerous consequences. I am going to leave you with this poem I love, and then I am going to rethink some of these utterances.
There's something wicked that empowers poets cleaning their houses
Poetry loves a fresh floor, a spotless toilet, even under the rim.
There are a thousand ways to get grout white again.
A thousand ways to shine tile, to polish a sink new.
Poetry lives between the bristles of a used toothbrush,
Metaphors choke when the poet touches the feather duster:
poetry loves grime. It's tired of living like an old washcloth,
wiping away staleness like lime from a spigot.
The garbage must be dumped, the dog washed, books alphabetized.
Help me, whatever it is that makes poems.
Whatever divine synapse clicks invisibly like a dust mote
in the darkness, gathering word upon word,
balling phrases under the bed where only the broom's
eyelashes touch; help me whatever thing drives the scouring pad,
the dish cloth, the mop, each hand latex-gloved, dumb and callous,
the pen dormant in its shell, but clean. Sloth saves poets
the way the sea saves painters: each wave decorating a new landscape
to love, every handful of sand, original, capricious.
I know each coffee stain on the sofa is a stanza waiting to set in,
that glass-ring on the nightstand an unending orb waiting for its tenor.
I'll just tidy up a little while poetry dies inside my sponge.
I live here among the dog hair, the mildew, the rust.
(apologies to the author, I don't know how to fix the breaks in the lines where they should not appear.)