Friday, April 9, 2010

Spring Break, Part I

Palm Beach or Spring Cleaning
Except for sleeping in the guest room all week, I really hadn’t considered going anywhere for Spring break. With four art classes, five days a week, and most of the leftover time spent on finishing art projects, my house has been looking a little disorderly. I try to find a balance between "clean enough to be healthy" and "dirty enough to be happy," but at some point you have to sweep the room with more than a glance.

I LOVE living in a clean house, sleeping on freshly laundered sheets, and relaxing on fur-free furniture—who doesn’t? But I HATE housework. The last thing I want to do is spend time on a task that I’ll just have to do all over again next week. I wish I thought it was fun or challenging or therapeutic, but for me it ranks right below exercise and pulling weeds. I doubt even our OCD friends look at housework as enjoyable.

Still, I thought Spring break is a perfect time to regain control over the dust bunnies, polish the copper teapot, and clean out the garage. I know, as a rally cry it hardly ranks with “Palm Beach or Bust,” but such is the burden of age and a mortgage.

The Pop Psychologist Is “IN”
I am a Type A-minus personality. I am competitive, ambitious, high-achieving, multi-tasking, unhappy about delays, and not-controlling-but-definitely-bossy. I make numbered lists: 1) written and 2) mental. I drive myself with deadlines. It is, however, this aversion to housework and other maintenance tasks that keeps me from being a Type A-plus personality. I mean, seriously, you will never find me up at 2 a.m. because I had to load the dishwasher before I could go to bed.

So, in thinking about how to approach my Spring break objectives (yes, yes, I realize that developing an “approach” is a stall tactic and that I should just start cleaning), I decided to go with my strengths: I made a list and gave myself a deadline.

The Week’s Not Over Yet
I won’t bore you with the details of the list (lest you hold it over me come Monday morning), but I will share a few of the week’s highlights:
  • I cleaned out the refrigerator, including washing the five jam jars that had less than a teaspoon of jam in them so they could be put in the recycle bin. I thought about combining them, but didn’t have a taste for fig-pear-pomegranate.
  • I scrubbed the kitchen floor, which interestingly has 81 full-sized 12” x 12” tiles and 32 partials, and laundered the now-pink throw rugs.
  • I set up and organized an Excel file with all my online passwords. Notice to would-be hackers: The word “password” does not appear anywhere in the file.
  • I washed five pairs of shoes; I am still waiting for them to dry.
  • I designed new business cards.
  • I read an article about Dostoyevsky’s The Idiot, looked up French chef Escoffier, started memorizing the names of the 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence, and finished From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. (Okay, these were spur of the moment additions to the list.)
  • I loaded Microsoft Outlook onto my computer and started organizing my contacts and calendar. Notice to family and friends: Look for a request to update your information.
  • I scrubbed the floors in the laundry room/cat bathroom. For parity’s sake: 52 full-sized tiles, 11 partials.
  • I tracked down (after a nonfruitful visit to OSH) and ordered replacement bulbs for my office lamps.
  • I painted awhile on my two-panel landscape. I think I’ve got the wheat field up to an “8½” and the desert up to a “7.”
  • I wrote this week’s blog post…
I haven’t started the garage (the week’s not over yet), but I have realized that I’ve got the life I want…one where there may be dust in my house but there isn’t any on me.


  1. I'm exhausted just reading the list, we both need a nap.

  2. On Spring break, naps are just built into the schedule!

  3. This was definitely a "high five" blog post for me - I was laughing and commiserating at the same time...and need to count the tiles in my kitchen (if I want to compete with you!)
    I do think, however, that the part I enjoyed the most was "sleeping in the guest room"; that would give me a perspective of how that room feels to my guests, too, and yet I don't want it to be so nice that they want to stay TOO long!

  4. Yes, the guest room has been great! The maid service is a little sporadic (when you live alone, it's always your turn to do the dishes), but the artwork and reading material are five star!

  5. I found the "minus" part of your Type A personality interesting - I think I have a lot of minuses across the spectrum. But it got me to thinking - is there a good Type A, B, C - and is there a type D? as all I have ever heard about is type A or B - "test or survey" one can take for free? Or is this one of those random statistics made up at the time of quotation - although I do not dispute the truth in your self-evaluation as I believe you to be spot on. Anyway, I can't remember what I'm supposed to be (oh surprise - I probably read it too quickly, wasn't interested so immediately dropped it from memory). But seriously, I want to type myself so I can disagree with whatever type I turn out to be. :-) And everyone else posting comments to your blog has perfect spelling and no typos - why do I find this irritating - oh, because now I feel obligated to proof my post. Ah forget it. That's a minus!

  6. I googled the topic before I wrote this post and found that the "theory" only includes Types A and B, but is, as I said, pop psychology and not taken all that seriously by people in the "biz." But since you asked, I did find a quiz ( on Discovery Health that asks 17 questions to determine where you are on the A/B scale. As expected, I am an A-! (The quiz did happen to push all my road rage buttons, though.) I suspect you are going to be a B+...a very enviable way to approach life, I think.

  7. It's been suggested that Type A's are subject to increased risk factor in coronary heart disease. I was glad to read that some of your highlights included physical activity even though it may compare to taking time out and smelling the weeds! I'd like to hear if any epiphanies developed while cleaning out that refrigerator or scrubbing those tiles. I must believe the thought process went beyond the tile matrix, or finding a jar of jelly with an expiration date reflecting the century of our birth.

  8. It would seem that true Type A's are often angry people who find fault in life--contributing factors to heart disease. I am, fortunately, a woman with a very long fuse who thinks life is all about what you do with it. The epiphany here was realizing that although I'm not the world's most fastidious housekeeper (ha!), I am fastidious about living deliberately, about being engaged in what I do and how I do it. I don't want to get to the end of my days and regret not having explored, tried, considered, ventured, risked. Again, there may be dust in my house, but there isn't any on me!

  9. Okay, I know this blog is about you and not me, but here goes anyway... (like I follow rules!) My type A or B personality score hit dead in the middle (not an A minus nor a B plus). In some ways, I think this describes me well: "Results Nonconclusive" I won't argue that point or assessment at all.

    However, here is what it said about my sitting-on-the-fence score:

    "You seem to be in the middle between the Type A and Type B personality. In this case, the middle ground is good. Your attitude to life is more of the "smell the roses" kind and you know how and when to relax. Nonetheless, you realize that picking up a challenge and competing a little bit for your place in the sun can add some spice to your life. The equilibrium is important, so don't let your hostile, aggressive, and competitive alter ego take over too often. Generally, you are easy to be around, and people tend to feel relaxed and comfortable in your presence. Yours is a very healthy attitude towards life."

    Hmmm. "...the middle ground" definitely sounds to me like "settling" and that makes me mad - or should I say - HOSTILE? I hate the middle ground - commit or move on but quit pussy-footin' around! Hostile and aggresive sure - I'm usually ticked off about something. Competitive?, not so much. I like winning, it's just rarely the primary goal. I knew I would argue with the results - maybe I need to take the test over until I get the result I want? ;-) ha!

  10. There's nothing like a sibling's perspective.......EXCELLENT!

  11. I would add, "Nothing like a sibling's perspective to bring you off your high horse." Ha!