Cleaning My Damned Apartmentâ„¢

Cleaning My Damned Apartment, Day 21: The sprint that winded me

have a seat You would think it would be easier to clean your damned apartment than to adjust your mood. Yet this second of my 21-day salutes was way, way harder, and not just because I'm a slob.

Making the first meditation about something as obvious as focusing on the happy made the process of writing about it much more straightforward. I either had an obvious blessing conk me on the head or I was tasked with taking something, anything, and finding the good in it. Either way, a relatively easy writing process.

To write about cleaning? Harder. Much, much harder. I know that there are people who make a nice living writing about cleaning (more so, probably, than the people who actually clean), but I wasn't interested in "just" writing about cleaning. (Although I was happy to give people a few pointers...Neil.)

This whole here blog thing is about process. Specifically, about taking the parts of my process that I can share and doing so, in the hope that some lucky soul will either enjoy the telling of it or learn from my foibles and foible not themselves. Both, if we're lucky.

It's my process, too, of course. But what I was doing wasn't so easy to clarify until yesterday, on Day 20 of this maddening cleaning thing, when I was on the phone with Lily and she casually brought up how she was enjoying the blog lately because I seemed to have found a way "to externalize my process."

Which just goes to show you: wisdom is like the perfect stiletto heel, you'll never find it when you're out there looking. You just have to sit back, relax and trust that eventually, when the time is right, it'll find its way to you...

xxx c

Photo by Esther17 via Flickr, used under a Creative Commons license.

Cleaning My Damned Apartment, Day 20: I can see and hear clearly now

spring cleaning two After being out of town and just plain out of commission, today found me both home and feeling over my cold enough to catch up with my beloved Lily.

I made a decision awhile ago to stop multitasking during real phone conversations, since it's not possible for me to have a quality talk with split focus. But I find I get mad spilkes when I have to sit and focus with no visual stimulus or physical activity. I'm okay if I'm hanging out with a friend and we're 'just' talking, I'm okay driving a car and listening to the radio, but I cannot JUST sit and talk on the phone or JUST sit and listen to music. (Oddly, I can just sit and watch a movie or even TV, but I feel sick if I JUST watch TV. That might be JUST conditioning, though, Ole Golly and my mom felt pretty much the same way about the idiot box.)

Anyway, I'd been Getting To Empty in preparation for my trip tomorrow, but that required mental energy, which I wanted to have fully focused on Lily. I stopped as soon as I got on the phone, but sitting still was starting to make me panicky. Not good.

Then, while I was up getting a drink of water, I absentmindedly picked up a sponge and started cleaning the window screen in the kitchen. Instantly, I felt my focus return, laser-like, to our conversation. So I got out the all-purpose cleaner and wiped down the vertical blinds. And then the glass cleaner and cleaned all the slats so they could go back into the jalousie windows for fall.

And lo, an hour and a half later, not only were Lily and I massively caught up on events large and small over the past month, my whole apartment looked amazing.

Everybody wins.

Despite my highly competitive nature, that really is my favorite thing...

xxx c

Photo by webschepper via Flickr, used under a Creative Commons license.

Cleaning My Damned Apartment, Day 19: Clearing time clutter

expiration date Yesterday, I made it formal: I talked to my agent about saying bye-bye to acting.

Now, it's not like this has been a banner year for me, acting-wise; it's been my worst year since the commercial strike. I'm hitting a weird time, age-wise, and the business has changed a lot, too. Auditions were down anyway, to the point where the few people with whom I discussed my potential move wondered why I would actively take myself out of the game. Why not just go to whatever auditions were left and pursue what I wanted in my down time.

But I was starting to notice two things about auditioning. Either I was mainly happy being there to see all the friends I've made over the years or I resented being there at all for the time it was stealing from things I wanted to be doing more. Not good, either of them.

And there is a great, great power in working clean, admitting out loud, to yourself and the universe, that this is what you want. This.

So I'm out. Or on hiatus, as my lovely agent said we should put it.

But really, no matter how you slice it, there are big changes afoot.

And I wouldn't have it any other way...

xxx c

Photo by Tartanna via Flickr, used under a Creative Commons license

Cleaning My Damned Apartment, Day 18: Staying Afloat

olivia's apple ship If you've been keeping up (and if you haven't, why not?!), you know that I timed this particular 21-day 'salute' a little poorly, forgetting that I had a three-day conference that would fall squarely in the middle.

The point of these 'salutes', for me, anyway, because I can't speak for you, dear reader, is to replace an old habit with a new one: in this case, letting things get wildly out of control rather than taking care of things day by day, bit by bit, and tackling the bigger things as time allows.

So far, I'm pleased to say, it's been working. Especially given the presence of an additional, trash-generating human being on the premises for the last week, things stayed remarkably under control. Committing to a few daily tasks helped enormously; knowing the bed was made, the dishes done each night, the trash emptied went a long way towards both peace of mind and general crap level.

I picked up some bug in the desert, so I doubt I'll get much major cleaning done in the home stretch. But the habit seems to be in place, so I also doubt I'll be left with a trash heap to sort through when I'm finally feeling 100% again. I'm not pushing too hard; I'm doing what I feel up to, mainly the dishes, the bed and some minor clutter-clearing.

And I'm asking for help when I need it. The BF was working on some pretty tight deadlines yesterday, but was still gracious to step up and use one of his 10-minute breaks to do the dishes when I asked. He even took the trash downstairs completely unprompted, thereby making himself even smoking-hotter in my eyes than he was before.

So that's my takeaway thus far from this little experiment: (a), slow and steady wins the race.

And (b), you will get laid better and more often if you learn to take out the trash on your own steam...

xxx c

Image by chrysophylax via Flickr, used under a Creative Commons license

Cleaning My Damned Apartment, Day 17: Poetry Thursday edition

cliff's echo

That stack of papers.

You know, that stack.

The one you've been stumbling over
on the way to the bed
for four months,
since you dropped them there...

The one that went from white
to dusty gray
to black with hair,
both yours
and the dust bunnies'...

The one
you put down
for just

I moved that stack of papers
to a permanent home
in a covered, plastic bin
in its own semi-private sector
of the closet.

Of course
by "permanent"
I mean
"until next time"

If there's one thing I've learned
since I started this thing,
it's that nothing
lasts forever

Especially dusting...

Photo by Douglas - westbound via Flickr, used under a Creative Commons license

Cleaning My Damned Apartment, Day 16: Eyesore repair

cleaning lady Today I: washed the dishes; did the laundry; scrubbed out the toilet, the bathroom vanity and the kitchen sink; threw away the rotted old flowers from last week; and am on my way out with the garbage AND the recycling.

I am charwoman, hear me roar...

xxx c

Photo by bulent_yusef via Flickr, used under a Creative Commons license.

Cleaning My Damned Apartment, Day 15: Don't forget your shower shoes!

toes in tub Not, like the past two weeks, because of what you might catch in the scum-centric ecosystem that was my tub floor, but because it is newly smooth as a freshly-Zamboni'd ice rink and you might land on your ass.

Now if only I could find time for a soak with my new roomie...

xxx c

Photo by O Caritas via Flickr, used under a Creative Commons license

Cleaning My Damned Apartment, Day 14: Cleaning The BF's Damned House

moving day Yes, the fleas that started it all have worked their evil magic on The BF as well. He's on a cleaning/organizing/fumigating tear lately: we spent the day moving stuff up to the attic in preparation for the floor refinisher's arrival at My Country House on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, we've lugged a whole bunch of The BF's stuff to my teeny outpost here on the edge of K-Town so that he has a place to live/work/breathe while the floors are curing there.

I guess we'll see how well I clean when there's hardly any space in which to do it...

xxx c

Photo by lahrwolf2006 via Flickr, used under a Creative Commons license

Cleaning My Damned Apartment, Day 13: Time to make the doughnuts

thriller There wasn't a lot of time to tackle new cleaning projects yesterday: it was mostly about clearing project-projects off of my desk. Which I did, to the tune of three.

I even unloaded a couple of fresh packs of address labels I'd never gotten around to using on one of my more beloved clients, the fabulous Miz Jones, after we played cut-and-paste with the mock-up of our latest magnum opus: a presentation leave-behind for potential backers of her latest opera, Songs and Dances of Imaginary Lands.

No, yesterday was not about me tackling Mr. Skanky Fridge or me scrubbing out the bathtub (which desperately needs it, I mean, ew!) But as I blasted through my to-do list before heading out to a friend's wedding with The BF, I did note how, just over halfway through this experiment, things are subtly starting to shift for me. Because the one thing I have been adamant about through this process is keeping up with the little things.

Like making my bed, every day.

Like emptying the clean dishes from the drainer, every morning.

Like clearing my desktop, both computer and real world, of detritus, every night.

It's keeping me calmer. It's giving me breathing room and space to create. It's, I swear to you, making me more productive.

I used to hate routine chores. To me, they felt like just another iteration of the hobgoblin of little minds. But I had the quotation wrong: it's foolish consistency that's the hobgoblin. Some habits, kindness, thoughtfulness, mindfulness, are excellent habits that provide a foundation for great things in life.

Now I see these annoying little tasks as kindnesses I lavish upon myself: small gifts of time and attention to make me feel good. And maybe, just maybe, by making my tiny world a little better and myself feel a little more tended to, I send a happier me out to interact with the world. And then (ohboyohboyohboy) maybe I'm actually making the world a little better of a place for everyone else to live in.

So today, I will wash my morning dishes. Brush my teeth. Empty the trash. (I've made the bed already.) And not with a heavy heart, but by choice, because having these things done makes every part of life better.

And then, I'll get back to work, also by choice. On Labor Day.

Because then, on some random Tuesday afternoon or Thursday morning, I can play.

Consistent wisdom sprinkled with inconsistent foolishness, that's the ticket...

xxx c

Photo by X-travaluemeal#2 via Flickr, used under a Creative Commons license.

Cleaning My Damned Apartment, Day 12: Books, suits and flow

bookstore I don't know why I have always had such a hard time letting go of stuff, but I have. Chalk it up to fear, I guess: fear of abandonment, of change, of never knowing which end was up and wanting something to cling to in the storm.

The good news? The dumping gets easier with time. It definitely gets easier when you've gone four or five rounds of being the final dumping ground for ancestral artifacts. Enough, already; I may not want to be able to move everything in my car again, but I'd like to be able to move freely about the apartment.

Today I took four bags of books to my favorite used book store, the Iliad, in its 'new' digs in North Hollywood. Amazingly, I took my trade chit and got the hell out without buying one book. I do still have another two-and-a-half bags to dispense, but The BF told me about his favorite used book store in Glendale, so maybe I'll try that next.

What I always find remarkable when I am able to let go of things is how it instantly creates room for other things to flow in. Not that I'm in a rush to fill empty space, I like empty space now, I don't fear it, but as I unload old books and clothes and movies that no longer serve, the things I am looking for appear as easily and gracefully as if a paid factotum had spirited them there.

Like two jackets, a suit, a shirt to go under them and a crazy, "And then there's Maude" burgundy coat to throw on top. I am going to be one styling motherfucker come fall. One styling motherfucker with a lot less crap to worry about.

And at least as much to look forward to...

xxx c

Photo of man in a suit in a bookstore (!!!) by idiotkings via Flickr, used under a Creative Commons license. And no, that ain't North's in the Netherlands.

Cleaning My Damned Apartment, Day 11: The Whore's Bath, Domecile Edition

chocolate delirium torte #4 We're having a little impromptu craigslist gathering chez communicatrix right now, and since I sure as hell wouldn't buy anything from a place that looked as dumpy as mine, I thought maybe I ought to shove the bags of books I (still) haven't taken to the used book store in a corner and run the Dirt Devil over the more egregious areas of upholstery and carpeting.

Et voila! Half an hour later, The BF is $100 richer, the place looks great (if you don't look too closely) AND I got that damned gigundo A/C out of here.

Yes, it'll be crapped up again tomorrow, but until then, we lounge in semi-clean splendor*.

Maybe I'll go wash out the bathtub to celebrate...

xxx c

*Even better, The BF is taking me out to dinner! Woo-hoo!**

**I'll wash out that bathtub tomorrow...

The photo, of a bain-marie, not a whore's bath, is by gwen via Flickr, and used under a Creative Commons license. Yes, it makes rather less sense than most of the photos I use to illustrate posts, but I was so elated that something actually came up when I typed "whore's bath" into the Flickr search engine, I had to run with it. Besides, it looks hot, n'est-ce pas?

Cleaning My Damned Apartment, Day 10: It's the Little Things

wallet Sometimes despite the best of intentions you get busy

And doing even the smallest thing seems impossible much less a big one

But if you want to change you have to commit and do your best however lame it may seem against the backdrop of more heroic feats

So today because I am too busy because I have no time because I am slammed beyond the slammiest Platonic essence of slam

I am not cleaning my refrigerator I am not washing the kitchen floor I am not vacuuming or dusting or Getting to Empty

Today, all I am cleaning is my wallet which is not exactly a Herculean feat

On the other hand to do it out loud with my head held high and no sense of shame and even a small feeling of accomplishment?

That, my friends, is monumental...

xxx c

Photo by mikeying88 via Flickr, used under a Creative Commons license

Cleaning My Damned Apartment, Day 8: URL fire sale!

eat at url's Since today was laundry day, I felt like I could slack off a little on the physical inroads to cleanliness.

But since I've got the bug and my electronic digs could always stand some de-cluttering, and in no small part because I hate greedy, slimesucking pigs who sit on URLs trying to extract a fee from hapless, would-be eNtrepreneurs, I'm offering up the following URLs FREE FREE FREE to anyone who meets the following criteria:

1. You must use the URL within one year.

2. You must email me when you've got something up so I can bask in reflected glory.

3. You must walk me through the transfer.

Heeeeeere they are!

xxx c

Photo by SFYahooGuy via Flickr, used under a Creative Commons license.

Cleaning My Damned Apartment, Day 7: the carrot and the sticky stuff

reward I was sure I'd end up cleaning out Mr. Skanky Refrigerator, as Peggy Archer calls it, before tackling the silverware drawer. Think about it: the cold would probably kill most things that could scurry out of the crisper and bite you; in the strange, furry ecosystem of the silverware drawer, you're on your own.

But while making a sloppy, vaguely Mexican, skillet-type dinner, I managed to spill about a quarter cup of tomato juice smack into the forks. I thought about quickly shutting the drawer and pretending I never saw anything (my eyesight is starting to go), but this was lower than even I was prepared to sink.

So I made myself a deal: if I cleaned it out completely, no half-assing!, I'd give myself permission to do something just for fun. In between emptying out and washing (scrubbing...blasting...) the cutlery divider, I'd take the few remaining pictures I'd held in reserve and hang them on the wall.

I know, I know, busman's holiday, right? But I like to putter, so for me, hanging pictures is like eating cupcakes. Besides, the point is, if you have some kind of task you've been putting off because you find it off-putting, maybe there's a way to either barter your way in or make the task more pleasant. I bought my first iPod four years ago and it got me to walk much further than I was without it. I get more laundry-folding, ironing and even tedious Photoshop monkey work done when I treat myself to TV at the same time.

Obviously, YMMV: if your idea of 'treat' is an eight ball and a couple of hookers*, it's going to take a long time to get the chores done (unless the hookers wash while you dry).

But if you just need a little sumpin'-sumpin' to grease the wheel, think about bribery. It's shined up bigger tools than I've found in the silverware drawer...

xxx c

Photo by spalpeen via Flickr, used under a Creative Commons license

*UPDATE: This zinger courtesy of The BF. He's got a million of 'em...

Cleaning My Damned Apartment, Day 5: eHousekeeping & the reemergence of the blogroll

splorp2 Not strictly apartment cleaning, but my poor, little blog has needed both tidying and sprucing up for awhile.

Besides, it does reside in my computer, which is parked in my apartment.

Ladies and gentleman of the blogosphere, I give you (b)links*: the new and improved blogroll, on its very own page.

xxx c

* blog + links = blinks

Image by splorp via Flickr, used under a Creative Commons license

Cleaning My Damned Apartment, Day 4: What would Buddha do?

Training progress It's easy let things slide when I'm busy. Forget the filth: I'm not exactly batting a thousand in the diet and exercise departments these days, either.

But this three-week period is as much about attitude adjustment as it is getting to clean. So it's important that (a) I focus on just the one thing, no matter how many other things I start to see I could also stand to improve upon and (b) when I backslide a little, I quietly refocus my efforts and return to my objective (i.e., appreciating my blessings through taking care of them) without adding emotional clutter (i.e., berating myself for failing).

Meditation teacher Jack Kornfield compares changing a habit (in his case, meditation) to puppy training. It's a given that a mind untrained in a discipline is going to resist and/or lose focus, just like a puppy being housebroken. We don't yell at the puppy; we don't call it a stupid idiot. We don't even make a big fuss over it. We just pick the puppy up gently and start again.

Things got a little messy yesterday. There were too many dishes in the sink this morning; there was too much trash in the wastebins. But I didn't yell at myself, or dash around like a madwoman trying to right my wrongs upon arising; I selected a half-hour where I had some time, set the timer, and did a mini-dash.

I may not get to a "big" cleanup thing today, but I have to remember: that's not the objective of this "salute". My real goal is to break a habit, or create one that better serves me and my goals today.

And as far as that goes, I think today was a real victory...

xxx c

More about Jack Kornfield and meditation retreats at Spirit Rock here.

Photo by gabesâ„¢ via Flickr, used under a Creative Commons license.

TAGS: , , ,

Cleaning My Damned Apartment, Day 3: "Feng Shui for Skeptics, or Why All My Dustcloths Are Purple"

purple neon I have an affinity for skeptics, or they for me. Odd, because while I've never been religious, I'm no atheist. To the consternation of many thinking people who otherwise dig my shit, I believe firmly in many things for which there is no scientific basis, like reincarnation, ESP and all that crap they talked about in the What the Bleep? movie.

What always baffled me was the vehement opposition to anything that had even the faintest whiff of woo-woo. Me? Whatever works. As my former shrink-slash-astrologer used to say, "listen to it all, keep what resonates, discard the rest." Also, The Real Deal should be accessible for nothing or next to it; beware of elaborate systems that require gear, excessive literature not available at the public library or an expensive guru to navigate.

Take, for example, feng shui. There is much opportunistic hooey and hoopla surrounding it, but the fundamental principles behind feng shui are pretty sound and absolutely free: place your furniture to facilate ease and comfort. Don't buy a lot of crap you don't need. Take care of your things. Keep the place clean.

And mostly, pay attention!

Like most good-guy practices, feng shui works (I think) because it helps you to focus your attention. When I was sad and blue after my last big break up four years ago, I stumbled upon this great book about feng shui and used the system it laid out in its pages to systematically de-clutter and clean my apartment. (And no, I didn't buy the book at first; I checked it out from the library. Then I bought a used copy on

It didn't cure my pain, that took time. It didn't give me any voodoo to get him back (thank GOD). What it did was, in a time when I was focused on my loss and my pain and how little I had, practicing feng shui helped me to turn my attention to the abundance of riches I already possessed: an apartment filled with light that cheered me every morning. An almost embarrassing wealth of 'stuff', much of which I ended up passing along to others. A mother lode of friends and loved ones (a few of the baguas focus on this in different ways).

Oh, and when I scoured my kitchen (prosperity bagua) until it sparkled? I'm sure it was coincidence, but within two weeks, two checks for $10,000 that the producers had been sitting on came in. Two. With penalty fees.

That money got me through my five-month rehab after the Crohn's onset, when I couldn't work. But the lessons of feng shui have gotten me through more and more. When I feel my attention wandering, I return to the book, and select a bagua to spruce up. I'll take a purple dustcloth, purple being the color of prosperity, and run it over my dusty TV, my neglected desktop, my beautiful collection of world globes. It's a lot of what this 21-day 'salute' is about: focusing my attention on what I already have, instead of making myself crazy with what I don't.

Since then, I've bought and given away at least a dozen copies of the book, new and used, from various booksellers. I give them as gifts when someone moves into a new place; I give them as gifts when someone's going through a funky time and needs a li'l help, here.

And because I'm sure some curious reader of could use a little excellent ch'i flowing through his or her life, I am going to pass along my current, personal copy of Move Your Stuff, Change Your Life, with all of the good mojo (a.k.a. "communicatrix chi") it contains, to someone who has yet to enjoy its perky, American take on ancient Chinese secrets. All I ask is that you leave a comment or email me with the area of your life you're looking to put your attention towards and why.

And that if some of that flowing chi brings stupendous good fortune to the tune of $10,000 checks, that you drop me a line to let me know...

xxx c

Photo by Idle Type via Flickr, used under a Creative Commons license

Feng shui linkie-loos:

wikipedia Karen Rauch Carter on baguas

Cleaning My Damned Apartment, Day 2: Things I Learned About Vinegar

vinegar 1. It laughs at 6+ years of unsightly shower door buildup.

2. It dissolves in minutes the faucet scale that hours of swearing and hacking away at with a paring knife will not.

3. It has the potential to make corporate America very, very nervous.

4. Ditto the medical-industrial complex.

5. It burns! It buuuuuurns!

xxx c

Photo by evil Beth (best Flickr name ever!), used under a Creative Commons license