I have spent the better part of today cleaning/organizing my house. If any of you know me well, you might wonder what’s come over me: by nature, I am neither a cleaner nor an organizer.
I tend to stack things in neat piles and leave them to be sorted later … years later. I collect magazines, especially cooking magazines, convinced that I will reference them in the future. I kick off my shoes and leave them lying all over the house. (I then find said shoes lined neatly against the wall beside my closet – thanks to my very neat and organized husband – shaming me out of bed and away from my delightfully good books.)
I used to consider this rather disorganized aspect of my personality proof of my creativity. It was a sort of badge of honor, a testimony to my laid-back nature. But in the past couple of months, something’s come over me: I neurotically sort and organize. I not only clean out my refrigerator, but I also clean – with hot soap and water – its shelves. I recycle magazines. I leave next to nothing on my kitchen counter tops. I sort and file bills. I relish a long walk through the Container Store’s aisles, imagining a house filled with giant, neatly labeled, color-coordinated Rubbermaid bins.
I cannot explain this sudden personality shift, except to say that I think it means I’ve officially entered into the “nesting” phase of my pregnancy. Before last August, I didn’t even know there was such a phase. When a new-mother-friend of mine mentioned it, I laughed it off. Me? A nester? No way.
Oh, but how wrong I was. Over the holidays, I even let my overzealous nesting habits seep into the enjoyment of my time at my mother’s house. She has two refrigerators; I cleaned them both out and organized the shelves by ingredient. I then berated her for the four bags of all-purpose flour I found in refrigerator #2 while ignoring my husband’s gentle, whispered reminders to consider my own repeat purchases of late (cleaning supplies, mostly – a sign of the times).
After I’d laid siege on the refrigerators, I removed stacks of cookbooks and catalogs my mother had left on her couch and put them in a more discreet, but still reachable, location. I wrapped presents with the determined fury of a department store clerk on Christmas Eve. As if my life were hanging in the balance, I loaded and unloaded the dishwasher with furrowed brow; I cleaned off the kitchen table; I swept the counter tops of non-perishables and put them away in cupboards.
There is something divinely satisfying about completing such tasks. But I am also a little unnerved by this sudden, head-spinning change of personality. (No doubt, my mother was unnerved by it, as well.) I wonder if the hormones will ever relent or if I am now – whether I like it or not – a whirling dervish equipped with broom and garbage bag. My only hope is that this productivity and organization will also find its way into my profession – that I will make spreadsheets filled with deadlines I will meet, goals I will strive for and ideas I will act upon, that I will take care of my intellectual life the way I’ve recently been caring for my cupboards.
I would write more, but there’s no time left to muse today — I’ve just spotted a stack of magazines I’ve got to unload.