Tuesday, September 25, 2012

So, I'm actually pretty awful at being an adult.

My first big-girl purchases when I moved into my apartment in New Orleans were a washer and dryer. I did this mainly because the laundromat up the street is one of the sketchiest places on the entire planet, with a tiny parking lot that somehow exists at an angle perpendicular to the rest of the earth and is therefore impossible to drive onto, and populated by people who may or may not actually live there, huddled amongst the dryers for warmth and subsisting entirely on lint sheets and fabric softener.

For the first few weeks after I moved here, while my mom was helping me settle in and in the incredible heat of July, my mom and I visited this laundromat in order to wash volumes of humidity-induced sweat from our clothes and sheets. After a few incidents of accidentally dropping a sock or a pillow case on the floor of the laundromat and realizing that it now needed to be immediately deposited back into the washer for bacterial delousing, I broke down and bought my own washer and dryer. 

New Orleans is famous for having limited closet space, and this tends to include the little alcoves where people usually put washers and dryers. There are no hook-ups for a washer inside my two-story apartment. Instead, the washer and dryer are housed securely on my breezeway. 

The concept of a breezeway is something with which I was entirely unfamiliar back when I lived in Colorado. No such things exist there. I knew what a balcony was, and I knew what a porch was, and I even knew what a lanai was, having experienced one at my grandmother's house in Florida. 

A breezeway is all and none of these things. It's a raised porch that's flush with the first floor (which is a good four feet from the ground to avoid flooding, because New Orleans), surrounded by a wooden half-wall, much like a balcony, and screened in with a sort of iron mesh from there to the roof, so that the air can move through, but the bugs and lizards can't. Mostly. It's not really part of the house, but it's got some outlets to plug things in, and the aforementioned washer hook-ups. This means that I sort of wash my clothes outside. And also that I have to contend with trying to keep the washer from rusting. But whatever. 

Emboldened by my new purchases, I washed clothes like a boss. Everything I owned was clean, all the time. Paranoid about insect infestations, I was constantly scouring, bleaching, scrubbing and disinfecting things. My apartment freaking sparkled. Even my cats were lemony-fresh.

And then I got used to living alone. I realized that there was no one looking over my shoulder to make sure I washed my dishes after dinner, and that my mom wasn't going to remind me to wash my sheets every month or so. 

Things went rapidly downhill from there. Dishes began to pile up in the sink. Then the sink was full, and the counter became a wasteland of used plates and bowls. It got to the point where all my dishes would be dirty at the same time, and I would only clean as many as I needed to make new food, and then only half-assedly. My floors grew ruddy and sad-looking, and while I still swept up stray cat litter (mostly because it feels like walking on Legos when you're barefoot), and occasionally vacuumed the rugs or cleaned the toilet, a steady steam of dilapidation was creeping in around the edges of my home. 

Laundry was the most forsaken of all my chores. Because I've been effectively accumulating my wardrobe for something like the last ten years, ever since I began to obtain shirts that fit, if you get my drift, I have truly massive quantities of clothes. Because my closets are tiny (because New Orleans, again), my clothes are spread between three closets, a dresser, the drawers under my bed and another freestanding wardrobe in my office. I know that sounds like a lot, but I like to think that, for a twenty-something female, I have vaguely average amounts of clothes. And considering that most of those are the argyle sweatervests I wear to work and astonishingly nerdy T-shirts with references to Firefly and Doctor Who on them, I don't feel too bad about it. 

But as the months marched on, I wore more and more of these clothes without ever doing a single load of laundry. I think that once in a while, I would do a load of just underwear and bras, but for the most part, I just moved clothes from the closet to my body to the hamper, and then in an ever-expanding pile near the hamper, and then in scattered piles around the room, and then just covering the floor in general, and then in stacks on my bed and chairs. In the winter, that actually worked quite well, because instead of purchasing a second comforter to keep warm during the astonishingly cold New Orleans nights, I just curled into a ball beneath several layers of dirty clothes, like a bear in a nest of its own shed fur, comfortable in my complete laziness. 

In the spring, my mom came to visit. Appalled at the state of my house and person, she promptly shooed me off to work and proceeded to work her fingers to the bone scrubbing down the kitchen and tackling the massive backlog of laundry like a lone soldier going into battle against an orcish horde. 

During the course of her stay, she effectively helped me combat the bacheloritis that had overtaken my life, and for a time, I managed to keep a lid on things like laundry and preventing mold from forming on most of the eating surfaces in the kitchen. Most of the summer, in fact, minus that brief period of time wherein I purchased a PS2 and was lost to the world. 

But then fall rolled around, and with my reentry into the classroom and a new herd of incredibly germy children to teach, I got sick. I got really, really sick. I got so sick that I missed two days of school, and spent much of the weekend that followed in an awful, half-panicked/half-already-dead fever coma. (During said coma, I apparently sent a number of fever-texts to a friend of mine about pirate diseases, and how Rickets would be a wonderfully badass name for a cat. Said friend recently procured a kitten, and thanks to my brain stewing in its own 102-degree juices, there is now a kitty named Rickets in the world.) 

Anyway, during this span of time wherein all I could do was stumble hazily through my workday, go home, sleep and try not to die of fever, I fell behind on chores again. There are perhaps eight loads of laundry, a sink full of dishes, a rusty washer, a cat box loaded to the absolute gills with cat crap, and about a million square feet of floors to be scrubbed waiting for me at home. I think it gets to a point where the level of work to accomplish becomes so daunting that even beginning it seems like wasted effort. Thankfully, Mom's coming back to visit next month. 

I just need to wash enough underwear to make it till then.

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