I’ve always had a kind of boyish side when it comes to household chores. You know, I’m the messiest, least organized person on the planet, and plus, I’m way too important of a person to pick up after myself.
And of course, I figured out pretty quickly that if I skipped buying a pair of shoes, I could pay for a house cleaner, and my life is forever changed. It’s such a luxury for me.
There’s nothing better.
But other than that miracle, everything about my domestic life has always been approximative at best, which makes my sister, mother (and even my father and neighbors) throw their hands in the air in disbelief because they’re true domestic angels and can’t stand a mess or even a speck of dust, while I can leave a pair of shoes in the middle of the stairs for a week and be fine going around them.
You might think I’m the type to be happy to just live in my messiness, but not at all.
I love fresh sheets, sparkling clean windows, and orderly homes just as much as anyone.
And just like everyone, having everything in place makes me feel like life is beautiful and organized, and it helps me think. But even so…
I’ve always justified my messiness as being due to exterior circumstances. The apartments in New York were too small, I didn’t have enough time. I had too many clothes because I work in fashion, not enough storage, etc. etc. I’d have an empty fridge, then good intentions to cook, only to end up with food going bad in the fridge. The freezer was too small!!! And I spent too much time in restaurants because New York life was too busy, too hard. Plus it was too complicated to get groceries in New York, anyway. Better just order something. It’s cheaper, easier.
Then the dirty laundry would pile up, then it would get left in the machine because “who has the time to think about the washing machine, seriously.”
My life was paved with excuses and justifications, but deep down I knew: I was just super messy. I don’t know where it comes from, since I’m from a family of neat freaks, but I’m going to try to do a brilliant psychoanalysis, just for you:
I was different from my family. I was an intellectual. Not attached to material things. I didn’t want to waste my time with common tasks. Plus, I hate the smell of bleach.
And then suddenly, I found myself with no more excuses.
Here I am in my big, light-filled house, unpacking boxes, and I have no more excuses. I open the door to my big fridge, and I have no more excuses. I have cabinets and storage everywhere, a house where it’s super easy to put things away, recycling bins, an oven and a stove of dreams. I’ve got an organic market four minutes away by bike. And I’m wondering which magical food processor I’m going to buy for myself. And Whole Foods can deliver groceries within an hour. No more excuses.
I’d go as far as saying, for the first time, I’m starting to enjoy being domestic.
And I’m not the only one. Just ask Chris what he’s making in the garage.
He’s building shelves. The two of us who were still partying in dimly lit clubs in New York a few months ago, now we’ve turned into Bree Van de Kamp. “Shall we go get groceries, my love?” “Yes, honey, just five more minutes while I finish hammering in these nails!”
Okay, maybe we’re not quite that bad yet.
But there are a few signs that can’t be ignored.
1. I’m picking out my future washing machine as if my life depends on it. I’m lucky to have a laundry room in my house and it gives me a pretty amazing feeling of being successful at life.
2. I’ve become very passionate about the rules of recycling. Without going into detail, it was a huge pain to recycle in New York, but now I have three big containers and everything is really clearly marked. So I finally feel like a model citizen, whereas before I was constantly feeling guilty about the recyclable things I wasn’t recycling because it was too complicated.
3. I put things away now. My clothes, my beauty products, my fridge, and it’s all categorized.
My goal is for everything to have its place. No more items left lying around just because there’s no place to put them. Like, we respect our things!!!
4. All of that has slowed me WAY down when it comes to buying new things. I seriously feel like having a rule where if I buy new clothes, I have to get rid of something else. OK, I’LL NEVER MANAGE TO DO THAT, but hey, I still haven’t read Marie Kondo, so who knows, anything could happen.
5. Aaaah my fridge. All you Bree Van de Kamps in the audience, you probably know the feeling of satisfaction that comes over you when your fridge is super organized and clean, filled with glass containers so you know exactly what’s in all of them, and carefully washed vegetables just waiting to be chopped up and prepared. It’s basically the same feeling you get when you go into The Row and suddenly life makes sense. Now, I GET IT.
6. Okay, so I decided to try something new, and it’s so great. As soon as I come home from the market, I wash everything, and hold on, because this level of domesticity is going to blow your mind: I prepare whatever is preparable right away. Rice, steamed veggies, hard boiled eggs…I spend a few hours in the kitchen and I get everything done all at once, which saves me SO much time the rest of the week, when I don’t have time to wait 45 minutes for my wild rice to cook.
7. Of course, I’ve replaced all my plastic Tupperware with glass Tupperware, OBVIOUSLY. Because all the self-respecting housewives (like me) say you should avoid plastic as much as possible, since it’s really bad for your health (it messes up your hormones) and it pollutes the oceans.
8. I take my own bags to the market, like a perfect woman, by the way. And to the supermarket.
No more plastic. Well, a minimum, at least.
9. I had a water filter installed, and it’s totally changed my life. Having good water at home (the water in LA really isn’t great) also means…no more plastic bottles.
10. So now, like a good girl (well, like everyone these days) I always have my own water bottle with me. Or sometimes I fill it with tea. Green tea. OBVIOUSLY.
11. I freeze my fruit as soon as they start looking tired. Eating organic is super important, and we’ll talk more about that, but it’s true you have to eat your fruit quickly before it goes bad. Or, if you’re Bree Van de Kamp like me, and you’re smart, you’ll wash them, cut them into chunks and put them into your beautifully clean freezer to eat later.
12. I planted some herbs, and that’s just the beginning. I want herbs for cooking and I also want to plant fruit trees. Having an avocado tree in your garden is a domestic dream that would make all the food bloggers on the west coast seethe with envy.
13. I try not to go to bed unless my kitchen is totally clean. As I said before, I’m the queen of doing things halfway. If there’s a bowl sitting out, I won’t even see it. I remember I had a boyfriend who seriously couldn’t even sleep if his apartment wasn’t perfectly clean. I doubt I have to tell you, Chris and I are not like that.
14. And as for YOU, PILE OF THINGS IN THAT SPOT WHERE YOU DROP YOUR KEYS WHEN YOU GET HOME. YOU, THAT CATCH-ALL TRANSFORMING INTO A MONSTROUS MESS OF USELESS THINGS (mail, keys, matches, business cards from people you don’t remember, unidentified objects, old iPhone you’re not using anymore, but don’t want to throw away). YEAH, YOU. I promise I’ll get you one day. I don’t know how, but I will.
Anyway, I’m slowly discovering this new way of life, and learning to behave, a little tiny bit, like an adult…
And for the first time in my life, I appreciate it. I’m saving time, I’m eating better, my mind feels clear, I’m discovering the benefits of being organized. And sure, there’s still a looooong way to go before I’ll be as organized as my sister or my mother (especially my sister who has an art of living that would make BVDK shudder, and she still manages to be cool & well-dressed, making it all look effortless and chic). And there’s still a looooooong way to go before I don’t get that weird twinge in my stomach when I think I’ve given in and become domestic and boring, and ready to get married haha. Bleh!!!
Do you have any housekeeping tips to give me? ;)
Translated by Andrea Perdue