Monday, September 18, 2006

My Dirty Little Secret

Pssssst…If I tell you something, promise you won’t tell anyone else? I think it's time for me to come clean and share my dirty little secret.

In print I look pretty good; with my sentences evenly spaced and paragraphs aligned just perfectly. But stop the presses! The reality is that when it comes to being tidy, I make Oscar Madison look like Martha Stewart. Seriously, I'm the Diva of Disarray. My house is in such a constant state of chaos, that when you ring my door, instead of the traditional chimes of the “Bells of Windsor”, you'll hear the opening theme song from Sanford and Son.

Piles of simple living magazines, promising to teach me how to live a de-cluttered life, are stacked precariously on top of every available horizontal surface. Pull any knob in my kitchen and it's guaranteed that you'll find the “junk drawer”. They’re all filled with disorganized organizers overflowing with assorted containers without lids, pens without ink and widgets without any useful purpose.

My home is decorated based on the ancient energy flow principles of Flung Shoe. Tired old sneakers and flip-flops, discarded mid-stride, stand in the path of order and harmony. Sometimes the chi at “Chez Mark” is so backed up that it feels like a senior center without prune juice.

My husband says that when he comes home from work on a good day, our house looks like a set from Fear Factor - on a bad day, it's more like a scene from CSI. He won't even look in the laundry room. I still have a bathing suit hanging on the line to dry - my leopard print maternity suit - and my “babies” are 8 years old!

I used to lie and tell visitors that just this morning my household help had heroically run off to volunteer for “Housekeepers Without Borders”. But in truth, I have no one to blame but myself - Oh, and of course, my mother!

Don't get me wrong - my mom has always kept a meticulous home, but still I hold her responsible for the mess mine is in today. Instead of passing down her tidy strands of DNA, she left me with a heaping pile of rumpled genes. Unfortunately, it seems that my daughter, Sydney, and I are code-carrying members of the same gene pool club.

But neither nature nor nurture can account for domestic differences between my identical twin boys. Jared clears out as soon as he even hears the words “clean up”, while his brother Jasper steps right in to tackle even the toughest jobs better then Mr. Clean. In fact, from the time Jasper was a toddler, he caught on quickly; during “time-outs” he could either straighten up his attitude or really redeem himself for his misdeeds by straightening up his room.

Lately, I've taken to turning his willfulness into a windfall by sitting him in time-out around the house. Last week, a ten-minute tenure in the garage got me an extra ten feet of usable space. I think he's starting to suspect that I’m setting him up before company comes over.

So, now that my secret is out, I’m going to try to clean up my act. However, if you’re planning to stop over, please just give Jasper - I mean, me - a few minutes to straighten up. Wow, I never knew it could be so refreshing to air my dirty laundry!