Paying Someone Else to Clean Your House

Nancy Flynn Stream of Consciousness Archive, Writing

Today, Robin—the angel of feather dusters, the goddess of order and a mopped tile floor—came to clean. I look forward to her visits. Well, I look forward to after her visits when I sit in the living room and look around me at the what she hath wrought, afraid to make a move, disturb a remote control, lift a finger that might invite chaos or cause some temporarily shooed-away dust to stir.

So far, it’s been a great day.

While Robin cleaned, I ran errands. None of them were necessary; some were even frivolous. While Robin cleaned, I spent more money than I would earn today because I am one of America’s chronically unemployed. While Robin cleaned, I bought Mexican terracotta wall pots for the veronica and lobelia; traded old jugs of Tide for the new, improved fragrance-free high-efficiency washer variety. I bought a deep purple wave petunia at the nursery over on Route 20/34, the color so deep, the velvet of each blossom so silken, all I could do was think of Georgia O’Keeffe. While Robin cleaned, I used the automated postal center at the downtown post office and sent an air mail letter to Thailand; two tubes of Mount St. Helens commemorative posters to nephews; a package with books about writing and a gift card for Borders bookstore to the college-graduating niece of my dead (best) friend. While Robin cleaned, I listened to Randi Rhodes on Air America: We are our own worst enemy!

I think it’s a measure of progress for the new, improved me that I can allow Robin to clean—and my husband to pay for her six hours of cleaning—and not feel one ounce of regret or guilt even though I am fully capable of getting out my fancy Miele vacuum cleaner and doing what Robin did myself. Real progress for me as a human being has been learning to value my time, even if I’m not getting paid by the hour. To know that a creative life is nurtured by time and days of doing what might seem like nothing. This is where I agree with Julia Cameron and her Artist’s Way: Do nothing time is necessary for art.

Time to go downstairs and enjoy the newly-polished stainless steel kitchen sink.

The public domain photograph above by an unknown photographer is called “Japanese Man Posing with Baskets, Brooms, and Feather Dusters” and is from the 1870s.


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