A dash of Pepper…

…with a splash of Mint

No problem. Except that it is a problem!

Posted by Pepper on October 6, 2012

My parents left for a little holiday yesterday, along with my uncle and aunt. They would be gone for about 4 days. Before they left, they kept asking me to pay attention to the million instructions they had chalked down for us. “Lock the door at night, don’t forget to water the plants, leave the trash can outside at night, don’t leave the house until the maids come, don’t make a mess, make sure you clean the kitchen after dinner..” It went on. Irritated, I snapped, “I’ve lived alone for quite a few years, you know? And we survived it. So please, don’t bother. I’ll figure all this out.”

The parents left. The sister has her exams going on, and told me in clear terms to not expect any help from her. No problem, I thought. I could manage alone. I pushed these thoughts aside and went back to working on my assignment. Hours went by, and before I knew it, the sister was back home after her exam, ringing the door bell impatiently. I sighed, as I got up to let her in. The first thing she said on seeing me was “I’m hungry. Give me something to eat”. Hmm. Okay. I peeped into the fridge and realised the mother had anticipated this situation and left behind some pasta for us. Great. So pasta was heated and eaten. I went back to doing what I was.

Soon, it was night. “What’s for dinner?”, was the the question thrown at me. Hmm. “How about eating pasta again? Wasn’t it so good?”. She made a face. I knew force feeding the same pasta multiple times wasn’t a reliable plan anyway. I had to cook. No problem. I hadn’t cooked a full meal in a long time. Today was the day. I decided to make stuffed mushrooms, along with a veg casserole. It was all good. Except that, there were no mushrooms at home. Hmm. No problem. I decided to run down and bring a packet of mushrooms. Oh, the joys of living in India.

Except that, I realised it was pouring heavily when I reached down. No problem. I decided to go back home, pick up an umbrella and then leave to buy the mushrooms. So I did that. I battled the rain and the muck, picked up the mushroom and reached home drenched.  I then ran into the shower. By the time I was out, I realised it was late. I hadn’t even started cooking. No problem. I would rush.

Once in the kitchen, I washed the mushrooms and proceeded to pluck out the stems.  I then chopped the stems finely, with the intent of using them in the stuffing. It took me forever. I decided against making stuffed mushrooms. Simply sauteing them in olive oil with garlic and chillies would be good enough. I couldn’t find the chili flakes. No problem. I called mom to ask her the whereabouts. By the time I found them and finished cooking the mushrooms, I was tired. So I took the bowl of mushrooms to the sister.  “I was thinking, we should eat Maggi along with this. Instead of eating anything else. Don’t you think it is a good idea?” I smiled at her. She could see my intentions of course. She laughed and agreed. I went back into the kitchen and made Maggi.

We got back to work after dinner. I was tired and sleepy. When I thought I would call it a day, I realised I had forgotten to clean the kitchen counters. Why didn’t I do it right away? Why don’t these things come naturally to me? No problem. I picked my tired self and went to the kitchen to clean the counters.

By now, it was already late at night. I went and lay on my bed, only to realise that I had forgotten to leave the trash can outside. This wasn’t a ‘no problem’ anymore. I didn’t want to get out of bed. I knew the sister was in the other room, and I didn’t want to expend any energy calling out to her, asking her to do it and then ensuring she does it. Okay, fine. I decided to just get done with it. So I woefully got out of bed.

As I was walking back, I happened to notice the state of the house. Everything seemed to be a mess. There were books lying around. There were papers flying about, courtesy the sister’s exams. There was a pile of clothes lying on the bedroom floor. I sighed. And then shrugged. I would clear it tomorrow. As I walked by the parent’s bedroom, I could see the order and tidiness even in the dark. How is it that their bedroom is always so well maintained?

On certain days, I feel like an inefficient loser. Today is one of them. I feel disturbed by the fact that I am undisturbed by general chaos and disorderliness. They say the clutter and mess in your home reflects your mental state. If your home is messy, your mind is probably messy too. Is my mind really that chaotic? I can dwell comfortably in a room that has clothes lying in a pile on the floor. I do get urges to pick them up and tidy the room, but they come after a few days of living in the mess. And once I clean the room, I maintain it for a week or two, but then I fall slack again. I can’t seem to do what is required to be done everyday, to have a neat room and a neat home.

Perhaps it boils down to me being unbelievably lazy.  I go to the extent of depriving or troubling myself in order to escape a few chores. I might skip having my evening coffee on days I have to make it myself.  I dislike taking hair baths because I think they mean a lot of work. I remember during school, I would always lug around a very heavy school bag, just because I was too lazy to make my timetable the previous day and put only the required books in. Carrying all the books and doubling over with the weight was easier than spending 5 minutes every night.

I wish I wasn’t so abnormal. I wish I wasn’t this lazy. I wish I had it in me to work professionally, as well as cook fresh meals everyday, maintain a shining spotless home, make sure every pin is in its rightful place, have a bunch of fresh lilies in pretty vases sitting in the living room, have rolls of clean napkins arranged near the washbasin, have well maintained and green balconies. How I wish. But if I can’t really have all that, I should atleast work towards having a no frills, clean, neat and sane home.


50 Responses to “No problem. Except that it is a problem!”

  1. My Era said

    I have an OCD for cleanliness and it reaches it’s peak when I am around linen or food. I knew I have it in my genes but was determined to slow down for my own sake once I became a parent. Trust me, being obsessive about cleanliness is very tiring and a painful obsession. The body hurts and so does the heart when I find myself spending precious time indulging in it instead of taking life easy.

    Just when I started slowing down and beginning to control fits urges to clean right away, my little daughter has started showing signs of the same. Your post title fits my state too. No problem (for I clean like a robot) except that it is a BIG problem! *sigh*

    Hugs Pepper…you’ll be fine….don’t forget you’ve been busy with your assignments too. Realization is the first step to the needed change 😀
    So what’s for lunch today? 😉 😀

    • Pepper said

      Lol. We had bhindi for lunch. Our favourite! I didn’t have to bother with lunch though. We have a part time cook, who cooks one meal – mostly lunch. And for dinner..we’re eating out today. So phew 😀

      I guess, both extremes are a problem. Finding middle ground is the way to go.

    • @ My Era – That’s my story too , sigh!
      @ Pepper –
      I guess, both extremes are a problem. Finding middle ground is the way to go.

      It’ll come with practice / experience dear. No big deal. As an obsessive anti-clutter mom, I can tell you there’s more to life than just a clean home. It is a boon that you are okay living with clutter around. I have always been very organized and prompt in sorting the house. Over the years, with health issues, kids, etc, its not as easy anymore and many days I wish I could be happy living with clutter. Working towards that middle ground 🙂 !!

      • Pepper said

        Honestly, I have often wished I had an OCD for cleanliness and order. It would tire me out, but atleast the results would be worth it. I don’t know if that will ever happen though. Right now, even middle ground seems far away. Baby steps, I say. 🙂

  2. Ashwathy said

    I wish I had it in me to work professionally, as well as cook fresh meals everyday, maintain a shining spotless home, make sure every pin is in its rightful place, have a bunch of fresh lilies in pretty vases sitting in the living room, have rolls of clean napkins arranged near the washbasin, have well maintained and green balconies.
    Ok for this you have to super woman! 😛 Yeesh! It’s impossible to expect people to have energy to be at work all day and then come home and cook meals from scratch all over again. Some people do that, but then they plan their house cleaning fro the weekend. It’s about planning right. In my case, I willingly take the help of my part-time help who cooks my meals during the weekdays. I wouldn’t survive otherwise. As long as I treat them right and don’t overwork them I don’t feel guilty about using a household help.

    But not wanting to wash your own hair becoz it’s too much of a bother?? (And I simply can’t understand this… u r shampooing and conditioning your hair…how much time does it take anyway! :shock:) And carrying all the books and doubling over with the weight becoz u would rather not spend 5 minutes every night? That is sheer laziness!! 😛 You need a flying kick in the rear! Wait till we meet next! 😡 Growf!

    • Pepper said

      Ohh, the woof has turned into a growl. I should beware!

      Okay, regarding the last paragraph of mine that you quoted, I should clarify a few things. I didn’t mean to say I want to be able to do all of this single handedly. Heck, that is not possible with a person like me. Of course I was talking about using the aid of domestic helpers, (cooks, maids, whoever) AND my husband. For me, it becomes a challenge to keep a home in good condition even with all the help available 😐

      Shampooing and conditioning sounds simple. But when you think of the process, i.e. rinsing your hair, lathering it with a shampoo, rinsing it, conditioning it and then rinsing it again, then towel drying it, and then running a hair dryer through it briefly, it becomes a long and tedious chore. And oh yes, I hate using hair dryers and all that jazz too. Just that I am cursed with awfully frizzy hair that becomes a nightmare to deal with if not dried with a hair dryer.

      • Ashwathy said

        Easiest answer. Try straightening it! :mrgreen:

        • Pepper said

          No!! I hate the artificial looking poker straight hair. I still feel tempted to get it straightened cos it is so much easier to maintain, but then I reject the idea when I see the outcome of such services. Also, I once straightened my front bangs. They looked great for the first 3 months, and then once they started growing out, I wanted to remain in hiding..

  3. Let me te’ll you one secret you are not alone. There will be lot of heads nodding while reading this post. They may want to hide the fact but it is true..

    I am as lazy. And no problem it is for sure. I think because you know someone is their who might do the work you take it easy but I am sure when you lived alone in USA you did do all the work..

    • Pepper said

      Yes, I did do all the work in USA because I had no choice. We cooked, cos we needed food. But we didn’t scrub the kitchen counters everyday, because that didn’t *need* to be done, though it should have been done. We carelessly wiped them at night. The kitchen was never dazzling and spotless. We did dishes everyday, cos they needed to be done. We didn’t organize our room, cos that could be avoided. That’s what I meant – we only do the essentials. But I want to get to that stage where I maintain a clean and orderly home with a few added frills, effortlessly.

  4. Smita said

    The last para? I am wishing to do that when we move to our own home….but if you see my present (my office desk & home) you won’t believe me….:D

    As far as your case is concerned, I guess it stems from the fact that you haven’t done housework at that scale for some time so hota hai 🙂 chill!

  5. ajay said

    Procrastination! It’s such an evil.

  6. I am totally like you in this regard…mess does not bother me a bit and the fact that it does not bother me, doesn’t bother me! 😀 I always feel that I am so busy clearing the mess in my mind, that clearing the mess in the house gets a lower priority! Fortunately, the husband likes some amount of neat-ness around him and does the cleaning from time to time 😉

    • Pepper said

      Now that is why it is good to not have a husband who is so similar to you. Mint’s tolerance level is far greater than mine. If I can dwell in a messy room for a week, he can live in one comfortably for.. maybe 4 months. Only then he will think of cleaning it.

  7. SK said

    Pepper, long timeno see, but I do read your posts regularly, and smile to myself. :–) btw same pinch on this. I am like you . And am not proud of it. We can onlytry so much. ESP with a toddler at home the house is messiness of the nth degree. Even my usually tolerant messy self is not able to handle it.but no time too. Of you find a solution let me know.in the mean time, letting you know you are not alone.

    • Pepper said

      Good to see you here SK! And of course, good to know you are the same. Do not forget though, you have a legitimate excuse ready at hand – a toddler! Nobody will ever question the mess.

  8. pixie said

    Hugs babe!! 🙂

  9. see, you are taking some bad advice there – if your room is messy and cluttered, it really means that your mind is so sorted and clear that you’ve pushed all the clutter to the physical(have you seen jerry yang/david filo’s room and car). I read up on this when i was in college and i now just turn up my nose(mostly at the parents) and say, “I cant help this! my mind is clear, thats why the mess in the room”.(It also helps you feel good. i used to feel lousy every time i looked at MM’s blog pics of her house and garden. now with this er, theory, i feel at peace :P)

    • Pepper said

      You know, I love your advice. That makes perfect sense.
      Oh, don’t even talk about MM. I don’t think even my ambitions are capable of reaching her level 😛

  10. shaktii said

    oh how i loved you last para.. i want my home like that but who will do thats the question.. i cant be a super woman..never..
    but day in and day out doing all those chores seems never ending.. sometimes i sit in the mid of the crap and read my novel..what to do?? i dont have the energy even now while commenting here to get up and do clean the big mess..

    • Pepper said

      Exactly my point. Sometimes you have to choose between cuddling up and reading after a tiring day or cleaning the house. I always choose the former. But then, I wish I could do both. Find time to cuddle, relax, read, browse and also clean and clear the home..

  11. R said

    Oh, come on, don’t beat yourself up over this. Always remember that our ‘spick- span, magically keep the house so spotless’ mothers also perhaps began like us. By the time the kids came along, they had perfected the process. :p
    I lived alone for 5 years and I kept my house pretty clean. It helped that I lived alone. I would go through phases of feeling so physically tired and overwhelmed with it sometimes, that I would let go for a couple of weeks and then get back to it. Now that I am home, I shamelessly admit to doing precious little. Sure, I clean the fans and scrub the toilets clean, but beyond that I am mostly a lazy ass. Being lazy is not a bad thing, it only means we need to learn the art of finding someone who can do the job for us.
    I used to worry and feel terrible about the laziness too; until I looked around and noticed that people don’t feel guilty about lacking in so many other more important things, that I now refuse to let this bother me. As long as I am doing something to get over my laziness, however small the attempt, I refuse to be bothered too much by it. It works 🙂

    • Pepper said

      Eh, you lived alone for 5 years and in that period you kept the house clean. That’s it. You’ve no right to say anything else then, okey? Most of us do nothing when we live with parents. And even then you clean fans and scrub toilets. That’s NOT called doing ‘precious nothing’! That’s a lot of work! But I love this thought – “Being lazy is not a bad thing, it only means we need to learn the art of finding someone who can do the job for us.”

      PS – You made me realise I have never cleaned a fan in my life. I don’t do it here while living at home, and when I lived alone, there were no fans in the house (in the US) to clean.

  12. Nisha said

    It’s not you. It’s all of us who have lived alone since we got married. Moreover, when you live abroad, you have fewer visitors. Why bother to clean up!? My husband prefers to keep the washed clothes on the dining table. Because, eventually he will wear them and throw them in the laundry basket anyway!
    But yes, a clean kitchen is a hygiene thing. And fresh meals is a health one. Give it a thought!! 😉

    • Pepper said

      Okay, let me put it like this. A clean kitchen is a hygiene thing, yes. But a shining, spotless and dazzling kitchen is NOT a hygiene thing. It is an appearance thing. I might keep my kitchen clean. The counters will be free of crumbs and grease. So the hygiene is taken care of. They might not sparkle though. The sparkle doesn’t make it cleaner. It just makes it look better. And I can’t seem to do enough to get that sparkle.

      And fresh meals? Again, I don’t know. When we lived in the US, coming 2 fresh meals a day didn’t seem feasible. We cooked once, and ate the same thing for the next meal. I’d still call it fresh. I don’t think repeating meals is a health hazard.

      • Nisha said

        I didn’t mean to offend you in any way! Even though I stay at home, I cook only once. Fresh doesn’t mean staying in the kitchen 24/7, it would deprive us of a normal life. By fresh I meant devoid of packaged food which do nothing except filling our stomachs.
        And well, you can only have a sparkling kitchen if you never cook in it!! If the mess is being taken care of, clutter doesn’t matter at all.

        • Pepper said

          I wasn’t offended in the least bit, Nisha. Was just making a point. Well, I’ve been accused of ‘serving stale food’ to my husband just cos we ate the same thing for two meals. So I don’t know the accepted definition of ‘fresh’ 🙂

  13. aparna said

    Glad you are running the house in your parent’s absence. Your sister is lucky! What happened to the mushroom dish? Did it taste good?

    Maggi is a saviour for such situations.

    • Pepper said

      I should have added that. The mushrooms were lip smacking. But then, they are mushrooms! How much can go wrong when you have those and garlic and green chilies and olive oil? Sometimes these simple wholesome flavours are the best!

  14. R's Mom said

    Errr…this is the problem with parents..they are just so perfect eh…

    dont feel bad Pepper, the issue doesnt lie with you..you are normal… 🙂 Big hugs to you 🙂

  15. Rama said

    Hey You write well, there’s some simplicity (which is a god gift and not all can do it) to the way you narrate the most mundane things.
    well as far as Maggie dinner… that’s bad, My mom has barred few things in our household, Maggie is one.
    “Pepper, you are an adult, don’t you have the common sense? Maggie dinner hota hai? when will you be responsible?pata nahi log kya sochenge? sab bolenge inke maa baap kuch sikhaye nahi… ” (in my mom’s seething in anger tone)

    It’s a blessing to get irritated at their incessant nags… the warmth under it is so endearing :). Trust me, you’ll eventually see your kid writing this for you…

    • Pepper said

      Lol! That scolding seems to be typical of all moms. Lekin phir, Maggi khane ka chance toh mom ke absence main hi hota hai na 🙂
      My kid writing that for me? I never thought on those lines!

  16. SJ said

    Pepper – hugs darling – you have company and that’s me ! I was the pamperred Ms Delicate with mom even ironing my clothes before my wedding, I married and reality did strike me hard ! I waddled my way through and consciously did my part in cooking and keeping the home when I lived with the in-laws just to escape their comments.
    When J and I moved to Sg – I just did the essentials as we hardly had any visitors..the clothes remained unfolded..and some chores not done…Then came M into my life ..with a lil baby..my energy was definetely not diverted towards keeping the home ..i’d rather spend it on the toddler….and my life keeps going…
    I still have not learned to keep the home spic and span…It’s been 7 years now. J has his own high standards for cleanliness and neatness – His cupboard is anyday far more neater than mine, but he adjusted and lived with a Mrs. Mess 🙂 …Anyday I would love eating out or being at work rather than get my hands dirty with the domestic chores ( shameless grin :)) If I’m having any friends coming over then I don’t mind even taking a leave at work just the set the home right and everything will magically fall in place all in one day of slogging :(…he he he…

    • Pepper said

      You know, I still don’t iron my clothes 😐 They are sent to the ‘istriwala’ who collects and delivers them home. I love living in India for such reasons.
      I dread to think of how messy the house would be once we have a baby. I try to avoid that line of thought. It’s scary. Lol.

  17. Jazz said

    I’m sure many heads would nod at this. Mine did. Sometimes the cleanliness bug hits me too and I clean the whole house at one go, and on other times, I laze for days without moving my finger. But I think when time comes, we’ll learn and inculcate them, I hope so.

  18. Childwoman said

    Thats okay love, we all have our days, its okay to slack sometimes.. don’t be so hard on yourself and please you are not abnormal or lazy, you have managed a home for your self in US…so its cool. I am sure you will pull up your socks when you need to. I believe in you!! 😛

  19. Visha said

    Come on, I am so admiring you for doing the chores even though you were tired. Shabaash 🙂

    I was bit by the cleanliness OCD few months ago, now its a bit controlled. It used to tire me out like hell, I wont even have the energy to watch some TV at the end of the day.

    Serving the same curry for lunch and dinner is perfectly ok. Dont fret over cooking 3 fresh meals 😉

    Now if Mint can live with you in an organized mess, I dont think you have any problem 😀

    • Pepper said

      Mint can live, dwell and thrive in mess. I can too, but to a smaller extent. I think that is why I consider it a problem. We never inspire each other to clean up! 😀

  20. techie2mom said

    I don’t think you are abnormal. And if this is considered abnormal then please count me in ;)…

  21. earthwire said

    If it makes you any happier… You are soo certainly not the only one….
    I was totally nodding on this post… seemed like you have taken a tour of my house (mind??) too!!!

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