Day One Hundred and Seventy-Seven: Cleaning House

I’ve been putting off doing something. I feel really gross about it, but mostly, as one does, I don’t think about it. I won’t go into the details, except to say that this thing requires my desk and my brain.

Making the connection between those two things is easy for us. We have all those expressions, usually intended to justify a certain junky-ness of desktop: “Clean desk, empty mind” is the one I heard most often during my brief tenure in the corporate world. This wasn’t, alas, a beautiful zen thing. It was a criticism. If your desktop was bare, you obviously didn’t have anything better to do. Just now I searched for “clean desk” on google, and the sheer volume of articles suggests that this is indeed something we have a serious anxiety about.

I am a clean-desk person. That is, if there are things on my desk, it means I’m not working very well. I don’t mean bare, exactly. I have a knickknack or two, and a pen cup, and a lamp. (Although, my favorite desk experience ever was as an undergraduate. We had these never-used study carrels down in the library basement, where I would lay out my homework like a surgeon. I even kept a time log of what I was doing and for how long. Sometimes I wonder what happened to that person.) My desk for the last month has been a place to put things, not a place to use. Physically this wasn’t a huge problem. I’m too short to really type effectively at the desk, so mostly I don’t use it. But there, buried under all the things to file and all the things I’d taken away from the dog was THE THING that I am putting off.

So yesterday, when I realized that I had progressed to the “nightmares” stage of procrastination, I cleaned the desk. And then I cleaned the office area. And the entire upstairs. And the living room. And the dining room. And the kitchen. And the bathrooms. I cleaned things that have been bothering me for ages, which will make you think I’m crazy if I even try to list them here.

Today I woke up ready to do THE THING. (I am not procrastinating by blogging. THE THING cannot be done until the dog takes his nap and he’s oddly alert this morning.) Not only that, I feel so much better about everything.

I could extract a moral here, maybe, about how bad it is to suppress your feelings, even if they’re about the dust under the bookcases and files on your desk.

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