I just spent a few hours cleaning. Mostly this was filing papers and dusting. With my bum phlebitis-inflamed arm and my chest catheter, I can’t do things like dust under the bed, or move things around so I can vacuum and mop.

I’ve had several last-cleaning-before-the-hospital-stay situations—before both rounds of augmented ICE, for instance. But this feels particularly final, since I’ll be away for my stem cell transplant and radiation for a month and I won’t be allowed to clean for three months. Specifically, I won’t be allowed to vacuum or clean the bathroom.

There’s a chance my hospital stay will be delayed a week or two. (The worst case scenario would be longer, if the PET scan still shows cancerous activity.) So I may be able to clean next weekend. Yippee.

People have asked why I don’t hire a cleaning person. I’ve suggested getting a cleaning person during my convalescence, but my boyfriend shot down that idea. Truthfully, I’m relieved.

I’m not comfortable hiring someone to clean for me. That’s not to say I’m against having things done for me. My boyfriend does most of the cooking, because I don’t have time. And he would do the driving when we had a car. I liked pretending that I was a fancy NYC person with a driver.

I love having my laundry done. I might live here forever specifically for that reason. When I heard that you could just take your laundry to the laundromat and it would be returned to you neatly folded and clean, I nearly wept for joy. It’s like being in college and going home for the weekend and having your mom do your laundry, without the guilt.

The thought of doing my own laundry again leaves me deeply depressed. It’s not just the laundromat, which is an inconvenience. When I had my own washer and dryer in Ohio, I still wasn’t big on doing laundry. Or doing laundry correctly, I’m told. I just put all my clothes in together, without sorting. My laundry all has something in common—it’s dirty. So in it goes, and out it comes, clean, if maybe grayer or smaller.

I was taught to read labels when buying things to avoid buying dry-clean-only items and things with complicated instructions. Sometimes I forget. With dry-clean-only items, I often leave them in a pile and then wear them again a few times, my own version of dry-cleaning, before actually taking them in to be cleaned professionally.

If I have my way, I will never do my own laundry again. But I’d probably hire an assassin before I hired a cleaning person.

Growing up, somewhere along the way, it was instilled in me that having a cleaning person is for lazy people. Frivolous people. People who can’t clean up after themselves.

I know this isn’t true. Friends who are highly respectable, responsible people have cleaning people or cleaning services. So I don’t judge others, but I would judge myself harshly on this point.

I’m not sure where I got this idea. I don’t think it was ever overtly stated. But it was implied.

My grandmother did all her own cleaning. I’m not sure how she would feel about my laundry situation, but I know she hated ironing, so I feel as if she’d approve of my current choices. (Ironing depressed her. I think it made her dwell on disappointments. I feel the same way about cleaning the bathtub. I can’t clean the tub without feeling angry and depressed, so I get it. We all have a household chore that gives us too much time to think and inevitably and inexplicably stirs up all of life’s disappointments.)

I think when the subject of someone with a cleaning person was brought up, there wasn’t quite an eye-roll. But it was said with a hint of disapproval and a slight pursing of the lips.

So, with my last bit of strength, I will be dusting or mopping, reluctantly and with an air of martyrdom and grim determination. Though now that I physically can’t do some chores, I will channel my energy into bugging my boyfriend. He might change his mind about hiring a cleaning person after all.



  1. Christine says:

    I feel the same way about cleaning and just spit out my coffee reading your description of Josie Dry Cleaning. I’m not alone! I do the exact same thing. I have a suit on the floor as proof and it will magically be ‘dry cleaned’ before i wear it again.

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