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I’ve never been accused of being Mr. Clean

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POSTED June 1, 2010 2:12 a.m.
I am somewhere on the spectrum between a neat freak and a slob.

That suits me just fine. My house gets a semi-thorough dusting about every two months whether it needs it or not. I have a tendency to pile things on the kitchen table and on my roll top desk as well as on one of my four bookcases. The bed gets made whenever I feel like it – which is rare – while I am guilty of tossing dress shirts and socks I’ve worn on the floor. For some reason I don’t quite understand everything else manages to make it into two hampers divided neatly between work clothes and exercise clothes.

The front room is basically neat except for the love seat where I will occasionally leave a sock or two plus books and newspapers. Having said that, the absolute neatest and cleanest room in the house is the secondary bedroom I use as an exercise room. Go figure.

Despite all of my housekeeping shortcomings – you noticed I didn’t mention the bathroom – I’ve had more than one person tell me I’m a minimalist. That’s kind of like calling Donald Trump a pauper. More on that in just a bit.

What brings this up is a longtime friend reminiscing about an excursion I took about 18 years ago to the Alameda County Fair with a neighbor in the apartment complex I was living in at the time.

She was – to put it politely – focused on neatness and cleanliness.

I had excused myself to go to the restroom. I was in there perhaps five minutes top.

As I came out the door she literally yelled at me from about 150 feet away wanting to know if I had washed my hands.

I got the strangest looks from more than a few people. I was 36 at the time. (And, yes, I did wash my hands.)

If it was an isolated incident, that would have been one thing. She literally placed plastic not just on all of her furniture but had plastic runners all the way through the house so you could go from any outside door to anywhere inside without once stepping on the carpet or tile.

Let’s just say I couldn’t have her come by the house I’m living in now as I’ve let my CPR certification lapse.

John Alves, one of my neighbors, would probably put me in the slob category. He’s fairly orderly. He’s seen the combination laundry room/storage room at the end of my carport as well as my garage. I’ve since straightened up the laundry room – it was getting a bit too much stepping over bags of mulch and soil while trying to access the dryer. The garage is still in disarray.

I really don’t have much in my garage. If I tidied it up, it wouldn’t even cover more than a 40th or so of the available space. I have seriously considered tearing the garage down so I can one day expand the back yard garden that is turning into a more ambitious undertaking than the building of the pyramids.

I don’t like holding on to things I don’t use. It is learned behavior from two of my aunts who have since passed away. They had different responses to growing up in the Great Depression but the end result was essentially the same.

Grace was an emergency room nurse in San Francisco and had an eight-room flat that was stacked so high with stuff she literally had to make pathways to get through most rooms. It wasn’t cheap stuff either. If she saw a teak table she had to have she’d buy four of them.

Lois, by contrast, pinched pennies. She went to yard sales and bought stuff so she could resell them at her own yard sale. Like Grace, the entire house was stacked high with boxes filled with stuff. The big difference was the quality and the price.

I do admit to one tendency to hoard and that is clothes. It has a lot to do with hand me downs as a kid and not being able to fit into things right. It isn’t all clothes, mind you. I’ll buy three pairs of Dockers and wear them until I push the limit and keep only two pairs of dress shoes at a time. But I’ll buy six pairs of the same cross trainers. I also get carried away with exercise shirts as well as dress shirts. I believe I have more muscle – now there’s a misnomer – shirts than Target that have yet to be used. And, yes, most of them are the same color and style.

At least it isn’t as expensive as buying 14 leather jackets. To this day, I do not understand why I did that even given the fact growing up I wasn’t flush with clothes and when I turned 13 and started working I had to buy most of my own.

One good thing about them is I can keep them in a closet as opposed to collecting stuff that would fill a garage from floor to ceiling or require you to rent a mini-storage unit or two.

If that is being a minimalist then I’m guilty as charged.

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