Diary of a Mad Allergy Sufferer

I’ve been up since 4AM. My husband gets up that early to go to work and I don’t know how he’s still standing at 9PM. My allergies have been nasty this winter. It probably has something to do with the house being all shut up and there being an extra cat (one of my worst triggers) here with Granny. So, I was awakened several times last night with that annoying little tickly cough and finally jarred completely awake at 4.

I’ve had allergies as long as I can remember and if you suffer too, you know the struggle is real. No, really. It sucks. Try going anywhere and staying overnight with your friends in a hotel. When you wake up in the morning and you’re hacking phlegm all the way up from your toes in that super echoy bathroom making your friends swear a 65-year-old lounge singer who’s smoked her whole life sneaked into the room sometime in the night and is using the bathroom. Like nature? Not since I’m allergic to air. Even though I have an admiration and respect for the flora and fauna that grace this planet, I catch myself leering at the fields of corn, soybeans, wheat, flowers…well, you get the idea. I love animals but when I look at them, all I see is the near future consisting of a box of tissues and itchy eyes. I think a combo of being a cleaner and allergic to everything makes me see things like intricate, ornate woodwork, ledges along high ceilings, or lots of knickknacks as an evil conspirator with dust. It also makes me dumb. Or just very unlucky.

I’m really good at cleaning so it only makes sense that my body would react to the activity like it was trying to put out a fire with my draining nose. It’s a cruel joke, in my opinion. But it doesn’t stop me from cleaning. If anything, I clean harder. Most of the places I clean I’ve been doing for long enough that the dust is under control. However, as I’ve mentioned before, I’ve faced a problematic job since the end of last summer. With three people and five large breed dogs in the house, the dust is never under control. It’s dust chaos. If I were to try and remove it from every surface, I’d be there the rest of my life because as soon as I got through the house, which is over 3000 square feet, I’d have to start over again. The dust settles so quickly that each week, it’s like I never dusted at all. With my OCD, the part of cleaning that is so satisfying is seeing the difference I make. It makes my mind happy and all the physical work worth it. I see a sliver of it when I’m done for the day, but I know it will only last a matter of hours and that almost hurts. This is just proof that my love for cleaning is a mental disorder.

So, I decided to quit. I need the money but as I’ve mentioned in the post Open Doors and Benadryl , it’s not worth it. I’ve also lost numerous Fridays of possible productivity because I simply am too sick to get off the couch. The allergic reaction from being exposed to the dust and dog hair lasts into the night and often leaves me feeling horrible the following morning. I’m tired of losing time because of it. It would be one thing if I felt like I made a difference but I don’t. Not only is the dust always back, my hard work goes unacknowledged and even disrespected at times. It wasn’t until the day I decided to quit the first time (I got a temp position and thought I could quit cleaning), that I was told that I was doing a good job. I don’t expect to hear it every time I clean, but I need to know that I am meeting expectations. It’s necessary to know what I need to do better. I don’t like taking people’s money and not giving them what they pay for. It also lets me know that what I’m doing is helping them, and that’s the core of why I do what I do. I’ve had more than one occurrence of the family walking right over my wet floors as I mop. In the beginning, things were picked up so I could do my job, but as time went on, less and less was put away, causing me double the work in the same time frame. I’ve never gotten out in the agreed upon 4 hours. It was always 20-45 minutes longer and that’s time I was never paid for. I could’ve said something, but I was afraid to lose the job by asking for more money. Now, the money has become a secondary issue to my health.

Two more weeks, and I can walk away. I’ll be devoting my free time slot to my writing and my new job. Both of which give me more validation and respect. I wish the family the best and hope that they might realize they need more than a weekly cleaning lady. They need a full-time housekeeper. And that definitely isn’t me.

~L~

Homemade Pizza and Prozac

I made an awesomely beautiful homemade pizza tonight. My grandmother, who’s staying with us for the winter and loves pizza, was very impressed by its tastiness. My husband, who thinks he’s a pizza aficionado found it to be “amazing.” In all fairness though, he thinks a Quarter Pounder with cheese is “amazing.” While yummy in the throes of an insatiable grease craving, I would never say the burger is amazing. Regrettable, Indigestion inducing, Nap inspiring, those are all terms I’d use to describe the sandwich. But, the pizza was really good.

Anyway, pizza is something we don’t often break out the good china for. We spare my blue and white farm animal print dishes and use paper plates with those plastic support things under them. The practice has always been to use the plastic thing, throw away the paper plate when finished and put the supporter back in its place in the cabinet if there’s nothing crusted on it.

(Thinking of my last post about the horrors of germs on towels and the obvious contradiction this plate policy represents makes me wonder if this is why no one can seem to follow my rules. No, that couldn’t possibly be it.)

For whatever reason, my husband, an engineer, has never been able to grasp the supremely difficult procedure and leaves the plastic supporter lying on the counter RIGHT BELOW THE CABINET IT GOES IN. Without fail. Every time. I’ve asked nicely. I’ve yelled. I’ve brought the plate back to his office and laid it down on his desk saying that there must be some mistake and that perhaps he’d like to try again. He normally apologizes and puts it away but I’m dumbfounded at why he won’t save himself the extra steps and me the inevitable eye twitch. It’s true that I could just put the plate away but I have a long-standing belief that I married a man, not a child. That belief is tested on a regular basis but I don’t feel like I should be supporting his efforts to make me into his mother.

So, tonight, when he again left the plastic thing sit, inches below where it was supposed to be, I asked him to explain it to me—explain how he can’t add one more step to the process and just PUT THE PLATE IN THE CABINET.

“I think it’s because I sit the plate down there on the counter and take the paper plate to the trash and then I just never go back,” he said.

I fight back a quivering eyelid. “You walk past the trash can on your way to that counter. Couldn’t you throw the plate away and then walk to the counter?”

“Uh, I don’t know.”

This. This is why I’m medicated.

 

~L~

Toweling Off

For years I’ve tried to figure out what I’m good at. Moreover, what I’m good at that I can make money doing. As it turns out, the only things I’m good at won’t make me much money. What I’d really like to do professionally is write. I’ve been writing stories since I was able to construct sentences. I’ve journaled for years, blogged, and even wrote a novel. What most people don’t realize is just how hard it is to make a living as a writer. Hell, I had no idea it was going to be this hard until this past year. The amount of work that goes into perfecting a manuscript and getting it published is unfathomable to anyone who hasn’t tried. So, while I struggle toward publication, I have to do something to pay for those haunting student loans and the English degree that has yet to earn its keep. So, I turned to the only other thing I feel that I do well: cleaning.

I started cleaning for a friend and got referred to her friends and family and so on and so on. So I clean for several folks in an effort to pursue my writing and still keep the loan collectors from taking me to court. It’s pretty hard work sometimes, not to mention gross. Especially since I’m a functioning germ-a-phobe.

I’m all too aware of the germs on and in everything. I think about the nastiness on every surface I come into contact with and shudder if I accidentally put my fingers in my mouth before washing them (I have a horrible nail biting habit). But I don’t let my awareness keep me from doing anything. I just wash my hands regularly. I still use hand towels in my home bathroom because I can’t bring myself to use paper towels since I’m also keenly aware of the environment. So, I change the towels about every two days as a way to compromise and to try to keep the nastiness to a minimum. Maybe that’s psycho-level often, but it makes me feel better so I do it.

I take into account that I am border-line insane when it comes to a lot of things including my germ awareness. However, if you never change your hand towels, I feel okay judging you. You know who you are. You can’t see me, but I’m shaking my head at you.

The truth is that not everyone washes their hands the way the CDC would prefer but you can bet that they’re still drying them on that towel. That means it’s not just water clinging to those absorbent fibers. If I can see discoloration in the spot where I know everyone’s been drying their hands or if the towel crunches when I pick it up, you have surpassed the time limit for a single towel to be displayed. Your towel’s 15 weeks of fame are up. I think a good rule of thumb, for the non-crazies out there, is to change the towel at least weekly. When I see the same towel hanging that was there the last two months or better, I tend to take some paper towels into the bathroom with me. I mean, what’s the point of washing my hands and then wiping them dry with the crusty germs of everyone that’s used the towel in the last half a year. Also, if you have pets, don’t put out what’s supposed to be a fresh towel and let me pick it up to dry my clean hands only to find it covered in pet hair. Despite their cuteness or lovability, their hair on a hand towel is disgusting. If I wanted to wipe my wet palms on pet hair, I’d dry them on your dog.

http://www.cdc.gov/handwashing/index.html

~L~