By the time life had slammed me headlong into the 47 yard dumpster and left me for dead in my own clutter, I was no stranger to change. I had been writing and teaching classes about organization for more than a decade by that time. Most visitors to my home saw it as a peaceful, orderly place, and mostly that was true, if they didn't look too closely. I had already come a long way from my messy upbringing on the ranch.
When I was growing up, housework was strictly a weekend affair. For me, Saturday meant three things: Scooby-Doo, American Bandstand, and cleaning. Getting to watch Scooby-Doo was easy. All I had to do was emerge from my bed and pick the sleep-sand out of my eyes early enough to watch Scooby and the gang, followed by their Hanna-Barbera cohorts, entertain me with their madcap misadventures from 7 to 9 every Saturday morning. If it were a really good Saturday, I could catch the Bugs Bunny/Roadrunner Hour, and maybe even Super Friends. Being a Saturday morning couch potato came naturally. I loved it.
Getting the opportunity to watch American Bandstand, however, was not so easy. If I had any hope of giving that new song an 89 "‘cuz the beat was good, but I didn’t like the lyrics," my siblings and I would have to work. The time between cartoons and American Bandstand was always stressful. That was the time we would clean the house.
Don’t get me wrong. When I say "clean," I mean it in only the most technical sense. Cleaning products were sprayed about, fighting and bad tempers ensued, brooms and mops moved from here to there, but our house was never actually clean: Not like Brady Bunch clean, or the house on Bewitched clean or Pledge-commercial clean. You know, on Pledge commercials where the mom lifts the lovely bouquet of fresh cut flowers from the center of the dining room table, sprays the Pledge, wipes it with a soft white cloth, and stops to admire her own reflection on the shiny surface? Uh-uh. Not our house. Never happened.
Saturday morning cleaning always began with my dad and a broom. Our house had concrete floors covered with linoleum, which, I suppose, made Saturday morning clean up so much simpler. Daddy would take a straw broom and sweep everything in his path to the center of the living room into a big pile. Then he would yell, "Whatever is still here in five minutes goes into the trash!" We four kids would scramble to grab cardigans, Barbies, G.I. Joes, moon shoes, stuffed animals, homework and jewelry as fast as our anxious little hands could go because we knew, for sure, that my dad never lied.