Thursday, August 29, 2013

coming clean

One of the side effects to the spate of break-ins this spring was that there were a lot people in my house.  Obviously, that's implied in the name of the crime, but not just the thief.  My host family, neighbors and the police also spent a lot of time in my house, which was... messy.  Yeah, let's go with messy.  It sounds better than shitstorm.

I am not naturally a tidy or organized person.  I like living in a clean space, but actually cleaning is really boring and there are all sorts of storage issues in my apartment (mainly, there's not any) and yeah, basically, the only times my apartment has been properly clean since I moved in a year and half ago has been when I've had someone spending the night, and even then, I tend to toss all the random crap from my living room into my bedroom and shut the door, so my bedroom is always especially messy. 

After the first break-in, when it took me forever to determine what had been taken since I couldn’t tell if something was missing or just lost in the clutter, I started (slowly) unfucking my habitat, one room at the time.  (I spent the week before the second break-in taking everything out of my kitchen and scrubbing all the things.  Progress was being made!)  It's not like I can't take care of my house; I just don't, and normally I don't really care, but it was a bit embarrassing when all of a sudden, my trashed-out house was full of Moroccan housewives judging me.

The evening after the second break-in, my downstairs neighbors came to check on me and said she would come over the next day to move some furniture.  Or something.  I don’t know, it was in Arabic and it was late, which isn’t a great combination for comprehension.

The next afternoon, she knocked on my door and asked, “Do you have a rag to scrub the floor with?" as soon as I opened the door.

"Um, I have a squeegee?" I told her. 

She sent her son to go find a rag and the appropriate buckets (mine weren't the right size?), and told me she was going to clean my bedroom.

"That's okay," I assured her.  "You really don't have to," I said, but she didn't listen, and over the next two hours, her son, one of her daughters and she picked up all the crap in my bedroom (which involved her eleven year old son holding a bunch of my dirty underwear *facepalm*), threw away all the trash (which involved me running after them saying, “No wait, that’s not trash.”), removed the rug so she could scrub the floor by hand (which I have never done and, let’s be honest, will never do) and rearranged the furniture (I'm not sure why).  Then she took all the furniture out of my living room so she could mop that floor.  (I'd like to point out that my living room was actually clean.  Okay, so I had thrown most of the junk into my bedroom.  And I hadn’t mopped it in ages, but it was clean, dammit.)  Then she moved on to the kitchen, which as previously mentioned, actually was clean.  (Also, there were a half dozen liquor bottles hidden in the corner by my dishes and I REALLY couldn't let her see those, so as she mopped my kitchen floor, I wedged myself in the corner and bodily blocked my shame.)

Three hours later, my apartment had been cleaned from floor the ceiling.  It was simultaneously incredible kind because the mess, especially the bedroom, was overwhelming, but also incredible embarrassing because she was, in the kindest way possible, judging the hell out of me.  I had to keep excusing myself to another room so I could claw at my hair and wish I could call someone to flail at. 

I spent the next two weeks going through my now clean apartment and actually organizing everything.  I threw away a bunch more stuff, shoved even more stuff in my suitcase to deal with when I leave and finally hung up some artwork (okay, cut-up calendars) in my bedroom.  I also tackled (and conquered) the absolute mountain of dirty laundry (and when you have to wash it by hand in a bucket with a washboard, laundry takes a bit longer), and by the end of June, my apartment was well and truly clean for the first time possible ever.

That was two months ago (almost three, if you count from the original cleaning date) and my apartment is still clean.  I mean, I haven’t mopped the floors and I’ve only washed my sheets once, so it isn’t clean by my neighbor’s standards, but I wake up every morning to a clean kitchen, a clutter free living room and I sweep my floors every other day (thank you, dust storms), which is pretty damn spotless by my standards.

Maybe I’m finally maturing?

Anyways, now that I no longer have to ashamed of people seeing my apartment, here's a tour of my house.

The video’s actually from the end of June (I’ve been meaning to make this post for a while).  Since then, I’ve bought a fan and my wall of cards has turned the corner and is marching towards the next window.

Monday, August 5, 2013


I was at the orphanage the other day, like I am most afternoons, when Troll Baby projectile vomited all over me.  It was actually really impressive that a child that small could throw up that much; it was a regular Old Faithful of formula milk.  (Troll Baby, who has only existed in this world for 13 days, has thrown up on me roughly half of those.  I think he doesn't like his nickname.  Don't worry, baby, you'll grow into your face someday.)  Anyway, I mopped up Troll Baby's little face, then went to the bathroom to clean myself.  My skirt was pretty light and filmy and would dry fast, but my shirt was drenched in regurgitated formula, so I just took it off, scrubbed it in the sink, and one of the caretakers hung it on the roof to dry.  It was 118 degrees that afternoon, which is awful on so many levels, but it does mean that laundry dries very quickly.  I had worn a cardigan to work over my T-shirt (no short sleeves in site, so I end up wearing a lot of T-shirts with lightweight cardigans that I can take off once I'm no longer outside), but it was hot, so I didn't bother to button it up.  Hey, we were all ladies or boys under the age of four; I wasn't too worried about spending an hour or so topless so long as I could avoid Troll Baby barfing in my bra.  (My life is so glamorous.)

ANYWAYS, my shirt dried quickly (thank you extreme heat and total lack of humidity), but when Bouchra brought it back to me, Abdellatif was sitting in my lap and I didn't want to to move him just to put my shirt back on, so I tossed in on the counter and waited.  It's not like anyone ever visits, right?  Wrong.  Around 6:00, right when the evening caretaker usually arrives, there was a knocking on the door, but instead of being Faiza, it was a woman I had never met before and her thirteen year old son.  And there I am, sitting on the ground, topless.  Oh, and did I mention it's the middle of Ramadan.  It's not as bad as it could have been - I was wearing a cardigan, it just wasn't bottomed, so at least my shoulders and arms were covered, and the four year old on my lap was hiding my front.  I clutched Abdellatif to my chested to hide my state of dress and hissed <i>sit</i> in his ear when he started to squirm.  Luckily, mother and son weren't there long and they left without noticing, or at least commenting, on my state of dress.  So yeah, the story of the time I was caught topless by a teenage boy.