Cleanliness requires effort

Russell Anglin

While making a stop on my reporting rounds Monday afternoon, I paused for a second before getting into my car to absorb my surroundings. My location provided me a particularly good vantage point from which I could take in the scenic landforms surrounding our fine city.

My mind cleared as I shifted contemplation to the wonders of nature. What is it about the outdoors and this cooler weather that does such a great job refreshing my perspective?

Then I realized why I was so impressed by my surroundings. I had fresh air to breathe, open space and somewhere to look, all of which I passively deprive myself when I go for months at a time without making any effort to clean, organize or decorate my apartment.

As a 22-year-old male, I imagine people expect me to live this way. I go to work most days, come home, relax and unwind. I eat, I lounge, and I may even go out and exercise a little, but I very rarely clean. If I shower, clip my nails and brush my teeth, I can still get by in society.

Plus, I simply do not enjoy cleaning. Some people clean as an outlet to relieve stress and focus the mind. Those people are strange to me.

I have fostered this filth-friendly temperament since day one. When I attended first grade at Elida Elementary School, I specifically remember my teacher temporarily re-naming the “lost and found” box the “Russell” box because I was always dropping crayons and supplies around my desk and forgetting about it at the end of the day. The old box name was eventually reinstated, but the lesson remained unlearned.

I wreaked havoc on standards of cleanliness in my college years. I purposefully chose dormmates and roommates who shared my untidiness. The synergistic effect my friends and I created left living spaces forever traumatized in its wake. In fact, one afternoon while we were playing video games, Oscar the Grouch crawled out of a pile of refuse in the living room, grumbled something about the milk going bad and then crawled back into the pile.

“And don’t bother me,” he shouted from his new shelter. “I hate it when people bother me.”

I think I actually am getting better about cleaning up these days. On Sunday, I noticed my apartment looked not so much like I was neglecting cleaning, but instead like I was actively hoarding trash out of a sentimental attachment. OK, I thought. Enough is enough.

One hour later, I had a new apartment. I could see the floor, and since I vacuumed it, I actually wanted to see the floor. I had a cleared space on my futon just for me, and opened shutters with cleaned windows brought some light in and made me feel a little more human. I have to admit that once the cleaning process itself was finished, I felt better for having a tidy living space.

As for my car? Maybe next month.

Russell Anglin is the senior reporter for the Quay County Sun. Contact him at: