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The Washing Monster

I procrastinate a lot.  I think there’s probably a fairly robust argument to be made that currently working on this blog post is a form of procrastination, since I’m supposed to be working on something else, but let’s move past that issue, shall we?

washingmachine

Fig. 1: Artist's depiction

I have always used doing the washing as a procrastination tool: I hate that I do it, since I don’t like washing and I don’t think washing every single weekend is necessary or even useful, on the whole, but there you go.  I sit down, an empty block of time on my hands, and open up the file I’m supposed to be working on — and then, ooh, what do you know? I really must go and do the washing!  I hate it, and I’ve struggled to neutralise it, even when I can see it coming.  I won’t even ask for help, even if there’s heaps of washing to be done and the help would be readily and cheerfully provided.  Instead, I just stomp around, resenting the washing machine and its relentless consumption of my weekends and free time.  Which is hardly fair.  My washing machine is no monster, despite me calling it one all the time. It’s just me, being stupid and failing to prioritise properly.  If you were to ask me “which is the more important job for the day: getting all the washing finished or writing up that short story you’re thinking of?” I would say short story, but I would do the washing.  And then I’d get pissy about the state of affairs I had manufactured, wherein I run out of weekend and do not get any story written, short or otherwise.

And then the feminist guilt would get me.  I’d ask myself if all my fiery suffragette predecessors had risked social ostracisation, jailtime or worse just so I could spend my weekends washing work clothes, answer “no”, and get pissy with myself for failing them as well as myself.  Oy, the drama. The most frustrating part of it all was that I knew what I was doing — I could see the pattern in my head, I could see what I was doing wrong, but it was just so heavily entrenched in me to do washing every weekend, that my responsibility to it should be a higher priority than any ambition or creative pursuit, that I struggled to push it away.

I had a revelation while travelling in New Zealand. I had lots, actually, but this is the most relevant one right now.  When I couldn’t remember if I had worn something in my suitcase or not: if I can’t tell the difference by smell, no-one else can either.  While I am not employing this principle to the same degree in my daily life as I did while travelling, it did make me stop and think. My clothes mostly don’t get that grubby, unless I’m exercising (and I change for that) or unless I actually slop something on myself (granted, this happens frequently).  On the whole though, I can get a few wears out of everything without anybody noticing or sticky-taping signs to the back of my chair or anything. So I’m doing less washing, because I’m wearing things more times before I wash ’em.  No biggy. It’s working a treat and my weekends rock a whole lot more. I’m astonished at how much more free time I have, and this is reconciling me to how much of my precious, short, finite time the washing machine has already eaten.  It’s crazy.

And if you think it’s gross, you just stand closer and tell me.

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