Monday, May 06, 2013

FLYing Again

Anybody else follow FLY Lady?

Fly Lady is a website that, basically, helps anyone who runs a home get her act together.  Running a home, as we all know, is one of those things you think you know how to do, until you actually have to do it.  In pretty short order you find out there are, um, let's just say -- gaps in your knowledge base.  Some of us might even refer to those gaps as lacunae.  Good for you, you know a little Latin. You still don't have a clue how to the laundry pile turned into Mount Everest, it's 7 pm and you have no dinner plan, and, oh yeah, your houseplants are all dead.  (How did that happen?)

This is where FLY Lady comes to your rescue.

There is something incredibly soothing about FLY Lady.  She helps you see that you are not the only domestic screw-up out there.  Actually she doesn't put it that way.  She just reminds you that running a house is a real job, requiring real skills and real time.  Then she takes you through the whole job, baby step by baby step.  Does your home suffer from CHAOS (Can't Have Anyone Over Syndrome)?  Take FLY Lady's hand.  She will lead you out of it.

I hadn't looked at FLY Lady in a long time.  But a friend mentioned the website to me a few weeks ago, and one day while browsing the internet I looked her up again.

 Well, okay, I was browsing with intent.  I wasn't on the lookout for housekeeping tips.  I was looking for writing tips. No, scratch that- I was looking for lifesaving writing tips.   I even did a Google search for any website called anything like "how to write your bestseller even though you are staring into the abyss of writer's block."

In case you're wondering, the search came up empty.

But I remembered my friend's enthusiasm for FLY Lady, and I found her website.

FLY Lady has tons of good advice, but she has a handful of trademarks that are worth memorizing.  The one I'm thinking of in particular is "Shine your sink."

I know, I know, it sounds-- how?  Obvious?  Silly?  A waste of time?

But it turns out shining your sink can be the first step out of the black hole of CHAOS and into the kind of domestic serenity that lets you accomplish the things you really want to do in life- by which I mean the things that have nothing to do with housekeeping.

Try it:  just before you shut down the kitchen for the night, grab your trusty Bar Tender's Friend of Comet or whatever, pull on some rubber gloves and scrub out the sink. Rinse and pat dry ( I know, that sounded insane to  me too, but bear with me here).

In the morning when you walk into the kitchen you will find what for me at least was a rare surprise:  a spotless sink. And when stainless steel or porcelain is spotless, did you know it actually shines?  In the right light it even sparkles.  And it might sound ridiculous, but the sight of that sparkle actually cheers me up.  It makes me feel like the day is full of possibilities.   I can start the day without reproaching  myself for leaving the kitchen a mess.  A little sparkle goes a long way with me.

Anyway.  I'm reading the FLY Lady website.  I remember her "shine your sink" advice.

Then I remember the Sink of Horror.  The one in  my powder room.

The previous owners of this house put a tiny brass sink in the powder room.  At least we assumed it was brass.  You couldn't tell from looking at it. From looking at it the sink appeared to be made of dried mud and charcoal.  It had scared off many a houseguest.

I had tried many, many times to make that sink presentable.  Finally I just installed a low-watt bulb in the powder room.  I figured this way maybe nobody would notice.

But then FLY Lady inspired me.  And since the writing was going particularly badly that day, I decided it was time to conquer the sink.

I started with brass polish.  "Apply with a soft cloth.  Rub gently to remove tarnish."

Ha.  That got me nowhere.  I tried three different brands of brass polish.  No dice.  The sink remained the same ugly, slightly disturbing grey.

Finally I got out the scouring powder and the heavy duty sponge.  And I scrubbed.  I scrubbed, and scrubbed, and scrubbed.

It took me two days.   It's a wonder the sink didn't fall out of the wall, I roughed it up so bad.  My shoulder ached for a week.

But as of now, the brass just glows.  It's like a whole new bathroom in there.  For me, at least.  So far no one else has even noticed.  But I notice, and I pat myself on the back for a job well done.

So, FLY Lady, all this might not have been exactly what you had in mind when you said "shine your sink."  What can I say, I took you advice to extremes.  But it paid off.  Thanks to you, my powder room is no longer the most embarrassing one on the block.  And I can finally put a 60-watt bulb in there now, too.

When you're having a bad writing day you have to take your encouragement where you can find it.  Every once in a while these days I get up and look at my sink,  And I think, 'Bravo, Desperate.  You can beat this thing.'

Not a bad payoff.