I'm getting close to finishing The Shadow King by Sidra Stone, and I'm beginning to realize how much it's getting under my skin, in (I hope) a positive way.
This morning I had to get up early because the pastor of the church I have been attending was coming over to do introductions and discuss membership. I had asked my roommates to pick up their messes before morning arrived, because I don't like the idea of a guest walking into a dirty space. Especially a small dirty space, because that makes the gross ten times more prominent. And gross, by definition to me, includes plates with food stuck on them in the sink, magazines laying around, dog hair forming colonies on the couches and in corners, etc. So when I came down stairs this morning, I was immediately disgruntled when I found the sink full, copies of the Austin Chronicle on an arm of the love seat, the garbage can's contents literally spilling out onto the floor, and a few particles of dust strewn about.
My immediate reaction to such a state is to get resentful and upset - first, I don't like feeling as though keeping the apartment sanitary is my duty simply because I'm the only one who enjoys cleanliness a few degrees higher than everyone else present, and then I especially hate the idea of a guest walking in and judging me/us by a messy, dog-odor infused apartment. This merited me snapping at a roommate, words were exchanged, I got mad and stormed upstairs.
I started thinking about it, and realized that it's not just the guest being here that worried me about the apartment's state, because I always like it clean. And aside from preferring clean by character, I see the state of the apartment as a reflection of my own hygiene and level of responsibility, as though a messy apartment means that I am a lazy, negligent care taker who probably doesn't bathe. When I realized that I should not see the apartment as a reflection of my own ability to be a good, well-kept girl, I relaxed.
Then I heard the sound of running water and glass dishes clanking as someone scrubbed them in the kitchen, and I relaxed even more. An exterior mess is not indicative of an inner mess, nor does it demonstrate my inability to maintain feminine responsibilities, because cleaning is not solely feminine responsibility in a shared household. Perhaps next on my reading list should be a copy of The Second Shift.