In Writing


Do you ever scan your social media profiles and find that your friends have posted articles that are hazardous to your health? More often than not, I come across advice that is mildly annoying (“Why smiling at everyone you see is a great idea!”) to downright dangerous: (“5 habits of people who just go, go go!” [Habit #5 – Experience a premature death]).

Today, a friend posted something of a lamentation that she wasn’t living up to all the suggestions in a piece entitled, “The 12 habits of people whose homes are always clean.” To illustrate the habitats of these grim folk, the article attached a photograph of what must have been a robot kitchen, cold, white, with no personality anywhere, and nary a stain in sight. Scary. It had “advice” that said that these unenviable people did things like this: “…do laundry on a specific day!” and “…clean the fridge weekly.” (!!).

I felt compelled to respond in snarky fashion, just to wash the heebeejeebees off, at which point I was tasked with coming up with a better list. So… here it is. Don’t Do These Things! 12 Habits That Will Kill Your Creativity (and Possibly Even You!).

What not to do # 1: Make your bed. Making your bed every morning as soon as you get out of it will create a raging dust mite infestation. That’s not just a convenient excuse for me to leave the covers all snarled up in a ball, that’s science. Look it up. Let the sucker breathe. Preferably for a few days. It could mean the difference between life and death.

What not to do # 2: Clean your refrigerator. Don’t do it. Definitely not weekly (gasp). All the food is in containers. What exactly do you think the shelf is going to do to the stuff in the containers? Also, a clean refrigerator rules out the possibility of serendipitous discoveries, such as of penicillin.

What not to do # 3: Dishes. Of any kind. Yes, styrofoam is going to kill all living things in the oceans, probably, and if that’s a thing that makes you feel bad, ask the take-out place to send them so you’re not the one directly buying them. Or buy biodegradable ones. Whatever. Washing stuff eats up valuable time you could be using to paint the next best Mona Lisa.

What not to do # 4: Invite people to your house. Guests do generally expect for you to pick up the pile of books off your couch and, I don’t know, vacuum. This is easily avoided by not inviting anyone. They have houses, don’t they? If you must see them, go there. Bonus points for meeting in a restaurant or cafe so no one is subjected to too much cleaning.

What not to do # 5: Have a place for everything. If you’ve been subjected to any home organization indoctrination materials, you’ve definitely heard the advice about having a place for everything. “Clutter only happens when things don’t have a place,” they’ll chant at you, glassy-eyed. Yeah. But creativity won’t happen either. You haven’t been inspired until you find your socks in your wok. Let things live where they want to live. Be free, creative spirit.

What not to do # 6: Have baskets. Related to # 5, baskets are a gateway drug to obsession. Plus, for whom do baskets actually work as an organizational method? Mine just wind up collecting things like the cotton gloves that came with my chandelier so I wouldn’t get fingerprints on it (those were just too cool to throw away, but where does one store them, exactly?) and that tablet that hasn’t booted up since my kids were in middle school, but whose chimes I long to hear because they were just so damn awesome.

What not to do # 7: Handle everything immediately. Apparently these Stepford types do things like, oh, I don’t know, open boxes the day they arrive. Whatever. Have you ever experienced the sheer delight and creative inspiration of finding a package you forgot you left on the stairs under that pile of mail several weeks ago? Don’t deny yourself this pleasure.

What not to do # 8: Cook. No one will be grateful and the best that you will get is a polite nod when you finally bring yourself to fish for compliments. You know what everyone does like? Chinese food. Order yourself something steamed if you really, I don’t know, don’t want clogged arteries, but if you’re responsible for young ‘uns, let them order whatever they want. They’ll have plenty of time to bounce back and it will be their own problem soon. And there’s no easier way to drive a kid to star in an episode of My 600 Pound Life than to deprive them of junk food.

What not to do # 9: Have a grocery list. If you decide to break What not to do # 8 (at your own peril), then at the very least, don’t go shopping with a list. Have you ever felt the wind running through your hair as you explore the aisles of a supermarket as if for the first time? No? Do you methodically go where a mindless piece of paper tells you to go? Then you haven’t truly lived, my friend. Next time, do it like you’re running with the bulls in Pamplona. Sure, you might forget the mayonnaise, but that’s a small price to pay for your freedom.

What not to do # 10: Use “life hacks.” If you exist in the world, you’ve no doubt been subjected to articles which suggest you use clothes pins to keep socks from getting separated in the wash, or other insanely elaborate uses for items intended for something else. Don’t do it. It’s hard enough to remember to use things the way they’re meant to be used. No one needs to hack into life. We’re stuck with it, no matter what.

What not to do # 11: Do things on a schedule. Leave the sink clean every night? Clean out the dishwasher every morning? Do laundry the same day of the week every week? Nah! Experience the frisson of realizing you’re out of clean underwear. Exciting! Will you run to the store and buy more? Toss a few in the washing machine and put one on still damp for that important meeting? Who knows! You’re a child of the universe. Go where it moves you.

What not to do # 12: Read articles about staying organized. They only serve to make you feel inadequate and add to your list of things you should be doing better. Go write a poem. Eat a candy bar (toss the wrapper wherever). Walk barefoot on the grass. Everything else will work itself out.

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