On the usual suspects

So.

Here we are again.

My house and me.

Faced with a whole lot of chaos and a deadline and armed with only 14 hours, of which I plan to sleep through at least 8.

I’m going to yet another wedding tomorrow and won’t be home until AFTER my dearest BF arrives. I’ve told him where the key is, so that’s not a problem. The problem is the state of my house. One of the problems.

I’ve been away a LOT recently (and have several posts stuck in my fingers waiting impatiently to get out) and working late when I’m home. In my head that ought to mean I’ve had less time to mess things up, but it doesn’t. It means I haven’t done any housework or washing (besides last night’s load) in weeks (/months??). Nor have I had the energy to unpack my suitcase. Or my backpack. Or deal with the mail. Or the dead flowers. Or any of the other things on my table for that matter.

In short, it looks worse than it has for a long time.

And it’s embarrassing.

I wouldn’t be quite so bothered if it was ‘just’ the DB and me. He knows me, and he’s only here for one night before we head off to Berlin in the early hours of Sunday morning.

The more major issue, is Studying-D. I don’t think I’ve mentioned him before, which I suppose goes to show how big a role he plays in my life. We go to the same parties, and know lots of the same people. Anyway. He lives just over an hour away (by public transport) and goes to uni near where I live. He’s currently researching/writing his dissertation and losing an extortionate amount of his ‘spare’ time travelling. His girlfriend asked me yesterday if he could live here while I’m away in return for watering the plants and his parents paying me rent. Travelling backwards and forwards to Berlin is pretty expensive, and he’s a decent sort of bloke and I get on with his girlfriend, so I agreed. Thing is, he’s moving in on Sunday. It’s half past 9 on Friday evening. I’ve just got in (okay, so 3/4 hour ago) and I haven’t eaten yet. I’d like to make the house not only presentable enough for a sleepover stop between the BF’s meeting and Berlin, but for a week of someone else living here. I should have started yesterday? Well, yes, probably. Except I got in at midnight and needed to be up at 7.

Time to stop waffling and make a start methinks.

This could be interesting.

Oh yeah. I also need to make a trifle*.

*and think of a way to get it to the wedding without spreading it all over the train.

 

[edit: you can read “What I did when” here]

On crisis cleaning

< or chaos to passable in something like 40 steps >

I Crisis Cleaned as mentioned in my last post. This is “how to make your house presentable in lots of hectic steps” – I’ve grouped them roughly by room/area even though they definitely weren’t done in order. It’s probably not an interesting read (unless you have a good imagination and want to be horrified by how far away I was from having a guest-friendly home), I just wanted to be able to remind my future self how good I can be if/when I get unmotivated:

Balcony – I think starting with the worst and/or most important is generally sensible, especially when you have a deadline to meet. The balcony was therefore top of my list – you can’t barbecue inside, even if you can sit on a sofa in a sea of books and other ‘stuff’.

  • carried plant pots off one balcony, through my house and onto the other one to make space for an unspecified number of barbecue guests, trying not to drip water on the sofa or step on anything with my less than squeaky-clean boots as I went. The floor needed washing anyway, right?
  • swept the dead-plant-debris into a corner. Having dropped several months’ worth of dead flowers straight onto the floor (too lazy to gather them up each time I deadheaded) it was covered in a thinnish layer of dead brown mush.. I’d also torn out the old plants (deadplanting?) in order to put the bulbs in. And seemingly spilled quite a lot of compost in the process…
  • washed balcony – dry sweeping really didn’t help much – by tipping 2 buckets of water out and splooshing it about with the broom
  • washed table and chairs – how does plastic garden furniture get so gross when you’re not watching??
  • scooped all the plant debris and grott out of the drain and into a bag
  • emptied the rejected birdfood and rotting apples into the bag
  • peeled most of a Theraband off the tiles and threw it away – it smelt funny so I put it out there last year.. Apparently they stick to the tiles and disintergrate if you let them

Bedroom – okay, probably shouldn’t feature next on the list of importance, but it’s furthest away and had the least icky floor, so I figured it would save mop-washings… it didn’t really, but it was fairly quick to do.

  • put rug/mat, under-bed-boxes and the washing basket onto the bed
  • took the washing to the bathroom
  • binned tissues
  • piled books/papers/pens onto bedside table
  • mopped floor without sweeping it first. I have one of those rubber brooms. They’re fantastic things – not only do they get into all the groutlines between my floortiles, they also don’t seem to create dustclouds the way ‘normal’ brooms do. And you can use them wet as well – super. What didn’t occur to me until it was too late, was the fact that using the broom to wash the balcony meant I couldn’t use it to sweep my house – they take a while to dry and while they’re wet you can’t really sweep with them, not without making thick wet dust trails anyway.. Doh! I got my mop out and mopped without sweeping first. I’m not sure if I recommend it. It obviously means you don’t have to sweep and wash the same area separately, which saves time. On the other hand, you use at least as much time as you save washing the mop-head because it gets covered in all the things you would normally have swept up first. Swings, roundabouts and learning curves.
  • picked the drawing pins out of the wet gunk and put them somewhere I was unlikely to stand on them
  • once it was dry I put the boxes, basket and rug back and made the bed again.

Kitchen

  • washed up all most of the stuff I don’t trust the dishwasher with
  • threw away bag of mouldy breadbuns. I am against buying too much food only to throw it away when it goes off, but I am also against eating mould even if the ‘best before’ date is still valid. They were the sort you finish baking yourself and I’d bought them in anticipation of my return over New Year when everything would be closed. In future I’ll have to freeze them instead of trusting the bbe date.
  • emptied dishwasher
  • washed cutting boards – I have a stack of them and it’s soooo tempting to take a new one instead of washing the last one ๐Ÿ™
  • mixed a new batch of muesli.ย I probably wouldn’t have spent the time mixing it during a crisis clean if it hadn’t meant I suddenly had a whole load more space on my kitchen counter ๐Ÿ˜‰ I love crunchy muesli, and I love chocolate muesli, and muesli in general really.. What I don’t love is how much sugar there is in the crunchy and chocolate varieties, and I don’t really need so much chocolate or crunch-per-mouthfull so I mix a box of each with a bag each of finely and coarsely rolled oats into a huge plastic tub. There’s just enough room in there afterwards to shake it up. Makes my day when I have decent muesli for breakfast ๐Ÿ™‚
  • washed floor. Twice.

Dining room – I really need to do some ‘decluttering’ in here. It’s basically my ‘storage’ room. And the room I spend most time in. My bedroom’s for sleeping, my sitting room for sitting, my kitchen for cooking and my dining room for everything else. My desk is in there too and the papers, cables, pens, envelopes with random ideas scribbled on them, mice, webcams and other computer paraphernalia multiply and spread out from my computer as if it was being paid to do so… The tops of all the cupboards double up as shelves as does the dining table. My ‘real’ shelves with their carefully balanced shoeboxes are a lifesaver but will soon need some me-input to prevent them collapsing under the weight of their responsibility. My plants drape themselves from any remaining horizontal space and my books block each other from view in double-rows on my bookshelves. The whole effect is more that of a creative scrapyard than anything else. Given that I was working under pressure I could only hope to scrape the surface.

  • rearranged the plant rack; emptying the various plantgraveyards into the bag and making space for the bulbs I still need to plant, as well as most of the empty pots I’ve rescued
  • got rid of the bag of mouldy compost. I have less than no idea how compost goes mouldy but it’s very annoying that it has. It was seed compost. I don’t have a car and I live far enough away from the busstop to make fetching heavy things a nuisance..
  • cleared the table by putting the files back in their cupboard, shuffling all the remaining papers into a pile and all the ‘small stuff’ into a shoebox and plonking them both onto my desk. Wiped it down and dried it. Empty tables are astonishingly motivating – there’s so much potential for putting things on them (for some reason kinetic energy comes to mind; the only thing I still remember about it, is that the higher something goes up, the more energy it gathers to come down with.. Transfer the idea to the table, and the emptier it gets the more space there is for other stuff :))
  • shook out doormat
  • washed the floor

Sitting Room

  • shook out doormat
  • moved all the sofas, plants, tables, stuff aside; washing the floor before moving everything back again. It took 4 or 5 attempts to do the whole floor
  • made the guest-bed look good, or at least useable. I’d stacked my unvarnished picture frames on it. They landed on the table in the dining room. So much for having an empty table.
  • binned the dead plants, took the dead flowers to the kitchen, watered and dusted the leaves on the living ones

Porch – was so good I didn’t need to do anything.

Hall – was still good from Wednesday ๐Ÿ™‚

  • emptied my workbag and banished it to a better corner
  • swept up all the leaves and other bigger stuff I’d mopped into a heap (the hall is in the middle of my house) and binned them
  • washed the floor.

Bathroom – I do this last. Something about not wanting to wash the other floors with too many germs I guess. Not that there should even be that many more germs on the bathroom floor than on any of the others seeing as I don’t share with small children or a bloke ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • loo and sink were already sparkly thanks to all the swishing and swiping I’ve been doing ๐Ÿ™‚
  • picked up all the washing and put it in the basket. I have no idea why I don’t put things in it straight away but there we are. If I’d known I wasn’t going skating I’d’ve put the washing on to wash, I didn’t because it probably wouldn’t’ve been finished before I’d had to leave and since my cousin burned his house down with a duff washing machine I’m not too keen on leaving it running when I go out…
  • put the washing basket in the bath with the bath mat and the dustbin, balanced the scales on top of the washing, and the loo brush on top of the loo
  • washed the floor. Why is it mops don’t stay where you put them? I leant mine against the bath for a moment to move something and it promptly slid down knocking the looroll into the slightly damp bath and almost unbalancing the scales from their perch on top of the washing. When I tried to catch it I bashed the loobrush, thankfully not quite knocking it onto the floor
  • once the floor was dry I put everything back where it belongs
  • wiped the inside of the bath down. It’s amazing how much hair I lose every time I wash! I know I ought to get rid of it each time but sometimes I just don’t…
  • washed the mop out thoroughly and put all my cleaning stuff back in its corner.

So that’s it. Chaos to passable in something like 40 steps. I would like to say I got it all done in 2 1/2 hours but that would be a lie. I cheated and did some more once I’d phoned to say I wasn’t going out.

On CVs and other paperwork.

(I have finally made myself do my Ski-Training, so I can write again ;))

My life seems to be full of paperwork at the moment. I’d like to say I’m getting better at dealing with it, but I think that would be lying. It seems to create more problems and hassle per square inch than anything else, and enjoy doing so. I have had some [half-]successes though.

Most notably my CV is written and sent and presumably in a pile of things-to-be-dealt-with-later on the nice lady’s desk.

I’m applying for funding to do my Meister-Prรผfung (an exam which allows me to set up my own company, should I so wish). I’d sent the original forms in, had them returned to me in order to be sent to another office to be signed and sent back to me, so I could send them back to the lady. I can’t see why this still happens in this age of email, but what do I know – maybe they’re in league with the post office. According to the cover letter, if the forms weren’t back in her office within 4 weeks of having left it, the application would be automatically rejected/declined due to lack of co-operation on my part. In the light of such a demand, the next sentence seemed rather out of place.. “We are checking whether the funding you’re applying for is available, this may take some time. We’ll get back to you when we know.” Obviously there was no deadline and no other timescale attached; that’s one of the things that bug me about authorities – they make the rules and no one says they have to be fair.

Whatever. I wrote and rewrote my CV at least 5 times and was helped (with varying degrees of success) by at least 4 people including, surprisingly, an ex boyfriend who happened to come online while I was working on it. He wanted to chat and talk about some largely irrelevant grammatical intricacies, I wanted to get finished so I could shower and go to bed. When I was a little less than my usual superfriendly chatty self (:P) he asked if he was annoying me. I don’t remember him ever noticing/asking that before. I told him I was working on 50 things that needed doing by yesterday and he offered to help me with one of them. Amazing. His new girlfriend must be working wonders on him ๐Ÿ˜‰ He went through my CV, making suggestions and correcting my less-than-perfect German while I showered. That’s teamwork for you ;). When it and I were finished, I emailed it to myself and went to bed.

By the time I’d looked through it, made some changes, got a friend to agree to print it out for me, realised that older versions of Word won’t open OpenOffice documents, gone to a different friend’s to resave it as a Word document, gone back to the printer-friend, printed it, noticed a mistake, changed it, printed it again, photocopied every certificate in my folder and was trying to put everything in some vague semblance of order, I was no longer 1 or 2 days past the deadline I was almost a week over. Hey-ho. I was pretty happy to have it out of the way. Except it wasn’t even nearly over yet. I went through everything to check it was all present and correct and realised one of the forms I’d sent off to be signed had been filled in wrongly, or possibly correctly but sent to me by mistake. At this point I felt like giving up. I sent the form off to be adjusted instead.

A while after that I sat at work formulating a cover letter when one of my otherwise more appreciated people came in and asked what I was doing. Against my better judgement I told him, including the part where I had to get everything sorted out by last week. In return I was told I was stupid for not getting it sent off earlier, that it wouldn’t be accepted since it was so late, that I ought to have started earlier, that I ought to know that officials have the right to do anything they like and if I want them to do something for me I have to play by their rules, that it would be ok not to get the grant if my school wasn’t included in the scheme.. but would really suck if it was my own fault, etc etc etc. As I said, I’m usually more appreciative. However. He has a printer, and as mine doesn’t seem very motivated, and I’d noticed something missing off my CV, I was a little dependant on being allowed to use his. I went into semi-silent mode, which I tend to avoid, but which is sometimes more socially acceptable than getting mad. He willingly let me use his computer and printer, but couldn’t resist reading over my shoulder. Apparently my CV was written wrong. ARGH. I rather sulkily rewrote my CV under his supervision and also started on a cover letter. Halfway through writing it, I thought how much better it would be to find out just how hopeless the whole situation was before wasting any more time, energy and creative thoughts on it. I phoned her up to ask if I needed to bother sending the forms and CV in at all, being as how it was already a week overdue. I also mentioned that the form was wrong and that I’d half been waiting for the result of the research into my funding potential. She was really luffly and said there was absolutely no problem and I could either send the stuff I have now and send the missing form on later, or wait for the corrected form arrives and send it all together. The woman responsible for the research is on holiday until about June (or New Year ;)) and the woman responsible for the rest of the application can’t do anything until she’s finished her research, so it doesn’t actually matter much when I send my stuff :). The computer guy had gone off to do something while I was on the phone. When he came back he apologised for telling me my CV was wrong. He’d been thinking about it and it was just different to the way he’d’ve done it and not really wrong. It’s amazing how much difference an apology makes, even if it’s not about anything really important. That and the good news about the non-deadline (aliveline?) helped lift some of my bad mood. I’d also decided that the new version really was better for the purpose. While future employers might want to know what you did besides school/college/uni/whatever, no funding office gives a wotsit about work-experience, school exchanges or helping out in little kids’ maths classes. And it all fit on one page with room for a signature ๐Ÿ™‚ I reworded my cover letter to fit the phonecall, slid the last sheets into the envelope…and realised I had no stamp. ARGH.

I was in town that evening, so I bought stamps, but having forgotten to take the letter with me it had to wait until the following evening to be sent. That was all over a week ago.

The ‘wrong’ form came yesterday, luckily correct this time, so I’m going to post it tomorrow or Monday and then it’s all out of my hands until January.

Man am I happy it’s out of the way.

In the meantime, I’ve received a reminder telling me to send off other forms to ensure I get some kind of bonus for saving money on a regular basis. I like to believe I’m not stupid, and I’m pretty sure I’m not illiterate, but hand me a wadge of official looking forms to fill in and my brain goes fuzzy.

In the middle of a sea of paper (although not with a calculator) I’m likely to drown, too full of self-pitying despair to think of swimming (or asking for help).

I’ve gone through my impressively orderly folders -a product of a rare bout of organisational madness last year- and taken out all the papers I think may be helpful, and all those I also need to fill out and send (and have been avoiding for too long). So I now have a small (read large) pile of papers on my table and a new deadline and no idea what to do with them. They need to be sent off and arrive by the 31st, but since there’s a lot of days off between now and then, I want to get them posted tomorrow or Monday.

I’m going to bed now in the hope that the sleep will help defug my brain enough to understand what to write where, when I tackle them again tomorrow.

On perceived productivity

Why is it, on some days getting out of bed counts as productive already, and others -like today- I can wash my hair, help out at Sunday school, clear and sort my kitchen, sort out a folder of certificates and ‘important’ papers, think about Christmas presents for people, decorate a pinboard, write 3 emails (one of which was long overdue), cook and eat, and allow myself to be tortured by my favourite ski-training-woman, and still feel like it was a very unproductive day??

On the danger of over-eating on a Saturday.

I ate LOTS on Saturday evening. I hadn’t had much lunch apart from the cake at the sale, and there was a galoptious potfull of leftovers to eat up. We didn’t quite achieve empty, even with 15 of us, but I did my best ;). Not sure to what extent my stomach would agree with me on that – on top of actually eating too much, lentils seem to expand once you’ve eaten them. I went home with the feeling I’d narrowly escaped exploding.

I tend to eat too much, then curl up to digest, a bit like a snake. This meant that I wasn’t really hungry on Sunday, in turn meaning I didn’t really eat (apart from yogurt, the most amazing chocolate muesli and the left over crisps from my ‘party’).

This morning, I woke up to the sound of my meanest alarm clock blaring in my ears. I have several and the mean one’s really only for emergencies – I usually wake up to one of the milder ones and turn the mean one off before it wakes the whole street up or someone calls the fire brigade. This morning I’d slept through the others and even this one had somehow managed to work its way into my dream and escape detection.

The reason for my ‘out-like-a-light’ sleep? Not sure, but it probably has to do with not going to bed early enough. I was trying to fill in a form. Or, more accurately, trying to write my CV so I can send it off with the already-filled-in-form to the nice lady who wants it. I probably haven’t done many more exciting/relevant things than the average person, but the manner in which we moved around while I was small, means I went to a LOT of schools. Then, despite changing schools again in order to do my selection of A-Levels, I ended up attending yet another school parallel to the first (eighth) because they cancelled the course after AS. But I digress.

Being a Brit living in Germany generally confuses things anyway, but in this case makes things especially complicated because I don’t have the same sort of report as they do. We have a final exam/coursework based grade and a certificate for each subject, they have a report with the result of every test they’ve ever taken on it. Someone works out the average overall grade, based on how many hours over how many years were spent learning which subject and [probably] what the headteacher eats for breakfast. At least I think that’s what they do. What sort of school you went to, and in which county, determines what people think of the number produced at the end of all the calculations. Whatever. I don’t have one. So I have to explain what my string of letters mean to the official people who are expecting a solitary number.

Oh yeah, and I spent a year ‘dossing’ between sixth form and starting my apprenticeship. At least on paper I dossed. In reality, chasing after small children didn’t feel much like dossing.

I haven’t figured out how to fit all that on one side of A4, so that it’s still readable, and fits the requirements of being in reverse chronological order. Yet.

I would be quite happy to spend the next few weeks working on it (like playing Tetris), but it should already be lying on the nice lady’s desk. And it’s worth something like 1500โ‚ฌ. *sighs* With a price tag like that it ought to be at the top of my priority list. Which it was for about 3 minutes, and then life happened. Which is why I was still up at 12:30 last night. At one point it looked quite hopeful that I was going to have something to show for my lack of sleep, until my printer decided it was going to have a headache and print one stripy line a minute. ARGH.

I gave up, washed my hair and went to bed. I did admittedly sleep remarkably well, until the lorry reversed into my room anyway.

I left the house at least 6 minutes too late, realised it was raining, rushed back upstairs for my umbrella, rushed back down my stairs and then up the next flight of steps to the street (oh the joys of living on a hill ;)). I arrived, with wet feet and my jeans a couple of shades darker than usual, 1 (or 3) minutes late, depending on which clock you go by. This remarkably didn’t translate into decibels, but rather into a scowl which, while not being particularly upcheering, was at least gentler on the ears.


The connection to the title? Pff.. Isn’t that obvious? I didn’t eat much yesterday, and didn’t leave myself time for breakfast. Running while hungry is silly, and much harder than it ought to be. The rain didn’t help, but I can usually make the journey in about 9 minutes if I run compared to 17 if I walk, today I needed 14 despite attempting to run between alternate lampposts.

Okay, so maybe that’s a bit of an overkill, but I need something to blame ๐Ÿ™‚