Roxanne Tellier: The Clean Up Woman


I’m the first to admit – I’m not a great housekeeper. There are far too many other things I’d rather be doing than futzing with cleaning products. Oh, sure, there are a few things I will do – like empty the ashtrays, full of cigarette butts, hiding the evidence of the nicotine I’m not supposed to be ingesting. Or rounding up the empties for a lucrative trip to The Beer Store. I have some standards after all.

Roxanne's FloorThere was a time when I was a perfect Suzy Homemaker, a dynamo that thought nothing of scrubbing the tiling grout on my hands and knees with bleach and a toothbrush. But life and kids will beat that out of you, or teach you that it’s more important to have a happy home than a tidy one. My motto is; laundry can wait, hugs can’t.

Besides – I am an artiste! Still playing, singing, writing. Never been famous or even infamous, no sex tapes floating around, that I know of, (but if you find one, do send it on!) but I can still feel quite justified in declining to clean the garage by grandly declaring that “I’m on deadline!” And since my husband is also a musician and writer, it’s very likely that we’ll never know the joys of a good spring clean. Together, we laugh in the face of grime, as dust balls the size of tumbleweeds roll gracefully down the hallway. Well, I laugh. He cringes, and says “don’t put that on the counter! The cat’s walked right through there!”

I don’t want to brag, but I’ve even found a wad of fur and hair stuck under the space bar of my computer keyboard that was the size of a kitten. Actually, it might have been a kitten – there are always cats and dogs wandering through the house. Do you want to know who let the dogs out? It was me, damn it! How can any one dog need to go out that much? How tiny, exactly, are his kidneys?

In Love with the DryerBut I bear no malice towards those who love to clean. I have a friend that cannot wait to do the laundry; she waxes poetically about the joys of washing and folding clean linens, and is practically orgasmic when describing how very well her new, stackable washer and dryer operate. Personally, I think she’s getting a little too friendly with the spin dry cycle, but to each their own. But it’s not for me to pass judgment on other people’s sex lives.

I do, however, feel terribly guilty when I look around my office and realize how extremely untidy it’s become. Stacks of books, file folders, bits of paper with important pieces of information, jewelry, scarves, sunglasses, watches, makeup – who left all of this junk in here?  The stuff seems to be breeding, with more and more crap landing on top of yesterday’s crap. Even an archeologist might think twice about excavating this site. Some days I’m tempted to just toss in a flaming book of matches and run for the hills. But this is my life … messy and impossible to tame. As the French say, “jolie laide.” Beautiful and ugly at the same time.

Roxy's Office

Actual unretouched picture of writer’s desk

It’s enough to make you cry. But apparently not enough to make me clean. I need a maid. These guys come to mind … Queen – I Want To Break Free

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to do housework. The fact is, when you don’t want or like to clean, you just don’t do it very well. That’s the secret every person who’s wanted to escape chores and the “honey do” list learns very early in a relationship. If you do anything badly enough, the more OCD of the two of you will eventually stop asking the other to even attempt the task. Ask my husband. For 31 years, I’ve asked him to take on the bathroom as a tiny, easily handled, designated cleaning site. Nada.

Not saying I have anything against doing the laundry, but the other day, it took me almost nine hours to get two loads of washing done. Things just kept happening; I’d forget to check when one load was done, or not notice that the dryer door was getting kicked open by the spinning clothes. (Apparently those two loads should have been three or four … I was trying to save time.) I finally duct taped the dryer door closed. And then promptly forgot (again) that I was in the middle of the laundry, and got involved in an Internet discussion on something that was really important, but which I now cannot remember either what it was about, or which side I was on. These are the days of my life …   Watching The Clothes – Pretenders

If I was gonna clean, I’d definitely need some cleaning music. Not for me the “Whistle While You Work” of Disney. Even Queen’s “Another One Bites the Dust” can’t cut it. It’s gotta have a groove. I need to dance to it. Maybe this one could pry my butt off the chair and into a tango with a broom …

I’m a good enough cook to have dabbled in it professionally, but these days, the biggest indicator of when dinner will be ready is when I stop swinging the wet towel around the kitchen under the fan. Is it dinner time? I dunno … count the smoke rings. I truly mean to make a lovely meal, I just zone out when there is so much else that I’d rather do … and so my pasta or pierogies turn into mush while I argue the semantics of some obscure political point.

Happily, everything tastes better with tomato sauce!

I’ve got to face it; at some point, my inner housewife burned her bra and ran off to join the rock n roll circus, unrepentant. Hat’s off to those of you who must have a tidy home – can you come by and clean mine when you get a minute? –  but I have to honestly say that no one’s ever won a Nobel or Pulitzer for getting the dust off the fan blades, and they never will .There’s a whole world I still want to explore, but I won’t be bringing a dust cloth with me when I do.

Of course, your mileage may vary.  I’ll respect those of you that keep the planet tidy. I’m just too busy right now, living my life until I turn into the dust of the ages. Ain’t no one gonna clean up that mess. That’s all mine, baby, and no one else wants it.

All we are is … oh no! damn you Kansas!

= RT =

Roxanne’s column appears here every Sunday 

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DBAWIS ButtonRoxanne Tellier has been singing since she was 10 months old … no, really. Not like she’s telling anyone else how to live their lives, because she’s not judgmental, and most 10 month olds need a little more time to figure out how to hold a microphone. After years of doing things she didn’t want to do, she’s found herself working with a bunch of crazy people who are as batshit crazy and devoted to music as she is, and so she can be found every Monday at Cherry Cola’s, completely unable to think of anything funny to say, as the co-host of Bob Segarini’s The Bobcast. Come and mock her. She’s good with that. And she laughs. A lot. But not at you.


4 Responses to “Roxanne Tellier: The Clean Up Woman”

  1. “Actual unretouched picture” made me laugh. I remember as a girl having to dust the living room every Saturday. As my mother did not permit dust to even land in our house, it usually seemed a pointless task to me. So I would load my favourite LPs on the hi-fi spindle and dance around while I sprayed Pledge in the air to make it smell like I dusted. Great column Roxanne!

  2. Great to know that there is someone else out there with more crap accumulating than I have. Bravo! Great piece, Roxanne.

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