laura packardYou know how April showers bring May flowers?

Well, spring air brings deep cleaning. And spring cleaning may also bring a deeper insight into how you are a mere heel dig, triple step, and boot scoot away from crazy.

I know, I know. There are plenty of domestic goddesses out there. I, quite pitifully, am not one of them. At anyone else’s home, I may raise my crystal cut glass high and marvel at the absence of a single water spot or any type of foreign film. At dinner parties, I will find my hand holding a perfectly polished silver-plated fork without taking a single bite, mystified not to see a single speck or streak of tarnish. I have been to homes where the baseboards gleamed, the toilets shined, and every single, solitary widow glowed so bright I felt enveloped and illuminated in shame.

How? How do they do it? It just doesn’t compute.

But see, this is what shame does to you. It festers and then one day out of the blue, you decide to do something drastic to prove your worth, not only to your family, friends, and neighbors, but to the entire human race. This never ends well, my friends.

The world’s a tough place, and spring cleaning is tough work. I set about doing it anyway, despite what I may find deep inside myself, not to mention inside the refrigerator crisper drawer. Though I most certainly didn’t want to find another casserole dish like I did the spring of 2015 when I finally worked up the courage to tackle the old beer fridge out in the garage. It appeared to hold the contents of a really bad toupee or one of those giant wolf spiders, only it was the leftover sweet potato soufflé from the previous Thanksgiving. On all counts, the whole experience was straight up terrifying.

Alas, there is nothing to fear but fear itself, so I gloved up and got to work. But not before acknowledging, in my own defense, FDR may have led the US to victory during WWII right up until his death, but I guarantee you the man never defrosted, deep cleaned and restocked the new contraption called a freezer.

First up, I decided to hit the kitchen fridge. The thing about the fridge is you have to take everything out, inspect it for health reasons, then disassemble the whole inside, as in take it apart, scrub and bleach it, then figure out how in the H-E-double hockey sticks to make it line up again. Rebuilding a car engine seems less intimidating when you are in the thick of it all. This is when my #3 rule for cleaning comes in. Remember when overwhelmed, one must eat the elephant with a teaspoon to remain sane and not give up. This rarely ever works unless you also add: when done “eating the gosh forsaken elephant” permission is granted to use a giant serving spoon on two pints of Ben and Jerry’s Everything but the . . .

Now, the problem with the food purging for health reasons is that they make the ‘use by date’ so teen-tiny small even the young eyes of well-read children find the task difficult. For a forty plus year old woman, it’s nearly impossible, especially when continuously losing your eye glasses on top of your head. This leads me to my #1 rule about cleaning; when in doubt, toss it out.

At this point I have no food except for 3 half-filled bottles of Hidden Valley Ranch, a bottle of A-1 sauce, and a single egg left in an otherwise empty Styrofoam container. And to be perfectly honest, I am still not sure if the bottle of A-1 has expired. But there was no doubt about one thing; I couldn’t toss it out because it was firmly attached to the upper shelf with an unknown sticky substance that can only be described as nature-made superglue. This leads me to my #2 rule of cleaning; when an object is too stuck, too heavy, or too hard to reach, you clean around it. Why? Because life is too short.

Next, I move on to the garage. This is when I really start to lose my sanity. For one, because as we say in the south, it’s hotter than a Billy goat with a blowtorch. But two, because I am finally at the digging up the inner findings of myself part of the spring cleaning process. I was able to ignore the 13 bottles of vinegar I found deep within my pantry. I was even able to excuse the 2 and a half dozen mason jars full of loose change strewn in every other cabinet. But when I got inside the utility closet and saw the 2 skyscrapers made out of design magazines and tabloids, 40 stacks of my kid’s scribble, and 300 cloth Publix green grocery bags folded in and on themselves like Russian nesting dolls, I could no longer avoid the truth.

I am a certified hoarder.

Mind you, I have always called myself a rational irrational, meaning you can’t be crazy if you know you are. Crazy people are delusional wherein I am soberly aware of my eccentricities.

But I can no longer deny my failure to let go of things.

And there is another saying in the south; we don’t hide our crazy, we prop it on the porch and give it a cocktail.

Being Southern, I knew exactly what to do. I closed the door to the utility room, made a cocktail and went on out the porch. Not before stuffing a year’s worth of Better Homes & Gardens into a Publix grocery sack. Oh, and grabbing a bottle of ranch and one of the 12 bags of gluten-free pretzels I found hidden in the linen closet.

I’m truthfully in awe of all the superhero spring cleaners out there. May we praise them, may we love them, may we forgive ourselves for not being one of them.

In the meantime, it’s spring and it’s nice out. And there is plenty of room on my porch for some company.