The view from my toilet

The view from my toilet

Here is the view from my toilet

Toilet view

Okay, now is when you’re completely within your rights to say Tee Ehm Eye, Ann. We don’t need to think about you on a toilet.

Let’s just take a moment to think of the Queen of England on a toilet, though. She sits there, we all have to. I always get a kick out of thinking of her doing that. I wonder if any of her attendants have any toilet responsibilities. Chelton, hand me the lilac air freshener that you know I prefer. I’m tempted to send Constance to the guillotine for continually purchasing the “spring breeze.” Off with her head! 

Anyway. The view from my toilet. We live in a compact downtown Toronto house, so that hundred-year-old radiator in the picture isn’t across an expansive bathroom or anything, it’s about one foot away from your knees while you’re doing your business. I work from home, so you can bet that I am up close and personal with that radiator multiple times each day. And every time I look at it, I notice the same thing.

Dark, disgusting, nearly live, fluffy hair and dust hiding in the recesses of those shadowy black slats.

Check out Christoph Niemann's art

Check out Christoph Niemann’s art

Now you have to really look to see it back there. It’s not something you’d see unless you were relieving yourself at my house many times a day (I don’t think, but maybe all of my friends think I’m a filthy pig and aren’t saying anything). But my point is, I’ve been staring at it for ages (I don’t even want to tell you how long so I won’t) and I haven’t done a single thing about it. Some days I stare at it and think, “What’s wrong with me? Why don’t I run downstairs and get a Swiffer and jam it in there and then the hundred-year-old-crud would be gone?” And then I analyze whether I want to clean it because it really bugs me, or because I’m afraid others are looking at it when they sit on my toilet and wonder what’s wrong with me. And then I think, “Well, if it’s for the benefit of friends, they’re probably not noticing it and won’t judge if they’re my real friends. I shouldn’t care what they think anyway.” And then I wash my hands and walk out of the bathroom and bark at my kids to put-your-shoes-on-let’s-get-out-of-here-how-many-times-do-I-have-to-tell-you-I’m-about-to-lose-my-mind and I completely forget that I was thinking about it at all.

And the radiator crud isn’t the only mental-but-also-literal sludge this happens with.

I have very dark hair, but only with the help of some nearly black stinking chemicals every few weeks. Once I dropped the youth serum and it splashed across the white wood of the same teensy bathroom, so when I’m not enjoying my view of the grey rad fuzz I can look to my right and ponder this

Gross splash

I have a can of white paint and a brush in our adjacent storage room, but…

Maybe I should be addressing my dirtiest little secret. When people come over, there is often a pile of papers on the desk in our open-concept kitchen where friends tend to hang out. I’m always running behind, so I pick it up and shove it (with other odds and ends) beside the closet in my bedroom.

Junk pile

This pile is often the first thing I think of when I wake up. I think, “Maybe today will be the day I’ll clean it.” Last week I did and felt like a champion, but then people came over and I had to fill it up again.


Thanks and Rita Jeptoo

Thanks and Rita Jeptoo

To this



The other day, my husband’s friend visited from Vancouver and had never seen our house, so Phil walked him through. I followed, and was horrified when he took a few steps into our bedroom, thinking he was going to walk to the window to look out and would see my secret hoarder-worthy trash pile. My brain started silently yelling, “Whatever you do, don’t go near the window!!!” like it was some kind of horror movie. And in a way, it was. Coming soon to a theatre near you — Ann’s Shocking, Terrifying Stashes of Lazy Slovenliness. Starring Aaron Eckhart and Cate Blanchett, mostly because I just want to see them make out.

So why can’t I keep on top of things that bug me? How do people with those hotel-type houses do it? Aren’t they busy? Don’t they have other priorities too? Most importantly, am I a loser for not being able to manage these small details??

Now is when you get to hang tight to hear the opposing voices in my head so that we can all feel a little better about our literal or figurative stashes of junk (maybe you’re way tidier than me but you’ve got other crap going on, who am I to judge about your cleanliness [bitch], but let’s hope I’m not the only one feeling like there are lazy bits of life I’m not dealing up).

Right now I’m reading Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson. It’s awesome. I was laughing so hard at it that tears were running down my face and my husband came in to ask what the heck was wrong with me. You wouldn’t think that someone who could make me laugh like that is also someone who struggles with depression and anxiety disorders, but she does in a big way. I love silently cheering her on and identifying with her challenges while also feeling like I’d love to hang out with her.

Anyway, at one point Jenny talks about spoons, aka energy for a task, and how we only have a certain number to spend each day. Taking a shower? Costs a spoon. Cleaning the tumbleweeds out of your radiator? Spoon. Most healthy people seem to have an avalanche of spoons — my friend Laura Dias can address problems for three hundred customers at one time — but Jenny says that illness leaves you with a limited number of spoons, so that it may be all someone with depression can do to use her one spoon for the day on getting out of bed. I get that. Sometimes I get terrible anxiety that still lets me manage a bunch of spoons, but my attention is really only focused on that single, terrible, all-consuming spoon.


Also, I hate wasting spoons. Personally, I feel like cleaning for me is a waste of a spoon. Sure, it needs to be done, I’m not a bacteria farm or anything, but after you spend a bunch of time doing it, someone asks, “Hey, what did you do today,” and you say

Nothing much

I really hate that. So God bless Simone, our house cleaner, who comes once every two weeks and sweetly says, “I’m here to help you Annie.” I pay her gratefully but also feel as though I should be spending my own damn spoons to clean my own damn house. Which means that I never ask her to clean “special projects,” because I think I should be grateful enough for what she does choose to clean. Which leaves me with radiator dust bunnies.

So. Bottom line. Am I a loser for not spending my spoons on things that piss me off around my house? I vote no. But I did just clean those dust bunnies and it makes me happier to look there now. Spoon well spent. Maybe I’ve got a spoon next Thursday for the hoarder corner. But until then, I hope your spoons give you similar adventures to the ones that are in store for me — making homemade rosewater marshmallows, writing cool stories, running with a happy little dog, and forgiving yourself for the splash of hair dye in the corner of your bathroom.

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