The Real World.

by Alexa on March 23, 2009

Jaywalker has a series of posts that never fails to speak to me. Once a month-ish, she confesses her (secular) sins, and invites her readers to do the same. Nearly all of her transgressions are ones I have been guilty of myself, and I find it comforting to know that there is another person as peculiarly incapable of opening bills/canceling unused services/dealing with parking tickets before they become Warrants For Arrest as I am. We are like one disgraceful soul in two soiled, poorly cared for bodies, she and I.

Anyhow, a few weeks ago, I took some pictures of my slovenly apartment, with the intent of posting them as a confession of my own. These pictures then languished on my camera, for Simone began “cruising” (not the sort that requires chaps and a large supply of recreational drugs, you understand) and I was busy flinging foam mats behind my tottering daughter.

But Friday, Her Bad Mother posted pictures of HER not-camera-ready house, inspiring me to unearth mine, and so I am sharing them with you today as a public service, in the hope that one day we will all be free from the tyranny of Dwell photo spreads featuring artfully arranged modern furniture and prune stain-less children playing with a single wooden toy in the foreground. Let’s begin!
Ordinary People
The above shot was taken from the hallway, looking into the large main room of the apartment, which we have split into living room/playroom areas. By “split,” of course, I mean we have arbitrarily designated the space in front of the couch as “living room” and the space in back of the couch as “playroom.” The piece of foam mat propped up near the red cabinet is meant to cordon off a particularly deadly powerstrip.

At the end of the hallway is the bathroom:
Not very illustrative, I know. I tried to get a good picture of the laundry pile that spills from the meager and laughably insufficient laundry basket to fill the space behind the door, but the fact that my bathroom is the size of a Post-it Note made this impossible. I could not back up without running into the toilet or falling into the tub, as you can see from the next picture:
Bathroom, redux
The bathroom is easily the cleanest room in the house, probably due to its aforementioned paltry size. Though I am realizing, looking at these pictures, that I neglected to photograph any of the most damning areas–the grimy window, the toothpaste-spattered mirror, the beard hairs clinging stubbornly to the faucet. I would go back and photograph them now, but if I had that kind of time I wouldn’t be living in these conditions in the first place.

{Ed. Note: I would so.}

Next up, the place where we retreat each evening to refresh and recharge, to gird our loins for the next day:
Scott would like me to amend the record to reflect that the television on top of the armoire IS functional, in that we could move it to the living room where we have cable and it would perform admirably. “I don’t want people to think we have a bunch of broken appliances lying around,” he said, frowning. Noted. (I suppose this means I am not to mention the two ancient, broken computers housed until recently in our bedroom closet).
Please also be advised that I have since changed Simone’s crib sheet (when we moved the mattress down because she was able to stand up and contemplate escape) though I feel obligated to tell you that the new one has a spit-up stain as well.

Next up, my favorite room of all:
Simone's room
Doesn’t it scream WHIMSY? What could be more whimsical, after all, than a basket of laundry that may be clean, or may be dirty, but is more likely a combination of the two? Just out of sight on the left is a playful stack of empty diaper boxes.

Speaking of playful rubbish:
It isn’t evident, but no matter how many times I spray them with the Water Bottle of Discipline, the cats will not stop using the mats to sharpen their claws, and as a result said mats are in appalling condition. On the other hand, 55% of the toys in our house belong to Simone’s Early Intervention therapists, who bring them so that she may work on certain skills, or possibly to conduct an experiment re: how many times I will let that *#@!$^! motion-activated caterpillar wake the sleeping baby as I carry her past before I smash it forcibly to pieces. Either way, some of the clutter is THEIR fault.

Most of my time is spent in the living room:
"Living" room
It looks bigger than it feels, somehow. Possibly because you can’t see into the hallway from this angle (additional suitcase, abandoned stroller missing vital nut, box of framed and unhung pictures, toolbox). Neither can you see the cat hair tumbleweeds in the corners, or the plate, socks, and assortment of toys under the couch. The arms of the couch, naturally, are festooned with milk rings from the bottoms of the bottles we set there. And I neglected to photograph the lone living room closet, which houses our litter box.
The small blue laptop table in front of the couch is where I do much of my writing. This is where the magic happens! Or doesn’t.

Finally, the kitchen:
Not pictured: pile of unopened mail, pile of opened mail, cat-food-strewn area by the stove, closeup of food-coat on high chair.

This is the most variable of the rooms in our apartment, going through cycles of messy-filthy-spotless and back three or four times a week. And when the kitchen is filthy…well, the part of the floor around the high chair alone would be enough to kill Martha Stewart dead, and she’s a tough old girl.
Since this photograph was taken, our kitchen has been both much worse, and much better, and I suppose that holds true for the rest of our home as well.

I hope you have enjoyed this little tour. Now I must go, because about five minutes after this posts I’m expecting a phone call from my mother.

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{ 146 comments… read them below or add one }

Kirsten March 24, 2009 at 10:47 am

I would like to add to the chorus of ThankYous from other mommies with similar vistas in their homes! I can’t tell you how many times I have said to my husband, “I should take a picture of this and send it to my childless self…she would never believe it!” Our house is clean for about 2 hours every two weeks, right after our cleaner comes.


Heather March 24, 2009 at 10:52 am

I would add my photos if I could bother to find a camera. Multiply your apartment by three floors and one more kid. Exponential. Add in the stacks of poopy sheets and barf clothes from the weekend’s stomach flu-fest which are only now being taken care of.


Kate March 24, 2009 at 11:24 am

Best post ever! You have made my day. I could have written the exact same thing.


Sarah March 24, 2009 at 11:50 am

I think I love you.


Andrea March 24, 2009 at 11:56 am

Hey! That looks like my house! Except my kids are older and have more junk and my furniture is markedly less fashionable. Wait, I have more junk, too, it’s not just the kids.

Well. Actually, my house is messier, dirtier, and darker. Sigh. But you still made me feel better.


Penny March 24, 2009 at 11:57 am

Wow, I feel so incredibly anal right now. It’s not that your photos make you look messy; I regard them as probably normal, which makes my relatively more clean house abnormal.

Although, when we lived in a considerably smaller apartment, the clutter was much more rampant.


CJ March 24, 2009 at 12:34 pm

Ditto everyone who said thank you for showing us we are NOT ALONE! See my site for photos… we have 3 kids (age 20m, 6y and 9y) in a 1000-ish SF NYC apartment and there are days we cannot even clear a path through the mess and clutter… easier to step ON it than around it… I love your writing… thanks for sharing the pics.


Nico March 24, 2009 at 12:42 pm

I think you’ve just started a new meme :-) I’m so going to post my pics too. How liberating!

(Of course it will take me weeks to get to this!)


Half Assed Kitchen March 24, 2009 at 12:52 pm

This is SO refreshing. Thanks for posting these.


KLTTX March 24, 2009 at 12:57 pm

Thank you for sharing. I often think I am the only one with “clutter” (my affectionate term for my mess). I recently cleaned off the desk in my kitchen and found receipts from 2001. We too, live with laundry everywhere. If we have guests, I usually have to clear off both couches of laundry so people can sit.


Dora March 24, 2009 at 1:04 pm

OMG! I love you, too! According to this NYT article, it’s all good for the immune system!


nicole March 24, 2009 at 1:13 pm

This is quite possibly the best post I have ever read. You are awesome for posting these pictures. Also, maybe you didn’t know that when laundry piles get together they mate and spawn even more laundry. I found this out the hard way. Thank you so much, you made my day.


Val March 24, 2009 at 1:19 pm

Dear Alexa thank you SOOOOO much for braving the wrath and posting these images. I feel much better knowing real people really have homes like this. you know what that says to me? Lived in. That’s all. It’s lived in. It’s not a damn museum. Am I right?!!! /fists in the air!/


Rebecca S. March 24, 2009 at 1:28 pm

Thank you so much for posting this! In fact, I think you’ve inspired a blog post for me which I desperately need as apparently my brain has crusted over.


Meredith March 24, 2009 at 1:50 pm

Thank you!


stephanie March 24, 2009 at 3:10 pm

Thank you so much for this. I’m constantly struggling with feeling like my house is the most filthy/ disorganized/ messy house ever, and this post is a much needed reality check for me. Thank you again—really, really thank you.


Meghan March 24, 2009 at 3:30 pm

Bethany: Yeah, maybe so. But your kids also have a hateful, pissy blogtroll for a mother. It’s hard to clean up around THAT.

Or did Alexa invent you? You’re almost too scary to be real.


elizabeth March 24, 2009 at 3:31 pm

I. LOVE. YOU.!!!


SarahB March 24, 2009 at 4:02 pm

That was awesome!


Sadie March 24, 2009 at 4:10 pm

You are really, really great. I mean it. You rock.


Gigi March 24, 2009 at 5:06 pm

Thanks dude. You made my day. Glad to see I’m not the only one.


Carmen March 24, 2009 at 5:38 pm

This is my house! This is what my apartment looks like twenty-four hours out of everyday… except for the delightfully sunny and happy lighting; no, I cannot claim to have such lighting, as my windows face neither North, South, East, or West, but in the dark and gloomy direction of Hell. In our light, everything has a dingy, dead gray cast.

I laughed so hard at each of these photos because I recognized all of them! It surely is my house through your photographic eyes.


AngryReptileKeeper March 24, 2009 at 5:40 pm

Ye gods, woman, you live like a damned animal! No, scratch that. Even animals have the sense not to live in their own filth. You raise kids there? You’re just begging for a visit from CPS, aren’t you?

Real world, my ass. I don’t live that way, and I don’t know any sane person who does.

I wouldn’t sentence a dog to live in that disgusting hell hole you call a home. I’d hate to see what your kitchen looks like!


Libby March 24, 2009 at 6:08 pm

Before we all freak out, please read AngryReptileKeeper’s profile and you’ll see that she is clearly psycho. Alexa, it’s not you. Your post is tres brilliant!


Rebekah March 24, 2009 at 6:49 pm

What a great post – I do have one suggestion for you though: get a dog. This will take care of any spilled food or any other kind of spillage for that matter. We have six dogs and there is never a speck of food on the floor. On the other hand, we appear to have hideous brown shag carpet throughout the house which may or may not have been here when we moved in – it could just be dog hair.


GeenaG March 24, 2009 at 7:57 pm

One word: OINK


Kate March 24, 2009 at 8:06 pm

I don’t think that I have ever commented here before. Thank you, really thank you. I thought my house was the only one that had random phone bills on the floor and piles of clothes behind the bathroom door.


bethany March 24, 2009 at 8:56 pm

Meghan–what about geenag? Where is your wrath for her? I think there were others who weren’t as filled with admiration for Alexa’s housekeeping skills and they got off easy, didn’t they? but you are right. I’m sorry. If I admit that I am “hateful, pissy blogtroll” (lol!!!) will everyone rally around me to make me feel fabulous about my bad habits? O, yeah, I need a drink.


metalia March 24, 2009 at 9:10 pm

So, um…my bath mat? Has NEVER been washed. THERE, I SAID IT.

(Thank you for this post! I totally relate.)


Kerri Anne March 24, 2009 at 9:25 pm

I totally remember pictures of my sister and I surrounded by Saltines. We loved! those things. Also, we were entirely incapable of not making a mess when we ate them. I think I’m still that way, actually.


Laura March 24, 2009 at 9:33 pm

Alexis, you are a breath of fresh air. Our daughters are about the same age and you’ve bolstered me on many a difficult day. Thank you for all your brilliant posts. Also? In the words of my ten year old son, Bethany needs to GET. OVER. IT. Honey, in this economy I don’t think you should be commenting on a blog at 10 a.m. while AT WORK. How would your employer feel about that Princess Perfect?


kerry March 24, 2009 at 10:06 pm

You rock. My house is the exact same. Thanks for making me feel better.


d March 24, 2009 at 10:17 pm

I love you; you are hilarious!! My apartment looks like this too — on a good day. And can I say — you do have a gorgeous apartment. The bathtub alone is something I dream about.


Jane March 24, 2009 at 10:26 pm

Just remember, our houses can wait to be cleaned, but our kids are only this age once. Enjoy Simone and the fleeting baby-years and clean later (like when she’s in college).


Meghan March 24, 2009 at 10:28 pm

@ Bethany “If I admit that I am ‘hateful, pissy blogtroll’ (lol!!!) will everyone rally around me to make me feel fabulous about my bad habits?”

Sadly, no. Commiseration and respect are things you have to earn. Which is why you’re so lonely, and apparently so envious. Which is why you’re on some stranger’s blog, sobbing for attention.


Chris March 24, 2009 at 10:30 pm

Do you have any idea how much joy and laughter you bring to countless numbers of people?? You’ve made me laugh until I cry on more days than I can count, days that otherwise would not have contained much laughter at all. So seriously, all the good karma you put out into the world heavily outweighs any amount of dirty laundry you may have.


Tina March 24, 2009 at 10:37 pm

Thank you SO much for this post! My husband keeps trying to reassure me that our house “isn’t THAT bad” (his words), while I ask myself what the mystery lump behind the couch is. (We strongly suspect it is a hairball, but that couch is a heavy fucker, so it may be a while before we get to that.)

I would rather have a lived-in HOME than a clean HOUSE any day, thanks.


velocibadgergirl March 24, 2009 at 11:00 pm

You had me at “unsanitary cat” XD


Lynn March 24, 2009 at 11:58 pm

Oh, oh, oh, I’m wiping the tears away, laughing so hard I can’t even tell my husband what is so damn funny. The cell phone we tossed in desperation at our bored child is lying on the floor at my feet. Your casa is my casa. Although, honestly, we have a bigger place now; when we had our first child, we were living in a 900 square foot apartment with an 80 lb slobbery dog, and it was much worse. Anyway, thanks for making my day — I haven’t laughed this hard in quite a while.


d March 25, 2009 at 1:14 am

You are the queen of funny.


e March 25, 2009 at 4:10 am

“Bethany” you are pathetic. You have no life. You have no friends. You have to live with yourself 24/7. You try to tear people down but you can’t. Most people will ignore you, as you’re not worth the time of day. Jealousy’s a curse, sweetheart. XOXOX


Pocklock March 25, 2009 at 9:04 am

This is awesome. I would love to do this, but my husband would totally divorce me if I exposed the filth in which we live.


Rachel March 25, 2009 at 9:21 am

Oh thank you, thank you, thank you for posting this! Seeing someone else’s house look like mine, makes me feel better. (And I don’t even have kids!)


AngryReptileKeeper March 25, 2009 at 9:33 am

I noticed that you removed my comment, you damn coward. So I’ll repeat myself.

Even animals have the sense not to live in their own filth. You’re begging to have CPS called. I feel badly for your children, that they’re forced to live in utter squalor. Or are they old enough to do chores? If so, it’s obvious that you’ve taught them so modicum of responsibility. Not surprising, since you seem to posses no sense of it, yourself.

You should be ashamed of yourself. All of you should be. I’ve not met a sane person who lives the way you do. Do you know what kinds of people live the way you do? People with mental problems and lazy scumbags.


AngryReptileKeeper March 25, 2009 at 9:34 am

Ah, my bad. I guess you didn’t delete it, it just got buried in the heaps of praise you received for living like a barbarian.


Jennifer C. March 25, 2009 at 10:08 am

You need to HAND THAT BABY A RAG. And show her how to use the vacuum already, dammit. She might be a little small for the upright, but surely you have a Dustbuster – she can push that while she crawls.

Oh, and dogs are awesome for cleaning up after kids. Ours loves Cheerios and mac’n’cheese, and wasn’t *that* just the nicest bonus ever.

CPS? This reptile person has obviously led a very sheltered life, because CPS would laugh and laugh and laugh if someone called them on you for that “mess.” Ha ha ha. Just like that.


Mary March 25, 2009 at 10:58 am

Wow, this ARK person really needs attention. Also, s/he’s better than you… maybe that’s why your blog is actually read (and commented upon), and his/hers has no comments, and only people who are trying to find the reason for the anger go there.

People have kids. If you don’t want to read blogs about people who have kids (and obviously you don’t!), go away.

Our house, while not normally quite like the one pictured (because J-man goes to school, so we have some time to clear away the stuff for at least 6 hours), is often very messy. Wev.


PiquantMolly March 25, 2009 at 11:03 am

Cat hair tumbleweeds. YES. And, even better, the sandbox that has developed on the carpet outside the bathroom with the litter box.

Each time I vacuum, the bagless-bin gets so full I lose suction. CATS.


babelbabe March 25, 2009 at 11:07 am

I fail to see filth or animal-like squalor.
I see a cluttered, messy, probably too small apartment of the mom of a baby, who, among other things, probably isn’t getting enough sleep. Who was it that said CPS would laugh at you? They would FALL ON THE FLOOR, pee in their pants, laugh. Get a grip, trollies.


Meredith March 25, 2009 at 1:18 pm

We have triplets plus one. You should see our house. It would make you feel soooo much better!

Okay, so out of curiousity, I clicked on AngryReptileKeeper’s profile and was connected to her blog. From there, I clicked on a link to a childfree forum that she posted. She has written ANOTHER post about Alexa on that forum!! Psycho!!


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