Adulthood: No One Told Me There Would Be Laundry

All clean on the western front.

To redouble the difficulties of moving to a foreign country, the onslaught of my big dumb adventure in Korea coincided with the first time I lived away from home and the first real Big Boy job I had ever had. As though to compound and concrete up my developing, nascent sense of grown-upedness, I would move around the world on my own and begin working full-time all at once. The teaching, at least, I had done before. Moving to a different culture, I felt ready for, at least in-as-much as one can feel ready to abandon everything your brain accepts as a normal way of life. The weirdest part has probably been adjusting to living on my own.

My feeling of myself as an adult is one that I cling to, a tiny bulb of ego to be nourished against the other prevailing notion in my brain that I’m still a developing man-child in over his head. For whatever reason, I disconnect this Grown Up feeling from my profession, and from my interactions with Korean culture. Teaching occupies its own region of my consciousness, and it’s something I managed to do while feeling still overarchingly immature. By the same token, I’ve also travelled and written about travelling in previous years, all while overall feeling half-baked as a cognitively developed Real Adult.

While superficial at times, my Grown Up sense is deeply tied to my apartment and how I manage it. Every aspect seems to speak to my abilities to be a Person who can be good at Life. When the apartment is well-maintained, when the dishes are washed, when the floors are clean, when the laundry is nice and folded, I feel pride. I feel wise. I feel as though I can confront the world, come what may, weather any storm, cliché cliché cliché. I feel precocious, as though no one has ever managed to live alone at 23 before (and I suffocate my cognitive dissonance by ignoring my knowledge about how the majority of people used to do this and how many still do). My ego swells Jabba-like, and I become self-satisfied.

A clean apartment! No other human has achieved such a feat.

It is a shame, then, that I am systematically unable to maintain the apartment, or this preening sense of self, for more than a consecutive three-day span. The cleanliness of my apartment rides on an easily observable cycle, as do my moods and my feelings about the rising tide of filth surrounding and entrapping me. Behold, a standard week.

Tuesday is the cleanliest day. It is garbage day, and thus I remove all of the crap I accrue over the span of one week. The laundry has just finished drying and is put away. Often I will make my bed as soon as I am out of it. Things are orderly. If I use a dish, I wash it almost instantly, allow it to dry, and then put it away. Coincidentally, Tuesday is also the night I have little time at home, so there is no chance to mess things up. The delicate ecosystem of orderliness is maintained harmoniously, mostly because I am not around to disrupt it.  The moments I am, I am overcome with smugness. All is well.

Wednesday and Thursday, I spend only a little time at home. Trash has no chance to build up, I only leave a few articles of clothing draped across the futon, and the bed gets made at least at some point before I go to sleep. I am comfortable with my adulthood. It is secure. I think I could make a go at being an adult professionally! They have leagues for this sort of thing, right?

Clutter encroaches.

Friday and Saturday strike. I cook things, and have no time to scour the dishes. They begin to form a tower in the sink, slowly building, becoming more rickety and galling to my sensibilities by the second. I stop looking in the direction of the kitchenette, hoping that in the time before I snap and do the dishes, they will become sentient and get to it themselves. I go out those nights, and when I eventually stumble in, I drink water and juice from the bottle, I drop my clothes upon whatever spot they first leave my wretched body, and fall into my shredded, unmade bed. When I wake, I will eat breakfast, not wash the dishes, and never look at the condition of the tile in the bathroom when I shower. It will be better if I don’t know.

On these days, I have no time for shame. I’m living my life! Seeing the world! Life is my oyster and also a big box of chocolates, and who can think about piddling concerns like cleanliness and sanitation when you’re out eating chocolate oysters all the time? Adulthood maintained! Party on!

Sunday I wake. I see the condition of my apartment. I grow concerned. Do people actually live like this? I become certain I was cloned in a lab, and that bear or pig genes were spliced in at some point. Do Koreans break into my apartment and leave the dust from their own homes for me to deal with? I can’t have possibly done all of this. Do dirty dishes breed?

I wallow in self-pity for some time, click about the internet, feeling down on myself and my capabilities as an adult. Real people don’t do this. Real people believe in picking up after themselves, and don’t behave as though they were raised by wolves. I momentarily develop hypochondria, positive I have inflicted myself with untold disease and bacteria. What is wrong with me? As you grow up, you become cognizant of the laundry hamper, and you try to organize your refuse. You do not allow your one-room to turn into its own dystopic hell-hole.

Originally I was going to make this in Paint.

I steel myself. Things can change. I will redouble my commitment to being a real Grown-Up. I put on the laundry (and tape the exhaust hose into the sink so that it doesn’t flood the bathroom anymore, a neat trick I learned a few weeks back). I scrub the dishes, and the floors, and the walls. I acquire groceries, cook a meal, and clean the remnants, rather than letting them fester. I spray air freshener. I would live here, I think, even if I wasn’t required to by the Korean government.

Life! It imitates art.

By Monday, my laundry is freshly drying upon the many racks. My sink is still empty, and my futon clear of detritus. I have done good. My pride returns, and I flop onto bed, swollen with ego once more. I deserve a little break from cleaning and organization for the next few days, don’t I? I am, after-all, such a grown-up, that I can just get to cleaning up after myself in a few days!

The cycle begins anew.

468 thoughts on “Adulthood: No One Told Me There Would Be Laundry

  1. I can definitely relate to this one Mikey. My apartment is in a perpetual state of Sunday. This is the adulthood my fourteen year-old self imagined. For instance, it is 6 AM on a Thursday morning and I am just now considering going to bed.

    I agree with your Saturday P.O.V. You know you can get your shit together when your guilt gets the better of you, so why worry about it now? There will be plenty of time to get accustomed to cleaning dishes and doing laundry back in Canada; enjoy Korea to the fullest!

    • I have to be careful, as my Saturday POV begins to claim laaaaaarge swaths of my week sometimes, until I look around and feel actual disgust with myself. And then I don’t do anything about it and go to Touchdown bar.

  2. i think this is my favourite post so far. not just because of the jabba reference, and your use of the word ‘detritus’ (i’ve always liked that word. not really sure why, but there you have it), but they surely play their part.

    the graph is also excellent.

    well done, sir.

  3. What…no pictures of the Sunday apartment? I was living vicariously through your youth, and you just left me hanging!


    Just kidding, of course. Great post, and may your life be full of Tuesdays…

  4. First off, I love your blog tagline… Glad to know I’m not the only person who appreciates a good ole song about peaches.
    Second, HOLY MOTHER PEARL! I am so glad you ar Freshly Pressed because this is the best blog I’ve come across in quite a while.
    Third, and then I’m going to stop this obnoxious numbering of points, I am a 23-year-old stay-at-home mom and each end of a week brings the same feeling of “My house is a wreck. I fail Life.”. From a an apartment in Korea to the cow fields of Tennessee, the relation between cleanliness and being a “grown folk” is universal!
    Thanks for the laugh,

    • Thank you, of course, for the flattery!

      Whenever the apartment is filthy, I always get the feeling. “If I can’t manage to keep less than 100 square feet clean, how can I possibly manage to live for another sixty-odd years?” It seems implausible that I’ve managed to survive this long.

  5. What you are going through is normal…It’s called laziness and it’s a growing epidemic. Basically, in time you will begin to diminish into a ball of nothingness hidden beneath all of your dirty clothing that you refused to wash. The cycle will become more difficult to sustain. You will become lost in it. You will become nothing…Wow, is that not the most morbid thing you ever heard. 🙂 Anyway, jk, I know exactly what you are talking about because I go through pretty much the same thing every single week. It’s normal 🙂

    • There are times when I’m positive the laundry will soon mount an offensive attack and take me in my sleep, claiming the apartment for its own. I see it happening soon. If my blog starts purporting a pro-dirty clothes agenda, you all know what has happened.

      • I don’t think this will change. It’s who you are, you will never really ‘grow up’ in the way I think you imagine you will.

        I think either

        a) this battle will continue

        b) the laundry will mount a victorious campaign

        c) you will hook up with a more domestically able and anal partner

        or (and this seems best to me)

        d) you will be able and willing to provide employment to a domestic helper/housekeeper!

  6. Its good to see someone adapting to adulthood so nicely. Your surroundings are definately a reflection of your inner peace!

  7. Just wait until you figure out you can eat Ice Cream for breakfast if you want.
    I have lived on my own for years and still struggle with this (cleaning not ice cream for breakfast), I have finally this year figured out how to more or less keep my apartment clean, and it was only after moving and throwing out almost everything I owned.
    Great article.

    • My apartment came furnished with essentially a dorm fridge. I can just barely fit in an ice tray and a package of frozen dumplings… unfortunately, no room for ice cream. If I could somehow figure that in there, there would probably be a few posts about my downward spiral of ice cream addiction coming up.

    • I know! That’s the stupid thing. I literally shove it into a machine, pour in some laundry soap, and a a piece of equipment does all the work for me. And yet, nothing seems more arduous.

      (To be fair, my laundry machine also shakes violently from side to side, and has an exhaust pipe that spews water either onto the floor of my bathroom or, more recently, the sink when I tape the hose up to there to minimize flooding.)

  8. The sad thing (or maybe the happy thing) is that no matter how old you get, you will never be able to convince yourself for more than three days at a time that you are a grown-up.

  9. Your apt. looks clean as a whistle! I think ‘clutter’ bugs people who are real more ‘visually wired,’ more than anyone else. I’ve had many a ‘non-visual’ roommate experience, and they seriously are not able to see detritus. I can’t think straight and get ADD if there’s mountains o’clutter about. Dust and such doesn’t bother me, but if there are any piles, I throw open a closet or cabinet and heave it all in there. I’ve now run out of space though. One of my friends stuffs dirty dishes in her oven until she has a moment to don her rubber gloves.
    Congrats on FP!

    • Heh, to be fair, I had some photos of the latter days of the week, and they repulsed me enough that I decided not to shame myself so publicly (nor inflict upon the internet public my array of boxer shorts). The girl who had this apartment before me was ludicrously well organized and left many things behind… I’ve tossed much of the stuff just so I can claim the good closet space for jamming my useless junk so I don’t see it.

  10. This post is absolutely hillarious–and a delight to read. I lived in Vietnam for a year and currently call Haiti home,so I know the stuggles of living over-seas, and alas, the laundry–no dryers–having to hang it all over the house. Does that become an issue for you?
    New Laundered in Port-au-Prince,

    • Oh, boy… come Sunday and Monday, my apartment is more dry-rack than living space. With winter, I layer up for warmth, and thus I have more laundry. My dry-rack is full, the closet-extender is packed, both of my dining chairs are draped with clothing, my mini-table is covered in a cardigan, and every closet door is held open so I can droop a pair of pants from each surface. It makes the apartment cluttered and disordered in a different, though at least fabric-softener-smelling, sort of way.

  11. I met my husband when he was 22 and first saw his apartment on one of the days he felt like a smug adult. I was 21 and impressed and thought that unlike my friends, I’d found a real grown-up for a boyfriend. The ruse continued for awhile, but one day I stopped by to pick him up for a weekend out of town and there was a black plastic garbage bag over the sink with dirty dished underneath it. He noticed me looking and said, “Well, we’re going to be gone for a few days and I don’t want the place smelling like stagnant water and dirty dishes.”


    The bloom only went a little off his rose and I married him three years later. 🙂

  12. “When the apartment is well-maintained, when the dishes are washed, when the floors are clean, when the laundry is nice and folded, I feel pride. I feel wise. I feel as though I can confront the world, come what may, weather any storm, cliché cliché cliché.”

    There’s a really good reason for this. At times when you can keep everything clean, it means that your life is calm enough for you to get cleaning done. But when your life is crazy-busy, and you’re under a lot of stress, you end up not having time for cleaning. So you feel like you can confront the world when the appartment is clean because the world is being easier on you – and thus you have time to clean.

    • I also fall into the hole of ego a little bit, though. When the apartment is in decent shape, I survive on giving myself a thorough back-patting, one that lasts several days into the cycle, even when I become to busy to do actual cleaning.

  13. There’s hope for you because- 1) you notice and eventually get back to Sunday and Monday’s glory. 2) the mess bothers you and you’re not stacking thing up high like Dr Seuss might and 3) you may be able to find someone to clean for you. Good luck!

    • I find that sometimes when I’m out in real life, I take myself entirely too seriously, and I tend to get pompous. Having a regular internet outlet where I can deflate myself a little feels psychologically beneficial at this point.

  14. Oh, this so reminded me when I first moved away from home to study in Colorado… i felt so grown up- but then… wow… the fridge does not fill itself.. one actually has to do the shopping… ditto on cleaning, laundry etc etc… I was overwhelmed…LOL!!

  15. Hi! I saw this on freshly pressed from WordPress. I’ll be back!

    I an relate. There is nothing I like more than making sure my place is clean so I can spend my time wisely {ie, NOT cleaning}.

    • I was JUST going to link to that Hyperbole and a Half comic!

      Well done and congrats on being freshly pressed as well as taking a job and adjusting to Korea. I am a teacher trainer over in Seoul, so I’ve also been adjusting to Korea. Though right now I’m going through a phase of Sundays. I DID manage to clean off the entire floor and pile everything up. Now my apartment DOES look like a Doctor Seuss or bad Friends episode–the one with the messy teacher trainer. 🙂 I always have gis drying, though–so I have to do laundry every single day after jiu jitsu classes. Though with the weather during the winter they will literally dry overnight. Summer–MUCH longer.

      Welcome to Korea and adulthood! Nice to meet you!

      • Teacher training, hmm? What does your job entail? I’m interested in hearing more about it.

        If I had any sense of balance or structure building, my apartment would absolutely be a Dr. Seussian madhouse. And yeah, my laundry is drying much quicker now, because my apartment is sooo dry and the heat is emanating from the floors.

  16. Ha! Just wait until you’re married and raising kids who share your abode! That laundry times x 3, then 4, maybe 5! It is NEVER done. I think back to the days when I just had myself to clean up after…ahhh, what times! We’ve got to learn first with ourselves though, before we can begin to take care of others. Kudos to you on learning to manage and keep tidy your own little abode so well.

  17. Love the graph! My own would look very similar. I am convinced that dirty dishes do in fact breed. It must be from their jelousy as they see you only for a few moments before you go out for chocolate oysters. Dirty dishes love chocolate oysters. Of that, I am convinced. I dig the post.

  18. I rarely read an entire post. I read this one though. I’m going to show it to my husband when he gets home from work to explain what I was doing instead of cleaning our house. But I’ve been at cleaning for longer than you have been alive. You must at least start out cleaning and hoping that one day it will all be clean and organized. I’ve been training my boys to work hard so they can hire a cleaner for themselves when the time comes. I actually cried when I was married at 22 and realized there was a 10 year backlog of laundry to do after just one week. My husband loaded it all in a taxi and we drove to the laundry mat where they have those huge machines. It doesn’t get any easier throughout life but the food gets better. Peace.

    • The thing is, I know that it is possible for this apartment specifically to be organized. The previous tennant was incredibly tidy, and she left many of her organizers behind, I assume, to push me towards the light. I always manage for a few days, and then it falls apart.

  19. this post is my inner monologue. for the longest time i slept on an air mattress and just got a real bed a few months ago. this alone made me actually feel like i was 25. and then i put my Spongebob Squarepants bedsheets and comforter on.

  20. Hey, first off, congrats on making it to the FP page!

    I know *exactly* where you are coming from, as the first time I lived alone was when I was a TEFL teacher in Kyrgyzstan in the Peace Corps at age 24. As a now-35-year-old woman, I can confidently say, if cleaning is a true measure of being a “grown-up,” you are doing a better job of being one than I am! I am lucky if we manage to clean on a bi-weekly basis, although the dishes get done once we get to the point where you have to clean something before you can cook/eat again. *smile* I coincidentally just posted a blog of my own about cleaning — feel free to check it out if you like. Just don’t beat yourself up so much — most of us (in the US at least — I don’t know about Korean cultural norms) slack for a few days between cleaning sprees!

    • The Korean apartments I’ve seen are generally pretty orderly, but then many of them are also maintained by stay-at-home Korean moms who are also neat-freaks. The people my age that I’ve met at just as, if not more, slovenly than I, and the ones that don’t live with their parents (which is common) live in similar shambles.

  21. You literally just described the last 6 months of my life in Paris. Lucky for you, though, that you don’t have 2 disagreeable roommates to deal with. It doesn’t get much easier either, just easier to accept the vicious cycle, and easier to thus appreciate that feeling that comes with finally cleaning. And yes, dirty dishes do breed.

  22. “hoping that in the time before I snap and do the dishes, they will become sentient and get to it themselves”

    I keep hoping the same thing. Dishes were the part of adulthood that I wasn’t prepared for. I feel your pain in a sense. The “never-ending struggle to keep my apartment clean” is ever-present in my mind and I often find myself thinking, “I should clean my apartment” when I am offered other ways to occupy my time. I rarely opt for the cleaning though.


    • It’s a matter of getting a regular time when more fun options aren’t available. By Sunday, most of my friends are in their similarly dessicated apartments trying to sleep off the night before, and thus my only course of action to fill the time is to clean up.

  23. ‘When the apartment is well-maintained, when the dishes are washed, when the floors are clean, when the laundry is nice and folded, I feel pride. I feel wise.’

    Truer words were never spoken!

    Loved the post 🙂 Really cute and funny and omg you write really well too.

  24. You’re not alone in your struggle with clutter. I’m random on the surface, but when it comes to the little things, I’m oh-so organized. Yet I seem to not notice the clutter monster sneaking up to me and enclosing my room. When I do notice, I am HORRIFIED. I begin to wonder how all of that stuff got here, and what these magazines are doing there! And all of sudden, I go into one of my amazing cleaning fits and everything is spick and span all again. Ah, the feeling of cleanliness. NO CLUTTER WILL SNEAK UP ON ME AGAIN. Ever. *Assumes ninja pose*
    Ashley, aka TheEverydayMuser

  25. I loved this post, and I relate completely… except that I’m 38, and my grown-upedness is more on a monthly cycle than weekly. I’m a teacher as well, and I find that I can handle it all when I’m off work– summers and holidays. So I’ve lately been thinking I need to quit my job to be better at life.

    In my 20’s, one of my friends and I decided that you were officially grown up when you got a head-board for your bed (no longer on just the metal frame). Well, I hit that milestone in my late 20’s, and surprisingly, everything else didn’t fall into place. When you figure it all out, I’ll be reading your blog and waiting for secret answer. Just please don’t say that I need a mini-van to make Life work– it was a growing trend amongst my girlfriends, you know, and their houses are pretty clean.

    • Headboard seems like a decent milestone. I think the transition point is when you move beyond bare pragmatics: “What do I need in order to continue being alive?” The few decorations I have up are still even under that, as I would get bored and make them if they weren’t up in the first place, and thus they just become a function of boredom rather than Growing Up.

      No mini-vans. Mini-vans still blow.

  26. Apartments in foreign countries where we’ve relocated on a shoe-string are almost always minuscule. Count that as a plus for those of us who’ve learned to grow into adulthood abroad. Four squares of bathroom tile and three dishes are much easier to clean than a full-sized apartment full!

    Congrats on (sometimes) wearing your Big Boy Pants!

  27. Hey it gets easier, somewhat. I mean, I married a woman who luvs to cook; I hate to cook. But I’ll wash dishes and pans till the cows come home. She hates to vacuum so I vacuum, etc. She does the laundry but I fold my own stuff. Sharing sure can make things easier. Or not…

    • I’m largely incapable of eyeballing my food during prep to anything short of two servings anyway, so I’m ready in this regard for the sharing! Now taking applications for anyone who enjoys cleaning bathrooms for such a mutually beneficial relationship.

  28. I loved this post! I am now 30 and a half years old and I still go through this same cycle on a weekly basis and I have days where I doubt that I will ever get this “grown-up” thing. It’s so awesome to know that I am not the only one out there! Thank you for putting this into words (and graph!)

  29. What a spectacular recollection of the weekly life of someone in their early 20s. I feel the same way about the house my wife and I live in. A similar cycle exists in our house, just spread between different days and across two weeks. The house is usually clean on the weekends and laundry is done every two weeks.

    I definitely identify with your sentiment in regards to when your house is clean that you feel pride and wise. When our house is finally clean and laundry is put away, I finally feel like an adult. It is the days when laundry is scattered throughout the bedroom and the dishes aren’t done that I feel childish.

    Looking forward to reading more from you, and I invite you to read some of my work; although, my blog on wordpress is young.

    • If I had the room (or enough clothing), the laundry would be on a two-week cycle here (although when I eventually got around to it, I would probably curse myself and making claims that I would shift to a weekly schedule). Thanks for stopping by! Should be posting regularly through this week.

  30. This is so well written, funny and true that I borrowed your blog theme to be more like you. 😉 Do you mind?
    Besides, this post would have been about me, was I in Korea and had my own apartment. Now it’s more like who I want to become post (even with the mess it implies).

    • Outrageous! How dare you, madam! No, I kid, because I am flattered and am incapable of dealing with praise and kindness head-on very well.

      It’s an easy life to get into! Just clean one day a week, and allow pride and self-inflation carry you gently into a world of mess!

  31. I know exactly what you mean! The longest I kept an apartment clean was my senior year of college, three semesters, including the summer (22-23). I felt accomplished. Haven’t kept a place clean that long since. I try to keep it generally clean, and I make a special effort for company. Meanwhile, my mother and other “adults” I know have no problem keeping a house (let alone a one bedroom apartment) clean ALL the time (even when they claim it’s dirty). I’m hoping that it means as I mature, I too will be freakishly neat.

    Great post! 😀

    • A year! That’s already a pretty impressive feat.

      My cleaning cycle is only broken when I know I will have company, where I am suddenly sent into an orgiastic frenzy of cleaning. I cannot allow others to be aware of how I live! Not this up-close! It’s even more pronounced if I let a friend crash at my apartment, as then I need to clean the extra blankets, make the bathroom a useable space for actual self-cleaning, and have dishes and food on hand for another human being.

  32. This makes me want to go home take pictures of my tiny messy house, clean it tip to toe then show it 5 minutes later when everyone else comes home. It will lookk shockingly like my “before” picture. LOL
    Very Enjoyable read and thoroughly enjoyed the chart 😉

    • Nonsense units are the measurement for all of those unmeasurable things in life.

      I do love that H&H post. It was definitely in my mind as I wrote this, and it’s flattering to be compared to her, as she’s pretty hilarious.

  33. This was a hilarious post. I enjoyed reading all about it. I just turned 23 and still live at home as I finish up my studies…I try to keep tidy but a 10 by 11 room was not made for us “adults”. Still…I mostly do okay…but can totally relate to those moments of smugness when its extra tidy and suddenly u feel you must be the one person on earth this organized!!! Keep blogging…:)

    • Ahh, I also lived at home during all of my university years. The cycle was similar there, but I could excuse a lot of things away by mentally claiming I was too busy to clean or be organized. Who has time for cleanliness? I have an essay to write! An exam to study for! Lesson plans and flash cards to generate!

  34. I enjoyed this post. I noticed that someone commented about laundry being easy. I think virtually all cleaning is easy. It’s not the degree of difficulty of housework, it is the endlessness of it.
    Laundry for one person isn’t so bad. Laundry for 5, when 4 of them are male and one of them is a contractor…well, that is a lot of perpetual filth to deal with. And when you add the dishes and the bathrooms, and the rest of it, you start thinking it might be easier to just move houses every week.

  35. There will always be laundry unless we want to be nudists again?! I happen to LOVE doing laundry, I know call me strange, but it’s true, I do it as soon as it get’s dirty. . .great Blog, Thanks for sharing. . .

  36. Very funny, and as a 42-year-old, I know it doesn’t necessarily get any better. But when you become a proper grown-up, with your own white-goods… buy a dishwasher. Top tip!!

  37. Your place looks awesome!
    You should see what my college dorm looked like last year… hell, what my apartment looks like this year. I haven’t a knack for interior design =[
    Good thing I’m not a finch and attracting mates based off the beauty of my nest I suppose.

    Stop by my blog sometime!

    • Most of the interior design comes from a liking for subway tile, stealing moving posters from the local theatre, and artist friends back home sending me stuff for free! Just claim your apartment is an expression of minimalism, so that it seems like a choice.

  38. Love it!!
    I still fluctuate between the poles myself … & I’m in my 60th decade ! Grown up? Maybe someday …
    I’m working on a thorough ‘spring clean’ here in prep for the Chinese New Year, & just painted my front door! Need to do the dishes …

  39. i completely understand. i am turning 23 in just a few month and I have been living on my own (and actually lived alone when i was 19) for a few years and it is hard to convince yourself to be clean like you ‘expect clean’ to be. but you have to remember that clean is only what you want it to be now…

    • The problem is that when I do clean, I become fairly exacting and desire utter, unmitigated cleanliness, approaching what the apartment was before I got in. I set an unsustainable goal for myself on a weekly basis, and expect myself to maintain it, despite obvious evidence that it will not happen.

  40. This post was awesome! I love your writing style and can relate completely! I went through and still go through nearly the same routine today. It was a nice to chuckle to read another persons realization on the matter. Thank you!

  41. I am very impressed with your on-top-of-it-allness. I have been a mother since I was 22 and have now accrued 5 offspring: 3 teenagers, who have not attained your dizzy heights of orderliness yet, and two toddlers. I am hoping that I have peaked on the home maintenance front and it will get easier from now on. If I were to lend you my children, for say a week, after you gave them back you would be so efficient when faced with your empty apartment and only your own socks to worry about and one or two dishes. You will thank me.

    • I thank you for the offer, but I can’t even conceive of dealing with teens on a professional level, let alone a personal one. When I have kids, is there some way I could give them away from the ages of 12-17?

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  43. Laundry is a never ending cycle. Right…it’s not so hard putting it in the washer and dryer….it’s just all the folding and putting away and wait till you have a family because it’s you times 3 or more. That’s when you learn to multi task and maybe catch up on some t.v. while you are doing the mountains of clothes and endless folding. But then again….maybe someone will do it for you.

  44. I love this post. For some reason it reminds me of a more polished and sane level in comparison to Patrick Bateman in American Psycho, just without the ‘psycho’ part. Lol. Bravo man, keep posting and I’ll keep liking.

  45. I just finished reading your blog and I’m thinking….oh my god….I’m 51 and right now I have coats draped over the backs of two kitchen chairs, a pair of shoes tossed haphazardly in nearly every room, recycling that has to be put out, and some laundry to fold. Sunday is my day to pull it all back together. I’m great through maybe Wednesday. By Friday I’m living out of the clean laundry basket and taking dirty dishes out of the dishwasher and washing them so I can eat on something other than a paper towel. I’m worried because we have a three day weekend and my Sunday will get pushed to Monday and throw my whole routine out of whack.

    You almost ruined my Friday by making me feel guilty that, at my age, I can’t hold it all together for 7 days. It’s okay though because I kicked the shoes out of my way, washed a dirty wine glass, filled it up, set the empty wine bottle by the recycling that needs to go out, and now everything’s okay again. Close call.

  46. Pingback: Adulthood: No One Told Me There Would Be Laundry (via Stupid Ugly Foreigner) « In My Flippie Floppies

  47. This made me laugh, I hate laundry, it is a monster with a life of it’s own. It’s me and three boys in the house and two are just to wee to assist, though they try which adds to the arduousness. I never knew laundry increased exponentially as you added a new person to the equation!

    Am going to delve further into your blog if you don’t mind…. you’ve mad me chuckle tonight.

    • I certainly do not mind.

      When I think about the fact that my mother has been doing not only her own but others’ laundry for so long, I gain a new appreciation of her. One month of doing my own laundry and I came to hate myself for wearing so many clothes.

  48. Hooray for Freshly Pressed! A new subscriber here. I love your style of writing – a good deal of head nodding and giggling here on my part for sure. Oh how I long to be a little more Grownup’d. xo

  49. “Sunday I wake. I see the condition of my apartment. I grow concerned. Do people actually live like this?”

    LOL. This is totally me. Unfortunately for me, this is every day of the week! Kudos to you for cleaning every Tuesday. I clean once a month. Or whenever visitors come over, whichever is less frequent. hahahaha!

    • My neighbourhood is just enough out of the way that I use the lure of a warm bed to crash on at the end of the night or dinner to lure friends to my area. Thus I feel duty-bound to never let it stray too far from rescueable state.

  50. Lol, the story of my life. I’m currently studying abroad and living in a dorm so I don’t have so much to manage. But man, when the 4 sq. ft. of carpet under my lofted bed gets filled up with crap (read: backpack, groceries, trash, various articles of clothing) about once a week, I always have to take a major step back and then clean out. I think to myself, ‘You only have a desk, and tiny bit of carpet, and a shelf–how does this ALWAYS happen? You survived in an apartment last year…..’
    I feel your pain–hang in there. There’s got be some way to make this ‘Adulthood’ thing work.

    • My bed has some weird cones underneath it to keep its structural integrity, and the only good hidey-hole is under my futon, where I shove my suitcase. If I were to have room to shove things, I believe I could trick myself into believing cleanliness by getting the trash out of sight.

  51. Oh my gosh there are no words to describe the dust here! (I live in Daegu.) I feel like a failure at life every time I look at my floors. It’s just so much work. After this Korea stint I will never again live with hardwood floors! I too avoid looking at the bathroom tiles for as long as possible – I feel very much like a sloppy teenager if I take in my surroundings for too long. I loved this post, congratulations!

  52. Love it! I feel exactly the same way (warning – you may still be feeling this sense of faux grown-up-ness when you’re nearing 30) – sometimes all it takes is doing the dishes, sugar-soaping your shower tiles, filling your fridge with veggies (instead of treating it like a giant beer cooler) and cooking yourself a meal and suddenly no mountain is too high to climb. Amazing.

  53. In the lates 90s, I did some reading on transactional analysis ( ), which, irrespective of the theory’s degree of correctness, has a very interesting classification of people into Child, Parent, Adult. (Freud’s ID, super-ego, ego are somewhat similar.) What you go through now seems to be a Parent attitude (Everything has to be squeeky clean or the world will end!) conflicting with a Child attitude (I want to play video games, not clean!) resulting in first signs of an Adult attitude (I have to clean now-and-then to prevent total chaos, a cockroach invasion, what not, but cleaning is a pragmatic task, a clean house is not an end in it self, and if I obsess with creating the impression of being an adult then I am not an adult).

    (As you may guess, Adult is what we should strive for—not Parent.)

    • I feel like I have some nascent sense of Adult lurking in the back, constantly encouraging the pragmatics, and rightfully pointing out to the others that if I get on a little cleaning now, things will not only not turn to garbage, but I can get back to watch youtube videos and eating choco pies once I’m done. Unfortunately, at this age, the Child and Parent aspects rear their heads because they are louder and more convincing.

  54. Add a dog, a spouse (although husbands do tend to be worse) and two kids and well …the house will never stay clean again. At least not for the first 5 years after the child is born. =) This is pretty much my routine from week to week also.

    Great post! I absolutely love your writing style. I also want to state how small of a world it is I have a friend from high school who is also in Korea right now teaching.

    And don’t rush trying to a grown up, at the ripe ol’ age of 27 I am longing for the days of 23.

      • I love the Roomba idea. Not sure how well it would work but outside the box thinking will get you a long way in parenthood. And she is currently teaching in Cheongju.

  55. Oh, I started to feel guilty then read the other comments and realized I am not alone in being over twice your age and still struggling with the clean-or-messy cycles! Sheesh. I don’t mind laundry, and I do hang most of it to dry… it’s the never ending clutter (detritus!) from a life lived that gets to me after a few days. Or, weeks… depends on my mood! Since you are as in tune to it as you are, I am sure you will be much, much better when you are my age!

    • Heh, my in-tunedness is more of just a bare awareness and annoyance, rather than any practical motivation. I notice the filth and go, “Hmm, that sucks,” and then I open my laptop and wheeeeeeeee internet!

      • “Hmm, that sucks,” and then I open my laptop and wheeeeeeeee internet!”

        This has my rolling. Damn the internet for being so fun.

  56. haha, this is really good, charming and funny. I don’t know how it’s done in Korea, but in the Mainland there exist blessed women called ‘ayis’, they come to your house and do all of that for you – that way you can bathe in this great feeling of grown-upedness seven! days a week 🙂 I adore my ayi, she is super nice and, as a matter of fact, is now in the kitchen doing dishes 😉

    • Korea has cleaning ladies as well, one of my co-teachers has one. I would just feel personally incompetent because my apartment is such a small space, I feel duty-bound to do it myself, even when I’m too busy to get most of it done. I kick myself more that I’m incapable of being proactive and putting things away during the week.

    • Thank you for reading! The first time I got FP a few months ago, I wondered what the hell happened, and why there were so many comments all of a sudden. I assumed one of my friends from back home had troll-bombed my posts.

  57. Yes, yes, another drive-by commenter from you being Freshly Pressed. But good Lord, I’m bookmarking this blog. Funny, entirely too true, marvelous vocabulary, and a GRAPH? Inconceivable!

    • All bookmarks are welcomed. Graphs and funny I’m happy to bring to the table. Vocab I feel is a necessity at this point. Living in a place where English is not the first language, I often feel like my extemporaneous speech is beginning to atrophy. Bloggin’ keeps the brain thesausus thriving.

  58. Hey if you don’t get dirty first there is no great satisfaction after cleaning up!!
    You seem a very normal adult living on his own and dealing with daily stuff like cooking and laundry. Take it easy tho and don’t be so hard on yourself after all as you well said it’s a cycle that goes on and on again

    I heart the graph 🙂

    Great read, I’ll keep an eye on you you dirty foreigner 😉

  59. Well done! I am more convinced that I was not overreacting when I felt really uncomfortable with the filthy apartment of this guy I was dating with. The dating was going on fine until I found out that the coffee pot from last week has grown fungus when I visited the apartment again. Trash hasn’t been thrown out for a week, clothes here and there…etc.. I mean, this is a 38 years old man (he moved to Jakarta 2 months at that time)…Sort of freaked out since then. We don’t go out anymore. I thought I was overreacting…reading your article, I don’t think I was!

    I think when people are responsible for their cleanness, they respect themselves. Like you said, how can a person live in a dump? If one can’t respect themselves, how could they respect others?

    • Nah, I don’t think that’s unreasonable. I would similarly wonder about anyone who doesn’t get at least some degree of neuroticism and discomfort when living in a sty of their own creation. At a certain point, the grossness of your surroundings needs to bother you.

  60. Great blog! I’m currently teaching English in Ecuador, where my apartment is a broken down old dump and also for most of the week covered in my crap. I often look around and feel that I have regressed back to being a teenager. It’s interesting that we tie appearing perfect to the idea of being real adult.

    • I’m lucky in that my building is mostly modern, but covered in my crap is an accurate description.

      Yeah, I become especially intense about orderliness if I know I’m having guests. The bar for “Adult Apartment” is set low when I’m alone, but if someone’s visiting, the place needs to be spic and span lest they see me for the slob I am.

  61. I love this post – and I have exactly the same problem! I also find that my stress levels are directly related to the amount of mess in my flat/room…so not only do I feel like a failed adult, but I also get majorly cranky. Here are some of my observations on becoming an adult:
    Well done on being Freshly Pressed!

  62. Awesome blog. When I was 21, my first little apartment had hardly any furniture. I owned a crappy futon, a couch with no cushions and a fish tank. I had to stack my little piles of crap here and there. Granted I managed to create neat and tidy stacks of crap so I could continue to believe I was officially an “adult”. I also remember at the end of the week, my sink would have about 50 dirty coffee mugs(wasn’t much of a cook, basically existed on nothing but java) Oh, the pride I felt once all those mugs were cleaned and put back in their place! And here I am now, 40 with two little kids and the laundry and dishes are my entire existence. Congrats on begin FP!

  63. Wow. I’m so glad you were freshly-pressed, for several reasons. First of all, I love your writing, especially the following: “Teaching occupies its own region of my consciousness, and it’s something I managed to do while feeling still overarchingly immature” and “all while overall feeling half-baked as a cognitively developed Real Adult.” Also, I can completely relate to your experiences. Well, not completely. I have never relocated to a different country; but I did move from a very small town to a very big city, and the culture shock might be similar enough for me to begin to understand your struggles. But I am a teacher, posing as a well-rounded, established, young adult, despite my neglected laundry hamper… so your writing really resonates with my life.

    Anyway, well done, and thanks for sharing!

    • Thank you for reading & commenting!

      The dichotomy with teaching seems especially interesting, since our role is pretty much quintessentially adult. We act as model adult for scores of kids all the time, and to feel so otherwise droopily childish seems hard to maintain in one brain.

  64. I’m glad I found your blog! It reminds me of Simon and Martina who are both teaching in Korea as well (found them on YT)- I wonder if you know them… they’re hilarious! It always seems hard when one lives on their own in a different country with a different culture, but I guess that’s part of the experience. Thank you for sharing about your life in Korea! I’d like to travel there someday!

    • Ahh, Simon and Martina. I know of them, they’re household names enough in the waygooks-on-the-internet crowd. I think they live in Seoul…? I don’t know them personally, though.

      I know from what I’ve read, coming over as a couple is often helpful, and some places are accomodating of it. People who go alone are dropping most of their support system in their home country; couples bring a significant chunk of theirs with them.

  65. This made me laugh, cry in shame, and resolve to begin my own cycle of adulthood anew this weekend.
    I second the props for the use of “detritus”. I’ll be back, because you make me laugh and I’m interested to hear more about teaching in a new culture, as well.

  66. Congratulations on being Freshly Pressed, which is how I found your blog.

    Now, you may want to sit down before I go any further?…………it doesn’t change! I have 40 years on you, and had I your way with words I could write something ever so similar! Actually, I brought up two kids and ran a household which always had to be spick and span because clients were entertained at home, but once divorced and on my own I reverted to what must be my true self. Took a while, but I learned to stop angsting about it! I think it was Shirley Conran who said, “Life’s too short to stuff a mushroom.” It’s also too short to angst about housework when there are a trillion more interesting things to do. So long as you are not, actually, a health risk, which you clearly can’t be because you do, actually, do some stuff, don’t worry!

  67. nothing really works I guess … once I made an schedule: Monday: bathroom Wednesday:Kitchen etc etc to see if by covering one thing at a time I´d do best … the paper on the fridge got yellowish and my apartment too

  68. Okay Michael, this was a great post and I too could relate especially when I was hitch-hiking for four months in Europe and carrying a backpack full of dirty clothes – at least you can leave your apartment if the site of the mess becomes too overwhelming.

    Looks like you have gone viral with this one and have gained many new followers; don’t know if you will be able to keep up with all the great comebacks to all the great comments.

    We moved your sister yesterday; wish her place was the size of your apartment and it would have been a much faster move whether things were clean or dirty.


    • Glenn: the home page of WordPress, my blog hosting site, has “Freshly Pressed,” where they select posts from the site to feature. They chose one of mine (again, actually)! I am trying to keep up with all the comments, but hot damn, there are a lot.

  69. These are universal themes. Those childlike feelings you have never really disappear. I still feel like a child playing house, despite my real husband and very real children. I remember feeling shocked – SHOCKED that the hospital was letting me leave with my newborn baby – surely I needed to pass a test first? And the feelings of calm when your abode is tidy, and disgust when it is messy, are also normal and will nag you the rest of your life. Coincidentally my best day is also Tuesday, the day our house cleaner comes; and it is all downhill from there.
    Welcome to adulthood, where we are all children at heart.

  70. Great post. I’m constantly wondering when the idea that “I’m an adult, and not someone’s kid” is going to kick in. On the cusp of 25, and even with a husband, we still manage to lose track. At the end of the week, we find ourselves with a seemingly insurmountable pile of laundry and dishes. That hope that this will be the Sunday our life changes is always, luckily there, though.

  71. Thanks for this! It’s reassuring to know that I’m not the only one whose sense of self is inexplicably linked to their level of motivation around housework. In my case, it’s usually pretty nonexistent – hence my room which looks like some kind of makeshift nest constructed of jeans, turtlenecks and old socks.

    Adjusting to a new environment can be very disconcerting, though, so don’t be too hard on yourself. It’s probably changing you in ways that you won’t even recognise until after the fact. I spent 6 months in Africa last year (I’m from Ireland) and while I’m glad I went, culture shock can knock everything out of sync, your housekeeping among them 🙂

    • I try to wonder if I was a decent cleaner back in Canada, but it’s hard to tell. The true test will be when I move back, and if I allow myself to fall into the same comfortable schedule of filth ebb and flow.

  72. Hello:

    This is a great post! And it got so many comments, that I imagine it resonated with a lot of people – including me.

    Over time, you’ll be probably be able to integrate your household chores into your life so that your graph doesn’t look so spiky anymore. But it takes some practice, patience and humour (you seem to have a lot of that!) and some failures too!

    Enjoy your apartment and your new lifestyle. 🙂

    • I do do some cleaning during the week, usually it is when one particular aspect becomes so repulsive I feel I cannot live around it. When I tell my Korean co-workers what I did the night before, if I mention cleaning at all, they always say that I am a clean-freak and that I must be living in a sterile palace.

  73. Great post. But why do youngsters get neurotic about being all growed up, only to age and become neurotic about losing their inner child? I love that Margaret Atwood quote: “I believe everyone else my age is an adult, whereas I am merely in disguise.” And my laundry pile is now a local landmark.

  74. I teach in Eastern Europe and have much the same system to my bedroom in my flat; thankfully with two flatmates we manage to keep the kitchen and front room clean, but my bedroom becomes a pile of crap by the end of the day. Right now, for example, I have a bunch of stuff on the drying rack to put away, an unmade bed, a layer of schoolwork in the front area, a pile of books I bought next to my bed, and all of my shoes seem to be barricading me inside until I clean. Yeah, I’ve been having trouble with this living-by-myself-as-a-grown-up thing too…

  75. “who can think about piddling concerns like cleanliness and sanitation when you’re out eating chocolate oysters all the time?”
    What brilliant imagery and how true. Good luck to you and your laundry!

  76. So, like many people, I found your post on the Freshly Pressed page. I rather enjoyed this. My mom is always telling me to practice being a grownup. Who says I have to actually grow up? As long as I can see the floor and my clothes don’t stink, I think life will turn out all right 😉

    I think your writing is very relatable. These kinds of life experiences are what people relate to well. Thanks for sharing, and keep writing well. Looking forward to reading more!

  77. Parkinson’s Law is victimizing you!
    In our greate-greate-grandparent’s times people in each household had to spin and weave, sow and harvest, fell trees, split fire wood, milk the cows, feed the chickens, and do whatnot else, in addition to the chores that overwhelm you.
    And in the future household chores will be greatly simplified by the self-acting vacuum cleaner, the self-stacking (and emptying) dishwasher, the laundry picker-up robot etc. No more stacks of dirty dishes, no more thrown around dirty laundry. Seems like paradise to you?
    Will then people feel less overwhelmed? No – because of Parkinson’s Law which says that what people perceive as urgently needed chores expands until all the available time is taken.

  78. I’m so relieved. It’s normal!

    I like to say someone has broken in and used every single dish in the kitchen, smeared butter on the counter, and left the lid off the jam. They slept in my bed and didn’t make it, they leave towels on the floor. This person follows me to every residence I have ever had, or will have.

  79. So brilliant, so true, and the graph!! THE GRAPH!!!

    I like to think that going back to dorm life MUST be a bit of a free pass on the adulthood thing. Right?! No? Oh well. The combined shame resulting from your clean room pictures and a slight… wait for it… yup, there it is again… scent of rapidly aging bread from mid-week is compelling me to take out the trash bag, like, now.

    Thanks for the inspiration!! (And proving we are not alone!)

  80. As the mom of three 20-somethings, I’m actually impressed at your ability to clean at all! You do laundry?? You don’t just spray febreeze all over your clothes and then wear then again? You wash dishes? You, sir, do indeed qualify for adult status. Seriously, great post!

  81. Hahahahahaha…I laughed out loud to see your graph and your saturday n sunday activities. Well I’m 21 years old now and I’m living on my own as an expatriat student in Europe, 17000km away from my hometown. It means I have the same feeling of your ego not to see my apartment filthy while I’m also surviving to be a far far away wanderer from my parents. But the craziest thing to kill me softly here is the lack of social activities. It’s winter and I don’t want to walk outside just to visit my friend’s place or meet somewhere so my sense of grow-upedness now includes the sense of being alone from day to night with my laptop, unless I spend my time working at school.

    • It’s also freezing here, so I combat the whole “Am I a real grown-up?” as well as, “Am I a hermitted loner?” because going into the cold to meet friends seems arduous. Many of my friends live downtown, and my subway station is a twenty minute walk through the arctic.

  82. HAHAHAHAHAHA! This post is hilarious. I love the graph. Not only do you cycle between a clean and dirty apartment, but you also cycle between moments of hilarity and thought provoking prose. Keep it up. 🙂

  83. I meant to say that if you have really scorched your pans, rather than scouring them, you should pour a can or two of Coca-Cola into them and let them soak so that when you finally get around to cleaning again, you won’t be scrubbing for ages. This trick really works!

  84. I enjoyed reading this post. I’m very glad to see that I’m not the only one struggling to keep a clean apartment. I feel very stressed out if it becomes too messy for too long. It doesn’t help that I have a messy partner living with me, although he’s starting to rub off on me. His philosophy is that there are more interesting things to do besides clean, and I’m starting to agree. There are days where, like you, I ignore the mess and try to just have a life. We all need to relax sometimes!

    • That philosophy is absolutely true, and usually how I get myself into my usual mess. “I COULD clean, but I also could go have dinner, meet my friends at the bar, go bowling, watch Mad men, read a book, …”

    • When you say “James Bond” my mind thinks of nothing but storing a lot of guns and beautiful women within arm’s reach and getting elderly one-letter name people to take care of me. This is what you meant, right?

  85. I loved your story. Years ago, I really hated doing dishes, so I would put the dirty dishes in a bag and put them in the garage, if company was to come over. My kitchen looked OK, but the dirty dishes were probably screaming out in the garage “Clean me.”

  86. Hihi…. very nice! Really like the way you tell your stories :)!
    Well, with cleaning up it’s all the more funnier (or sometimes tragicomically… :/ x) ) to see the cleanlieness-dirtieness-wheel turning in a flatsharing community with eight international students who have all a different idea about hygene and comfortableness 🙂 …. Before my boyfriend was coming to visit me on 1st January, I spent two entire days to clean just kitchen, showers and floors… and then my flatmate and his friends were so drunk on NYE that they STICHED RAW MEAT to the wall in the living room…. X_X omg, I was so pissed… ^^

  87. I thought I was the only one who found laundry and/or keeping my one small room in order an insurmountable challenge! Which then, as you said, makes me wonder how long I can keep playing at adulthood before everyone else realizes that just because my age has been increasing doesn’t mean my life-ability has been. This was very comforting.

  88. A fun read! When I was young , I used to clean like crazy. Then came husband, kids, you name it. House was messier than ever. Now kids are out, today is Saturday, cleaning day, and I’m having fun reading other people’s blogs:) OK, there is a load washing, all by itself. I can’t believe you have written comments to ALL your readers! P.S. Beautiful photos.

    • I feel duty-bound to respond to all of the comments. People took the time to read, and I really am flattered and appreciative, so bam, comments! As you can see, it has taken some time though.

      I recently bought a new camera, so again, a machine is doing some of the work for me!

  89. Great post and great blog! Oh Laundry. Just wait until you’re married with two kids, your laundry (and dishes for that matter) will grow exponentially in size. There will be mountains of laundry! But…wait a second…you’re wife will probably be doing that laundry…hmmmm…maybe you should start searching for a wife! 🙂 Jk. Good luck in Korea! I hear it is a great place!

  90. I love this. I go through the same thing over and over again and I’ve been living on my own for a long time. Glad to hear I’m not the only one. I loved the graph, too. Gave me a laugh I sorely needed!

  91. Brilliant post 😀
    I completely relate to the cleaning cycle…already I can see the slowing mounting piles of stuff that need to be dealt with… *groan*
    All in all I don’t MIND cleaning…IF it wasn’t for the fact that as soon as I am done, It needs doing again!! It’s never ending lol (I blame my cat 😉 )
    After enjoying reading your FP post, I had to go and read your earlier stuff…and I LOVED it. You have a wonderful way of writing, and I will definitely look forward to future postings.

  92. hi there

    just loved your post ! we are all going through cycles with cleaning, just because we are humans and busy with life !
    loved it !
    thanks for sharing your cycles with us !
    Bring some more on !

  93. Laundry does suck monkeys…indeed. Unfortunately it’s a necessary evil. I think boys are worse when it comes to doing laundry.

    Congrats on FP!

    • It’s usually my male friends who have similar struggles. My one friend survived three weeks during our first months here without doing laundry. When he finally caved, his entire apartment as cloaked in washed clothing.

  94. Ha! As a 23-year-old mom of 2, every day is both a Saturday and a Sunday. I look at the filth, think “how can we live like this?” Do some dishes, throw in some laundry, and before I can get to the Monday feeling of accomplishment, I realize, though I’ve done 2 loads of dishes and 5 loads of laundry, as I cleaned the living room and dining room, another full dish load and 3 more laundry loads have surfaced. It’s unfair. What I wouldn’t give for a Monday…

  95. This is awesome. I always felt alone. I used to wonder where did all this mess come from, certainly not me. Now my mess is confined to my office though and now the clean up days are more or less 2 weeks apart. So I guess once you add a spouse into the mix and maybe kids, adapting to adulthood may become a reality but then again, who knows…

    Great read.

  96. A great pity to me is that it is impossible to be both nudist and homeless. If you want to be naked all the time (avoiding laundry) you need a place to live. If you want eschew it all, and get rid of all your possessions, (avoiding the cleaning problem) you need multiple layers of clothes to survive the winter.

  97. Great post, and quite uncomfortably, it is hilariously true. I have similar cycle with yours, so I know that I’m not the only one who experience this. Congrats for being in freshly pressed. Your blog posting is really fresh (since it is Sunday ;))

  98. Wow — you write extremely well! I am impressed by your prose, even about such a mundane everydayish topic as keeping your domicile clean. Keep writing – I think you have a gift for story-telling.

  99. This is a great post! Ive been living in my own apartment now for four years and I still race around when I know my parents are coming, I feel like im a teenager again and my mother is coming to “inspect” the tidyness of my bedroom. No matter how I tidy or clean the only thing that makes me feel grown up is when I do laundry. My mother asks me what have you done today? I say “oh laundry today” and she nods approvingly. I still refuse to iron clothes.

    • One boon of being so far is that my parents will never come to inspect the state of my living space (although my mother reads this blog and has commented, via the pictures, on the quality or lack of my housekeeping).

      Ironing. What is that again?

  100. Glad to see that I am not the only one with crazy inner dialogue. This made me laugh as it reminded me of the pride that swelled within me as I surveyed my clean kitchen last night before going to bed. I hate doing dishes before going to bed but lately have started to do it so I don’t enter the kitchen in the morning with dishes in the sink. I think parents or society instill in us a self loathing if things are untidy or unclean. My mother was anal retentive. The only reason you can tell she lives at home are her cats and her office where there recently have been piles of paper work she is going through.

    • My extended family is fairly close, and my mother also had a tendency of mentioning my cleaning habits to her sisters and the rest of the family, which in turn always put me on the defensive and start to clean more. The inner dialogue of my cleaning also extends to… basically every facet of my life.

  101. Amusing read – thanks for sharing! I feel the same way sometimes, being a 23-year-old Canadian living alone in France right now, so I can totally relate! Sometimes I look at my apartment and wonder how anyone can live there and the clutter on my table and bed bothers me especially. Glad to know someone out there shares the same sentiments 😛

  102. This is one of the most enjoyable blog posts I have ever read. So entertaining and relatable. I am MANY years past where you are and yet at more than twice your age I still remember that transition of woman-child into adult. And although I hate to admit it at this age, I still sometimes leave the dishes in the sink and other such things. Maybe some of us take a lot longer to grow up in that respect. 🙂
    Honestly, I often get bored with longer blog posts and I think the writer could have made their point in much fewer words, but this was not the case with yours. I enjoyed every part of it. So glad you made it to Freshly Pressed so I could see it!
    May we all have more Tuesdays in our lives!

    • The truth of humanity echoes through these fingers!

      Yeah, I’m pretty much incapable of anything but long-form. Except when I have an externally imposed word limit, any attempt to self-edit usually makes the post longer in the end, as I think of a new joke or rambling shaggy-dog diversion to seize upon.

  103. Great writing. I find a favorite line in every paragraph. However, this is the best, in my humble reader’s opinion. “The delicate ecosystem of orderliness is maintained harmoniously, mostly because I am not around to disrupt it. The moments I am, I am overcome with smugness. All is well.” I am envious of your very adult system. Well done, and congrats on the FP!

  104. i must say that the you have a GREAT title because it attracted me instantly to read on … ahhh laundry well since i am the “lady” of the house it falls on me, because the man of the house sucks at doing it….. i say that to say i am very proud and you ave given me hope that men can indeed do the laundry …

    should i make him move o Korea so he can learn as you have???? lol

    • I am the Uncle of said StupidUglyForeigner and I do all the laundry in our household though I can claim no right to teaching him all that he knows about laundry or cleaning or about graphs for that matter (though my wife did teach him how to swim). We did ply him with books for Christmas and birthdays so perhaps we did contribute in some small way to his incredible grasp of the english language.

  105. LOL. That was incredibly well written and I envy your diction and vocabulary usage. Living on your own is a skill only learned through time and experience. Eventually, I can’t say you figure out the laundry or the cleaning but you do learn how to hire someone to do it for you. Or make good friends- I used to be one of those friends- now I can’t juggle my own place. Keep on writing- Awesome post. And really clean apartment- for however long it lasted 🙂

  106. Nice. I’m doing the same thing (both the teaching ESL bit and the not cleaning my room often enough bit), albeit in Germany. I’ll be interested to read about ESL-ing in a place that’s not, well, here.

  107. haha congrats on freshly pressed…and yes. everything. totally. you are an excellent writer. you have a very well defined voice and you’re cohesive and grammatical. you don’t often find all three. and then as a bonus you use great words! and it was a relevant and insightful topic!
    OK enough raving, i just really like good writing.
    as far as your post goes, i just thought i’d share: i just bought my first ironing board yesterday and i am considering taking it back. and i absolutely cannot think clearly if my clothes are not clean, folded and put away neatly

    • To everyone reading, including you: wow. I cannot say how much I appreciate all of these comments. I am, needless to say, beyond flattered. I’ve been pouring a decent amount of myself into my creative writing over the last few years, and it’s really validating to have so many people enjoying this. (Given how often my brain is set to ramble, I am also enjoying the thought of others finding my garbled language to be grammatically acceptable.)

      There is an ironing board in my apartment still. I think maybe I will use it as another dining table if I have people over.

  108. My adult life was also a constant struggle with a tower of dirty dishes in the sink. And then I did something that was even more adult – I got married, married to someone whose tolerance for filth is far, far, far below mine. I don’t know what happened to the tower of dirty dishes; I just mow the lawn and hang blinds.

  109. Loved this post haha, the photos and the graph! Its such a big change to get used to all that new space but somehow you manage to fill it full of cr*p! I have been told by my other half that im not allowed to iron as it takes me too long – fine by me!!

  110. Good one. Made me smile and think years back when I was younger and didn’t care about clean flats, which usedto annoy the others. Now I’m annyed when others clutter all over my world 😀
    Keep up Tuesdays! 🙂
    -Chatty Owl-

  111. Well my dear, you have hit a nerve with this post. Do you have a mom? Can I adopt you? If I’m ever in South Korea, I will come clean up your apartment. Ha ha ha. No, seriously. I’ll even bring a copy of Black Ops for you to play with while I clean.

  112. i thought about my 27 year old daughter as i read your post. i wish she cleaned as often as you do. she like you, loves to travel the world re-defining her adult status with every trip. she sends me photos of her apartment and in every photo, i can see a vivid picture of a messy room. then i think, she still needs to learn with freedom(adulthood) comes responsibility.

    when she returns home the mess comes with her and then comes the nagging mom.

  113. Reminds me of my kids when they first set out on their own. One has finally figured it out, but it took a wife and daughter to help him do it. The other is still struggling with this thing called organization, so it seems that it’s the married life with kids that helps you grow up into managing your home.

    Congrats on being Freshly Pressed – it’s a great ride!

  114. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this. Cleaning and laundry are NOT the most fun part of being an adult. However, you have made the connection already that it makes for a better feeling about one’s self when they are done. I think you’ll find througout you life that when you’re life is chaotic, so is your house–and vice versa.

    Continued success on the road to manhood. Sounds like you’re well on track with all you are doing so far. Be proud!

  115. .

    The secret to keeping a clean apartment during the formative years is to find a roomate who has slightly higher cleanliness standards than you do and then stay out of there way when they clean.

    Also good to take them out to eat, cook for them without making a mess in the kitchen, and tell them daily how glad you are that they’re you’re roomate.

    Worked for me.

    When my roomate asked me to leave the kitchen to him in return for not giving him a hard time about where to put the cereal bowls? I told him absolutely.

    Best decision I ever made.

    Worst decision?

    Moving out of the apartment and into one with someone else.

    Co habitation is nothing compared to having your roommate cleaning the kitchen so that you don’t have to.

    Good luck.


      • Me too.

        “We” are in the process of finding and purchasing a washing machine.

        This should be a simple business transaction but it is not. There are “umpteen” different “conversations” related to the process. There are wash cycles and rinse cycles and Earth friendly laundry considerations. Then there are the consumer reports and the on line research. The expense of the machine and the soul search of why the previous washing machine broke invades our dinner converstation..

        Do we buy the cheap machine that we can take home today?

        Or do we wait the 12 days that it will take to order the more expensive machine?

        I’m not kidding.

        This lovely 3 day weekend was spent looking for a washing machine.

        I’m beginning to think a rock, a river bank, and clothes line in the snow would be easier.

        All of this just gets up to what machine to buy.
        After “we” find the machine, there’s the negociations trying to get the machine to the house and of who will install the thing. when it gets there.

        I’m just not that handy and to have it delivered out into the country means delivery fees and waiting all day long for them to get there.

        Meanwhile the laundry mountain grows and there’s the question of who get’s to do it and where. The laundrymat has 15 dryers but only two work.

        Enjoy the single life of laundry. 😀



        Hannah Murphy’s Rules For Sane Living

        “The sane man or woman lives with their roomate and visits their wife or husband inorder to keep the “love” alive”. Your spouse may from Heaven but your roommate comes from necessity. There is an element of business about the transaction. You can throw them out or leave without a law firm and their mothers getting involved.

        (True, there are the rare occassions involving small claims court or Judge Judy but it’s nothing compare to the expectations marriage and who does the laundry. )

        Good luck with your adventure.


        • I do not look forward to a time when my laundry mingles and breeds to make a bigger pile, but for the record, my machine does suck. Its exhaust pipe simply drains onto my bathroom floor, and the drain there sucks, so I have to plunge away every time I do laundry. Boo!

            • I can’t really get my landlord to do anything. I told them back in October that the latch on my window was broken and I had no way of fixing it personally; he came and took a peek, noted that it was definitely broken, and went about his day. Like the drain issue, I jury-rig it to my satisfaction with ample scotch tape.

      • Well if there’s an advert? Tell you what. If you need a housekeeper who’d trade cleaning/cooking in return for room and a liberal work schedule? I’m interested.

        But I don’t do kimchi. I do make a really good vegetarian lassagna.

        After years of being mom and not being able to travel, I find myself with the prospect of free travel time and empty nest.

        My own kid is on the verge of “fledging”

        I’m old, grey, and no threat to girl/guy friends plus I can cook. Can’t be more difficult that picking up for the people in my current situation.

        Think Aunt Bea, 😀


    • As well, trash in my building is weirdly dealt with. There’s no dumpster and because I’m right in a non-residential area, I have to just dart outside and dump my garbage bags against a tree with the refuse from the ground-floor restaurants.

  116. I feel the same way about my room. I’m a teenager and, for that matter, a girl. When I see my room in despair when school swings back around I’d hate to see it, but i’m too lazy to clean anything. But my ego doesn’t get pain wevery week, but it begin to fail me when I start with the dirty carpet (which is every month, I hate to admit). Also dude, I love you article. It’s so much fun to read 😀

  117. I totally relate. I experienced living independently before, (which I am not now for some reason) and I miss it. And the cleaning that is motivated by guilt is just something I miss. This year I am regaining my independence yey! as I turn 23. We can share cleaning tips. :p

    Enjoy your new found adulthood ;-). Great Post!

  118. Your post is very humorous and is easy to relate to. My transition to independent living while I was at university was in an apartment. Unfortunately my room lacked a closet and the only spare clothes rack was in the bathroom. It struggled with the weight of my winter coats piled over other clothes.

    Laundry was a headache. Being always used to having the washing having taken care of , I ruined several clothes of mine and my sister’s (who I lived with) because I was far too rushed to read labels.Besides we were stuck with the crap apartment washing machine while I had been previously been able to access a decent one which didn’t leave bright blue stains on white clothes.

    I lived on the 4th floor. Regular trash was no issue because you just put in a plastic bag and slid it down a chute into the dumpster. But with recycled trash, you had to go to the first basement via lift and sort out your bottles, paper/cardboard and sort accordingly. It didn’t help those lifts were super slow and there were only two for a 17 floor building that contained a gym on the top floor!

    • I don’t actually know where my recycling goes. When I originally arrived at the apartment, I asked, via my Korean co-teacher, where I should dispense of the refuse. The clearest answer, after several minutes of hemming and hawing, was “Outside.”

      Blue stains, hmm? That sounds like a quality washer! Of course, my natural inclination would be to just buy and wear only blue clothes.

  119. Brotherman, oh how I miss you. You really are the best!!! I need to read your blog more often. I got your text and am still ferociously working on these reviews in your “canada basement”. I am about to sleep on the pullout couch in my old room, Zoe was going to sleep in your room but in – her way” -she let us know you “have kinda like scary pictures on your wall”. hahaha I am going cross eyed. I figure catch 5 hours sleep and powerhouse the rest tomorrow morning, I tried to get up at 3am last night and go to work. Yah, that didn’t work and I was petrified of waking Kathy and Tony as you know Snuz loves to snoooooooooze. Apparently I only woke them at 5am when I finally made it out of the house. I responded here in case you don’t get my email again. Call me Wed or Thursday morning don’t worry about waking me and we can catch up. I can tell you all about Jamaica. YAH MON!!! Respect. (insert Dap or knuckle bump for this who don’t live in the REX) LOL. They played Shaggy for christ sakes…where was my REGGAE. oh and Bob Marley of course.Three little birds…on my door step, singing sweet songs…. k I am delerious and need sleep. Love you lots and talk to you later this week. Hey-Ti

  120. Let you in on a secret – this never ever changes – it is you – just how you are and it is not fixable. How do I know? Because it is me too and has been for 24 years. Sad huh. Only time things looked better through the week is when I had house help.

  121. I really enjoyed this post and will definitely visit again. I’m 20 and still in school. Either my dorm, or my room at home is in a constant cycle of disarray. You give me hope that one day I will be able to completely clean my space (prehaps even both of them). I hope it will happen before I graduate. I absolutely loved your graph, I laughed so hard.

  122. I, too, can relate, stranger. On Friday afternoon I washed a dish for the first time this year, and uncovered whatever was growing on the leftover scraps of potato cake batter from December 31st in a bowl in the sink. That I have not touched yet.

    You are capable! You are grown-up! Purge often all quotidian detritus!

    Or so we tell ourselves.

  123. I can so relate to this, I am a student and i work part time twice a week.
    My room is a mess and Sunday is the cleaning day, what happens when friends show up unexpectedly? 😛

  124. great read, i love the phrase “and I suffocate my cognitive dissonance by ignoring my knowledge about how the majority of people used to do this and how many still do”. Definitely someone i want to read more from, well done. I look forward to more posts.

  125. Some people would argue that you have too much time on your hands to write stuff like this! LOL just kidding…..

    But in all seriousness, once you get a good organization system in place, it should run smoothly. The problem that you will probably run into from time to time esp. when you’re sick is laziness or complacency. My wife and I struggle with that then things build up and you have an even worse mess.

    Maybe it’s different up here in Ohio but I imagine it’s much the same because we’re talking about people more than places.

    Thanks for posting my comment!
    -Derran Reebel

  126. Is this not how the whole world behaves? At least, the whole world that I know does! Two cleans a week, slop in the middle.

    It doesn’t change as you get older – sorry to disappoint. At 56, I still don’t want to do the chores. Why should I? Everything just gets messy again!

    I drag it out as long as I can, I cajole / bully / shout and and generally bully the kids into doing their share but honestly – who needs it? I keep the kitchen and bathrooms clean and tidy – the rest can be someone else’s responsibility.

    • I do not experience disgust only because none of my friends are clean enough by comparison to make me find my place repugnant.

      To get up in your non-pedagogical grill for a second, how is everything, outside-of-school wise (inside of school: I am still reading, and you are doing some pretty cool work). How are the wife and adorable son?

  127. As spoiled as this may sound….i find that a housekeeper once a week is a blessing in more ways than one…first i have more free time to live my life and be messy. Secondly i get to have more free time to live my life and be messy…Third and most importantly there is something exciting to look forward to once a week (the housekeepers arrival)

  128. At 29 I still struggle with this cycle. Kudos for you to be able to at least maintain a weekly clean up!! Then again, when you live in a small apartment (mine in Japan was about the same size as yours and the apartments in Japan are strikingly similar to those in Korea), keeping it tidy is vital. In a house, one day you suddenly look around and think “How did this happen?”

    I enjoy your prose and I’m looking forward to hearing more about your adventure.

  129. FYI – it took 3 days to clean and organize your room when you left and the only thing that changes now is the occasional dust bunny. Not a single item of laundry. Please come home on a Tuesday.


  130. Totally relate to this – I work from home, and on days when my apartment is messy I find that my work ethic is lower, and in some strange sense so is my self-worth.
    I have to have lack of clutter and a sense of order before I feel really prepared for the day. Or night. Or to have company.
    Unfortunately I also like to throw clothes around and put off washing dishes (and my clothes, come to think of it), and last night I discovered an entire bag of mold pretending to be old bread in the back of my cupboard. None of which is conducive to feeling awesome about oneself.
    Having lived abroad myself (Córdoba, Spain) I also admire your up-and-at’em spirit; some day I hope I can go back to traveling and exploring…
    In the meantime, I will look forward to following your adventures!


  131. But if you relocate to a country where you can afford a maid, your house is always clean and you always feel like a grown-up! This is both because your place is always the way you imagine it should be, and you’re responsible for someone else’s livelihood. I also find it helps scrunch my eyebrows and sip coffee while I read the newspaper and to complain about teenagers.

  132. To a college student this pretty much emulates everyday life (though it is tough keeping my apartment as clean as yours). Paper plates and plastic cups have become my best friend because I feel like its still not my “job” to do the dishes. Guess I have a little more growing up to do!

  133. Holy crap, I am so glad someone told me this. I have been out on my own moving from place to place for two years now, and each time things are messy I have felt so horrendously guilty and incapable. Like, normal people can clean their rooms without having to go to extra effort to motivate themselves, why can’t I? I’ve always felt it’s one of my major failings as a young adult, like the other kids my age can up and walk into their fresh dorm rooms, struggle for a few weeks and then never have anything dirty ever again for the rest of their lives.
    Anyway, the rest of your blog is hilarious and super helpful. If things go right, I’ll be studying Chinese in Wuhan in the fall. (That’s assuming that I can put on my big girl pants long enough to get my act together.) It’s always nice to read stories from someone else in a similar position. Thank you!

    • Interesting. Just studying? It’s surprising to hear from someone coming to this continent for the studying side of things, rather than teaching!

      And yeah, I get the same feelings. Whenever I manage to get into a friend’s apartment when it’s not clean, I am always secretly mollified that I’m not a pile of crap.

      • Yeah, just studying. More of the story is on my blog (though I should warn you that my mouth is filthy), but basically I love travelling and have wanted to see that side of the world for most of my life. There’s just nothing tying me to the US now. It’ll be an adventure though, that’s for sure!
        It’s even worse living in the dorms, because everyone has their doors open leading to their perfect and clean rooms and then I’m the only one with my door shut to my hideously messy room. >u>;

  134. Hello stupiduglyforeigner, I found your blog informative. stupiduglyforeigner the information on your blog I found useful. Thanks for making this available! Keep it up!

  135. Pingback: Just Like a Real Grown-Up | Stupid Ugly Foreigner

  136. Just found your blog through freshly pressed (nice work getting there!) and this post really made me smile! I can only imagine the hilarity of the next posts i’m going to read on teaching in Korea, something I hope to be doing in September this year!

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