Housekeeping and Cognitive Dissonance

Update: After three hours of internet research (thank you, Planted Tank Forum!) and many, many failed attempts, and much unladylike swearing and puddles of fish tank water all over my floor, I got the Eheim running again.   

      Pisses me off so much.  Eheim is, supposedly, the premier aquarium filter in the world.  I invested something like $300 for that German engineering when I could have bought some $80 hang-on-the-back shit at Petland Discounts.  German, my ass.  If one single thing in that filter was assembled by a European, I’ll eat my shorts. 

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 If anyone out there has an Eheim Pro II 2026 filter and you know how to troubleshoot it, please shoot me an email:

   The motor’s running, but but I think something wrong with the impeller.  The indicator ball isn’t moving.  I had a problem last year with the gaskets and fixed it.  I’ll check again tomorrow, but right now I’ve been working on this for two hours and I’m homicidal.  

     Changed the water. The fish should be okay overnight. 

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Cognitive Dissonance is the feeling of distress and confusion you get when you hold two or more conflicting ideas or values in your head.  

      For example: 

      Belief 1:  I despise cleaning so much it makes my hair bleed.
      Belief 2:  How a woman maintains her house is a testament to     her feminine honor. 

       See how that works out…?  Isn’t that FUN?   

       But wait–it gets better!  The cognitive dissonance I experience regarding housework is quite layered and complex–truly, it is unresolved. 

       Belief 1:  It is lazy and bourgeois to pay someone to do something that you are capable of doing for yourself.  
       Belief 2:  The idea of having a cleaning lady makes me want to weep with happiness.

        And there’s MORE!  We could do this all day!  I do do it all day!

        Belief 1:  I absolutely do not want to have that kind of relationship with another human being. 
        Belief 2:  I would rather code datasets or gut fish than put laundry away.  

        It goes on and on, but that’s enough for now.  You get the picture.   There is no solution.  There is no way out.  Every option is bad.  I cannot hire a maid without feeling like a failure and dying of shame.  So I must clean, and despise it, and be aware that I don’t have to be doing all of it myself.  

        I always told myself that if I ever lived with a guy, I’d have to pick someone who was a total neat freak.  Neat freaks keep everything really clean because they can’t tolerate it otherwise.  PROBLEM SOLVED, right?  But no…living with a neat freak causes other stresses.  My mother’s a neat freak, and living with her was like living in a museum (it did cause me to be very neat, however).  The Surgeon’s a neat freak, and I can only imagine how spazzy and tyrannical he must be at his house.  Remember the first scenes in that Julia Roberts film, Sleeping with the Enemy?  When Robert’s OCD psycho husband said something like “You didn’t hang up the wash cloths the right way!  And the labels on the soup cans have to be facing outward!” and she cowers “I’m sorry!  I forgot!”  Yeah.  Good times.   

         Surely I am not the only woman in the world who has to deal with these inherent contradictions. Actually, I know that I’m not.  One of the most astonishing internet flame wars I’ve ever seen happened on one of my favorite blogs, I Blame the Patriarchy, over women and housekeeping.  The commentariat on that site are all feminist brainiacs with strong opinions.  When they started to debate housekeeping, domesticity, and the ethics of hiring a maid, it was a spectacular Chernobyl-level meltdown.  I read it for, like, four hours.  

     (update 2:25 PM: here’s the link to the exchange…it’s too provocative and entertaining not to share, though I hope linking to it doesn’t cause Twisty to be mad at me :  )

      Why?  Because if you hate to do chores, there is no way out of this mess.

     I’m writing this now as I procrastinate running back down to the laundry mat.  And doing laundry is not even that bad!  Know what’s the worst?  The worst chore in the world?  

       Not bathrooms.  Bathrooms are okay.  Gotta have a clean bathroom.  I never minded having to do that one.  

       Not mopping floors.  The swiffer makes short work of it.

      Not cleaning the bird cages.  I want my birds to have clean homes!  

       Not ironing.  Ironing is kinda relaxing, actually.  

      The worst?  Putting away folded, clean clothes.  

       I hate it!  I hate it so much!  I hate it so much that I will actually take clean clothes out of the hamper and wear them!  I will live out of the clean hamper clothes!  ARGHHHHHH!

      Yeah.  Putting the clean clothes bad.  Even worse than cleaning the microwave.  Ugh.  

       What chores do YOU hate?  

        Filing this one under “complaining.”  Oh yeah.  

6 thoughts on “Housekeeping and Cognitive Dissonance”

  1. I hate cooking. The stuff I try to make tastes like crap. I despise the niggly little detailed tyranny of a recipe.

    Guys who cook get the girls. It’s a creative service thing. If I liked to cook or at least got better at it I wouldn’t have to microwave the same three Fresh Direct meals week in and week out.

    I have one word for you Ms. Margo Adler. Delegate. Though I suppose that assumes there’s someone to delegate stuff to and that it will get done to your satisfaction.

  2. No solution? Come on. Take my 4-step program (no, no, not them 12 ones) and step out of the rut.

    Step 1. Find out which of ur ideas, values, beliefs, convictions, passions, norms,(more?) r genuinely urs, and which ones were (and r) imposed on u.

    Step 2. Choose the ones u really want to keep, a.k.a. oh no, i can’t live without them. I mean u eh? Not what u think others want u to keep.

    Step 3. Get it in ur head: Festinger and his boys were only trying to make u believe u had conflicting beliefs etc. If u want, use it as a mantra.

    Step 4. Go to the gym.


    “What chores do YOU hate?” None of them. I don’t do chores.

    Um….why would u want to fold clothes in the first place?

  3. Dear Advo:

    First, I must say that I am surprised: I have never thought of recipes that way. Back when I used to eat, I cooked and collected recipes quite frequently. I found them comforting–a blueprint for success. They minimize confusion and the potential for human error. The objective is to successfully execute the dish. What’s not to like? Do you also hate instruction and assembly manuals that come with furniture and electronics? I’m curious.

    Moving on: Ah yes. Delegation. An excellent recommendation, Advo, and I loooooooove to take your advice!

    But here’s the problem (and the women at the Studio talk about this all the time): competent, reliable houseboys do not exist. They are mythical creatures, like unicorns, or leprechauns.

    The ones all over Craigslist and Collarme are motivated by the FANTASY of being a domestic servant. They picture themselves being constantly overseen and dictated to by Hawt Fantasy Mistress. But when they’re actually cleaning out a stranger’s refrigerator while she’s ignoring him and IMing on her computer in the next room wearing jeans and no makeup, he thinks: “Holy shit. This is actually…WORK! I could be at a BBQ!”

    Don’t get me wrong–I don’t expect to get something for nothing; that seldom happens in BDSM arrangements like this. I’d be happy to give Houseboy some personal attention and playtime once he finished his work. Fair is fair. And besides, it’s fun. But I ain’t walking around behind houseboy in stilettos and a cane for two hours while he scrubs the grout with a toothbrush, which is what most of em seem to want. I don’t want em messing with my dirty underpants or socks on the way to the laundry mat, either (I would give them as a gift if he asked, though).

    Though if you know one of these Unicorn authentic service submissives, I beseech you to have him email me. The vacuum cleaner isn’t going to empty itself, man.

    Thanks for reading, Advo. I always appreciate your comments.

  4. Hi, Ayesha! Ooo! A new commentor!

    I just read your comment and will reply in more detail soon–right now, I’m late for an appointment. But thanks for reading and thank you for taking the time to write!

    Bye for now!

  5. I think it’s likely you are right. True service subs are rare. I’ve heard some pretty good stories about such relationships ocassionally working, but for the most part I think you are right; that kind of delegation is not likely to work.

    I was talking more about delegating to the cleaning lady. I know…guilt, expense, job not done to your standards. But not having to do stuff you hate is priceless.

  6. Haha. I also hate putting away folded clothes! For a long time, the clean ones were in the hamper, and the dirty ones went on top of the hamper (it had a lid.) Glorious lid! Now, where I live is tiny with hardly any drawers (in a motel room) and it has a clothes rack. A lot doesn’t fit, so we have clear crates. It’s nice to be able to fold clothes, put them in crates, and *leave* them there.

    I don’t like having to scrub out the litter box. I’ve tried litter pan bags, but the kitties play with them and destroy them, defeating a lot of the purpose.

    I also hate stupid details like wall and baseboard scrubbing, ceiling and corner sweeping – those were things, particularly the walls, that I never even thought of or knew you had to do! Til my ex had us do our 2 bedroom house, years ago. It finally explained why, after living in a place for a while, that it looks dirty even when you’ve scrubbed, dusted vacuumed, swept, and mopped. We smoked in there, so it came to really need it. The difference was astounding and I couldn’t believe how dirty the walls were! I stopped smoking inside after we went our separate ways, and I never was in a place more than 6 months after. Til now, it’s approaching 2 years. I *just* swept down the ceiling and walls about 6 weeks ago. I’ll get around to the baseboards soon, that shit sucks. Cleaning the ceiling fan also does.

    Also hate drying dishes by hand, unless it’s only a few at a time. We hand washed dishes and put them in the washer to dryer off during childhood. I’ve come to do the same in adulthood. I at least want a rack and don’t like them to pile up. If nothing else, so I don’t have to dry them by hand!

    I don’t like a *lot* of cleaning, but I can deal. I have to often in this place.

    Maybe keep your place relatively tidy to keep from.embarrassment and chiding yourself in your head, but hire for deep cleaning? Or general stuff once per week or so? Ha, I’m much more ok with clearing other people’s places than my own!

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