The Great Filth Festering

10 Jul

My apartment turned on me yesterday like milk: all at once and gag-reflex levels of sour.

You see, for the past several weeks I’ve been trying to work on that switch in my brain that goes off without warning and sends me into a frenzy of I CAN’T LIVE IN THIS MESS IT’S DISGUSTING I’M DISGUSTING I HAVE TO FIX IT ALL RIGHT NOW.

Sometimes this will happen when the house is truly messy. Sometimes it will happen because there is a sock on the floor in the kitchen and I can’t explain how or why. The attacks come from nowhere and there’s been little that has proven helpful in confronting it.

Lately, I’ve been working on it by trying to ease into the filth. Not nasty filth, but a general lived-in filth. It’s been difficult, but it’s all part of the trying task of not being a crazy person. The plan was to get comfortable with a shelf undusted, cat litter unscooped, a dish unrinsed. You know, like a well-adjusted human being might do. So as part of training over the course of a week, I had been letting a few things accumulate to which I’m typically quite attentive. Like the garbage. And the dishes. And, well, lots of things.

Remember: there’s no judging on The Jackie Blog.

Anyway, I had decided my training session was over and that I would clean the house thoroughly this past Monday evening after work. Unfortunately, we were faced with a bit of a family emergency that needed tending to and left at 6pm for a five hour drive to address it and then turned around at 4am for a five hour drive back. Which was fine. It was good. The problem was that while we were gone, the house turned.

It appears I had come up right to the brink of disgust. At the time I’d committed to cleaning the place, I had a 24 hour clock counting down to the moment when milk gone undrunk would turn sour, vegetables uneaten would transform from overly ripe to rotten, and all hell would break loose. Dave and I returned from our overnight voyage and went straight to work without returning to the house. All day, my house was left to fester. By the time I got home, I was almost certain I’d need a priest to exorcise the unholy demon of nasty.

There was a plague of fruit flies in my kitchen, feeding off what appeared to be several thick pockets of stench and grossness.

The most obvious culprit was the trash, which had swelled past its max capacity and as I recalled, was a glorious feast for flies since it had scraps of last week’s corn on the cob, watermelon rind, and other epic bits of festery awful. I tended to it and moved to the next cluster, which was gathered around my banana keeper.

Yes, we have a banana keeper. We eat a lot of bananas. We also apparently don’t bother to throw away the top of the bunch from which the bananas hang sometimes. So there, in the awkward half-pieces that were torn from the dislodged fruit, lay nesting several fruit flies. But that still wasn’t the worst part.flies

I realized the dishes needed to be done so I cleaned out the sink and washed the basin thoroughly and remembered that the last time I did that, I promised myself I would rinse my dishes so I would never again have to stare curdled milk in the face. It was chunky. And smelly. But that, too, was not the worst part.

I continued to move about the kitchen, darting from one pocket of air to another, eyes alert for any resettling of tiny black dots outside of my wine glass trap and incense sacrifice. Suddenly, I spotted it.

There, below the banana keeper, I followed a cloud of little black specks to something I tucked away in the far recesses of my brain several months ago: a brand new bag of potatoes.

I remembered it vaguely, the day Dave proudly  told me he was going to “do some rearranging in the kitchen”. For the most part, his changes were upgrades. I was left with more counter space and more room at the bar and was quite pleased.  In the process, however, the potatoes I usually house right on the counter so I remember to use them (a bag of potatoes for 2 people is just unreasonable) were moved to the bottom rack of the bar beside the cookie jar I’ve never once used.

Cookies don’t need jars. They need bellies.

There, beside my unloved bastard of a pastry basin, was a bag of what …used to be potatoes. It had grown and shrank and oozed and leaked its putrid juices into the cracks and crevices of the bar and into the drawer below it, where my once-peaceful collection of teas dwelt.

Apparently I don’t have tea very often either.

Needless to say, I spent last evening whipping the house back into shape. I’m still trying not be crazy about it though  so my bedroom and the living room and the kitchen are squeaky clean, but the 6 square feet that is the bathroom closet leaves something to be desired.

If I clean everything, I won’t learn anything, now will I?

Seriously though. Those potatoes had eyes. *Shudder*

So here I am, staring down the barrel of 27 years old (Friday, to be specific) and still finding myself in situations where things are so absolutely disgusting in my living situation that I can’t recognize a bag of root crops even when a fly swarm leads me to it.

I won’t post again until I’m an entire year older than I am today so I should take this moment to reflect. But I do a lot of reflecting around here so do me a birthday solid instead and join me in finishing these statements at whatever point you find yourself in life. I’d be tickled to read the answers. Also, there are four and it’s fill in the blank and what kind of strangers are we if you can’t write four words for my birthday?

Probably the kind of stranger who stopped reading once they realized the whole post was about the depth of my filth. So a tip of my hat to both those who bowed out early (mad respect) and those who made it this far (troopers, all).

May you all always find the bag of potatoes while it still holds actual potatoes. 


Please leave a comment with whatever answer is appropriate for this time and juncture in your life or for your mood on this particular day. Try to forget about the flies and potatoes. And thanks. Happy Birthday to you too.

Right now I’m trying to be at ease with imperfections

I find myself eating a lot of buttered toast with cinnamon and sugar

I’m kind of hoping to win the lottery for my birthday

I’m feeling pretty good about my mostly clean home


42 Responses to “The Great Filth Festering”

  1. Samantha July 10, 2013 at 1:40 pm #

    Right now I’m trying to keep up with everything, and seemingly failing miserably.

    I find myself eating a lot of takeout, Annie Chun’s soup bowls, and popcorn with nutritional yeast.

    I’m kind of hoping that a new job will drop out of the sky.

    I’m feeling pretty good about the fact that I finally made a dentist appointment.

    Happy birthday, Jackie! And I’ve gotta say, I can totally relate with this post. I think you were brave to post it. I’ve had the potatoes thing happen before, and it is EMBARRASSING. 😦


    • Jackie July 10, 2013 at 9:47 pm #

      I want a new job to drop out of the sky too. What on God’s green earth is nutritional yeast?

      Thanks for the birthday wishes and the empathy 😉


      • Samantha July 11, 2013 at 10:58 am #

        Well…it’s yeast? And you can put it on food, it is supposed to be really good for you, and unlike other things that are really good for you, it is tasty! 🙂

        It says that it’s popular with vegans and vegetarians, and oddly one introduced it to me, but I am not one. It’s still tasty! 😀


        • Jackie July 17, 2013 at 7:37 pm #

          Cool beans. I love learning new things. 😀 Thanks


  2. Jill Foer Hirsch July 10, 2013 at 2:19 pm #

    OK. At ease with imperfections comes naturally in your 30s, especially if you suddenly have more money than time and hire a mediocre (the only kind) cleaning service that doesn’t scrub the faucet with a toothbrush. This is all so you can spend more time at work making sure everything there is perfect. Never mind.

    I eat a lot of everything all the time. Compared to the pop-tarts that appeared in my kitchen, cinnamon toast is health food

    Winning the lottery would ruin your life. Look around-do you have family and friends who love you? Is everyone reasonably healthy, happy? If yes, you already won. If no, money isn’t going to help you. If heaven forbid you come into a ton of money, give it all away to a good cause as fast as you can.

    At 48, I would have loved to tell my 27 year old self that none of this crap matters. So trust me, none of this crap matters! Happy happy birthday!


    • Jackie July 10, 2013 at 9:46 pm #

      Thank you and thank you and thank you. I will attempt to etch into my brain that none of this crap matters. 🙂


  3. philosophermouseofthehedge July 10, 2013 at 2:59 pm #

    Potatoes are scary if left unattended….there’s always the rebel potato that rolls of into the dark spot and hides …totally unrecognizable once you finally discover it months later…onion? potato? Hairball? (Or worse from annoyed cat?)


    • Jackie July 10, 2013 at 9:45 pm #

      I’m afraid to pull out my oven and clean behind it for that very reason: rogue foods that go diving off the counter. Actually, I might have to do that soon just to ease my worries now.


  4. Georgia's Bath Products July 10, 2013 at 3:18 pm #

    Right now I’m trying to accept my new limitations. I find myself eating a lot of strawberry mini wheats when I don’t have to cook. I’m kind of hoping to be the guinea pig to help find a cure for my illness. Finally, I’m feeling pretty good about getting more active. 🙂 Fun post! Btw, we’ve all had that horrid bag of forgotten potatoes. They have the most uniquely horrible scent. Good job on working on letting things go, though. Hope you have a very happy birthday!!


    • Jackie July 10, 2013 at 9:45 pm #

      I love eating cereal instead of making dinner. I’m a little afraid of what that means for my future children. And for what it’s worth, I hope you’re the guinea pig too 🙂 Thanks for the birthday wishes!


      • Georgia's Bath Products July 11, 2013 at 6:49 pm #

        Look at it as your future children will have an appreciation for breakfast foods. 🙂 That is a very under appreciated quality in a person! I really appreciate the extra bit of hope, btw! And you’re very welcome, of course.


  5. Pleun July 10, 2013 at 4:11 pm #

    Right now I’m trying to move to Houston.

    I find myself eating a lot of Mexican food, coz, you know, I still can.

    I’m kind of hoping Houston is even more fun than people are trying to tell me it is.

    I hope to be feeling pretty good about a perfectly planned move, but at the rate things are going right now it may not be as perfectly planned as I’d like. I’ll be surely winging most of it. I guess I feel pretty good about being able to wing it 😉

    Happy birthday!


    • Jackie July 10, 2013 at 9:44 pm #

      Houston! Moves are always a hot mess, even with the best laid plans. Good luck with it all – I feel for you. 🙂


  6. Cindy July 10, 2013 at 4:51 pm #

    Right now I’m trying to stop myself from eating the whole bag of Pop Chips.

    I find myself eating a lot of Pop Chips – they’re practically health food.

    I’m kind of hoping we don’t get another exchange student, although I’ll probably change my mind in a FE e months.

    I’m feeling pretty good about my plans for the guest room.


    • Cindy July 10, 2013 at 4:52 pm #

      *few months.


    • Jackie July 10, 2013 at 9:43 pm #

      Pop Chips. I walk by them all the time and never buy. Now I’m curious… but I certainly don’t need another vice.


  7. Jennie Saia July 10, 2013 at 4:56 pm #

    Right now I’m trying to be a better dog-mother to my fur-children.

    I find myself eating a lot of bananas, which is suddenly hilarious.

    I’m kind of hoping I’ll be less lame at improv class tonight than I was last week.

    I’m feeling pretty good about how Iook in these jeans!

    (I like this game. And your blog made me feel better about the current state of my kitchen sink, which is the unwilling home to three nights’ worth of dishes.)


    • Jennie Saia July 10, 2013 at 4:56 pm #

      Oooh! How could I forget?! HAPPY BIRTHDAY!


      • Jackie July 10, 2013 at 9:42 pm #

        I’m glad my filth could make you feel less filthy. Thanks for the birthday wishes and I’m so tickled that you’re feeling good about how you look in your jeans! I hope you were great at improv 😉


      • Jennie Saia July 11, 2013 at 9:32 am #

        I got to pretend to be a very badly behaved toddler, which wasn’t much of a stretch, so I’d call improv a success! I hope your birthday night was fabulous. Yesterday was actually my mom’s b-day, too. 🙂


  8. pegoleg July 10, 2013 at 6:11 pm #

    I’m hoping to be at ease with winning the lottery in the near future, when I will be able to afford to pay someone to craft a mostly clean home out of the sty in which I currently reside. Oh, and scratching “chicken” off list of menu choices for tonight and writing in…you know what.


    • Jackie July 10, 2013 at 9:41 pm #

      Hiring a maid would be so lovely. I can’t be expected to keep my apartment on a cleaning schedule. That’s absurd. And for how long?! Forever?! No.


  9. Jules July 10, 2013 at 7:46 pm #

    “Cookies don’t need jars. They need bellies.”

    Amen 🙂


    • Jackie July 10, 2013 at 9:40 pm #

      I’m so surprised. Mostly because I think of you as a fitness robot who takes no pleasure in food. 😛


  10. strawberryquicksand July 10, 2013 at 8:45 pm #

    Happy birthday!


  11. silkpurseproductions July 11, 2013 at 7:46 am #

    Great post! I had to go check my potatoes before I could go any further because I had forgotten we had them and you are right, cookies don’t need jars. Bellies!

    Right now I’m trying to snap out of it and get things moving.

    I find myself eating a lot saltine crackers.

    I’m kind of hoping to win the lottery at the earliest possible moment.

    I’m feeling pretty good about, um…I know there must be something.


    • Jackie July 17, 2013 at 7:30 pm #

      I assume you’re coming back to fill in that last one. Yes? Yes.


  12. Anna Lea West July 11, 2013 at 8:33 am #

    First of all, just lost it over this: Cookies don’t need jars. They need bellies.

    Next … potatoes are the rogue’est of the lot. They’ve been the culprit in a TERRIBLE smell more than once in my life, but better than that … when we were moving a couple of years ago and started cleaning/packing, I was in the pantry and came upon a box of sweet and low we’d gotten from Costco. I decided to grab all the packets out and put them in a big ziplock bag. Well, when I opened it up, I guess a spud had fallen in there SOME TIME AGO and it had grown freakin’ VINES and sprouts that stretched 5 FEET TALL!!!

    I can’t make this up! I pulled it all out and held them up to their full height as we pulled stomach muscles laughing! It was INCREDIBLE!! And oddly enough – this one didn’t stink! It was just trying to grow, I guess! Oh man – it was AWESOME 🙂


    • Jackie July 17, 2013 at 7:32 pm #

      That’s insaaaaane. It’s also kind of creepy. I guess I should read up on potatoes. Why do they sometimes ferment and die, and other times sprout ridiculous new life? I don’t understand basic plant biology apparently.


      • Anna Lea West July 18, 2013 at 7:36 am #

        Well I certainly either. I’ve dealt with rotten ones that literally smelled like a dead rodent and then the jewel I already mentioned that was ready to produce a new crop. GO FIG.


  13. Dyl July 11, 2013 at 6:22 pm #

    Right now I’m trying to keep it together. I’m only allowing one meltdown a month and I’ve filled my July quota.
    I find myself eating a lot of Salsa Verde Doritos. It kind of goes like this: eat some chips, make nachos with some chips, eat some chips, eat some salsa with chips…until the chips are gone.
    I’m kind of hoping to take a nap.
    I’m feeling pretty good about my productivity this summer. (Four jobs…. Why life is so expensive? They say money won’t make you happy, but it sure does buy stuff that makes you happy, like a college education.)

    Happy birthday!


    • Jackie July 17, 2013 at 7:39 pm #

      only one meltdown a month? that’s a little strict, don’t you think?

      Four jobs?

      Wait. Four jobs and only one meltdown allowed a month? You’re like some sort of superhero.

      Thanks for the awkward photo 😉


  14. fabulouslyawkwardgirl July 12, 2013 at 5:34 pm #

    Who knew such a horrid event could occur because of potatoes….terrifying.


    • Jackie July 17, 2013 at 7:42 pm #

      Another notch on the therapy belt.


  15. C. Alderete July 13, 2013 at 3:42 am #

    Two things: 1) Maggots like potatoes. I thought they enjoyed only putrid animal flesh, but they also like potatoes. I’ve seen things. 2) I was keeping a horrible compost bin recently and would occasionally pop the lid to marvel at how insecty and disgusting the little ecosystem was, until a rat the size of my nightmares slimed out of the sludge like a poop with eyes. I shrieked and stabbed into the compost with the shovel I was holding, only to find out later that in my hysteria, I had murdered its vile lover…which is kind of sad… and a horror story in and of itself.

    Anyway, I’ve reached transcendental levels of revulsion.


    • Jackie July 17, 2013 at 7:43 pm #

      What an epic and disgusting story. Seriously. Props to you. I need a shower.


  16. mychaeltaylor July 15, 2013 at 4:22 pm #

    Right now I’m trying to finish my 7/11 slurpee without vomiting from your descriptions. The saddest truth is… my bed room is like this on a daily basis. I relate too well. And everyone who knows me judges me 24/7. What a life.

    I find myself eating a lot ruffles today (cheddar and sour cream kind). CRACK CHIPS.

    I’m kind of hoping to stop my feet from falling asleep at the same time, constantly.

    I’m feeling pretty good about………. The weather today. It’s sunny with a slight breeze.


    • Jackie July 17, 2013 at 7:45 pm #

      your bedroom is full of rotten potatoes? 😉

      I *hate* it when my feet fall asleep. Good luck with that. Sounds awful.

      And your note about how nice the weather was just makes me resent how crappy it is now. I can’t stand boob sweat.


  17. meganburnettmusic July 16, 2013 at 5:17 am #


    Right now I’m… Trying not to make a complete and utter twat of myself in all areas of life, lay the foundations for a credible music career, attempting to eat better and do more exercise and not take myself, my education or my future too seriously. Calm the farm, Megan.
    I find myself eating a lot of… Chocolate. Healthy eating is so overrated.
    I’m kind of hoping… To forge a decent music and/or writing related career, confronting some major problems facing society, and that my boyfriend and I will prove the masses wrong and stay together (and I love that kid) though we live 3 hours apart and we started dating a couple of months after I turned 14. We’ve been dating a year. That’s a pretty big deal. I suppose. No judgement on Jackie’s blog :p
    I’m feeling pretty good about… Myself and my body, and my attitude towards myself. Considering my age and the teenage stereotype of bad self-esteem, I’m feeling good.
    I LOVE YOUR BLOG JACKIE. And rotting potato stinks so bad. I feel your pain.


    • Jackie July 17, 2013 at 7:48 pm #

      this is the best comment I’ve read in a long time. There’s a lot of epic rolled up in there. Good luck with the boy – distance is hard and kudos to you. Also, rock on for the new-to-me “calm the farm”.

      Also, maybe go a little easier on yourself? 😉


      • meganburnettmusic July 18, 2013 at 3:11 am #

        Naw, I feel so special now 😉 Thanks, he’s pretty awesome. He treats me like a princess. Yes, it’s all the rage here in Queensland 😉 Also, ‘pacify thy agricultural landmass’ is equally fun.

        I shall, if it is your will 😉


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