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Reduce, Reuse… Renew?

There are many things I have in common with Martha Stewart, the most legitimate of which is that both our names start with the letter M. One other thing, however, is our affection for spring cleaning.

When I spend a whole dusty day crawling under tables and dusting behind books (only Martha and I think to do that, you know), there’s nothing better than ordering dinner in and throwing open my windows to the Astoria sunset for a big breath of fragrant air and a satisfied smirk.

It’s taken me a little longer this year to get around to cleaning. My tally so far shows that my junk has outperformed me. I did manage to donate three pairs of shoes and to drop some old sneakers off at Niketown to be shredded and made into rubber tracks. Those two acts have kept myself self-satisfied for weeks now. But other tasks remain… I plan to create a full budget for my expenses, and wallpaper and paint a bookcase, and throw out the half-scribbled notebooks I’ve been keeping since graduate school. I’ll recycle the notebooks of course, to be shredded and made into that new material that goes around the lead on pencils. Those pencils will inevitably write on notebooks and voila, we’ve arrived at the most meta circumstance my brain can handle. I am a woman comforted that the world is round.

Anyone who’s watching this season of The Real Housewives of New York will know that one of the characters/women/fembots, Ramona, has been shoving the phrase “renew” down our throats since Episode One. (Her recently-revealed skincare line, funny enough, incorporates the word. Saucy minx.) I’m not sure if it’s all the dust motes settling or too much Bravo television, but I’ve been inspired to renew too.

But then last week I read a terrible thing, in a terrible magazine (it was either Self or Selfless or Shape or Shapeless. Cosmopolitan or Gin ‘n Tonic or Maxim or Minum, strange I can’t remember the name…). It was an article that advised women to choose one thing to improve and forget the rest. And to paraphrase the most insidious part — “Your brain is only wired for so much self-control. You’ll be more successful if you focus on one thing, such as saving money or losing weight or staying in better touch with friends, than if you spread your brain’s energy among all those things.”

The moment I read that, all my willpower went downhill. (It landed at the base of the hill and staggered into a nearby bar where it feasted on unattainable men and nachos.) The months I’ve spent using only half of each facial cleansing cloth per night to be less wasteful led to purchasing too-expensive eye cream that smells like plastic. My microwave soup made way for street-cart tacos. I didn’t call or email any of the four people I’d scheduled to be in touch with last week.

But, luckily, I spent most of today watching Martha and painting flowerpots. (Not the most pressing need, but it was on the list, ok?) And it’s Sunday. Which means there’s a whole new week to come, and I can start redoing my renewing.

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