Notes from A “Hot Mess” (Yours Truly)

Here is my confession in black and white. I am a “hot mess.” It is a term used frequently by a close friend of mine, and I love it so much I have adopted it as part of my own vernacular. Sadly, I find myself using it the most when describing, you guessed it, myself.

What exactly is a “hot mess,” you might ask? Well, the Urban Dictionary describes it first as “a person who is a handful, a piece of work, a colorful character.” My definition of the phrase is slightly different – as definitions of this kind can be manipulated to serve ones own purpose. My own definition describes my perpetual state of being as one that neither looks or feels in control…of anything…ever…and thus says and does things that others find strange, embarrassing or even irritating. Someone who doesn’t truly fit into our commercialized culture that insists on outward perfection. Someone who can’t seem to get her poo-poo together.

I realize that I am a round peg in a world (or culture) of square ones. I go punching into life with a lot of “ouches” and “ughs.” Some people find it endearing. A lot of other people find it annoying. I have tried to become more organized, punctual, eloquent and graceful – not all at the same time, of course. (Baby steps, people!) But sometimes it seems like the more I try, the more I frustrate myself with a growing list of perceived failures.

I want to be thankful for all the individuals in the universe who, at least on the surface, don’t appear to suffer from this state of being. Most of them are Type A personalities who find a way to manage their lives, so that they are not, well, messy. I wish I didn’t drive them all crazy. But sometimes, I secretly like that I do, because after a while, they really grate on me too. Why are they so much better, because they were born with the organizing gene?

Call it heredity, a mental disturbance, A.D.D. — but, my hyper-hot-messiness is not going away. Sure, I can learn skills for organizing and keeping better track of all the details. But I will never completely change. I will never THINK like “them.” It will never come second nature. And I have tried to fake it. To fake that I am that detailed person. Or that I am capable of keeping all the balls in the air. But it’s not long before the ruse is up. So here is my question – why am I always seeking to be the opposite of a “hot mess” – calm, controlled, organized, tactful…oh the list goes on. Why is it so hard for me to embrace my true self? The one that feels a little like Charlie Brown’s “Pig Pen.”

Maybe, because the world doesn’t celebrate differences like it should. And maybe our culture likes the Martha Stewart types. Everywhere I turn, a magazine, newspaper or talk show offers me new rules for living a Type A life as if we were all meant to put down roots there. The world seems full of tips for color coordinating your sock drawer, hyper-alphabetizing (I made that word up) your media collection, labeling your kitchen utensils and clutter-proofing your house. What if I believe life wasn’t meant to be as tidy as a Lysol commercial, even if it were possible?! What if that isn’t what turns me on? I know some people love doing these things. Great, clean and organize all you want, but I don’t want to adopt all your rules for living. I can’t. And if I did, I would probably break them in, like, two minutes.

This is simply the tip of the iceberg for us hot messes. There are many definitions of this state of being for which I would think every one of us could relate (even Martha Stewart). But today, I wish to celebrate all the hot messes, like me, who couldn’t lead Stepford lives if their very lives (and those of their family members) depended on it.

I would like to step out and claim my hot messiness as a gift and not as a curse. I do so via the imaginary Hot Mess Anthem (a publication that is neither bi-monthly or monthly but rather…sporadic at best). Anthem headlines boast things like “How NOT to Use Every Free Minute Cleaning While Life Literally Passes You By” and “How to Win Friends and Influence People With Your Fun Personality and Great Sense of Humor Instead of Your Manicured Hair and Perfect House.”

Here are a some hot mess rules on various topics lifted from the latest installment of the Anthem (it’s imaginary, People, roll with it). Take a walk on the wild side with me…

Tip #1: There is no reason to color coordinate anything except what you are wearing right now (and even then, some days, that is also optional).

Tip #2: If you show up late and feeling like a hurricane entering some social gathering, smile and be glad you made it at all. There are worse things in the world – like an actual hurricane.

Tip #3: In the olden’ days, most people had dirt floors. There are several morals to this story, but I will leave you with this one for now: If your tiled floor doesn’t sparkle constantly, you will somehow survive. And survive, you do.

Tip #4: When you don’t want to do a full clean, do a half clean. By this, I mean the bare minimum. That’s right, wipe it down with a Clorox wipe, and be done with it. And don’t tell me you “just can’t stop at that” – get off your high cleaning pedestal – you have been feeding yourself that lie for years until you started believing it was true. Too many Lysol commercials – I am cutting you off!

Tip #5: (And this is a good one) A little clutter makes mean people judge you and nice people relax a little. Who would you rather have visit longer?

The list continues (stay tuned for Part II), but it is past eleven o’clock and I have Zumba tomorrow morning (I wrote this last night.) I will leave you with this parting thought before I go to sleep without washing my face. I may not be able to color-coordinate and uber-organize my life like Martha Stewart. But, may I remind you of something it appears many people have forgotten…Girlfriend went to jail! And somehow I bet that, in the “Slammer,” her closet-organizing skills turned out to be completely useless. Just saying.

To be continued… 😉