The Cross House

My Monica Closet

In an episode of Friends, the obsessively compulsive Monica is discovered to be hiding a secret: a messy closet.

I often think of this episode.

For, I work hard at keeping the Cross House neat and tidy. I regularly vacuum top-to-bottom. As mentioned recently, I keep the lawn mowed and edged, and the windows clean. My tools are kept neatly in the main pantry.

In all the many rooms, there’s no clutter, and no mess to step over and around.

At twenty, I was nothing like this. If I was renovating a room it would be a total disaster: stuff covering every inch of floor and tools scattered about. But, after I moved to New York City, and then after founding my own architectural design firm, I slowly learned the value of a tidy and clean construction site. So did the people working for me. My main contractor, Mark, ended up implementing this standard on all his construction sites.

Keeping things neat not only creates a safer working environment but it seems to help elevate the mood of everybody working on site, an invaluable consideration.

So, why do I often think about Monica’s secret closet?

Because…I, too, harbor a secret.




For many months I have been rebuilding the SE second-floor corner. I have been using the sleeping porch as a staging area and this is where I have been tossing everything, and where the chop-saw is kept.

It’s a friggin’ mess. As is the adjacent sewing room. These areas are my current Monica Closet.

Oh, the shame. The shame.

This is a pattern of mine. When I spent months last year working on the NE corner, the long bedroom was my staging area. And it was a horror, unfit for all decent society. When I finished the work, the room was cleaned and it has remained so since. At one point, the hexagon bedroom was my shame as I worked on the second-floor west facade. Once the work was finished, the room was cleaned and it, too, has remained so ever since.

Curiously, if I am working with somebody, I don’t create a mess. This seems thoughtless. But, just me? I get so focused on the work that I pay no attention to the mess.

Today, I totally cleaned up the sleeping porch. Tomorrow, work will begin on finishing the remaining bit of the SE corner and it felt wrong to start a new phase with the detritus of the previous phase all around.

In short, today I emptied Monica’s closet.

And, at 62, I am going to try and break this old bad habit by not creating another Monica closet as I continue laboring away at the south facade.




7 Responses to My Monica Closet

  1. You know you’re a Cross House addict when you see the last photo–which shows very little actual house–and instantly recognize it as the sleeping porch, before scrolling down to read that your hunch is correct!

  2. Here is the trick.
    Hire someone or ask a friend’s help, to clean your Monica closet, wherever it is at the moment, on a regular basis. I guarantee that you will get it cleaned the night before, so there are no witnesses to your mess, unless you can find someone who would rather die under torture than tell your secrets.
    I am going to quote something I posted this week on OHD, the comment is on the house in Xenia Ohio,
    under the pseudonym that I chose on OHD before I didn’t care what would happen if I posted under my own name:
    “I could spend days sorting through all of this interesting stuff, so why can’t I sort my own. There should be support groups where everyone goes to someone else’s messy house to clean and organize, like a chain letter. Eight people start it and one person is recruited each week. After eight weeks all of the original group’s houses have been sorted and cleaned. The first recruit would be next and all eight originals could choose to drop out of the helper group… …..or not.
    Just kidding…
    …I think.”
    Two people signed up right away!
    Can’t tell if quoting my own writing is my overinflated ego or if I have something to say. I hope I don’t find out if it isn’t terribly bright.

  3. Your ‘closet’ needs an army of large garbage cans. Cutoffs into one, insulation into another, garbage into another, etc….
    When they get filled, take them out and dispose of accordingly. Even your garbage can be organized. And, it’s easy enough to sweep/vacuum around them during a project.
    Anyone visiting the project site will be appropriately impressed.

  4. I love that episode. This is off topic, but that is one of my favourite shows. It got more farcical and pantomime-like with later seasons, very English in its humour, and I loved I for that reason. I love silliness. 🙂 I have my own Monica closet that I sorted out a few years ago. I now only have two boxes left to sort out from my past cluttery days, and I am a neat and tidy 38 year old. (I’m usually such a mess, and don’t clean not gonna lie! Lol)

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