I used to be a clean freak. I cleaned the house at least twice a week and tidied up relentlessly. I showered and washed my hair daily - at least: if I was going out in the evening I'd do it again. Then I would blow dry my hair, smoothing out the frizz. Apply make-up. Put on clean clothes; I was always laundering: washing, ironing, folding and putting neatly away.
Then I became a student and began to notice a change. I didn't seem to have time to clean the house so often, now I do it only if I'm expecting visitors. I couldn't be bothered to wash and style my hair everyday, so I'd wrap it in a towel as I showered. Then I stopped showering daily too. Blow-drying became blast-drying when it happened at all. Make-up shmake-up I thought, who needs it. Every morning I put on the same pair of paint-stained, shabby old combat trousers, reluctantly laundering them only when they smell.
This week has been my most disgustingly slovenly so far: On monday I realized that I was going to have to really knuckle down if I was to get my dissertation in on time. I would need to do at least two thousand words a day. So I didn't have time for a shower. I put on exactly the same clothes I'd worn the day before. Tuesday ditto. Wednesday no change. Thursday, you guessed it. I could smell myself. Actually I rather wallowed in my own smell, I don't think I've ever smelled me before. Usually I smell of shampoo, perfume, soap, with a base note of fags.
Then my husband phoned to say he was on his way home and my instincts reverted. Before I knew it I was getting wet and soapy again, dabbing perfume behind my ears and brushing my hair. Today I'll have to do three thousand words but I did wash my oxters. I think that's probably what people call striking a balance.