Friday, September 14, 2007

Putting the Tic in Domestic

My cousin and his girlfriend are coming up for a weekend visit. You can tell that I like these people because I'm cleaning my apartment.

I don't clean. Occasionally I get these mad fits of tidying where I scurry around tucking the debris of my life into convenient holes, but mostly I live in a fairly generous mess. I don't mind it too much; it's the nature of living a rather over-sized life in an under-sized space. (By "over-sized" I mean that I have enough gear to outfit the 2010 Olympics, if they don't mind sharing.) But sometimes the mess gets to me.

When I have to move my ski boots and the huge Tupperware container that holds my scuba gear in order to clean out the cat box (oh yeah, and roll the bike over to the other side of the room), I start to get annoyed. As puffs of cat hair waft up around me, leaving me the center of a swirl of tiny, black, furry clouds, I contemplate getting the girls laminated. I do not understand the mute attraction of toothpaste and reflective surfaces and how my bathroom mirror can be clean one moment and look like the ground at Madison Square Garden after New Year's the next. Why do furballs congregate under the table legs? Why are cats only sick on absorbent surfaces?

Every time I have to shove several somethings out of the way to get to the something I was going for, I contemplate moving. I have to fight my way to the shoe section of my closet each morning, not because I have so many clothes, but because it is very nearly the only storage space I have. It becomes easier to just leave the shoes out of the closet: running shoes in the bathtub (they're dirty, it make sense), bike shoes to the right of the couch; boots to the left. My flip flops near the back door for easy access when feeding the guest cat. Slippers wherever I last left them. My living room is a shoe slalom.

The worst is the paperwork. I bloody hate paper. Piles of the stuff are heaped up everywhere. I never know when it's OK to throw something away. I've had this light bill since 1997; I've moved four times since then. Am I allowed to throw it away? Must I shred it, since it has my name and my address-four-times-removed on it? I have a shredder, but it's "home style," which means it can just about hack its way through a receipt from Safeway, but ask it to shred actual paper and it chokes and whines and coughs through it before spitting out a paper that's not so much shredded as neatly creased along vertical lines.

And don't get me started on "environmentally friendly" cleaning products. Now, I'm a dedicated greenie with the bike scabs to prove it, but seriously, people, this stuff is crap. It's "environmentally safe" because it's water. Yes, it is "safe:" grit, goo, sticky patches, unidentifiable bits of crunchy matter have nothing to fear from this stuff. I spray it on, liberally dousing whatever alien substance has landed on my countertop, give it a second or two, then pass a rag right over the top of it. The cleaner doesn't even penetrate the top layer. I douse it again, thinking, generously, that perhaps I missed. Perhaps I was unable to spray accurately from a three-inch distance. The goo is not only undaunted, it is downright smug. It's a barnacle that I'm trying to loosen with Silly Putty. I keep the green products around only to maintain my environmentalist credentials, but when no one's looking, I bring out the stuff with the skulls and crossbones, the stuff that smokes a little when you open the lid, the stuff that requires gloves and a mask, if not a full-on hazmat suit, the stuff that says "use only in an adequately ventilated space." It cuts a wide, vicious swath through the dirt (and possibly the top layer of the surface I'm cleaning). It is the scorched-earth policy in the domestic War on Counter Nubbins.

My cousin just called and is on his way. This is unfortunate. When I clean, I take breaks. I have to. The label on the cleaning fluid says so. My last break was about 30 minutes, meaning I'm 30 minutes behind in my cleaning. So please excuse me while I find some empty places to shove shit into.


NuclearToast said...

Good thing you took time to document your cleaning woes instead of, you know, cleaning. Although the whole woes-are-funny thing worked for me, because I laughed. At the woe wording, not at you. Just sayin'.

Raggedy Angst said...

Hey, I had to give my lungs a break.

Ash said...

I have to say it - I LOVE bleach. Nothing cleans like bleach. I try to be environmentally responsible, but I don't think I will ever be able to let go of bleach. I don't use a lot of it - I don't even use it for laundry - just the kitchen sink. :)

DK said...


Tony Easton said... wonders why you never give cleaning tips...