Monday, January 16, 2012

Earl Grey, Hot and a Meditation on "Household Stuff"

It's wonderful to have a slow day without feeling either restless or lethargic. The pace feels just right. We've finally got some snow on the ground up here. I've been sitting at the kitchen table for a couple hours requesting books about Brazil from the Southern Wisconsin library system. I'm surrounded by dishes from every meal I ate today, but they feel like friends, not like clutter on the brink of overwhelming me. The latest addition is the Earl Grey in a cup Caleb got me.

I used my day off work to resume going to crew practices. You know that feeling when you haven't worked out in a while and your lungs start to burn with every breath because you can't process the oxygen? That happened.

For a while, I've been experiencing this feeling of dread and futility related to household tasks. Why buy food? You just eat it all and have to buy more. Creating interesting menus, wanting to cook, wanting to clean (let's face it, that one's never easy), it's getting harder. Except for today, when it was fine. I think the problem is perspective. In my head, it's all a lot more difficult than it really is. I even have some new tools to help me. Inspired by Mom, I purchased some rubber gloves. Makes dish washing a lot better because my hands don't get chapped afterwards. I got a new cookbook for Christmas with lots of interesting recipes to try.

I didn't have many diversions into the world of "household stuff" in college. I don't know if we even vacuumed our dormroom... I remember cleaning when we had an apartment, occasionally. We had to wash dishes, but the solution to that was easy-- don't eat in the room. Go to the cafeteria. Even in our house senior year, I never cooked because I didn't like the clean up part. Or the planning would stress me out. It seemed like another thing added on that I should try to eliminate if possible. When faced with the choice of household stuff and writing a paper, I would choose the paper, gladly.

Yesterday, we had all the blinds open and the southern sun was shining in and it was so warm, and then, I saw my dresser, and it was covered in dust. Dust that you cannot see without bright, clean sunlight. Where does dust come from? How does it get onto my dresser? And why does it stay there? Does dust accumulate on other surfaces besides those that are hard and shiny?

Another thing I have been thinking is if anyone actually likes doing this stuff. Is there a group of people out there who find housework enjoyable? When I was in the Dominican Republic, I watched my house mom, Lidia, prepare the meals. She did so much work for every single meal, dirtied dozens of bowls and platters, and then she cleaned it all up. On a Sunday, it took her about half of the entire day to do all this. No dishwasher. She started with the most basic ingredients and came up with these delicious masterpieces. I thought to myself that I never wanted to do that. I didn't want to stay in the kitchen for seven hours a day. And she did it like it was no big deal. Oh yeah, just another day in the life. Did she do this when she was a child? How did she learn it?

In the DR, they have people who do the other cleaning. The moms do most of the cooking, but someone else does the laundry and the hard cleaning-- the floors, the bathrooms, etc. One time, Lidia's son got in big trouble because he didn't tell the lady that he needed his clothes washed (something like that) and Lidia got really mad at him and made him wash them himself, but he didn't know how! He was in college. It's funny to picture a bunch of guys from my college standing around the laundry room wondering what to put where, although I'm sure it was the case for a couple of them. Laundry is the one job I actually like. And vacumming's not bad either.

Then there are those jobs that will never get done: 1) Washing the goo-gone off the mirror from when we moved. It only comes off with hot soapy water, not Windex. Windex just smears it around the mirror 2) Cleaning the table and chairs we got off Craig's list. We use them everyday, but in certain places they have white residue on them that needs to come off. Not sure what it is, but it doesn't interfere with their use, so the cleaning doesn't happen.

The problem with some of these jobs is that they don't have to happen for you to live. No big deal if the mirror's streaky and the dresser's dusty. No one's going to die. But I always feel this sense of dread when things get dirty/are ditry. It's like those reading assignments that you wanted to do in college, but never had time for, and they kept getting further and further away, and the new ones kept coming, and it was better just to start on the new ones so you weren't behind, and even though you wanted to learn, you couldn't do everything. But they still nag you at the back of your mind. No one's going to die, but you would feel better if it were clean.

So why don't I clean the mirror? When I think about it, I visualize the soapy water from the rag dripping all over the carpet... this is ridiculous! I'm going to clean it right now!


  1. Replies
    1. I can verify that its clean. And the one in our bedroom is clean too!

  2. You are hilarious! Do you always question everything? I didn't realize that I had passed that one onto you. Love you!