Tuesday, August 13, 2002

I've been engaged in the entertainment today of making my living room astonishingly clean. I picked up the pieces of the stereo and dusted underneath them. I rubbed the spots on the dining chairs with White Wizard until they disappeared. I removed all the clutter, and sprayed and wiped away the black line where the cats scratch their cheeks against the corner of the wall. I ventured into the fridge and cleaned the door, but I only noted that a more thorough cleaning later might be a good idea.

There are, in the world, truly excellent housekeepers. They clean up messes as soon as they occur, and dust and wipe and vacuum on a schedule to catch anything that slips past their eagle eyes for immaculacy. They wash pots and knives as they go when cooking, hand rinse their underwear daily, and twice a year switch out their seasonal wardrobes. I am not one of these people.

I am more apt to clean when something gets dirty enough to bother me and I have the time. Excellent housekeepers reap the reward of a continously lovely and clean home -- I settle in with a house that slowly declines to fall below my comfort threshhold, and then leaps for a few glorious hours into radiant, company-worthy shine before beginning another decline. Perhaps someday the pleasure of bright surfaces and visual simplicity will convince me to move more into the immediate action style of housekeeping. Meanwhile, I am comfortable. I seldom feel encroached by object chaos and never at risk from illness via squalor. The house remains good enough to suit me.

In fact, I may not be comfortable in conditions of excessive neatness. I have been in a few homes where I felt that to sit down was an imposition, to pose a book, a transgression. I had a feeling of restriction more severe than entering other homes where dirt crusted the sinks and dog hair coated the couch. In the latter homes I certainly did not want to eat or drink -- but I still felt good about myself. An untouchable home leaves me feeling an unwanted intruder, small, and inadequate.

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