Detritus

Posted: November 24, 2008 in bitching, goals, Home, Humiliations galore, WTF

1iconwickedcoolWhen a house has been a home for a certain amount of time, stuff collects. Possessions. Keepsakes. Stuff you use every day, stuff you shake the dust off of once or twice a year.

That’s fine.

Unfortunately, what ALSO collects is… well, stuff.  Detritus, indistinguishable as to source and identity. Stuff in corners, stuff under other stuff, stuff along walls, stuff on doors. There are TOO MANY NOOKS AND FUCKING CRANNIES in a house (say, MINE) in which this stuff  hides. Once you start looking, you then look a little harder. You then gasp and groan (and perhaps weep and gnash your teeth), and you suddenly realize that you’ve been living among this filth for a looooooong time, and you had no idea.

In preparing myself, mentally, for the cleaning that is to occur this week prior to the holiday, I started looking around the house. You know, casually, making a List Of Things To Get Done (and it is long and distinguished, by the way). Room by room, I registered things that should be cleaned or organized or otherwise straightened up. And then I noticed, along the corner of one wall at about cat-height, a black smudge. An identical black smudge at the same height on a corresponding corner. And then I looked at all the doorways and entries into rooms, and discovered identical cat-height black smudges. Places where the cats have rubbed. And, higher on doorjambs, places where Oz has lept to leave a paw print, trying to beat his previous best.

THEN I looked a little further (woe), and discovered black smudges all along the game room wall, at dog-height, where the dogs have rubbed along the wall. And black paw prints along the wall below the stair landing railing, where the cats have braced themselves at the apex of their leap.

I started looking at doors (blackened, where hands have hit the knob and paws have demanded entrance). I started looking in the corners of the kitchen closets, the shelves, the floors, and then behind and under the garbage can. I looked AT the garbage can.

I wept. I mean, when was the last time you looked at your door frames, door handles, walls and baseboards and shelves and corners and shit that isn’t at eye level? It’s not to be believed how GROSS a house can be, when the owner (say, ME) previously thought she kept a pretty clean abode.

So, I allowed myself a moment to observe in AWE the can of worms I had opened for myself. And then, I girded my loins (that’s an outdated phrase, eh?). I buckled down and got down to brass tacks. I rolled up my sleeves and got busy. I spent THREE HOURS completely emptying the two kitchen closets – one holds the garbage, pet food, and various cleaning chemicals. The other holds pots and pans, brooms and mops, the cookbooks, and thirteen thousand empty vases. I washed down all the shelves, the walls, the floor. I washed the garbage can. I threw out a metric ton of crap we don’t need, want, or use. I reorganized pots and pans so that there are no longer precarious pyramids ready to tumble on the heads of the unsuspecting (or the suspecting, since I know what I’m in for when I open a closet in MY house). You can see the spines of all my cookbooks, now. I found seventeen different kinds of light bulbs and put them all in one spot. I corralled all the lids. I broke a vase.

You can now fucking eat fucking Thanksgiving fucking dinner on the floor right next to the fucking garbage can.

Sometimes I get angry when I clean.

And now the fireplace is calling my name. I don’t even remember the last time we used it, and there’s soot and ashes and bits of logs and GAH. I SUCK AT LIFE.

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Comments
  1. Amanda says:

    I am now willing myself NOT

  2. Amanda says:

    Oops, hit the wrong button.

    As I was saying, I am now willing myself NOT to look at the door jambs and walls and whatnot. If I end up staying up till 2 a.m. on a weeknight cleaning frantically, I’m totally blaming you

  3. “girded my loins?” Isn’t that from Proverbs?

    I rented a small dumpster one year…no one got the hint. So I ender up cleaning out the attic.

  4. farmwife says:

    Yeah, welcome to my world. Though I must say, my life has gotten much better since I’ve refused to bring baby goats or chicks into the house 😉

    I loathe my house cats. The hair — OMG, the hair. I think I could make a shag carpet with all the fur they leave on my sofa and chairs. It’s really disgusting. I told hubby that after these cats DIE there will be no more in the house. He just smiled and said, “Uh huh.” Jerk. 🙂

    PS- I refuse to look at my doorjams. I moved my fridge this weekend, and that was traumatic enough.

  5. crisitunity says:

    I feel EXACTLY like this, as if I am somehow a worthless human being because my house is dirty. I try really hard, but I just don’t have time to do the stuff that you’re talking about – cleaning the stuff that never ever ever EVER gets cleaned. I have too much junk sitting around on surfaces to even be able to clean those properly. WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH ME.

    In my happier moments I realize nothing whatsoever is wrong with me. A house that is “dirty” like this is sort of…normal. I am no less a grownup and no less a worthy person because I don’t clean my baseboards.

    My mom once said something very wise about this – she said that you had to let some things slip by, and if you don’t clean the baseboards this time around, so what? No harm done. I responded with, “But Mom, I’ve never cleaned the baseboards at all since I moved in here.” She immediately said “And how exactly has that hurt you?”

    Ah-ha. Good point.

  6. Calvin says:

    Our problem areas are the nooks and crannies and the garage and any space that has a door that can be closed to hide whatever I throw in.
    No matter how many times we clean the garage it will be all fubar in months. We made an effort years ago to keep the clutter down in all the areas of the house which makes Friday cleaning better but can be hell on the closets and all the tile helps with the pet dander.
    And no amount of cleaning will help reduce the oh shit factor of changing out a fifteen year old garbage disposal, Mmmm drain jelly!

  7. dyskinesia says:

    Thank you, Calvin, from the visual person who smelled that jelly when you mentioned it and is now a noteworthy shade of lime! *gag*

    Go Crisi’s mom. 😉

    And you did all that in 3 hours? WRONG, you need to come to MY house there, Sis, not the other way around!

    I have a little kid in the house and learned early that if I ever wanted to put my hand on a door, door knob, cabinet fixture (you get the idea) and be able to let go of it again, I was going to have to wash them routinely. So, my pantry door is spotless once a month or so, as is the door to the main bathroom. Thankfully, he’s been of an age for a while that he ignores the cabinets, so that isn’t so bad anymore. Now, if you want to talk about the area above our step-in shower… the cobwebs have names, and I like them just as they are, tyvm.

    Seriously, several years ago, I subscribed to FLYLady (omg, the MAIL, eek!), and I saved the schedule thingies that they’d send out with the ‘projects of the week’ kind of thing: This week, we’re going to clean every door, every knob, and every light switch (yeah, just gave you something new to think about there, huh?). Opened my eyes and brought up my dust mop, let me tell ya. G’ahead – pull out that drawer under the stove – no, all the way out. EGADS.

    She also says, “Cleaning done imperfectly still blesses your house.” THANK GOD.

  8. crisitunity says:

    Dys, I thought about FlyLady for a while but when I read that the first thing you had to do was shine your sink…and then kept reading to see that eventually I would have to clean my baseboards…I’d have to spend pots of money at Target just to have the supplies to clean the house the way FlyLady wanted me to…well, that was one of the nails in the coffin. What was I burying? My desire to be a good housekeeper. It’s an evil zombie that keeps popping out of the ground at the most inopportune times, but I keep shoving it six feet under again.

  9. Taoist Biker says:

    Crisi’s mom has a great point.

    That said, Dys will tell you that my dream is to ban horizontal surfaces from my house. No horizontal surfaces, no place to stack shit and leave it.

    I’ll figure out a way around walking and sleeping eventually. I’m thinking suction cup suits.

  10. rose says:

    the 99 cent bottle of amonia from the grocery store is my saving grace. get your bucket and rag and mix a lil’ of that with hot water and you will be able to make anything sparkle! it disinfects, too!

  11. angelcel says:

    Hehe…this does my heart good. I once read a bunch of women on the web discussing what cleaning they did in the house and when. It was thoroughly depressing – I felt like a ‘right dirty mare’! This is not a plug (honest)but.. ahem… this is partly why I started writing tips at ‘Gentle Voice’ (that’s http://voixdouce.wordpress.com/ …you know, in case anyone’s interested)! 😉 I am so *not* a doyenne of housekeeping, so over the years I’ve devised ways to keep it under control, keep it to a minimum and *anything* that shortcuts and makes things easier gets my vote. Laura, I sympathise! I think we’ve all had moments when the sun shines in catching all the patches of grub that you hadn’t noticed before. Depressing, innit? As for the garage? Hah! Calvin you ought to see British garages. They are *never* used for cars! For a start, they’re often only just big enough to take one car so you give up keeping the 12 inches or so around the perimeter clean and pretty soon the whole garage gets filled with what is essentially garbage that you can’t bring yourself to be rid of. We are, by the way, such regular customers with the hire-a-skip company here that they know my voice on the phone, they know what size skip we’re going to order and we’re all on first name terms. All very civilised! 😀

  12. Jeanette says:

    I know what you mean about thinking that you keep a pretty clean house. When I look at things too closely, I realize how very much there is to keeping a house clean. Best way is to take one room at a time. I recently had to empty my kitchen and when I put the stuff back, maybe 25% was not needed junk that did not make it back to the kitchen.

  13. Kim says:

    We are two people plus one dog. And we’re poor.
    We live in a house threatening to collapse under the weight of its own crap.
    I have no idea where all this shit came from, but one of these days I’m renting a bulldozer and dealing with it properly.

  14. Calvin says:

    I think the hardest part about cleaning or fixing stuff is getting started. You spend all day at work fixing stuff only to have to come home and do things. The neat thing we have been doing the last couple of times we cleaned the garage is instead of throwing stuff away we just put it at the end of the driveway with a free sign on it and it’s gone within the hour???
    And that is so right about the cost of cleaning supplies just so you can do the basics.
    With the tile, glass and counters it’s been hard to find something that cleans smells ok and does not leave a film on everything.
    Oh the dilemma spend $4.50 on a bottle of 409 or a box of froot loops?

  15. Laura says:

    Good gracious, I never thought I’d get so many comments about housecleaning!

    Amanda – Heh. Can you say, OCD?

    MTAE – Leviticus, I think. Also, my husband always threatens to just throw everything away unless I go through it and sort it out by a certain time. He hasn’t had to pull that card, yet.

    Farmwife – Yeah, I imagine it WOULD help to not bring livestock into the house. Cats and dogs generate enough dander, thankyouverymuch.

    Crisitunity – It hasn’t hurt me AT ALL to not clean the baseboards. I feel 100% better. Thanks.

  16. Laura says:

    Calvin – Yeeeeah. That totally grossed me out.

    Dys – :: fuck :: LIGHT SWITCHES. Also? I’m totally getting some croched wall shit that says “Cleaning done imperfectly still blesses your house.” That way if anybody complains that there’s ook behind the refrigerator I can just point to that sign.

    Crisitunity – According to My Big Fat Greek Wedding, Windex is the cure for everything. Maybe it kills zombies, too?

    TB – “Suction cup suits”… interesting mental image, that.

    Rose – I don’t know why I have a fear of working with ammonia, but I do. I’ll need to get over it, since you’re not the first person to extoll its virtues!

    Jayne – Gentle Voice is totally saving my life. Also? What’s a skip? 😀

  17. Laura says:

    Jeanette – You know, I threw out a whole case of ramen noodles that had expired this summer, AND a dustbuster that we haven’t used in YEARS because it didn’t hold a charge anymore, AND enough Trader Joes bags to stock their store for a year. I don’t know WHY we hang on to so much crap!

    Kim – Can I come???

    Calvin – That was my problem this morning, that getting started thing. Which is why there are several things on my list that I didn’t get done today.

  18. crisitunity says:

    According to a freaky dream I had once, acetone (nail polish remover) squirted directly into the eyes kills zombies. (Bruce Campbell was next to me with his chainsaw in the dream. It was pretty cool.)

    A skip is a dumpster.

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