Tuesday, March 25, 2008

I can't believe I'm actually doing this...

I don't think anyone has an accurate idea of how much stuff they have until it's time for Spring Cleaning. Most of the year, I move stuff from pile to pile, oftentimes creating new piles when the piles I've assembled become too haphazard or disorganized. Yep, I spend most of the year organizing my piles of stuff into, well, better organized piles of stuff. So, one pile can subdivide itself, with my help, into two or three different piles. I don't spend a lot on things; a sizable amount of my possessions have come from thrift stores and second hand shops. Each time I bring stuff home, it goes into a pile until I can organize that pile by separating items into individual categories so I can Pile them into the right Pile. The thing is, I think Piles reproduce. All of a sudden, after a year of piling stuff, I find I have literally dozens of Piles. After all, a pile can only get so big before it collapses altogether...thus, they "morph" into smaller piles. Let a few months go by, and the piles reproduce, until there are so many piles of stuff that they threaten my very existence. The time has come for me to suck it up and just DEAL with it.

The last couple of days, I've rolled up my shirtsleeves (hard to do when wearing a short-sleeve shirt as I do most of the time) in order to open up more floor space and organize my many various piles of stuff into something less monolithic and threatening. Housecleaning is sort-of like a game of chess in terms of strategy..."Hmmm...now if I move this there, and combine these two things in one location, then I'll have more open space...but wouldn't it be better if I put this one thing in that pile over there, because it's more like those things than those other things", and so on and so forth. Honestly, I can spend a couple of hours just thinking about where I want to put something. I suppose if I had a house the size of Graceland, then I wouldn't have to worry about every single square foot of floor space...but then again, there'd be more house to clean...so really, you lose either way. My Mom used to clean the house like the proverbial Texas tornado. It's become painfully obvious over the years that I don't have that housecleaning gene. 'Taint nowhere in my chemistry.

Actually, the bedroom and the TV room were relatively easy to clean up. Also, I discovered a novel way for cleaning crusty kitchen counters...all you have to do is get a small car window scraper, supply some elbow grease and go for it. I was surprised I'd thought of that when I did. I scraped all kinds of unidentifiable gunk offa them countertops. That car scraper has been sitting on one of the kitchen countertops for MONTHS now. But I didn't put "2 and 2" together 'till just the other day. I'm not the kind of person that can look at a situation and immediately spot the obvious course of action. Honestly, I don't know how I live with myself. But, a kitchen that formerly looked like the landing place of an atomic bomb could now (almost) qualify for the front cover of Better Homes and Gardens. The bedroom and TV room are very small, and I've actually added a little bit of floor space to the TV room by moving a couple of old plastic milk cartons that I use for lamp stands (and to pile stuff on), out into the living room, where I put them to better use, as foundations for a shelf which consists of a half-inch-thick slab of plywood that now is home to my (second-hand) stereo system. And the bonus: below that shelf, some extra-added Record storage! Yaaaay!!! In a 720 sq. foot dwelling, you take all the square feet you can get.

So tonight, I began cleaning the Living Room. It needed cleaning. Badly. The hardest part of organizing my living room was unhooking the stereo and moving it from where it was, in order to set up the shelf it now sits on, and then re-hooking all of the cables where they should go..."does this one go to 'tape out' or 'tape in'...how did I hook up the cassette deck to the amplifier before", etc. etc. That took me an hour and a half. Did I mention that I'm severely technically challenged? So I got the stereo hooked up. Of course, I had to test it to make sure I had put all the cables in the right places. Some folks have a little one-piece stereo system that does everything. Not me. I have a haphazard collection of old relic components that most folks haven't seen in years. My stereo amp even has an 8-TRACK RECORDER, although the track-change mechanism doesn't work anymore. It'll play the same track over and over until Armageddon unless I hit the "track change" button. Sidetrack time: a couple of months ago, a couple of the neighborhood kids knocked on my door and asked if I had any odd jobs they could do to make some money. They spotted my records, and saw my record player...and one of 'em asked me, "would you play a record? I've NEVER seen a record player PLAY before." And all of a sudden, I felt like an old dinosaur destined for the tar pit...

Back to my antiquated, dilapidated sound system...I finally hooked up the stereo correctly, and put some music on. That was my first mistake. I found myself in a state of trance, listening to music when I should've been CLEANING. After about an hour of listening, all of a sudden, the thot came to mind that "if I don't get going, I won't get finished until two weeks from tomorrow." Now, as far as I know, I can still sit down and chew gum at the same time, but obviously I can't listen to music and do anything constructive at the same time. So I got going again, not daring to cease motion, because if I did, I would once again "trance out" listening to music. It's a tug of war. I need music in order to ease the drudgery, but when I actually hear the music, I don't wanna do anything! And, I don't have the common sense it takes to put a record back after I play it.

So, oftentimes, after playing the record, I shove it back into the sleeve, and place it somewhere near me, Really Meaning To Put It Back Tomorrow. And so on, and so forth, and after about a month and a half, my living room looks like an old Radio Station Studio that's been hit by a tornado. Records, Sleeves, Compact Discs, Cassettes, and sometimes even, 8-tracks laying all over the place. ACK! TOO MUCH! ALL THESE PILES! I'VE GOT TO DO SOMETHING OR THEY'LL TAKE OVER MY HOUSE!!!!!!!! Finally, I thot, "the only way I'm gonna get anything done is to establish a Time Deadline." And I got moving again. This time, I was keeping track of the time, which made things a little easier. But after a while longer, I began to fizz. I'd been in the living room for going on six HOURS. And it was getting late. Not that it matters, but my brain was beginning to get tired of the drudgery of Housecleaning That Was Taking Much Too Long To Do. I used to get the same feeling when I "crammed" for tests in college. All of a sudden, say about 4 in the morning, I Just Couldn't Study Any More. My brain hit its limit. I couldn't absorb anything anymore. Hey, I pulled a "B" average that way! Although I'd immediately FORGET everything after taking the test I crammed for. So did I learn anything? I don't know.

So...I Stopped Cleaning, rearranging, heaving heavy boxes of records here and there, relocating shelf units and end tables, and putting stuff in one pile or another pile, and then yet another pile when the pile I'd originally put the stuff in didn't seem like quite the right pile. I have to ask, though, "do we ever really get anything clean when we clean house, or do we just move stuff around until it looks better?" I'm beginning to suspect the latter. My living room does look much better, though. And it is halfway done. Six Hours to get the Living Room half-done. If "Merry Maids", the housecleaning service, worked at that pace, well, the company's owners wouldn't be very Merry. But I'm proud of myself anyway. After all, I've been doing some constructive stuff around here, although I've just realized as I type this out in the TV room, that on the desk, off to my left, lurk a couple of suspicious little PILES of stuff are starting to grow again....

As I look back on this monstrous blog, I'm thinking to myself, "is anyone actually gonna READ all of this, especially after the second paragraph, when it becomes painfully obvious this is basically a post about HOUSEKEEPING?" Really...I'm beginning to bore MYSELF. But if you've read this far, well, I have a little visual award for you. I saw John McCain, the Repubblican Prezzidential candidate, on one of the news shows tonite. And when I saw him, I IMMEDIATELY thought of this "separated-at-birth" photo concept:

I suppose Senator McCain, He Who Wants To Stay The Course, will have enough "dough" on hand to wage a half-decent campaign. I'm just kinda thinkin', let's just Change the Course and fight terror here at home.


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