Thursday, July 03, 2008

Fie on "clean"

After several years of walking down the path of keeping my house cleaner and cleaner, I have to say, "Can I turn around?" But nay, the way back is filled with those tire-poking things, and probably some dragons for good measure.

It used to be, when I was in school, that I was always the messy one in a house, and other people would nag at me to clean. Slowly, over time, I started keeping places cleaner. I'm not even sure why. Maybe some part of me wanted to avoid the bad status associated with being messy, even though I verbally defended it, saying "the cleaner person is not automatically right" when it comes to housemate disagreements. It's true I still believe that: if you're the one who's bothered by it, you should clean it up, at least in some cases. It really sucks to spend a few hours doing something that, to you, doesn't even make a difference - I could spend 2 hours cleaning a bathroom, and afterward, a housemate would say, "doesn't that look better?" and I could honestly say, "Um, no. It doesn't look any different to me," and feel resentful because I wanted my 2 hours back.

But, by some combination of being made to look at it and clean it, and living by myself with only my own stuff, has made me actually want things clean - and, the killer, care when they're not. I care when there's junk cluttering up the floor, when dirt sticks to my feet, when there are clean dishes not put away and dirty ones in the sink. I care when there's a big pile of dirty laundry and I don't have the selection of clean clothes I want.

I'm sure some think this is good, and maybe there are good points of it. But, you know the main difference I've observed? It's damned inconvenient. I think mostly it makes me spend more of my time frustrated and dissatisfied. Does it save time? No, I doubt it, beyond maybe a few things like emptying the dishwasher right away so you don't have to move dishes twice.

I could easily be angry about this. I'm tempted to blame the whole damn idea on soap and cleaning product industry marketers. Being sanitary is one thing, but that isn't what this is: I never before let stuff get unsanitary (even liquefying fruit can be thrown away without contaminating things), just messy. Really, what is the benefit? Showing off? Making other people think you have more time to waste? F**k that noise. Yes, I do resent the forces that have, over the years, made me be bothered at things that don't particularly matter.

Can I go back? It'll be tough. It'll be tough to ignore junk that sticks to my feet when I walk around, and gunk on the shower curtain. It'll be tough to ignore all the junk on the floor underfoot. And I'll probably get my arm hair singed, or maybe get some tooth marks.

But, you know, there's a lot of value in being at peace with things as they are, whether you want to change them or not, and that's really the point.

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