Cleanliness is a relative notion. One person once told me he hadn’t washed his floors in over six months (“or maybe a year”), but there was no need to since it was “still clean”. I knew someone else who couldn’t sleep if there was so much as one dish left in the sink, and another who’s closets looked like something out of 9 1/2 Weeks—everything pressed perfectly and spaced exactly one inch apart. His sink cabinet continues to haunt me—I had never seen one quite that immaculate before, and for some reason I took that as my cue to get out of dodge. Many women I’ve known tend to be very tidy, and in some cases have cleaning schedules they never deviate from. As for me, I go between both ends of the neat/messy spectrum with a marked emphasis on “messy” much of the time. I tend to blame my lack of enthusiasm for housekeeping on genetics: my mom, who’s not big on housecleaning herself, made sure to expose me to all things cultural, but Making a perfect Bed 101, or Vacuuming: Techniques and Frequency and the like weren’t a big priority. This worked out well for me as a kid since there wasn’t this constant pestering about cleaning up my room which my friends got all the time. My father on the other hand is pretty much a neat freak, which belies my genetics defense. When I think of visits to one of the apartments he’s lived in, I have in mind immaculate shiny floors, the absence of dust and clutter and the arrangements he makes out of his few little trinkets.
Being messy gives me the freedom of not having to be careful about where I put down my things, but most of the time I’m secretly yearning to be a neat freak too—I dream of beautifully designed, unencumbered white spaces of the variety you might find in decor magazines. But my place is nothing like that, it’s old and everything is crooked, I’ve got a riot of colours to mask all the cracks and flaws on the walls and no matter how often I clean the kitchen floor it still looks dirty, so most of the time I choose reading over backbreaking floor washing sessions. But for the past few weeks I’ve been in a cleaning phase and not a day has gone by that I don’t dust something, sort through and organize all my stuff polish the counters and sink over and over again, all the while enjoying it all which I can only explain by the fact that once I get into something, anything—I tend to do it with a passion. Besides, seeing brings me to a peaceful place similar to the one I go to during meditation sometimes. On the other hand, it could be just all the medication I’m taking slowly turning me into a Stepford wife.
All this time using cleaning products has strengthened my resolve to go green once and for all. Gone are the days when the few products on the market were only available at health food stores, too expensive to work into a tight budget. Now that going green has hit the mainstream, organic house products are available in supermarkets, hardware stores and even at the superstore just a few blocks over—the same one which used to be the place where all the welfare beneficiaries did their groceries and stocked up on their monthly rations of white bread, hot dogs, beer and Coke, with a giant tub of margarine and yellow mustard thrown in on occasion. Those folks mostly left since that megastore went (relatively) upscale. So far I have products to clean kitchen, bathroom and laundry, dishwasher soap and even rinse agent—and I swear my dishes have never been this clean. Now my biggest problem is figuring out what to do with the old non-green products I have, since of course it makes no sense to dump them in the sink, toilet, or garbage, so I’ve decided to alternate between green and chemical products until I figure out something better (suggestions are welcome).
As a reward for all this cleaning, I decided to get myself new garbage cans. My old ones were in need of replacement and I’m not sure how this happened but shopping for garbage cans ended up being really fun. For the kitchen, I even splurged and replaced the cheap stainless-steel can I had bought at a bargain price for the real deal, a Brabantia, which is not cheap but built to last and comes with a ten year warranty. This is what my life has come to. I get excited about buying garbage bins. Speaking of which, there’s even more excitement coming soon. We had a good laugh on the phone my dad and I when he asked me what’s going on in my life and I very excitedly started telling him about the small Weber gas barbecue I have my eye on. I must have spent ten or fifteen minutes describing the thing to my dad which culminated in me saying this barbecue will basically change my life, which got us laughing hysterically when he summed up our conversation with “Sooo… you’re buying a barbecue, that’s… that’s really big news”. I’m sure my folks had bigger things in mind for me and lord knows I did too, but until I get back in the saddle, small pleasures is where it’s at.