Close up Hands Tea x

Sit a bit and hear some observational stories I’ve been steeping.

The definition of crazy: Housework.

There is a well-worn phrase that I like to pull out of my hat now and again because it suits many a situation. “What is the definition of crazy?  Doing the same thing over and over again, expecting different results.”  To me?  That means: housework, laundry and bush league marriage counseling.  To name a few.


There are not many things in life that I truly despise, but I have to say that I reallllly don’t like housework.  Don’t get me wrong, I like a clean house.  I just loathe the process of getting it that way.  There are women (and you know who you are) that seem to find pure, unadulterated joy in the cleaning of a house.  Their eyes glaze over and they positively wax rhapsodic when talking about it.


Vacuuming! Mopping!

Polishing, power-dusting!

Super steam cleaning…


Like some seriously messed up haiku to the gods of cleanliness.


I have tried to find all the love and nurturing that supposedly occurs in the act of doing laundry for your family, but nearly 20 years later I still find myself uttering phrases of madness each time I’m in the laundry room.  Hades is hot.  So is the laundry that tumbles out of the dryer in a big, hot steamy mess on a 110 degree day in the dessert.  Where is the joy?  I understand that I should feel some inner warmth while I perform this task on behalf of those that live under my roof – but I’m not warm. I’m hot.  Darn hot.  And the rivets on these 501 Levis are capable of branding the lily-white skin of my forearms.


No.  I find no pleasure in the laundry process.  Dirty laundry is simply a mad game that begins again as soon as it is finished.  There are approximately 14 minutes of perfect bliss before someone stands over the empty clothes hamper, wickedly laughing as they toss something small like a washrag or underwear in.  Sure, it’s harmless now, but like gathering flakes during a January snowstorm in the Rockies it will soon grow to epic proportions threatening to swallow my diminutive frame in the hallway where I sort the dark from whites.  You may say I exaggerate, but not by much.


In addition to never-ending laundry story, there is the ridiculous amount of dusting to be done in my home.  Now, I’ve been in homes where I find myself standing in the middle of their living room asking, “Oh?  Did you recently move in?”  Only to be told that the person/couple/family is going on a dozen or more years in their domicile.  “Really?” I want to ask them, “Where’s your stuff?  How is it that every surface in your home is clean and virtually empty?  There are no magazines or books on your coffee table.  The bookcases that you do have feature one or two items on each shelf and only a few books.  Your nightstands hold nothing but a lamp.  The bathroom counters contain nothing but a guest towel and hand soap (with no tell-tale droplets to indicate it has ever been used. Uhm, norovirus much?).  How is this possible?!  Are you related to the Hyatts or Hiltons that you have this hotel mentality of yours?”  I don’t say it.  But, oohwhee, George.  I’m thinking it.


My house has been compared to a shooting gallery (by a centenarian, an elder I’d never disrespect) and it’s sort of true.  Every where you look in my home – there’s something to see.  Nearly 20 years of tutoring kids in music has left me with gifts and mementos of the heart that I cannot possibly discard.  Every flat surface has a stack of books or periodicals.  The bookshelves are overflowing with more books, DVDs, photos and tchotkes (as my Brooklyn-born mother-in-law would say) or knick-knacks (as the centenarian from Maine called them).  My given name is derived from the greek work Therizein which means “to harvest, reap or gather in” – and apparently, I’ve spent a lifetime believing it.  To be honest, my greatest collection would be the great many people I know and deeply care for, but the rather dirty end (or dusty, I suppose) of all that harvesting is the ephemera and collectibles I’ve gathered over the years.


Vacuuming is a job I don’t mind, but it drives my son up the wall.  His sensory defensiveness (one of the many traits brought you by Autism!), makes him particularly sensitive to the erratic sound waves of the vacuum.  He’s not morbidly afraid of them, as he was during the first 9 years of his life — thanks to numerous visits to the Vac & Sew Repair shop, where I took him (kicking and screaming) to touch every vacuum known to man.  A rather harsh form of desensitizing, I know – but it worked.  Now, he’s fascinated by vacuums… as long as they’re not plugged in.  The sound, however, still drives him to distraction.


Wiping, scrubbing, polishing, de-scaling?  Eww. Eww, eww-eww-eww.  Just thinking about it gives me an image of creeping crud that is hard to wash (add that to the above-mentioned list) out of my brain.  With my over-active imagination, maybe I just think too much about the cleaning process.  It’s a bit scary, the idea that there is dirt and dreck accumulating in corners and on surfaces, waiting to attack me or my family (or maybe I saw one too many childhood commercials.  Darn scrubbing bubbles).


There are women, as I’ve said before, who enjoy this whole cleaning madness.  They smile at you, without a trace of irony, and recommend products, tools, methods and… oh, I can’t even repeat it.  It’s a concept too daft to perpetuate.  Poor darlings, they’re in need of professional assistance and can’t even recognize it through the haze that lingers over their personal crazy town.


As a child, I believed in a future painted by the Jetsons and Richie Rich.  I knew, just knew, that by the time I was old enough have a house of my own – there would be a Rosie or Irona waiting for me at the sliding glass door of my geodesic dome home.  Oh, the thought of it!  To have my own robot maid to attend to my every laundering and cleaning need, but not cooking.  Pshaw!  There would be pills and tablets for that!  I was certain that the day would come when I would simply press a button and serve meals in seconds.  While microwave ovens and nutrition bars almost fulfill the presto-change-o food scenario of the space age, I have yet to employ my own skinny-tied Hymie to hover over my washing machine for me.


Yes, I am surrounded by tokens of affection and the occasional tiny herd (colony/clutter/nest?) of dust bunnies, but before you have an image of me up to my clavicles in grit and grime, cut that out.  My house is “neatly cluttered” and I do clean and keep the germs at bay with the requisite wiping, mopping and the like.  But, I don’t have to like it.  I don’t care what you think.  I sure as heck don’t think I’ll ever learn to love it.  For now, to prove my sanity on the subject, I will quote some of my idols (Phyllis Diller?  Come on!  Any woman who can walk out of the house with that hair and still stand tall, I give mad props to):


No person who can read is ever successful at cleaning out an attic.  — Ann Landers.


Cleaning your house while your kids are still growing is like shoveling the sidewalk before it stops snowing. — Phyllis Diller.


Laughter and tears are both responses to frustration and exhaustion.  I myself prefer to laugh, since there is less cleaning up to do afterward.  — Kurt Vonnegut.

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