September 2009


Fall Cleaning

Right now my dining room table has piles of stuff on it.

It’s the two books I am bringing to read whilst in Wyoming, the papers indicating where I am staying, how and where I am travelling, and more, plus 28 bars of Ritter Sport chocolate for people I meet along the way.

Any leftover chocolate bars will be for my father.

But this tower of paper and gifts is pretty much complete: instead I am now focusing on cleaning both my apartment because while I am gone, I’m loaning my apartment to a friend.

Now if it were the guest, I would make all kinds of reassuring noises that dusting, vacuuming, and scrubbing isn’t important, but since I’m the host, I’m worried. It’s actually a good thing—I’m dusting parts of my apartment that haven’t been dusted since my house warming party. I’m scrubbing things that need it. I’m removing paper from the apartment and relocating it to a nearby recycling bin.

In short, I am making my apartment more livable.

It’s amazing how much detritus accumulates: it’s a genetic trait. Whenever I visit relatives, I’m reminded of this: uniformly they all have piles of papers that could have been tossed/recycled years ago. I battle this regularly.

At least once a month I make a big pile of papers and go through them, sorting them into three stacks: things to be recycled now; things I will probably recycle the next time I sort a big pile of papers; and truly important things that need to be filed. It’s a constant challenge to not have every available flat surface covered in papers—and save for materials related to my vacation, I try to never have anything on my dining room table so that on those rare occasions I want to eat at it, I can eat at it.

I also battle trinket accumulation. On trips I stand in shops and say to myself: Will this do anything beyond collect dust? It’s a cute t-shirt, but will I ever wear it? There is some measure of success on this count: The most recent trinket that I’ve purchases while travelling is the tile I bought in Turkey last summer—but I can also see my 5 Burger King Star Trek dolls and a cookie cutter that are decorative from where I sit right now.

Meanwhile there is some cleaning actually associated with my upcoming trip: Although I detest packing things I don’t need, I can’t predict the weather, so I am packing a pair of shoes that will work in snow and when hiking. Unfortunately the last time I wore the shoes, it was a day after a rain storm and I was trundling through mud—the mud has dried into the numerous cracks and crevices on the bottom side of the shoes, so I have had to wash the mud off—these shoes are ultimately going into my suitcase and I don’t want to have to shake mud off all my clothing.

My current plan is to pack my suitcase by Saturday, save for last minute essentials, and to have my entire apartment spotless by Sunday, even though I don’t leave until later in the week.

5 comments to Fall Cleaning

  • G

    I always appreciate hearing that other people have an accumulation-challenge. Paper (including in the form of books and magazines) seems to spontaneously generate wherever I spend more than an hour. Overnight, it seems to breed. The German thinks that I am the only person that happens to, but I think it’s because most other people really don’t read: how can one help but have books trail behind?
    I try to control my clutter into piles and an occasional trip to Ikea for another bookcase or a DVD holder helps greatly.

  • I have the same problem with paper accumulation, especially on my dining room table! This weekend, however, we’re going to deal with the shit in our basement. Remember those “Porn set” gym lockers? Going to the curb.

    On another note, I wish you were coming to see me. I can’t get the white chocolate hazelnut Ritter Sports here. 🙁

  • G – It has to be genetic. Whenever I visit my sibling’s homes I am always frightened by the piles of paper. I have to make a concerted effort for it not to happen to me–I probably clean my office once every two or three weeks to make sure that my office doesn’t become a fire hazard. I knew professors in college who could walk from their door to their desk along a very narrow path! I never want my office to be like that.

    disenchanted – you will get your white chocolate hazelnut Ritter Sport some day… As for the porn lockers — are you sure you want to get rid of them. Maybe some filmmaker is SC could use them?