Saturday, January 23, 2010

The Refrigerator

We need a new fridge. You cannot get this thing totally clean. I actually contemplated removing the transparent plastic part of the drawers, even though it's pretty obvious that they are not made to pop on and off, because there is mildew and rotifers in a crevice that I can't get at! Why would that crevice even exist if you can't clean it?! A man designed these drawers. I even thought, "Hey, if I can't get them back on, no biggy." Then I realized I was crazed. How does all that grime even get in there? Mildew and rotifers! IN MY FRIDGE. I busted out a toothbrush and still couldn't get it all. So, we need a new fridge.

I decided to clean my fridge on Thursday. You know, you have that moment when you open the door and say, "No more." How does hair get in there anyway? And where do those crumbs come from? Was someone eating crackers in the fridge? I used to (a mother's code for in my pre-child days, hereinafter referred to as PCD) stay on top of my kitchen. At least once every other month I scoured my refrigerator. And we're not talking just wiping the shelves, either. I pulled every drawer and shelf out to wash in the sink, then towel dry. I also washed off all the bottles AND their caps. Yeah. Hard core. But this fridge has not been cleaned since we moved in ... that would be June, people. Well, let's be fair: the end of June. I of course wiped up spills and glaring messes. I picked out hairs. But the gathering crumbs and hardened drips and other debris was always told to wait until I have a chance. "Oh, when I have a chance, I will clean the heck out of you, Fridge." You have chances. I had cahnces. But you let it be Good Enough, don't you? Good enough, until you say No More. Oh yeah! and when the husband makes a comment, you know it has gone too far. Josh, king of "I have a higher tolerance for dirt than you do." Well, since we are no longer in the PCD, the edge of my Good Enough butts up against the beginning of his Higher Tolerance - and there the twain shall meet.

And since we're discussing husbands and the kitchen, take a look at this:

Josh: Why did you take a picture of the dishes?
Me: Did I?
Josh: Are you going to write about me on your blog?
Me: Write about you?

You will note that this oblique language neither admits fault, nor nods to intent. I'm like a politician. The critics will say, "But she said she wouldn't publish it." Did I? Let's look at the transcript.

So this dish pile reminded me of college days - perhaps this is just for those of us who lived with boys at one time during our very early twenties. While living with these roommates - and I saw this repeated in other houses, so it wasn't just us - the unspoken goal was to add your clean dishes to the pile in the strainer without knocking them all over. If yours didn't fit, or made everything come crashing down, you had to put all the dishes away. It was only fair. The pile in the photo is not that bad. I just laugh because when I put the dishes away, I dry the tupperware. I like all the work to be done at once. I hate coming back to the kitchen to find a continuation of what I started earlier because, at that point, I have already physically and emotionally moved on. Luckily for Josh, he makes this pile and I put it away later.

Once, during my junior year in college, my roomate, Benoit, left his dirty dishes in the sink for three days. But this was Davis, and we had ants and roaches if we were remiss in our housework. I did not think it fair that Suzie and I suffer because of his injudiciousness, and I sure as hell was not going to do his dishes for him (what a precedent!). So I took his dirty pots and plates and put them on his bed. Typical Benoit, he just moved them back without a word when he got home and cleaned them the next day ... because he wanted to, not because of my psychological experiment.

Now, when you are a Cleaner, you get a certain satisfaction ... no ... contentment out of cleaning. I actually feel happier knowing that something that was once filthy is now spotless. But there is a trap in this identity. As a Cleaner, you almost shouldn't even embark on cleaning unless you have two full days to devote to a given project. What happens is that as you are working on a microscopic level in a filthy area of the house, like your fridge or any given spot in the kitchen, you start out feeling good within the boundaries of that job. But then you catch sight of a little filth next to the area you started on. You think, Well, if I'm doing the fridge, I might as well do the floor by the fridge and the wall and the cabinets beside the fridge ... and and and your reach extends. It doesn't stop. Pretty soon you are thinking that, yes, you can, and should, pull the entire refrigerator out all by yourself. And the stove. You have to actually cut yourself off. I allowed myself to scrub the floor around and a little under the fridge and then made myself throw the sponge away. But while I was down there I saw splatter that may or may not have been made during our brief tenure in this residence. I wanted to clean it so bad.

I have a limited time for chores like this because Sam doesn't want Mommy cleaning while he is awake. So I try to cram chores, eating, blogging, and everything else into his two-hour nap. I tell myself that this is why I let things go so long ... why I let them get so gross. It's because I want to devote a good chunk of time to doing it right. But I think there is another reason. I let the house get gross in places because I like to feel that little obsessive surge of energy that makes me keep cleaning, and then the complete joy when something is spotless. Maintenance cleaning just doesn't give me a rush.

So cleaning is more than an exercise in ... cleanliness. Perhaps this is how it is next to godliness! Because you meet your subconscious! You explore your Self. How far can I push myself? Can I control my reach? How far is too far? When is it Good Enough? Can I go for Greatness today? You are one with the whole and God and Everything.

Or, it's just a clean fridge.

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