My druid trained me to regard the vernal equinox as the beginning of a new cycle. I spent the last day of the old cycle doing something my druid would approve of: housecleaning.
Begin longish intro. I had the same cleaner for more than a decade. He would come in every Sunday afternoon to dust, scrub, and try to keep the cat fur to oxygen ratio down to a manageable (“breathing still possible”) level. The cleaner was a trustworthy little old guy, he knew where everything was, and the cats liked him. (Other people they ignore pointedly, still others they run away from screaming, “The Uruks have come! Muster the Rohirrim!”) Unfortunately he’s had a run of bad luck and had to move to Cavite with his family. It didn’t make sense for him to commute for hours just to clean my house on Sundays. So he quit and it was sad as hell because he probably regards me as an inept child with no domestic skills.
My sister, who if the word existed would be called ept, said their laundrywoman could be the new cleaner. She is also trustworthy, and the cats seemed to approve of her. She’d done some jail time, but it was because she pulled a knife on an abusive boyfriend. You can’t blame her for that. (Reminds me of a conversation I had with Bernard-Henri yesterday about a common friend—Martin Amis says this is the correct term, not “mutual friend”–who’d tried to rip him off on a project. We agreed that we could not hate common friend because he can’t help ripping people off, it’s his nature.) She came by the other Sunday to clean, but last Sunday she said she couldn’t make it, and then yesterday she didn’t appear. Clearly she doesn’t want the job. So I ended up doing spring cleaning.
Equinox: The sun from solstice to solstice, photo from NASA APOD.
It so happened that I was in my semi-annual cleaning frenzy mode. The other day I organized my closet and put away a bunch of clothes I haven’t worn in years and am not likely to wear again. I even found 4 or 5 outfits I’d forgotten I’d bought. Memo: If you have clothes you’ve never worn, you probably have enough clothes. The day before that I was at National Bookstore in Rockwell when I was reminded of all the prizes for the Weekly LitWit Challenges that have not been claimed by the winners. Customer Service’s shelves were about to burst from the stuff so I took back all the prizes that have not been claimed since December. (The very next day someone tried to claim his books. Sorry about that.)
And two days earlier I defrosted my refrigerator. Why I don’t defrost more often I have no idea–you only have to push a button. Instead I wait until the freezer is sealed shut by a thick coat of solid ice to push the blasted button. True, I don’t eat at home so my fridge contains coffee for the machine, cheese, a huge bottle of Chinese “champagne” that no one wants to try, and leftover restaurant meals that have sprouted new life forms. Getting the freezer open took 2 days.
Before yesterday’s housecleaning I surveyed the castle keep and decided that the problem is not dirt but clutter. As in stuff. Did I really need to keep the boxes of cameras, phones, gadgets I’ve had for years? Why do they still make phonebooks? Why did I save these empty gift packages? Sure they’re pretty, but I’m never going to recycle them, am I. They all went into two big trash bags. Memo: Don’t keep anything just because it’s cute. It won’t look so cute when it’s grimy. Throw it away. What project, you’re never going to make that assemblage. Throw! Now!
Then came the tedious part: sifting through boxes and bags of paper. Receipts from trips I took ten years ago–why do I still have these? Outdated city guides, fliers, museum floor plans, press kits for film festival entries, free magazines–Take One, the sign always says; from hereon say No!–stuff that has cluttered my house for years for no reason.
However I did find drafts of stories I’d forgotten I’d written, and clippings of articles I don’t remember writing. I’m like a factory of disposable prose. It’s a good thing I’ve never had a printer or I would’ve vanished under a sea of paper years ago (See the scene from Terry Gilliam’s Brazil).
Decluttering added at least three cubic meters of space to my house. After this Herculean labor cleaning the litter box was almost amusing (disgusting, but amusing). Happy New Year to you all.