Thursday, July 26, 2012
Crunch Time (Too Much House)
The house is nearly empty: there is nowhere to sit, nothing to cook with or eat off of, and nothing to sleep on. The horses are gone, off to my friend Brittany's house for the year. In the refrigerator, there is nothing but olives and mustard. We are eating frozen pizza off of paper plates and sleeping on the floor.
There is an expanding pile of trash, made up of used paper plates and recycling which we no longer have the energy or time to recycle; there is a constantly rotating tornado of clothing, clean and dirty, whirling in and out of the messy hedge of suitcases propping open every door. There is an unending stream of visitors, friends, family, and acquaintances, who all want to touch base before we leave. I have had overnight house guests for each of the last three nights. Each night included a toddler.
There is still a daunting amount of work to be done - right now Homero and Juan are up on the roof fixing the leak (see previous posts) and I am taking a break from scrubbing out the fridge and defrosting the freezer. I simply can't believe how much dirt and junk we were living with. I don't know about other people's houses, but around here, we seldom see the bottom of a drawer. It's always covered with silverware, or hand tools, or clothing, or old schoolwork and broken crayons. Turns out, when I emptied out the drawers, all of them were coated in a thick layer of grime, which had to be scrubbed off with bleach water.
The insides of my kitchen cupboards were undeniably disgusting. I am a pretty serious cook (if I do say so myself) and I am a collector of condiments, oils, spices, and chutneys. The shelves in my cupboards were laminated in a mixture of molasses, curry powder, sambaal oleak, shrimp paste, homemade blackberry jam, rice wine vinegar, and peanut butter. Sprinkled across this sticky mess and partially embedded in it was a blend of cloves, mustard seeds, and enough other spices and seeds to have made a medieval peasant rich for life. I've used up a lot of rags today.
The other thing I am amazed by is the sheer number of unidentifiable items I own. Mostly these are variants of the genus electronica: chargers for handheld devices which went extinct in the nineties; snippets of red, blue, and yellow wires; strange clips and snarls of wire. Homero is responsible for a metric shit-ton of small plastic and metal thing-a-ma-jigs such as fuses, tips for small tools to which we no longer own the handles, nearly used up rolls of duct tape, paint rollers, and so many other things which I can only stare at in bafflement. I have the sneaking suspicion that if I consulted him, Homero would press the case for keeping every single one of these nameless items, so I simply dumped them into a couple of hefty bags and put them out with the trash. Don't wince like that; he did the same thing with my kitchen drawers.
Speaking of which, nobody needs three different kinds of citrus reamer. Or two manual food mills, or indeed any food mills at all. I had an entire drawer devoted to plastic lids. There must have been two hundred plastic lids in there, but nowhere did I have the plastic containers to which these lids were once appended. And seriously, would I have needed two hundred of them if I did?
I think I see the problem here, and the problem is too much house. This isn't an enormous house by today's standards - it's about 2,500 square feet - but it's twice as big as the house I used to live in, and it has five times as much storage. Just about every room in the house is lined, on one wall or two, with built in cupboards. The bedrooms all have built in dressers and shelves, and the kitchen, bathroom, and laundry room have more cupboards than you can shake a stick at.
Everyone remarks on this and says, "oh, how nice to have so much storage available!" It is, or I mean it would be, if I had real stuff I needed to store. But I don't, so my storage is not filled with, say, folded linens or grandma's china. The actual results of having unlimited storage space is that whenever I or Homero find ourselves with aomething in our hands and no immediate idea of where to put it, we simply open the nearest drawer and chuck it in. Multiply this scenario by ten thousand and you have our current situation.
I've procrastinated long enough - it's time to get up and start throwing crap away.