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Spadina Literary Review  —  edition 7 page 08


Cleaning up is hard to do

by Chris Cnessen

Finally I achieved it, I finished my spring cleaning. What's the big deal, you say? Well, we’re talking Spring Cleaning 2009 here. It's done, it's a wrap, it’s tout fini.

When I mention that my condo is only 500 square feet, you'll shake your head and bemoan how you’ve never witnessed such a slothful housekeeping performance in all your life, right? Well, that's how much you know about the world. What I accomplished was a blitz when you consider all the layers of procrastination I had to blast through.

I remember how it all began. It was on a typical Sunday evening, February 8, 2009, at 7:15 p.m. approximately. I was sitting on a barstool at the kitchen island with my ex who had dropped by to discuss my total negligence towards her boring relatives and her puffed-up career in fashion design or whatever. She jabbed the tabletop to emphasize some rhetorical point, then she paused in mid-sentence to examine her fingertip which was besmirched with a smudge of tabletop gunk.

She screeched and raced to the bathroom sink to scrub the spot off. As fate would have it, someone had neglected to ensure that there was soap in the soap dish.

“That’s it,” she said. “I refuse to set foot in this pigpen again.”

That "pigpen" remark was excessive, I think. Nevertheless, it got me thinking. It was obviously time for me to start figuring out how to prepare to initiate some type of clean-up effort to ensure that I would never again hear anyone bad-mouth my $265,000 investment/crashpad.

As a first step, I hauled out the vacuum cleaner and positioned it for action on the shag beside the recliner. But it just sat there like a slug doing nothing for months. It was a trip hazard. I finally chucked it back in the closet. This misadventure resulted in a serious delay to launching the clean-up program.

I admit that, by some people’s standards, I’m just not obsessive-compulsive enough.

To be fair to myself, procrastination is not the only issue. I have some deeply-felt philosophical reservations. I've always found the “futility argument” extremely persuasive: this argument posits that within milliseconds after you get your home spotless, new dust components are already swarming in to re-colonize it. They arrive from everywhere, from the rug, from your hair, from traffic, from Saharan sandstorms, from cosmic infall. A supernova in Cygnus, and I have to sweep up the debris. It’s unjust.

Eventually, however, when your feet start sticking to the grungy floor, you’ll clamor for a crackdown as feverishly as anyone else. That’s what happened in summer of 2010, with my spring cleaning already more than a year behind schedule. Somebody had to take the bull by the horns. If I didn't do it, then who would?