Temerity Jane
18. 06. 2013

You know what? I won’t ever again envy anyone’s vast expanses of counter space as long as I live.

Sure, it’s easy for me to say that now, considering that I have vast expanses of counter space.

But listen, there is no soulcrushing household crapmagnet like the vast expanse of counter space.

It’s just there. Being vast an expansive. Waiting for you to put your shit on it. And then put some shit next to the shit you already put on it. Just a pile of mail here, and the stuff from the grocery shopping that wasn’t groceries there. And the scissors and the tape — look, I don’t need to tell you how a horizontal surface, free of crap, becomes unfree of crap faster than you can say, “WHAT THE HELL IS ALL OF THIS CRAP?”

And as someone who used to not have much counter space, I can see how a huge amount of counter space is alluring. I was allured. I was allured right into this house with the giant CRAP MAGNET right in the middle, with the MINI CRAP MAGNET on the way to the big crap magnet, a kind of CRAP MAGNET WAY STATION, if you will. If you don’t have counter space, you think, “Ugh, if only I had space for all my CRAP, things wouldn’t look so CRAPPY around here.” Because that’s what you think. You think everything looks so cluttered and messy because you have to jam it on to a tiny counter.

BUT IT TURNS OUT THAT’S NOT TRUE.

Because then you move into a house with a GIANT SOULCRUSHING CRAPMAGNET RIGHT IN THE CENTER.

J’ACCUSE, CRAPMAGNET.

So now I have this counter, and I swear it’s bigger in real life, not just because that’s a picture, but because it just is, I can’t even wipe all the way across it without going around. “Oooh, so much COUNTER SPACE,” said past me. But you know what? Even past me knew. Past me saw that for what it was, because past me KNOWS ME. Knew me. Knew past me. And paster me. Not pastor me. I mean like, more past. Past me knew the me that came before the me that I’m talking about when I say past me NOW. ALL OF THE ITERATIONS OF ME TO THIS POINT ARE FAMILIAR WITH ME AS I HAVE EXISTED UP UNTIL THE POINT THAT THEY THEMSELVES EXISTED.

I don’t know how you clean. Maybe you just power through shit and get it all done. Maybe you do different things on different days. Like maybe Monday is laundry day and Tuesday is for floors and Wednesday is for, I don’t know, what else is there? I am really bad at housekeeping. Like, piss poor. And the problem can be traced back to the CRAPMAGNET.

You see that house in that picture right there? I could clean that house. I could keep that house clean. ANYONE could keep that house clean, right? But you know why I could? Because I can see all the horizontal surfaces. But once a horizontal surface becomes buried in crap – AS A CRAPMAGNET IS WONT TO DO – the house is just too far gone. It’s gone. We need to move. It will never be clean again. Ever. EVER. There is no point to do ANYTHING because how CAN I? Everything I NEED to clean is buried under CRAP. We’re ALL buried under crap. WE HAVE TOO MUCH CRAP. I’M GOING TO THROW AWAY ALL THIS CRAP. Or I WOULD if there wasn’t so MUCH. And some is probably IMPORTANT, which is why I set it on the CRAPMAGNET in the FIRST PLACE.

When a crapmagnet is THAT BIG, it pulls is ENORMOUS amounts of crap.

But I can’t just not do anything FOREVER. Eventually, not being able to see the giant horizontal surface right in the middle of the house becomes entirely too stressful and too much to bear, because THAT is what I perceive as a mess. If a giant horizontal surface is terribly cluttered and disorganized to the point that I can’t see it, EVERYTHING IS A HUGE MESS. A huge mess that CANNOT BE TACKLED.

And this is where Phil and I come in to a huge divide in our cleaning styles. He will see a thing that needs cleaning and he will clean it, often in a manner that I will perceive as passive-aggressive, because why didn’t I clean it? But then there’s me, and I cannot do anything – I can’t do a single thing – if I can’t see the crapmagnet. So we can end up in a cycle where every afternoon, I work myself in a circle around the kitchen, clearing off the surface of the crapmagnet and stand beaming at it proudly, while he comes home and starts putting away Penelope’s toys, the toys that are up to my ankles, with tone. AS IF HE CAN’T EVEN SEE THE SURFACE OF THE CRAPMAGNET.

And then I cook dinner and not all of the dishes/tools/ingredients get cleaned up and put away, and he leaves his tea and cereal boxes where he likes them on the counter in the morning, and the mail is on the crapmagnet, and this happens for a day or so, and two days later, I’m furiously making the same loop around the crapmagnet circle, all, “TAA DAAA!” and every item of Penelope’s clothing is all over her bedroom floor. Not to mention every item of my clothing being all over my bedroom floor.

LOOK, THIS IS THE THING.

If you are a specific type of person – which I am, and this is my blog – a giant expanse of counter space is a CRAPMAGNET. Everything that comes in to your home will first take up temporary residence on the crapmagnet. Any type of horizontal surface can (and WILL) become a crap magnet, but don’t make the mistake of thinking that a larger counter equals some space for kitchen stuff, some space for crap. It’s kitchen stuff with CRAP WEDGED IN ALL UP AMONGST IT.

And if you are a second specific type of person – which I am, and this is still my blog – the horizontal surfaces NEED TO STAY VISIBLE to motivate housekeeping in general. If I need to clean my house, my first task will ALWAYS be to find all the horizontal surfaces. If I can’t, THEN WHY BOTHER CLEANING, IT’S ALL GOING TO HELL ANYWAY. The longer it takes me to decrap a crap magnet, the more chance there is I’m just going to pat myself on the back and say, “there now, good for you, go and sit down” when I’m done.

ACTUALLY? I decrapped the crapmagnet yesterday, Phil walked into HOLY HELL in this house – I mean shredded mail in a trail all the way into the kitchen, toddler clothing strewn all over, a bike in the living room, a stock pot full of water right inside the front door, crayons broken on the carpet, the TV looping on some DVD menu – and when he got into the kitchen and saw the crapmagnet all free and clear of crap? He goes, “Hey, looks great!”

So, yeah, sometimes I sit down when I’m done.

I realize that you have to be two specific kinds of people combined to come to resent your giant crapmagnet of a counter, but maybe you actually only have to be one kind, and also have children. Or a husband. Actually, probably you just have to be the second kind because I’m pretty sure the Household Horizontal Crapmagnet Syndrome is universal, and maybe the whole needing visible surfaces to actually feel any cleaning progress is being made is a more specific thing. But it can’t be THAT specific, because I’m pretty sure it’s an actual cleaning TIP I read at one point. Clear a horizontal surface first. I think it was meant so that you’d have some work space, but in reality, it’s probably so your soul feels a little less crushed under the pull of your crapmagnet.

Please don’t give me helpful hints on how to clean my crapmagnet. The key isn’t in the crapmagnet cleaning. The key is in it not being a crapmagnet in the first place. If you can come over to my house and demagnetize that bitch, I’m totally up for hearing that. But I already know how not to leave a room with empty hands (I try not to leave a room without Penelope) and how to take 15 minutes at the end of the day to put things where they go (I usually allocate them for weeping in the shower lately, priorities) and how to use baskets to collect things to return to their homes (I’m out of homes, and I’m on my second basket).

It’s just… it’s a habit. I am convinced that Phil and I quit smoking more easily than we will stop being drawn in to the crapmagnet with our crapladen hands. Is there a Chantix for the crapmagnet habit? Because I will take a month’s worth of fucked up dreams about sawing the heads off of dogs, I will, I SWEAR, if only to be able to run straight from my front door and Dukes of Hazzard right the hell over my counter (in my head because one, there’s nothing on the other side to justify such a move. Two, have we met, because if we have, that will stand for two.)

Uh, anyway. So, maybe this also applies to you. Or not. Maybe your counters are free of crap and other life debris and neatly wiped down each night before you dim the kitchen lights and slide into the bed you make EVERY MORNING EVEN THOUGH YOU’RE JUST GETTING BACK IN. And you could probably Dukes of Hazzard a counter, too.

*****

Anyway, the No Buy, No No Blog didn’t work out. It’s not that I bought anything. I didn’t. Even when I knew it wasn’t working out, I still didn’t buy anything. I’ve really stuck to it. I skipped sales. I’ve even sat on a gift card to Ulta for more than a month. I just haven’t felt like blogging. So I didn’t buy anything, even though I knew I wasn’t going to blog, because that’s how I said I was going to do it. I didn’t know how long I wasn’t going to blog, but I didn’t think it would be this long. It was a while. Sometimes, when you find some people might be a little more comfortable with your business than you’re comfortable with, it might be a good idea to just not have any business for a while.

I think I might start buying things again. I could have been buying things a while ago, probably. I have written some really emphatic blog posts in my head recently.

I recently discovered Vine and I’ve been using it to capture some of Penelope’s more camera-elusive talents.

Anyway, that’s all. If you want to come over, I’ll clear off the crapmagnet.*

*That’s not a real invitation.