the result: clean as a whistle

Mr._Clean_logoSo, the cleaning people just left. While it was strange as all get out, I can’t argue with the results.

Both cats FREAKED OUT. I don’t know exactly why; we’ve had repair people and delivery people in the house before. George cowered and Freddie did too. I took them upstairs in the loft with me and the three of us hid there, feeling superfluous. George foolishly ventured down (they aren’t lying about curiosity and cats) and stayed down for the duration; when it was all over I found him cowering under a table. Fred stayed with me while I read “Deathly Hallows” and played Candy Crush upstairs.

When all is said and done, I have to say, this is pretty nice. The house is spotless. They cleaned everything. They cleaned things I didn’t know were dirty. It smells like a lemon exploded in here. Thank you Cleaning Girls, Inc. of Long Island. ūüôā

I still feel weird about having someone come to clean my house, but not so weird that I wouldn’t do it again.

cleaning lady

cats sweeping broomWhen I was in college, I lived in a dorm. Dorms can be great equalizers. It’s hard to tell who’s as poor as you are or as rich as Midas when everyone’s living in the same building, schlumping around in sweatpants and pajamas. Hardly anyone at Cornell had a car (the campus isn’t vehicle-friendly) and this was way back in the day before cell phones, laptops and even computer ownership¬†might have given some clue. One telling factor was Spring Break plans — if you were off to Prague on a moment’s notice, that probably meant you weren’t down to your last two dollars, as I often was. The more economically challenged among us often stayed put for Spring Break (and had a fun time, too).

Another thing I noticed was cleaning ladies. Every now and then, one of my friends would mention their housekeeper, or the cleaning person that came to their house, back home. I couldn’t fathom such a thing. We’d never, ever had a cleaning person. Quite frankly, at the time, my mother was working a second part time job *as* a cleaning person, to keep me in school. You can imagine how galling I found it when a fellow student protested to me that having a cleaning person wasn’t a luxury; his mother¬†worked,¬†after all. She didn’t have time to clean. Meanwhile my mother worked all day, worked cleaning offices at night, and cleaned her own house with whatever energy she somehow had. It’s not an entirely fair comparison, but I still think having someone come to clean your house, unless you’re physically incapable of doing so (and a lot of those people can’t afford help, sadly), is a luxury.

You have to imagine, then, how weirded out I am by the fact that we have cleaning people coming to the house this week.

I mean, this isn’t a regular thing. We had a Groupon, and it’s a spring cleaning kind of deal. Dave’s super busy in tax season. And I have a little trouble doing certain things, especially when there’s bending involved. It’s still a luxury, though, and I feel strangely guilty about it.

I’m a lousy housekeeper. I didn’t inherit the Leonard cleaning gene, the one that guaranteed my grandmother’s basement floor was safer to eat off of than most people’s kitchen plates, and the one that made my mother stress about dust bunnies in the storage closet. Yeah, I missed that. I don’t have it in me. But I grew up with it, so I end up looking around my reasonably neat house and seeing nothing but dust and dirt and feeling ashamed.

So as a result of all that matriarchal genetic pressure and guilt over economic divide, I’ve been desperately restraining myself all week from cleaning the bathroom ahead of time, because I don’t want the cleaning people to see that my bathroom is dirty and think I’m lazy. I haven’t succumbed yet, but there’s still more than 24 hours to go. I’d say it’s 50/50. At best.

toy story

I’m a grown-up. I have bills, a car, a job, and I pay taxes. I can rent a car, drink legally, and I get flyers in the mail from AARP occasionally (too soon!). Definitely a grown-up. But I also cannot deny this:

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I’ll say right off the bat that only some of them are mine. About two-thirds of them. But it doesn’t matter where they originated, because I’d never get rid of any of the members of our Stuffed Animal Collective now. I look at that shelf in the closet and think, yep, you guys are going to be with us to the end. Don’t worry. If I have a home, you have a home.

I’m not generally sentimental. I don’t tend towards the gushy. But you can only watch Toy Story so many times (or Toy Story 2, or Toy Story 3) before you absorb the idea that toys have lives of their own. Granted, I was a particularly susceptible subject for this philosophy. I used to make up entire soap-opera-worthy stories about the lives and times of my crayons, and I had the 64-pack and the caddy and everything. It was like Falcon Crest meets Crayola in there. Burnt Sienna was such a tramp.

But I can tell you exactly when my problem solidified, and when I knew I’d never be able to get rid of another stuffed animal again. It was when I saw that scene in Toy Story 2 with Jessie the Cowgirl — you know the one, with the sad (is there any other kind?) Sarah McLachlan song, showing some heartless wench ditching her formerly beloved toy in exchange for nail polish¬†and a pretty pink phone. Jessie basically gets put out with the trash. It’s gut-wrenching.

So, that’s all there is to it. I can’t do that to a toy, even if it is just an inanimate object (well, most of the time). They’ll be with me til I die. Now, it goes without saying that new stuffed animal purchases are strictly verboten, except in exceptional circumstances. After all, FredCo can only support so many dependents. But on the Pixar fade to black in our house, these guys have nothing to worry about.

all good things come to an end

IMG_1507… including summer.

It’s not officially over yet, but with August coming to a close and the fall upon us, schools re-opening and buses back on the streets, we’re getting there. For me, summer is at an end because our pool closes¬†this week.

This was the first summer of my life that I had a pool of my own — well, it belongs to the complex we live in, so sadly we have to share it, but you get what I mean. Every other year I’ve been a sporadic swimmer at best, sometimes getting to a pool only once or twice, sometimes not at all. (Beach? In Buffalo? Surely you jest.) But this year, it was every possible day for the entire summer. Am I sad to see it end? Yes… and no.

I like the pool, I do. It’s great for cooling off, though I’m also partial to central air for that, and it wasn’t that hot of a summer to begin with. I like having friends over to the pool, and I like hanging out there with Dave and our cousin Adam. I freely admit I don’t always like the other people, not when they’re rude, or loud, or just annoying. The Real Housewives of Long Island can be funny, but they can also be nauseating. And I’m huge fan of babies in the pool — they’re darn cute in those swimmie-contraptions they have these days, they¬†look like Baby Pool Armor, and they always seem to be having such a blast — but I am not quite as fond of preteens playing endless games of “toothpaste” and jumping in the pool right on top of my head.

I did like the exercise more than I’ve liked any other exercise I’ve done in my life. I swam laps all summer, almost every day, working my way up to 30 a day. I would have liked to do more, but I’ll keep at it next summer. I also discovered I can float effortlessly and can tread water apparently forever (I got bored after 15 minutes and stopped, but don’t think the end was anywhere near), so if we’re ever on the Titanic, Dave can just hang onto me and we’re set.

I won’t miss the chlorine, though. I mean, god knows it’s necessary (all those kids, and no one ever gets out and goes into the bathroom in the clubhouse — you do the math), but the smell is icky. Every day when I get home Fred sniffs my hand disdainfully, and doesn’t warm up until I’ve had a chance to shower. My hair could do without the chemicals, too.

Overall, it was a good summer at the pool, but I confess I’m looking forward to a nice, long, harvesty autumn, and even a cozy warm winter by the fireplace, snug at home.

I may never leave the house again

Amazon_1It’s not true, of course. I’m not a hermit. I leave the house for work, for food, for movies, for friends, for family, for the pool. I might be willing to give up a few of those, but not all. Definitely not the pool. Or Chipotle. So I’ll leave the house again, and again, but one thing I almost never leave the house for anymore is shopping.

This is what we’ve bought from Amazon in the past two months: a mouse (the computer kind), dog shampoo (for a friend, or rather his dog), cat food, safety strips for the tub, a dustbuster, a hand mixer, cat litter, cake pans, garbage bags, a book, a step stool, an extension cord, socks, a hubcap, and batteries. We have Amazon Prime, and everything gets here about as quickly as the drones can bring it. The hand mixer arrived, regular shipping, 19 hours after we ordered it.

From Target, with the RedCard’s free shipping: clothes, a picture frame, Tide pods, gift cards, screening for the porch, a humidifier, a pillow, a phone, a bathing suit, and a baby gate for the cats.

And from Fresh Direct? Foods, foods, and more foods.

You have to understand: I just hate shopping. ¬†Unless it’s Wegmans, just the very idea of milling about in a store makes me exhausted. I don’t know what part of it is the worst (well, yes, I do) but it’s some combination of the huge, overheated stores, the lines, the people, the parking, the flourescent lighting, the people, the Muzak, the noise, and the people. Shopping online is so much easier, so much quieter, so much more pleasant. I click and a short time later it arrives, all without waiting in line, driving anywhere, parking, or even talking to anyone else. It’s wonderful.

I’m not a hermit, but I confess I wish I could at least play one on TV.