I clean the kitchen.
It’s really all I can do and still feel productive. Producing something. In this case, I am producing a cleaner kitchen.
Our house is full of people nearly constantly. As a result, it is also full of mess nearly constantly. After one meal is cleaned up, someone else is baking bread or chopping all the vegetables. Once the cups are cleared from the living room, more cups of coffee, beer, and wine find their way to the tables and floor. Things get shoved onto already crowded shelves. Things get lost in cabinets. Things spill on the floor, and there is too much activity to fix it at the time. By the time it is quiet, we’re all too tired.
So, the kitchen is a mess, and I clean it.
I do the dishes. I move the chairs and the table. I sweep and mop and scrub and bleach the floor. I empty the cabinets and wipe down the shelves in them. I rearrange containers. I do this because there is nothing else I can do.
I have trouble seeing the floor. It has these “stain hiding patterns” on it, which is nice when you’re lazy, but frustrating when it’s a blurred mess of grey and brown and beige. Just looking at it makes my head spin. The smell of bleach is oddly calming. It centers me.
One day, I clean the kitchen. The next I clean the bathroom, and the kitchen. The following I clean the living room, and the kitchen. Every day the kitchen needs some time.
I cook too much food, because I know how to cook food. I couldn’t do it in my sleep, per se, but I can do it without looking, I learn. Our oven is broken–the knob for the temperature setting is anyway–so I bake next door.
I tend to the plants. I repot and water them. I try and kill as many of the pests that found their way through the windows into the air. I set traps for some, and chase after others.
I try taking care of myself. These are activities that are foreign to me. I make clay face masks, which stain my skin a ruddy shade of red, making me look excited and sunned, even though it wasn’t the desired effect. I do yoga even day, even though it makes my head hurt when I move too quickly. I look at myself in the mirror and try to become comfortable with my face and body even though neither of these things seem to happen.
I go back to cleaning–sweeping the hallway. I wash the walls and take a toothbrush to the tiles. I clean bicycle chains and frames. I wipe off the top of the molding around the doors and windows. I climb onto the counter top to take the little dead leaves off one of the wandering jews. I brush off the dust on each of the leaves individually.
Each day I watch my efforts fade slightly, as the apartment is lived in again