Ev needs a house cleaner

5.15.04

I cleaned my kitchen today. It's not unusual for someone to get home from work and clean their kitchen before making dinner. It doesn't bother me. But I wonder if other cleaners have a hard time doing it.

When I first started cleaning with Evan as a job, he warned me that soon we'd get to the point where we'd want to hire someone to clean our house. That's weird, I told him, picturing some other person scrubbing my bathtub and wiping up cat hair from the kitchen floor while I was in somebody else's bathroom across town, scrubbing away.

"You'll see," he said, glancing at the sink piled with dishes. "You won't want to do it when you get home."

My friend Deena once asked me if we clean our house more often or less often since we clean other peoples' houses for work. She said she could see it going either way.

Doing this work has changed my habits of cleaning at home. I do clean more often. Cleaning surfaces is easy. It's the clutter that gets to me. Tchotchzkes. I have less and less of them in my house as a matter of fact, probably as a direct result of cleaning for a living.

Once a new client met us at the door for our first cleaning and said, "Well, I assume that your house is clean and tidy. Make mine clean and tidy too."

What pressure. I was so afraid right then that somehow that lady was going to find out where we lived, get inside and see what a mess our house was and fire us! If she only knew, I kept thinking.

Later, Evan said "Now why would someone assume that their house cleaners' house is clean and tidy?"

Because of cleaning, I've become more aware of objects around me. My friends would laugh if they read that. I have a messy house. It's not dirty, it's just disorderly in a good way. We're creative. There's always something in process, some not-quite-finished project out in the open.

For one thing I'm obsessed with knitting. So in the living room I've got five or six different baskets stuffed with yarn. I try to corral the projects into bags or desktops but they have a way of creeping out into view.

Plus, we have cats. Three indoor cats, and they all have their own stuff. Cat toys, a few pieces of furniture, and their favorite playthings -- string and gigantic pieces of brown paper. I know it sounds excessive but get over it. We love our cats okay? We buy them paper from the art store, off a big roll. Fifteen cents a yard. We spend forty-five cents and they think we're cool. But paper is a mess visually, lying around on the floor. When the neighbor pops over I always feel like our house is a mess, but it's just the paper. I usually just leave it wherever it's lying because if I pick it up to fold it Court cat comes running out to play. She responds to the crinkly noise and I don't want to tease her with the sound unless I'm ready to play. A good excuse anyway for being messy huh?

Meantime back in the kitchen, I cleaned the countertop and looked at my stuff, the microwave oven, the toaster oven, the orchid without blooms. I'm glad I don't have a coffee habit anymore. Too many accoutrements. Where would we put them?

Now when I watch a movie with a predominant shot of a kitchen, say, I notice the settings as if they're real houses. I look at the kitchen as if it needs cleaning. While other people are following the story, I'm scrutinizing. Is that black stovetop electric? I wonder how they clean the burners. When we saw Girl With a Pearl Earring I found myself wondering what Scarlet Johannssen's character was using to get the silver bowl that clean.


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