Let me start with a disclaimer: it's not my fault the house is filthy. I am a wannabe minimalist (very easy to clean up after) who lives with two packrats (impossible to even guess where to start cleaning up after). And I do manage to keep the kitchen immaculate enough to please even my German ancestors, although I'm essentially an eye-level cleaner; if it's on the floor, I can ignore it. And I maintain a similar attitude toward dust that the safety experts take toward asbestos: as long as you don't disturb it, everything is fine.
However every 6 weeks or so, I start noticing how filthy the floors are, how somebody stupidly touched the buffet, thus revealing that it is actually covered in 3/4 inch of dust, and that the toothpaste splatters on the bathroom mirror obliterate any attempts at self-visualization.
This is what happened this week. And to illustrate what a major production cleaning this place actually is, here's the timeline on my one-day cleaning frenzy:
- enter basment. FInd the hose and attachments for the central vacuum and, since the furnace-duct-cleaning-guys kindly cleaned out the vacuum dirt receptacle in the fall and reattached the lid in such a manner that you cannot actually open the lid enough to change the filter anymore, pry the lid open and scoop handfuls of dust out of the receptacle until it looks empty enough to allow some suction whilst vacuuming.
- since the carpet attachment keeps falling off the central vacuum hose, dig out the secondary vacuum (glorified Dust Buster). This works well for vacuuming carpet, but shorts out after about half a room, and then requires resting for at least half an hour before it will start again. Vacuuming time is reduced with each subsequent shorting out.
- recall that secondary vacuum cleaner has not been emptied since antedeluvian times, so remove cannister and empty 2 1/2 cats' worth of hair from cannister.
- spend 20 minutes putting vacuum cleaner back together. Say "fuck" a lot.
- haul both vacuums upstairs.
- start vacuuming living room carpet with glorified Dust Buster. Get half done before machine shorts out.
- plug in central vac and start pushing little pieces of dirt around the floor. Consider descending into the basement once again to scoop more dust out of receptacle to improve suction. Say fuck it and continue pushing bits of dirt around, stooping to pick up larger bits by hand.
- after 30 minutes, try disabled secondary vacuum. It works, vacuum for 2 1/2 minutes until it shorts out again.
- alternate back and forth between vacuums until the floors on two levels are reasonable.
- recall that the family room hasn't been properly vacuumed in a very long time. Recall also that the family room floor is covered in Berber carpet, which hides a multitude of sins indefinitely, and promise that next time, it will get vacuumed. Mean it this time.
- pour a cup of now 6-hour-old coffee and check emails and blogs. Swear to get back to work once cup of coffee has been consumed. Add 15 minutes to this deadline.
- haul bucket of evil nasty chemicals to the worst of the bathrooms, turn up the computer speakers on the top floor, chase cat away from evil nasty chemicals and clean up toothpaste splatters and other much nastier substances.
- check clock and realize I have 2 1/2 hours in which to clean final bathroom, wash floors, buy groceries, exercise, and eat lunch, before appointment. Obviously one or more of these activities will have to be postponed or curtailed. Guess which will be the first activity to fall by the wayside? I'll give you a hint: it's not lunch, although it probably should be.
- repeat in six weeks.