When I’m feeling out of sorts, one of the few things that can make things feel better is to do something I hate: cleaning house.
The shack hasn’t been cleaned in weeks. Though I’ve managed to keep most of the junk more or less picked up, the dust and the dog hair and the kitchen-tile spots continue to settle on the floors, like snow on the open fields. Ugh. Dog hair piles up like dunes behind the bedroom and bathroom doors; gunk builds a lovely antique patina across the kitchen floor; dust mice, which prey upon dog hair, gather in cozy tribes beneath the sofa.
Complicating matters, some major furniture moving and junk ejection has been preoccupying my fevered little mind for quite some time. And really, it’s not very practical to do all that without beating back the filth first.
Hence: cleaning frenzy.
Cassie the Corgi has been holed up in the shower stall the entire afternoon — she thinks the vacuum cleaner, the dust mop, and the rag mop can’t catch her in there, I guess. The floors are now clean but wet as a shower-stall floor. It’s about to rain, and so although the floors may dry sometime during a human’s lifetime, that human would have to be Methuselah.
But now that the worst of the dirt is shoveled out and wiped up, the sinus or migraine headache (unclear which) that’s been making me crazy for the past two days has about resolved itself. I’m still cranky as a cat, but probably will no longer bite without provocation.
And I’ve finally come to some major decisions about the expensive and the not-so-expensive hardware around this place. Videlicet:
1. The fate of the television
It’s about to be gone. The TV set, I mean, not Fate.
I can’t afford cable, nor do I especially want it. Not interested in television in general, and certainly don’t care to spend hundreds of dollars a year for 40+ channels with nothing on. Broadcast television, however, is effectively broken. It’s a rare evening when anything is playing that anyone with half a brain cares to watch. And even the few tolerable shows are a lost cause: every commercial program has more advertising than content. PBS now blasts you with advertising, too, but about half the time the PBS stations are engaged in endless beg-a-thons, during which they fill their air time with superannuated pop stars and bird-brained speechifying hucksters. For reasons unfathomable to me, when they’re begging for money they replace all the content anyone would want to watch with the likes of Suze Orman and Wayne Dyer, a strategy guaranteed to drive their regular viewers away during their fund-raising frenzies.
I just turn the television off during PBS fund-raising seasons…but lately, those seasons have come faster and thicker, meaning even less viewable content than is normally to be had in the Great Wasteland. Most evenings, the television is off. It needs to go away: the thing just occupies space and collects dust.
2. The fate of the iMac
Whatever is wrong with the back causes unbelievable, excruciating pain every time I sit down to the desk where the big desktop computer resides. Maximum length of time I can sit in front of this machine is about 15 minutes, after which I have to get up and walk around for 15 or 20 minutes. This, as you can imagine, reduces a ten-hour workday to five hours of usable time, at most. Much less than that, in reality: the kind of work I do requires long stretches of uninterrupted concentration. When I have to get up every 15 minutes, I can’t focus on the work and nothing much gets done. All day long.
Four different desk chairs, one of them very expensive, have done nothing to help.
However, in another room sits a wooden rocking chair that, come to find out, is the only chair in the house that I can sit in for any length of time. If I haul the laptop to this chair, lo! I can tolerate an hour or 90 minutes of work without crippling aftereffects. This is about how long I need to get through a single train of thought or focus on a decent chunk of academic copy.
So that’s where I’ve been working for the past few weeks. Indeed, it’s where I’m writing this very post.
The rocker came from Thos. Moser. Very expensive. However, just this moment, Thos. Moser is having a sale.
It looks like I no longer can use the iMac, which has a larger screen than my television’s, for work purposes. However, why couldn’t I stream Netflix on it? That would solve the problem of nothing to watch when I have time or inclination to watch. And it’s cheap.
3. The fate of the aged Ekornes chair
This thing is sterling uncomfortable and has been occupying space and gathering dust in the office. Years ago I purchased the contraption because my former MiL went on and on and ON about how wonderful hers was. What was I thinking? The woman never did have good sense…apparently I didn’t, either.
Select your role models with care…
Now that this expensive leather monster has resided in my precincts for 20 years (and been sat on maybe a dozen times, total, in all that time), it’s time for that thing to go, too.
4. The fate of the aged but high-quality and still nominally functional stereo system in the office
This set of gear was given to me by a friend, who dragged it to my house to yard-sale it and didn’t want to drive it back home. Hooked up to a couple of small speakers, it makes very high-quality sound.
Until the late, great room-painting fiasco, I enjoyed listening to NPR on the thing. But the painting morons yanked out the speaker wires and the antenna, rendering the system nonfunctional. My son reconnected the speakers but not the antenna, so it no longer works. Even if I knew where and how to connect the copper wires in question, I can’t move the cabinet by myself. But I have no idea how to fix it and have given up asking.
The cabinet, however, could be used to hold the reference books that are presently in the closet. Then I could clean out a closet shelf, which would clear enough room to put a couple of file crates in there, which would allow me to get rid of the rolling metal file cart, which I hate.
Ah hah! A plan: Convert the iMac into an entertainment center by subscribing to Netflix and maybe Hulu, with added bookmarks to favorite shows like Jon Stewart and some PBS and BBC programs. Get rid of the decrepit old television and its ancillary, unused junk. Clean out the TV armoire and convert it to a linen chest, which is what armoires were meant for in the first place. Give the kid first dibs on the Scandinavian Mid-Century leather throne and the stereo equipment; if he doesn’t want them, try to peddle the junk through My Sister’s Attic, and failing that, off to Goodwill with it.
Since the Thos. Moser chair is the centerpiece of the family room and since I’m feeling pretty flush just now, buy a second rocker to place in front of the iMac, allowing for several hours of relatively uninterrupted viewing time. That also will provide a place to grade papers and work on similar mind-numbers on the MacBook while some movie or TV program creates enough noise to keep me awake.
* * *
While I’m in the middle of writing this post, M’hijito shows up at the front door. Yes, he does want the Ekornes chair! He loads it into his car. Then comes back in to try to assess the wisdom of The Plan (above). He’s not nuts about it. He suggest a couple of popular variants of office chairs; I explain that I’ve tried these and they hurt. He thinks Netflix has advertising, but suggests I try their free month before buying a new Thos. Moser chair. I point out that Thos. Moser is having one of its extremely rare sales: for the first time in recorded history (and probably for the last time), they’re offering a 10% discount on the thing. But I do allow as to how if Netflix also besmirches its offerings with endless ads, then I can do without it as easily as I can do without the television.
He fixes the stereo system, mooting the scheme to get rid of that, and then climbs into his chariot and cruises off.
The stereo sounds great! Now all I need is a chair in there, so I can listen to it.