Saturday, March 10, 2007

Spring Cleaning

The outside temps reached the lower 50's yesterday, and the shining sun turned the fresh snowfall of Tuesday night into piles of tired-looking, dirty mush. Hmmm...I guess that means it's time to fire up the gumption and begin the monumental task of tackling the annual Spring Cleaning job!

Oof. What a nightmare that basement is! See, that area is the penultimate receptacle for all the detritus of the previous year. What happens is this: stuff comes into the house, necessitating the rearrangement of OTHER stuff that was already here. (If you'd like a good laugh, check out the classic George Carlin bit A Place for my Stuff, wherein he makes such time-honored observations as "That's what a house is: a pile of stuff with a cover on it." and "Have you ever noticed that YOUR shit is stuff, and somebody ELSE'S SHIT?!?") Eventually it is decided that SOME stuff is no longer wanted and/or needed, and so the sad journey begins: the March of the Unwanted Stuff.

Some stuff ends up in "handy" storage: that's a drawer maybe, or in a good box that gets stashed in the half-attic over our dining room & kitchen. Other stuff makes the move to the basement, sort of akin to being taken to a "holding cell" the night before capital punishment is carried out. Stuff can really pile up in the basement: I'm much too busy during the summer to really care about how things get stored down there. As long as I have easy access to the tools, the rest of it can go hang as far as I'm concerned. Fall, too, comes with a fairly loose attitude toward the growing pile of stuff in the basement. Can I reach the orange-&-black tub with the Halloween decor? Check. Can I drop that tub just sort of at the bottom of the stairs and still finagle the red-&-green tubs of holiday shit upstairs? Check. Then the inevitable cold sets in, a time when no one really wants to hang out in the basement; hey, it's handy storage, but with no heat vent and more drafts than a Storyville whore, we're lucky to keep the temp down there somewhere in the 50's!

Ultimately, though, a nice day hits and I realize that I need to get shit straight so that I can get to the tools in only a month or so. I'll head down, usually not even knowing where to begin: eventually I just grab something and find a place for it. That leads to the next thing, and the next, and pretty soon I'm making some headway, clearing off a few precious square feet of floor that I can sweep and use as a foxhole of sorts while I attack the rest of the stuff with a vengance. This is where the hard part comes in: some stuff, like 15-year-old cans of paint left by the previous owner, can make that final trip down the green mile to the garage, there to await our town's Free Pickup weekend in mid-May. Some stuff, having innate value (but not to ME anymore) joins the pile of eBay-worthy things, to await a new home with a more desiring owner. Other stuff, though...other stuff is harder.

Here's a box marked "Keepsake Shit." Hmmm...inside it is...WTF? Report cards from grade school?!? Concert programs from college?!? Holy crap...what do I DO with all this stuff??? See, that's the hard thing: I'm a pack-rat at heart, and a saver as well, and so I have these random shoe boxes filled with shit that I've stashed away. Notes and love letters from Miss Tessmacher? Check. Old concert ticket stubs? Check. Having saved these items for "so long" now, I find that it's very difficult to part with them. But...the logical part of me wonders: who am I saving these things FOR? Will I look back from 2034 and say "Hey, a Ringo Starr ticket! Yeah, that night was GREAT!"? Mmmm...doubtful. Will I show it to Roslyn someday and say (with pride) "Hey, yer old man saw a Beatle once!"? (Her reply: "Daddy, what's a beetle?" D'oh!) Who WANTS these things?? Finally, unable to part with the past while paradoxically clueless about who will enjoy it in the future, I'll put these orts of who-I-once-was back into their shoebox, and mildly entertain the notion of building some shelves under the stairs...yeah, that'd be good, get all these boxes up off the floor so that spring runoff doesn't seep in & ruin them. Gotta keep 'em safe, for...well, for someone...

Basement clean, I'll end up turning the garage into a warren of lumber scraps and flourescent light tubes, things precariously balanced in such a way that I have to be careful opening the overhead door, lest a light breeze waft in and tumble my piles, Jenga-like, to the floor. And thank HEAVEN St. Johns has that Free Pickup weekend: everyone schleps THEIR shit out to the curb during the week, and worse pack-rats than I could ever be drive slowly around town in their Sanford & Son-era pickups, trolling for unseen treasures or useful bits of electronics. I actually threw away most of my kitchen last year: cupboards, countertops, bags of ripped-up sheet vinyl...all gone. Then, on Saturday, the last of the unwanted stuff gets picked up and unceremoniously tossed into the garbage truck, to clutter up a landfill somewhere. (The eco-friendly guy in my shudders at this.) Basement clean, garage clean, I can now go about the business of renovating the stairwell, stripping the rocker so that we have somewhere to collapse when Roz wakes us up in the middle of the night, and all the outdoor stuff that needs to happen: mowing, trimming, weeding, planting, and all the rest. But next spring...what do I do with this CRADLE my mother made?!?


Blogger Jenn-Jenn, the Mother Hen said...

The cradle gets kept for the next little 'un. And if you and Tess don't have 'nother one, you save it for Roz to use with her future little 'uns, and so on and so forth. I have an antique wooden play pen (that puppy is HUGE) that my parents used for my sister, then my brother, then me, then I used it for my son, and hopefully someday for at least one other little 'un, then I'll pass it down to whichever of my offspring has a kid first, then they can pass it back and forth as they have little 'uns... and so forth.

4:51 PM  
Blogger Tess said...

You're kidding right? Roz won't KNOW what a Beatle is let alone be able to recite their names?! Come on. You, who plans to drape our child in nothing but Kiss one-sies for the first year of her life, do not understand that Mommy is going to have just as much influence in her musical development. So, plan to raise a child proficient in both Beatle and Kiss-lore. What's a "beetle"- sheesh!

10:44 AM  
Blogger L*I*S*A said...

Roz will know much more than Kiss and even the Beatles. I plan on introducing her to the world of Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd. :)

4:05 PM  
Blogger Mike said...

i've been thinking of putting some Springsteen stuff together for Roz.

Cause Rosalyn is tooo close to Rosalita...

After all, i used to sing Mack to sleep with "i'm on fire"

8:16 AM  

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