Monday, September 27, 2010

Literary Cleaning

Although my need to clean could often be categorized as obsessive, anal, or sometimes even OCD freakish oh my fucking hell Jody can you just leave the candy wrapper on the table for four seconds without spazzing out, there are some things that I do not do on a regular basis:
  1. Wash windows. There are people with really big ladders and really cool squeegees that do a much better job in a shorter amount of time for not that much money. And besides, within minutes after I get the windows washed, it either A) rains, or B) a bird with really good aim flies by and, well, you can probably figure out the rest.
  2. Move heavy furniture just so that I can vacuum six pieces of fuzz from underneath. Now, if a kid were to spill an entire box of Nerds underneath a dresser and the vacuuming was rewarded with the satisfying sound of thwack thhhckckc thwick, well, in that case I would voluntarily be moving heavy furniture.
  3. Clean behind the refrigerator every month because that seems insane.
  4. Shampoo the carpet three times a year. Instead, we take our shoes off, don't smoke, and refrain from spilling giant plates of sauce-based foods in the family room.
  5. Dust each and every book on the bookshelves.
According to statistics, not only does the average adult read only four books a year but in addition, one in four adults reads zero books. And if you're wondering where our family falls in this statistic, the average would be around 25, since Doug manages to get through at least 50 books a year and I manage to find the plot lines and identify the antagonist in exactly zero. And because Doug isn't a guy that goes to the library and just recently switched over to e-readers, we have a lot of books. Like, multiple shelves of books. And yes, these shelves are confined to one room that isn't in a high-traffic area, but nonetheless, they still get dusty.

Since we have recently become a petless household (except for Zoe's goldfish, but it doesn't shed), I have been on a mission to eradicate every corner and crevice of this house of all dust, lint and traces of dog hair. So I figured since I'm spending so much time with dust rags, cans of Pledge and Swiffer cloths, I might as well tackle the bookshelves while I'm already sneezing.

Luckily for me, Real Simple included a short article in it's September issue called "A Big Bookcase: Decluttered and Dusted in 15 Minutes or Less" and I thought holy shit! Really? A big bookcase dusted in 15 minutes? Or less? That's fantastic! These must be some amazing tips! Turns out, the article should have been located in the fiction section, subsection humor.

Minute 1: Put on an apron with pockets and lay an old sheet around the base of the bookcase.

I do not own an apron, let alone an apron with pockets. Besides, I thought I was going to be cleaning a bookshelf, not baking a cake. And because of my need to get rid of things I do not use (example: old sheets), I do not own an old sheet.

Minute 2: Scan your books. If you see any you've been meaning to get rid of, toss them in a pile for donation.

Upon scanning, I notice that there are several books that I wouldn't mind getting rid of, if I also wanted a certain someone named Doug to have grounds for divorce. But I also came across an organization book and temporarily got distracted.

Minute 3: Load your apron pockets with a few Swiffer sheets and a dozen silica-gel packets. Use an extendable duster and swipe the top of the shelf.

Again, no apron pockets to load and what the hell do they mean "Minute 3?" I was supposed to be able to scan a big bookcase worth of books in one minute? It took me closer to 28 minutes but at least I got some great ideas about organizing a pantry. Oh, and the silica-gel packets -- are they talking about those little paper packets that are printed "DO NOT EAT" that come in shoe boxes that I throw away within seconds of taking the shoes out of the box? This article is getting weirder by the word.

Minutes 4 to 5. Use a hair dryer to blow dust off the tops and spines of books, working your way from the top to the bottom of the bookcase.

This seems like a really great idea, but where do they think all that dust is going to end up? I'll tell you where: 50% of it ended up coming to rest on the wood blinds, which are even less fun to clean than the bookshelf, and the other 50% ended up lodged in my nostrils.

Minutes 6 to 9: Pull books halfway out, four or five at a time, and dust behind the books with a Swiffer sheet.

Realistically, this would happen during minutes 38 to 57, but at this point who's keeping track.

Minutes 10 to 12: Push books all the way back and use a Swiffer sheet to clean the area in front.

OK, even though I don't dust the entire bookshelf every week, I do manage to dust the area in front of the books every few days without hating the chore. But now there's so much crap in the air from their moronic hairdryer suggestion that my eyes are watering heavily and I can't stop sneezing. Now I hate this chore.

Minute 13: Wipe the frame of the bookcase with a Swiffer sheet or duster.

I'm now using the Swiffer sheet to blow my nose.

Minute 14: Reposition books a couple of inches from the edge of each shelf. Toss a few silica-gel packets behind each row.

I'm finally done sneezing and am seriously contemplating opening a beer. But first I think I'll go shoe shopping in order to acquire a few silica-gel packets.

Minute 15: Roll up the sheet and shake the dust from it outdoors. Now peruse your pristine library and find the right title to read next.

While this sounds really tempting, I think I'll skip the whole "let's fling more dust in the air so it can enter my sinus passages" and continue with my streak of zero books a year. And while I'm sure that Doug will manage to find something to read, he probably won't be pulling it off the shelves of the newly clean bookcase. Because he already downloaded the book to either his iPad or Kindle, where the books are neatly organized on digital, dust-free shelves.

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