Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Unfinished Children

A week from today Robert gets his cast off--he'll be a free man, if not in Paris. And a week from tonight, I will be in Asheville. Which will be lovely. Even if I will feel somewhat guilty for not being there when the cast comes off.

For reasons unknown to me, I have been obsessed with cleaning for the last five or six days. I like things to be clean, but I generally pay other people to do that for me. Last weekend, after my nanny/housekeeper left to visit her family in Ghana, I started looking around at the family room and kitchen area. She hadn't really done a lot of heavy cleaning in there over the last few weeks due to Robert spending most of his time in there and so many other people being around.

I've had two colds in the last six weeks, which is unusual for me. One of them required antibiotics. Everything just seemed dirty--so I sent everyone out on the porch, and I vacuumed, and I swept, and I vacuumed some more. And I got out the special mop for the hardwood floor application, and I applied that by hand, on my hands and knees because the stupid mop handle broke. It was this huge amount of physical activity and felt great. And the house really felt clean and the floors really looked great.

Then the next day I tackled our bedroom and my office, which hasn't been cleaned for a while because it is constantly piled with papers--on the various surfaces and all over the floor. I couldn't believe the amount of dirt the vacuum brought up. I vacuumed, like the family room, every crevice and moved the furniture and cleaned the baseboards. And under the bed. And I washed the pillows and the comforter.

And then today, I went to the hardware store and bought a new mop, which has been redesigned by the company. And new attachments for it for dusting (it has a huge velcro strip on the bottom and takes all of these cleaning cloths) and for applying hardwood floor Restorer. And I bought a hand-vac for doing the overhead HVAC vents. And I bought new furnace filters for the gas furnace in the basement and the heat pump in the attic. I bought special hypo-allergen, micro-dust fiber catcher thingies that cost far more than one should spend on a three-month furnace filter. But I've been coughing. And I discovered, after reasoning through it carefully, that the filter in the basement furnace was actually in the out-going air vent, not the in-coming air vent. Because I realized, when I thought about it, that I knew where the air-intake vent was in the family room, and so the giant hose by the furnace could not also be an air-intake area, but must be the out-going air vent--which meant I've been putting the filter in backwards now for quite some time.

And all of the above has both everything and nothing to do with writing. And it's probably tedious for whomever might be reading this to read. The last time I had this big a surge in interest in household cleanliness, I was pregnant. This has everything and nothing to do with writing. Being pregnant now would not be good, for oh, so many reasons. This has everything and nothing to do with writing. The last time I found myself in this extended an organizational frenzy, that involved reorganizing and, thus, cleaning because reorganizing inevitably involves cleaning, I was NOT pregnant, but I had just finished my master's essay. This has everything to do and nothing to do with writing. But I spent all this time cleaning and re-organizing--I actually built bookshelves for my office and reorganized all of my books. And I worked on my shoes and built shelves for those. And I bought a new microwave and put the silverware, all of it from the good stuff to the kids plastic stuff to the peelers and corers and bottle openers, in a new, bigger drawer.

And that had everything to do and nothing to do with writing. But it was like being pregnant. And then I had this huge outpouring of work. Which was different from being pregnant, but something like it. And then there was all this poetry and thought and work. And it didn't cry or demand attention or need cleaning up afterwards--because it was there and mostly fully formed. So it was like a child, but much better than a child at the same time. Or like a child, but better because I already have all of the children that I want, and one more would just upset the apple cart. So poems were better.

And soon I will be off to residency to start my last semester. And the house I will leave clean. And I will leave, pregnant or not. And my children I will leave unfinished, to return to when I return. And I will go off to tend to one world while another stands in limbo. And it will be a good thing. Pregnant or not.

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