Two Square Feet

>> Monday, March 15, 2010

I have been working hard on finding a way to keep this house one step ahead of the forces of Entropy and Chaos without losing my mind from boredom. With my housemates, this task is not even close to being easy.

Finally, though, I am proud to admit a secret I have been keeping. I have a system that allows me to recover from the most viscious of Entropy attacks in a much shorter time, without completely losing my mind. I call it the "Two Square Feet" method, and I have successfully used it for the past six months.

Now, at the risk of boring you to tears, let me give you a brief explanation. Don't worry, I won't bother to give you all the little rules I've invented to help keep myself entertained and motivated. I do like you to come back, you know. I will just give you the basics. For the most part, I start in one specific spot in the house and radiate my cleaning outward. I find a much greater sense of accomplishment when my "neat and clean" sections of the house are all contiguous. That way, if I turn one way, I see clean counters and floors, with no clutter, as far as my eyes can travel. Of course, I pointedly ignore the mountain of crap stacked immediately behind me. The mountain doesn't matter, just the oasis in front of me.

The game, in essence, is that I try to reclaim an extra two square feet to this contiguous space every week or so. If I do, I'm winning. If I can't hold the borders and have to retreat, then Entropy is winning. In the worst case, I know I will always be able to retreat to my starting point and begin again. I know that no one, not even Entropy, will ever get my starting point away from me. First of all, the floor of my starting point contains the cat food dishes. No one in their right mind will ever allow mess to come between my cats and their food, so I will always keep that clean for peace in our time. Second, the countertop immediately above the cat food dishes contains my one-cup coffee maker. Even I am not brave enough to come between myself and my coffee machine, and no one else in the house is either. So, if all else fails, I have two square feet of space in my house that is perpetually mine, with no one else's misplaced junk. It's just me, the cat food, and the coffee. You will find me standing there if there is an earthquake. (I guess it is a good thing that it's basically under an interior doorway too, right?)

On my best frontal assaults, I can claim my kitchen, my entranceway, my living room, the stairs, the downstairs bathroom, and a small portion of the family room. (The family room is where the toys are, so a small portion of it is a huge success.) On my worst days, I'm standing next to the coffee pot, afraid to move, looking at the giant "honey-do" pile that lives right next door to the coffee pot. Those are scary days.

Right now, I am optimistically trying to plan where I will reclaim my next 2 square feet. I could try to push further into the family room, but with all the toys, that could mean a huge burden on my daily rounds. I could try to head out into the dining room, but the only reason the entranceway is clean is because I moved the loose photo collection into the dining room, and I'm not ready to tackle that pile yet.

Warily, I am thinking I might have to tackle the hardest room of all next ... the laundry room. What is so hard about the laundry room? Well, in this house the laundry room is also known as the cat's toilet, and Darling Husband's "work storage." I resent that, because he has an entire bench out in the garage, but he took advantage of my height and got to all the shelves before I found a chair, and it has been that way since we moved in.

Let me put it this way. We once tried making our own candles (and by "we" I mean "he"), and I lost a perfectly good double handled pot in the experience. I last saw it on the top shelf. Then there is all the failed pet products, some broken toys waiting an eternity to be repaired, and a few dozen paper bags shoved next to the wall beside a few dozen more "work towels" and other various "project" paraphenalia.

Cleaning this room could either be a bonanza for the garage sale and the garbage man, or it could be a complete and utter disaster from which I may never recover.

I wish I knew which.

I'd actually contemplate chickening out, but then my only choices would be our bedroom or the basement.

Yeah. Not a good choice at all.


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