It’s the small things, really

The longer I’m married, the more I realize that Mr. Johnson and I may not have as much in common as I originally thought. Fourteen years ago.

I walked into the dining room Tuesday night where he was looking at sketches of some kind. I held out an orange pillowcase and said to him, in an excited voice, ‘look at this!’ He looked up. Squinted his eyes for a bit while moving his head around to give the impression that he was trying to discern something from the situation before him. ‘It’s a pillowcase?’ he guessed.

‘Notice anything different?’ I asked impatiently. I’d been certain he would figure it out right away; that this moment would be as exciting for him as it was for me. Wrong.

He squinted his eyes and bobbed his head some more. Speechless.

‘It’s CLEAN!!!!’ I unveiled the mystery.

‘Oh yeah,’ he backpedaled, ‘I’d noticed it was kind of dirty.’ But I was already out of the room.

The clean pillowcase represented two years of procrastination and passive aggressive pondering-while-doing-nothing on my part. And because we apparently hail from two different planets, my better half did not pick up on that when I held the piece of fabric in front of him.

I don’t know why, but I am the worst procrastinator of all times. Find something I should/ought/need to do and I’ll find twenty things I don’t need to do at all. And do them instead. We’ve been back from our roadtrip for two weeks now, and all my intentions to really clean the house have gone unrealized. I’ve planned social outings. And outdoor excursions. I’ve written ridiculous posts for my blog and organized my digital pictures. I’ve baked brownies three times. And zucchini bread, twice.

But the house, save some haphazard surface cleaning, remained in a state of disarray.

So I got up Tuesday morning determined to tackle the beast. Which was just as well since the weather was foul and it was, indeed, the perfect day to be at home. And clean.

I started at 8am: Laundry. Upstairs bathroom. Laundry. Boys’ bedroom. Laundry. Baby’s room. Our bedroom. Laundry. Laundry. Downstairs bathroom. Living room. Laundry.

I emptied out the laundry basket in the upstairs bathroom and sorted the clothes in piles. Warm. Cold, Whites. Darks. My eyes jumped to the bottom of the empty basket, which contained one of my many procrastination sins.

In the bottom of the basket lay….a bunch of baking soda. And two plastic flossing-sticks for kids. They’d been squatting there on a bed of soda for….months. I couldn’t even say how many. One day, while I was opening the medicine cabinet, the container of soda fell from the top of the cabinet all the way into the basket. I fished out the orange soda box. But left the soda.

And, three or four months later, I finally cleaned it out. It took exactly five seconds. Required very little effort. And, it was done. The baking soda monkey was off my back.

I felt energized. ‘What else can I do that I’ve been putting off for ridiculous amounts of time?’ I thought to myself.

Fix the rug in our bedroom. The one that has been crooked and folded in half since we moved the king-sized bed into our room. A month and a half ago. This required that I summon the professor, and pretend not to notice the annoyed look on his face when I asked him to lift up the enormous bed. So I could fix the rug.

On a roll, I cleaned the gunky washing machine top next. And the gunky (other) laundry basket. Both covered in excess amounts of Tide detergent and lint. It took less than ten minutes. I cleaned out the recycling bins. Cleared out (and cleaned) the shoe organizer. I called the plumber who was supposed to come back last week to fix our perpetually running toilet. But didn’t.

Five hours later, I was still going strong, when I came face to face with the pillowcases. Five years ago, my sister gave me a couple of orange silk pillowcases. They’d gotten decidedly grungy in the last eighteen months, and I’d noticed it but hadn’t done anything about it. I’d assumed, since they were silk, that they’d have to be dry-cleaned. I’d assumed, since they hadn’t been cleaned in five years, that they were ruined.

And I’d have to buy some new covers. Or make my own.

Hence the mental detente. Hence the continued usage of gross-looking couch cushions. But on Tuesday, that ended. I removed the covers. And peeked at their tags – just to confirm what I’d suspected: that they needed to be dry-cleaned.

‘Wash in cold water, on delicate’ the tags demanded.

I was wrong. I’d been wrong for two years. I ran to the (momentarily empty) washing machine and threw the two pieces of orange fabric in the machine.

Forty minutes later, they were clean as the day I received them.

It was a minor miracle. Though not, apparently, in the professor’s opinion.

And, the next day, I noticed the one pillowcase seemed a little frayed. I took a look at the tag. Maybe I hadn’t looked at both tags? ‘Do not wash. Professionally dry clean only.’


4 thoughts on “It’s the small things, really

  1. You. Rock. Next thing ya know you’ll be training for a marathon and become one of “those” people. 🙂

  2. If you recall that baking soda is used to remove odors, you can justify the baking soda spill as deodorizing the smelly laundry! I had a day like yours last week. I feel like I make such progress, but it is only a personal victory.

  3. D – I think that’s why I left the baking soda in there for so long. I hope if it had been chocolate syrup that I would have cleaned it up a lot sooner. Kim, I’m pretty sure your house is a zillion times cleaner than mine at any given moment. Thanks VS. Baby steps, right 🙂


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