The Wide Angle: Never wait to be annoyed when it comes to cleaning

Published 5:35 pm Tuesday, April 2, 2024

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I practice a rather technical, time-associated method of cleaning at home called Timed Annoyance Cleaning or as I will refer to it throughout this nonsense you are about to read — TAC.

Even though I used the word “technical” in the opening graph, it’s actually more of a gut feeling that guides me to that time where maybe the patina on the shelf is a little too thick. That guidance or gut feeling is triggered by that moment where I’m finally just too annoyed where finally it’s time to get the job done.

Throughout my life, I’ve never really been a prolific cleaner. That’s not to say that we live in utter squalor or anything like that. Rather, it’s more of a thing where we are content with a certain level of mess that we can effectively live around until that moment where it becomes too much of a distraction in life and TAC is required.

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The great thing about TAC is that it doesn’t necessarily have to be just about the cleaning and washing of dishes. It can also carry with it an organizational component as was the case Sunday night when I upended the entire house because books were out of order.

It came about this way and started with an Easter trip to Rochester. We didn’t have a whole lot of forethought ahead of time and didn’t realize so many things would be closed due to the holiday, but luckily our near constant haunt of Barnes & Noble was open so we had book shopping to fall back on.

Some would argue that we have entirely too many books and I would respond by saying that we don’t and you are forever wrong — about everything. You can never have too many books and that will never change, but that’s the topic for another column.

There is something of a problem here, however. While it can never be argued that we have too many books, it can be argued we have too many books that we haven’t read. The reality is that we generally come back with even more books.

At any rate, I found a book I had been looking for and promptly got home and put it with my stack of books to read, placing it in the necessary order behind a couple of others.

I glanced at the portion of our library, where I have been putting our books of late and noticed a certain lack of organization, that admittedly I’ve noticed before but TAC hadn’t kicked in.

On this day, however, TAC kicked in and I decided to do something about it. There were fantasy books intermingled with history books, science fiction mixed in with still more fantasy, non-fiction with thrillers and so on and so forth.

I’m not entirely sure where the annoyance came from at that point, because I fully intended to use the afternoon for reading, which I did, relegating the organization to come at night. Which was a mistake.

Some of these books have been sitting on our shelves for months, even after promises of coming back and re-reading series or specific books. In turn, they have accumulated a certain level of dust that inevitably got kicked into the air.

You know in movies, when somebody finds an old book filled with secrets. The character caresses the ornate binding, letting their fingers trace over the gold lettering and then they take a moment to blow the dust off the cracked leather?

When the right music is added, it’s a powerful moment.

When I blow dust off of a book it leads immediately to itching eyes and near constant sneezing by all in the house. By the time Monday rolled around both of us at one point or another looked like prizefighters, complete with red and swollen eyes.

You would think spring settled in with all of the pollen in the world, proven by the chorus of coughing, sneezing and wheezing.

Gone was the magic of the book. Present was the irritants of the moment, a price paid for by TAC and it’s clear drawback as a cleaning mechanism.

Ultimately, the books got rearranged and I’m much happier with the layout. The problem is, that because we have so many, the work will need to be done again and so this sad story of procrastination will have to be retold again. It’s a tale as old as time.

Maybe next time I’ll just read the movie adaption of my next book and avoid reading all together.