Monday, June 02, 2008

swabbing the deck

this is not a mop

See that cleaning implement splayed across my kitchen floor there? That is not a mop. It is a long-handled very stiff scrub brush made to give backyard decks a seasonal once-over. I picked it up at the local farm store a few weeks ago. Thought, hmm, if it will muck moss and lichen and inches of outdoor sludge from off of coarse wood, well, then this will help me clean my kitchen floor. Right? Yes?


We've been in The House That Jake Built (I tried, little ranchy bungalow to give you some compelling moniker, but it always comes back to the elderly people who custom built the place, being that they were they only owners and all. and the home was left vacant for 25 years after they died. it's hard for me not to think about them. ahem. anyhow. . .) for about 8 months now. And my kitchen (and bathroom and laundry) floors have never been clean. Not once. Oh, they were new when we moved in. The house was donated to a college, the college slapped some putty colored paint on all the walls and The World's Worst Vinyl Flooring on the floors, put it up for sale, and we bought it.

Our first home improvement priority upon possession was to replace the original carpet with bamboo. The 1958 formica? Charming. The same vintage wall-to-wall? Not so much. But replacing the vinyl flooring didn't even register. It wasn't even on the list.

Eight months into living here, and I'll tell you: It's on the list. I tried to be Zen about it. And by Zen, I mean, hunky-dory in that air-quotey way because I'm not buddhist. And when did "zen" became such common lingo any disgruntled housewife with a dirty floor can drop it down on a blog and get away with it, anyway? And those were air quotes, by the way. I feel itchy about appropriating other people's beliefs and philosophies, but I'm totally down with dorky irony. The irony being that I'm a dork. And I use air quotes.

But the floor. It is so bad. Unlike any floor I've ever had (all the frequent moving gives me an ample personal history on this one) or noticed elsewhere. It's not smooth at all. Textured. I want to say Orange Peel, but really, more like Sandpaper. Really, rougher than it looks:

i hate my kitchen floor

Regular mopping doesn't touch the ground in dirt. And we're not all that dirty, I don't think. Our backyard is a dirt pit, yes, and the children and the dog are in and out all day long, but I sweep every day, at least once.

A while ago, I thought, I know! I'll start mopping every day! Who has time for that? I guess I do. But that wasn't good enough. So then I tried to hands and knees, hot water and scrub brush the floor every day. But that left me stiff fingered, dry-skinned, shaking my fist at the heavens and having an existential crisis in my kitchen. Because if the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a new outcome, the definition of futility is doing the same thing over and over again and knowing it doesn't matter anyway.

Last night I filled up a bucket of hot water + vinegar + a few drops of lavender oil (my usual mopping solution) and decided to have another go with the long handled scrub brush. And the brush pulled the dirt up, it does do that. But being that it's a brush and not a mop, it doesn't absorb any water, so then I need to grab an old towel to sop up the overflow and I was just about to get to that step, to the grabbing the old towel step, when I might have lost it.

I'm not going to divulge the whole story, but I might have screamed the sort of guttural, primal roar normally relegated to pushing babies out of hoo-has and I might have whacked that long handled brush against The World's Worst Vinyl Flooring with a force befitting Beowulf in the hall of halls. And I might have felt so disgusted and frustrated and DONE that I just left the whole mess in the kitchen and went to bed.

So what's the wrap up here? My husband (who spends a lot less time fretting about the cleanliness of our home, I'll tell you that) tells me I should find an acceptable level of clean and just let the rest be. But I tell him that it's none of it acceptable. It all pokes my sore spots and makes me feel like my whole existence is epitomized by a ding dang floor that won't get clean. It's either I curse my futile task, but keep at it anyway, or I give up.

I ignored last night's bucket of scrub water and broken long handled brush this morning. Walked around it while making breakfast. Tried not to make eye contact. And you know what happened a while later, when I was standing on the counter screwing in a little cup hook in the ceiling above the kitchen sink (so I can finally hang that little bluebird doodad I like so well and has lived in so many of my kitchens): the boy dumped the whole bucket of water on the floor.

I climbed down, grabbed an old towel, stepped on it, and scoot-scooted across the floor. Hollered at the girl for more towels. Kept at it. And then, then it was all dry and, maybe, sorta, a little clean? I've eliminated every other method, I guess we'll see how long this skating on wet towels in cartoon house cleaning way lasts. Except, not really skating. Because it's hard to skate on sandpaper.


midgettroyani said...

I haven't checked your blog in a few days and was happy to find TWO pieces to read!

This one is so good! You should do a zine. Or maybe I could swipe your writig (give you full credit for all of it, of course) and make a zine of some of your pieces. What do you think? Are you game? Can I? I want some of your stuff in paper form.

Angelina said...

I know what it feels like to have something in my house not work, evade all attempts to clean it, and be a daily annoyance.

I wish people would think a little bit more before slapping down flooring.

layne said...

Um, can I send you privately a picture of what my floors look like after almost a solid month of musical chairs viruses? Cause I have not been mopping my industrial linoleum at all. Tomorrow's the day for sure, but your floors beat the heck out of mine. The obsession is really endearing though.