Sunday, September 15, 2002
On Domestic Tasks

Cooking is only fun when it's purely recreational. It is sometimes pleasurable to play at making exotic, frivolous dishes such as Coq au Vin, Roast Duckling, Tiramisu, or Trifle. The obligatory day-to-day preparation of foodstuffs, however, is really quite tedious. One finds oneself obsessively fixating on a particular food such as frozen winter squash, or steamed artichokes, or Praline Pecan ice cream and simply eating it day after day (after day) in order to simplify the whole feeding process, until one becomes sick to death of it, and must figure out another solution to the Food Problem. Such as eating a giant waffle for dinner at 10:30 p.m. and being rather unsure if one is Pleased With Self or Hugely Disgusted With Self.

Washing dishes can be highly satisfying. It doesn't take too long, doesn't involve vile or toxic-smelling cleaning products -- in fact, there is something quite pleasing about the scent of green apple dish detergent -- and one can simply daydream, or listen to the Indigo Girls, while washing. There is a sense of accomplishment when all the dishes are stacked up in the dishrack, the counters have been wiped clean, and the kitchen seems tangibly improved and brought to order.

Scrubbing the toilet is misery. One suddenly becomes cognizant of germs and bacteria seething and teeming about in unpleasant ways (whereas one had lived in a state of blissful denial before) and therefore ends up with a paranoid, unclean feeling. Toilet-bowl-cleaning products always smell so nose-hair-scaldingly toxic that one is surely convinced that brain cells are being killed off in the service of a sparkly bowl, and of course the bathroom door must remain shut throughout the duration -- increasing the likelihood of brain damage -- so the cats don't poison themselves by inadvertently drinking out of the toilet bowl, as they are so wont to do.

One never really craves vacuuming -- because it always feels like a bit of an ordeal -- so one ends up procrastinating until dust, debris, and furballs become manifestly visible. However, there is always a highly gratifying Cosmo Makeover feeling after vacuuming -- a marked sense of substantive difference between Before and After -- so that, in the end, even though one might have felt grumpy about having to vacuum, one can inevitably feel pleased with oneself afterwards.

Taking out the trash can be a pain in the ass, particularly in inclement weather, or if one has unfortunately purchased substandardly reliable garbage bags, yet it is always nonetheless deeply satisfying -- it's so symbolically cleansing and psychologically resonant, how could it not be?

One always feels virtuous after watering the plants -- particularly if they have started to look a bit despondently wilted and pinched about the edges of their leaves -- because several hours after watering, they start to perk up and appear miraculously more fleshier, hale, and robust. It is unspeakably annoying, however, when water comes dripping or cascading out of the bottom of the hanging basket planters, even when one thought one had been very careful to only water just the right amount.

Dusting is a fucking bore.

Mopping is really too dull to contemplate -- and, after all, one finds that it is frequently difficult to ascertain what is dirt, and what is just worn-out linoleum, -- thus rendering it a rather pointlessly frustrating endeavor.

Laundry is perhaps the most odious of all domestic chores, particularly when one has to schlep all of one's laundry over to the laundromat. The act of laundry itself is not all that terrible -- folding the clean-smelling clothes, towels, and sheets while they are still warm from the dryer is, for example, not altogether unpleasant. It's the schepping of the laundry, however, that one finds hopelessly onerous -- not to mention all of that grotesque flinging about of one's underwear in public. Really, it is just too despicable for words!

Posted by Artichoke Heart | 1:36 AM |
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Books by Artichoke Heart
Beyond Heart Mountain
Year of the Snake

Poems by Artichoke Heart
Songs for a Rainy Season
Toothpick Warriors
Snake Wife
Happy Hour
Girl With A Bowl On Her Head

Pillow Book Courtiers Of The
East Wing
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Pillow Book Courtiers Of The
West Wing
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