Since Ginger came into our lives, there has been little time for cleaning. Instead of scrubbing the bathtub, I am giving her a bath. Instead of sweeping the floor, we spend time playing fetch. Ginger doesn’t like it when I tidy up. I know this to be true because she never fails to attack the broom when it emerges from the closet. Also, she does her best to shred every paper towel and cleaning rag she can find, especially when they are in my hands. During the moments when I am most frustrated about the mess, I imagine knocking the whole house down and rebuilding from scratch.
On a related note, I must admit to a mild fascination with the program, Hoarding: Buried Alive. I don’t religiously watch it, but have been known to sit through three consecutive airings unable to peal myself away. Attractive in its repulsiveness, this reality show makes me want to sanitize my entire house after a binge viewing. I cannot help but feel my skin crawling as I see our own domestic clutter. Every pile of familial detritus seems akin to the featured hoarder’s mounds of unsightly waste. In my mind, a newspaper on the dining room table will soon become the highlighted family’s buried surface they haven’t eaten off of in four years. I can imagine the fire department declaring our home uninhabitable because of our disorganized study. Our fridge usually houses only one Tupperware container with week-old leftovers, but I just know that it will soon look like the roach- and rodent-infested one on TLC’s reality show. So after turning off the TV, I will find some project in the house to furiously attack, like dusting all of the bedrooms or reorganizing the bookshelf. I exaggerate, of course, but part of me has always been a minimalist and a bit of a neatnik, and if it weren’t for my other family members, I could happily live in a small space spartanly decorated with dust-free possessions.
My husband doesn’t think watching this program is a healthful activity for me. He is already convinced that I care too much about cleanliness—that I have some sort of addiction to housework, as well as an undying need to throw things away, especially his belongings. Perhaps, he believes Hoarding: Buried Alive will only feed my compulsion, and he’ll wake up one day to discover that I have finally tossed those 20-year-old issues of Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta. On the contrary, I feel like my viewing this show is beneficial in the following ways:
1. After watching, I am forced out of my chair to clean the nearest dirty/cluttered area; thus, I am moving again and obtaining much-needed exercise.
2. The house becomes a cleaner, more pleasant place to be, and he doesn’t have to lift a finger.
3. I usually find something that was lost while cleaning.
4. There are certain chores I would avoid at all costs if not for the prompting of this program; therefore we both have Hoarding: Buried Alive to thank for the reorganization of our closets. (Not to worry, somebody will inevitably mess them up again.)
5. After the initial, reality TV-fueled impression of my house being compared to a hoarder’s paradise has faded, I begin to realize that our humble abode is a pretty orderly place and abandon my more ambitious plans. Perhaps, we won’t have to resort to hiring a demolition crew after all.