Sunday, October 5, 2008

Why I'm going to have a housekeeper when I grow up

I spent the first two days in my new place alone, as the roommates both went out of town for the weekend. This was fine with me, as it allowed me to clean, organize, and throw away to my heart's content. Just to put things in perspective, I arrived on Friday evening, and my first order of business was to go to the store for groceries. Then I came back, unpacked, took a look around, and immediately headed back to the store for light bulbs and toilet paper. You know, frivolous little things that allow you to see in the dark and, well, you know what toilet paper is used for, although I suppose it is more necessitous for some of us than for others. I woke up bright and early on Saturday morning and have been scrubbing, rinsing, de-gunkifying and otherwise working my fingers to the bone since then. Or at least to the fingernails (and you know that's serious). I started out by boxing up and storing away piles of other people's belongings that were scattered about my room, followed by throwing away bags and bags of garbage, which were mostly other empty bags, actually. It seems Big's ex-wife had a bit of a bag problem, something I can identify with, as I used to have a bit of a bag-hoarding problem myself until I quit cold turkey about a year ago. Unfortunately the one tiny trash can outside is already full to the brim, and there are still so many bags full of other bags to be thrown away, and so will have to wait until after trash day, whenever that is. I then attacked the toilet, a sight so horrifying it was like looking into the depths of the underworld. It was a multi-step process requiring hours of elbow grease and almost an entire bottle of cleanser to dig through the layers of accumulated grime and years' worth of mineral deposits, but I'm happy to say that in the end the powers of clean triumphed over evil, and now even the most discriminating of bottoms can rest atop it in complete confidence and ease.

I dragged myself out of bed with considerably more difficulty this morning, hearing the sound of the rain pounding on the roof, and the thought of having to pick up a sponge one more time sending me diving back under my borrowed and mismatched covers. I finally did get myself up, unwillingly, to tackle this morning's main project: the bathtub. This was again an experimental process requiring many different combinations of cleansers, a lot of elbow grease, and a boatload of perseverance. At some point, while I was waiting for my third application of chemicals to work its magic, I decided to get some breakfast started in the kitchen. As there is no toaster, I placed my bread to grill in the oven, and returned to the bathroom to scrub the grout with a toothbrush while I waited. Not even 90 seconds later I was called rudely back by an acrid odor, and entered the kitchen to find clouds of billowing black smoke pouring out of the oven. Barely able to see my way to turn it off and open a window, I beat a hasty retreat and closed the door behind me to escape the noxious fumes. It was then that I realized- hey, no smoke detectors. Fun! Chalk it up to just another kooky difference between France and America. (Although, Internet, if I die, you will know what happened. Tell my story!) When it was safe to enter again, I opened the oven door and found my bread, pale and untoasted, and covered in flakes of greasy black ick, sort of like snow, if you're in the middle of nuclear fallout. I vaguely remembered Mr. Big mentioning that the oven "works fine," which sort of made me wonder when the last time anyone had tried to use it was. Ok, so next project on the agenda: clean the oven. I'd just like to mention here that I have never actually cleaned an oven in my life, preferring to leave that job to other people, and mostly, avoiding the issue by ensuring that it doesn't ever become that dirty in the first place, a process that has worked fairly well for me for the last ten years. But there's a first time for everything, and so I found the bottle of oven cleaner under the sink, followed the outlined procedure from start to finish, scrubbing away charred black filth and emptying bucket after bucket of muddy, greasy water, and when I was done, starting over and doing the whole thing again. After all is said and done, however, I am only marginally more confident that the thing won't still kill us all. Not only that, but despite a grimy toothbrush and my best intentions, I was unable to scrub the blackish mold off the grout in the tub, a failure that frustrates me to no end, as I'm sure you've been able to figure out if you know me even a little by now. Now it's only 2:00 in the afternoon and there is still so much more to clean, but I can't. I just...can't. But you know what they say: Rome wasn't conquered in a day, and slow and steady wins the race, so I think right now calls for eating some chocolate and watching The Office online, two things that always put me in a better frame of mind.

Speaking of which, Jim and Pam: thoughts, anyone? I used to be as big a Jim and Pam fan as you could find, back when they were cute and flirtatious and star-crossed, but now that they're actually together I've been finding them pretty insufferable. Is it just me and my bitter spinster side coming out, or are they actually as annoying as I think they are?

Alternatively, chocolate- it's good stuff, right? At the moment I'm munching on some store-brand milk chocolate with hazel nuts. What's your favorite kind?


  1. In no particular order:

    Côte d'Or Pistache Noir
    Alter Eco Noir Citron
    Côte d'Or Noir Truffé

    Or, when you're in Grenoble/Voiron, anything by Bonnat.

    Please try all, and think of me.

  2. Yes, I'm going to have to stop being such a cheapskate and quit buying the Monoprix brand and spring for the good stuff! Since I'm under orders, I will happily try all, and report back. :)

  3. i am on the fence about the jim and pam thing- happy for them but unhappy that now officially EVERYONE in the universe is coupled up but me and you-er moi et tu?

  4. Moi et toi, actually. Close though! :)

  5. Also, I love how we can be "happy for them" as if they're real people. Ahhh, the power of television. Or should I say, télévision!

  6. Mmmm chocolate. I'm a teensy tiny bit addicted to Lindt. All kinds of Lindt. Those Swiss know their stuff.

    I have also partaken in some Cote d'Or that Liz mentioned. Mmmmm.

    Oh God, time to raid the pantry.

  7. Good news! The black mold fades to mild gray a few weeks after you kill it. Just keep regularly throwing bleach at it. I spent most of Sat. gardening and then Sunday cleaning the ground floor of the house and my room. Satisfaction comes in so many forms as we age!

    If you get bored with The Office, check out It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia.

  8. That's why self-cleaning ovens are the best. I wasn't even sure that people cleaned ovens anymore.

  9. Um, you are brave to tackle that much in a weekend. My oven started smelling funny when I used it on Saturday, so I just cooked my food in the toaster. I am pathologically lazy, though.

    I am OK with Jim and Pam, but mostly only because I can't stand it when TV shows do that on-again/off-again stuff for ever and ever (cough- Ross & Rachel).

  10. I had an oven fiasco of my own last week. Came home from a week long vacation, turned on the usual rear left burner to boil water for my morning tea, and the WORST stinch EVER radiated through the whole house. Not sure what was on the burner, but it smelled like burning concentrated cat urine or salmon marinated in rotten eggs, brought to a burning crisp. A week later, the smell still lingers in most of the fabrics in the house. We still don't know what was actually on the burner.