Thursday, July 13, 2023

Watching Nothing.


Dear Cleaning Ladies (and Gentlemen),

I was cleaning today.  Y'all know I do not like cleaning, because it is never done, and it is never done well enough, and I do not like the world's gender fueled expectations of me to be a 'cleaner.'  

But, because someone is coming, and I want to sit leisurely paying attention to The Guest, and not to hear the following from my constantly babbling interior monologue voice (which should probably have a name; perhaps Hank?): "they are seeing the muddy paw prints, the myriad spider webs, the velvety dust, and the stains on the carpet and table" while we talk.

Another reason Hank and I fret over mess, is that people are not that comfortable in disarray- they feel like they should 'do' something; I don't like being around people who are antsy like that, even when the person is me (or, especially when the person is me, or Hank).

Conversely, and Hank might just be surprised to hear this, I have used these expectations as self-defense:  "What are you doing?" the world keeps asking, and I know I must answer that I am contributing to well being and my community:  I say, "Oh, you know, cleaning up some stuff- it's never ending!"  This often sounds a bit too cheerful, and I worry people will know I am fibbing.

What am I really doing?  Research, in my lab (I am doing it now).  How do I do it?  It involves a LOT of not-doing; and a lot of circular actions, and gazing.  Also, what you might call thinking, but of course, I do a lot of thinking when I am actually cleaning, too, so I am not sure that the 'thinking' counts.  It looks like me, in bed until noon.  It looks like me, partially dressed, poking through my books and notes.   It looks like me typing on the computer, writing to you here, and also sorting.  Sorting looks like me searching websites, or pages of on-sale shoes; rifling through my collection of hankies and taking some out to be given back to the thrift store.  Recompiling months of to do lists in yet another 'master list.'  

Research looks like sitting on the porch watching nothing/everything.  It looks a lot like living, except it is much more engaging, vital, and important.