Confessions of a Cleaning Addict

This was the scene viewed from our garage this morning. Despite not having any problems driving on the gritty snow, our schools closed today, including basketball playoffs, so aside from photographing the snow, I have no assignments.
This was the scene viewed from our garage this morning. Despite not having any problems driving on the gritty snow, our schools closed today, including basketball playoffs, so aside from photographing the snow, I have no assignments.
One of the coolest things I found was this composition department paste-up of an ad from 1994 of the staff at The Ada News. It's amazing how many people in this image were fired, are in prison, or died. People to whom I show this say that I "still look the same."
One of the coolest things I found was this composition department paste-up of an ad from 1994 of the staff at The Ada News. It’s amazing how many people in this image were fired, are in prison, or died. People to whom I show this say that I “still look the same.”

In the last few days I’ve been cleaning a large, empty section of our office. Two things I have noticed consistently…

  1. People constantly joke about having me come to their houses to clean.
  2. The stuff I am cleaning should have been trashed the day it was used up, but instead it was shoved to the back of a drawer or a cabinet and left to gather dust mites and roach eggs for, in many case, 25 years or longer.

I’ve come across some truly amazing and amusing artifacts. One that particularly summons a long-ago memory was several sheets of reinforcers, round stickers about the size of a dime used to reinforce the holes in paper that goes in three-ring binders. I’ve used these once in a while in adult life, but when I was in seventh grade, they were a big part of what I can only describe as the sh!ttiest idea I’ve ever seen in education: having 12 year olds work on math without much supervision on “practice sets,” then line up in another room to take tests on what you were supposed to learn from the practice sets. The teachers sat in the front of the room “in case you need help.” It seemed to me at the time and to this day that the whole thing was engineered so the teachers would have as little work as possible.

The reinforcers were used on the holes in the practice sets, and the requirement for using them was almost fetishistic.

When I was 12, I laid awake at night worrying about these stupid things. I ended up with a marginal "C" in the class.
When I was 12, I laid awake at night worrying about these stupid things. I ended up with a marginal “C” in the class.

Speaking of seventh grade fetishes, I once saw a science teacher tie up one of my classmates, a guy. It was supposedly a prank, but I guarantee that teacher was getting off on it.

Today’s cleaning and moving also reminded me of eleventh grade, when I was on staff of the Talon yearbook. That year we included a special feature, a cut page which, when your turned it, worked into the theme of the article. The printer couldn’t cut it, so we did, using straight-edges and Exacto knives. One of my duties that day (and into that night) was to carry all 1200 yearbooks from storage into the yearbook classroom for the staff to cut.

I find that cleaning out stuff is very satisfying. Most of the paper products are going into the huge recycling bins in our parking lot. The rest of it is rat trash that no one wants, so it’s going to the dumpster. I also feel like hauling all this stuff around is really good for me, making my back stronger and my heart healthier.

This is page 45 of the 1980 Eisenhower High School Talon yearbook, which has the outer two inches cut off by hand on all 1200 copies.
This is page 45 of the 1980 Eisenhower High School Talon yearbook, which has the outer two inches cut off by hand on all 1200 copies.
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3 Comments

  1. Yeah bro. That math method was utter horse manure. Ruined any passion I may have had for the discipline.

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  2. While not a compulsive cleaner at home, I too have been tasked with several major cleaning projects over the years, at a church, a couple of supermarkets, and elsewhere. In most cases, I had not been around when all the trash was gathered in the first place, so it was truly an effort of discovery. They were, however, perfect jobs for me, since I am usually uncomfortable dealing with other people directly.

    What struck me is that every single thing I found “seemed like a good idea at the time”, and of each thing, someone had once thought: “we should keep this”. Mind-blowing.

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