When we lived in Van Nuys and the girls were just babies, we had an ant infestation that ended all others. They invaded our little home and would come like an army across the floor, onto the carpet and if you happened to be laying on the floor, they would just march like a stream over you. I am not kidding. I had never seen anything like it. Daily I would clean and vacuum and disinfect but nothing would stop them and so finally I called an exterminator and they came in and did the job. Ants gone. But in a matter of a month or two I noticed, for the very first time ever, cockroaches. And they were everywhere - EVERYWHERE - big and ugly and fast. I set bait, I cleaned, I scoured, I vacuumed. I swept, I poisoned and I prayed - and nothing, NOTHING would get rid of them. I had a friend who was a contractor and I asked him, "Tim, I'm going out of my mind. You build houses. You are well versed in home pests. How can I get rid of cockroaches?" His reply: "Get some ants."
Since then, I have been very careful with the balance of nature. If I see ants, I clean and make sure everything is dry and try to divert them. But I have little problem with ants. And up till now I have had no problem with roaches. So if it was true, if Grace did see one, I was going to beat it. To a pulp. Now.
Hence a 3-day gut clean of the kitchen. It started as a project that I planned to accomplish in a few hours. But it took hold of me and it became a HERCULEAN task. Ammonia, bleach, scrubbers, mops, sponges - lots of time on my hands and knees where I didn't just clean - I scrubbed to the bone and re-lined all the shelves with new paper - every cupboard, every door, every drawer, every knob, the pantry, the refrigerator, underneath the refrigerator, the floor, every wall, every baseboard, every inch. And I hand washed everything in each of the cupboards and drawers as well. And then I purged. I eliminated everything that wasn't absolutely essential. Even if it has cost me a lot of money initially. Even some things that we sentimental but lived in the back corner of a shelf - not looked at in years. And I found lots of stuff that had been missing. And in the end, between the paper towels, the thrown out food, Tupperware, broken dishes, appliances, and general crap - there were six full trash bags that went to the garbage. (By the way, through the entire process, I didn't find a single roach!) Then I took everything off the counters that we do not use every single day and put those items away. It is now clean, uncluttered, simple - even stark. And when it was all done, my mind went from room to room and I feel a month-long attack on the house coming on.
And while I was scrubbing the floor on my hands and knees, I began to see the whole process as a metaphor for my life too. I am living in a new world. One in which unemployment and insecurity have become the new standard for millions of people - including myself. And once again, I am feeling like a complete overhaul, a re-do, a gut clean is required to be able to see it through. Since beginning this blog I have been on so many interviews. And I have seen two jobs come my way, only to be unemployed again not because of my performance, but because of the economy. It is out of my hands in so many ways. But I need to start again. So a purse dumping is in order. Again.