We have a house inspection coming up, and I’m determined that the study will be spotless for this one: the rest of the house usually is, but the study is often dusty and cluttered, since it’s the smallest room in the house and crammed full of papers and books.
And when house inspections come up right when I’m due to submit my Ph.D., or in the first week of teaching for the semester, or when I have a pile of marking towering over me, then I never have the chance to do the cleaning as thoroughly as I’d like.
But this time there’s no excuse: plus, my parents will be visiting in a fortnight, so if I give the house a thorough cleaning now, they’re less likely to run their fingers over the furniture when they arrive.
One of the spots I’ve always ignored was a pile of papers resting on an archive box (also, oddly, full of papers) sitting under my desk. It was a neat pile, but dusty and, as it turns out, full of unnecessary rubbish.
So I thought I’d clear all that out this afternoon. And, in addition to an enormous pile of papers from four or five years ago that were completely unnecessary, I found the following rather more unusual items:
1. An unopened pack of eight, bright-yellow, microwave-safe, extra-strong plastic plates. I have no idea what they were doing there. Seriously—no idea. Or how long they’d been there.
2. Two pictures of my brother: one from the newspaper back when he was still working as a chef and one from when he was a toddler, with the world’s most adorable cat sleeping on him.
The latter is such a gorgeous picture that I almost added to this post, but felt that if he ever reads the blog, he’d probably kill me.
3. The instructions for operating my stove-top kettle. That kettle is brilliant: it’s burnt orange and makes a grotesque screaming noise when it’s boiling. But we became frustrated with it—it took three times longer to boil than the electric kettle—and I think it’s now in the back of a cupboard somewhere. But the instructions are under my desk, for reasons unknown.
4. A name-tag from when I was still the Words editor for M/C Reviews—that was a while ago. I assume this was from a function at some point: I don’t recall just making up my own name-tag and wearing it around the house.
It’s possible, I suppose.
5. A picture of a sea otter cut out of the newspaper. Self-explanatory, really: who doesn’t adore sea otters?
6. Two photographs of my mother. She used to send us those wallet-sized pictures when she was still teaching and had annual photographs taken with her classes. I have no idea why they’re under my desk (though there’s at least one, and possibly two, more stuck to my fridge).
Still, at least she and my brother are equal.
7. Two Ginger Meggs cartoons to do with language—including one on gerunds that I should probably start using in lectures. If only they hadn’t gone that unpleasant yellowy colour that old newspapers always go . . .
8. Two (what is it with the pairs of things?) Lord of the Rings character cards that probably came out of chip packets. I can understand why I kept Aragorn, but I’m less certain why I kept Merry.
9. A print-out of the Geek Hierarchy, which—frighteningly—is starting to look less like a joke and more like a map of my life.
10. A receipt for the online purchase of a book called Their Chastity Was Not Too Rigid, which sounds like Victorian porn, but it actually a book about leisure activities in early colonial New South Wales.
No, honestly. It is.