I’ve been meaning to clean the kitchen for a while. I guess I’ve been meaning to do a lot of things– work, pay bills, sleep– but a kitchen is almost alive, and when you neglect it, it grows, spreads throughout the house, and it stinks like a dog that hasn’t had a bath for months.
The trouble is, for whatever reason I’ve been feeling generally bewildered lately. I like to blame the holidays, but I think it’s more inherent than that. Today was especially bad, with my brain unable to chose a direction. I get up to do one thing only to remember something else, but get distracted before I manage to start that. When I have too many things to do I end up stuck in an i robot loop of inability.
My car is in the shop, so I couldn’t do any of the errands I remembered I needed to do: grocery shopping, going to the bank, escape from the house. When I finally managed to settle down at my computer, I sent off a few emails. After reading a few blogs, my Internet connection rebelled. The reload button did no good at all and since my real work required a connection, I gave up and closed my laptop.
There was a time when I was completely dependent on instant messaging to keep connected with the world outside. Before I could drive, before I had a cell phone. Before I learned touch, and speech, and real communication. Alone at home with my kitchen, I almost felt it again, but I opened my phone and sent text messages to my husband, my friends, my brother, my mom. I waited.
I decided to check the Internet connection again, but it was still disconnected. I checked the wires: they all seemed fine. I called tech support, but gave up after an hour on hold. Still no texts back from outside, and I noticed that although my Internet connection was out of service, I had received mail daemon notices from every address I’d written this morning.
Then it got weird.
The silence was bothering me, so I turned on the radio. Before I turned it on, I knew there would be nothing but static. I was wrong, and I had a fleeting moment of relief as I heard the sound of NPR. The signal was poor, and the sound was tinny, as though coming from a great distance. I didn’t recognize any of the voices. They seemed old, from the sixties maybe, barely speaking a language I could understand. Then not. I snapped off the radio.
I buckled, and decided to clean the kitchen, then I changed my mind and went to get something I needed from my bedroom. As I opened the door, I forgot what I needed, so I turned around and closed the door, thinking. The bed, I remembered, I needed to make the bed, clean the sheets, do the piles of laundry. I turned to open the door again, but I was no longer in front of my bedroom door. It wasn’t there.
My phone buzzed, finally an answer to my text messages. The number was not one I recognized. The message informed me that messages sent to non Verizon customers are limited to 160 characters. I looked out the window and saw snow.
I sat down at my computer but my email client didn’t recognize my password, so I gave up, went into the kitchen. The dishwasher, lit “clean,” was only half full, and as I unloaded it, I forgot what I put into drawers. I changed my mind before loading the dishwasher, but when I turned to leave the kitchen I saw there was nowhere left to go. The smell of milk-mildew was overwhelming. I turned on the sink, running it over the dishes to wash away the muck and started loading the less disgusting dishes. The grime disappeared as I loaded them, and so did the dishes. When I closed the dishwasher I pushed “normal wash,” then changed it to “light” because I figured I should save the water since there weren’t any dishes inside. The price of procrastination is no more options. On the other hand, if there’s no bed, I don’t have to wash the sheets, and the comforting swish of an empty dishwasher might go on forever. The kitchen still wasn’t clean, but there was nothing left to clean, so I sat down on the floor and looked out the window. There was nothing but snow. Static.