Yesterday I was explaining entropy to Sarcasm Girl. Started out with the Big Bang theory and went on from there, but finally told her: just think of our dining room table. No matter how much stuff I clear off of it, more appears. The table remains the dumping ground for everything in the house. Not just mail, but candy (after Spouse and YG have been out on a debauch), college catalogs, books, music moved from the piano to the table (for some reason Sarcasm Girl cannot play piano with the music on the rack), books, oddments of hardware, picture frames, bus passes, BART cards, hair brushes and innumerable scrunchies and hairbands, dog toys, newspapers, spare change… I find it, after a while, depressing; there are so many corners of the house in which this sort of clunky emphemera accumulates: stuff to be dealt with, or thrown out, or just put down until one can think of a better place for it. The girls’ rooms are full of it, as is the Spouse’s desk (and mine isn’t much better, but I hold fast to the excuse that after cleaning up after everyone else I don’t have the energy to tidy my own space).
But every two weeks I attempt to tame entropy, when The White Tornado (O FuracÃ£o Branco) comes. O FuracÃ¥o is from Brazil (where her nine-year-old daughter still lives) but lives with her husband and year-old baby in Daly City. She is petite and pretty and enthusiastic, and speaks a wonderful, vivid mix of English, Spanish and Portugese, telling me stories about the baby and her plans to bring her daughter to the States to live with her. And she takes immense pleasure in cleaning up the house; the reason I go around trying to tame the pools of entropy is so that O FuracÃ£o doesn’t feel she has to organize as well as clean, because she will, and that’s not fair to her.
When we first hired her I felt incredibly weird about it. It’s not like I was forcing her to come clean my bathrooms; she advertised the service, we pay for it, everyone is happy. But I feel great depths of guilt about hiring someone to do a thing I could do myself. The Spouse notes that just because I can do something doesn’t make it a good use of my time (he points this out, particularly, when I propose painting, laying a new floor, stripping wall paper, or taking up the awful hall carpet to find out what’s under it–all things I could do, but….). I still feel weird sometimes when O FuracÃ£o comes because I sit here with my laptop, Emily tucked under my arm, while she is doing physical labor on my behalf. I feel like an Oppressor. I feel like a Bad Person.
She doesn’t seem to feel that I am either, of course. We chat. I pay her. At Christmas, we exchange cards and presents. I send her home with homemade jam or banana bread if we happen to have some around. It’s a nice relationship, in fact. I just feel that if I were a good person I’d clean my own floors. But I know for a fact that floor-cleaning, while something I can accomplish, is something that would be pushed off to the moment just before the Health Department condemned the house. And I know as well that when things get too dirty and too disorganized–when entropy, as it will, increases–I get depressed and oppressed and soggy and hard to light. She helps prevent this sogginess, which makes everyone around here happier (even if the others don’t see this as clearly as I do). So as long as O FuracÃ£o Branco is happy to come tame the chaos, I’ll be happy to clean up beforehand.