The Loh Life

Home Improvement: Nesting Instinct--part 1

Sandtra Tsing Loh and her housecleaning method

If I have any New Year’s Resolutions this year, it’s to have a cleaner house.

This could be a challenge, as up to this point, here has been my housecleaning METHOD. I go into a distracted MID-FOCUS GLAZE for about two or six or 10 months where I simply don’t REGISTER the clutter around me--

And then, say, about once every YEAR or two or four-- That’s the thing, like a dormant cleanliness VOLCANO, you can’t predict the timing-- Well-- Every so often, like say when a NEW American president takes office, I suddenly fly into a hormonal cleanliness RAGE-- The scales drop from my eyes and I see my home for what it is, a place where various human ANIMALS with various idiosyncratic HOARDING instincts LIVE, contentedly PUTTERING, as unpatrolled as Bristol Farms free range CHICKENS, completely UNMOLESTED and UNBOTHERED by civilization and its discontents—

It is I, the mother, otherwise known as civilization AND her discontents, who should have BEEN patrolling them-- I should have been NIPPING at them like a sheep dog-- And now because I have let them graze so long over ALL their various PASTURES I can’t FIND the duct tape to fix half the Christmas lights that have FALLEN-- So now to everyone’s surprise-- Picture gazelles looking wearily up from their laptops--

Here I am tearing THROUGH the house like a Walkrye and actually EXAMINING all of their various hills and piles and--and NESTS—

For instance, in the southeast corner of my kitchen appears to be what I call a snack nest. This is Christmas chocolate, Eclipse gum, half-eaten Kellogg CEREAL bars, and a mysterious tin of party nuts.

What is interesting is how these snacks found each OTHER and formed themselves into their own small snack NATION, resting on the counter above a voluminous DRAWER they could all fit into if it weren’t already stuffed with takeout menus from restaurants that don’t EXIST any more.

In my 11 year old DAUGHTER’S room, there is a nest of ropey clothing, comprised mostly of leggings and socks and what I like to call “half tops.” That’s what they do in middle school, they wear a top on top of a top, but they are all sort of these spiritedly cut up HALF tops. This nest resides peacefully in the tepee-like CENTER of Maddy’s bedroom, approximately two feet away from her always reverently empty laundry basket.

Which is the next LAYER. How long have I labored to scatter everywhere charming displays of decorative wicker baskets, which I lovingly bought from Pier One back when Bill Clinton was president, which seem to repell every object in the house except for keys, nails and, for the viewing enjoyment of our guests, a museum of depleted batteries. How can this continue?

Next week: the squirrels fight back.


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