I HATE house cleaning, I despise it, loathe it, I do everything in my power to avoid it (shall I go on?). If you haven't guessed I've been cleaning house this past week, getting ready for Maya's arrival (Friday night) and Passover on Monday. I remember my mother cleaning before Passover, washing every cup and saucer, wiping down the cabinets and the insides of drawers, making sure every bread crumb—the Passover chametz—was null and void. She worked like a maniac, like most women do before this holiday. Here's what one Rabbi Yitzchak Berkowitz says, from an article on cleaning made easy for the holidays: "I'd like to not only make Passover cleaning a little easier, but above all to change the attitude once and for all to stop being frightened. Passover is not a monster. It's the most beautiful time of the year."
To be sure, this fellow never lifted a finger. The monster cleaning job was left to the women, an accepted custom, and according to my sources, continues to this day.
Here's my mom cleaning up in the early eighties with a smile on her face:
The last time I cleaned like this (at Thanksgiving) I came across this picture of Moki with the kids. I hadn't seen it in years.
Moki with Mekko and Maya and Ghostie
Moki was in LA to attend David Cherry's concert in Pasadena, and to visit her in-laws, Barbara and Daisy, in south Central. In between, she spent a day with us. Mekko is twelve here, wearing his Spy vs. Spy T-shirt, which he wore almost every day that summer (slept in it too) and Maya, with her Louise Brooks haircut, is eight and a half, the age when we'd dance around the kitchen before dinner, boogie-woogying to Ella's A-Tisket-a-Tasket (ask Maya, she still knows all the words). When Moki stepped into our little Mayo St. house, she immediately started cleaning, clearing away the clutter and rearranging the piles, showing me by her example that the mess could be transformed into something manageable.
Yesterday, after two days of cleaning, I could barely get out of bed—I felt like I'd been run over by a truck; my muscles were sore from mopping the wooden floors and hauling the livingroom rug outside and slinging it over the rail, where I beat it to death with a broom until the dust of seven years dispersed into the sunny afternoon air. I didn't have the strength to go for my usual walk, but after two pots of tea I completed the job of cleaning house. And even though I complained the whole time, hating every minute of it, when I finished, it was like the rabbi said.... something beautiful.
On Thursday I said so-long to my two colleagues at work for a month; next week, I'm going to NYC until the end of April. I'll miss their politically incorrect jokes, their allusions to politically incorrect sexual acts and their politically incorrect befuddlement over gay marriage. David is a Persian Jew from Iran and Bogdan is from Bulgaria, having worked under Communism most of his life. What I take for granted (or don't think of at all) is constantly surprising them, although rarely upsetting their equanimity. On Wednesday we threw a Persian New Year's party (Narooz) for all the classes and celebrated with Korean food, Chinese music, and wild cross-borders dancing. Goodbye David and Bogdan.