Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Vacuuming Happiness

I hate to clean house.  Can I say that again: I hate house cleaning.  When I was a girl, my poor mother despaired of me and rightly so.  When she asked in utter exasperation who I supposed would clean if I didn’t when I grew up, I said, “I’ll have a housekeeper, of course.”  And I have, ever since I set up house independently of my parents.  Even when I didn’t have money to do things I would like to do, I managed to find the money to pay someone to clean for me.  It’s a matter of one part lazy + one part not interested + one part not all that capable with things physical + one part I don’t want to and you can’t make me.

Since moving to the country, however, I have discovered (there was no ‘rediscovery’ in my case) some joy in a few of the so-called womanly arts.  One is hanging clothes out to dry.

The next foray may well be vacuuming.  I’m making no promises, but I recently had to buy a new vacuum cleaner and it’s a beauty.  Not top-of-the line or anything, but it really works.  And it’s got one of those clear canisters instead of the old bag, so you can see the dirt you’re pulling from the floor, which, for some reason, I find very satisfying.

But the real reason I’m so enchanted just now is that I have actually managed to repair my new vacuum cleaner all by myself.  Its first day of operation proved problematic: it turns out the thing is just too good at its job and Kathy, who cleans for me, ended up first with a ten-foot thread literally pulled out of the middle of one of my rugs.  Instead of being mad at the vacuum cleaner,  I was enchanted with something so innocuous that has so much power.  But the fact remained that the darned thing had a ten-foot string wrapped around its roller.  And not to brag, but I actually managed, with my handy Phillips head screwdriver, to take it apart and get the string removed.  Problem solved?  Alas, no.  A few hours later, it had stopped working all together, having sucked up an entire small area rug and then spit it back out.  Kathy diagnosed a broken fan belt.  Turned out she was right.

Here’s where the pride part comes in: I managed to locate online and order new fan belts (I got several – who knows when you’ll need another?).  And last night I tackled the replacement.  And I did it!  I managed to replace the fan belt on my vacuum cleaner.  And now Kathy and I know this baby is too powerful to use on anything that can move.

But the satisfaction I derived from being able to make this small repair on my own is no small thing.  Allow me to explain.  I’m left-handed.  If you’re right-handed, you won’t think that’s a big deal.  But living in a world where everything is designed for people who enter the physical world from the opposite direction as you is, I can assure you, a challenge.  In addition, I have incredibly bad motor skills.  Back in my college days, preparing for a project, I took an IQ test, a part of which was to recreate designs with blocks.  There was a time limit and the ordeal finally ended when the tester told me to stop, to put the blocks down.  I kept insisting I only needed a little more time (he later commented that he had never met anyone as persistent as I, which I rightly translated as pity).  Finally, he insisted, “Beth, you have to stop.  I’ve already given you way more time than you’re allowed.”  Later when we met to review how I had done on the tests, he remarked that if he hadn’t watched me with his own eyes, he wouldn’t have believed the test results: seems I’m quite gifted when it comes to talking and such, but when it comes to working with my hands, I am borderline developmentally disabled.  (See Mom, I really wasn’t breaking all those dishes on purpose!)

Flash forward into the now.  I have spent a lifetime accommodating my own limitations.  We all do.  In my case, that usually means having someone else do the physical stuff for me.  It means showing me instead of telling me when it comes to visualizing.  And up til now, it has meant that when the vacuum cleaner breaks, if there’s no one handy to fix it, I would just buy another.

But now I am liberated to explore the mechanical world, to take a chance that I might actually be able to figure this out on my own (well, with some help from Kathy).

So of course, after I fixed the fan belt, I had to give her a try.  Turns out I can replace the fan belt on my vacuum cleaner and she runs like a charm.

Vacuuming happiness.

Who knew?

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