Sunday, April 01, 2012

Spring Cleaning

No time like the present...better late than never...I have finally been doing some spring cleaning. When the energy moves me, I move.  Dunging out, mopping up, polishing things,  dealing with the accumulations of the past some closet cases, over the past 15 years.  And who knew there would be a Wikipedia entry on "spring cleaning," where I learned that my timing is perfect:
IGreece, and other Orthodox nations, it is traditional to clean the house thoroughly either right before or during the first week of Great Lent, which is referred to as Clean Week. This also often corresponds with the Julian New Year, or April 1.
In the same way my elderly Japanese orchid-fancier neighbor says, lamenting the latest dent on his Honda, "I'm not a very good driver," I always say to people who take their shoes off, local style, before entering my apartment, "Don't bother, I'm not a very good housekeeper."

I didn't learn much from my mother, really, about domestic order.  She made me stop "dusting" after I broke the antique vase and she never much involved me in kitchen duty. She mostly taught me how convenient a dishwasher can be.  And there were the negative lessons: to remove stains from a bathtub, do NOT soak it overnight with a strong solution of chlorine bleach.  (It completely destroyed the stains, along with the fine porcelain finish of the tub.)  What I did learn from my mother was summed up in a commentary she wrote on a essay by Ralph Waldo Emerson: 
"We do not know today whether we are busy or idle. In times where we thought ourselves indolent, we have afterward discovered that much was accomplished, and much was begun in us." --Ralph Waldo Emerson
"Awakening from a daydream, one may be filled with much guilt at the thought of such idleness when there is perhaps something more important to be done.  But this sense of guilt may not be valid, for a man is not necessarily idle when he is absorbed in thought.  The private workings of the mind often prove creative.  In such seemingly idle moments, we have the rare chance to find ourselves, develop a sense of values; the truths which are not to be found in the laboratory or in the classroom may thus be discovered in such private explorations Such thoughtful periods store treasures for the years ahead." -- My Mother 
My approach has always been random and delimited by a fairly high filth tolerance and a predilection to daydreaming.  Basic hygienic maintenance --cat boxes and toilets-- I keep pretty much under control, but sometimes I do dishes the way people do the load, and sorted.  For some reason, I have always found it more satisfying to make something that's really dirty clean, than cleaning something that already falls far below the limit on my tolerance scale.  There are so many more interesting things to do.

Like watching Star Appeal, (in Chinese, Xingxing xiangxi xi) a movie I couldn't resist that turned up in my Netflix suggestions.  I'd never watched a "Chinese gay-themed sci-fi movie."  I never knew there was such a genre.  I assume it was the "Chinese" tag and not  the "gay sci-fi" that put it to me.  But still, I'll watch anything once.  And I'll only watch this one once, not that it was that bad.  A blue movie, in the technical sense, erotic and blue-toned, like a Viagra vision (I'm told), but sensitive and arty enough to elevate it above porn, although I did learn something about yang-yang intercourse that I probably didn't need to know.  Interesting, and if anything, so what?  Maybe watching this would build all sorts of tolerance in the gay-bashing community (to say nothing of Chinese-bashers and Martian-bashers).  They're just like us!
"Xiao Bo, a bisexual man who discovers a stranger by the roadside, naked and claiming to be from Mars...takes the Martian home to his live-in boyfriend and girlfriend, and together, they begin instructing him in the ways of earthlings.  But when the mysterious stranger lapses into a coma, only the discovery of true love can bring him around."  
The dialogue was pretty simple for my limited Mandarin ear, and I can remember at least one line clearly: "Wo ai ni, ET." Though not everyone loved ET. In the end, love triumphs, if a little weirdly.

Hiroake Murakami as Jubei
Moving to a different alien culture, I finished a set of samurai DVDs lent to me by my haiku-writing Chinese friend, Legendary Swordfights of Yagyu Jubei.  I told my friend I wasn't really into the bushido aesthetic (some very strange hairstyles, that reverse mohawk), but she assured me of Jubei (Hiroake Murakami), "He's very handsome."  But, I'll watch anyone once. And indeed she was right. He seems to have violated the hair regimen the way Sammo Hung did in The Shaolin Warriors.  And he would be an excellent driver. (Although maybe not with only one eye.)  So I learned some history about the Tokugawa shogunate, and was impressed with the sword style, slow and elegant really, a little like intense insects with curved razor sharp blades.

And maybe there is something to the whole Japanese style. Such sparse tidy homes. Nothing to clean up!  Zen housekeeping.  Something new to daydream about.