Monday, May 25, 2009

"Clean House": Rewarding the Underserving for being Slobs...

So, I did say I wasn't going to blog much due to the fact that I'm on a lovely mini-break and staying with my good friend in Washington D.C but due also to the fact that I'm a chronic writing addict and that I had a bloggable I am.

The beauty of a mini-break with a friend I know as well as my friend Saz is that we can be perfectly content doing something or...doing nothing. She's lived in Washington D.C. for quite some time which means this isn't my first visit to see her. This also means that I've seen most of the touristy stuff like the memorials and the White House and all that. Of course, just because I've seen the memorials before doesn't mean I can remember which is which monument/memorial. I've been referring to the Washington Monument as "the big pointy thing." I have several pictures of the big pointy thing. I probably should remember its real name.

Anyway, Saz and I have been friends for many years, since high school and we know each other pretty well. Which is why one of our morning activities is sitting around in our pajamas and watching whatever mindless fluff we come across on TV.

A note about Saz. She's a Type A personality and very comfortable with that. She's the type of person who, when you plan a break with her, will produce a detailed itinerary bound and in a folder organized by date including reservation numbers, phone numbers and anything you could possibly need. She's also chronically organized. She'd make a fantastic professional organizer. Me...I'm a Type A point 5. I can be organized but sometimes I get a bit distracted from organization and I get a bit cluttered.

Since Saz has an interest in organization, she has watched show on TV in the past called "Clean House" that I think originated on the Home and Garden network and is now on The Style Network. Well, the premise of "Clean House" is a team of professional organizers and designers go to people's houses and reorganize them, redecorate them and make the a "clean" house. Which you probably got from the title.

Well, we watched an episode from a few years ago entitled, "The Messiest House in America." It turned out to be a family named The Loria's from New Jersey. Well, their house was disgusting. The house was huge. There was not an inch of space including the enormous basement that did not have clutter and mess littering its surface. The family consisted of a mother and her two daughters. Well, while I know TV exaggerates, from what I saw, that mother needs some serious help.

Apparently, the sad story on the episode is that the husband/father of the family passed away three years ago and since then the family just lost their will to clean. As a result, the house became nothing short of an utter pigsty that made you want to shower. Every inch had junk strewn on it.

Ironically, the mother believed it WAS clean. She claimed to like organization. When the "Clean House" team came in to talk to her, it resulted in a lot of arguing. The mother felt everything was necessary to keep, the TV team felt that they needed to get rid of most of their stuff.

I have to agree with the Clean House team. To an extent, most humans have a materialistic streak. We like our stuff. We can't help it. Yet this family, including the two daughters, needed seriously counseling because there's stuff and then there's excess. The TV team always stages a yard sale to get rid of the junk. It became a tug of war just trying to get the family to stop taking stuff from the yard sale and putting BACK in the house. This included such necessary stuff as a giant fish, old lunchboxes, old calendars and the kind of junk you see at yard sales and wonder who on earth had that stuff to begin with.

Finally, the yard sale happened only after the family was given an ultimatum: Cooperate or the TV team leaves. So...the family gave in but not without much childish sulking and snark.

The TV team got to work. They turned the house from a disaster zone into something from a home decorating magazine. It was stunning. Of course, we, as watchers, wondered if that was gong to do any good because obviously the problem went WAY deeper than just cleaning a house but, well, the results were stunning.

The family was...pleased. They seemed to like it, even the awful mother. The TV team left, mostly satisfied. Then...they showed "A Year Later."

By this time, the mother had increased her awfulness. Yes, the house looked mostly like it did when the TV team were finished but there was more clutter. Also, there was ingratitude. I wanted to punch the mother in the face. She had the nerve to say she wishes she'd never let the TV team in, that she liked the stuff she'd accumulated prior to the home makeover and she wishes she'd never let the show into her house.

Well, I can safely say that the knee jerk reaction from the design team AND Saz and I was pure disgust. This woman is sick. The daughter who had nominated the house for the show anyway clearly was having a hard time. She was the only one of the family still trying, still wanting to be organized. The mother and the other daughter were still sulking that their clutter had been taken away and, in fact, had pulled much of their crap out of the neat storage area from the basement. The storage area had only been set up to accomodate the crap that had been collected when, truly, the designers had wanted to create a game room instead. However, the family's insistence that they keep much of their 'treasures' meant that there were a thousand storage bins instead.

Now, my reaction to this show is...mixed. I love the idea of what they're doing. I think it's a nice gesture. My problem is that it almost seems to be rewarding the unworthy. This family, the Loria's had lost their husband/father. Almost every family has some sadness overhanging them. There's always a sad story to be found. And yet, this family, the Loria's, had responded by just throwing crap on the floor. Most people still manage to keep their houses clean even when life sucks. Yes, there are times when we all avoid cleaning, we all have better things to do.

Yet, we all also know that there is a difference between clutter and an outright craphole. This family were too self-absorbed, too greedy to clean their house. The mother calls it 'retail therapy', I call it greed. There is materialism and then there is collecting things for the sake of having 'stuff.'

"Clean House" is a good show. I admire the work the designers/organizers do. I think it's amazing. And yet there seems to be something wrong with taking a family like the Loria's who clearly can't be bothered and rewarding them by giving them new furnishings, new appliances and polishing their house into something beautiful. If they had appreciated it, I wouldn't be ranting. They didn't appreciate it and to make things worse, a year later, they were selling much of the stuff that the TV team had placed in their home into a YARD SALE!.

What's the point? Why reward a family for bad behaviour when, clearly, it's not about the messy house, it's about the mess that lies within these people? I have to say, it doesn't seem right, it doesn't seem fair.

After watching it, I see that they're accepting applications for "Clean House" episodes, asking viewers to invite the team into their messy home to tidy up. I have an idea. I'm moving to my new house in a little over a month. It needs painting, it needs updating. What if I take all my moving boxes and throw my stuff on the floor? What if I just make the biggest mess instead of unpacking properly? Do you think I could get the team to come in and redecorate my place? I'd get new appliances, new paint, new seems like a perfect solution.

Except...I'm capable of cleaning, organizing and tidying up my own home. While it seems like an easy solution, it also seems slightly wrong. It's tempting though. After all, if a family like the Loria's can be rewarded for being slobs, why can't I?

Because I'd feel guilty, that's why. And therein lies the difference.

Thanks for reading my rant. Happy Memorial Day!

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