Confessions of a Nomadic Slob

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Published on the Doomstead Diner on August 31, 2014

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You can read my last autobiographical Birthday Blog, “55” from 2 years ago HERE.

Today is my 57th Birthday, and I have a confession to make.

I am a SLOB, and have been one my entire life.  Not just a Minor Slob, you leave me alone in a domicile long enough, and I can turn the place into a miniature version of a Public Landfill. being a Slob, I am also nowadays a Hoarder, although I have had tendencies towards Hoarding going back before the Lightbulb went off for me on Collapse.  For instance, I Hoarded for years Grolsch Beer Bottles with the reclosable ceramic stoppers, collecting over time a couple of hundred of these.  I wasn’t that big a fan of Grolsch beer, otherwise the numbers would have been in the thousands.  LOL.  However, I bought the Grolsch just to collect the Bottles, with the idea someday I would brew my own beer and reuse them to bottle it.  All these beer bottles sit in a Storage Unit in Springfield, MO, which I pay $80/mo to upkeep, and have done so for over 15 years now, beginning when I first gave up a permanent domicile as an Over the Road Truck Driver.  When I moved to Alaska after that, I kept the storage unit, because it was ridiculously expensive to ship everything in it up to Alaska nor did I really need what was in it, but neither could I bring myself to dumpster all the flotsam & jetsam of my life that is in there.,204,203,200_.jpgNot just Grolsch beer bottles are in this storage unit, there are also just about ALL my college textbooks, my Organic Chem textbooks, Calculus textbooks, and all those Philosophy texts and Great Literature I had to read also as part of Contemporary Civilizations and Humanities, core courses require at Columbia for a Bachelor of Arts degree back in the day.  Don’t know if they still require these courses anymore.  I SHOULD have sold them back to the Bookstore after the year I used them was up, but first off I couldn’t bear selling a text I bought for $50 (1970s dollars!) for $10 just a year later (talk about depreciation!).  Second, I told myself this was Timeless Knowledge, and the texts would always be a great reference source.  Which is completely stupid now I know, since the texts are obsolete usually within 5 years or so and new ones with NEW KNOWLEDGE are required.  You certainly cannot hand down your college textbooks to your kids 20 years later.  Great Literature books yes, textbooks no.  However, even the great literature books are now all available as E-books, and you can have a full Library of them on your phone.  I in fact have a library on my phone including the Complete Works of William Shakespeare, Gibbon’s the Rise & Fall of the Roman Empire, and more Survival Manuals than you can possibly imagine.  LOL.

The combination of being a Slob and a Hoarder is TOXIC.  You find it difficult to get rid of anything, and as it piles up around you, you never clean up the accumulating mess.  I even find it difficult to throw away some of the PACKAGING of shit I have purchased over the years.  Much electronics gear comes in some VERY nice boxes, and I tell myself that the boxes are good for safely storing the device for one, and second I can use this nice box to store other things too!  Doesn’t have to be High Tech stuff either, Shoeboxes as we all know are great for storing stuff.  Before you know it really, your whole domicile is full off empty boxes and assorted other junk, along with the piles of clothing you toss on the floor instead of hanging up neatly or dropping into a hamper to do the weekly laundry.

Once the piles become large enough, it becomes impossible to Vaccum, Mop or do other normal Cleaning Tasks which Neat People do on a weekly basis.  So Dust starts to accumulate.  Add to that I am a Smoker, so you get the fine particles of Cancerette Ash distributing out over everything, and over long enough time a Yellow Tinge to anything White in the domicile, like Walls, Refrigerator, Stove, etc.  At this point the Slob gives up entirely trying to clean anything, and you become oblivious to the mess.  you KNOW other people would be HORRIFIED by it, but you don’t notice it or care about it anymore.  At this point is where it gets REALLY bad, because in addition to just piles of junk and dust around, you start ignoring your shower and toilet and sinks, which start to grow Mold and Hard Water plus a steady stream of shit from your ass starts to cover over the White Porcelain of your Toilet until there is caked on Black & Brown covering of the bowl, which also does not smell too good anymore.  LOL.  However, your olfactory nerves get used to the smell and after a while you don’t smell it anymore.  Anybody ELSE who dropped in your bathroom to take a piss would be overcome by the ODOR and pass out, but you don’t smell it at all.

How did I get to be such a Slob?

Well, there are a few reasons for this.

First off, Homo Sapiens is not “naturally clean & neat”.  Nomadic Hunter-Gatherers are quite sloppy, they just pitch the bones of something they ate on the cave floor,  take a dump a few yards away from the entrance, etc.  It’s not too important to clean up after yourself if you move on to another location after a few days or weeks at most.  Certainly no other Mammals besides HS ever does Cleanup.  Cleaning only becomes necessary once you are Sedentary and reside in the same location all the time.  “Cleanliness” as a Virtue only came with the advent of Agriculture, when HS started to stay in the same place for long periods of time.  As a world class slob, I can tell you that any more than 1 year in a location you don’t do cleanup on regularly, the mess starts to accumulate to noticeable levels.   Probably fairly quickly after taking on this kind of lifestyle, folks recognized if they did not start Cleaning, their place of Habitation would turn into a SEWER, and so you got that “Cleanliness is next to Godliness” idea.  So, this has been inculcated into most people ever after.  Not all people though.

I never got taught to be neat and clean, because my mom was a really bad Housekeeper.  Not quite as bad as a good friend of hers whose house I often spent time at over the years, but close.  There was always disarray around.  In my own room, mom did not enforce a “cleanup”, and I developed the habit then of dropping my clothes on the floor all the time. I never “made my bed”.   I never did any job like cleaning a toilet in my formative years, in Brasil we had full time Maids for this, and even after divorce my mom employed local people to come in once a week or so to do a cleaning.  So by the time I went off to college, I was already very sloppy, and I moved in with 2 guys after a couple of years into an Off Campus apartment, which turned into an AMAZING dump after a year or so, what with the parties we held, poker games etc.  One roommate was a slob like me, the other was neat, and his name was on the lease.  He kicked up both out after the second year.

After college I got married, and the wife was also pretty neat.  My bad habits of dropping clothing around willy-nilly, not Washing Dishes etc all irked her.  Although this was not the primary reason for our divorce (economics), it certainly contributed.

After that, in the lowest period of my life, I moved back in with Mom and had the whole upstairs of the house my sister and I once shared.  It occassionally lapsed into some decrepitude, but we still had a Maid come in every so often and it did not get too bad.

Eventually, I ended up following my sister who had moved to Springfield, MO, packing just a few bags and my Bicycle in making the move.  she put me up in her house for a few months while I got established, I had just one room in the house, but I managed to trash that so bad inside 3 months or so she practically had to fumigate it after I finally got my own apartment.  That began the real Nomadic Period of my life, after that I did not live in the same place for any more than 3 years running.  I kept getting new and better jobs in different places, and whenever I moved, I would either clean up myself while packing my stuff, or in one case I employed professional cleaners, so I never left anyplace I lived after that in a mess.  Still, it was not too bad usually, because the amount of time spent piling up the trash and dust was not that great. came the really Nomadic period driving the Big Rig OTR, living in the truck.  You don’t have a whole lot of space to collect junk and mess up in a Freightliner, plus every time I took some time off I would take everything out of the truck, transfer it to my car, and then spend time visiting mom or else motel living for a few weeks.  Motel living is great for a slob because they drop in and clean up for you every day.  In fact when I first moved to Alaska it was during the off season, so I was able to get a monthly rate at a local motel and stayed there for 3 months from Feb to May, when they wouldn’t let me stay paying the monthly rate.  It was at this point I moved into my current domicile, where I have been ever since, around 8 years now.

8 years is obviously a LOT longer than the 2 to 3 years I lived anywhere else, and then in addition to my general habits of hoarding I became “Collapse Aware” and started prepping up.  Tools, Freeze Dried Food, Winter Clothing Gear, Barter Items, Fishing Gear, Guns & Ammo, the WORKS.  After about the second year the place was such a mess I no longer would let anybody else in.  By last week, the state of the cabin was so bad I thought it might have to be razed, because it could not ever be cleaned up.  Then BAD NEWZ came.  The Property Owner emailed me and said he wanted to drop by this week to check on the property.  ACCCCKKKKK! contemplated my options.  Hire professional cleaners?  Too embarrassing at this point even to do that.  So I finally had to buckle down and CLEAN, like I have never done in my whole life.  It took 4 12 hour days of nearly non-stop cleaning, and innumerable trips to the dump, but in the end I got it done.  The place looks practically Brand New again now, but getting from where it was to where it is now took some creative cleaning techniques.  I am now a Certified Crash Course Expert Cleaner. 🙂

The biggest challenge was the Toilet.  I did not shoot any Before Pics, too embarassing.  However, it looked only slightly better than the toilet at right here.  I tried at first with the stuff the maids used in my youth, Comet Cleansing Powder and a Scrub Brush.  This did not make a dent at all.  Then I went to a polymer scrubbing pad, also did jack for removing the caked on shit scum.  Next I went to Steel Wool, and this started to work, but still tough scrubbing and taking way too long.  I would still be scrubbing today and not have got to any other area of the cabin to clean.  However, since Metal seemed to be the ticket here, I went and bought some Wire Brushes at Auto Zone.  BINGO!  This was the ticket, at least above the water line in the bowl.  In 10 minutes I was down to the Glowing White Porcelain again!  Light at the end of the Cleaning Tunnel!  Here’s the end result of the Great Toilet Bowl Cleaning Adventure:


The brown you see here in the pic on the right of the toilet seat and to the left of the bowl is NOT shit stain! It comes from the Flash Shadow! the water line, a tougher situation.  There, because of Hard Water mineral deposits being combined with the shit scum, you get a layer that is firmly attached to the porcelain, and even the wire brushes weren’t working.  Now I take out my Swiss Army Knife and start scraping with the point.  This WORKS!  Except all I am getting is thin lines of White through the Brown.  This also will take forever.  So I try a fork next, figuring 4 tines will quadruple the speed of scratching though the calcified scum layer.  Still too slow, so I try a spoon next, figuring this will give a wider scraping edge.  This also works, but slow because the edge of the spoon is not sharp enough.  Then I get the final BRAINSTORM.  What is Wide, Sharp and Hard?  A WOOD CHISEL!  I zip over to Home Depot and buy a set of 3 Wood Chisels for $13.  Inside 30 minutes after arriving back at the cabin, the inside of the toilet bowl is now sparkling WHITE right down to the drain area!  The outside of the toilet is much easier, now using varying Foaming Cleansers it is White again inside another hour.  Toilet DONE!

Tub/Shower next, Mold of all colors caked on in corners and around the hardware, but the Wire brushes work good for taking this off, after leaving Foaming Mold cleanser on the worst hit areas overnight. I was concerned the metal wire brushes would scratch the fiberglass stuff they make tubs out of these days (no more porcelain tubs), but this is not a problem.  The toughest is the Black mold that gets into the textured crevices on the tub floor, which they do to make it less slippery.  This takes a good deal of steel wool scrubbing to get rid of.  I did not get that looking Brand New, but after a couple of hours I deemed it respectable.  Rest of the bathroom cleaned up pretty easily once I removed the piles of clothing always on the floor in there.

Kitchen next, and besides the counters this wasn’t too bad, because I stopped doing Indoor Cooking after about the first year living here.  So I did not have piles of dirty dishes, food scum etc around to clean up.    Kitchen took maybe an hour or so.

The final big job was the Floor, which of course was hardly visible at all except for a few Pathways between the piles of Preps and Packaging materials  of various types, which all had to be sorted and moved around to begin the Floor Cleaning project.  The Cabin has very nice Hardwood floors which when I moved in positively glowed, but now in the few spots the floor was still visible were covered with dust and dirt in decent proportions.  Also areas where spills had occured over the years, with stains.  Could those be removed? worked Section by Section in around 10 foot square sections, for 100 square feet.  Total Surface Area of the Cabin Floor, around 900 square feet.  I would take each area, sort it for trash and keepers, then take a trip to the dump. I moved all the keepers to another section, then Swept with a good old fashioned Broom.  Then I bought a Vacuum, but not a Stand Up job, I bought the best Handheld Cordless Unit I could find, a Shark.  I swear by this device now.  You can hit nooks and crannies much better with one of these than a Standup unit, and they are much cheaper too, $70 for this unit as opposed to $300 and more for your Orecks and Hoovers.  When doing this kind of cleaning you get down on your hands and knees to do it anyhow, and its great not to have to bother about a power cord as you do it.

After the vacuuming, I did the mopping, but not with a mop, I used terry cloth rags you can buy in packages of 20 for around $5.  I only used four of them for the whole job. I can still reuse them also, just put them through the laundry, or soak in water overnight then dry out.

After mopping with the rag, the main Disposable, Paper Towels.  After mopping and rinsing twice with the towels, I wiped up the damp areas with paper towels, absorbing the finest of the dirt particles.  Finally, I took a nicer towel and Buffed the flooring with it.  SHINE again, no waxing necessary, quite nice looking!

For the bigger Stains on the floor, I left a Wet Rag on them overnight, after that a little scrubbing with the polymer scrubber, and the stains all disappeared.  Occassionally used  a few sprits of Fantastic Cleaner to help out on these.  Mostly though, water is enough if you let it do its work.  It is the “universal solvent”, and besides grease type stains, will soften up any stain to get it off long as it has not penetrated into the wood itself, and none of them had.  They were all just surface blemishes. If you do have grease stains, go with Oven Cleaner.  Just be careful with it, as this stuff can damage paint and other organics they contact.  Also don”t smoke if you are using them.  LOL..

In the end, to return the cabin to respectability, as far as Disposables were concerned, I used only 3 rolls of Paper Towels, and roughly 1/2 spray bottle of Fantastic, Tilex Mold Remover and Windex.  Compare that to someone who cleans obsessively every week, over 8 years they would have gone through 100s of rolls of Paper Towels and dozens of bottles of the cleaning agents from DOW Chemical and Dupont.  So being a Slob is much more conservative of paper and chemicals for cleaning.  The downside of course is that you can’t have any guests visit between these cleaning adventures.  LOL.

On the GRAND MESS level though, realize that even if you are an obsessively Clean person, your Mess does end up somewhere, it does not disappear except from your own location.  EVERYBODY’S MESS ends up in our Landfills and Dumps, whether you send it there in dribs and drabs every week as Clean people do, or only once every 8 years as Slobs do.  The process of living is turning stuff into Waste of some sort, as you serve as a thermodynamic engine for using energy and dissipating it.  For the Clean people here, as an exercise sometime see how much waste you accumulate over say 2 months.  You can throw away or compost your food remains, but keep all the packaging materials etc of stuff you buy during this period to see how much waste you produce in two months.

Hunter Gatherers never cleaned up.  However, the mess they let behind was usually all organic in nature, and eventually got recycled by other organisms after they left the location.  Sedentary Ag and Industrial people generally HAVE to clean up, because if you don’t, your domicile turns into a stinky waste dump of your life.  The waste does not disappear though, it just ends up in the Landfill.


Coming Soon in the Next Frostbite Falls Daily Rant: Swimming in Sewage



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