Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Shame Dance

Back when Nicole and I lived together in the Roosevelt Grotto O Good'n'Plentitude (a creaky but spacious apartment we proceeded to cram full of a thousand of our favorite things, even after they became broken or defunct or occasionally, moldy), we sometimes indulged in an evening movie or two of the variety commonly known as God Awful. This includes anything to do with dancing, or cheerleading, or men on white horses. Sometimes, we watched these movies at home via Netflix on one of our computer screens, dragging the cable across the floor from underneath the small wooden table that we used sometimes for eating and sometimes for collecting things like paperclips, old mail, books, papers to be graded, random Mortgage materials (mine) and dissertation drafts (Nicole). Sometimes, we would go down the road to the Dollar Theater and plan ourselves a double-feature with an interlude at the bird-house looking little beer shack that serves beverages by the juice-glass and has nowhere to sit besides the bar. In between the locals watching sports on tiny cracked screens and the Simpsons paraphanalia, we would sip on a juice glass or two, pay in singles and quarters, and tromp back up for Round 2 of cheesy chic flicks. Good times, I tell you: good times. After a few repeat performances, we decided to name our personal film festival: SHAME-DANCE. It's like Sundance, but for movies that you don't want to admit that you watched... and enjoyed.

I feel as if I have had a similar attitude towards my house so far: I relish and enjoy every cranny of its half-unpacked, half-finished space, but I've been a little ashamed of it, at the same time. Even as the house shaped up, I became increasingly aware of how my shabby stuff looked inside it. Grandma Turpin's green and gold couch (which belonged to Nicole's old roommate's grandmother -- this couch is at most distantly related to me, yet has become an intimate acquaintance) looked especially faded and squarshy in the corner surrounded by the rapidly degrading cardboard boxes that lost a little more of their structural integrity every time I went digging through one looking for *that* shirt or *those* shoes. My end table lay in pieces in the corner, one sad leg dangling half-attached from the frame. My giant Hefty bag full of "Kitchen Overflow" items (mostly Tupperware that at one point belonged to friends who sent me home with food) squatted prominently in the middle of my living room.

This was my house, and I loved it, but it was not a house for guests. Yet.

And then, one weekend, we started cleaning out the shame. Jason made me pick out four tupperware containers and then put the rest in the garage. We moved my bed into the real bedroom, on the nice new floor, set up my closet, unpacked my clothes, moved in the dresser and end tables, hung the China Ball / Hornet's Nest light (depending on who you ask to describe it) in the corner, and swept out a summer's worth of dust and construction and Dickens hair from the office, where I had been sleeping. We cleaned. Everything. I mixed up a hand-labeled container of "The Good Stuff" -- eucalyptus castille soap with lemongrass essential oil. Jason single-handedly cleared the front room of ALL boxes. He put books on shelves. I washed dishes. He built furniture. I graded papers. He washed dishes. I graded papers. We ended the day with a campfire in the newly formed grill-pit in the backyard, underneath my pine trees, on the newly refurbished bench, listening to the owl who lives in the tree. Hoo, hoo-hoo. Hoo. He says.

Now that's one dance I'm not ashamed of. Fall is here. My house is ready. Kind of. Almost. It will be.


  1. I want to be your guest! I miss that movie series! I haven't unpacked all my shame. I'm still not sure where to put it.

  2. When you mentioned the phrases "God Awful" and "men on white horses" in consecutive sentences, I immediately thought of "The Man from Snowy River." That movie is choc-full of ridiculously gratuitous butt shots; it is indeed an excellent source of Shame, should you be looking for more in the future.