December 28, 2011

Me Vs. Music

Clean Cole

I cannot stand cleaning house. It is one of life’s most irritating necessities, and I despise it. Since I have been at leisure to enjoy my home life recently, I’ve decided to deep clean one room at a time to create a once-again sane space for The Boy and I to exist in. To motivate me, I need one of two things: the jolt of hormones I get monthly that suddenly makes me need to do all the laundry and vacuum at 4 a.m., or music.

Knowing the bedroom was shamefully cluttered, I concluded I would “very soon” need to dig through the piles of magazines, books and movies that had been collecting. The intrusion of the stack on the dresser had become so out of hand that when I tried to watch movies with the projector, I had to accept the shadow it caused in the lower left corner of many cinematic treasures. Instead of relocating the pile, I let it be, for too long, and read subtitles around it. I am positive I’ve missed important pieces of scenes because of this. In the week following the end of my semester while grading English 101 research papers, I’d had enough. I could no longer accept reading distorted text on the side of “Social Media for Dummies” any longer. It was time to clean.

Before embarking on a cleaning spree, the right sounds had to be found. Since it was the middle of the fall/winter holiday season, I wanted to hear music that put me in the mood for Christmas. There is but one album for the task: Nat “King” Cole’s Merry Christmas. I opened iTunes and realized my copy was not uploaded to my laptop. I decided that maybe it was time to explore Spotify. I’ve been inundated lately with the music all my Facebook friends are listening to via Spotify, and I figured, if the program was worth its salt, it had better have this album. Spotify passed my first test.

As the album played and the soft tinkling of Cole’s piano and silky voice lilted from my completely inadequate laptop speakers, I started the drudgery of cleaning the bedroom. What started as a basic operation — to return books to their places on shelves and clothes to their respective hangers and baskets — turned into dusting shelves above the bed and vacuuming in the middle of the day. The cat was terrified by the fracas, and my allergies had taken umbrage with my decision to stir the dust.

Three hours later, when baskets were claimed for magazines instead of their original gift purposes, and the Hangyoku doll and traveling Buddha were placed with my Asian literature, the bedroom was near finished. The order of the room was instantly calming, and the sounds of Nat “King” Cole continued to drift about the air. I realized, after three hours, I’d heard nearly a third of the available catalog of the “King.” Spotify has since earned a spot of favor over its competitor, Pandora, because I can eliminate the annoyance of intrusive music. The ads are a minor drawback that I used for bathroom breaks — therefore easily ignorable. (Dear Spotify, you can now send me the check for my endorsement. I will be your local Kobe Bryant sans the short fro and hoop skillz.)

After cleaning, I earned the chance to relax on the bed and reflect on the wonders of modern life. I considered the road my year has traveled getting to this holiday season and my new cleaner house. The downs aren’t always down, and the ups often make up for any of the bad experiences we might have. This year, I am thankful for the chance to spend time in my home, and with the chance to clean for hours to music that still matters. In a time of so much disposable art, it is nice to hear something with longevity and quality that continues to have the power to move me. I grew up with Nat “King” Cole, and I am happy to have him now as my hair grays. When I’m even older, I hope that The Boy and I will still have Mr. Cole as we take repose in our very own mid-century modern smoking room, martinis in hand, having grown simply too old for rock ’n’ roll.

Erica Rucker is a freelance weirdo, writer and professional wedding/portrait photographer at eElaine Photography.