Manic Carpet Ride

I'm surprised this carpet isn't dirtier, what with all the sand and adventuring and proximity to un-housebroken tigers.

As of the first of this month, I’ve been living in my apartment for over a year now, and there hasn’t been a single day that I haven’t woken up, glanced at the floor of my room, and thought to myself, “I really need to do something about this fucking carpet.

I love love love my apartment. The past year that I’ve lived here has been fantastic, and I attribute a lot of that to the fact that I’m living in a bug free apartment where I have my own private bathroom – because you haven’t truly lived until you’ve taken a dump with the door open while your roommates are home.

I’ve taken a lot of care to make my room something of a sanctuary for myself – a quiet, clean place I can retreat to after a stressful day of returning a DVD to the video store and going to Baja Fresh. On the rare occasions when I actually have done a hard day’s work, I look forward to coming home to my room, with its movie posters that I actually bothered to get framed and its color coordinated Ikea furniture.

What I don’t look forward to is the cumulative hour or so I spend each night glancing at my carpet every few minutes, thinking, “I just really should do something about this fucking carpet.

If only the carpet in my room could talk, I’m sure it would tell some pretty crazy stories about the things it’s seen over the years. Looking at it, I’d guess that most of those stories would include subplots about tenants who never wipe their feet and frequently drop sticky things on the floor. That’s the tragedy of a carpet’s life – from day one, gravity is working against it.

I suppose there are probably dirtier carpets in the world, but that’s not important to me – what’s important to me is that the carpet I have is dirty, and as you’re all no doubt aware I have a really hard time existing in close proximity to things that are dirty.

Every night I’ll be on the Internet or writing or watching TV or… Actually, yeah, those are the only three things I ever do.

So I’ll be on the Internet or writing or watching TV and every half hour or so I’ll stop what I’m doing to take a look at my carpet, as if to just confirm that, yes, it’s still dirty, it hasn’t gotten appreciably dirtier in the past half hour, but I still need to do something about it.

I vacuumed a lot at first, but the cheap-as-shit vacuum in our apartment was mostly good at pushing the lint and filth around on the carpet around rather than actually sucking it up. Going to plan B, I went back to Target and bought the two cheapest rugs I could find to cover the dirtiest parts of my carpet. Sadly, the rugs aren’t big enough to cover every stain and blemish*, and even the ones that I can’t see still bother me because I know that they’re there being dirty even if I can’t see them. It’s like The Telltale Heart meets an episode of Monk.

*”I really need to do something about how small these fucking rugs are.”

When I was working full time I often thought about renting a steam cleaner, or hiring a carpet cleaning service, or having the carpets replaced, or setting small controlled fires to clear the worst of the damage, but every one of these solutions would’ve required me to spend half my weekend moving all the furniture out of my room and then back in. Since I was short enough on free time as it was back then, I just kept on procrastinating, and spent what little leisure time I had staring ruefully at my dirty carpet.

Now I’ve got all the time in the world and no job, but I’m not in any hurry to start spending money getting my carpets steam cleaned when that same money could be used for more pressing concerns, like food and bimonthly trips to the mechanic so he can bolt whatever has fallen off The Mystery Wagon back on. My car and my carpet are equally dysfunctional, but I don’t need my carpet to get to and from Trader Joe’s – I’m pretty sure it’s not one of those flying ones, anyway.

Talking to my parents on the phone last week, the issue of my 25th birthday at the end of the month came up, and Mom asked me if there was anything I particularly wanted. Every other year when this question comes up I hem and haw and ultimately don’t have an answer, but this year I happened to be gazing at a particularly dark patch of dirt on my carpet when she asked.

I was shocked to hear myself say, “Actually, I need a new vacuum cleaner, because the carpets in my room are pretty gross,” I managed to cut myself off before I also requested a LensCrafters gift certificate or season 3 of NCIS on DVD.

My parents, bless them, granted my critically lame birthday wish, and earlier this week I came home to find that UPS had delivered a brand new Dyson vacuum that is pretty much the carpet cleaning equivalent of Seal Team Six. It rolls and pivots on a single, Chip Kelly-sized ball for optimal maneuverability, sucks harder than Terminator Salvation, and did more for my carpets in ten minutes than I did in a whole year of pensive worrying. 

Mind you, it still looks pretty bad. (This would've been more effective if I'd thought to take pictures of the carpet BEFORE I vacuumed it.)

This is not how I saw myself entering my mid 20s – asking my parents for household appliances as gifts, getting excited about the engineering of vacuum cleaners, attaching my sanity to the relative cleanliness of my carpets. It’s not particularly glamorous, but I can’t argue with the results – now, looking at my carpet gives me a certain sense of accomplishment. “Good for me for doing something about that fucking carpet.”  

Despite my best efforts, adulthood just might be sneaking up on me.

Truman Capps’ definition of ‘adulthood’ is apparently, “Wring your hands over a problem until your parents bail you out.”