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I finally understand military inspections

February 15, 2011

I’m trying to sell my house right now, an effort that achieves somewhat greater urgency with the purchase of my new house this afternoon.

As part of the sales process, we have staged the house and now have to keep the whole thing in a museum-like perfect state, so that it looks like no one lives there but a potential buyer could move right in. With two kids and two cats, this is a challenging exercise. Every morning I spend an hour or more tidying, cleaning, vacuuming, dusting, making beds, and generally getting the house back to perfect.

The house has never been cleaner or prettier. I feel like I’m violating the laws of nature, somehow reversing the cloud of entropy that surrounds every house and gradually turns it from order into chaos.

As I go through this morning routine, two things come to mind.

First, I like the house this way. And the only way it gets this way is if there is some amount of accountability (in this case, the daily showings to potential buyers). And this is why the military has inspections: to prevent individual units from devolving into chaos because no one checks to see if the socks are put away and the rifles are well-maintained.

And my second epiphany is that this is what my mother (an obsessive housekeeper) used to do for hours every single day. Vacuum, dust, clean walls, clean floors, do laundry, etc etc etc. And now I get why she did it — there’s a certain satisfaction in having a really immaculate house with every single thing put away. “A place for every thing, and every thing in its place.”

I don’t want to live like this forever, but I am going to try and schedule enough social events at our house that once a month or so it has to get back to this state. Just so that things don’t get completely out of hand.

Location:Between the house I am selling and the one that I’m buying

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