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Kitzmann column: Spring cleaning not top priority

I was not in very high spirits when I woke up last Monday morning. Why should I have been? The glaciers are melting, gas is projected to cost $5 a gallon by the end of the summer (ironically, about when I will be getting my driver's license), and soon, very soon, our national debt will reach the $10 trillion milestone.

But these worldly woes were not what warranted my weeping. Rather, I was lamenting the fact that, not long after getting out of bed, I would have to clean my bedroom.

A couple of days previous to this waking up on Monday morning, I had been informed by my parents that I would be getting half of the week off from my schoolwork. This prospect had originally been very exciting to me, and I spent Saturday and most of Sunday with the state of mind that my parents were not really all that bad after all.

Of course, I couldn't quite bring myself to admit that they were good parents, but this favor alone had elevated them to mildly proficient, and a few more acts of kindness such as this one would see them at the highest possible rank a set of parents can achieve in the eyes of a teenager: OK.

But all of that changed when I was informed as to exactly what I would be spending my so-called "free time" doing. It was Sunday, and my entire family was seated at the dinner table, eating between jolly fragments of conversation. Suddenly, out of the blue, my dad told me that "you'd better get to bed early tonight, son; you have a long day of cleaning ahead of you tomorrow." and my mood was ruined.

Hoping that what he had just told me was something entirely different than what I thought I had heard, I asked him to repeat his message. "Tomorrow you will be cleaning" he told me, in the slowest, clearest voice he could speak in. "Your grandparents will be arriving on Wednesday, and there's no way this pig-sty, especially your bedroom, could be cleaned in one day."

I objected, pointing out that my room, although it was unquestionably cluttered, had a cleared path-system leading to the important destinations, similar perhaps to a deer-hunter having paths in a dense forest to his various tree-stands.

My dad attempted to strengthen his cause by continuing with a carefully prepared spiel. I remember fragments about making our house presentable for company and the benefit of having your possessions organized and how nice it would be to actually have some space in my bedroom, but I was too engrossed in my personal dread for the next day that I wasn't really listening at all, instead only looking absently at him and nodding my head in agreement when it looked like he was making a point. After he was finished, I asked to be excused and went to bed.

Next morning, I woke up, remembered everything, and closed my eyes, trying to let sleep take me back to my Happy Place of blue skies, sunshine and messy rooms that are left that way. Unfortunately, as the house's noise level made perfectly clear, I would soon have to face the real world.

I reluctantly rolled out of bed, and proceeded to the kitchen, where a huge bowl of pasty oatmeal awaited me. I ate, trying not to let everyone else's chipper mood bother me.

After breakfast, I headed down to the tool shed out back, where I found what I deemed to be the supplies necessary to clean my room. They included, among other things, a compass, provisions for a week, a tent and a machete for hacking through the dense underbrush and fighting off any threatening animals I might happen to come across. After this, I went inside and prepared to do what I had been preparing for all morning.

I opened the door to my room, and gazed with silent awe and reverence at the truly heroic mass of clutter before me, and began. I ran down the main trail, took a side route, and found myself standing by a bookcase, one that I previously hadn't known existed, where I began the monumental job of sorting through piles of junk and separating what to keep and what to dispense of.

Year-old pizza crust? Toss. Dead turtle? Out you go. Next. Here's my second grade class picture! I remember these people! Hang on to that. And so my day went, sorting and sifting through heaps and heaps of whatnot.

Slowly, ever so slowly, the colossal pile of rubbish that once dominated my room began to retreat until it was no more. When the job was finished, a great sense of accomplishment came over me. My dad was right, the extra space was good to have, and for the first time in Heaven knows how long, I was able to move about my bedroom quite freely.

I knew where everything was and my mind felt clear and uncluttered when I sat at my desk to begin this column. It was beautiful.

True, I can't control the national debt or the price of gas, but I can at least keep my corner of the universe clean, no matter how messy and disordered it may be elsewhere.

Nathan Kitzmann is a freshman and is homeschooled.