I think it's a generally well accepted fact that the best way to wake up muscles you haven't worked recently and essentially shock them into anger, fury, and betrayal is to do some form of exercise you haven't done before, to force your body into something it's not used to. A new student in my yoga class, for example, will come back for Week Two exclaiming, "I was sore in muscles that I didn't even know I had!" I, on the other hand, have been doing yoga for five years, and while this doesn't mean I'm particularly good at it or entirely without strain or pain (on the contrary, after too many chatarangas, I still feel for the next two days like someone's stepped on my collarbone for hours), it is at least a familiar strain and soreness. It doesn't particularly throw me (or my muscles).
You know what I haven't done regularly and my muscles aren't used to, however? Cleaning. Yeah. Apparently cleaning is the way to hurt my body in a way that no machine at the gym and no vinyasa at the yoga center ever does. Give me 30 minutes on the elliptical; no problem. Make me wield a scrub sponge and I'm a wreck.
On Sunday, I cleaned my house properly from, er... I was going to say "from top to bottom," but not only is that trite; it's also untrue. I actually crapped out before getting to the rarely-used guest area upstairs or the mess beneath me in my basement. So really, I just cleaned across the middle and hit the well-trafficked areas on the main level. And by "cleaned them properly," I basically mean I used products and accoutrements other than wet and dry Swiffer. I actually used a mop. Some people would say that's still half-assed (David Sedaris once quoted his family's former cleaning lady, saying "You either want to use a mop or you want a clean floor, but you can't have both), but a mop is "real cleaning" to me.
So, I cleaned my house. I also sealed the many rusting cracks in the molded metal sheet that forms the sad, fake tile of my shower. And then I mowed my lawn, edged my sidewalk, did my laundry, changed my sheets, and emptied the dishwasher as well. And today, two days later, my forearms are still sore, and, when I move my right arm or rotate my shoulder in nearly any direction at all, it actually sort of makes me want to cry.
I am officially a wuss. And a slob. I would never have made it as a pioneer, what with all the beating wet clothes against rocks and plowing the fields with crude equipment and carrying water in from a manual pump outside. And here I was thinking TV and Taco Bell were our primary advantages over our foremothers. God bless my lazy twenty-first century life.