Posted by: Donna Cunningham | July 21, 2009

The Law of Progressive Annoyance—Mars or Jupiter?

©2009 by Donna Cunningham, MSW

I recently got a much-yearned for, long-needed, brand new refrigerator, something I’d  all but lost hope I’d ever see. I spent days celebrating it and even sent out e-card announcements to annoy my friends and family.

When I woke up in the night, I’d go out to the kitchen and open its door in the dark, just to experience the novelty of the light actually coming on. The old one hadn’t done that in a decade. I won’t even mention the bright blue duct tape on its handle these past six months.

fridgepenuin-a2dThe outside of my new acquisition was whiter than I even dreamed was possible in an appliance; the inside was roomy; and not one of the bins was cracked. When I slammed the bottom door—I AM a slammer—the freezer door did not pop open. I deliberately put off grocery shopping so that the spaciousness of it wouldn’t get filled.  Oh, yes, I was in heaven!

For a week. Then a phenomenon I call The Law of Progressive Annoyance kicked in. I believe it to be a natural law, and yet no scientist seems to cite it, so perhaps I am its discoverer, a distinction I’d proudly claim.

(The Ferengi—those big-eared, vertically-challenged guys on Star Trek—doubtlessly know it and would probably list it as one of their Laws of Acquisition.) It’s related to, perhaps a subset of, Be Careful What You Wish For.

You may be wondering what in the world The Law of Progressive Annoyance is. It’s the principle by which, once you fix something or get something new, the S/&*T adjacent to it commences to bother you, when it never did before.

And if you’re so foolish as to address that annoyance, it progresses to another, and so on.  In the case of the new refrigerator, for instance, the beat-up cupboards around it started to look cruddy, and I wanted them sanded and painted immediately. (Fat chance!)

What else suddenly got hard to take was the too-small kitchen table sitting next to it. I’d been thinking for a while—okay, a couple of years—that I should replace it with one that would more comfortably hold not just my meals but also my pile of breakfast reading, the past month’s junk mail, the glucose testing kit, and my makeup. It was a low-grade irritant, though, staved off by occasional purges.

No sooner was the refrigerator installed than the table became intolerable. I began drive-by garage sale cruising and checked out every Goodwill SuperStore in Portland, but no perfect oversized, all-purpose, reasonably priced table has yet presented itself.

I shall have to put my Manifestation Mojo to work on it. What has slowed me down is the fear—no, the sure knowledge—that once I find the table, I’ll start wanting someone to fix the sagging door on the hutch beside it, or, worse, replace that too.starstovepolish-a2d

Over the years since discovering the Law of Progressive Annoyance, I’ve learned to be especially leery of home improvements and deep cleaning.

Though housework was never my particular forte to begin with (Aries Moon), I  indulge in occasional bouts of it, only to deeply regret it.

Were I to scour the grease off the stove hood, then the grease on the cupboard doors above it would suddenly become an embarrassment, and I’d have to scour them too.

If the windows got washed, then the walls around them would look grimy and remind me how long it’s been since they were painted. If I got a new armchair, the end table beside it would turn tacky overnight.

The Law of Progressive Annoyance has proven to be a great labor saving device, for it has taught me to stifle those random impulses and just go read something. Yes, folks, Law of Progressive Annoyance is REAL, and if you should happen to trigger it, be afraid. Be Very afraid.

How would I characterize The Law of Progressive Annoyance in astrological terms? This is, after all, nominally an astrology blog. What planet would be its ruler? It is Jupiter-ruled, not the domain of Mars as you might infer from the name. Much-maligned Mars is so often the fall guy who gets blamed for Jupiter’s baser motives.

I firmly believe that Jupiter—not Mars—is the God of War, for it has spawned so many wars in the name of religion. The real motives behind most wars are Jupiterian—GREED and the desire to EXPAND.

Jupiterians seldom know when Enough is Enough. We want what the other guy has, so we find a reason to attack him that sounds noble…we call him an infidel, guilty of oppression and of crimes against humanity. That’s why we’re forever at war in oil-rich Mideastern countries but not in equally-oppressed but oil-poor Tibet.

Ooops, that tirade will doubtlessly get bleeped and removed from this post by nightfall. My detractors think I’m much too political as it is, although it’s been some time since a book reviewer accused me of being a flame-breathing feminist. I guess the statute of limitations has passed on that one.

The main difference between blogging and regular print media is that I can be as politically incorrect as I really am, with no level-headed editor to say, “Do you really think that’s wise?”

You’d be surprised at the stuff that gets posted on this blog when no one is looking and then yanked when I chicken out. If you want to know what I really think about world events, visit Skywriter when I’m writing this stuff, between 4:00-6:00 AM Pacific.

PS. A friend of a friend has recently dubbed me the Erma Bombeck of astrology, since I dispense advice and helpful hints along with humor.

I’d say that with this post I have solidly established myself as the Anti-Erma of astrology, since just about the only helpful household hint you’ll ever get from me is to avoid it whenever you can, and when you can’t, do it as quickly and simply as possible. (Oh, and the other one is to buy furniture that is painted white, because the dust doesn’t show up so much on it.)

They’re ones that always works for me, but less so for my visitors. Read the comments on this post, folks–they’re hilarious!

More Posts about Mars on this Blog:

More Posts about Jupiter on this Blog:

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  1. Could not agree more! I’m married to a man with Aries Moon conjunct Jupiter. Thankfully he’s a carpenter by trade and can do 90% of the work, otherwise we couldn’t begin to afford those progressive annoyances.

    My Jupiter is safely buried in the 12th house – very useful for ignoring the fact my stove doesn’t match my frig. 😀

  2. I also can’t bear cleaning. If we didn’t force ourselves to have guests every now and then, our house would have had to be condemned by Public Health. We don’t dust; we wait until we have to shovel.

    Yes, I love clean things, but I can’t see putting a lot of resources toward doing this: time, effort, money. Which is why the next thing I’m going to say is SO BIZARRE.

    I am about to impart to you a secret I found a couple of years ago. I use it at the times I MUST clean. And yes, I do think I clean a bit more often, because it doesn’t seem so hopeless. Let me point out I own no stock in any company manufacturering this treasure: MAGIC ERASER sponges. And magic they are! Honestly, they are a revolution on the magnitude of the printing press.

    There — my one and only cleaning tip to impart, aside from “just say no” to cleaning.

    • Okay, I bought the MAGIC ERASER, but nothing happened, no magic. The clutter is still there, as is the grime. Do I have to take them out of the package and actually get them wet or something? If I do that, will the clutter disappear? Will the formerly off-white paint that is now a medium beige go back to off-white if wave the MAGIC ERASER at the walls and ceilings? Just asking…unable to “just say no” to cleaning with the looming arrival of a house guest.

      • Ah, Jann, my sympathies!! House guests are the place where all my homemaking strategies break down compleletely. I think I’d do what my mean Aunt Bernadine does and pretend to have been suddenly called out of town. She tries to say it’s for a family emergency, except we all know that nobody in the family is talking to her, much less visit her.

        Truthfully, I use my infrequent houseguests as an excuse to do some heavy-duty cleaning…not enough to trigger The Law of Progressive Annoyance, mind you, but enough to hold off the health department. It’s a fine line to walk, admittedly, but I’ve learned how. Donna

      • Jann, did you pay the extra amount to get the magic incantation that goes with the eraser? It’s hefty, but worth it.

  3. Deb, you are priceless! Folks, Deb is my partner in creating Vibration Magazine and blog, and she is one of the hardest-working, most productive people I know. Like most people who get a lot accomplished, however, she knows how to prioritze.

    I’m like that myself–and cleaning, especially dusting–is very low on my list of priorities. My mentor, Rod Chase, used to relate that Abraham Lincoln’s law office was so far removed from clean that if he ate an orange, the pits would sprout. Donna

  4. Donna: I so relate to your story. The same thing happened when I finally replaced my refrigerator. The stove looked shabby, old and inadequate. I started drooling over self-cleaning stoves with convection features, High BTU’s, simmer burners etc, etc..In brief,all the bells and whistles a serious baker would want. But I think I can avoid the Law of Progressive Annoyance.

    My hubby is a designer, so it should not be a problem to remodel the kitchen to be functional, right? Wrong! With Venus in perfectionist Virgo and Jupiter in Aries, he cannot take on a simple project. Redesigning the kitchen means going back to the studs in a old San Franciscan Victorian house. So not going to happen!
    As for my cleaning secret: really LOUD disco music, preferably ABBA or the Bee Gees.

    • Aha, so this may well be a universal prinicple! the old Victorians may be difficult to restore, but such treasures when done. I am glad for you that you’ll have one. Donna

  5. My husband replaced a needle once on his fancy stereo system – that ended up being very expensive!

  6. And speaking of Jupiter, what do people think of the way it just gobbled up that comet? I loved the comment in our newspaper by a scientist who said we should appreciate Jupiter because it helps keep these things from slamming into Earth. It seemed in line with Jupiter’s general benevolence (laws of progressive acquisition notwithstanding).

    • Do you mean when they predicted Hale Bopp would hit Jupiter on a certain date and it did?

      I remember feeling quite uneasy when they all applauded their own cleverness. Jupiter is a Giant and a force to be reckoned with. I think I recall long ago that scientists said it could easily have been a star in its own right but got captured by the Sun’s gravity. Donna

  7. You must not have read the news yet this morning. 🙂 Here’s what I mean, from the New York Times.

  8. Wow!! That’s amazing! Maybe the impact of whatever crashed into Jupiter came because of the combined gravitatational pull of Jupiter, Chiron, and Neptune all conjunct within a degree.

    We bloggers and other astrologers have been speculating about what it means in individual lives and in political terms, but maybe it was more literal than that. Thanks, Margaret! Donna

  9. Dear Donna and Deb,

    I can sooooo identify with both the blog and comment. I offer two things in this long and tedious reply: “The Law of Increasing Irritation and Creeping Regret” and The Bleach Non-Cleaning Dodge.

    First, “The Law of Increasing Irritation and Creeping Regret”, which I believe is a corollary to “The Law of Progressive Annoyance.” Last November I replaced my 1981 range and refrigerator. The ultimate rationalization was “energy efficiency” goaded by such a deal of a sale.

    The top of the new stove sits just slightly askew on the frame, leaving a sixteenth of an inch gap. This gap creates an itty bitty ledge that accumulates all of the crud involved in cooking and requiring the frequent use of cotton swab sticks (a/k/a Q-tips) to dredge it out. No amount of shoving, pushing or nudging will get the top even with the frame and flush against the cupboard. It is the way the appliance was made by the manufacturer.

    Every time I clean this gap, I get increasingly irritated at the shoddy workmanship of the not-so-cheap albeit “on sale” appliance.

    The bottom of the range has a “spacious four inch drawer” that is out of alignment with the rest of the appliance. Every time I walk into the kitchen, I can see this and keep thinking the drawer isn’t completely closed. I kick it and nothing happens.

    More of the increasing irritation, which leads to the creeping regret that seems to accompany the purchase of virtually anything these days. I am certain that this is a Ferengi warning, if not a Law of Acquisition. (“Acquisition of any newly manufactured object will instill a creeping regret of the expenditure due to its shoddy construction and poor workmanship, especially in comparison to the quality of the object replaced.”)

    “New” no longer means “improved.” So, same planetary culprits or is there another choice?

    The Bleach Non-Cleaning Dodge is simply this putting a dab of bleach on small piece of paper towel and stashing it inconspicuously in a room. Assuming you will allow a guest to cross the threshold, the place will smell as if you have just cleaned and the guest should not be able to notice the dust, grime or clutter.

    This tip will not work for rooms that are inaccessible because of piled clutter, especially those whose doors can no longer be closed to hide the mess due to the *stuff” blocking the doorway.

    For Deb, cleaning is a form of an archeological expedition, involving the removal of many strata of accumulated detritus. With the impending arrival of a houseguest in a mere two weeks, I have engaged in this activity.

    I now can tell you that I have unearthed the floor in my study, which I have been unable to enter for several years and haven’t seen the carpet for a decade. Is it worth the effort? Hell, no. I don’t know what to do with the crap that came out that room. Oh, wait…there’s an empty stall in the garage.

    • I had to laugh at loud at your comments. I was onto bleach already–bleach beats consistency in housework hands down. But your way of using/not using it is a technological advance of the first order!! I simply never thought of that. Donna

      PS. My friends have suggested that I continue today’s post with one that conveys my hints for non-cooking. I’m pondering it. My #1 rule is: nuke it, bake it, or take it out from the deli.

  10. I took me awhile to get around to reading this post with such a compelling title. OMG! I suffer from progressive annoyance to the point of immobility. We’re trying to scrounge the funds for new siding on the house because of dry rot. I’m afraid once our home looks brand new from the outside, the inside deterioration will be unbearable. Is this the real reason I resist, even more than the hefty cost?

    Jupiter makes sense as the Progressive Annoyance planet since staying at home is the opposite of traveling far away, one of Jupiter’s favorite activities. If you stay home, you have to look at, if not do, all those cleaning and home improvement projects. Wow, what would a Jupiter in Virgo do who would be tempted to clean as an expansive religious experience, LOL!

    I figure my Pluto in the 4th house is partly responsible for the mess in my real house. You mentioned in another post that Pluto is where you do things for spite. My mom was a compulsive housekeeper who would poke me with her finger on Saturday mornings–the only day a growing kid could sleep in–to wake me up to do my chores. I am still POed at her!

  11. i’m unfashionably late to the party, but i have to say as a virgo stellium with jupiter-leo rising, i AM the law in flesh! i go from one extreme to another (maybe all the virgo-nesting plus big fat jupiter quincunx my pisces moon?), either not believing in such crass material concerns, or being traumatized by the level of funkiness which surrounds me.

    but i have stumbled on to a wonderful secret as of late–i always threaten to burn the whole thing down and start over. so i washed everything, and packed it all up. if i don’t have to use it right now, it is out of sight. and out of mind. viola! no more cleaning, or very little and never overwhelming. then, i hope to focus on disposing of things and beautifying the remainder (maybe venus-virgo part of the stellium in the 2nd of values, plus that interesting-theoretically-spiteful pluto in 3rd libra?).

    i have found that i’d rather have a lovely strong skeleton than a bloated cozy prison any day. next move, into the 60 sq ft house!

  12. There is another term for this, and it has become very popular in post-crash socio-economic analysis: [An-]Hedonic Adaptation, or enough is never enough. Well we all know how that is in the Bourgeois-Industrial-Commercialist credit-schizoid (damn…Greg Lake and King Crimson were SO on it. That’s why it’s called “Progressive Rock”) culture we inhabit like fish.

  13. This is highly interesting, hilarious and yes, something NEW!!! W Jupiter in my first house I call myself ‘The Nazi Cleaner’. Toothbrush on the floorboards or death by OCD!!! 😉 And God forbid, anyone ever touch or move something in my room, then it’s Postal Time.

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