Thursday, June 20, 2013

A Clean Room Does Not Mean a Clean Life

The neshama is not happy in a mess, the family guru always said. I do admit, while my room is perennially in need of straightening, tucking away but a few items casts a magical glow of satisfaction. 

But I do not belong to minimalist camp, of homes filled with echoing emptiness. A house should have some clutter; a sefer left on a table, a potted plant (that has managed to outlive my murderous tendency to over-water), decorative yet useless pillows—a home is where living is. 

According to Will Wiles, hysteria over domestic perfection is based on the erroneous belief that all problems can be solved with a squeaky clean home. There are diligent hausfraus who weep at the sight of a speck on their sparkling surfaces, and I wonder if perhaps their constant scrubbing is connected to their sense of worth.
Wiles claims that there are ad campaigns targeting renovation and redecoration as the means to a happy existence. That is merely what all advertisements attempt to do to sell their clients' stock, but I wonder how many issues are glazed over while solutions are sought in all the wrong avenues.

Sort of like those dramas when a son breaks terrible news to his mother, who simply smiles sunnily and insists she is going to make some dinner, everything looks better after dinner. He trails her as she marches into the kitchen, loudly overriding his objections as she rummages in the fridge for the miracle cure.

Alternatively, consider the Roald Dahl short story "Lamb to Slaughter"; a chipper, pregnant housewife fusses over her husband when he arrives home from work. He tells her some news that shocks her (the audience infers he says he is leaving her for another) and she blankly goes to the fridge to defrost a leg of lamb for supper. When he says he doesn't want supper (obviously), she hits him over the head with the frozen leg, killing him. Then she calmly cooks it to perfection, which she later serves to the investigating police officers, who chat as they munch that the murderer will be caught when they get the murder weapon. Hee hee. 

Now, that is a way to use sparkling domesticity to one's advantage: Use dinner not to shield problems, but to eliminate them.   

Denial may be a standard psychological defense, but nothing gets better until it has been acknowledged and dealt with. I can insist until the cows come home that I don't look like a cow, but that doesn't make it true. Whereas making a choice to eat like a cow (greenery and bran), funnily enough, has very svelte results.    


SpordicIntelligence said...

Love love love that story. Classic Roald Dahl. (Wanted to teach that story, but him leaving her was a bit risque)

While a clean house and square meal don't solve problems, I definitely think it helps me deal with mine.

When my house is messy and there are other things I need to address as well, I won't be able to tackle my issues until my home is in working order, I just can't think in a mess; it overwhelms me. And when ever spoon is back in place, and paper stuffed back in my bag (I'm a big believer in "oifen shpritz, inten shmitz") then everything else sorts itself out.

Princess Lea said...

I think I learned it first in BY. But then again we had a teacher who was always pushing barriers.

Ah, yes, cleanliness helps in terms of de-cluttering the mind, which leads to logical thinking, which can assist in solving problems.

For instance, how did she have the presence of mind to use a slab of meat to commit the perfect murder? Indubitably, her pristine house-keeping skills assisted with clear-headed planning.

tesyaa said...

Apropos of nothing, have you ever browsed I'm enjoying the site. A lot of the clothes seem to be up your alley (more the shoes and jackets). The long threads are mostly about work and lifestyle issues, so may not interest you. But the clothing might be your style.

Princess Lea said...

Just took a gander. Yeah, lifestyle blah, but one or two items seemed cute. Not crazy about the jackets, though; most of them too long, meaning they look better with pants.

tesyaa said...

Ha! I made the classic mistake of assuming you would like the site because of jackets! I don't wear jackets myself, so I wouldn't remember if they look good longer or shorter. (I used to own dozens of Shabbos suits with tailored jackets; now I'm down to one, plus one interview suit which I hope I'll never need again). If a top is not knit, I don't wear it. (I'll make an exception for stretchy cotton/spandex woven shirts for hot summer days, but that's it).

I do think jackets look nice on other people, just not on me.

Princess Lea said...

I like jackets, but not indiscriminately. Shorter suits everyone, and the waist must be defined, peplum I love for my build. But I also have plenty of sweaters, blouses, and so forth.

Jackets could probably look good on you, just not any jacket.

tesyaa said...

True. I think I can look nice in a jacket. But the look on my face (from not being comfortable) would detract from my overall appearance.

Princess Lea said...

That is just as important.