Recently, I have been very coConcerned about the state of my windows, specifically the sand and dust that covers them both inside and out. On a particularly sunny day, I noticed that my windows were, in fact, unpleasant. My usual paper towel and some Windex method produced disappointing results, so I turned to very specific instructions from Cheryl Mendelson 800 pages guide to the turn of the millennium, Home comforts: the art and science of home maintenance.
Where I was wrong: I didn’t vacuum the windowsills or the screens, as Mendelson recommended. I also couldn’t find a “stiff brush” to clean them. The day I chose to clean my windows it was sunny (wrong) and the fabric I ended up using was not “slip resistant” as she suggested. I had I attacked my living room windows from the outside, standing on my ceiling, armed with a tea towel, a paper towel, and some Windex, and rubbed cheerfully until they glowed like the top of the Chrysler Building. But sItching in the room a few days later, I noticed streaks on the windows in the room.
Home comforts It is a fascinating time capsule of the 2000s worries, a product of its time that presents in exact and excruciating detail the work it takes to maintain and maintain a home. But it has new relevance, as many Americans spend a lot of time at home, looking at the refrigerator, the walls, the grout in the shower, and wondering what else they could do. It offers yet another fantasy of perfectly realized domesticity.
The author is also quite explicit about it. The Right Clock Now as a Good Time for a “Cultural Reevaluation of the Home Economy” New York Times caught up with Mendelson in a short interview. Guy Trebay spoke to Mendelson from the comfort of his Upper West Side apartment about the notion of home: “I don’t know if my idea of home should dominate others, but identity is a big part of my mind,” Mendelson said. said. “Home is that place where you have absolute control. “That is even more attractive in this current moment, which is defined entirely by people’s lack of control. If we cannot control anything except what is right in front of us, we could take the bull out of an atrocious movement toward domestication by the horns.
Home comforts It was published in January 2000 at a time populated by other brighter icons of domesticity. Martha Stewart’s cultural relevance has never really diminished, but in 2000, she was at the peak of her powers. A February 2000 profile of Stewart written by Joan Didion positions the businesswoman as a giant of the domestic arts, an omnipresent source of omniscient knowledge that knows everything about not only how do things, but why.
Instead, what there is is “Marta”, a complete approach, establishing a “personal communication” with the viewer or reader, showing, counting, guiding, teaching, “loving” when the simplest stirred vinaigrette emulsifies right there. on the screen. She presents herself not as an authority, but as the friend who “has discovered” her, the enterprising neighbor, although sometimes manic, who will not waste the opportunity to share an educational note.
Rather, Mendelson’s approach is pragmatic, sensitive, and softly raucous, less a domestic goddess of Martha’s class and more than a woman who knows what must be done to keep a house clean to her standards, and with a heart what Generous enough to share his wisdom with the rest of the world.
Reading Home comforts From start to finish, as I tried to do, it is enough to convince even the most orderly that their homes are full of germs, bacteria, mold, dust mites, and kilos of invisible skin scales, all of which need to be eradicated. Like her spiritual sister, The joy of cookingThe book serves as a very useful manual for those without an education in the domestic arts and as a document of a person’s very specific predilections. Mendelson often mentions his two grandmothers, one Anglo-American and one Italian-American, and contrasts their two styles of cleanliness and cleanliness as a means of explaining how his method came about. But in Mendelson’s world, there really is a right way to run a home, which she has in great detail.
“Being perceived as excessively domestic can make you socially excluded,” she writes in the introduction, anticipating the possibility of a backlash to a woman writing a book that, in her words, refers to “attitudes toward home and domesticity. inspired by those of that traditional woman. ” . “As a part-time lawyer and professor of philosophy, Mendleson makes it clear that her fondness for the domestic arts is the type of behavior that her cohort generally abhors. This assumption influences the rest of the book; Mendelson refers to her vocation to the Throughout the introduction, highlighting the strange dichotomy between her passion for cleaning and her professional life, but it is the generational divide between Mendelson and her mother that makes her hobby something to hide rather than celebrate: “Many middle-aged women Today’s age they had mothers who were dissatisfied housewives, “she writes.” These mothers taught their daughters not to get trapped, but to get their degree and go out into the world and fulfill their mothers’ frustrated ambitions. ”
In an introductory chapter, “My Secret Life,” Mendelson presents a defense of the house, painfully aware of the fact that, because she belongs to the first real generation of working women, declaring her passion for dust might make her a bit of an anomaly. . “I was raised to be a rural wife and mother,” she writes, “but I was born too late to find many opportunities for farm wives.” While the farm wife is not the vocation Mendelson ultimately chose, her book serves as an instruction manual for a high-powered career woman of the 1990s interested in transitioning her professional skills to that of manager. home: a protocolLean on Home executive with a kitchen desk and a picture of home improvement professionals at her Filofax ready.
For Mendelson, building a home is certainly a job, but it is a job that derives pleasure: the satisfaction of knowing that your home is not only a refuge, but a home: a “small and living society with the capacity to satisfy needs of people in their private lives: everything from food, shelter, clothing, warmth and other physical needs to books and magazines, music, games, facilities to entertain yourself and others, a place to work and much more. ” Managing all of those factors is a full-time job, but Mendelson firmly believes that it is possible to have it all, even if it means responding to women’s traditional notions of femininity and work.
However, the actual orientation is quite good. For someone who is really starting on their own, Home comfortsit’s like Rachel Wilkerson Miller wrote at Buzzfeed in 2017, an indispensable resource for almost everyone. The “merchandising” section, which is about the best grocery store, suffers from an obsession with expiration dates, but is immensely helpful in clarifying which vegetables are really bad. The chapter will teach the intrepid housewife to identify ripe melons at the grocery store and confidently select citrus that is actually juicy and shiny.
While the kind of advice offered here would look presumptuous elsewhere, Mendelson’s voice is tempered with ironic humor. The section on television treats him as an evil but necessary force, to be used with caution: “But just as it would be unwise to choose to have hot chocolate ice cream or a bottle of whiskey every night of the week, no one can afford a habit television newspaper, “he writes. For the more insightful tasks he advocates, his tone is much more accurate and his instructions overdone. In “The Art of Making Rags; In the” Rags “section, Mendelson suggests cutting rags with serrated scissors to prevent fraying of edges and advocates multiple rags or boxes to keep their cleaning cloths separate and orderly by task.
Inspired by Mendelson’s catchy attitude, I turned to his bedroom section to see if there was anything I could do to fix my current bedroom, which currently functions as a vacation home from my now perpetual quarantine position, slumped in the sofa in my living room / club / office / home theater. The rooms, in Mendelson’s mind, are just for sleeping; The pernicious trend of adding small tables, comfy chairs, televisions, and other distractions creates a space that blurs the line between living and sleeping, which distracts from the task at hand: a good night’s rest. With this in mind, I considered ditching the chair near the window the cat uses for its midday nap, which I use to store my morning outfit, but finally reconsidered. After two nights of restless, nervous, half sleep, I sought his advice to cure insomnia. “Study your sheets,” he writes. “Try replacing polyester blend sheets with cotton or linen.” I tried to resolve my insomnia by looking for the other pair of sheets, an arduous task that at least left me exhausted.
However, the most useful information for me is his advice on daily care and maintenance of the room. According to your specific instructions, I aerated my bed, throwing away the top sheet, duvet cover, and 15-pound blanket I use to smother me to sleep off to the side. I took a shower and made breakfast. The unmade bed teased me out of the corner of my eye as I dressed. “The bed should be ventilated for at least an hour if you go to work, or even longer if you stay home,” he writes. The sheets will be fresher, the bed more cozy. Do it this way, he suggests, firm but not aggressive, and you’ll reap the rewards.
While I understand why, the part of my brain that insists on making my bed every morning immediately when he woke up he twitched. I collapsed after fifteen minutes, but fully pumped my pillows. I left the windows open and dutifully hung each discarded sweatshirt in the closet. I fixed the top of the dresser and picked up the deodorant that the cat threw on the floor at night. When I finished to my satisfaction, fifteen minutes had passed and my room looked a little better, not “clean” by anyone’s standards, including mine, but a little closer together. Mendelson is right: “Those new to cleaning may find themselves wondering if doing all of this will really make their homes cozy,” he writes. “The answer is that it will take you, in my personal opinion, about three-quarters of the way.” Perfection is overrated but this will be enough for now.