I confess: I hired a housekeeper to clean up after me.
I loathe cleaning, especially the bathroom and kitchen. I can organize, tidy, and move piles around with great efficiency. I don't hate laundry or even handwashing the dishes. But I HATE scrubbing toilets and floors.
So, after I finished grad school, I got a recommendation from a colleague, and discovered I could pay for cleaning twice a month for less than I was spending on tuition. Those two Tuesdays a month that I come home to a clean house are glorious. I am gleeful with anticipation, and never less than delighted. My quality of life and mood has improved exponentially. I never have a yucky tub or tumbleweeds of cat fur drifting through my house.
As a feminist, I know that I am exploiting another woman by paying her to do my dirty work. I know that I'm participating in a global patriarchal economy of oppression of women of color. But then I think: why is it okay to pay a guy to do my yard, or change my oil, or paint my house, but not okay to pay a woman to clean my house? Is it because cleaning is "women's work" and I feel guilty for not doing it myself, not being an obedient, conforming woman who scrubs her own floors?
Check this: she makes the same hourly wage I do. I have a PhD, $100k in student loans, and a professional job. I make the same hourly wage as a person who cleans houses for a living. How is THAT fair? Really, we should both be making more money. If she worked for a cleaning service, she'd get benefits and vacation days, but then she'd only be making $7-8/hour. I do get health insurance and vacation days on top of my salary, but when it comes down to it, we're both getting paid far less than we're worth. One because she's doing "women's work" and the other because I'm doing non-profit cultural work.
I just can't defend this choice but I also don't want to give it up. I don't grow my cotton and make my own cloth and clothing; I don't grow my own vegetables; I don't make my own electronics; all of these industries - EVERY INDUSTRY - relies on exploiting the labor classes. I know this. I hate it. I don't want to live off the grid and dig potatoes all bloody day long. I don't think I have to in order to be an ethical person. I do resent being typecast as a spoiled honky because I spend $80 a month on avoiding something I really just hate doing, but I also know that I AM a spoiled American honky. Not as spoiled as many, but certainly living like a queen by third-world standards.
I guess this is all about white liberal guilt, isn't it? It's the oldest and most boring story in the world. Sigh.
It's a long way to the ass-end of the Delta: Greenville. It's on the Arkansas border, right on the Mississippi River, and it's a solid four hours from me. I didn't take any pictures, but I can recommend a visit to the Greenville Arts Council to visit their gallery, and their freshly restored, century-old carousel, which is just gorgeous. It's been restored to function, but it's only open a few hours a day.
On Friday night, I ate at Fermo's, which had fantastic eggplant parmesan, a civilized wine list, and home-made fried cheese that was spectacular (not that Sysco fried-cheese-stick stuff). Alas, it being a small town, they were vacuuming and stacking chairs at 9:fucking:20 PM, while we were still seated. Tres gauche.
On my way out of town, I took a ride over to see the new - but not yet open - Greenville Bridge over the Mississippi. It's a fine-looking bridge. The old bridge is a fairly alarming, narrow, two-laned thing. I'd bet it's an old WPA project, it's that narrow. Nonetheless, it gives a great view of the new bridge, and the river really is gorgeous there. It being the Delta, the river is not controlled by levees. This allows for river expansion and silt spread, which is the reason for that rich dark farming ground all over the Delta. Corn, soybeans, and catfish farms are your main scenery up Highway 49W and across 82. It's okay for a while, but then it just gets boring.
Greenville is a bit grim in that broke-down southern town way, but the Arts Council is doing a good job of keeping the community filled with theater, visual arts, and so forth. Some of the older houses are being kept up, but a lot of houses with amazing bones are being let go to hell.
Greenville does have a real live independent bookstore, the McCormick Book Inn. Their emphasis is Mississippi writers and info, plus they have a big children's section. The back room is a kind of de facto Greenville History Museum, featuring books, postcards, and memorabilia from the town. I wanted to have a chat with the owner about the damaging effects of flourescent light on vintage paper & photographs, but I decided to let it be. He's doing a community service by keeping that stuff in his commercial establishment as it is.
Greenville, by the way, has brown water. When I checked into my hotel, I thought someone had left piss in the toilet. Seriously. Turns out the water is brown everywhere, and they claim it's perfectly safe, and there are signs in every single bathroom in town addressing the issue. Ooookay, whatever. It kind of freaked me out.
On my way home I stopped in Leland to visit the Highway 61 Blues Museum. I'll be honest with you: those guys NEED your five bucks. They've got memorabilia, a temporary exhibit of blues musician photos - a lot of Son Thomas and BB King - and I hear their festival is quite fine. Why do they need your five bucks? Because, holy crap, they need some damn air conditioning. Whew. They do have good t-shirts and posters, and they're doing a decent job considering their limited resources. I do believe you would find some truly down-home Delta Blues jam sessions there during festival weekend, if you can take the heat.
It's kitten season! Pippin was found wandering on a busy street by my boss's wife. She drove past, then turned around, because she just couldn't leave such a tiny kitten wandering around in the middle of the street. As they have two unruly children, adding a kitten to their family was not an option. So, she took him to their vet (which also happens to be my vet) and paid for a checkup and shots. She called work to see if anyone wanted him, and I agreed to go visit him to see if we got along.
I knew one thing: if he was a tortoiseshell, I was going to pass. Every tortie cat I've ever met is batshit insane. Pippin is a mix of tabby and Siamese, I think, with little white feet. He is feisty, blue-eyed, and a complete lunatic. I am covered in tiny little kitten scratches because he likes to climb up my back and perch on my shoulder. Last night, he had a claw-clipping. There was much lamentation of the feline, during which I kept saying, "I'm bigger than you! I'm bigger than you!" Hopefully the claw-clipping will get easier. I never did get the other boys into the habit.
Why is the picture blurry? Because he has two modes: running around like a little streak of white lightning, or sleeping on my neck. I never happen to have a camera handy when he settles down to a nap on me, so all my Pippin pics are blurry. One day he'll settle down long enough for a proper photo shoot. I hope.
A few observations on the annual Mashing of the Boobs:
1. My mammogram occurred at the new "women's center" in Nearby College Town. In the womens' center ob/gyn services, the Breast Center, and, get this: Plastic Fucking Surgery! Because, you know, women are tits, twats, and artificial beauty. I can't tell you how much this irritates me. When my gynecologist told me last year about this new development, I wondered aloud whether they would put a plastic surgery clinic in a "men's center." She just sort of raised her eyebrows and made no comment. Look, they need to build a men's center with the pee-pee doctor, the prostate doctor, plastic surgery, hair clinic, and perhaps a re-education center...sigh. Fucking patriarchy.
2. This year, instead of scotch-taping tiny BB's to the nipples, they have a fancy new product that is so very Feminine, so Girly, it totally negated the pain, discomfort, and general feeling of angst that accompanies the mashing of the boobs:
Isn't that SO much better? Pretty pink and purple flowers on the scotch tape!? Oh my, yes. I snuck them out of the clinic because I just knew I couldn't leave such pretty, pretty nipple-BB's behind!
I just hope that, when a man needs a mammogram, he gets the flowery stickers.
Of course, they probably just give them ultrasounds on account of they'd pass out from the pain. What a bunch of babies.