Wednesday, September 06, 2006

To be read, well, except for the serious parts, to be read tongue in cheek, please...
So I get this email from my friend who can make me laugh as hard as Tim Trainor (and that's no easy maneuver, I assure you) I get this email that begins, "Hey, Sister of Unemployment..." the remark that spawns these current musings or The Shot Heard 'round the World - Women of Title Unite.
It seems to me that the public mindset where my comings and goings between 9 and 5 on Monday through Friday of any given week are concerned, it seems to me that a particular, though I might add puzzling impression has evolved which I must tell you collides outright with my own description or label, if you must, my own label of these comings and goings.
But let me stop myself here to tell you of a brief encounter I had with Paul on Monday as we approached the ticket counter at the Aberdeen Concert Hall to buy tickets for Aly Bain and Phil Cunningham when the woman behind the counter very delicately asked if we'd like to request any discounts, obviously noting that we might be sixty or something and trying to be discreet about it, but Paul catching on right away pipes up and says, "You mean do we qualify for Seniors discount, no, not yet, (but typical of my Scottish husband - and thank goodness for this - he asks) "What other discounts do you offer?" Well, there's student, friends of, blah blah blah, unemployed to which he chortles, "My wife is unemployed. She's a housewife. Does that count?" And then proceeds to tell the story of Mr. Mitchell from Dennis the Menace when Dennis asks why Mrs. Mitchell never retired to which Mr. Mitchell replied, "Because she never worked. How could she retire if she never worked." To which Dennis responds and I paraphrase, "But she never stops moving. She never sits down. She's always cooking or cleaning or grocery shopping, you're the one who's always loafing around, Mr. Mitchell."
Then, the Sister of Unemployment descends upon my mail box and to this business of how a woman justifies her time, I have the following comments...
To begin, to refer to a secret place, something you might not have known about me but I'll tell you now that as much as Judy Garland wanted her pills, I have wanted my domestic life. And as painfully prosaic, as monotonous and as wearisome, as ho-hum and repetitious as the life of a housewife might seem from the outside looking in...look a little closer.
I'm not just any housewife, I'm a housewife with a title. Lady Amber. And I'm not living in Duluth Minnesota, I'm in one of the most beautiful countries in the world, however, I suspect, even in Duluth Minnesota, I could spin gold out of my domestic life. does she spend her day...dear me, how does she justify her time?
I suppose had I not a novel to look after today, I suppose it would make the likes of De Beauvoir, who loved Nelson Algren to the point of wanting nothing more than to darn his socks and bake his pies and Adrienne Rich who was so deeply inspired by the summer heat and her young children and their sweaty smells, so transcended by it, and too perhaps even Sontag might enjoy a treatise on the Evolution of the Housewife.
There was time when the role of women cast as homemakers was essential to the social progress of society, but with the advent of machines and blessedly with their right to vote the professional housewife had a choice, a quite necessary one in fact, a choice to join the ranks of men in the world of finance, education, medicine, science and so on and all of that cardinal in a society where I believe it is paramount for men and women to be considered as equals, paid such, regarded such.
But what happened to the poor housewife, extinct and nowhere to turn save a bottle of Valium, then to mini-skirts, to briefcases, the soccer mom (?) yuk...I'm off track here..until we lost some of our femininity, or were perhaps afraid to express it, afraid it might be swallowed up by the dreariness of the poor, ordinary housewife who endlessly hoovers and washes up, who chases after horrid children and stands obscured by a remote control and a weekend husband who drinks beer and watches football.
NO NO must appoint yourself a title and live by it. You must recover your dignity. You must elevate your day to an art form. You must take back your kitchen, your bedroom, your garden, your house, and foremost, most important, your husbands.
If you're a homemaker and you're at a cocktail party floating in a sea of nothing but professionals who go on for miles and endless miles, doctors, lawyers, bankers, professors, etc...talking endlessly about their respective professions you know nothing about Yeats. Talk about the love story of Maud Gonne and W. B. Yeats, the Abbey Theater, John McBride and the Easter Rising...the hoovering can wait. You must strike a balance with not only keeping yourself healthy, your husband healthy, your house relatively clean, but you must also keep yourself interesting and nothing is more interesting in a world gone mad for money and random sex, than poetry and a good love story. We all know you shop for beets. We all know you launder the towels and recycle, but forget about the trash one day (which I've actually just done myself in writing this blog to you), forget about all that and read, walk, cycle, hunt for mushrooms in the woods, bake bread, dance, eat outside on a clear night, write stories, letters, poetry, make your lives interesting and I can assure you that the life of a housewife will be envied by all.
So, P2, what do I do with my day? I make art. I bake bread, I dance and listen to Bach. I write stories and behold the majesty of the Dee Valley before me.
I've never been happier.

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