"Good" Housekeeping

B/W image from the early 50's shows a woman in a black New Look dress and white apron in a spotless kitchen
Public domain, via State Archives of North Carolina

by Diana Moskovitz

I am not what you would call an all-star at maintaining a magazine-cover-worthy home. My closet is not organized by color or shape or size or type because it is not organized at all. The junk mail piles up, until I realize I do need something in there and frantically plow through it all. The bed sheets never match. 

All of which is to say: I have read a lot of cleaning books. A lot. Like any voracious reader, I believe in the power of books, so much so that I have, time and time again, told myself: “This is the book that will fix me and my home and suddenly it will look like a jaw-dropping, dazzlingly curated Instagram photo.” This never happens. And yes, the long list of my attempts includes Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing. You will not be shocked to learn that, not only did I never finish it, I don’t even know where my copy is. It’s in a pile of my books in my bedroom. I think. 

So I cracked open the latest entry into the pantheon of cleaning books—How To Keep House While Drowning by KC Davis—with a certain amount of skepticism. In fact, I’d been quite proud of myself for having held out on buying it, because I was finally (almost) ready to accept that no book would fix me. I broke down, though, as our aging cat Lilly was dying: maybe this time, I thought, I would rise to the challenge at last, and perfect our home after she passed on. The idea felt soothing, somehow, amidst the pain of organizing her final months. It was a familiar promise to myself that comforted me, like rewatching the same episode of TV. I knew how it would end, but I liked the familiarity. 

It’s a paywall, but a small one

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