Simone de Beauvoir and domestic martyrdom

Rereading Simone de Beauvoir (SdB)  for Josi’s Exile   the marriage section– and I recall well domestic days, horrid cleansers, fixation on stain removal, returning dirt, those sacred cleaning rituals. Now, I’m all green products and clean spontaneously when the need arises. But I know that frenzy, desire to wipe away,  achieve some obscure glory from a clean house, and the prize…what?  Once,  I was a homemaker, domesticity was my charge. It was a mindless task, infinite. That’s not to say anyone expected it, that love or affection rode on it. But I do think it was more an internal drive, as SdB suggests. And still some part of me is convinced a clean and ordered room reflects one’s mind and mood. How can one think straight amidst clutter? So I have removed most clutter  (with the exception of books) by tossing out nonessential  items that are of no practical use. One might say I’m a pseudo-minimalist. Interesting, too, how SdB alludes to a a sort of masochism to a woman’s cleaning  and I’ll add martyrdom. Suffering the pains of domestic chores, seeking perfection, an escape from self, from…? I’ll admit I never knew one should clean beneath bureaus or clean windows in the spring …happy to say. Spring cleaning for me is merely dusting a desk, removal of clutter, extras, a new idea, or manic pursuit.
Love many quotes from SdB but here’s one:
“Housework in fact allows the woman an indefinite escape far from herself. Chardonne rightly remarks: Here is a meticulous and disordered task, with neither stops nor limits. In the home, a woman certain to please quickly reaches her breaking point, a state of distraction and mental void that effaces her.* This escape, this sadomasochism in which woman persists against both objects and self, is often precisely sexual.”
Hm. Not sure about all that. I wonder what Freud might say?

fickle back to original 3rd p pov

…switching back to 3rd person pov. And narrator’s name, Ariel…300 pages to edit but I like the distance, tone…better for this work. Here’s a snippet of changes below…

It was a good life for a female. She was protected, back then, owned her own mind, let it wander, free of the dark worries men had to endure. She earned money watching Aunt Jenny’s pets and keeping the house clean, and at night, she could do the other pleasurables, act liberated and desirable, walk the few blocks to The Carousel and serve drinks to fawning middle aged men with big stomachs, red noses and foul breath. Tuesday night special, she got the college kids, after hours, behind the bar by the dumpster, and they slipped her a dollar or two extra, and  Ariel didn’t mind because they were soft and mild mannered and she liked the fresh feel of their unmarred hands, firm, trained, elitist hands on the top of her head, tangled in her hair, moving her head up and down, guiding, instructing, and she was older, enjoyed their boyish ways, the power she had over them, knowing, precisely at that moment, she could pull away, and they needed her  no matter what, in that poise, just then, just before, with the smell of stale garbage wafting and the sounds of a jacket scraping against the metal dumpster. Ariel felt, somehow, a part of them, their lives. 



Alice Beckett asked me if I ever saw Jesus Christ. I told her I did not. She said she saw him recently at the foot of her bed. I want to believe it is Jesus, she said. But then I wonder. I asked her what he looked like and she said he had magnificent height and very light features, delicate like snow,  chiseled features, and aquamarine eyes like the Caspian Sea, she said.That sounds too perfect, I told her. Jesus was dark skinned with dark features and he was short. She looked away from me then and was quiet. I said I was not sure about these things. She then went on about the size of the Caspian Sea and how they determined that the hummocks are to blame for the scratch marks on the floor. I wonder if he’s sending me a message. That was last week. Now she sleeps, probably sedated. She is too young to be disregarded. But I keep silent. I know they are tricky and could use it against me like ammunition.