Sunday, September 28th, 2003

Re: Married Life

Filed under: consuming,fear,housekeeping,how to — alison @ 21:21

Hmm, this one seems to have hit some sort of sensitive nerve out there. I’ve gotten lots of helpful responses from people who seem to understand the place that properly done laundry has in a satisfying life.

So far:

Too much information/oversharing: three votes (including one cast vigourously by Mark).

While over the past years I have recounted amourous and occasionally unorthodox adventures and admitted dark urges to smash my chihuahua’s head open against a wall, these confessions are apparently a normal part of the public sphere or at least entertaining enough that their trespass into the public sphere was tolerated without comment.

The feelings of desolation that follow domestic disagreements with a legally bonded mate apparently enjoy no such license. Either they are too personal and not to be displayed because they are too boring (like nose-picking, tooth-brushing and breast-feeding); too personal and not to be displayed because they are too important (like how much money one makes); or occasion too much uncomfortable echo in the reader; or are simply not funny.

Whatever, I have been advised that by discussing laundry in public I went too far.

Separating laundry is an important aspect of clothing care: five votes.

Five friends seized upon the occasion to share their personal approaches to laundry, happy to share hard-won expertise with someone needing their help.

All are strongly in favour of separating, though the importance they attribute to different categories differs. Some separate icky from sweet; others, lint-generating from lint-collecting; sturdy from fragile; light from dark; large from small.

This probably doesn’t have much to do with laundry at all: three votes.

Laundry is not important enough to get that worked up about: two votes.

The bourgeois lifestyle is inherently violent: one intriguing vote.

Actual quote: “The bourgeois life is a violent life, it restructures all of everything into the space of consumerism & then isolates it. I think this re-channeling of desires from open-ended to the very concrete, with its limits but reassurances, is what you are going through. It’s the politics of capitalism in everyday life, not easy for any of us, and always in flux.”

When pressed for clarification, “bourgeois” was defined as middle-class with a separation of public and private spheres. “Yes, absolutely, it is much more convenient to do your laundry in your own machine in your own home. No question! But then you don’t leave the house.”

What I’ve settled with:

1) Domestic disputes are much scarier when you’re living together and legally married. Especially as Mark and I took the old-fashioned route of courting first, then marrying, then moving in together. Highly stressful.

2) Front-loaders do in fact require a different approach to laundry than top-loaders. You have to do a full load every time or else the machine gets unbalanced during the spin cycle. For our machine this isn’t fatal: it stops spinning, shakes the clothes around a bit, then tries again. But if the load is too small it will just keep trying forever and never really spin right. So it takes a bit of teeth-gritting to put things together that you wouldn’t have combined in a top-loader. Repeating to oneself that front-loaders are much gentler on clothes than top-loaders helps, as does viewing the washing process through the porthole and watching the machine toss your garments tenderly like an organic baby lettuce salad with raspberry-mustard dressing.

3) I’m still not combining mops and underwear.
Hugs again to all!

[originally transmitted by e-mail September 28, 2003]


  1. OK so five years later, how are you guys doing, laundry-wise? The world wants to know!

    Comment by Sophie — Tuesday, September 30th, 2008 @ 10:02

  2. Five years later I’m still holding my breath while I watch the front-loader toss my delicates. We’re still together and still, uh, negotiating…

    Comment by alison — Wednesday, October 15th, 2008 @ 07:17

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