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Notes On The Housewife

Notes on the Housewife

For ever since I can remember I have been fixated on the housewife. Over the years, the housewife has been the rosy cheeked canvas on which I project everything and anything having to do with the feminine. An everlasting gaze of lust, scorn, jealousy, pity and love. Yes, she is that. She’s all that and more.

Here beneath Mt. Tamalpias, the native land, the streets are filled with purposeful housewives. To use the terms “house” or “wife” is really a conjoined misnomer. These independent sirens are darting with determined trajectories like in some future cloud city, returning to home base at night to recharge and consult the fridge calendar. They aren’t in the house at all, nor are they attached to their husbands, who seem to at best a fascination or a grounding sexual device.

The shared accessory of the housewife is the child, the one or two they’ve always wanted. He came at just the right time, after a few years of dinners with friends. One night in San Francisco we went over to Michelle’s new apartment when her denimed boyfriend the chef gave us a glimpse of what real man power is like. He offered us the woods, the city and the flesh. We stood and drank red wine when he was half exposed through the kitchen and his bearded face was obscured by the cupboards, feeling up a duck. During this, we would take turns trying to impress him a bit, to make sure he knew that we had been cooked for before. Nobody was single and nobody was suffering, and the credit card receipts in our drawers measured eight miles when stapled together. Lingerie, tea, candles, condoms, fruits, husks, art books, corkboard, red wine. When Michelle’s boyfriend really had to focus, we felt this and shifted our attention to her. She had recently completed a craft project for the kitchen, something to do with hanging or measuring and sticking. The urge was to create even back then, we were all doing it. Look at your side project! And yours, look at yours! We hardly realized it but this was practice for our children.

Dinners followed and buzzed sex followed. The sex that wishes it was with everyone else but you, with a sharp anger behind it that was a result of the contract. There is a reason women are so angry with you after they have chosen you. It is because they’ve chosen you, and in doing that they have lost all other possibilities. Infinite threads of potential life are rolled up and tossed behind one shoulder, all for you. Then one night after you’ve gotten too drunk and she sees that you are a baby, she tries to go fetching for the threaded ball. Her search is a fantasy of could be’s and what if’s amidst your year-strong contract . Still she screams and thinks: You? I could have had him, he was a musician and more interesting. He’s living in Valencia now and hardly cares at all for this boutique bullshit. You don’t even understand! This is not his world. He would have given me a ring of glued beach sand. And then there was the other one, who hurt me a little every time. He had more money that we’ll ever have and smoked a million cigarettes. He had a real art collection and read Proust. I let all that go and we’re driving home on a cozy street. All that is unlived briefly touches her mouth and then she swallows it again when the blood has cooled, pulling up to the driveway.

But I’m really not sure, this is so much projection. What do I know from seeing into the passing station wagons? I see cute fingers digging into German steering wheels, begging for life to stay this way and worried that it wont.

And there really is no such thing as a housewife. There is a woman, and this is why it’s all so interesting. A woman knows, even if she doesn’t. Or it is better to say that a woman feels. She is the creator, she is tied to matter, she is the Queen of the Midday in alchemy, the bride who marries the Godhead. She is the full development of all the myths and creative elements that bind us to life. She expresses wisdom of what is the unknown; cool, dark and moist. She is a great sufferer and carrier of the heavier things. There is nothing more giving and knowing than the womb – a portable Shiva. And yet there is mismatch between her inherited life giving and knowledge self, and the endless distractions that she lusts for. Glittered, adorned, fancy. Girls (the knowers of the universe), just want to have fun. Certain psychiatric patients who have gone deep into the unconscious, touching schizophrenia, often emerge in a light and trivial way. They are saying: Yes I’ve seen the caves of all consuming wisdom and symbol, and now I’m going to play gin rummy and forget about it. They speak of very powerful things in a dismissive and almost airheaded way if spoken about at all. This is common to those who have almost drowned. Women, drenched in life, will forever seek dryness to counteract the wet truth. The dryness distraction of lunches, calendared structure, good looking food and safe men. Why go back to the leaking caves?

We flirted back and forth at the checkout counter and I could see she was really it. Married, but still for me. What Santorini black beach stylist had pushed her in the direction of such a confident look? I wanted to know all the answers. How many times had she been to Southeast Asia? Which UC did she attend? I wanted to know her in her fifties, when the winds of life would soften her hold on now. I remembered being young and in bed with a girl who would say “entertain me” before we slept. She needed a story, something funny or a little strange, to move her into sleep. A prompt to ease her into the exploration of her own unconscious when the lights of her day-grasping had dimmed. She held a job at a supply chain logistics firm near LAX. I watched her put on her business pants sometimes at 6AM before she commuted. At work she oversaw a large warehouse where palettes of product moved from one place to the next. I questioned her deeply on the details of her work, in awe at the mysteries of a real job. One day after work she told me that a Hispanic employee who operated the forklift tried to show her a Playboy magazine, pointing out his favorite models to her.

There is the undercurrent, which never leaves. The waters of the unconscious are always functioning and always flowing in women, even when the attention is turned to colored mittens and scrapbooks. A hundred thousand women are reading 50 Shades of Grey and pretending to laugh at it, as if it isn’t needed. But the body knows best. The undercurrent of danger and the unknown functions and finds an outlet. Brad the finance manager will never relate to these complex forces, only vampires will do here. How does Isis go shopping for cufflinks? With great difficulty.

Having chosen a partner, who is a mellow kind of man, who is a strong mellow provider kind of man, she is forgoing the other kind of man, the unstable. The unstable will stay up with her for a thousand hours smoking cigarettes, following questions asked with just her eyes. He will tell her the truth always. The body loves to hear the truth and recognize itself. Look who I’ve found at midnight in this youth hostel! But he is unstable, like his name, and who knows what he gets up to during the daytime? He doesn’t seem to have much follow through with matters of the material world. He likes to travel. In the end, women, the archetypical creator of matter, will choose the material over the immaterial. The stable over the unstable. It is a requirement for nurturing and the ease of life. So then Brad is here. He’s cookin’ and bankin’ and hes physically fit. Lets go shopping for cufflinks. He doesn’t have any French cuff shirts. Well, he has the one we wore to Michelle’s wedding.

And then I saw her with her child. Oh I see now. My words are for the dogs. You are responsible for life. I’m over here trying to make sure I brush my teeth. This week I’ve brushed my teeth only three times. I’m really having trouble getting back into my routine and I’m finding it very difficult to regularly brush. I tried moving my toothbrush into my shower but I haven’t been showering either.

So the housewife is always maintaining. She has turned out to be the great balancer. She hardly slips, and if she does it is quietly. We must acknowledge how exhaustive all of this is. She needs our love and support. I love her. She continues to carry ancient creative knowledge and continues to live in the material. Balancing her forceful energies with what needs to be done. In some parking lot thinking about food and the next move, she laughs when she realizes how deep her waters go. Brad has no idea, but sometimes in bed her eyes get wild, and he wonders who she is.

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