Saturday, March 08, 2008

Housekeeping in College

My very first housekeeping experiences were in college. My first two years I lived in tiny dorm rooms and ate in the cafeteria, but my last semester (I got through school in two and a half years) I had a room in a house with several other girls. It was an older house, right off the edge of campus. Built in the 1920's, in classic foursquare style. I wasn't there when the rooms were divvied up, so I got last choice, and smallest, but I wanted it to be as nice as possible for several reasons.

First, I was depressed, and knew that living in squalor was only going to make things worse. Second, I had a very light class load and had lots of time to spend hanging out in my little space. So, clean, tidy, and appealing were very important to me. The first thing I did was winnow the furniture down to a bed, a table, and a bookcase. I kept the bed beautifully made every day, with some giant throw pillows to lean on. I used the table for a desk, and kept it cleared off except for my calendar with Impressionist painters, and a glass paperweight. In the bookcase I stacked all the pretty hand-knitted sweaters my mother had made me, folded tidily. I kept all my clothes in the closet, and out in the room I had a stack of primitive wooden fruit crates for a little storage. They had come from the little homestead down the back of this mountain, from when it used to be a peach and pear orchard.

I made and hung up white muslin curtains at both my windows that looked out into treetops, and set out my little lamp and one or two pictures, and had a basket with my embroidery project in it. That last semester I embroidered a huge elaborate quilt-top that ended up on my bed when I got married. I spent many homesick hours between classes working on it while listening to Chicago's country music station.

And I kept my room *clean*. Dusted, vacuumed, aired, and immaculate. It was a therapeutic nest for me during a hard time, and the beginning of my learning that housekeeping is something that pays you back.

21 comments:

Brambleberry said...

That sounds like the perfect hideaway.

And, I couldn't agree more. Cleaning itself is theraputic, but to experience the serenity of cleanliness and tidiness is a gift.

Julian said...

you are right. That is the lesson I am trying to learn now. Id like some help on kids rooms and the amount of clutter. I try to de clutter every month, as well as give many outgrown clothing away, and pass on to younger siblings.
Christina

jennyjuliana said...

Thank you for sharing this. I am 36 years old, and just now learning that housekeeping pays you back. We had a maid growing up, and my mother always told me that all of my studying was so that I could grow up and have an "important" job. In other words, housekeeping was drudgery. I studied hard and got a degree, but my husband and I were still not in a financial position to have a maid. Consequently, I had to learn housekeeping as an adult. At first, I hated it. I have come to enjoy it. And I have come to learn to love the serenity of a beautiful and clean home.

Juliana

Mrs.KAOS said...

Thank you for the inspiration!

Kara said...

2 1/2 years! And I thought I was the only one so crazy (or broke!).

Beth said...

Clean, clear spaces make for clean, cleared minds! Funny that you'd post about your college days, as I just went WAY back in your archives and read some of your first posts - one of them about your education and how speedy it was!

Jean in Wisconsin said...

I am in the process of spring cleaning. Deep cleaning. My house has not had a deep-deep cleaning for way too long. (I won't go into that.) The sparkle and organization feels so good...

Thanks for the post.

Jean

Rhoto said...

Dear Anna, I didn't have housekeeping training when I was young, either... HOW do you "air" your rooms? Just open the windows?
Warm greetings from snow-bound Montreal,
Rhonda

Frogdancer said...

It's so strange that you posted in this right now. I posted yesterday about feeling really flat, and how yesterday was the first day I felt back to normal., How did i know?

I did the vacuuming. And general scrubbing. My house still looks a disgrace, but suddenly the cleaning wasn't too hard. And you're right. A dust free uncluttered pleasant space is absolutely what you need when you're feeling down.

(I hope you're feeling on an even keel with all that's been going on with you lately...)

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing from the heart, Anna. I think many of us forget how inviting a tidy room can be. I couldn't help muse over your Impressionist calendar...Monet's Water Lilies decorated my dorm room.
Blessings,
Leslie
Congrats to Daisy on her new dresser!

Melissa said...

This is SO true! There are so many unpleasant and unexpected things that happen all around you that you must have a haven of sorts to rest your soul in! Thanks for sharing!

Many Blessings,
M.

Jackie said...

I loved this post -- what a sweet window into your past that shows who you are today.

Melissa @ Breath of Life said...

I can just feel the crisp freshness of your room. Those are lessons I wish I'd learned when I was in college. Unfortunately, it's taken me a long time to want to be a "homemaker". But it's something I'm really striving for now.

Anonymous said...

This is my first time commenting...I just love your blog...my daughter introduced me to yours about 1 1/2 years ago...been reading it ever since. This last post made me think, "Am I reading a snippet from Grace Livingston Hill (I enjoy it when you do that) but realized it was you..you're just as vivid.
Elizabeth (Ontario Canada)

Anonymous said...

I am a mom to for children. I was recently divorced about three years ago not by choice. I wen tthru such sadness and heartache. Cleaning became a way to work thru my hard emotional times. When my children are with their dad I will clean and tidy. It helps me keep busy and to continue to make the house we live in a home for us. I find great joy and peace in making things clean and tidy. I also work part time doing housekeeping for older people in a nursing home. When I see how lonely they are I rejoice knowing I have beds to make, things to tidy and rooms to clean. I am able bodied and can work. I am truly thankful for my little haven of rest and home making. It brings me such joy and it is nourishing to my soul. Be blessed.

A said...

Ugh! I'm so not there . . . yet! As a 32 yr old single, cleaning is something that seems to be more a chore than a therapy! I love the though of having a clean house, but I think I have too much stuff for that to ever become reality! Perhaps I'll come to enjoy it . . . maybe once I weed out some stuff?

Amanda

The mom, the robot, and the dancer said...

You know, just reading this post brought me back to high-school, and then college, to those little remembered details of that time in my life. I kind of forgot about how excited I was to have a room of my own (albeit a roommate shared it too!) Your post helped me remember long forgotten things like the round plant hanging in the window that we loaded with white Christmas lights (until it died), or the scarves we hung all over the ceiling like an Arabian tent. And yes, I agree, it was a first attempt at housekeeping, with an early reaping of rewards and pride in a job well done! Thanks for your words!

Anonymous said...

I am a very visual person, so your pictures (thank you Giles!) are so theraputic. I think Giles should work for Martha Stewart as his photos are SO much better than anything she puts in her magazines.

I, too, am very affected by my surroundings. If things are cluttered and visually unappealing, it affects my mood. I'm sure my kids are the same way to some degree. But OH the stuff that tends to pile from home schooling alone... good grief. Any paper-organization ideas? Neat container ideas for it all? I need to think beyond the basic beige "filing cabinet".

Thanks so much for sharing.
~KH

Amy said...

Anna, your post inspired me to start picking away at the mess that had accumulated in parts of my house, and to "beautify" a few areas. I've been caring for my three young ones by myself for a couple of weeks now and was feeling a bit worn out and overwhelmed by the accumulating mess. Reading your post remindd me that I feel so much better when my house is in order! Mornings are so much better with clean dishes, a table clear of yesterdays craft supplies, and clear countertops! Now I'm trying to maintain what is already cleaned while picking away at a new area each day - just a little bit at a time so I don't wear myself out.

Amy said...

It sounds wonderful. It took me until graduate school to realize the importance of a well kept room, and after almost 8 years of marriage I'm still struggling at how to keep a house with two adults and two kids. One question I have for you -- what do you do with all of your kids projects (art/drawing)? A lot of my flat surfaces are littered with these at the moment and I'm not sure what to do with them, I can't save them all but throwing any out seems unthinkable, but I'm stumped as to how to save them. What's your approach?

Tracy said...

Anna, I felt like I was able to visit with you in your college room. It sounds delightful and beautiful in the simplest kind of way. Thank you.

Amy, the Primary school art teacher at our school recommends taking photos and making an album of children's art work, and then after a specified time (eg. 1-2 weeks) you dispose of it (carefully, so as not to hurt tender feelings).

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