A couple of days ago, I peered into the shelf where we keep the sheets and towels, and something looked odd. I couldn’t put my finger on it.
And then I realized: That light-blue duvet cover was folded properly!
How could this have happened?! I searched back in my brain, back back back, till…last week, when Kate Payne was visiting. Yes.
Kate is the eponymous Hip Girl, and she’d been here for a couple of days in the early stages of her press tour for the magnificent new Hip Girl’s Guide to Homemaking, a splendid book that I’m just having the pleasure of getting to know.
Kate is one of the best things to come out of writing Forking Fantastic!, because she saw the book and decided Tamara and I were just her sort of people, and tracked us down, and she was completely right. The first time I went to her apartment, I realized I was in the presence of greatness, because she’d managed to make a basement in a Bed-Stuy row home look like a palace, and she’d only been living there a matter of months.
By contrast, when people come to our house, where Peter and I have lived for five years, they often say, “It’s so…lived-in!”, which is a euphemism for “It’s so…dusty, and why is this coffee table so sticky if you don’t even have any children?” Due to steady work and lots of travel, we’ve lost the thread on a lot of the domestic arts, so the HGGH couldn’t arrive at a better time.
Kate’s book is so full of tiny bits of wisdom (how to manage your compost, how to hem your pants, how to make bread) that I’m getting that feeling that everything is possible. Even folding my sheets properly, so they give me that sense of peace and order when I look at them, instead of a feeling of panic.
So I’m dog-earing pages and making lists and looking at my laundry with a fresh eye. And I’m completely loving Kate’s approach–that managing your home life is empowering and makes the whole rest of your life better. And while Kate may have more natural talent for rigging up ingenious things with clothespins, she’s also just a super-enthusiastic beginner who’s tenacious enough to stick with things until she learns how to do them. Or until she realizes that maybe perfect isn’t the goal, and that good enough is just fine.
Just at the moment, I don’t have free time to improve our whole house, I’m just briefly setting the book in the various trouble spots, ritualistically, hoping its magic will rub off and start to instill order. In our bedroom, which is a pit of organizational despair. Or over by the pile of half-finished sewing projects. Oh, or there, on that shelving that’s the catch-all for crap on the second floor.
So I heartily recommend this book, which is a joy to read. And this isn’t even because Kate gives a big shoutout to FF! in it. It’s because I realize how much I need this book, even though I thought I was reasonably domesticated. Which means pretty much anyone setting up a home anywhere needs this book.
If you’re in the NYC area tonight (May 9), you can nab your own copy at Greenlight Books. I’ll be there. Even though I probably should be home folding my sheets.