Tuesday, April 1, 2008

The Cure as Prophylactic

In one of her usual wonderful posts, Wende mentions that she's not curing because the cure isn't a prophylactic* but a cure--and her apartment is all cured now, thank you.

She's right, it isn't, even though Maxwell said he was "happy that folks were coming back and caring for their apartments" or some such thing.

If the Cure is not a prophylactic, but a cure, then what is it supposed to be curing?

I think it's supposed to be curing the way young urban people live in their apartments. All the gentle proddings to cook make sense, now.

The prescription could also be written for folks who accumulate too much stuff and live in their space as if it's a storage locker. It's also a prescription for the opposite, folks who think their home is a hotel en-suite, good for brief stop-overs.

The Cure is also good for those who want to thoroughly plan and execute a small renovation or large decorating project. All the steps are helpfully spaced out and scheduled in the One Room Remedy.

In its most diluted form, it's a programme for freshening up your home and becoming engaged with it again, if you're prone to ignoring it, as I have become, for various reasons. (It requires a lot of attention, my home, and I am a rebellious child. If it wants me, I don't want it. The reverse is also true.) Under this category falls "Spring Cleaning" and assorted projects, like cleaning out the basement.

Reading the progress reports and checking out the blogs, which I do far more than is healthy for me or my home, I've noticed that people seem to be using the cure--not doing the Cure. Very few are following the programme as written. Instead, they seem to be using the on-line experience as a forum for posting their progress (or lack of it) and getting support and encouragement. (Though there aren't that many encouragers around, not like there used to be. I get my encouragement from all of you, so it doesn't bother me. Perhaps just having a place to tell others about what you're doing is encouraging; I know it is for me.)

It doesn't matter whether anyone follows the prescription, really. If "engaging with your home" is the goal, then it honestly doesn't matter if you clean the bathroom in Week two or week whenever.

But this leaves me with an interesting conundrum. My home will never be "cured." It is too cantankerous for that. There will always be something it needs. And as we get to one thing when time and budget allow, it will need something else. But, that's the nature of an old cantankerous house.

As for engaging with it, it needs housekeeping therapy--not flowers every week, though flowers certainly are wonderful. This week it got a lot: (yes, time for a picture)


(They were free. My husband brought them home from work).

No matter what form it takes, I like the cure. I like watching folks become excited about their home. I love seeing people either add or subtract to make it more homey. I love seeing people trying and doing new things and rearranging furniture on paper. I love looking at pictures of real places. And before and afters are always exciting.

But, I'm not sure where that leaves me.


*I had to go look that up. I haven't ever encountered the word in a (ahem) non-clinical setting and I realised I didn't really know what it meant.

8 comments :

drwende said...

I think it's supposed to be curing the way young urban people live in their apartments.

You are brilliant.

I've been groping for that insight for three years now without ever getting my hands around it.

Instead, they seem to be using the on-line experience as a forum for posting their progress (or lack of it) and getting support and encouragement.

More brilliance. Some sociologist needs to go through the endless material and work out what elements of the Cure actually get used by most Curators. It'd be one heck of a dissertation, touching on online community building, material culture, and the ways in which readers interpret texts.

But, I'm not sure where that leaves me.

With a more usable basement! (Also, with a framework for thinking about how to get there.)

*I had to go look that up.

Oops. I'd been listening to an album that contained a lot of word play and sort of lost control.

scb said...

This is an excellent analysis. Excellent.

After Curing rigourously the first few times (I'm including the Cures I did on my own), I'm really just touching up the cosmetics and getting in touch with my own style -- but even considering that I might *have* a style wouldn't have occurred to me without the Cure, and the other people to bounce ideas off. The other people are key, absolutely key.

Thanks for this.

And yes, what you get is a much more organized and useful basement out of the deal. (Not to mention a whole bunch of other side projects that are beautifying your home, and making it more of a joy to you. Even if the projects keep cropping up.)

Colleen (aka CQ in DC / quinncx) said...

Love that we're going all meta on the Cure! I think you're bang on the mark Alana. I keep Curing because I love the discipline of a schedule (even when I'm not following it) but I too believe my home will never be "Cured"- it will always be a work in progress because I've always got some new plan...

Best thing I've gotten out of the Cure so far- you guys!

scb said...

Also -- I meant to say before that I love that row of little plants! They look so happy marching along the bookcases and fireplace. Makes me want to go out and get plants for my place!

lorijo said...

This post is brilliant. I did notice more and more of us are using the cure in our own special ways, and I think that in itself is great. I don't need to do the cure word for word and I don't feel bound to in order to have the community and feedback.

I always get a kick at looking at the pictures of other peoples spaces. Sometimes it's with horror, sometimes awe, sometimes with just a touch of envy.

This process helps me do my spring and fall cleaning. The schedule helps me get stuff done that maybe I would drag along. I don't believe I will ever do the cure as prescribed again (confession- I no longer even have the book) but I do like some of the on line community and all of the bloggers here!

STLcolleen said...

Yes yes yes to everyone's comments!

It's for the cooking, the way you live and see your home, the way you get feedback and encouragement, the way you look on in "horror, awe, and envy", the way you realize that things will never be perfect but with a plan, a system, you can get more done than you ever realized you could. The way you learn to make decisions about your home in a thoughtful manner, one that reflects your style, rather than out of bare necessity or frustration or naivete.

Thank you everyone for such a great "mid-way through" discussion. :)

Alana in Canada said...

Yes, great discussion. Thanks for adding this STL Colleen:
The way you learn to make decisions about your home in a thoughtful manner, one that reflects your style, rather than out of bare necessity or frustration or naivete.


Yes, the "Cure" does teach you that, doesn't it? (as well as the fact that you may even have a style!)

And the best part is the community. Absolutely.

Plangal said...

Great analysis...both you and Wende put to paper thoughts I'd been having without knowing I was having them! I never felt the need for a full cure...and therefore felt kind of like a failure each time. I just sold my book on Amazon. One less thing in the outbox! I guess it's the little things!!!
--Christine in DC

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