Building a Lifestyle Brand

My friend S., who leads a life that one could view as moderately glamorous (in that it involves a lot of travel to posh-sounding places) (my standards for these things are pretty low, I think), has asked me on more than one occasion why I haven’t done more to promote this blog and my lifestyle brand. He’s said to me, “Think of how many people would admire you, if they knew about you!” He clearly envisions beautiful photographs along the lines of, well, every other blog in the world written by some thin blonde woman or some thin sable-haired woman with perfect nails. I am not thin, blonde, sable-haired, or manicured. There’s no point in having a manicure when you cook as much as I do.
“The truth about the Hausfrau really isn’t that interesting, though,” I laugh, when he asks me about my lifestyle brand. “I don’t do anything so exciting. Or admirable.” “Maybe not,” he said, “but you look good doing it!” This, I suppose, his way of complimenting me, of acknowledging and appreciating my refusal to walk around in yoga pants or similar. If I’m having a “messy day,” I don’t think anyone’s ever aware of it, because the fact is, I tend to put on a black wrap dress, a pair of black tights, and a pair of black boots on days when I don’t know what the fuck I’m doing, and most people seem to read that as “Whoa, she’s doing something big today.” Nope, just scrubbing the toilets. Even when I go out to shovel snow, I admit, I layer my multiple scarves just so, and I won’t wear a hat that looks stupid on me. I may be a Hausfrau but I’ve got some pride, too.

The fact remains, however: I don’t have a good way to photo document just how good I look doing much of anything, since I’m not a compulsive selfie-taker and — bizarre as this sounds — the local paparazzi have no idea I exist. No one has ever asked to spend a day following me around observing my routine. The New York Times has never asked me to describe my usual Sunday. And I don’t know why they would. My usual Sunday usually starts with me asking my daughter, “Did you brush your hair before you went to bed? Yeah? Then how come it looks like you haven’t brushed it in three days? Jesus, come over here and bring the brush.” I brush her hair and pull it into a ponytail. Then I tell her to go put on her bathrobe because it’s freezing, is she out of her mind, and put on some slippers too or at least a pair of socks. She rolls her eyes at me but puts on a robe and slippers or socks. Then I pour her a bowl of cold cereal and tell her to not bother me while I read the paper.

It’s all very glam.
Look: We don’t go in for photogenic breakfast trays here with little pitchers of hot milk and sprigs of whatever garnishing the toast. Even if I did put a sprig of parsley on the side of the plate, it wouldn’t get me very far because my daughter would eat it before she ate her breakfast. I’m not sure why but my daughter has always been a garnish-eater. It’s actually raised eyebrows more than once among the waitstaff and management of restaurants both in the U.S. and in Canada. Anyhow, I’m not a garnisher. The aesthetics of the plate are not my bag. My bag is How do I get through the day?

Consider my Tuesday morning, today. Tuesday is Monday, this week, because yesterday was a holiday. To un-do the effects of a three day weekend with my husband and child in the house all weekend long (because it’s so damned cold outside), I had to turn into a kind of domestic tornado as soon as I saw the kid off to school today. I finished my second cup of coffee and then I got to work. By noon today I had done the following things:

Emptied the dishwasher, which we ran last night as we went to bed; washed and dried three loads of laundry, which are now piled up on my bed waiting to be folded and put away; set up pizza dough, and dough for the week’s loaf of pain de mie; set up a big pan of onions to caramelize; vacuumed the first floor and the front foyer; cleaned the toilet in the first floor bathroom; scooped the three litter boxes in the basement; taken out all the trash and two very seriously overloaded recycling bins; washed the filters for the vacuum cleaner, which were vile, and because you have to hand-wash these things, it counts as a task unto itself even though you wouldn’t think it would; changed the tablecloth on the dining table; cleared the piano of all flotsam and jetsam in anticipation of the tuner arriving at 11; and sharpened all the non-serrated knives.

Here’s the thing. Are any of these activities the kind of thing that lifestyle brand people talk about? Are there chicly-outfitted ladies who snap pics of themselves  taking out recycling and scooping cat shit out of litter boxes? Do they really find it worthwhile to pay for the posting of these photos? I cannot imagine so.

Having written this: I’ve learned that we’re expecting another snowstorm tonight. This means the odds are reasonably good that tomorrow there will be no school, which, in turn, means the Hausfrau (no copyright yet registered) will have to use all her Lifestyle Brand Skills to come up with a plan to keep the child from going stir crazy and to keep herself from being driven barking mad by the stir-crazy child. The first floor, which is finally reasonably clean (if not as tidy as some of us might like) for the first time in over a week, will become a vortex of filth once again.

But I can face this. I have milk; a loaf of pain de mie is about to go into the oven; and I’ve laid in a supply of ice cream and have what it takes to make hot fudge sauce, should anyone request it. I can make a yogurt cake tomorrow; I can play Rack-O for an hour if I absolutely have to. Tomorrow, indeed, we can entertain ourselves by folding laundry and listening to WPLR (the local classic rock radio station) and talking about whether or not Van Halen sucks. My daughter will ask the deathless question, “How come they never play Suzi Quatro?” I will sigh heavily and admit that life is full of such sad mysteries.
In the event the child has school, I will skip the WPLR and the Rack-O, sure, but either way, being the Hausfrau: it’s not glamorous, but one thing I’ve got going for me, that my world-traveling friend doesn’t, is that whatever happens, the odds are in my favor that I can roll with it.


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