I used to live in Hyde Park, a fairly rich neighborhood on the South Side of Chicago that borders a lot of not-rich neighborhoods. There's a particular block there, on Harper between 58th and 59th, where people go completely nuts decorating their houses for Halloween and then announce that anyone is welcome to come trick or treat. Kids come from all over the South Side, and it's a blast. Maybe the letter writer just needs to adjust her attitude and see it as a community event, the way people on Harper do.
@Marille Yes, there is a sad absence of Ikea in Iowa. I think the closest one is in Minneapolis. On the other hand, there is a Trader Joe's in West Des Moines, so civilization is slowly making its way here.
@Marille There are Amish people in Iowa! They're not that close to Des Moines, but you could get to Kalona in two hours or so.
I moved on August 1st, and it jolted me out of my squalor. My apartment was really kind of gross after you took everything out of it. I don't know if I can keep it up, but I've been cleaning everything thoroughly every Saturday morning: swiffing the ceiling fans and throwing out anything gross in the fridge and wiping down all the surfaces and scrubbing the tub and everything. I truly hate mopping my kitchen floor, but I love being able to walk around barefoot without my feet feeling gross. On the other hand, I don't have a baby. If you have a baby, I think you should be provided with some extremely efficient and professional baby specialist who will come over and take care of all your household tasks, like the French do. Another thing that has helped me clean: realizing that bleach gives me a migraine. I think maybe I avoided cleaning because I associated it with getting sick afterwards. Now that I don't use anything with bleach in it, the thought of cleaning doesn't make me so queasy.
Yeah, online shopping is the reason that I don't have to drive four hours each way to get a bra that fits. For those of us who don't live in or near big cities, it's a complete lifesaver. There's just a whole lot of stuff that isn't available within realistic driving distance of me.
I recommend moving to a college town in a state in which less than 0.2% of the population is Jewish. Hillel and Chabad are the only games in town, and they're free.
@doodlebug That's exactly what I was thinking. If all that this service offers is a website and some screening of potential members, then there's no reason that cleaners couldn't get together and cooperatively provide the same stuff themselves.
@deathcabforcutes I don't know. I have a semi-pathological fear of debt or running out of money, and I think I've missed out on important stuff because of it. I don't think it's a good idea to go into credit card debt, but a life in which you only buy what you need is a life in which you never travel for pleasure, eat at restaurants, drink wine, see a movie in the theater, or do a lot of other stuff that is worth doing sometimes. There are a lot of ways to fuck up with money, and spending too much is only the most obvious one.
I would totally be interested in hearing more about cleaners, from the perspective of the worker, the customer and the intermediaries. (And I'd also be interested to hear from cleaners who don't work through an intermediary and what that's like.) It's such a fraught topic, with all these expectations about gendered household responsibilities and privacy and class relations and just so much stuff. So yes: interview the company! Find some Billfold commenters who have cleaned for money and interview them!
I've got it set up so that my bank automatically sends my landlord check a week before my rent is due. I'm a little flaky, and I don't want to risk forgetting to pay. I wouldn't want to put it on my credit card, because then I'd be paying interest if for some reason I missed a payment on the card. In general, I don't really play games with my credit card. I basically treat it like a debit card, except that I pay it off in one chunk at the end of the month. I guess I'm a little scared of credit cards, because there's a lot of potential to get in trouble, and I'm wary of doing anything fancy with it that could somehow lead me down the path of credit card debt. I don't really want to take out a loan to pay my rent, even if it's a really short-term loan.