Hysterical Domesticity

The Palinode at lunch
The Palinode at lunch yesterday.


I have been in serious nesting mode lately. I spend my days plotting which laundry I will do first and wondering if the picture in the hallway will look better in the living room above the imaginary couch we do not own.

I have secretly smelled the towels in the bathroom cupboard, because they are there and clean and, you know, in the cupboard, where people normally keep towels. Mmmmm, towels in a cupboard. It is an assurance of domestic rightness to have them folded and layered together in a stack.

flexible computer keyboard
Sunlight shines through the Palinode's flexible keyboard.


Isn't this nesting thing what pregnant women do? And female cats? I have not had a uterus since last July due to cervical cancer. What am I nesting for? More cats?

My aunt's border collie was never spayed, and she occasionally goes through an hysterical pregnancy. She steals all of my cousin's small stuffed animals one by one, lies them in a line beneath a desk, and lies there with them as though to nurse them. During these false pregnancies, her nipples even get hard and dry.

One day when I was at my aunt's house, I saw the dog walk by with a red teddy bear in her mouth. The dog paused to look at me sideways, anxiety showing in the whites of her eyes.

Don't look at her when she does that, my aunt said.

Why? I asked.

She gets really embarrassed about it, she said. If we pay attention to her, she'll hide for days.

Later, I saw several small plush animals lined up along the wall under the desk. The dog had them huddled close together so they would stay warm.

That Girl and a doggie daycare dog fall in love
That Girl falls in love with a dog all alone in doggie daycare.


As long as I am not dressing my cats up in bonnets and suckling them, I suppose I am doing better than my aunt's dog.

I think, and this is just a theory, that my brain is not in sync with the rest of my body about what went down with that hysterectomy last summer. I used to spend two weeks out of every month worrying about whether or not I was pregnant and silently cursing that doctor who would not tie my tubes in my early twenties. Aside from the rare biological twinge when I thought about taking my genetics with me when I died, the idea of rearing children made me feel like I was looking at the death of all that I desired for myself in my life.

Here I am, though, fantasizing about grown-up furniture, a clean refrigerator, and buying new sheet sets that match the rest of our decor. I even typed out the word "decor" in relation to my living space just now. The last time I thought about decor was when I contemplated buying white over green garbage bags so that our trash would not stand out like a sore thumb on the floor next to my garage sale, harvest gold Tupperware containers.

brand new garbage can
We bought a kitchen garbage can!
Just hucking our garbage on the floor got old.


My brain and my body seem to be working out some sort thing between themselves. I am not sure what it is, but at least now I do not have to worry about being knocked up, and, hell, it looks like I'm getting an improved living space out of it.

I do want to gain a better sense of domestic balance, though, because aside from my towel-sniffing, I have taken to standing in the kitchen for long periods to marvel at our new garbage can and to informing the Palinode repeatedly that our cats truly like their new scratching post. There is only so long that he can take such scintillating conversation before he begs me to please stop overstimulating his brain.