I have a new favorite person in the entire world. With apologies to my family, my favorite person is now our housecleaner who started a four weeks ago. I love her. I love her so, so much. Anna comes every other week and makes my house shiny. She does things like dust the chandelier and tops of the fans, washes windows, and wipes the dust that is built up in between the radiator tubes. She also rearranges things to look a little nicer as she dusts. I have fun walking around the house after she's left to see what was not up to her organizational standards. Why, oh why, did we wait so long to hire her?
Many Americans living here have housecleaners. One lady (American with Italian roots) told me that is expected for us to hire one as a form of social welfare. Naples is a very poor city, with unemployment hovering around the 30% mark. Despite how little we might think we have, compared to most in this region, we are on the higher end of the socioeconomic scale. Thus, we should hire people to work for us in order to create jobs. Which reminds me of the most recent episodes of Downton Abbey I've been watching (if you don't watch Downton Abbey, immediately stop reading and go add it to your Hulu, Netflix, Amazon, or iTunes watch list!). The thought that we were expected to hire help was just ludicrous to me, and since I stay home during the day, why on earth would we hire a house cleaner.
After two years of living here, I know why. Because Italian ladies know how to clean Italian homes. This is an undefinable, inexplicable concept. Sweeping and mopping should be the same everywhere...but it is not. Over the years, we have lived in houses with all types of flooring - carpet, wood, tile, and I've always been able to clean properly. Not so, here. One problem is apparently that I have been using the wrong equipment. Anna's most recent visit included her informing me that my mop does not work, and she will need to buy a different one for her to use and me to have in between her visits. (She said this very nicely and phrased it as a question, though, since I will be reimbursing her for said mop.). And while I think having a housecleaner is a very fancy development, before you think we are living too high a life, I should note that cleaners here are much less expensive than in the U.S., typically charging between 7-10euros per hour (roughly, $8.50-12.50).
As I've gotten larger, less mobile, and more swollen, and in preparation for post-baby life, we thought we would finally cave and try having a housecleaner. The Turkish hamam was temporal luxury. Anna is just pure, permanent decadence.