You won’t be able to let ‘Maid’ go

You won’t be able to let ‘Maid’ go

That thing? You’re ready to let it go.

It sparks joy, but not enough. Or it doesn’t, and you’re not sure why you didn’t donate it before. Indeed, boxes of things are ready for giveaway and you’re looking at sparkling-clean digs. Did you do it yourself or, as in the new memoir, “Maid” by Stephanie Land, were you assisted by a stranger in your space?

When she was a young woman, Stephanie Land dreamed of becoming a writer.

In the meantime, she tended bar and thought of moving from Washington to Montana, where so many writers found home. She took odd jobs to get by, applied for college, and met a man who fathered her child, a girl that neither had planned on having.

Shortly after the baby was born, he told Land to leave.

Newly homeless and with daughter in tow, she landed in emergency housing, then in transitional housing, awaiting final paperwork that might’ve allowed for more stability. Her predicament was embarrassing and exhausting; she wanted to work, to pay her bills, and buy basic necessities. Instead, Land endured hours-long lines, applying for grants and cards and bandages to keep her afloat.

She became a statistic.

For Land, and millions of Americans like her, pulling oneself out of poverty is fraught with “fragile circumstances.” Land needed a job, but childcare was iffy and more income meant less help. No help meant no gas money to job-seek. With little support and few options, she started working as a paid-under-the-table, part-time housecleaner.

“My job offered no sick pay, no vacation… no foreseeable increase in wage,” she says, “yet… still I begged to work more.”

When “more” was not forthcoming, Land started her own fledgling business, hustling for clients, branching out to lawn care, and bartering for what she needed. Still, she endured humiliation and difficulties, until a client who didn’t see her as “invisible” gave her advice and a caseworker gave her a lifeline.

Your desk, bathrooms, conference room, your entire home sometimes seems to sparkle more than normal. You write a check each month to make it happen. Now “Maid” shows you who does the work.

This, however, isn’t a new story: author Stephanie Land begins with a few hindsight-regretful decisions and a paycheck-to-paycheck existence that’s lost, along with reliable shelter. Readers are likely familiar with this, and the seemingly-endless bureaucracy that comes next.

The narrative shifts considerably, once we reach the part in which Land takes a job as a housecleaner, but it’s not always a good shift. There, readers get an eloquently-written look at uncomfortable, complicated processes that seem designed to keep people from getting out of poverty. We also get a peek inside the life of a maid, but Land makes the work seem like last-ditch, last-chance employment. Housekeepers who love their jobs might beg to differ.

In her foreword, author Barbara Ehrenreich points out a happy ending inside this book; getting there will open your eyes wide. You’ll absorb “Maid” like a sponge. You won’t be able to let it go.


Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing editor@federalwaymirror.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.federalwaymirror.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) Please keep letters to 300 words or less.

More in Life

Wearing a shawl she crocheted herself, Irene Graham shows her impressionist art and some of her porcelain dolls that she made herself. Photo by Bailey Jo Josie/Sound Publishing
At 103, Federal Way artist still feels like a kid at heart

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, local centenarian continues creating her porcelain art.

tsr
Rainier Audubon Society to debut first Bird Festival at Flaming Geyser Park

The Bird Festival is being organized with the Washington State Parks department.

The Gnome Trail is located across from Rock Creek Elementary School, 25700 Maple Valley Black Diamond Rd SE, Maple Valley. Photos by Bailey Jo Josie/Sound Publishing
Gnome Trail draws visitors to whimsical patch of forest in Maple Valley

There is a small issue of broken gnomes and even instances of intentional vandalism.

Rajiv Nagaich is an elder law attorney, author, adjunct law school professor, and retirement planning visionary who has achieved national recognition for his cutting-edge work with retirees and his contributions to the practice of elder law. He is the founder of two firms based in Federal Way: Life Point Law, an elder law and estate planning firm, and AgingOptions, a firm that provides retirement-related education to consumers and professionals.
Ask Rajiv: Protecting assets when getting married later in life | Senior Lifestyles

Dear Rajiv: My 88-year-old mother is about to marry a 90-year-old widower.… Continue reading

Olivia Sullivan/the Mirror
Nonprofit founder Cheryl Hurst, center, with volunteers Karlyn Devereaux, Joe Hutchinson, Cari Franklin and Anna Patrick inside an empty retail space in Federal Way where thousands of diapers were stored during the March of Diapers event.
Charity collects almost 400,000 diapers for local families

The results are in! This year’s March of Diapers donation event, hosted… Continue reading

Rajiv Nagaich is an elder law attorney, author, adjunct law school professor, and retirement planning visionary who has achieved national recognition for his cutting-edge work with retirees and his contributions to the practice of elder law. He is the founder of two firms based in Federal Way: Life Point Law, an elder law and estate planning firm, and AgingOptions, a firm that provides retirement-related education to consumers and professionals.
Ask Rajiv: Power of Attorney and sharing financial information | Senior Lifestyles

Dear Rajiv: My question is about the Power of Attorney. My estate… Continue reading

T
King County libraries curate book collections for the community

February’s Black History Month book list includes 25 titles at King County libraries

Teaser
World’s longest surviving kidney patient dies

Mercer Island resident Nancy Spaeth went on dialysis at age 18 and received four kidney transplants.

tsr
Recipe of the Week: Balsamic fig cake

Recipe of the week for Feb. 18.

Photo by Monstera from Pexels
Submit your local love stories

Did you fall in love in Federal Way? Let us know.

The Enumclaw library is passing out free at-home rapid COVID tests. Photo by Ray Miller-Still
8 King County libraries passing out at-home rapid COVID tests

Supply is limited; patrons are asked to limit themselves to two tests per household.