Sunday, January 30, 2011

A Bad Case Of Adultery

Since starting to blog three weeks ago, I feel like I have been cheating on my home.  I no longer have time to keep my house spotless and dust-free.  By the time the shopping, the dishes, the laundry, the cooking, the carpooling, the cuddling of my kids and the twice daily copulation with my husband is completed - there is only time enough left in the day to either write or wipe baseboards.  Which would you choose?

Like the thrill of a first love, my new found writing endeavor has consumed my every waking thought, stolen my appetite, and reset the beat of my heart to a much more stimulating pace.  I have actually missed several meals this past week.  Having been a thirty-two time Weight Watcher's flunky, I can assure you that missing a meal means I am seriously whipped.  Even when I am not blogging, my writing passion has spilled over into any place willing to welcome it with praise or criticism.  I have adopted a new behavior of furiously writing everything from emails to old high school teachers, to updating my Facebook status more often than average or what should be considered polite.

Did I mention I have missed several meals?

Just this second my daughter Valerie, who is in kindergarten asked me, "Mommy why are you on the computer SO much today?"

"I'm writing Sweetheart. It is my new job." I responded with eyes glued to the screen.

"New job?  Does that mean I get to go to Extended Care after school?" she asked.  Get to go, mind you, not have to go. 

I have been a stay-at-home-mom for the past 6 years.  Like most good mothers, since the moment I conceived my firstborn I have sacrificed too much to mention and dedicated my every waking moment to nurturing this miracle of life and her 4 year old younger brother, Helmut.  Now she basically wants to break up with me because I take ONE break from her, and call it a job.  Since starting kindergarten this year Valerie is obsessed with "that special room at school where a select few classmates go when the other kids head home."  Little does she know how much those "select few" wish they were transitioning into their parent's arms versus "that special room."

So now my house is a mess and my daughter is ready to move out and buy her own condo, all because I have fallen in love.  With writing.  And I hope this affair lasts forever.

P.S. My husband and son seem to be immune to my recent unavailability.  But they are male, so I will forfeit the wild goose chase of trying to figure them out, and agree to let sleeping dogs lie.

Thursday, January 27, 2011


I received an email from my friend Shelia today and felt that her question and my answer was blog worthy.

Shelia is an old classmate from my Catholic schoolgirl days and, according to our shared religious tradition, she has already confused the order of marriage, sex, and children.  Now that her two-year old son's father has finally asked for her hand in marriage she is like any bride-to-be (childless or otherwise) who has boarded the Crazy-Train-To-The-Alter and doesn't know where to get off.

The following is an excerpt from Shelia's email:

"Oh my gosh Carrie, the wedding planning is the craziest thing in the freaking world! I must be totally delusional when it comes to the costs b/c every time someone gives me a number, I pee a little. Whether that is from childbirth or fear, I am still unsure - but still, I am going thru alot of underwear for what?! I am planning a typical big family, Catholic wedding & all I want to do now is for us to meet father in the rectory and have him marry us there. That way we might actually pay attention to the vows that we are taking and committing to instead of the rad party afterwards. I mean - we might as well be 40, we have a 2 year old and have lived together for quite sometime. Am I past the point of a nice, fun wedding?  I need your wisdom here Carrie - being that you are my finance mentor - where do I draw the line for crying out loud? If you were marrying Ken tomorrow how would you do it?"

My response went something like this:

Wisdom granted.

First of all do not discount yourself as a mother of a two year old who is living with her fiance who also happens to be her baby's daddy, and forego having the wedding of  your girlhood dreams combined with the good sense of your womanhood. NOBODY PUTS SHEILA SHRIVER IN A CORNER!

I, for one, never actually had any girlhood dreams of a fancy wedding. My mother taught me from a very young age that the more you spend on a wedding - the more likely the marriage is to fail. This might actually be one of the few things I agree with my mother on - big wedding budgets ARE ABSOLUTELY commensurate with big marriage failures. Examples include: Melissa Rivers, Donald Trump, and my cousin Liz.

My advice would be to pick your top three most important material components of your wedding and reception and put 90% of whatever money you have there. Whatever you do - DO NOT GO INTO DEBT FOR A PARTY! Your wedding day is inevitably filled with so much pressure and chaos and it will all be over before you get a chance to recover from your in-laws making you cry the night before at your rehearsal dinner in time to really enjoy yourself.

Furthermore, we will be turning forty in just a few short years, so I say save the real party budget for a time when you get to invite the people you really want to party with and not the people you are just inviting so your second cousin Ursula, twice removed, from Topeka doesn't feel left out. You also won't have to write a thank-you note for the giant, pea-green, family bible Ursula brings for a gift.

My original vision for my own wedding had something to do with me and Some Guy, Las Vegas, an ivory mini-dress, and patent leather Go-Go boots. The heartbroken look on my parent's face when they heard it wasn't going to be in the Catholic Church with my father walking me down the aisle made me back down and give in to their dream for me.

My reasons for the Catholic wedding and party reception were simple: making my parent's happy while simultaneously getting to check one more of the seven sacraments off my list, and rewarding my side of the invite list who had to scrounge up air fair and a book a hotel room to meet Brian and cease their gossiping about me and my 'daddy issues.'

Being consistent with my mother's early influence, I went very high class/low cost on most my decisions. My memory of my 2003 costs were as follows: dress/shoes/veil $450, flower budget $325, DJ $500, cake $325, photographer $1700, reception $6000 and honeymoon $8000. You can clearly see where my priorities were. 

If I were doing it again today - I would spend even less by getting a bunch of sheet cakes from Costco to serve - only because people expect it and you can still get away with some good 'cuttin of the cake' pics to fulfill that page in your album.  My friend Veronica did this at her reception and it was FABULOUS and way classier than it sounds.

Whatever you do, DO NOT watch 'Say Yes to The Dress' on TLC. Unless you have at least a $5000 budget for your dress (which even if you did have is totally ridiculous to spend on a dress), wear something you feel pretty in and spend as little as possible. The entire wedding industry is a total racket and I say give those mother-fuckers the finger and show up in a red lace number at the church rectory with close family and vow your everlasting love to Robbie while he is wearing Leopold on his back in the Ergo Baby Carrier Backpack. Then meet all your friends later for beer and wine and appetizers, and party with fun music and a huge receiving table for gifts.

Oh, and definitely stay far away from having three pretty maids all in a row - just more bullshit to deal with. Your best girlfriend's love you and will be there for you throughout your special day - no matter what.  Don't make them wear satin which everyone, everyone, looks REALLY FAT IN!

For now, that's all I got.  But PLEASE!!!...find some time, pour yourself a glass of wine, and call me tonight or this weekend and I can give you more unadulterated advice.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Blind Date & Preconceived Misconceptions

It was about eight months into living in a new city when I went on my first blind date.  I was newly 22 years old, in my sophomore year of college for the third time, and completely by accident finally at my goal weight for the first time in my life.  Working at my student internship in finance for a national company whose headquarters were local, I casually walked up to our department secretary (whom I hardly knew at the time) and asked if she knew any young, fun, single guys interested in dating.  I had kissed A LOT of frogs lately and my last date seemed way more interested in our busboy than into me.  (Not unusual for men from the NW I later discovered.)

"Well.." Suzy said, "I have a guy who is single and fun, but he isn't very young."

"How many times has he been married and how many kids does he have?" I asked politely looking for an easy way out of this disaster waiting to happen.  I considered myself still too young to be a step-mom or even a second wife for that matter.

"Zero and zero!" Suzy smirked, "...but he is forty."

Oh!  What the hell, I thought.  I had been with men older than that before, and I was only looking to have fun - not get married!  So I gave Suzy my phone number and told her to tell him to give me a call.  She assured me he had a good job in education and didn't rely on "some kind of family business" or "doing well as a mime" to make it in life.  He had a car, a job, and owned a home - already three times better than my last serious relationship.

Later that evening Suzy's husband's best friend Ken calls me up and the conversation goes something like this:

"Tell me about yourself, Ken" I inquired, "You know, what kind of music do you like?  What television shows do you watch?  What are your hobbies?"  At this point I was willing to roll with any response and kept telling myself to "stay open to possibilities" - which was the line from my last date when he toasted to us while staring at said restaurant employee's backside.

"My stereo is currently playing a little BTO and I am a really big Star Trek fan."  Ken replied quite confidently.

Now I am a huge music fan of all types from punk rock to blue grass to classical to you name it, but I had never heard the acronym BTO - or at least paid attention enough to remember it.  As for Star Trek - not a fan.

"What is BTO?" I asked completely puzzled and convinced it must have something to do with Gene Roddenberry.  I have always refused to believe that I was actually born in 1974 because my birth year feels so much more like 1954 - at least.  I know too much about the world before I got here and reading up on pop history just doesn't do justice to the random information floating around in my brain.

"You don't know Bachman-Turner Overdrive...?" he exclaimed, "Taking Care of Business and You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet?  They're classics!"

Stripper music.  This forty year old, unmarried, nerd rocks out at home alone to stripper music.  So sad.

The next part is the best.  Ken says to me, "I am 6'1", 200 pounds, blond hair, blue eyes and I model part-time.  So, how tall are you and how much do you weigh?"  Forty year old, unmarried, nerd actually has the audacity to ask a woman what she weighs!  The nerve of this guy is completely blowing my mind and I just can't help myself but to respond.

"Well, I'm 5'8" with green eyes and auburn hair - how much money do you make and how big is your dick?" I asserted with confident directness.

"Okay, okay, I guess I shouldn't have asked that one" he chuckled "but really - how much do you weigh?" he pressed.

"Well, depending on the time of the month I can weigh anywhere between 140 and 145 pounds," I lied, undercutting it by only five pounds but considering I was down 25 pounds from my top weight two years ago, I was feeling pretty good.  "Now you probably think I am fat," I commanded knowing how men and measurements are as inaccurate as natural family planning and population control.   I was used to the type of man who only knew a female's dimensions as defined on her Playboy centerfold information sheet written in bubble letters and hearts used to dot the 'i's.  Anything over 120 pounds on a woman - even if she was six feet tall made her a total cow.  I, however, was actually really hot with athletic long legs and a very nice rack.

"No, no - I don't think you are fat at you work-out much?" he asked, "because I work-out everyday."

This guy doesn't need a date - he needs a clone to snuggle up with every night and to spot his weightlifting by day.

After an hour of phone conversation, Ken finally asked me out.  I already had dates lined up for the weekend because I didn't know I would be meeting Ken, so we agreed to meet for drinks on Thursday evening.  At this point agreeing to go out with this guy was strictly an anthropological encounter to find out what made this megalomaniac tick.  I asked him to pick a place because this was the city he spent his whole life in and I could barely find my way out of my driveway without making a wrong turn.  Of all the fabulous, unique, fashionable, and wildly delicious restaurants in our fair city - Ken picks TGIFs by the mall.  Seriously.

So I showed up in my tight red dress, wiggling past the baby strollers and high schoolers as I entered the very noisy restaurant and made my way directly to the bar.  As I sat on the bar stool anxiously waiting to order a very strong drink, a short, bald, poorly dressed man, with halitosis approached me from my left ready to make his move.  Ugh! I thought - this isn't going to be so fun after all.

Immediately I felt a strong arm on my right shoulder from behind and turned around to see the most charming smile and sparkling blue eyes I have ever seen.  "You must be Carrie," Ken said - like any hero who doesn't come 'til the nick of time.

"Oh thank God!" I heard myself murmur as Ken led me to his two-top bar table which I later found out he had been sitting at and drinking Hefeweizens for the past hour to calm his nerves.  So cute, and now it is almost fifteen years later and Ken lies asleep in our marital bed down the hall cuddling our two preschoolers and getting his rest so he can be the best husband and father despite being the absolute worst first impression of all time.


So I was on the phone last night with one of my dearest friends, Elena.  She is among a very exclusive and intimate group of my girlfriends whom I believe knows everything about me and, in spite of it, still likes me.  During a reference I made about my early history of spending about 5 minutes in the sex trade industry, Elena stopped me and said, "Okay Carrie, now I know you had quite a technicolorful promiscuous part of your youth, but I don't remember anything about money exchanging tell."

Where do I begin?  I thought.  I was way too sober to tell the one at the end about almost being murdered - so I hit her with the most memorable story I could think of.  You won't believe me, but I will tell you anyway. Here it goes:


It was the early '90s and a couple of months into my unintentional whirl in quasii-prostitution as my own free agent.  As it always began, I was contacted by a client who asked if I was interested in "helping a friend of his out" in somewhat the same way I aided him.  Consistent with my hollow sense of self, I responded with a disassociated "of course" and told him to have his friend give me a call. Minutes later the phone rings and "Mr. Jones" gives me a time and address for our rendezvous, then strangely asks for my home address and shoe size. 

Two days later I made my way out my door on my way to my real job and I stumbled over a medium-sized Fed-Ex box addressed to me.  The return address was some sort of high-techy sounding corporation, so I figured it must be some kind of stereo or television component that Cosmic Charlie (my dope growing boyfriend), had mailed to my address in order to "stay off the grid" and remain anonymous to "THE MAN."  Luckily I took the time to actually open the box and I realized this was definitely for me. 

Inside was a very fancy shoe box with a note which read, in handwriting similar to David Kaczynski's, "WEAR THESE AND NOTHING ELSE - MR JONES."   Now you must understand it this was several years before Carrie Bradshaw's designer shoe fetish had made Manolo Blahnik, Christian Louboutin, and Jimmy Choo household names.  Expensive shoes to me was paying full price at Nordstrom for Etienne Aigner loafers, and never more than $80. 

The shoes I held in my hand were truly a piece of art:  candied-apple red, patent leather, stilettos with some foreign words I cannot remember written on the inside sole.  These were definitely not from Pay-Less Shoes or even Nordstrom for that matter.  They didn't have the stamped factory inspection detail or size identified anywhere.  Looking back, I kinda think they may have come from outer space - or I also like to picture a little Italian cobbler in Le Marche furiously working with his tiny elves to complete a special order for "that eccentric American" in time for the Fed-Ex pick-up. So just like Cinderella on her way to the ball, I slipped on the perfectly fitting magical gift in anticipation of my own upcoming encounter with two balls. (At least I hoped there would only be two.)

It was early afternoon on a rainy Thursday when I left my urban apartment wearing my sleek London Fog trench coat, panties, and Nike tennis shoes.  The red shoes were way too high for my klutzy self to walk or operate a clutch and drive in, so I kept them in their treasure box on the passenger seat of my two-door economy car.  As for the panties, well I guess I thought it wouldn't look as bad if I was in a car accident on my way to the gig as long as I had underwear on.  I could see the paramedics say something like, "Well Joe, she couldn't possibly be a whore - look she has her Hane's on!"

I drove in the rain past my appointment location and parked around the corner in an attempt to be discreet.  After pulling off my panties, chucking the Nikes in the backseat, touching up my overdone make-up,  and popping up my umbrella I walked the half a block of 19th century mansions which to my knowledge were only inhabited by historic homes committees, students from the art institute, or crack addicts.  I had never been to this side of town before and the contradiction of old family money and 20th century poverty in this midwestern metropolis was disturbing. 

Luckily Mr Jones's residence was very cozy and safe looking from the street.  It even had a high-end children's playstructure in the back.  So, I took a deep breath, left my body, and watched myself walk up the stairs and knock on the door.  With relief that he was not a formidable looking man I flashed my toothy smile and entered the two sets of doors into the foyer.  Before I get to Mr. Jones, I think it is important for me to describe the character of this house.  It was definitely at least 100 years old and looking around I noticed it was completely empty of furnishings and accessories.  Also, it had absolutely no smell.  I don't just mean it didn't smell like a very old home, it didn't smell like food, or pets, or smoke, or new carpet, or cleaning chemicals, or dead bodies - it just smelled like nothing.  Not even the scent of rain outside made it's way past the threshold.

As for Mr. Jones, he was just a guy - like all the rest.  If I were to liken him to a famous person it would have to be John C. McGinley - the actor from the TV show Scrubs who plays the obnoxious and sarcastic Dr. Cox.  Although, Mr. Jones was in no way obnoxious or sarcastic, in fact he looked down at his feet for the most part and mumbled as he spoke.  I told him he had a beautiful home and he asked if I would like a tour.  At this point he could have asked if I would like an axe through my skull and I would have just smiled and nodded my head completely unattached to reality. 

Throughout the three-story home were rooms vacant of anything other than a mattress on the floor.  Several doors were closed and Mr. Jones would knock and say, "Hey cuz, I'm coming in."  Then I would see small groups of people or just a couple sitting on the mattress with books all over the floor looking stoned out of their minds and nodding to Mr. Jones.  Now, I know this sounds strange, but this was not a crack house - or a drug den for that matter.  These stray people very well may have been Nobel Prize winners just looking for a place to hang out and meditate on their way to reaching enlightenment.  I felt a very nurturing and safe presence throughout the tour and realized Mr. Jones collected people while living in a dimension far from mine.

Stumbling in the red shoes we made our way down the back staircase which had been reserved for servants during the dawn of this home, and into a beautifully updated and remodeled kitchen which shined with impeccable sterility.  Again, no smell whatsoever.  There was an iron skillet on the cooktop, a pack of Camel cigarettes and an ashtray on the countertop, and a command from Mr. Jones telling me exactly what he wanted me to do.  Here we go:  he wanted me to scramble eggs on the stove, completely naked (except for the shoes), and sing nursery ryhmes while I smoked cigarettes.  Sure - no problem I thought.  I removed my coat, sucked in my stomach, stuck out my chest and went to work.

As I started to cook the eggs I went to the fridge for milk and noticed it's contents were like none other I had seen before:  glass containers full of raw fruits and vegetables, what looked like home grown wheat grass consuming an entire shelf, and a six pack of eggs which were brown.  Now today I only eat brown, organic eggs, but 20 years ago if an egg wasn't white then it was VERY strange.  As I reached far back into my childhood to recall the tunes about dishes running away with spoons Mr. Jones sat across the kitchen island countertop on a stool, with his bottom half tucked up under the bar, where he did my work for me with his left hand.  The more I smoked and sang, the more he stared at me bug-eyed and quivering until he finally let out a somewhat disturbing moan then fumbled to get his pants belted up again. 

By this time the eggs were well done and I didn't really know where to go from there, so I asked him if he wanted me to feed him.  He said no and that would be all, then handed me my coat.  He wouldn't even let me clean up.  I was feeling extremely nauseous and in such a cigarette smoke stupor that the only thing I could focus on was getting out the front door and into some fresh air.  I cared nothing about fee for service at this point and decided to b-line it straight to my car and then to any convent willing to take me in.

As I walked through the foyer, Mr. Jones came up from behind me and handed me a well worn brown grocery sack with what felt like the weight of a dead cat in it.  I don't even think he said, "here you go" or "thank-you" or "good-bye" - he just kept his head down, mumbled something and shoved the bag into my arms. I popped up my umbrella, walked-ran to my car, kicked off the shoes, and drove aimlessly around the historic neighborhood barefoot in the rain.  I was trying to return to my body, but it wasn't so easy this time.  Everything seemed way too heavy to process so I pulled over, remembered the grocery bag on my passenger seat and looked inside.

Monopoly money?  That mother-fucker gave me a bag of fucking fake money!!!  I picked up one of the what amounted to five stacks of twenty dollar bills and flipped through it.  Wait a minute...this looks really good for fake money. Now this is the part where you really won't believe me.  One, two, three...forty-eight, forty-nine, fifty!  I actually had five stacks of $2000 worth of honest to goodness, bona-fide, twenty-dollar bills!  Ten fucking thousand dollars sitting in the front seat of my standard transmission economy car whose entire worth was a fraction of the cash contained in it.  Not to mention I was driving in the direction of high class boogie town and needed to make an immediate u-turn in order to avoid a potential carjacker's windfall by choosing me as his next victim. 

Now, you must understand that although I had been taking cash for sex for the past several weeks - I never spent a dime of it.  It wasn't money I needed for survival or even amusement and it came with such a heavy energy attached that I honestly dropped it in the offertory box after Saturday confession at the church across the street form my apartment  All along it had been a few hundred dollars at the most and never any amount requiring bundling.  But this time - $10000 was way too much to fit in the slot of the offertory box without being found out and I wanted this blood money as far away as possible - as soon as possible.

Driving back home in the early evening rain I remembered a place nearby which had impacted me deeply on a high school field trip once.  It was also a place I had done some service work in order to attain the required service hours for graduation and I remembered the name of the place's director.  I turned my car around, drove past the art museum, past Planned Parenthood, past the YMCA, and parked on the street in front of a non-descript urban home with no identification on it's front door.  I put the shoes in the bag with the cash, walked in my Nikes and trench coat up to the doorstep, and rang the bell.  A woman's voice through an intercom responded to my bell ringing and I told her I was leaving a donation on the doorstep and would she please see that Ms. Smith gets it.  I didn't even wait for a response after I dropped the bag on the doorstep and walked-ran to my car for the second time that day. 

This takes me back to my conversation with Elena.  She remembered the field trip and knew exactly where the money wound up.  It was a battered women's shelter and to this day I still don't know if the cash ever really made it to Ms. Smith's hands - all that matters is it is out of mine.  As I told Elena the part of the story of donating the money to the church in my old neighborhood which then became her neighborhood in recent years, I couldn't recall the name of the church.  Elena reminded me the name of that church and it proves my constant theory that there is no such thing as coincidence.  "Carrie, you mean Guardian Angels Parish" said Elena.  Of course it was Guardian Angels - it was the only thing that kept me alive to tell my story. 

Saturday, January 8, 2011


My intention was never to receive money for sex.  In fact, it was a time in my life where my most focused intention was simply to survive from day to day without winding up in a psych ward - again. Less than a year before,  the weight of my dysfunctional early adolesence (sexual abuse, eating disorders, promiscuity, etc.) became too much for my first year nursing student mind to handle and eating the medicine cabinet seemed like the only escape.  Luckily, my parent's (John Wayne & Joan Crawford) had primo health insurance and 21 days in a plush suburban hospital was like what nowadays is an afternoon at the Canyon Ranch Spa.

I was nineteen years old, taking a year off of college, working full time, living on my own and supporting myself for the first time in my life.  An old beneficiary, from my days of indiscriminately giving blowjobs to the public school boys, called me up out of the blue and asked for a walk down memory lane.  As I vehemently refused his requests and tried to hang up, he quickly resorted to begging and bargaining. 

"Come on Care...I'll give you fifty bucks to help me out this one time!" he pleaded with the same annoyance of a four-year old in the toy aisle at Target.

"No way Loser!  I have a boyfriend, a therapist, and a trust fund now to replace whatever 'acting out ritual' you were once a part of" I declared.

"Pleeeaaase!" he continued.  "How about $100?...okay,... $150...$200....?  Seriously Carrie, I will give you two hundred cash for just this one time."

Two hundred dollars, I thought, for doing the exact same thing I had been giving away free for years.  Even my devout Catholic great-grandmother was screamming from her grave for me to take the deal.  This guy especially, as I remember,  would truly take less than 3 minutes of my time and no more of my dignity than I had already given him.

"FINE!" I said, "Come on over, but you are not staying one minute longer than you need to because Cosmic Charlie is on his way over later." (Cosmic Charlie was my thirty year old, pot growing, Greatful Dead following, Mensa attending boyfriend whom surprisingly became one of the best things that ever happened to me.)

And so it began.  A week later, Loser called and asked if I could do one of his buddies the same "favor."  Word spread like an illegal insider stock trading tip and what I now consider to be "my five minutes spent in the sex trade industry at age 19" lasted another six months until what always happens in such risky endeavors happened - someone almost tried to kill me.

Thursday, January 6, 2011


Pretezeled together after a marathon lovemaking session with my husband and basking in the afterglow, I hear my Love whisper in my ear the funniest misunderstanding I can remember in recent memory.

What he actually said was, "I really got off  hard."

What I  heard him say however, beyond the post orgasmic choir of angels singing in my head was, "I've really gotta fart."

Having been with my husband for fifteen years, this post coital declaration was extrememly out of character - so I just laid still and waited to hear him let it rip.  After several minutes of silence which lead up to a soft snore emitting from his top half, I ran through the scene again in my head. 

...Wait a minute, "Honey, what did you just say to me?" I inquired.

"Huh?" he muttered half asleep, "I didn't say anything."

"No, before you dozed off..." I persisted.

"I said, 'I got off really hard.'" he declared with crystal clear annunciation.

"OOOOHHHH!!!!"  I snorted as I abruptly burst out laughing so aggresively tears came to my eyes.

"Why, what did you think I said?" he sighed.

"Nothing, honey...I just love you so much it makes me kinda crazy with emotional expressiveness sometimes!"  I said while trying to control my outburst and bring it down at least five levels.  I had achieved that ridiculous "slap-happy" state of mind which I knew my husband just wouldn't "get" if I calmed myself enough to try to explain.

"Goodnight Carrie..." he said while rolling his eyes and body over for the night.

"Goodnight Honey!"....ahhh, the joy of being with someone for a long, long, time.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011


AKA (“A Little Club Soda Should Get That Out”- Yeah Mom, especially when I mix it with lemons and a bottle of Kettle One.)

My entire life I have been told at various times by my family as an expletive, “Carrie…there is something wrong with you!” Now I just might be able to accept and understand their accusations if the following was true about myself:

• Outwardly wearing satanic ritual signs tattooed to my exposed skin.
• Shaving my head and wearing neo-Nazi symbols on white t-shirts with hot-pink combat boots on a daily basis and confused as to why no one will hire me in childcare at the Jewish Community Center.
• Refusing to bath and groom myself for weeks on end in order to spend twelve hours a day holding a sign in front of the Nike World Headquarters located down my street which reads, “Tennis Shoes Kill Zen!”

But honestly, my family members have stamped this label of “something being wrong with me” due to reasons that as a fully integrated, self-actualized, and occasionally sane woman of 36 I have finally learned to no longer accept.

Let me tell you about my first memory of being labeled as a degenerative daughter. Somewhere around 8 or 9 years of age my weekend chores included cleaning my bedroom and one of our five bathrooms. Armed with a five gallon drum containing bottles of ammonia, Comet, Dow Scrubbing Bubbles, Windex, Lysol Toilet Bowl Cleaner, Clorox, Pine Sol, and an unidentified substance I am now convinced was Agent Orange, I scrubbed every square inch of the porcelain and tile covered bathroom which I shared with my older sister down the hall. After the swelling in my throat subsided and I regained the ability to breath, I finished the job with a gentle caress of lemon oil over every surface in an effort to enhance the shine and, truthfully, attempt to gain forgiveness for my assault to the entire bathroom.

After moving onto my bedroom which was attended to with ever greater gusto and attention to detail, I felt accomplished, proud, and euphoric about finally being able to run out the front door and join my neighborhood friends who had already started Saturday morning play a few hours before my release. I couldn’t find my mother to approve my work, so I asked my father who then reasonably surveyed my work and gave me the okay to go out and play.

It was usually only about ten minutes into play, when the joy and satisfaction from my accomplished chores was blown apart like the doors at Filene’s Basement during the “Running of the Brides Sale.” This was always the part where all of the Barbie Dolls had been designated to each girl, who in turn named her doll after a current Aaron Spelling TV character, either: Crystal, Alexis, Kris, Kelly, or Sabrina. But the name heard the loudest after the argument over whose doll got to be “Crystal” was, “CARRIE COPIOUS VALIUM YOU GET IN THIS HOUSE RIGHT THIS MINUTE!!!" I knew this was bad considering my mom included my middle name only when I was in really big trouble. It must have happened often because Skippy Kirkpatrick knocked on my door once and said to my father, “Hello Mr. Copious, can Carrie come out and play?”

After I sprinted down the block and home to my infuriated mother, my anxiety about what I was in trouble about, this time, was making me hold my breath so long that I eventually saw stars. I am sure the Agent Orange inhalation for breakfast didn’t help make the stars any less bright.

Didn’t I tell you, you could not go out to play until after you cleaned your room and the upstairs bathroom?” said my mother from her eight days without a cigarette quivering lips. This was one of her several attempts to knock the Winston 100s habit and the 4 ounce weight gain was making her more crazy than usual.

“Ddddd, Dad said it was clean.” I sheepishly replied.

YOUR FATHER DOESN’T KNOW WHAT CLEAN IS! Now get up there and get it done right!” commanded my mother in a Joan Crawford style which rivaled Faye Dunaway’s 1981 pictorial portrayal. My mother never had a problem with wire hangers, but the duo of dirt and untidiness was her greatest nemesis. As an adult, I now understand how her militant cleaning regimen was her best available tool, at the time, to control the pain of her own chaotic childhood. This was of course years before Prozac and Oprah.

So now it is almost thirty years later and this story still reverberates in my mind. The best part is, I have seriously thought the exact same thing in my mind when it comes to my husband knowing what “clean” means, and my standard is light years away from what I grew up with. Now instead of belittling my husband and stunting my children’s emotional development when my expectations regarding cleanliness are disappointed, I just take a deep breath and remember that my mom wasn’t always right.

During my first year of motherhood, I was lucky enough to learn my favorite quote: “My house is clean enough to be healthy, but dirty enough to be happy.” I keep thinking I want that on a plaque in my kitchen, but then that would be just one more thing to dust. So I keep it simple and hold it in my heart. I have no memories of playing with my mother as a child. Even though she was home, all my memories are of her vacuuming. It makes me sad, for both of us, that we have no real history of "play" together. Perhaps it has become one of the wisest lessons I learned from being my mother's daughter that, when our children grow up they won’t remember how clean their house was, they only remember how much fun they had. Now, drop the Swiffer and have fun with your kids!