Monday, April 25, 2011

Mean, Not-So-Lean Cleaning Machine

I will be the first to admit that I did not inherit the Cleaning Gene.  My apartment usually looks quasi-tidy, but as for looking like a sample room at Ikea, it just ain't gonna happen.  It has to get to the point where I'm embarrassed to invite myself over to my apartment before I force myself to take up Cleaning Tools. 

My super-amazing children of the whatever-the-fuck-the-letter-is-now generation, got me a Swifter WetJet, so I could clean like all the cool kids do. On my morning off today, I decide to tackle my bathroom floor with my SWJ.  After 10 tries, I finally get the replacement bottle of Magic Cleaning Potion to do what it's supposed to do, but I can't get those damn pads to stay on  if I superglue them.  It looks so perfect on the box!!  But, then, so does the picture on the label of Beenie Weenies.  What ever happened to Truth in Advertising? (the Original Oxymoron)  Anyroad, I squirted the MCP on the floor and cleaned the floor on my hands and knees with paper towels. . .like the good Lord intended. 

Better luck next year. . . . .

Saturday, April 16, 2011

A Rose By Any Other Name

I have a fascination with people's names.  Yesterday, I wrote a FB note about a client and I called him "Mr. Hitler".  Because no one knows anyone with the last name of Hitler.  (Well, yeah, him, but he doesn't count.)  If you have the last name Hitler, you're probably going to change it, but at one time it may have been a fairly common name (especially in Germany, I'm guessing).  What if Adolph's last name had been Smith or Brown?  Or Eisenhower?  That would've been awkward!  But I think he kind of killed that  name for good.  Bad guys tend to do that.  When's the last time you met someone named Attilla or Genghis? (No, Kahn doesn't count, because that was Star Trek and therefore Sacred and Above The Law.)  But on the other hand,  Charles Manson is an Uber Creep and I know lots of Charles' (I named my son that) and who doesn't love Marilyn Manson?  (Lots of people, but you keep diverting me, stop it!)  So actually my theory doesn't work at all.  Ok, next paragraph. . .

I used to read the wedding notices in the paper to see the name combinations.  My all-time favorite was the marriage of Tracy Titsworth to Sterling Pankratz, which meant her new name was Tracy Titsworth Pankratz.  What a wonderful name!  (Unless it was mine. Then I would change it to Hitler.)  Also, at Sterling's batchelor party I'm sure there were endless jokes about him getting his tits' worth.  hahaha

Sterling.  Really?  What kind of people name their little baby boy Sterling?  Also, I never understood naming your son Richard and then deciding his nickname should be Dick.  Why would you make your own kid a dick?  On purpose.  People don't name their daughters Cunthia--there's a reason for that.

It's hard enough when you have a normal name and then some social phenomenon occurs to make your life a temporary hell.  This happened twice to me.  The first time was when I was in junior high (no fancypants Middle School for me, thank you!).  Herman's Hermits came out with the song "Mrs. Brown, You've Got A Lovely Daughter".  (My maiden name is Brown, I guess I should have mentioned that before I started this story.)  For about 3 weeks both my sister and I had people singing this song to us ad nauseum.  It got old quickly.  The next time was several years later when the porn classic "Debbie Does Dallas" was released.  Yeah.  I guess it was better than "Debbie Does Hitler".

Monday, April 11, 2011

In Memoriam

On April 13, 2008, my mother died.

I never had one of those super-close, "best pals" relationships with my mother.  We became closer when I got older, but when I was little, I always got the feeling that I was an irritation to her. My sister, who is seven years older than me, was extremely close with my mom and I always felt like I was intruding.   My mom didn't work (it was the 50's-duh!) and before I started kindergarten it was just her and me home alone, every day.  There was a little girl my age a few doors down from us, but I wasn't allowed to play with her because she was Italian (see 50's note, above).  But my mom didn't really spend any time with me.  She was usually on the phone with her mother or her sister (before she passed) or her best friend, so I sat in front of the TV, watching endless reruns of "I Love Lucy".  I'm sure there were other programs, but that's the only show I remember watching.  The December I turned four, my mom's sister killled herself, and my mom turned mean.  I remember writing notes to God (and leaving them on my nightstand at night so an angel would come and get them), asking Him to make Aunt Mary Jayne come back to life so Mommy will be happy again.  It didn't work.  My mother used her sister's death as a Disciplinary Tool- "When I drop dead like your Aunt Mary Jayne and your father marries the young sexy blonde---SHE'LL make you clean up your room."   Using that survival mechanism kids have, I learned to ignore her diatribes and invented two make-believe friends, Mary Hallowak and Judy Oakleaf, who became my constant companions. 

I was a teenager in the 60's and a pretty rebellious one.  I smoked, protested the Viet Nam war and The Establishment in general and cussed like a sailor (can you imagine!).  Mom and I had huge fights, a couple of which Daddy had to come in and stop before they became too violent.  Luckily, by then, I had discovered theatre and the theatre community kept me sane during high school and college.

When I quit theatre, things became relatively calm for a few years.  There was that 1-year period where my sister and mother weren't talking to each other, but I moved to New York City to dodge that bullet.  I got lonely after a year of that and came home.  Then in 1978, everything fell apart.  First  I met and got engaged (in the span of 3 weeks) to a guy I didn't really care much for--everyone just thought it was time I got married.  Luckily, I came to my senses five weeks before the wedding and called it off.  But it put me in a major depression.  Then my sister's husband (who was also my boss and one of the greatest individuals I've ever known) was killed in a helicopter crash at the age of 31.  A little over a year later, my dad  (who never really got over his son-in-law's death, and also was one of the greatest individuals I've ever known) died of a heart attack.  All of a sudden our family consisted of two widows and a spinster.  We all pulled together and were there for each other, but after my mother and sister started running my dad's failing business, I felt that familiar feeling of intruding on their special relationship.  So I left again, this time for Birmingham.

After I got married and had kids, my mom and became a lilttle closer, although there were still many screaming matches when we would visit Pittsburgh.  When her health started to fail, I only went up to see her twice, because my sister's co-dependent relationship, now that she was her primary caregiver, made me feel like a stranger. 
The last time I saw her was five years before she died, soon after my divorce.  She had Parkinson's and dementia and spent her days strapped in a wheelchair, watching CNN on a 13" TV in her kitchen.  I would sit there, playing solitaire, just keeping her company.  She had a rare lucid moment one afternoon and reached across the table and took my hand.  "Whatever happens," she said, "I want you to know that you and I are okay, don't worry."  Of course, I started to cry and gave her a hug and kiss and told her I loved her.

Cause I did--she was my mom.  And she loved me.  And in the end, that's all that really matters.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Popping my Cherry

So here's the thing about being a grown-up--I'm not very good at it.  I've got the whole responsibility thing down; I go to work, I pay my bills,  I floss my teeth, I hide my porn. . . .but I always imagined that by the time I reached this age (137) I would have it "all together" and that all the anxieties and insecurities I felt when I was young would be ancient history.  Instead, I'm the only one who's ancient and my anxieties and insecurities are entering marathons.  And winning. (No, not the Charlie Sheen winning, that's like George Bush's  "Mission Accomplished".  I mean actually winning.)

Take the Case of The Bad Boyfriend.  After I got divorced, I took a year to  sort through my life and regroup.  Very mature.  At the end of this year, knowing that I was a different, self-confident, capable person (and in this case, knowing is  like Charlie Sheen's winning), I jumped into a six-year incredibly destructive relationship.  Which I could have gotten out of at any time, but I didn't because I was still the idiot I had always been.  Clearly, sorting and regrouping don't mean what I think they mean.

I think being a grown-up is difficult for me because I am not a fan of Actual Reality.  And by that I mean what is really happening in the world as opposed to what is happening in Deb Reality.  In DR, everything always works out in the end; people love each other, they respect each other, they are happy to do things for each other, the sky is filled with rainbows, my hair is straight and Meredith Viara leaves the Today Show.  Who wouldn't want to live in Deb Reality?  Right?  But, sadly DR has a  population of 1.  My relationships (when they rarely occur) don't work out, the sky has a polluted haze, my hair looks more like Frederick Douglass' hair than Frederick Douglass' hair and MV ain't going nowhere. 

So perhaps I will try living in Actual Reality  with the rest of you.  But I would ask that you be gentle, this is my first time.