Monday, May 4, 2009

Sex and Suburbia, Blocks (not of the building variety)

Sex and Suburbia, Blocks (not of the building variety)
By Julie Stankowski

So, what is a writer to do when she has major “writer’s block?” Continuously trying to write seems a colossal waste of time. Everything that comes out of my mind and onto the computer is stupid and boring and senseless. I can spew it. I just can’t write it down. I’ve tried the chocolate solves all problems cure. Stuff thy face with M&Ms and thy head shall be cleared? Yeah right. Well, obviously, my writer’s block continues. And unfortunately, this block has spread like wildfire throughout my entire being.

I apparently am also suffering from “housecleaning block.” Never knew there was such a thing. But there is. I have it. Now I know. I put something away, two more things pop out. I go through the mail, but the next day, I get a pile of mail even bigger and the task is never-ending. My house is a disaster. Yet, I think I spend more time in my laundry room than in my bed. You know how they say you should get a really comfortable bed because you spend half your life sleeping? Well, then, by the same token, I think I should have a Gucci laundry machine that spits out diamonds every time I throw in a load and have a burly masseuse named Svetlana permanently camped out in my laundry room. Dirty clothes in my house seem to multiply like bunnies.

Is “organizer’s block” the same as “housecleaning block?” I think they’re separate and each deserves its own category. The organizing thing. Why can’t I get this down already? It’s like a disease for which there is no cure. Once disorganized, always disorganized. But why? My parents have always been so organized and I just don’t understand why that gene was not passed down to me. My level of mass disorganization is embarrassing. It’s a wonder I can find my own tooth brush in the morning. And it’s not like I don’t try to fix this problem. I do. I really do. I think about it all the time. I stare at the piles of stuff and think about how to fix it. But the hours spent staring and thinking does not an organized home make. The solution always seems so close, yet it remains so far away. And for some unbeknownst reason, I am in the midst of my 41st year in a row suffering from “organizer’s block.” Horrible.

Let’s see. I also have “dieter’s block,” “exerciser’s block” and “chef’s block.” I hope I don’t actually turn into a block. But I’m not really that worried about it because my body is currently too round to become a block any time in the near future.

What the hell isn’t blocked? My mouth, for sure isn’t blocked. I can eat and drink with no problem. Always. I never seem to get “mouth block,” even though I would welcome it. And I can nag and complain and whine just fine. In fact, I have chronic oral diarrhea; I just can’t seem to get my thoughts down on paper. Which is too bad for my husband because if I can’t write it, I say it, to him, constantly. My wallet isn’t blocked either. I wish it was. “Wallet block” would be so much healthier than the blocks I have. I wouldn’t have to worry about my husband having a coronary when the bills arrive. And there would be more money in my kids’ college funds. But I’m pretty sure I don’t have it; I was at the preschool boutique the other day and - - well, let’s just say the vendors were very happy to see me.

Okay, I’m tired of talking about blockages. At my age, you never know what will get blocked so it is probably best not to keep repeating the word ad nauseum. I will change the subject. But I have “writer’s block” and nothing else to talk about. Oops, I said it again. I think I’ll call the doctor tomorrow and do one of those high-colonic body cleansing things (is it gross? I’ve never done it) and maybe that will help clear the passageways and un-block all my blocks. If not, it will at least give me something cool to write about. Or, if the blockage remains, to talk about. A big, “I’m sorry” to my husband in advance if that is the way it goes down (so to speak).

Monday, April 27, 2009

Sex and Suburbia, Green Eggs and Ham, reinterpreted by a kvetchy mommy

Sex and Suburbia, Green Eggs and Ham, reinterpreted by a kvetchy mommy
By Julie Stankowski

I do not like green eggs and ham. I do not like them Sam I am. I do not like the “aging” thing. I think it has turned me into a king. Oh, excuse me, not a king, a Buddha. But Buddha doesn’t rhyme with anything. Except, oh, woo-hoo-da, I am now a Buddha! And it’s kind of rude-ha. And it puts me in a bad mood-ha. And I don’t look so good in the nude-ha.

But, here’s the deal, Sam. I do not like nude bras with underwire. I might as well be wearing a rubber tire. But that’s a problem, Sam you see, for aging women like me, whose bellies are getting bigger and whose boobies are getting saggier. We do not like that Sam I am. Damn, damn, damn! Because, Sam, without the bra, the boobies are in a constant state of rest upon the belly. And it seems our bodies are turning into jelly. I looked at a tiny Buddha statue sitting on my desk and thought, “Oh, shit, that’s me!” And it’s not very pretty. In fact, I’m afraid if I don’t wear a bra one day, the boobies and the belly will simply meld together and become one. And that for sure would not be fun. Jesus, Sam! I do not like who I now am!

And how about those wrinkles, Sam? They show up every night with a big ‘ol wham! Do we go with the notion that wrinkles are good, part of who you are and what your life’s been so far; or with the notion that wrinkles are bad and while altering our face may be sad, we nevertheless seek a special disappearing potion, or the number of a great dermatologist or plastic surgeon? Out, out damn wrinkles. What do you think, Sam? Should I fix it, or stay who I am?

And Sam, what about those little pains and aches that magically appear when we awake? What the hell is that, Sam? I thought those were reserved for old people, man. And I didn’t think I was old yet. But you do, I bet. What happened to the theme: 40 is the new 30? Were you not told that by the little birdie?

And to be honest, Sam, I have a horrible neurosis. It’s called the Woody-Allen-I-think-I-am-dying-with-each-ache-or-pain psychosis. And Sam, this neurosis is not okay. It freaks me out every day. Can you please take it away? So I may live in peace today? And not think that a headache means a brain tumor, a backache means imminent death and a Buddha belly means some sort of serious ovarian problem. Sam, is that too much to ask? Too tough a task? If I didn’t think you could do it, I wouldn’t ask.

So, to summarize, Mr. Sam, I do not like green eggs and ham. I do not like them Sam I am. I do not like big bellies and fat. I do not like looking like Saturday Night Live’s Pat. I do not like when boobies sag. I do not like being on the rag. I do not like getting older. It makes me feel like I’m cheese getting moldier. I do not like the wrinkles on my face. It makes me think I’m losing the race. I do not like yucky cellulite. On my tush, it just doesn’t look right. I do not like stray hairs on my neck. What the heck? And I do not like thinning hair. It doesn’t look glamorous with what I wear. I do not like being on a diet. I’d rather be standing in the middle of a riot. I do not like to exercise. I’d rather be eating homemade pies. I do not like my hypochondriacitis. It needs to go away or I’ll get arthritis. Or meningitis. Or go-crazy-itis. Are you getting the picture, Sam? I am starting to forget who I really am.

So I am asking please, Sam I am, to help me embrace aging with grace. Can you help me, Sam? To enjoy who I now am? And not fret and have no regret? And love my body without holding a hot toddy? And to look in the mirror and see, what appears to be, an even more beautiful me. Despite my wrinkles and frequent tinkles? If you can do this, Sam I am, I will make you a special ham. It will not be green. It will not include eggs. Instead, my Sam, this ham will be made of canned spam. And for your taste bud pleasure, I will add strawberry jam. And sauté it with a little fat-free Pam. And I will make like Emeril and add a “bam!” And even throw in a candied yam. All to reward you with a new kind of ham. And to thank you, Mr. Sam I am, for helping this aging lady feel more like a baby and less like an old-maidy.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Citymommy interviews Sex and Suburbia

Hi all!

Citymommy just posted an interview with me about Sex and Suburbia. Check it out at, an informative site with lots of "mommy" info and tips, both in general and in the particular city you live! Then add us both to your favorites!

Enjoy your Tuesday!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Sex and Suburbia, Vacation Vixens

Sex and Suburbia, Vacation Vixens
By Julie Stankowski

I’m all about cruising. Cruise ship cruising. From L.A. (where I live) to anywhere. Don’t care where the ship goes, as long as I don’t have to fly to get there. I will no longer have to deal with airports and airplanes and mean people taking a small snow globe out of my bag and throwing away my little present for my daughter because it probably contained more than 3 ounces of fluid, which I might use to commit a terrorist attack on my airplane home from Mexico. I will no longer spend 3 hours on the telephone with American Airlines trying to use the millions of frequent flier miles we have accumulated because regardless of how far in advance I call, there are never any frequent flier seats available to wherever the hell I’m going. I will no longer spend an entire day getting four overstuffed suit cases and four ultra-heavy carry-ons to and from my destination (which is typically only a two-hour flight away). I will no longer have to perform a strip-tease act taking off my shoes, my belt, my jacket and my jewelry just to get to my gate. Yes, I have had enough with air travel. Boat travel, here I come.

Nevertheless, whether traveling by boat or by air, I would like to introduce my fantastic idea for a new business: The Vacation Vixens. I think I have come up with a great business plan for some entrepreneurial mom out there (definitely not me, but my mom could run the business with her eyes closed). No need to go to law school, get an MBA or even have a college degree for this profession. A Vacation Vixen knows her craft inherently. As if she was born with the knowledge and sense to succeed at this career. Vacation Vixens are travel experts who know how to pack properly, organize appropriately and happily stroll through an airport as if it were an easy-breezy Cover Girl day. Vacation Vixens can handle all of their clients’ needs in creating a stress-free vacation, from planning and preparation to getting there to returning home. They greatly reduce the need for the traveling mom to indulge in too much alcohol and Ativan before, during and after the trip. Yes, I think the market is wide open for Vacation Vixens to become wealthy, wealthy people. I would hire one.

The target demographic: disorganized moms who, after 40+ years of living, breathing and traveling, still cannot figure out how to appropriately plan and pack for a family vacation. Why is this phenomenon so difficult to master? Well, apparently, an educated, generally got-it-together mom like myself cannot, despite sincere efforts, figure out how to go on a damn vacation without over packing, fumbling through the airport trying to find the passports in her humumgo bag with 5 million things to keep the kids occupied and having to do at least ten loads of laundry when arriving home because she packed two outfits a day for everyone, which were never worn, but nonetheless need to be washed because of the tropical suntan lotion smell that seems to have permeated all the suitcases.

Having just returned from celebrating the 12th anniversary of my 29th birthday in Mexico with my husband, kids and parents, I am awestruck by my mother’s ability to travel successfully. She typically has only one suitcase which is never over the airline weight limit (mine is over every time and I have to juggle clothes and shoes from suitcase to suitcase until we get it right and don’t have to pay a $1,000 fine for an extra 3 pounds of clothing). She has a small rolling carry-on bag which appears as easy to maneuver as her own arm. She wears a necklace-type thing on her neck which houses her passport, airline ticket and a pen for her to fill out customs forms etc. I used to make fun of her for this - - didn’t think it was very cool or Carrie Bradshaw-ish. I now eat my words. On this last trip, I was so jealous of her un-cool, un-Carrie-like necklace (which I had previously told her only old people use) that I really wished I had one! And another thing, as light as my mom traveled, she magically pulled out any strange thing anyone needed at any given time. My daughter said her stomach hurt and my mom just whipped out a special chewing gum made to ease stomach pain (I didn’t even know that existed!). Someone had a ripped nail, my mom pulled out a clipper. I spilled red wine on my shirt, out came the Tide-To-Go Pen. Where does she stash all of this stuff? I have a gazillion bags that are ridiculously heavy and I can never find a goddamn thing that would benefit anyone. Well, I take that back. The marshmallow peeps always seemed to be at my fingertips and would always placate one kid or the other. But, still . . . .

Unless I am the only loser who has yet to figure out how to travel practically, I recommend hiring a Vacation Vixen. (And by the way, Mom, I think you should start this business!) The Vacation Vixen will assist you from the get-go. She will magically get the airlines to accept your frequent flier mileage, saving you thousands of dollars right off the bat. She will also make sure you have the best seats on the plane, with the most leg-room and in close vicinity to exit doors in the event of an emergency. Or, if you prefer and have the funds, she will arrange for a private jet. She will assist you in canceling the mail, the newspaper and any other services you will not need while on vacation. She will make arrangements for Fido and make sure he/she is enjoying a pet Shangri-La while you are gone. Fido will be picked up and dropped off exactly when you request and will be fully cleaned and groomed when she gets home.

The Vacation Vixen will pack your entire family’s suitcases and carry-ons, weeks in advance so you need not stress. She will arrange for your bags to be at your destination prior to your arrival via FedEx (or something like that) so that you need not worry about losing luggage and you need not haul what seems like an army platoon’s bags along with you through airports, security, shuttles, etc. She will make sure that your luggage contains every possible thingy or gadget you may need in the event of an emergency or a child throwing a temper tantrum, or simply throwing up. She will also ensure that your lipstick, gum and passports are easily found. She will arrange limousine transportation on all ends where there will always be a tuxedoed man holding a card with your family name. She will arrange for the resort at which you are staying to wash and dry clean all clothes just prior to your departure. Those same folks will pack those clothes for you in such a manner that when you arrive at your home via your personal limousine, your baggage will be awaiting you at your front door and will be ready to open with clothes that go right into the closet and right into the drawers, no washing machine required.

And the Vacation Vixen will also have hired and supervised an out-of-this-world cleaning crew to make sure your house is in tip-top shape when you get home. They also will have cleaned out your refrigerator and cabinets and stocked the same with fresh milk, bagels and cream cheese and produce so that you are completely set to get on with your life, as if you had never been gone in the first place.

There are only a few things the Vacation Vixen won’t do: foot the bill; give you a massage when you get home and redo your manicure/pedicure that got thrashed on the beach during vacation. But, you know how you always need a vacation from your vacation? Well, the Vacation Vixen has an “in” at all of the Adults-Only Four Seasons, One and Onlys and Ritz Carltons out there and will hook you up! Worth it, huh? Well, I just want to say to my mom, “Mom, if you do start this business, which clearly I believe will bring in loads of moolah landing you a spot on the Forbes top ten most successful female entrepreneurs, please leave it to me in your will. Although I am completely incapable of independently acting as a Vacation Vixen, I am quite capable of making sure I hire the right people to carry on your legacy!”

Friday, April 10, 2009

Sex and Suburbia, Hormone Monsters

Sex and Suburbia, Hormone Monsters
By Julie Stankowski

Ummm, where do I start? My life is a sitcom, when I am in the viewing the glass as half full mood. Or, my life is a horror movie, when I am in the glass half empty mood. These days, I never know what mood I’ll be in when I wake up. I don’t think I have any control over it. I think my body has been taken over by the hormone monsters. I think that when I fall asleep each night, the hormone monsters gather in some imaginary saloon somewhere, have a few beers, play a little poker and then decide if they are going to bless me with the happy hormones or curse me with the horrible, yucky, hot-flashy hormones. The hormone monsters do this each and every night; they never seem to get bored with it. I wonder whether the hormone monsters realize how very much power they have and that their little decision during their stupid poker game affects every person that comes into contact with me. I wonder whether they realize they are making me look like a crazy person to the outside world. I think the hormone monsters are all male.

I bet the male hormone monsters are also contentious lawyers who would argue that they are innocent of my accusations and then try to create reasonable doubt in the minds of the jury by pointing the finger elsewhere.

Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, let us start out by saying that we are completely innocent of the charges alleged against us by the obviously unstable and loony plaintiff in this matter. During the course of this trial, we will show that said plaintiff lives a crazy, nutty overscheduled life and is surrounded by people and circumstances that clearly are the culprits of said plaintiff’s excessive moodiness. We will provide witness upon witness who will testify that he or she has actually caused this plaintiff to become a certifiable nut case. And by the end, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, you will have no choice but to find us “not guilty” of these charges. And for your own safety, you may also want to ask the judge to commit this plaintiff to a mental institution for an indefinite period of time.

Your Honor, the Hormone Monsters (HM) call their first witness, the plaintiff’s son.

HM: Please state your age for the court.

Son: I’m 4.

HM: Have you done anything recently that you think may have upset your mommy?

Son: Well, last night I hit my sister. I wouldn’t stop playing Wii when my mommy asked me to. I cried a lot because I didn’t want to take a bath. I threw a temper tantrum because mommy was making me go to bed and I wanted to play Sandman Tower on the computer. I pulled the dog’s tail because I was really, really mad. Then after mommy tucked me in, I got out of bed and ate a whole bag of Skittles. My fingers got really sticky from holding the Skittles in my hand, but I wiped them off on my sheets, so I’m pretty sure my mommy doesn’t know I ate the candy. Then, I called for my mommy to come into my room in the middle of the night because I had an accident in my bed. Mommy took care of it, put me back to sleep in her bed because my daddy is out of town and then went downstairs to wash my sheets and my night-night. Then my mommy went back to sleep, but the smoke alarm went off because of a problem with the vent or something on the dryer and mommy had to find a broom and stand on a chair to bang the alarm down from the ceiling so that it would shut off, but that wasn’t my fault.

HM: Thank you, son. No further questions. We call our next witness, the plaintiff’s daughter. Please state your age for the court.

Daughter: I’m 8.

HM: Have you done anything recently that you think may have upset your mommy?

Daughter: No.

HM: Okay, can you think really hard about anything that may have happened recently that may have bothered your mom a little?

Daughter: Well, just that my little brother can be a poo-poo-dumb-head. But my mom never gets mad at him because she says he’s so cute and funny.

HM: Thank you. No further questions. We call our next witness, the plaintiff’s dog. Please state your name and age for the court.

Dog: My name is Sonoma and I am 8 months old.

HM: You’re with the plaintiff a lot. Have you witnessed anything recently that may have caused her to become upset?

Dog: Uh, maybe. First, I barked at the door because I had to go potty, but nobody opened the door so I peed on the floor. Then I was hungry so I chewed on the couch for a while. Then I had to have an operation so I wouldn’t have puppies. Turns out I also had an ear infection. I am home now, but, as you can see, I have a huge cone on my head so I can’t bite my stitches and my mom has to put 8 drops in my ear every day. I hate that so I make it very hard for her to get anywhere near my ear. It’s kind of fun. Then I heard her talking on the phone. She said she was at the doctor every day last week, but she’s fine now. She said that on the way to her doctor’s appointment she broke a tooth and had to go to the dentist. I think she was really unhappy about that because I heard her say that she would rather have a pap smear, a mammogram and a colonoscopy all in one day than go to the dentist. I also think she had an argument with my dad because all of the sudden I heard her say hello, hello, hello and then she hung up the phone. It appeared the person on the other end of the line was no longer there. Then I heard her say some pretty bad curse words. Then I followed her in the bathroom and saw her take out a kind of long skinny thing I think she called a tampon. Then I saw her take some Advil. Then she washed her face because she was sweating a lot, like she was really hot.

HM: Anything else?

Dog: Yes. Then I heard her say that she had to make an appointment with her gynecologist because the goddamn hormone monsters were making her crazy.

The jury found the hormone monsters guilty as charged. The jury further found the hormone monsters had to pay restitution in the form of sending plaintiff on an all-expense paid Crystal Cruise vacation including all spa services. The jury sentenced the hormone monsters to life in a girls’ sorority house where they can’t get anywhere near any pre-menepausal-40-year-old-women, without the possibility of parole.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Sex and Suburbia, Mongolia, Anyone?

Sex and Suburbia, Mongolia, Anyone?
By Julie Stankowski

Are there any reasonably priced hotel rooms in Mongolia? Or Madagascar? Or maybe on Mars? Yes, I think far away Mars would be the best choice. Because right now, I feel like I need to pack a little suitcase and get the heck out of dodge! A Calgon bath is just not going to cut it this time. Everyone’s bugging me. And I am quite sure I’m bugging everyone. And I think at this moment the world may be a happier place if I just shacked up by myself for a while on another planet (at least until my cycle passes).

I thought I had recovered from dealing with the “room,” but it seems I have not. I am still uptight, irritable and basically unpleasant all the way around. I don’t know, maybe I’m just becoming a crotchety old lady. Or maybe some kleptomaniac psycho patients stole my patience, but all I know is I have none (I thought I did, but apparently, I was delusional). Or maybe I’m just a non-meditating, non-yoga-going, overscheduled, PMS-y stressed-out bitch. Or maybe I’m just having a very bad reaction to the bathing suit allergy I have, knowing that in less than two weeks on Spring Break, I’ll have to wear one. And did I mention everyone is bugging me and I’m bugging everyone?

On that note, does any one know where to find the person who coined the phrase, “Don’t sweat the small stuff?” Do they have a course on some college campus somewhere that teaches you how to live by this motto? Because I’m sweating, man. I’m sweating like I’ve been living in a sauna. Soaking, dripping-wet-sweating. I know the Hormone Monsters are my roommates, but geeezzz! And sweat is gross and sticky and generally a people-repellant. I need to get rid of the sweat, or at least get some better deodorant to mask its odor. I wonder whether there are any products on the market that permanently remove neurotic women’s sweat glands. Because my people are being repelled by my excessive sweatiness and desperately need for me (and my Hormone Monster entourage) to be in a place where I am blocked from any and all types of communication. My people really, really need to be Julie-free for a few days. And I’m willing to give them what they need (I’m so considerate). I just hope I don’t die up there on Mars. Not sure if I know how to survive without Trader Joes, hot water, an actual toilet and wine.

Do you think maybe there’s a Four Seasons or a Ritz Carlton on Mars that we just don’t know about yet? Like a hidden oasis that aliens keep to themselves in order to avoid the company of crazy American moms. Well, probably not. For the sake of my family though, I should go. But I will only go if I can somehow know for sure that I will come back alive and if I can somehow manage to get there using George Jetson’s sky car (or whatever it is he floats around in). That would be cool.

And here’s how my loved ones would benefit:

For my husband, he would not have to deal with my moodiness, my nagging or my blogging and what he sometimes considers to be insulting depictions of him (even though I totally love him and don’t ever mean to offend him). For my children, they would not have to take baths, brush their teeth, eat their vegetables or do homework. Mean mommy would not be here to make sure they refrain from beating each other up. They could eat chocolate cake for breakfast, wear shorts and flip-flops to school in the rain and play Wii Fit until 3:00 a.m. They could fight to the point where they have blood spurting out their little bodies, but at least they wouldn’t hear mommy yelling at them! What fun! For my friends, they wouldn’t have to deal with my bitching and complaining. For my puppy, well hey, she could just chew the whole house apart and have a big-old-pee-fest and not be sent to the dog house. Yippee! And for all of the wine lovers in Ventura County, the shelves would be fully stocked since I’d be gone. Like I said, I think everyone would be happy if I vacationed on Mars for a little while.

And for me, well, I am obviously tired, cranky and hormonal. A little alone time may do me good. And bonus, I wouldn’t have to shave me legs! And hopefully, the Hormone Monsters are too stupid to find a way to get to Mars and I could get a much-needed break from those yucky, yucky meanies. And I could spend all of my time trying to invent some sort of something to keep women from sweating (the small stuff and the big stuff). Because sweating is not okay: for you, your husband or your kids, unless you’re in the middle of a work-out session with your hotter-than-hot personal trainer.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Sex and Suburbia, The Room

Sex and Suburbia, The Room
By Julie Stankowski

Am I the only one who has the “Room?” You know, the one that you can barely walk into, that’s full of junk and crap and tootsie roll wrappers and popcorn remnants behind the couch. The one you throw all of your stuff into when company is coming over and then just keep the door shut and pray nobody opens it. The one that has boxes of paperwork that have been sitting there since 1990 and you are afraid to even look at. The one that has 517 Ziploc baggies with different pieces to different kids’ games, but nothing goes together. The one that has the old TV that’s as big as the fat lady who sings. I hate that room! It gives me anxiety, angina and angst all at the same time.

I must clean up the “room.” I can no longer live with it. But the thought of tackling this project is so overwhelming that every time I even contemplate it, I think I need to hit the booze instead. How could this possibly have happened? How could I have let this small space become so out of control? Is it a metaphor for my life? Messy cluttered room, messy cluttered head? Can’t be. My life is good! So the “room” should reflect that, right? But where do I begin? And how do I begin without feeling like I’m going to throw-up? Maybe I should put on a suit of armor and pretend like I am on the attack and Not-No-One-Not-Nothing will stop me because I will be protected by impenetrable steel. Okay, that’s ridiculous.

But now that I’m 40, I’ve decided it’s time I grow up and start living like a responsible adult. That means that regardless of my extreme trepidation not only about what I will find in the “room,” but also about what I will do with all of the crap in the “room,” I nevertheless must deal with the “room.” I wish I could say it’s the last remnant of my forever childlike habits, but it’s not. I still throw my clothes on the floor, hit the snooze button 7 times and wake up at the last possible second to still have enough time to get ready and get out the door, buy birthday party presents an hour before the actual party, pout like my 4-year-old when I’m upset and, I still sometimes eat cereal for dinner. I procrastinate, I’ve been known to whine from time to time, I indulge myself with too much ice cream for a little person and I still occasionally change my outfit 15 times before I feel like I look good enough to leave the house. I think I still have about 1 million childlike habits. But I can only deal with one at a time. Today (and probably for 10 hours a day for the next two weeks) I will deal with the “room.”

I feel like I need some sort of stretching, strengthening or exercise routine before I cross through the doorway to hell and begin the long, tedious journey of turning the “room” into heaven instead of hell. I hate exercise, though, so that won’t work. Instead, I’ll have a glass of wine, put on a Natasha Bedingfield CD and just dive in. I’m scared . . .

Okay, I have been in the “room” for two weeks, I am still alive and kicking and I have managed to avoid having a nervous breakdown! Hooray for me! And hooray for whoever it was that first came up with the concept of smushing grapes and fermenting them into big barrels of wine. If not for that person, I may not be here to finish this epic story about the “room.” In fact, the next time I have to tackle some project that makes my stomach do somersaults, I will first buy stock in Robert Mondavi.

So it wasn’t easy, but I now have an almost bare room in which to create the fantasy playroom I always imagined for my kids. Getting to this point almost caused my husband (and my kids) to divorce me because of my absolute sour mood that lasted the entire two weeks of sorting, tossing and donating. I was mad at everyone (including myself) and everything for creating this monster of a space. Question: am I the only stupid person who, for the last 41/2 years, has continued to employ a nanny who is so lazy that instead of putting toys away in their proper places, dumps everything into red plastic cups from Costco, shoves the cups in a corner and then somehow thinks that leaving a room full of 87 red cups was actually doing her job? Finding all of these red cups made me see red and I was ready to kill her. This murderous feeling became even more intense when I had to start searching the house for the probable existence of additional red cups undoubtedly containing the missing cube from “Don’t Break the Ice,” the missing person from “Candyland,” the missing pieces to “Connect Four,” and the little white balls for the “Hungry Hippo” game. What was she thinking? I could not get one whole game together with all of its parts until I looked through the entire house! Put the contents of 6 red cups together and voila, you have a complete game. Wouldn’t you have wanted to kill someone? Especially someone you pay to help keep your house tidy? Are you getting the picture of why I needed my new best friend around, Robert Mondavi?

And then there was the issue of my husband (love him dearly, but . . . ). As I have mentioned before, I do not think the man has thrown anything away since he made enough money to purchase it in the first place. What is up with that? It drives me crazy (okay, I know there are probably 10 million things about me that drive him crazy, but if he wants to complain about it, he’ll have to start his own blog!). And even though I was single-handedly taking on the monumental task of dealing with the “room,” you would not believe what my husband said to me, “Honey, the only thing I ask is that you don’t throw anything away before showing it to me.” Are you frickin’ kidding me? Oh yeah, I’m just gonna lay all the crap out all around the house so when you happen to get a minute, you can give me the okay to throw away the empty Wii box, the 10-year-old $2.00 mouse pad coming apart at the seams and the 1992 issue of Fantasy Baseball magazine. Not. How am I supposed to do this with my husband, the hoarder? Not to mention an 8-year-old and a 4-year-old who are completely unwilling to part with any of their things. “It’s special to me,” they say. “How is a Goddamn toilet paper roll special,” I think to myself, but don’t say out loud.

So that’s when I decided that I had to do most of the work in the “room” when my kids were in school and my husband was at work. What’s the saying, “What you don’t know won’t hurt you?” That became my little motto in my head and during the day, I threw away and donated like there was no tomorrow. I saved a few things here and there to show my husband for approval before they got trashed, just so he wouldn’t think I was actually doing what I was doing and sneaking everything out of the house. Task accomplished.

Next obstacle. Obtaining storage-type furniture to house the toys, art supplies, DVDs, books etc. Also must buy a new TV that is thinner than the big fat lady TV. No big deal. That’s what Ikea and Costco were created for, right? Wrong, according to my husband. He doesn’t want “cheap” stuff. Okay, shall I go to the Pacific Design Center and spend $10,000 for a kids’ room cabinet? I think not. And if I waited for my husband to shop around for cabinets and TVs, it would be 2010 before the “room” would actually be useable.

So again, devious girl that I am, I decided to buy the furniture, buy the TV and have everything installed and looking like a fabulously rich play room before my husband got home from work. Because the fact of the matter is, when he sees a finished product I managed to put together in the house, he actually likes it! But, oh my God, all of this sneaky-get-it-done-surprise-the-husband-and-not-wait-4-weeks-for-him-to-find-the-best-TV-for-the-best-price stuff can literally put me over the edge. It’s quite a task. And stresses me out to no end. And if people thought I was bitchy for the past two weeks, on this particular day, people would have thought I needed to drink an entire bottle of smushed grapes, ingest an entire bottle of Ativan and eat an entire pint of coffee Haagen-Dazs in order to calm down and let go of the complete raw nerve and crankmeister I had become.

Well, I’m happy to report that today, I have an awesome, neatly organized, very cute and totally functional playroom. The whole family is happy, including my husband! And I am no longer a raging lunatic mom with no patience. And I managed to avoid becoming a devil in the hell “room.” But I do feel like I need a vacation and three full days of sleep. So, I will go put on my PJs, throw my clothes on the floor, have a bowl of cereal for dinner and watch the Real Housewives on Tivo with my new BFF, Robert. At least I know my kids will be happily entertained in the heavenly playroom, where any and all red cups and any and all sizes of Ziploc baggies have been banned. And at least I can be proud of myself for growing up a little. I just hope I’m not 80 before I have enough energy again to deal with the other 999 childlike behaviors I still exhibit.