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.


Anonymous said...

you are so funny!How come you don't take after you"re parents?

Anonymous said...

I loved it! I really feel your emotion when i'm reading it. The Room...don't we all have one or something like it. I can relate...I love your blogs!

friend who witnessed it all said...

One last piece of the puzzle, Ms. S... fire the nanny! :-)

Anonymous said...


Your new blog is hysterical. I forwarded it to a zillion people. Seriously, I laughed so hard I cried.


Anonymous said...

cute, cute, cute, you should become an author and make some money......on your clever writings....R

Anonymous said...

Hi Julie:

I took a few minutes to read some of the stories in your blog (in between putting laundry away and working) and they are hysterical! I cannot believe how much of what you write is totally my life! It is so nice to know that I’m not the only one with those thoughts and experiences. I can’t wait to share your site with other Moms I know.

Thanks for the few moments of entertainment. I can’t wait to read more…

Talk to you soon.


CBW said...

OMG - I felt every bit of your pain with "the room" and I am SO jealous that you've conquered yours. Also, I had no idea that we were married to the same man! What is it with the hoarding? I swear, if I have to look at one more concert t-shirt from 1978, my head will explode.