I don’t know what to say about this except maybe it’s a drug reaction.

I sat in my room at my desk this morning, and I tried to write to you but my brain was having none of it, so now we’re sitting outside in the sun in my backyard with its overgrown grass and fall breeze and a squirrel up in the Hawthorne tree high-grading the best red berries and teasing Zoey who wants simultaneously to be the squirrel’s BFF and commit squirrelcide. I feel like our Zoey dog is simply channeling what it means to be friends and family; I love you to the moon! and also I want to rip you in two and scatter tiny pieces of your flesh all over the lawn. I love you! I hate you! Both/And, friends; Both/And. As for the squirrel, she seems content to chitter at us from the tree top, eating half of each berry before spitting the rest on the ground. I’m pretty sure she learned to eat from my children.

I did something very out of character this weekend. Or maybe in character, but it would be the character I had before I had kids, and, honestly, I don’t remember that character very well, so it’s probably safe to stick with out of character.

img_1565I cleaned.

And organized.

And cleaned.

And organized.

And cleaned.

I think I’m having a personal crisis.

Or a drug reaction.

Or a mental break with reality.

I can’t think of anything else to explain this behaviour.

I mean, I’m VERY organized at work. Meticulous, actually. Annoyingly detailed. And I’m VERY unorganized at home. This way, there is balance in the universe and I don’t open a black hole or rip the space-time continuum or teach my children I can be trusted to remember their schedules. I am thinking of others, in other words, and teaching my children the life skill of managing their own time. Win/win, I say. Win/win.

But lately, I’ve been frenetically cleaning at home. And taking on projects at a totally unsustainable rate. And thinking thoughts like, “Maybe I CAN learn to keep things clean! Maybe I’m turning over a new leaf! Maybe someday my bathroom will smell like NOTHING instead of like Pee Invited All His Friends Over for a Rave.” <– These are undoubtedly LIES, friends. These are my brain on the campaign trail making promises it will never, ever be able to get through congress.

Still, my brain keeps telling me pretty, pretty things. Like that I can learn from my own history and change and not want to gouge out my own eyeballs when I walk into my dumpster fire of a living room and then spend the evening hiding in my bathtub which is decorated with decapitated Barbies, matchbox cars, and used socks. My brain is selling me the dream right now, and I am the fool who’s buying it.

But learning from history. Right?? Aren’t we suppose to learn from history so we can have pretty homes?

I think we’re technically supposed to learn from history so we’re not doomed to repeat it, but I’m not sure that’s a real thing, anyway. If this U.S. election is any indication, we may be destined to repeat history anyway, even if some of us have learned from it. You know why? Because of other people, that’s why. SOME of us can learn from history and clean out our cabinets and organize them beautifully, but then the OTHER people in the house will come along and shove a half-eaten candy bar, a pair of pliers, a Bandaid box the dog chewed on, two Lego people, an ice cube, and a half-dozen broken crayons in there, and pretty soon it’s another junk cabinet. History, repeating! I’m beginning to suspect the real reason we need to learn from history is so we can hunker down, knowing the damage is coming.

In conclusion, I believe I have ruined myself by buying Betty and thinking I can live the kind of elitist lifestyle where I not longer have to start my stove with an ice pick. I failed to recognize it, but I was at the top of a Slippery Slope, and I’m sliding down the hill now at an alarming rate. I have no idea where this is going to end, but I recently purchased Goo Gone and Magic Erasers, and I know where the Soft Scrub with Bleach is, so there’s no telling. No telling, friends.

You can pray for us.

With love,






P.S. Don’t worry about us too much. Greg’s “shop” still looks like this:


When I casually mentioned it’s impossible to walk through his shop area in a straight line without tripping on stuff and dying from a broken neck (because doing one weekend of cleaning has given me the right to be self-righteous and judgmental about Greg’s lack of cleaning, and, no, the fact that I’ve kept you busy building me shelves and crap does NOT excuse you for not magically ALSO cleaning your shop at the same time, GREG), Greg said you can, too, walk through the shop in a straight line. “You just have to step really high OVER things,” he said. Which… is a reasonable point and how I intend to justify the totally scalable mountains of laundry from now on.

P.P.S. I’ve done a TERRIBLE job of letting you know about the three retreats we have coming up — two Magic in the Mess writing retreats (January and May 2017) and one spiritual formation Grace and Grime retreat (November! TWO Months away). Despite me, the retreats are filling up; I would love (LOVE) to hang out with you in one of my favorite spots on earth so do check them out if you’d like to come, and email me if you have any questions. Click here for the Magic in the Mess Writing Retreat 101, here for the Magic in the Mess Writing Retreat 202, and here for the Grace and the Grime Spiritual Formation Retreat. These are my favorite! And you can read on those pages what previous participants have to say.

P.P.P.S. I recently discovered my friend Melissa keeps a House Notebook wherein she records things like what kind of paint she used in which rooms and all the paint details — store, brand, finish, pigment info, what kind of toothpaste it uses — so she can buy more of that paint. A HOUSE NOTEBOOK, you guys. PEOPLE HAVE THESE THINGS. I am afraid THIS is what may be at the bottom of the Slippery Slope. House Notebooks with paint information and no enormous, rusting, dried-up pile of dead paint cans in the garage with no discernible way to ever figure out exactly which paint was used for what so we have to start over from scratch and duplicate our efforts every time. Is it? Is this what’s at the bottom of the Slippery Slope??


Don’t miss a post. Subscribe here

11 responses to “I don’t know what to say about this except maybe it’s a drug reaction.”

  1. I, for one, appreciate you making sure there is balance in the universe.

    Seriously, thank you for writing, and please never stop. You ALWAYS put a smile on my face and make me feel like I can survive this mothering thing without totally losing who I am.

  2. I thought nesting right of the bat. And you ARE nesting. You are giving birth to a brand new kitchen with a brand new stove. You are nesting. It will pass. 🙂

  3. Not to be a parade rainer, but is there any chance this is mania resulting from anti-depressants? I wish you well and hope that it’s just an odd cleaning spree. I, too, am hugely organized at work while my home looks as though a disgusting tornado swept through it (and I live by myself!).

    • DRUG REACTION. Totally possible. I mean, I’ve been on the same anti-depressant for several years, and I’m not given much to mania… I’m more of a depressive/neutral/ragey/bitchy/no-feelings-at-all sort of mentally ill person, which my family thinks is GREAT… but brain chemistry changes (part of the ongoing gift of mental illness), so yes. Altogether possible. I think I’ll ride this wave ’til the impulse to clean stops. It’ll likely be in 12 minutes. 😉

  4. Beth, how are the rest of us supposed to live up to this? You’ve gone from peeing in your shoe to eliminating all evidence that men use your bathroom. A notebook? Like a WHOLE notebook?! I need a new bathroom vanity counter and forgot the scrap of paper I wrote the measurements on when I went to the store to look for a new one. Then couldn’t even find the paper when I came home.

    I need to go breathe into a paper bag now. Meantime, I’ll hope for the allergic reaction theory and wait for it to clear up.

    Jen T

    • “Beth, how are the rest of us supposed to live up to this?”

      ^^^ THIS! ^^^



      God bless you, Jen.

      I’ll be back wallowing in filth and squalor any minute now. ‘Til then, thanks for letting me live the dream.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.