Saturday, January 29, 2011

The Elephant in the Room

You Calling Me Fat?

OK, I realize this picture looks like I am standing with the "after" in my "before and after" picture, but in fairness I am about 10 months pregnant in this photo (I'm the one on the left). The other cute girl in this photo is my friend Stephanie (she's on the right) and even when I am not pregnant I call her "Skinny me". We are different sizes - but not so different that we can't be friends. Not so different that we violate the unwritten, unspoken, Sacred Size Rule about girl friendships: "Thou shalt not fraternize with anyone who is either much fatter or much skinnier than thou's own self."

There you go, I said it. We all know it, and yet nobody says it (until now). I know you're trying to think of exceptions to the Sacred Size Rule, and, of course, there are many - but this commandment echoes in our heads whenever we meet new people who could potentially become our friends. We either think "She is out of my league, she is so fit and perfect she will not want to hang out with me" or "Whoa - I will make polite conversation, but I don't want any part of this 'go directly to heart attack' scene." Or, if the stars are properly aligned and all is right in the universe, you may meet someone and think "Ahhh....this is nice. We could share clothes and go out for frozen yogurt after our Weight Watchers meeting."

Sometimes you can hear people almost admitting the rule exists. They'll say things like "I can't be friends with that skinny bitch 'Oh, I'll have a lemon slice and an ice cube - I'm starving after that 10 mile run!'" or "I walked into the Mom meetup group and I swear it was an audition room for The Biggest Loser - I ran out just in case it was contagious!" or "If the only time you have ever weighed over 150 lbs. was when you were pregnant, we don't want to hang out with you. If your thighs don't touch when you stand with your feet together, we don't want to hang out with you. If you're one of those people who just can't gain weight no matter what you eat, we don't want to hang out with you." These are actual quotes from real women. Really. Not kidding. The Sacred Size Rule exists. The rule clearly directs our behavior, but we can't bring ourselves to admit that it is an actual rule.

When it comes to size and the rules we play by, I'm a double agent. I can work both sides of the fat/skinny fence. When I am not pregnant or about to get pregnant, or just after a pregnancy (if I can remember) I am about a size 10-12. For those of you who don't have an official play book, size twelve is considered "the dark side" . Being a 12 and up lets you into a secret society of substantial women who, unapologetically, get doughnuts with their coffee; order The Firm online and then sell it, unopened, in a yard sale two years later; and spend a lot of time talking about the problems of all the 'skinny bitches' they know. Being smaller than a size 12 gains you access into another secret society of more traditionally cast women who, unapologetically, wear bikinis at the beach; secretly go on "cleansing diets" every few months, which can vary from a week of Slimfast and colon cleansers to a 3-day crystal meth trip to keep their weight in check; and spend a lot of time planning shopping trips and nights out to look their hottest and collectively turn heads. And I go both ways. Being on the verge of The Dark Side gives me access to both groups and I like it that way.

We all know people who have gone up or down 10 sizes and had to shift their social structure because their old ways and old friends were no longer compatible with their new stature. It happens. It makes sense. You do things with your friends. Things like Zumba or touring state fairs to find the best fried dough (I'm hearing good things about North Carolina). Can your friends make you fat? Sure, a little bit. They can also make you thinner. Ultimately who you are and how you are in the world is entirely up to you, but your friends certainly have influence. Of course you gravitate to people you share things with, be it common interests or BMIs. I am just saying it is time we all admitted it.

The Sacred Size Rule was addressed in the short lived sitcom Samantha Who? When Samantha (Christina Applegate) becomes accidental friends with Dena (Melissa McCarthy) and they cross the chasm. There is a difference of 10 or more sizes between Samantha and Dena and it is something that immediately strikes us as odd. We are not sure why it is wrong, because the Rule is a silent subconscious one - but we know it feels wrong. Samantha's skinny friend frequently suggests that Dena doesn't belong with them, a like-sized duo who built their friendship on exploiting the benefits of being hot. We learn Samantha had never given her super-sized friend the time of day before entering into a life-threatening coma, and that Dena stayed by her side faithfully until she came to. Samantha guilts herself into being friends with the fat girl, who is portrayed as needy and subservient to her more conventionally-sized friend. While the inception of this story is somewhat dubious, the tale is a groundbreaking one of epic bravery - two women unafraid to close that age-old divide between fat and skinny, brazenly claiming a true friendship amongst people who clearly cannot shop in the same store.

I understand that talking about women and weight makes everyone a little nervous. Anyone who is a woman or loves one knows that one wrong comment can throw a girl into a downward spiral where she spends months wearing over-sized kaftans and refusing to be photographed from the neck down. I often kid my husband "Are you calling me FAT?!?!" I say this in response to the most benign things; "Karen happens to be on the board and is a member at large." I say it when he says the sweet things like "Karen is everything I want in a woman and so much more." And I say it when he says the most random things like "Karen, can you pass the garbanzo beans?" I love this response. One, because it is funny; and two, because everyone around becomes incredibly uncomfortable. When people think a husband has just called his wife the F-word, they start to sweat and check the exits. I also love the way it takes all the power out of the imagined insinuation. Putting it out there shows the ridiculous nature of the whole thing. So what if he is calling me fat? In fact, my husband often answers by saying "No, I am not calling you fat- my fatty fatty bobalatty." At this, folks begin to back away and dial 9-1 on their cell phones, waiting for the inevitable flying knives before dialing the last 1.

It makes us laugh every time.

Here's Stephanie (skinny me) again with my friend Jillian in the middle, and me at only three-months pregnant. I am currently 6 months postpartum and these two keep doing Yoga - so basically I am a Quarter Pounder with cheese and a date with Ben & Jerry away from having to sever our relationship.

So, it is time we all owned up to it. We judge each other based on size and create ludicrous barriers that get in the way of creating genuine quality relationships with all kinds of women with all kinds of stories. We do it and it is total BS.

I have a dream that one day in the shopping malls of America, the fatties and the skinny bitches will be able to sit down together in the food court and eat at the table of sisterhood, where they will not be judged by the index of their body mass but by the content of their character.*

*With apologies to the honorable and heroic Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Who was kind of a fatty.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

My Dirty Little Secret


First, a confession: I have the same dirty little secrets most women have. I suck-in my tummy when someone’s taking a picture. I totally want to be on The View. I cry when I can’t flirt my way out of a ticket. And, although I recognize that Taylor Lautner of the Twilight movies is only 18 years old and any feelings I may have for him of a physical nature are almost entirely inappropriate, my head has apparently neglected to inform my body of that fact. But there is one dirty little secret - something I do in the grocery store, discreetly checking to make sure no one is looking, going to a different cashier every time so as not to be recognized, casually slipping it under some produce so my kids don’t see it –

I pick up a few embarrassing magazines.

I’m not talking about the Cosmo which I openly admit I have a subscription to (so I can point out their rookie sex tips and mock the relationship advice). I am not talking about the Us and People magazines so many of us covet in the lobby of Jiffy Lube or trade like baseball cards at the playground. These are magazines we carry with pride; after all we need to know what celebrity marriages are in trouble and who is secretly dying of what. And I am not even talking about the World Weekly or National Enquirer that I could read with a tongue-in-cheek irony that could still permit me to be perceived as an intellectual.

No, I am talking about the “Good First Woman’s Style Day World Housekeeping Weekly” magazines made from paper that has been recycled so many times it will never again know the splendor of its glossy glory days. I am talking about magazines that say things like “God Bless America” at the top and contain weekly segments like “Cute Photos”, “Kids are Funny!” and “Boy was my Face Red!” I am not proud of it, but I can’t help myself from scooping up these magazines and devouring them in the privacy of my own home, never speaking of the revolutionary findings within its pages to anyone lest I be considered someone who openly reads magazines featuring stories of love found, miracles in abundance, and angels watching over us all.

The headlines about slimming down, toning up, increasing energy, decreasing stress, increasing energy; how this issue’s super food will cure diabetes, anxiety, wrinkles & rigid fingernails; finding my best jeans, shoes, eyeliner, hair cut, and suitcase so I can finally stop living the lie and become the me I was meant to be – it all just gets me every time. I love reading the step-by-step guide to the tummy tucking, toxin releasing, stamina building, skin clearing, sex-life enhancing, metabolism boosting, teeth whitening, eye clarifying, lip plumping, walking, sitting, losing-weight-in-your-sleep diet plan that always appears in the first 20 pages of these magazines. I then love flipping a few pages to salivate over the cheesy pasta recipes and chocolate indulgence dessert ideas seemingly meant to undo everything I did 10 pages before. This somehow makes me really happy (damn you cheesy goodness!!!). The prospect of being able to change everything I have ever known to be true with a super-charged soup is so appealing to me. J Featured crafts like a happiness bouquet and a gratitude quilt may seem corny, but you can’t hate on the suburban goddesses of these magazines for spreading a little joy with ribbon and glue guns.

When my dirty little secrets do feature celebrities, I love that too. There seems to be a homey spin on these ladies that brings back humanity when fame has taken it away. I love that former Playmate and Hugh Heffner girlfriend Kendra Wilson is setting up house and singing to her baby, the ridiculous juxtaposition reminds me that all things are possible and even skanky Playmates like freshly-baked cookies and colorful baskets for organizing. I also love the celebrity style features. I need to know who wore their Oscar De La Renta mini-dress best. My even dirtier little secret is that I almost always believe I would look better in it than both Hale Berry and Natalie Portman. I may be delusional, but Who Wore it Best is my favorite fashion feature. When these sweet morsels of delicious journalism cover the rich and famous, they emphasize the positive things like those we would want for our daughters – engagements, babies, new homes, and new love. When misfortunes like cheating husbands and ugly divorces make an appearance, the articles focus on the strength these women find in friends, family, and shopping. Camille Grammar exercises away stress, while pictures of her keying Kelsey’s car are nowhere to be found. (Full disclosure – I have no idea if Camille actually keyed Kelsey’s car, but I know I would, seriously, like I would write our wedding vows on his Porsche – several layers into the paint, until I hit the steel frame below. Take note, Kelsey). Regardless, we are more likely to see Lindsey Lohan grabbing a latte than face down in her own vomit. And I think that is so sweet.

So why am I so attracted by and ashamed of these magazines? Well, if I am honest with myself, I suppose I would have to admit that as much as I like to consider myself a smart, strong woman with the ability to light the world on fire with innovation and wit, the fact is I am a house wife, and these are my trade magazines. I don’t feel the same humiliation when I read parenting magazines because I am proud of my role as a Mom and confident in the honor associated with this position. But reading about keeping a happy, healthy home with an upbeat attitude and learning how to look my best for my husband gives me the socially regressive night sweats. I fear I must choose between being an independent force or a homemaker. But this notion is, of course, ridiculous. We can be both. Someone able to make a home is someone worthy of respect. This is a valuable and elusive goal, and achieving success brings immeasurable happiness into the world with a ripple effect that reaches far and changes the lives of many. Homemaker is a profession for smart, strong women with the ability to light the world on fire. And there is no shame in indulging in a little celebrity inspiration or super-charged soup along the way.

So, I am letting go of the shame I have been carrying around and will buy these magazines in broad daylight. I’ll keep the dark glasses for buying porn.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

A little neglect goes a long way.


I have a lot of kids. That is, a lot by most people's standards - not by long skirt wearing, science averse, Dugger types - but still more than most people can fathom, or should ever have to, really. I have squeezed four children from my own body, and have been lucky enough to get three more bonus kids as part of my sign-on marriage package. I love all these kids fiercely and there is nothing I will not do for them. Except write book reports for them; I won't do that. Or get one of those grocery cart covers for the babies so they never have to touch the cart - that seems a bit ridiculous. Oh, and their laundry after the age of seven - what am I, a hand maiden? Truth is, there are a lot of things that I know are expected of me as a Mom, things I simply refuse to do. One might speculate that when you have seven children, those little motherly loving touches may fall by the wayside. This speculation would be absolutely correct, but it is more than that. I happen to think there is value in encouraging kids to just suck it up a bit. Just a bit, mind you. I am not talking about really making them travel to rural India for a summer to try to survive solely to build perspective, though I often fantasize about it. But I am talking about backing off a bit and seeing how they make a tough situation work. I am talking about taking some time for myself and for my husband without feeling like the kids will turn into tiny pillars of salt without my constant supervision. I am talking about letting them experience a natural consequence once in a while. If you don't do your book report yourself, you are going to get an F. If you refuse to put your boots on, you will have to walk to the car in the snow with bare feet. And, I flat out refuse to pay for cavities to be filled for a child who has failed to brush their teeth. Believe me, it only takes one experience with super cold feet after walking through the snow to see considerably more cooperation when it comes to putting on boots. In fact, my son kept his boots on for three years straight after that particular incident. A little neglect goes a long way.

I think this philosophy may be hereditary. I have a sister who actually becomes enraged at the mere thought of wipe warmers for babies. "FOR THE LOVE OF GOD" She will scream while tearing out small clumps of her own hair "SOMETIMES WIPES ARE COLD - PONY UP AND GET YOUR ASS WIPED!" She will even use this phenomenon as an adjective "She was a real wipe warmer mother, so I knew she would be horrified that I gave my toddler a king sized bag of M&Ms just so I could finish my phone call." And although I recognize my sister's intense and unfulfilled need for Zoloft, I am with her. Really, wipe warmers? Seriously, the $25 dollars you spend on a wipe warmer could have been a micro-loan for a small Peruvian farm which could turn around the economic structure of an entire village, and you want to use the money to keep constant heat on a stack of pre-moistened butt wipes - which are already a convenience product? Wow. If you are that concerned that your baby will develop coldassicus syndrome or whatever, hold the wipe in your hand a moment to bring it to your body temperature, come on, it is really not that hard. I come by this attitude honestly because I think we place value in that which we invest. When I went to my Mom with a problem she would listen intently with her cigarette and coffee in hand and say "Huh. That sucks. What are you going to do about that?" Thanks Mom. Mom was not a woman overflowing with obvious compassion, but in the end I usually just asked myself "What am I going to do about that?" and then figure out what to do. On my own. There is genuine worth in that and I am thankful everyday for a Mom who gave me space to fall hard and then pick myself up.

I am the mother who is often the subject of scorn. Don't argue with me. Seriously. Is anyone out there arguing with me? Well please stop it if you are. I know it is true. Moms are always coming up and saying "Is that your son 60 feet up in the tree? You know he could fall." Yes, I realize he could fall; I am lenient - not delusional. Or "You know your toddler is lying of the floor where people have walked." Again, very well aware that people walk on floors. Thank you. Also aware that people have existed for thousands of years in less-than-sterile conditions and yet the human race manages to survive and even thrive. I can't tell you how many times strangers have freaked out seeing a small child, apparently "lost" (uh, yes, I'm speaking of one of mine) and picked them up, frantically looking for proper authorities. Meanwhile I'm running to stop them before Social Services gets all over my case, as I realize it is only a matter of time. Inevitable. See photo above. In situations like these I am always watching the small child, just not standing so close that it actually appears as if I am the child's puppeteer. I am letting the kid discover their own little piece of the world. There is value in this.
 
Sometimes my daughter wears a Snow White dress every day for three months and sometimes dinner is popcorn and peanut butter on apples, but there is more than one right way to raise a child. In our house we often make up sophomoric lyric parodies, and I am comfortable with my children declaring their atheism and expressing controversial opinions in colorful language. This is not to say we live without boundaries. Not at all. In our house you need to be respectful of other people, pick up what you drop, contribute to the home and family, and take care of yourself. And may God (or lack thereof) help you if you bring food anywhere outside of the kitchen.
 
The "R" Us franchise will probably never become a sponsor of this blog, but I don't actually buy most things you allegedly "need" to raise healthy babies and children. It goes with out saying that I don't buy wipe warmers, as I am sure my sister would literally rip out my ovaries if she ever found one in my home - but I also would never buy things like a sleep positioner. This is a wedge you use to have your baby sleep ever so slightly on its side - it is a real thing and you can buy one. If you find yourself in need of something to prop your sleeping baby up, use one of the boatload of stuffed animals you acquire the moment sperm hits the egg. And you know those baby food processors, mills, and grinders you use to make baby food? I call mine a fork. All these kids and I have no idea what a layette is. I also don't buy toys for my kids. They have some, from birthdays, Christmases, and and the occasional friend who takes pity and drops by with hand me downs - but I just know that secret Geoffry the giraffe guards with his life - kids don't really play with toys. I mean, they like the IDEA of toys, and they play with them for a while, but they are just as happy playing with real things like utensils from the kitchen and building with books and cups. If you visit our house you are very likely to find the baby happily sitting on the floor playing with a Tylenol rattle and a roll of duct tape. Besides, living without toys makes it all that much more fun to visit an office waiting room or the children's area at the library. It also makes it unnecessary for me to hold yard sales every few years.
 
Years ago, when I had only two children, I visited my Zolaft-deficient sister at her beach house with my three-week-old baby and my four-year-old, "Boots" who actually wore his winter boots to the beach that day. My sister's in laws joined us on the beach, bringing their two-year-old for his first beach outing. Their family brought a tent, a video camera, a regular camera, a large bag of clothes and towels, another large bag of sand toys and sun screen. We're talking about enough beach ground coverings to erect a tent/towel city on the beach with at least one red wagon full of provisions. I brought my stroller, a baby blanket, sunblock, and my kids. I proceeded to let Boots play in the sand while I took the newborn in her basket car seat and set her down in the sand, a blanket protected her from the sun. I then turned my stroller/beach chair to watch the most entertaining thing on the beach - our companions with the two year old unpack. The tent itself was a marvel of engineering that took two parents, fifteen poles and forty-five minutes. Watching them set up and then have to cover their son with lotion, a sun suit and one of those hats with the long, floppy ears was hard work. Boots was getting hungry and needed a snack. I told him that I was sure he had some Cheese-Its under his seat in the car. Nabisco probably won't be sponsoring this blog either. Lucky for Boots, the mobile snack bar that came with us in the red wagon was open, and Boots was able to choose from several varieties of child-appropriate lovingly-prepared foods, while the whole process was recorded on no less than two forms of media. I watched all this unfold from my reclined stroller and thought "Impressive." At one point, the two year old's Mom said to me "Your daughter has been under that blanket a while, is she OK?" I scootched down in the stroller so my foot could reach over to her car seat basket and gave it a kick. My baby startled and I turned and said "Yup, she is fine." And she was.
 
It turns out that duct tape has other uses later on in life. Here's the newborn, eight years later:
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
She's still fine.
 
More from Karen:
FiveSteps
Five Easy Steps to Misery and Unhappiness
ShowMeYourAwesome
Show Me Your Awesome!
Kick
Kick in the Aspergers

Friday, January 7, 2011

Be a Princess



I read a Facebook status the other day that said "Thank you Disney for the unrealistic expectations about love. I am still waiting for my Prince Charming." As I read that I thought "Huh. That is a little bitter. Sleeping Beauty has never updated her Facebook status using that tone, and I am pretty sure Belle never tweeted with such sarcasm. Look honey, if you really want to get yourself a piece of Prince Charming tail, maybe you should be more like a princess. I know I may lose some points off my "Are you a real feminist?" score on the Facebook quiz, but I think women would serve themselves well to follow the Disney princess role model." Before you set your bras alight, ladies, read on.

Last night I took my eight-year-old daughter to see Tangled. I make no apologies about seeing and liking Disney princess movies, or exposing my daughter to these modern day icons who people often associate with passive, entitled girls who sit around waiting to be rescued. Come on people - are you even watching these movies? These princesses kick some serious ass. Far from waiting around to be saved, these princesses are often saving the lives of their love interests. Eric would have drowned without Ariel, John Smith would have been killed if Pocahontas had not advocated in his behalf, and it was Rapunzel who used her head (and the hair on it) to get both herself and her man out of a seemingly deadly situation. These princesses prove themselves at every turn - so why all the weak woman P.R.? These girls are taking their destiny into their own hands, maybe it is time that we take a cue from them and stop waiting for something to happen.

"Waiting around for Prince Charming to come" is actually not what the Disney Princesses do. Sure, they may wistfully think of their perfect man and think about the day when their prince will come - but that seems like a reasonable, non-gender-specific goal (though I am waiting for Disney's first lesbian princess who really bucks the system and gives 1 in 10 little girls someone to identify with). But, these ladies are not simply waiting around. They are educating themselves as Belle does by reading and Pocahontas does by being a student of nature. They are working three jobs to make their dreams come true like Tatiana, the Frog Princess. They are working day and night taking care of a household without complaining, like Cinderella and Snow White. And, from the size of their impossibly small waists, they must all be doing a LOT of pilates. But, waiting around? No, not at all. Rapunzel charts stars in her spare time and Jasmine friends a tiger, for the love of God. These women are busy. It seems to me that before women who are looking for love complain about Prince Charming not showing up, they should think about what they themselves are doing. Are they living out their dreams? Are they standing up for what they feel is right? Are they the person they want to be? If you want someone like Prince Charming - are you someone who could be an equal partner to such a person? Besides, I know the idea of waiting around for the perfect man to show up on a horse as whisk us away is supposed to be something strong women frown on - but, can someone please explain why that is again?

Whining, complaining, self-deprecation, feeling resentful and entitled. These are not things I see any of the princesses doing, but I do see it from a lot of girls looking for Prince Charming. These princesses move through the world with beauty and grace. Little mice put on kerchiefs to help them work. Mice don't just do that for anyone, you know. The princesses are treated like slaves and prisoners, and several literally have a hit out on them, and they still find a reason to sing and put a bow in their hair. Maybe if prospective princely love targets spent more time enchanting all creatures and appreciating the things they do have, and less time bitching about the real housewives of whatever county and complaining about their thighs, they would find more charming princes, or even just regular men, interested in spending time with them.

The other day at lunch with my girlfriends, I discovered something interesting. We were all discussing our suckiest relationships when we realized that all the crap began at times in our lives when we were at our worst. When we were feeling weak or vulnerable, when we felt trapped by jobs or even just by life, we attracted men who fell short of being the princely best we had hoped for. We all agreed that when we later met our wonderful husbands or partners, it was at a time when we felt strong and empowered. When we least needed saving, we all met our own widely varied versions of Prince Charming.

Maybe, just maybe, the search for love is not about finding the right person, but it is about being the right person. If you want to find Prince Charming, be a princess.

PS - That is my very delicate princess on the far right. I am so proud.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Journey back from oblivion


It is New Year's Day 2011. I spent the day driving two and a half hours to the Canadian border to visit friends in Vancouver. When we got to the border, my husband and I were told that we could not take our two babies into Canada because they did not have their birth certificates. You would think we would have checked on that kind of thing before leaving home - but that is not the way we roll, baby. In fact, being in charge of details is so not the way we roll that when we drove two and a half hours back home to get the birth certificates, we discovered that we did not have them. Rot roh. After freaking out a bit, we realized the birth certificates were in the suitcase we accidentally left on the plane when we moved to Seattle from New England four months ago. Rot roh.

Those readers who tend to be among the enviable and organized may have reached a cold sweat by now, but this is really how we roll. I am not kidding. Our entire family of two adults and seven children has shown up to the airport only to realize our tickets were for an airport in another state. We missed out on photos of the family swimming with dolphins because we called the day AFTER the 30-day old photos were destroyed (to our credit, Disney did tell us we had a month, and a month can be 31 days). And we have always, ALWAYS filed for extensions on taxes. In fact, we've even filed for extensions on our extensions a few times. That is just a given. This is what happens when one visionary marries another, you may be super happy and blissfully in love - but very little actually gets done.

And it seems we are nearing a bit of a boiling point here. Why? Is it because I spent 5 hours in a car and a half hour talking to a humorless border control officer (who doesn't like it when you try to grab your passport back from him) because of my own stupidity? Or, maybe it is because we decided the other day to take a look at the credit card bills we so joyfully use to support our every whim, and we discovered that we are $50,000 in debt. Rut roh. Then again, maybe it is because about a month ago I received a subpoena for my arrest because of an unpaid $18.00 excise tax bill. When the shit starts hitting the fan with this kind of eighteen-dollar intensity, it is best to take a step back and examine whether or not you are on a superhighway to crazy town. Truth is, I may have just crossed that particular city limit and it may be time to throw the car in reverse.

Now, I can come up with all kinds of reasons for flirting with disaster in this way. In the past six months I had a baby, moved across country, and gone from kids in public school to homeschooling. It's a lot to bite off and it is no wonder my mouth still feels full as I try to chew on all that. But, if I am honest with myself, I will also note that I am always choking on some kind of high drama and have just never been a cross your "T"s and dot your "I"s kind of girl. Being oblivious is part of my charm. But being oblivious is colliding head on with managing a house full of precocious children and I simply must be on top of my game. Today as I tore apart my "filing system" consisting of an enormous Edible Arrangement bag stuffed with unopened mail, layers upon layers of folders and labels (these are supposed to help me, right?), sprinkled with receipts - it's like the tiramisu of organizational systems - my husband lovingly assured me that simply knowing you have a problem is incredibly powerful. I know he is right, and although I have managed to feel both oblivious and powerful, it is now time to take better care of my life.

So, I am making 2011 the year when I at least know what I am stepping through. I order copies of birth certificates, I reclaim my IRA money that was in the "Unclaimed Properties" room of Fidelity, and make sure no one has a reason to arrest me. At least not a boring one.

And speaking of which, is it our fault that the Canadian border patrol fails to offer free child care for Americans journeying north to party with their friends? I don't think so, eh?

More from Karen:

Oblivion2
Journey Back From Oblivion II
DirtySecret
My Dirty Little Secret
Princess
Be a Princess