Monday, April 14, 2008

"Dream a little dream..."

Sunday was a dream. But first let me write about the dream I had Sunday morning, right before I was awakened by Millie bringing me breakfast in bed (bread pieces with butter on them and a dixie cup with Wheat Thins!).

So in my dream, Dave and I are with our friends Cliff & Nel, who happen to have a Portugeuse housecleaner. And they are raving about her. Dave says that he knows of a Mexican cleaner who is really wonderful. The three then get into a big discussion about who cleans better, Portugeuse or Mexicans. Dave, a quarter Mexican, is getting really defensive of "his people" and I try to assuage things by saying, "Well, I've never had a cleaner and never will so who cares."

But Dream Dave is silent. And Dream Heather KNOWS something is up and I light into him, "Oh-my-gosh! You've been using a cleaning lady behind my back, haven't you?!" He tries to deny it but I scream: "WHAT HAS SHE CLEANED FOR YOU--WHAT?!" He caves a bit and says, "Just my car--it was really messy--and just once--okay, twice, but I swear only two times, I swear!" And I launch back, "WHAT ELSE HAS SHE CLEANED FOR YOU, WHAT ELSE?!" And he balks and stammers about his office needing to be cleaned but it would never happen again. I'm raging at him.

And I wake up to and Dave is in bed and I just start laughing and laughing, and I tell him and he's laughing and laughing. Because I have such ISSUES with cleaners. It's not some political reason or because it would make me feel like a rich entitled white person (which I probably am), but it all stems back to childhood... [cue the dreamy harp music and picture a typical house in Southern California in the 70s] My mom is a clean freak and has major control issues. She Cloroxed the countertops nightly and could not abide any messiness. Think Bree from "Desperate Housewives." Once, and I swear this is true, my brother Danny's friend Jim R. came for a visit. He got up at 7am to go to the bathroom. When he came back into the guest room the bed had been made. KooKoo Bananas.

When I made my bed in the morning my mom would come in and remake it. So I stopped making it, because what on earth was the point? If I set something on my dresser and left the room, when I came back it would have been rearranged. If I hung clothes on the back of a chair for the next day and then went to brush my teeth, they'd be put away when I returned. If I loaded the dishwasher, she unloaded and reloaded it. When I folded laundry, she refolded it. If I cleaned the bathroom, she'd follow it up with more Windex & Bon Ami. It really depressed me. The message was, "Nothing you do is good enough." Actually the real message was "I am OCD, please get me help!" But as I kid I mistook it all for criticism. Each knicknack she adjusted, each surface she tidied, each toothbrush she put at right angles felt like all my decisions were being second guessed. Every alteration she made was a personal attack. Whew. I'm getting worked up just writing about it. Anyhow, so I've taken this with me. We had a sitter once who was by nature a tidier. I'd come home and all my surfaces would be bare (notice I don't say "clean") and my eyes would start to twitch and I couldn't wait to get her home so I could put my stuff back (ie return to chaos).

After Millie was born, Dave LIED to his Grandma and said what I really wanted as a gift was a cleaning lady to come in. I was postpartum and begrudgingly agreed. It was my worst nightmare come true. Sure the floors were glossy and smelled of Christmas. Sure the bathroom sparkled like a Vegas showgirl. But every inch of my house felt JUDGED. If the bedside lamp had been angled differently, I instantly thought, "Why did she move that? Was the angle I had it at not GOOD enough for her?" So irrational of me. As if the cleaners are supposed to take Poloroids of night tables and after dusting them, make sure the lamp is put back in the exact position. Can you say "paranoid?"

So I am messy and proud. I make imaginary bumper stickers for myself and one of my favorites is "A clean house is a sign of a wasted life." In my defense I am sanitary (the kitchen sink is currently covered in a layer of Ajax to ensure it's salmonella free). I lift things off the carpet to vaccum and then put them right back in the middle of the floor. My good friends understand my issues. Last month when I was out of town my friend Denise K's husband Jim knew I'd left in a hurry to help my mom and suggested that they go clean the house for me while I was away. Denise shook her head. She knows I'd appreciate it, but I might also have an internal flip out. Hence the dream. Of course, if you have no background on my nuttiness, you might read the dream differently. I shared it with two couples on Sunday over brunch. Lindy & Al were cracking up. They know how weird I am. But the other couple. There might as well have been a bubble over their heads saying, "Hello, paging Dr. Freud--Dave is OBVIOUSLY having an affair!" They are lovely people, but way too tidy, so I don't really care if she thinks Dave's a lying cheat and I'm in denial.
That was my literal dream. My metaphoric dream on Sunday was that our family got two invitations to dine with friends--two--and they didn't even conflict. It meant not only did I not have to cook a single meal, but I didn't have to feel GUILTY about it. Now you all know what a failure of a housewife I am. I hate to cook and clean. My house is sanitary but chaotic and my children frequently have cereal for dinner.

First, Lindy had us for brunch and of course it was all so good. There were cheeses and ham and bagettes; carmel French toast with whipped cream; two quiches; homemade oatmeal that tasted like the crumble topping of a fruit pie. And for dessert, pain au chocolat, the yummiest French pastry ever. The best is that no matter how much she makes, there is never enough. Al gives her a hard time about this, but I swear she could make 7 dozen pastries and they'd still all get devoured.

For food intermission I went to stake conference. Go Gordon & Laurie!

For dinner Becca S. made a savory chicken, homemade rolls, asparagus, and strawberry shortcake for dessert with bisquits that were just sweet enough. I ate two plain after dessert, just because. Before we even got to dinner she made her bean dip that is so good, I just stood by the stove with a bag of Tostitos in hand. Instead of getting my own soda I made Danny do it because I didn't want to lose my prime dipping spot. So it was a great day. Good food, good company, and I had no church responsibilies. It really was a dream.