Saturday, April 29, 2006

Betty the Rebel

First, I thank anyone who is reading this. I have been neglecting my blog and have undoubtedly (and deservedly) lost the small following I used to have. So, if anyone actually reads this, thank you.

Today, while attempting to sort through the rubble in my living room I came across one of my many diaries, written a few months ago in a dire attempt to figure myself out.

Now I know why my housekeeping is so outrageously substandard. I spent the rest of my "sorting" time reading the diary with great interest. The house is still a wreck, but by golly, I'm armed with more self-analysis that you can shake a stick at.

In fact, the house in shambles was pretty much explained by the diary. You see, the house I grew up in, 39 Burbank, looked exactly right. The grass was cut, always; the bushes were shaped to perfection; the sidewalk was swept or snowblown depending upon the season; the gutters were clear; the roof always looked newly laid; even the siding was power washed regularly. There was always one new car parked neatly in the garage and another, equally showy and recently washed, in the driveway.

Even inside, everything was in its place. You'd never know that a child lived there- no toy was visible; no item was out of place. Even the tassels on the living room rug were carefully straightened with a clothespin so that they lined up perfectly.

But there were secrets swept under that rug. My father was cheating on my mother. At age 8 I knew about it, and my father had tried to strangle me when he suspected that I knew. He continued to beat me on a daily basis. My grandmother, a devout Irish Catholic, had divorced her husband who was sleeping with the woman next door. My older brother was well on his way into a lifelong battle with alcohol and drug addiction. My teenage sister was pregnant before high school graduation.

Appearances, even aural ones, were critical. One time, when I was a toddler, I laid on the floor crying, wanting to be taken to the park. I was severely reprimanded because "one of the neighbors had heard the crying." All inhabitants of 39 Burbank were prohibited from emitting sounds audible to the neighbors, and were advised to exercise extreme caution when venturing out of the house; the neighbors would likely be watching.

Little wonder that my house today is disheveled. And, mind you, I'll gladly tell my life story, in full detail, to anyone who'll listen.