Beth Mann's Blog

Beth's Urban Tales of Wonder and Decay

Beth Mann

Beth Mann
Location
Long Beach Island, New Jersey, USA
Birthday
November 11
Title
Presidente
Company
Hot Buttered Media
Bio
I'm a writer and creative consultant. I have years of experimental comedy and strange theater under my belt. I surf. I cook. I love wine, men and song. And puppies. I effin' love puppies.

Editor’s Pick
JANUARY 5, 2010 6:29PM

The Shabby Heart of a Closet Princess

Rate: 106 Flag

It’s not easy, letting someone into your home. Because then they see the holes in the walls, the off-kilter frames, the cobwebs in the corner.

It’s not easy, letting someone see you as you really are. Because then they see the worn look in your eyes, the clenched jaw, the slumped shoulders.

It’s not easy, letting someone in.

 

Big, black tie ball at the upscale hotel here. It’s New Year’s Eve and Clint, the oldest of the brothers, doesn’t want to go “empty-handed.” He’s the shy one and needs me as social reinforcement. He stands at my doorway and I’m wearing long johns, bowl of chips in hand.


“No way, Clint. Do I look like I have “ball” in me? And it’s 100 bucks. I can’t spend that right now.”

My budget is tight. It’s always tight. It wears me down in that soul-sucking way that only being broke can do.

“Well, I’m paying. Besides, I probably owe you anyway,” he mutters.

Yes, he does. Even though he and his family have a big beautiful home at the end of the street, the boys spend a good amount of time at my place. I feed them and give them clothes, booze and bad advice. Yeah, they totally owe me. But still…

 

Kyle, Kurt and Clint

 

And me

 

“No, Clint. I need to watch Criminal Minds and um, eat chips. Leave me alone.”
“You’re going. You said you were going last week.”

“I was drunk. Mind changed.”

“Let me see your dress.”

“Clint, please leave her alone.” (I sometimes refer to myself in 3rd person just to make people uncomfortable. I learned it from Buffalo Bill in the Silence of the Lambs.)

“Come on. Let me see it.”

I reluctantly walk into the bedroom and he follows. There it is, hanging from my closet door.  A long black, silky gown. Formal and pretty. Mocking me.

“Wow. It’s beautiful. Please, Beth. Come as my date.”

Clint and I aren’t romantically involved. I don’t date any of the brothers. That whole “don’t shit where you eat” philosophy, a phrase that always grossed me out but really sends the message. Having sex with them might cost me the only semblance of a family I have here. So I know what he means by a date. A make-believe date.

Looking at him standing in my doorway, tall and handsome in a Kurt Cobain kinda way, I realize a fake date with Clint may trump a show on abuse and murder. Maybe.

“Okay,” I mutter.

Great! Now get ready. It’s 10:30.”

Clint and I have this game when I undress in the bedroom. I don’t ask him to leave. He’ll go on the computer or do something to avert his eyes. And I enjoy it. The simple act of undressing with a man in my room feels warm and sexy.

I squeeze into this never-before-tight gown and begin hating myself almost instantly. Why doesn’t it fit like before? Why is it betraying me so? I start taking it off, with a groan.

“Let me see it first.”

“No, Clint. It’s wrong. It’s…”

“Let me see it!”

I turn around and his pale blue eyes light up. A tight gown means something totally different to him, I realize.

“Perfect. Now keep going.”

But I can’t. I’m stuck in mud, suddenly. I want to cry and sink into a pile on the floor. I don’t feel good about myself. Somehow my loneliness feels highlighted by this dress, like I don’t deserve to be in it. A pervasive ugliness lays it unwelcome hands all over me.
Clint sees me struggling and takes over. He picks out some jewelry and shoes (which all seem kinda worn. I want new shoes. Why can’t I get new shoes, like other people?). He watches me apply makeup and tells me when to stop.

“Okay, that's enough. You’re pretty enough without it.” My face warms a little. The words feel good and hurt. Clint isn’t one for giving out compliments and I’m not one for being able to receive one lately.

Living in this house doesn’t help. It’s an old-ass house and while its been a familiar location and offered me the opportunity to start my own online marketing business, it’s still old-ass. My brother is a hoarder and doesn’t see the disrepair that everyone else does. Or he doesn’t choose to. I, on the other hand, can often see nothing but house’s shortcomings.

His shit was everywhere when I first moved in. It took me months to make it livable. I eventually hit a wall and could do no more. This house needs a fucking wrecking ball not a woman’s touch. Here’s your “woman’s touch” shit, anyway. Do we get paid for that magical touch of ours?

Several weeks ago, I had a date over for dinner. He saw the ceiling tiles in the living room, falling in from a leak in the roof.

“Your ceiling really need repaired,” he says offhandedly.

“Really? You free Wednesday?” I respond.

It’s easy for people with sturdy little houses and lives to make comments like that. They don’t understand the decades of dysfunction that brought us to this place.

Sitting in my bedroom after dinner, he looked around at the hodgepodge of artwork and chipped paint on my walls. My home offended his sensibilities. I could tell. If you think this place is a wreck, wait until you get to know me, dude

Clint is more used to my “mess.”


“Come on, Beth. Focus. It’s quarter of 11. Do your hair,” Clint says.

I brush my hair and pull it up on my head. Then take it down. Then put it back up.

“How about a glass of wine?”

“God yes. Please”

Clint leaves my bedroom and makes his way through the maze of blankets hanging throughout the doorways of the house. We have no central heat here. The bedrooms and the kitchen are heated by space heaters. The hanging blankets, like that leaking roof, inflame the shame, infect my spirit.

But Clint has seen my hanging blankets and falling tiles. He’s done repairs here. Not usually of this personal nature though.

When he comes back in the room, my tears have been neatly placed in the jewelry box.

“You look amazing.”

I try to smile.

"Is my room...awful?"

"What?" He looks around. "No. I always thought you room was kinda sexy, in a gypsy sorta way."

Sometimes I just want my home to be normal. The house I grew up in was nothing like the Joneses. After my dad died, my mother worked full-time and came home exhausted, depressed. The house suffered. Holes in the rugs and furniture, fleas on the dogs, dishes in the sink. I couldn’t stand it.

When I’d throw a slumber party, I’d clean that house all day yet feel so self-conscious and nervous when the other girls would arrive. You can’t clean away that “your home isn’t good enough” feeling, no matter how hard you scrub. One girl was allergic to fleas and got bitten repeatedly. She had to leave.

The next day, I sprayed bug killer everywhere, even on my bed and pillows. I’d be prepared for the next slumber party. As if there would be one. As if I could kill that feeling of shame with Raid.

I read once that shame is one of the most corrosive and useless of emotions. Guilt can spur an apology when needed, for instance. But shame? It serves no purpose other than to make you feel like shit. And like the stains on the curtains, its hard to get rid of.

Clint plays music on the computer as I finish my hair. That helps. My hips sway a little. I grab some red lipstick and take a sip of a nice Syrah I found.

It’s funny. Even with all my tenuous and tight budget, my tastes have continued to get finer, like I was waiting for wealth. My mother used to laugh at my lofty inclinations as a child.

“I swear, you’d think you’re a Rockefeller or something. I don’t know where you get it. Just a head’s up, girl – we’re poor!”

But she was the one who taught me to have good taste. Even on her puny secretary’s salary, we’d occasionally go to fine restaurants and expand our culinary horizons. She took me to the movies constantly, so I could "see the world." She taught me manners, good manners. Somehow I felt like a lady-in-training…just a broke one.

If I complained about the condition of our house, she'd bellow:

A house is supposed to look like it's lived in, damnit. You try raising 5 children on my salary! You try coming home and cooking dinner and cleaning. You see how it feels! No one appreciates the work I do. No one!"

The lipstick is a blazing red. After applying it, I “unveil” myself to Clint.
“Good enough?”

“Very much so,” he says shyly.

"Thank you, Clint," I say gratefully.

Oh, doesn’t he seem like the sweetest guy? Well, that's because this is a story.

Real life has fleas and worn spots in the rugs. In a few nights, Clint will “jokingly” tell me that I "owe" him money for the ticket he bought me. I will become livid and detail the countless meals I’ve fed him, the times he’s stayed at my place, borrowed my car...

No one appreciates the work I do! No one!

I explain how his jokes just ruin that special feeling I had New Year's Eve. She needs to hold on to that feeling right now. So back off. You hear me? Leave her alone!

But for now, for this night, the stars align and it’s New Year's Eve and Clint is my prince.

He puts my long black coat with a faux fur collar on me and opens up the front door, which is starting to fall of its hinges. We take a step out on the icy front porch, the wood creaking from age. The full moon and blast of arctic air instantly charge my spirits. The night becomes me suddenly.

I feel alive, very alive. I could probably fly there if I wanted. But I'd rather drive with Clint in his old red pick-up truck and sing to the tunes on the radio. We links arms, so I don’t slip on the icy steps. His arms feel so big and protective.

And for that moment, she feels safe and pretty.





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This is a great story and I could feel all that you were feeling. I particularly like what you said about shame. I have intimate knowledge of and experience with that emotion.
He liked reading this.
Absolutely stunning, Beth. A part of me feels like I have so much to say to you but the selfish part only wants to hold you and listen.
Damn, you can write! A great bit of sharing. Shame is a hellish prison, indeed. Takes guts to break out.

And that's one of Sir Paul's best solo songs, no doubt.
It was a little nerve-wracking posting such a long piece. But heck, people can read what they want, right?

Thanks, all, for reading. I worked on this one for a while.

And Happy New Year to you, my OS family.
You really know how to tell a story. I love the flow, the pace, the back-and-forth between introspection and dialogue. Great writing, Beth.
this is a really amazing story. I think I fell in love with Clint a little.
I get all paternal-like when I read your serious side. I know all too well what you write of. In this virtual world of acquaintances, I reach out to you.
"But shame? It serves no purpose other than to make you feel like a first class piece of shit."

You ought to see my place sometime, but whatever you do, as you value your soul, don't go in the basement. I'm reminded of the "Roseanne" show, an episode where she had some upscale company to visit. As she was removing assorted clutter from the couch so they could sit, she said "Sorry about how the house looks, but we live here." I like the way this ends though:

"For a moment, she feels safe and pretty."

It's those moments which get us through the longer ones in between. If only life was like the movies.....
Beth, a little secret, you are someone I rate before I even read.

I love the weaving backdrop of both your home and your childhood.

"But there’s this pervasive ugliness that lays its unwelcome hands all over me." I know this one, how haunting this is for so many.

The closing, in the 3rd person, stunning. You rocked this.
Gosh, I really like this. I understand what it feels like to grow up poor but to think that somehow I was rich.
She liked reading this as well ;0) and I do empathize with needing a day or so to ready the house for guests. Honestly, most people are probably like that.
"I don’t feel pretty enough. Technically, I realize I’m an attractive person. But there’s this pervasive ugliness that lays its unwelcome hands all over me."

ahhhhhhh, finally. Finally. Now I know how to describe this lifelong feeling.

You are so amazing. Thank you for letting all of us in. Thanks so damn much.

Thanks for the song, too.
Surf's up! This glitters, Beth...just shines...xox
I loved this, Beth. Amazing pecs, er, pics.
I liked this.........ALOT!
This is the decade we were supposed to have bases on Jupiter....Dang!
And where the f*@#$%@#$ck is my flying car.

I guess this has nothing to do with your story, but I just had to complain......
this is a wonderful piece of writing... what a sweet tender soul you have.
Hi Beth,

Great narrative. Just rolls right along, no awkward phrases. You can tell you worked on it.

Although it is longish for OS, you manage each passage with economy. It doesn't "feel" long as a result.

Thanks for letting us in!
Happy New Year Beth Mann, thanks for sharing your stories with us.
Wow. You are by turns funny and sad but you always have your own style.
My house growing up was probably worse than yours. :) My dad's house that we lived in until I was 9 and the house I am sitting in now that we lived in after that--my grandmother's--were both causes of shame to me. When my dad was murdered in his house, the police complained to me of how it looked. They said it was hard to get forensic evidence with "dust this thick" (fingers held over an inch apart). I know they judged him by what they saw. I hated that he died there like that, in a mess, but he lived that way and it didn't seem to bother him. I gave up on inviting people over to either house very early in life. I am no longer in contact with anyone (other than family) who has seen the inside of either. I hate to say it, but Katrina helped my grandma's house. Yes, we had to throw away a bowl that travelled from Holland with an ancestor in the 1700s, but we also threw away years of boxes and junk that got flooded. Don't give up on a nicer house. If your writing is any indication, you have your own style and even now, it's probably visible there (as Clint said). It isn't what it one day will be, but you have nothing to be ashamed of. Those people of inflexible thought who think that everyone was gifted with a perfectly clean house and can live like Martha Stewart are really assholes. Maybe your house is a test, and the superficial people will always fail.
Just when I'm ready to take a little leave of absence, you write something like this. Stunning, Beth. I grew up in a house like that, too.
wakingupslowly already posted my comment.
rated. (as always!)
Happy new year Beth. So glad I let you in. You'd feel at home here too...I have some things that have been left...undone. But I'm a hella cook.

Lovely story, beautifully crafted. You're an amazing writer.
This is outstanding.
Very nicely written Beth. Cool of you to open up in that way (I haven't the nerve). Nice to see you in a picture. Perhaps you've posted one before but I haven't seen it. Anyway, somehow you write much taller than you look in the photo. Damned if I know why I think that.

Happy New Year.
"A house is supposed to look like it's lived in, damn it. You try raising 5 children on a secretary's salary! You try coming home and cooking dinner and cleaning. You see how it feels! No one appreciates the work I do. No one!" -- You are so right this isn't an easy job at all, one of the hardest jobs I have ever done in life.
Amazing photos.. And a wonderful post, I really enjoyed reading this. Thank you for sharing it.
Cool that you are the only female in the surf club,, just way cool. Surf Up!! Great post..
You really opened yourself up with this one. I think this is your best piece yet and I'm relieved to hear you say that you put a lot of effort into this, because sometimes after I read pieces on OS, I wonder how much the author suffered - how much of a strain it all was to finish a superb post such as this.

Oh, and Clint really owes you BIG time for this piece.
This was essentially a tribute to him.

well done
Chica, it doesn't read as a long piece. It doesn't read as overworked. It reads as very real, very full of heart, strong and vulnerable. You are brave, and beautiful, and brilliant, and becoming. So instead of a really long comment, I will simply say, thank you for letting us in. It's an honor, and a privelege.
"It’s not easy, letting someone into your home. Because then they see the holes in the walls, the off-kilter frames, the cobwebs in the corner.
It’s not easy, letting someone see you as you really are. Because then they see the worn look in your eyes, the clenched jaw, the slumped shoulders. It’s not easy, letting someone in." Opening up your heart, and home, and letting someone in is really the hardest thing to do in life after being hurt. I love the words you have spoken here..
It's like I grew up with you in the same house. I swear it is. Then I see you as a grown-up and there I am again, my house, my life
( without the young neighbors) and THEN your song takes me back to a time in my first marriage that I remember and life was good. Quite a emotional roller coaster ride. Has anyone said you write good...damn good!
I'm with Sparking....I always rate before I read, because I know that it is richly deserved. You are probably my favorite writer on OS.
Broken chips are the reason God made melted cheese. I think that's a great metaphor for the rest.

Wonderful, as always.
Simply stunning piece. You sure do let people in, don't you?

Happy new year!
(psssst . . . did I forget to tell you that you wrote the HELL out of this piece? 'Cuz you did. The parallels and interwoven strands and symbolism are spot on, but feel completely casual. And extremely relatable.)
Great story. You make your life so relatable. Man, those brothers are good-looking, but I have some good looking guy friends too, can't break the karma! Glad you went and shared it with us. Love LBI beaches. Happy New Year!
Every post you write makes me fall harder for you, Beth.

Oh, and? I'm teaching first grade right now and there's a little girl who I swear is you. I can't believe I'm going to tell you her name, but it's so important to who she is: Xey. You say it like sexy without the s. (She's not Asian--the X comes from some longer, shall I say classier, name like Alexandra or something). She's this little spitball of personality and verve--a tiny brunette with so much attitude. You should see the way she runs a meeting (I put them in charge of the "morning meeting" and she's the queen bee this week). She gives out demerits and says things like "Are all eyes on me?" You can't believe how much I have wanted to whip out the cell phone camera and film her doing the "phonics dance." The boys groan even as they obey her. And the boy who's famous in the class for eating deer (He must come from hunters--he's always talking about eating deer)--I swear to god this is true--shouted after her today as she raced for her bus: "I'll be your maid tomorrow Xey!" Swear to god.

Now I ask every OSer reading this comment. Is this little girl Beth Mann or is she not?
This is simply fabulous . . . powerful, moving, poignant, sweet. Fabulous. I'd rate it multiple times if I could.
But how was the ball?

Great writing Beth, great writing.
Thank you all for the kind comments. I don't know what to say. Or too much to say. Thank you.
Mike loved this story. Being poor is no picnic. I don't recommend it for anyone. Grew up that way and have spend most of my life that way. No matter how hard I've tried the road was always fraught with obstacles (many where of my own making).
Like the old saying, I feel much better now that I've given up hope. And shame. I don't even want to talk about shame. I don't have your courage as a writer. Or your talent.
I LOVED this story (the caps are not a yell but an enthuastic applause). Your honesty makes everything genuine. There were a few lines that really stood out "pervasive ugliness that lays its unwelcome hands all over me" relating that to the house and your past there. Both of the between comments ...
"if you think my room's a wreck, wait till you get a load of what's between these ears of mine! and "Simply the act of undressing with a man in my room feels good between my legs."
Your insight about the ceiling repair ...
"It’s easy for people with sturdy little houses and sturdy little families to make comments like that."
You're so right Beth... Real life does have fleas and worn spots in the rugs." And big arms and blue collars are just fine by me.
Heartbreaking and optimistic at the same time. A wash of emotions while reading this, Beth.

Nice.
Magnificent work, Beth. Absolutely magnificent. One of those pieces that others who are seeking to improve their writing should break down and analyze for the deft ways you shift from present to past to WAY past and weave the timeline together with a thread of emotion--exposure and shame. As cartouche said--simply stunning.
I sense that you have some pride in the ramshackle home; it is, after all, yours. Liked your story and your mom.
this just flows so beautifully from one line of dialogue to the next, from present to past and back, and it lead me along into it, into your house and your feelings, your life. it's wonderful writing, beth, really wonderful.
Oh my... I feel as though I've read something I've been waiting to read for a long time. Does that make sense? I lived in that childhood house. I've dressed for that ball. God, this was good.
Impressive writing Beth. Wow. At once a powerful and delicate piece. Deep.
And I think that maybe the "real life", with all it's fleas and worn spots, is what makes nights like your New Year's so magical. Or maybe it was just the night.
Anyway, great writing.
And oh yeah, now you've got us all waiting to hear about the ball, the damned ball, girl! This is the power you have over us.......
As usual this works on so many levels. I feel as if I know Clint and that I know you. But never quite, and that's what makes you and your writing so interesting.
Wreaks of talent and a gorgeous woman.
I love this post. You inspired me to pour myself a nice glass of red from a bottle we couldn't afford, but bought anyway. Cheers Beth. Happy New Year.
How wonderful. You write so damned well it completely pulls me in.
Sometimes substitute family is better than the original. Clint sounds wonderful. I'm glad you have each other.
This was really good. The holidays are so rife with emotion, melancholy, nostalgia, etc. Great stuff. I love the way you write.
Wow Beth. Fantastic. Soaring, sad. You have a way of taking us down the path and then suddenly whirling your face right up next to us, questioning, heartbroken, hopeful. Reading you I always feel stoned, cold and sober. Shame seems like a burden I might risk laying down. If I were a wine I'd be a Sauvingnon Blanc from the Marolborogh District of New Zealand, and not California, but you'd like me anyway.
Beth, you make me laugh. You are the surfer bomb and a great passionate writer of human emotions. Your writing has a nonchalence that seems to match your house in some ways and you enjoy making people laugh even though you fight shame demons too. great post - enjoyed the boys pics too. Nice neighbos.
Absolutely perfect, Beth. I wondered where you were when I made a point to wish you Happy New Year at midnight eastern time!

I understand about the shame and the brokeassness and ensuing expensive tastes -- great made up word -- and also about the real life part. Give Clint hell for me when he acts up.
Beautiful. And I know about run down homes, intimately.
Rated, of course.
Love your writing so much. This was a story that really drew me in. Very descriptive...perfect song and the visual I have of that house seems very real. Those brothers are lucky.
Good post. Good writing.
shame sucks, wish I could just take it away and bury it someplace too deep for the dogs to dig it up again

here's hoping you have a good new year
My Mom used to invite her friends in with, "Brush the crumbs off the chairs and sit down." Your writing similarly beckons me to sit right down and share your life, worn spots and all. Your writing is so clean and polished it sparkles. Thanks for letting us in.
I really felt this story. And I love the way you kept it going, then at the end inserted the little twist about how it would be in several days from now. Wonderful writing that let us ALL in. The illness of hoarding is quite sad. Our homes say so much about us, even what we don't want them to say. Come on in to my house, check out my books, my stuff crammed everywhere, my photos stuck up wherever there is room, get to know me! Rated.
So many people gave Paul so much shit when that song came out. Just goes to show so many people don't know a f*cking thing.
Skeletnwmn thinks it's a gutsy revelation. She thinks that romantic gypsy look is what she'd like me to do.

*I* think having a ramshackle house by the beach is a damn sight better than any house I've ever lived in (course, that ain't sayin' much).

How did you get that song on here, anyway?
Magnificent. This is the third time today (well, yesterday really but my today) that I can and will say: reading writing of this quality is an inspiration.
You are amazingly talented, but you are also a hard working craftsperson. I am a huge fan of your writing, and I am a huge fan of your dedication to the craft.
The fact that you are very very funny a lot of the time is icing.
Again, I am filled with gratitude. Your comments were beyond touching. Many moved me to tears...and beyond.

As for the rest of the night:

It was lovely. I really liked the drive there, for some strange reason. Clint and I took some time - even though we didn't have much to spare - and played music and sang.

Well, I sang. Clint listened. He likes when I sing and I love to sing. It always makes me feel so good. I'm a decent singer - not great - but I just like it, you know? Frees my soul.

The Ball itself was crowded. It was for surfers so it had a very particular vibe - one that doesn't always jive with me, frankly. But we walked arm and arm on a red carpet into the event, which was fancy. And we looked great! So we were both high on our appearance a bit...

It was late when we got there, so we both had a drink and started dancing. Clint doesn't feel very confident in his dancing skills so we worked on some moves together. But Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers we were not!

Midnight felt a little strange. You know, you're supposed to kiss the person you're with and Clint and I aren't in that place. But we had no one else we knew directly around us. So we hugged and danced some more.

Its a tough relationship we navigate. Two straight people who are friends. I'm sure most of us have had some similar dynamics.

I really liked having only a few drinks that night. Everyone seemed so damned drunk that it was nice to be (fairly) sober and interact and laugh and take in the night, not forget it.

In the bathroom, I was shocked how drunk some of the women were - and these weren't all young women. My goodness. I hung out there just because it was so...over the top! It was pure chaos.

But overall, it was a sweet evening. Probably one of the best New Year's eves I've had in a while. The holidays are not easy for me. Both parents passed away around them.

But the holidays also just feel so loaded and weird. This time, it felt like I imagined a New Year's eve should feel.

I hope that details the rest of the evening well enough.

And again, thanks for your fantastic feedback.
Bravo. Wow. Speechless.
It's all been said, so I will just say thanks. Loved it - Clint's a lucky guy.
Maybe the best thing you've done (that I've read). I like it when you are honest and not just funny and listy. This is really really beautifully done.
I love your Clint stories. There's this wonderful energy between you guys, like brother/sister. I'd love to hear more about your actual brother, but I'm sure that's hard to write about. My younger, very brilliant, brother has OCD, so I know about the hoarder thing. We've always been close and we lived together for a while. I made many, many Clint like friends through him. I miss them sometimes. But there's a lot I don't miss too.

Whatever gets you to stop watching those damn crime shows is probably a good thing. It's my new year's resolution to renounce them.
I am blown away by the beautiful narrative flow of this piece. It's touching, funny, intimate, and artistic. There's real emotion here.

Rated for truth and beauty.
Enchanting story Beth! You kicked off another great year,coo...RRR
Happy new year. Hard feelings but good writing.
i was into this story beginning to end...great flow, great rhythm...rated
It all came to life around me as I read, Beth. Your writing is always able to absorb me mind body and soul, and today was no different.

Brava, she said.
Truly amazing writing, Beth.

And no, the great "they" will never know how much you do for them. Fuggedaboutit.

I completely understand the shame references. Oh, ach, do I ever.

Thank you for sharing.
great story. thanks for writing it.
Lovely piece on many levels. An inspiration to this budding writer. Thank you for telling it....
OK, so now I want to see your house. It sounds bohemian exotic.
Loved everything about this piece. The anecdotes about the date and the little girl flea-infested slumber party were perfect to convey the house and how it affects your life. Just wonderfully done.
waow...clint is cute. and I love this story for the hurt/funny/sad emotions it evokes. and I love your response to the tile situation.

wonderful. I appreciate the work that you do....
Sometimes our taste doesn't match our budget, but really good friends don't care about that.
:-)
Here's to the Clints !
I can read your writing and feel as if I'm right next to you. You have always been so wonderfully brilliant Beth. Remember- at the end of the day, a house is just a house. Its you who makes it home.
Lovely, lovely. Honest. Strong. And Sweet. Ain't it great to be a girl?
Loved it, loved it, loved it.
I don't know what to say. You always touch such a chord. I read you because you're good for me. Splendid, really. I know this of which you speak, like it is my own voice speaking.
Beautiful, vulnerable story told exceptionally well.
Angel,

Pacing: very good. tight.

Dialogue: spot on.

The structure of this, and other recent, has been, in a word, excellent. Nice work.

HUMANS- check out Beth and her Bros, if you want to stand tall and keep your six-pack when you're old ... LEARN TO RIDE.

Aloha Kakou
Beth:
Gently Beautiful and Real. I love the contrast between the "shameful" home and the glitzy "perfect" party - between staying in comfortable skins/mode and the rewards of pushing past that.
I too grew up in a home that was always dirty, cluttered, shameful. So true that the sense of shame, the sense of not quiet pulling it off, endures. I love to entertain, I hate to entertain. I cringe when people "stop by" as if caught nude - wait - I would rather be caught nude - there are reasons for that.
Letting in...how brave and beautiful your essay is.
Thanks
So glad the editors picked this piece--now you are a favorite. Love your style--looking forward to a future anthology. For now, I'll catch up on older posts...
Thank you, thank you, thank you.

I completely identify with those feelings of shame.

You write so beautifully and you have the courage of a lioness.

Clint is a lucky man- and I think he knows it.

May 2010 bring you all the joy you so richly deserve.
Well beth, they've said it all and I agree with every last comment about how great this peice is. I'll add a thank you for a great old song I have't heard in ages and ages!
Brilliant! TY for sharing this.
I think we somehow had the same mother, despite living on different coasts.

For the record though, people on the East Coast are very snobby about a little shabbiness and clutter. It's necessary to prove one's bonafides. A glossy, clean house only indicates someone too unimportant to be busy and too recently a member of the middle class to have inherited old things. Move to my end of the country, and you can judge everyone who DOESN'T have enough character to have fleas.
I think you need to date a carpenter.
I've missed being on OS and reading my favorite writers. You are brilliant, the way you capture the significance of the details of life. I'm very familiar with house-shame. Our house was chaotic. My mother, in retrospect, had to have been ADD. There was no way she could focus on the big picture. So she beat her kids, especially me, for the way the house looked. My sheets had blood streaks from scratching my flea bites in my sleep. Your situation touches me, the hoarder brother. Some people pump out chaos, and there's no way to stem the flood.

It's powerfully true that the way you look sets up a feedback loop with the way you feel. When I started working at home, I swore to get dressed and put on a smidgen of make-up before walking down the hall to work. When I went on disability, I renewed that vow, because nothing makes me feel sicker than spending the day in pajamas. On the other hand, I don't bother to feel fat most of the time. Isn't great that guys like a tight top? I've started paying attention to what guys really like rather than what the media says they like. I'm much happier.

You must have looked stunning. Is there a photo?
I added some photos. I waited! I didn't want the photos to distract from the piece. Now I'm kinda excited to share them, after everyone has read the piece!
Chica, you were, and are hawt . . . no two ways about it. And your amazing spirit shines through your writing, and your eyes.
I know this is a pretty late comment. I'm catching up on OS and was wondering what Beth Mann has posted lately. Good for you Beth. I'm glad you went out with gorgeous Clint. You looked chic and beautiful...and happy. made me smile.
So, as I'm reading about the blankets hung up I was (perhaps wrongly) happy inside because I have all these childhood memories of our family in a room surrounded in blankets warmed by a space heater. This winter, our furnace wasn't working and even though it wasn't that cold (it would stop working at night, wake up to 50 deg, try to get it started again) and I knew that (fortunately) it was an easy fix, I felt as though I would cry every day. I instantly returned to that fear and shame of childhood, of being poor, of fearing what people would think.
You wrote about these things so honestly but to tell you the truth, a proud shining voice came through. Made me smile.
Yes, ultimately, it all comes down to the words, doesn't it?

Still, tossing in those photos added a sweet touch. You looked just as I imagined - stunning.
And Clint seemed almost worthy of being at your side.

BTW what sort of gesture is Clint making with his hand? Is it 'phone me'?
Hey Angus! The gesture Clint is making is the universal surfing gesture. Its what surfers use to say "Go surfing" more or less.