I was a terrible wife.
When I was one.
I was finishing up college, working a full time day job, and writing books in the spare time I didn’t have. My then husband, after weeks of being out of state for work (when he did work full time), begged me to do laundry and clean the house. He begged me to stop making dinners that began in a box.
His mother stayed home with the three boys up until the youngest – the one I married – was twelve. She cooked a lot and never made them eat their vegetables, for a very good reason. She told me stories of the calls she would get when she went back to work from her youngest son. “I’m hungry,” he would say over the phone. I laughed and told her that I still got the same calls from him.
My life also changed when I was twelve. Up until that point, I don’t remember my mother cooking. I don’t remember a lot of things from that time, but what I do remember is macaroni and cheese (from the box) and broccoli. Polish sausage too, if it was a good week. I knew how to cook it when my father finally pulled me from that house in the summer before eighth grade, so I can only assume that I was the one cooking for my youngest brother.
One thing my mother did have down – and still does – is neatness. Before her fall into alcoholism and drug addiction (please do not blame her; she is untreated bipolar) – something else I clearly remember – she owned her very own very successful housecleaning business. She used to take me with her on Saturdays so that I could help her with the really big houses up in the La Verne hills. If you were to ask anyone who really knows Allie Burke – I mean really knows her – they will tell you that she is three parts rebel and one part smart ass.
The thing is, I hate cleaning.
I can do it. I can tell you how to get those rings out of your toilet bowl or how you can use the cheapest glass cleaner and still not get streaks (just turn the light off in your bathroom while you swipe; it’s the artificial rays that causes them, not the watery substance) or how to clean the inside of your microwave with zero elbow grease. I can do all of these things. I just don’t want to.
My mother knows this. I’m not sure if she understands why – if she does, I wish she would tell me because I have no idea – but she definitely knows. Throughout my ten-year relationship with my ex-husband, she would sneak in our home when he was in one city or another and go on a drunken cleaning rampage while I slept. We would smoke cigarettes on the balcony and laugh about that time that I took seventeen shots of tequila in one night and didn’t get sick. We spent so many dark nights that way. I think she thought that was the only way she’d ever get to hang out with me. To bribe me. That was of course not reality, but that is my mother. She feels she must do things for people in order to be accepted, including her only daughter. It is a universal truth that there is no mother and daughter in the world that have a worse relationship than my mother and I, but I’ll be damned if there is another person in the world who understands me like she does. I can’t talk to anyone like I can talk to her.
I also can’t remember the last time I saw her.
I did the dishes this morning. It was not that hard once I had my hands in the sink, but I must admit that the only reason I did was because I was about to do my nails and they’d get fucked up if I didn’t do dishes first. I can’t really remember the last time I did them before that. I don’t cook very much – like ever – but still. It shouldn’t be that difficult. Things like dishes should not feel like an accomplishment to someone who has been through the shit I have, but they definitely did. As did the fresh manicure I’m typing with right now. For the first time in ever, I didn’t fuck it up. I remember speaking to my father’s girlfriend – who is a couple years older than I – about how much I hate painting my nails. She couldn’t understand such a thing – manicures were a bit of an Olympic event at my father’s house back then, with three girls living there – and I explained that I was no good at it. This was another thing she couldn’t understand. The sound the look on her face made in my ears could have shook mountains.
Who teaches women this shit? How to do nails and to clean on a regular basis and how to eat right and how to act socially (as a woman) and how to dress properly? In my thirty years, I still don’t know the answer to this question.
My favorite outfit is a CK|S hoodie, these slightly-ripped jeans that are the only ones that seem to fit properly, and my Infrared Air Max 90s. Don’t get me wrong – I like to look nice – but to me, this is looking nice. Those 90s are fucking hot; trust me.
I believe in the power in a lot of guy friends for a woman. I think it teaches us to break the stigma of emotionality and craziness (their word, not mine) in the female gender as a whole. My guy friends, they are in fact attracted to that woman I’ll never be. The brunette with the perfect tits and manicured nails. You know the one. The one who is so put together all the time and could probably cook in lace underwear twenty minutes after she gets up and still look good. (Let’s be honest; I don’t do shit before coffee and it sure as hell isn’t in lace underwear. That shit is itchy.) I’d love to blame the standard this type of woman sets on that societal bullshit that we all love to throw out all the time. I mean, it would be easy, right? Well. That bitch on Instagram is photoshopped so, fuck her. You’ll never get to that with all the plastic surgery in the world. Not like, in real life.
I would love to blame the fact that my toes are not done (only my nails), the fact that my skin is kinda fucked from some recent stress, the fact that I’ve been wearing loose shirts as of late because I can’t seem to stop eating (okay, it’s a side effect of meds, but still), the fact that I have probably never cooked a meal in this house that I moved into over a year ago, the fact that my shoulders are too broad and my hair is this weird red that’s not even really red and the fact that I love vaping even though lots of men thinks it makes me ugly, I would love to blame all of these things on the impossible societal standard that women in power (let’s be honest; beautiful people hold all the power) hold over all of us, but I really don’t think that has anything to do with it.
I think I’m just fucking weird.
I think I had a really bad childhood that really fucked me up, and I think I was born with paranoid schizophrenia, and I think I get enjoyment from people who are fictional, and I think that a clean house and a husband is just not as important to me as a completed novel or an intellectual text-conversation with one of my friends.
I think that weird people – whatever the hell that means – have a really hard life, because they don’t fit in and they find themselves constantly comparing themselves to other people who society deems just so much better and I think that their intelligence makes them feel fucking crazy and their surroundings make them feel like they are failing at life.
As a result of which, I think the real universal truth is that the weird people are the ones the whole world remembers. For long, long after they are gone.
“Some may never live, but the crazy never die.”
-Hunter S. Thompson
A Bestselling Author, NPO VP, and Psychology Today Blogger from Burbank, California, Allie Burke writes books she can’t find in the bookstore. Having been recognized as writing a “kickass book that defies the genre it’s in”, Allie writes with a prose that has been labeled poetic and ethereal.
Her life is a beautiful disaster, flowered with the harrowing existence of inherited eccentricity, a murderous family history, a faithful literature addiction, and the intricate darkness of true love. These are the enchanting experiences that inspire Allie’s fairytales.
From some coffee shop in Los Angeles, she is working on her next novel.