My Contest Essay for Martha Stewart

May 21st, 2008

Dear Martha,

Hello. Wow! Thanks so much for personally picking me to be in your contest! That really means the world to me. I have been a big fan of yours for a long time.  Well… okay… I used to be a big fan of yours. Back when I was younger and had a LOT more energy.  Back when I had crazy ideas about making curtains for the laundry room  with four hundred pleats per square inch and hem stitching my own handmade leather crafted photo albums with silk thread imported from the barrier reef and decorating my homemade sugar cookies with exact replications of all the oil paintings in the Louvre using only your very own very special royal icing recipe.  Then suddenly… out of nowhere… things changed.

I had a baby… and another baby… and then I had two more… and then I woke up one day on a sheet drenched with leaking milk from one breast while the other breast felt like it was about to explode.  I stumbled to the baby’s crib and clamped that squalling infant on to my engorged boob so that he could guzzle away my misery and then I slopped some cereal into a chipped bowl and ate it with a plastic spoon while pouring a pile of cheerios and raisins onto a paper towel on the  floor for my diaper clad toddler to eat … 
And that’s when I decided to cancel my subscription to Martha Stewart Living.  

But I did buy a LOT of your paint.  And I used to buy a bunch of your stuff at K-Mart until well… I am not sure what is going on with K-Mart anymore, but somehow, it just got too depressing to go there.  How long can a store have 200% off everything and still keep the doors open?
I do still buy the garden issue of your magazine.  Not for myself…  I buy it for the Country Doctor.  He loves to look at pictures of trees and he does not mind occasionally being sidetracked by pictures of shrubs, flowers, retaining walls, hoity toity patios, Grecian urns, pebbled pathways, and stunning vistas overlooking a pool which overlooks a mountain, which overlooks a dessert, which overlooks the ocean, which overlooks the other ocean.
So yeah, I think it is safe to say that you and I, Martha (can I call you Martha?)  that we have a lot in common.  Did you know that my mom’s name is Martha?  If I had ever had a little girl, I might have named her Martha.  I love girl’s names that are kind of stern and frumpy and old fashioned like… Martha.  Not that you are stern and old fashioned and… frumpy.  It is just that you are kind of… well… okay maybe a little stern.  Or at least you are perceived as stern.  I am sure that in real life you are as sweet as a baby kitty cat.
Moving on!  
This is supposed to be about my dreams.  Ah yes, my dreams.  My first dream was to be a princess… followed rapidly by ballerina… then by a figure skater… then by an  Olympic gymnast… back to princess… to ballerina… to figure skater… to Olympic gymnast…  
Then I wanted to be the next Carolyn Keene – you know the lady who writes the Nancy Drew books?  I wanted to write Nancy Drew books.  Then I decided that I wanted to be Nancy Drew. Then as I grew older and wiser I decided that I just wanted to live in Nancy Drew’s fabulous colonial mansion in Riverside, with her cook Hannah, her rich accommodating lawyer-dad Carson and her cute college boyfriend Ned.  
Then I decided to be a folk rock star.  
Ah yes, the Folk Rock Star era of my life.  That was an interesting time…  But I think it would probably be better if we just glazed over it briefly. 
 Okay… done.  
Then I decided to build a house.
The Country Doctor was not very excited about building a house.  Not very excited at all.    He basically became catatonic whenever I brought up the idea of building a house.  I found that the only way to get him out of this catatonic state, was to cry, lament, cover my body in sackcloth and ashes, pull the suitcase out of the closet and start throwing clothes in it, slam doors, rant, rave, refuse to speak to him repeat… repeat… repeat….  After about six consecutive days of this emotional storming around he might slowly blink one eyelid in acknowledgement of my pain.
It was a slow process.
Eventually we did build a house.  And that is one dream that really came true.  And as much as I love our home, I have discovered that it does not make me a complete, total, full, satisfied, human being.  In fact, it makes me feel kind of empty sometimes because I miss having the dream of building a house.  I miss the planning and the deciding, and the sketching out of the rooms on paper, and the ability to erase the location of the rooms and move them around with only a bit of india rubber and some pencil lead.  It is much harder to move the rooms around now.   
So I need a new dream.  I have been mulling a few over, but all in all, I think that life is not really about fulfilling your dreams, it is about having dreams.  People really need them.  You know, it is what keeps us going.  Facing one more day.   Getting out of bed one more time. Schlepping through the day again.  Opening one more box of macaroni and cheese.  We do all this because of our dreams. 
Lately my dreams are much simpler.  I have a dream of keeping my entire house clean for more than thirty seconds at a time.  I have a dream of my children actually putting away their own laundry.  I have a dream of wallpapering the hall.  I have a dream of planting an oak leaf hydrangea.  I have a dream of soaking up every last second of my boys’ childhoods as they seem to be skyrocketing through them.  I have a dream of someday actually hanging up all the pictures that are leaning against the walls.  And I have a dream of finding a truly magical family vacation spot.  
So those are my dreams Martha. At least a few of them.  I also wanted to let you know that the whole “prison thing” for lying about cheating about stealing is well… I don’t want to say okay with me… but I don’t hold it against you either.  We all make mistakes sometimes.  Once when I was six, I stole a pack of Chiclets from the grocery store.  My sister told on me.  My mom drug my petrified carcass back into the store and made me apologize to the store manager.  It was very embarrassing.  Then a few weeks later I stole a butterscotch disc from the Brach’s display at the grocery store.  Once again, my sister told on me and my mom again drug my petrified carcass to the manager to make me apologize.  He was not so smiley and kind the second time.  That was the end of my career as a thief.  We all have to learn that it is wrong to steal.  It just took you a little longer that is all.  
Thanks again for asking me to enter your contest.  I hope I win!
“The Country Doctor’s Wife”

Dreamers into Doers is an annual program honoring women who have turned their favorite hobby into a business or nonprofit organization.

“I was so touched and inspired by the women we honored with last year’s Dreamers into Doers Awards program,” says Martha Stewart. “I’m thrilled to once again be celebrating the accomplishments of women who have worked hard to realize a dream, and I look forward to learning about all the wonderful ways in which this year’s entrants have turned their passion into a reality.”


  • Anonymous:

    I, too, turned away from a life of crime at age 6 after I stole a pack of lifesaver’s mints from Walgreen’s. I tried to pass off my minty fresh breath as just brushed teeth. My mom was not fooled. She took me back to the store to tell the manager what I had done AND pay for them (.25) from my own money. (I did not get to keep the rest of the package) Maybe you wouldn’t have stolen the second time if you had to pay the first time. It was a very tramatic experience!I thought about entering the contest, but I want you to win. I wouldn’t want to take that away from you! Haha!

  • Caution:

    I’m still trying to come up with a dream, so as of right now you are winning the contest I think.Some time ago you told me about Knock-out roses. I just planted 5 of them. We’ll see how long it takes for them to die.See what I mean about the dream thing?

  • Jenni:

    You get my vote. Martha is asking for our votes, isn’t she? Back to tiling my pond with a cut up credit card mosaic now!

  • Maria:

    You will SO win. Martha will take pity on you for the Country Doctors not giving into you sooner with the whole house thing. And she’ll pity your delusions of Nancy Drew grandeur..and you’ll win. But what you said about needing dreams. I think you’re right. And even if Martha doesn’t pick you, you’ll always be the winner, really.

  • annselma:

    I have always thought Martha was kind of stiff and stern too but have you checked her out on those Macy commercials. Lots of personality especially when she is listening to Santana and checking out the hot guy.

  • Coffee Bean:

    Is that your actual entry?!?!?! OH MY GOSH! If you actually submitted that I will bow down at your feet as I roll around laughing on the ground. That cracked me up. Shoot, I’m rolling around laughing without even knowing if you actually submitted that. That is hysterical.

  • Rechelle:

    Yeah she can turn on the funny when she wants too, but I sure as hell would not want to cross her.

  • Karen Deborah:

    so having is not so great as wanting? Did you really send that in to Martha Stewart? She sure has plenty of time to think of one million and one ways to waste your time on little projects. She lost me sewing ribbons on the edges of pillow cases, give me a break.

  • TheCottonWife:

    That was awesome. Bravo!!

  • noble pig:

    I am laughing my buttski off right now…

  • lawdy:

    You’ve truly outdone yourself this time. Best post you’ve ever created. You capture so much…I can’t stop laughing.

  • Anonymous:

    That is the funniest thing I’ve read in a long time! Thanks for the laughs, you are hilarious.

  • Now that is some SERIOUS funny! The kind of funny that tomorrow when the work day turns sour and my two young boys turn lunatic when I get hom and I am dredging my way through the dishes, I will recall this pitch perfect letter to the patron saint of all things unnecessary and laugh till I cry and then be refreshed in time to wrassle my two crazed children to bed with good humor! Thank you for calling out Martha, thank you for calling out K-Mart. What IS IT WITH THAT PLACE? A universal truth acknowledged by someone else is a comforting thing – that place is just dang depressing these days (and there are NEVER any check out clerks – ever!)

    Signed, “so glad I stumbled onto your page – will definitely visit again soon!”