The Lady Has DOTMFOAIM Syndrome.

Don't Wait Too Long
For Your Painted Santa
And the Christmas Cookies.

[EDITOR'S NOTE: In the n'er ending search for meaning and illumination, CornDancer's editors and talent scouts scour the known exotic universe for clues, epitome, case studies, state secrets, fancy footwork, and material for the grist mill. We dutifully report most of our findings to CornDancer's erudite readership.

Now we have before our byted eyes a newly arrived report: the strange case of DOTMFOAIM, uncovered in the unconscious wilds by psychic accident, wrestled to the surface with much groaning and gnashing of writer's voice, and presented with customary erudition (there's that word again!) by CornDancer's bold domestic explorer, Audrey Madyun.

Let us, then, meander through the Three Stages of DOTMFOAIM Syndrome: Symptoms, Diagnosis, Cure.]

By Audrey Madyun

Saturday, November 25, 2000.
DATELINE: Toledo, Ohio.
Special to

First Entry:


[EDITOR'S NOTE: Audrey describes her playroom in a casual way, then sends her description in an E-mail to a hungry editor. Alight in his crow's nest, the editor, who stays on constant lookout for wit and beneficence, tweaks Audrey's E-mail lightly and slightly, then returns it to her with a leading codicil or two. "Tell me more about your room, Audrey." The rest we leave to the medical annals.]

I spent my weekend doing not what I planned to do, but a little of everything else. I do get so wrapped up into projects!

I've set my spare bedroom up as a playroom. I have a computer (Wal-Mart special), laser printer, a new scanner/printer/copier combo — all of which is crammed into one corner. Piled on either side of this personal electronic center is my collection of computer paper — tons of preprinted templates for holidays, postcards for just about any occasion known to woman, cardstock, T-shirt paper, whatever else I've been able to find on sale or clearance. I get Halloween paper today for next year at 75% off — you get the picture.

Next to all that is a bookcase full of craft stuff — ribbons and buttons and bows. Then comes the sewing machine, then the painting table. I paint ceramic Santa Clauses, that's all. I paint them in all hues of brown skin tones and give them as gifts.

Then comes the exerciser... and back around to my computer.

All of my "toys" are in here, with a little black and white TV and a cassette tape player so I can listen to motivational tapes as I "play." I've grown indulgent in middle age.

My kitchen toys are in another area — along with a collection of about 75 cookbooks gleaned from friends, trash bins, garage sales and whatever, along with all the gadgets and paraphernalia of gourmet cooking, but that's another story.

The 'Precious Memories'
Of Number Two Son.

My goal for this weekend was to redo the closets and compile some of son #2's possessions into a smaller space. Yes, since he was in Minnesota when I moved from the marginalized plantation culture of the Deep South to the bricks-and-mortar heartland of the Midwest, I had no choice but to bring some of his "precious memories" with me. Now that I've decided that my current shoes take precedent for the floor of the spare closet, #2 son's stuff has to move. Somewhere!

Let me explain current shoes. About three or four times a year, I go through my barrel of shoes and decide which ones I will pitch, which others I will wear for the season. I put the "current" shoes out, and put the rest back in the shoe bin (or the trash bin). I am in the process of trying to redo my closets and set-up an "in-season closet" along with current shoes.

I've been stacking a lot of stuff in the living room to give away. I've got to say the give-away pile is getting rather impressive. In the midst of all of this, my computer started acting up over the weekend. Never mind that I now have stuff strewn from one end of the house to the other, along with piles of laundry. I do have my priorities.

So, I worked on the computer between tossing stuff out. I am glad to say I am up and hopping along on the computer, but I still have some troubleshooting to do. However, let's pray that I don't pass away in the night, for if someone has to come in and find me, they will surely think one of two things:

1. She was robbed, and the place was ransacked.

2. She was nuttier and more slovenly than we thought — if she hadn't croaked, we'd have had to "put her away".

Second Entry:

Diagnosis and Cure.

[EDITOR'S NOTE: Although the editor cannot recall referring to Mrs. Madyun as a "fluffy dimwit," he was disinclined to dissent. Who is he to stand in the way of someone being a fluffy dimwit! To the best of his recollection, however, he remembered phrases like "domestic persona" ... "a fine narrative" ... "sweet anticipation." I mean, he considered himself an admirer! You can imagine his shock when he realized the gravity of Audrey's condition.]

Two Weeks Later.

What drivel! What self-indulgence! As I read over my first entry, I agree with you — either I am a fluffy dimwit so stuck on myself, or I live a very insulated life. Harsher words need not be excluded. I looked back on my first entry and felt there was no reason to make another one. Finally I realized it was all a part of "the cure."

For as long as I can remember, I've suffered from a particularly troublesome disorder. It was even lurking around when I was eight or nine years old. It bubbled out during my preteen years, but went into a slight remission until I was about seventeen. Since then it has become so much a part of me that I didn't realize it had taken over my existence.

Nope. It's not contagious. I wish it were. In fact, even though I could be considered a Typhoid Mary of sorts, most folks benefit from my disorder. It's only lately that I've tried to get a handle on it. Despite what one of my daughters-in-law might think, I'd rather have labor pains than this. At least labor pains are finite.

I suffer from the DOTMFOAIM Syndrome. No, don't go searching on the Internet for a definition. Don't go pulling out your medical or herbal references. I will explain it right now and you will be the first to know — DOTMFOAIM Syndrome can be easily defined as


There, I've said it. I've lied many times when I've been asked if I had it. "Oh, no," I've always said. "That won't be a bother. I'll be happy to /cook-the-turkey/ baby-sit-the-little-demon/ drive-you-to-the-cigarette-store. You don't have time to pick up your kids? Why I'll be happy to do so. Need to unburden your soul? I'm right here. No, I wasn't asleep. It's only midnight and I don't have to get up until 6."

Don't get me wrong. I love doing things for other people. I live for it. I worked as a paralegal for 14 years helping low-income folks. My dream job is in the hospitality industry — I even took college classes on how to be hospitable. I served on every committee that came my way in that sleepy little Arkansas town I used to call home. I wake up in the middle of the night just thinking of unique ways to perform tasks for others. I like to go that extra mile.

Relax, Enjoy Life,
Loosen Up? Not!

If you've ever noticed those cute little greeting cards in the store that no one ever seems to buy — they're just waiting for me — I buy them by the dozens. Ever wonder where that anonymous gift came from? It was probably someone in the early stages of DOTMFOAIM. Ever notice the coworker who already seems to be into the "Christmas cheer" before it starts? She was probably up until the wee hours of the morning frosting cupcakes, wrapping presents, and reviewing all that extra work she'd brought home from the office.

The problem with DOTMFOAIM Syndrome sufferers is that they don't know how to relax and enjoy life. They don't know how to loosen up and love themselves. They don't even know they have problems.

A couple of years back I realized that it was time to take care of me. God only knows why I felt it necessary to have to move 1,000 miles away from home to get started. Here I was "up north" without a child or a Sr. Citizen or even a cat to take care of, and I didn't know what to do with myself. So I bought shoes, which I didn't need, collected dishes, which I didn't use, and ate frozen dinners because I didn't want to cook for "just me". I started missing those 14-hour workdays and endless committee meetings. I started staring at the walls. I refused to relapse into DOTMFOAIM, so I did the next best thing, I thought. I got a part time job.

Here I was, getting out of the "raising-3-sons-as-a-single-parent" debt, and not knowing what the hell to do with myself. I didn't want to go to parties, I wanted to give them. I got nauseated when I'd go to a theatrical performance. I'd be too busy checking out the layout, or the sound, or even the bathrooms — tasks I did as a facilities manager. I started devouring medical thrillers with all of the energy I used to generate when I represented people in disability claims a lifetime ago.

Knowing Why
Is Not Necessarily Knowing How.

I imagined all kinds of situations in which the kids would need me to come to the rescue. I even applied for and was offered a job at a facility that housed the disabled-working as a special events/publications coordinator. Now I'd be working those long hours again! Now I'd be needed once more. Luckily, I turned down the job.

It hit me. This is not why I moved away from all that I had known and loved. This is not why I gave up my cat and crammed all of my possessions into a small apartment. I moved to get to know myself and take care of myself…. And now that I had the opportunity, I didn't know how.

So, I did the next best thing. I got sick. Anyone who knows me knows that I don't do anything in halves. I got really sick. I was working a new job and a part-time one and got so haggard that even relatives started noticing my syndrome and declaring, "Audrey, you are a true caregiver — you can take care of everyone except yourself."

As I recovered, I realized something. I didn't need a cat, or a dependent. I didn't need a club or an organization that needed me. I needed myself. Maybe that explains the indulgence of the first entry two weeks ago. I am beginning to do things that I want to do — when I want to do them.

It's a long, hard road. I have to push myself constantly. Trying to find the right balance between doing for others and doing for self is a pain, but I will get there.

Ever so often, I slip back into the old way of life. I volunteer to chair this, or create that, or take over a project. Why, for December, I have more projects going than most folks have all year. But I am finally beginning to recognize just how good I can be — to me. And in so doing, I can be a better person to others as well.

Third Entry:


The apartment is glowing. The projects are all running smoothly. I am involved enough to care, but not too much to overwhelm and ignore myself. I even gave myself a manicure last night, then cooked a special meal — just for me. Everything was running smoothly until I got that call letting me know that the new apartment I wanted is mine for the asking, provided that I move before Christmas. Suddenly my mind is in turmoil. I can possibly pull it off, but...

What about all of those Christmas cookies I promised to bake for everyone? Dozens and dozens of rich buttery cookies! What will they think of me?

What about the extra work I had planned to put in, turning the office workroom into a fantasyland?

What about all those unique Santas I planned to paint and give to others?

What about? — sorry all of you DOTMFOAIM beneficiaries — this time it’s all about me!



I am your typical girl next door. In high school I was voted "most likely to succeed." My male classmates jokingly referred to me as "most likely to get married and have children." I did both.

An Arkansas native, I was a legal services paralegal for 14 years and a community college events planner for four. I now reside in Toledo, Ohio, and maintain a close, but long-distance relationship with my two sons and two daughters-in-law, Nashid and Tasha and Na’im and Tanshea. We all get along quite well until someone slips and calls me the g-word — "grandma." It’s Mimi, guys. Mimi! I have two and 7/8 grandchildren and never have to buy toys when they come to visit — I share my own.

I currently work for an international corporation as a customer service/claims management rep where I give advice and keep people happy. When I’m not too busy doing that, I work at other odd jobs to stay out of trouble and keep me in toys.

Although I know there is a Mr. Right out there for me somewhere, I am working on the "great American novel" just in case I am definitely wrong. My love of crafting and desktop publishing keeps my humble abode in a funky state of chaos, so Mr. Right also will have to be Mr. Tolerant.

Signed: Audrey Madyun

Jennifer McGee of Fayetteville, Arkansas,
is next Saturday's Guest Writer.
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watch for her article in your mailbox
on Saturday, December 2, 2000.
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