Well, Jeanketeers, I've got a confession to make: For a while there, I wasn't following my trusty old axiom, "Keep smiling!" In fact, you could say that my frown practically dragged on the ground!

For starters, once again, my career wasn't going so well. That job I had sorting donated clothes at Goodwill just didn't work out. It was only 20 hours a week and paid nearly six bucks an hour, but after just one week, I quit. I thought a tireless bargain hunter like myself would love a job like that, but it was just too boring! Plus, some of the donations were positively gross; they wouldn't even make good rags to wash your car with! I can't believe people can be so insensitive toward the poor!

After quitting that job, I went to the mall and applied for a position at this earring store, Ringin' On My Ears. I've always been fascinated by piercing guns, and I have a pretty steady hand. But applying turned out to be an ordeal, because I had to check "Yes" for the question on the application that asks if you've ever been convicted of a crime or misdemeanor. You see, a couple of months ago, I had one of my bouts with depression and was caught shoplifting circus peanuts from the Pamida. I got off on one year's probation and 30 hours of community service picking up trash along Highway DX, but judging from the look I got from the Ringin' On My Ears manager who took my application, she probably thought I was going to pistol-whip her and steal the money from the cash register!

Needless to say, I never did get a call back about that job, nor the one at Chewy Dewey's Old-Tyme Cookie Company. (Which is probably just as well; with me on the job, they'd have had to order twice the chocolate!)

For the next few weeks, I was down in the dumps in a major way. I took to my waterbed so much that I probably qualified as a seaworthy vessel! Not only that, I put on nearly 15 pounds. One day, as hubby Rick was leaving for work, he looked at me and said, "You'd better get out of that bed and start moving, or soon we're gonna have to knock out a wall just to get you out of the room." (Boy, I can always count on Rick for moral support!)

In between periods of sleep, I gloomily assessed my life. Here I was, 40 years old, and I'd scarcely made anything of myself. I had little education, no savings, and no kids. And on top of that, let's face it, my career path had veered straight off into No Man's Land! I think it's because I've always been a sensitive and artistic person, and I get easily bored with humdrum tasks that don't involve my inner emotions.

"If only I could stay at home like Mom," I thought to myself. "No boring 40-hour-a-week job, just the responsibility of making a nice home for my family."

Then it hit me. I can't believe I didn't think of it before! Why couldn't I become a full-time homemaker? Hubby Rick just got promoted to associate manager at the tire center, with a raise of nearly $2 an hour, so it's not like we needed the second income. Plus, our apartment desperately needed someone to look after it full-time, considering what a huge, disorganized mess it had become! I love to cook and bake and do little creative projects, so there'd be absolutely no excuse for us to eat out of cans and pizza boxes anymore!

What's more, I thought it would really help our marriage. Rick's always complaining about how he never has a nice place to come home to. If I kept our home all nice and neat, maybe he'd stop spending all that time at Tacky's Tavern and spend a little more time with me. (Hubba hubba!) Then, who knows, maybe I'd finally be preggers! (God knows my biological clock is ticking louder than a time bomb!) The possibilities were staggering!

Besides, there's absolutely no shame in a woman being a homemaker, what with Martha Stewart so huge these days! Martha's my idol! I have learned soooo much about running a household just by watching her show and reading her catalog! She's shown the world that being a homemaker is just as good as having a career outside the home. Sure, some folks like to act like big-shots by becoming doctors and lawyers and so on, but can they arrange flowers or make their own lip balm like Martha can? I thought not!

Once I made my decision to be a stay-at-home wife, I got out my trusty old credit card and ordered a couple of wreath-making kits from Martha's catalog. (And I couldn't resist tossing in an adorable little green glass container shaped like a chicken!) It set me back more than $100, but I decided that from here on in, everything in the Teasdale household would be pure class with a capital C! After all, Martha wouldn't be caught dead sorting through crummy old clothes at Goodwill, so why should I? And my probation officer, Judy, would be so proud of me for spending my time in a constructive way! When I got the wreath kit in the mail the next day, I was overjoyed. The brand-new, creative, organized, happy Jean was born!

Well, almost born. Turns out, I had to go to five different flower shops before I could find the dried hydrangeas the wreath required, and by the time I began making the wreath, it was almost time for Rick to get home. And with dinner not yet made and the place filled with unwashed dishes, mounds of laundry, and a reeking litter box, I seemed more like Martha Stewart's evil twin than Martha herself! Remembering my vow to be a good homemaker, I dropped my hydrangea project and made a beeline for the kitchen. But I stopped in my tracks when I discovered, to my horror, that my kitty Garfield was throwing up all over the already filthy kitchen floor! I shooed him away, but that didn't do any good, because he just kept vomiting as he scurried away into the bedroom!

This required immediate action, so I hauled out a mop and bucket, poured a cup of ammonia into half a gallon of bleach, and commenced to swabbing the old deck. I was making pretty good progress, but then something happened that I hadn't experienced since playing badminton in 10th-grade gym class: I began to feel very dizzy. I remember rushing for a Dixie cup in the bathroom to stop the burning sensation in my nostrils and throat, but then it gets kind of hazy after that. I do vaguely remember being outside on the lawn with a blanket over me. An ambulance was there, and a group of neighbors had gathered around. And hubby Rick was standing over me, yelling something about how because of this, he'd have to miss Quarter Taps Nite at Tacky's.

Well, is my face red, because it ends up that hubby Rick found me passed out in the bathroom with a big bruise on my forehead where it had hit the sink! He called 911, and the paramedic actually had to get me breathing again with mouth-to-mouth resuscitation! (I was too out of it to get a good look at the paramedic, but I sure hope he was a hunk! Rowrr rowrr!) It was a pretty close call for your old pal Jean, that's for sure.

The most embarrassing part is that the paramedics contacted my probation officer, even after I swore up and down that the whole thing was just a silly accident. After hearing about the incident, Judy said she was convinced I have a history of "erratic behavior," whatever that means, so I had to promise her to be more careful while housekeeping in the future.

Okay, so my career as a domestic goddess didn't get off to such an auspicious start. But I eventually got my wreath done, and it looked very nice. (That is, until my other kitty, Priscilla, pulled it down and wrecked it!) My doctor recommended that I stay home and recuperate for a few weeks, so I've gotten a lot of housework done. Admittedly, it gets a little boring at times, but that suits me just fine, because at least I'm not slaving away at some unfulfilling, low-paying job that I probably wouldn't be good at anyway.

So, my advice to all you people out there who want to spend more time inside your house is: Grab that brass ring and GO FOR IT! After all, if you ignore your real dreams, you'll never be happy. And always remember that there's a positive side to everything. For example, hitting my head in the bathroom seemed like a bad thing at the time, but because of that, I've been housebound and haven't had to explain to Rick why I haven't gotten a job. (He still doesn't know about my new career as a homemaker!) But I'm sure he'll eventually go along with it. I just have to find the right time to break the news to him.