They Tried To Make Me Go To Rehab But I Said No, No, No

I made a big fuss a couple of months ago after I started getting lumped in with the Mothers Who Drink about how I am not an alcoholic. It’s probably one of the best things I’ve ever written so if you haven’t read it, you should.

Anyway, it wasn’t a joke. I’m not an alcoholic.

I’ve always been fearful of becoming a pill-popper, though, so when I got a standing prescription for Vicodin for my anniversary (from a real doctor! Not, like The Internet!) for my my grains I was a little afraid I’d pass out in a pool of my own drool after having a little too much medicated fun.

I haven’t.

Turns out, I’m not a pill-popper either.

I’m not a smoker, I don’t drink coffee, I don’t hoard cats, kids, dogs or Precious Moments figurines (shudder, shudder).

But I am an addict. I know that now.

(don’t worry, I’m not rehashing a boring plot of a show because that’s nearly as dull as a dream sequence and I don’t do that either. Bear with me now.)

I watched an episode of House, MD where the lead character looks frantically for something to replace his Vicodin habit with and he ultimately decides on cooking. He spends all day and night making spaghetti sauce, eschewing sleep to make the sauce until he perfects it.

I watched that scene, my mouth agape (likely a thin filament of drool hanging merrily down) tears coursing down my cheeks with my hands around my Orchid’s for Dummies book, after I put down my iPhone where I’d been looking up the precise humidity level my particular species of orchid likes and spec-ing out the dimensions for a light box so that during the semi-dark Midwestern winters, my flowers get the exact precise amount of light they’ll need.

I slowly swiveled my head, my eyes as wide as saucers to The Daver who looked back at me and I said crying, choking a little, “Oh my God, I didn’t know, why didn’t you tell me?”

He looked back at me, slightly bemused and said, “Baby, I thought you knew.”

No, no I didn’t know.

In hindsight, though, it all makes sense.

I get asked a lot, sometimes kindly, sometimes in awe, sometimes in a oh-my-god-you’re-an-asshole sort of way, how I can write in my blog most days of the week and well, now you have your answer, my friends: that’s how. I’m an addict. I’m compulsive.

And I’ve channeled any of the energy I might have put into less wholesome activities and put it somewhere wholesome. Creating instead of destroying.

It gives me a sense of accomplishment to come here and peck out an entry for you that writing an essay for myself wouldn’t give me. You give me feedback that the blank Open Office document won’t and I can interact with you and it’s a hell of a lot more satisfying than washing the floor.

Maybe I need to get addicted to housework. I’d get laid more.

Let’s Just Say It Involved A Baby Blue Leisure Suit

I’m not much of a tech person.

I mean, I appreciate that it’s there, and I still am impressed every single time I turn on my iPhone that it’s just so fancy pants (also: I am impressed that I haven’t bedazzled the shit out of it yet. But have no fear, I will. Better yet, I will find someone on Etsy to do it for me) and I can work my blog mostly.

I’m the person who didn’t get an email address until my friend in college set me up with one (which is why it was sex_kitten23) and an AIM account until I started dating someone who suggested I get one (stinkybutt234) and I doubt I’d have a blog, twitter or Facebook page were it not for The Daver and his ever-expanding attraction to social media sites.

While I may not be into tech stuff, The Daver obviously is. So is my father.

My addict-like nature did come from somewhere and for him, he’s always been really interested in computers and as far back as I can remember, he’s subscribed to Porn For Geeks computer magazines by the truckload. Hey, you knew the orchid thing didn’t come from nowhere, right?

If nothing else, these magazines have made my father p-a-r-a-n-o-i-d about the security of his network. Because, yeah, the man has at least 3 computers hooked up there protected by a state of the art firewall set up by my engineer of a brother. His network is the Fort Knox of networks.

Which is interesting, because no one–not even my brother or Dave–can get onto it. I guess my brother is pretty good at his job.

What makes the situation even weirder is that my father doesn’t really house anything too important on his computers. He doesn’t work for the CIA or FBI or any of those cool acronym agencies. He doesn’t write novels or tomes of poetry. He doesn’t take gigabytes of pictures, painstakingly, lovingly retouching them.

No.

He plays games. Reads blogs. Surfs the web. Occasionally reads my Facebook status, ashamed that he has a daughter who pollutes the Internet with her drivel. Wonders how to disown her.*

Reads up on spyware and how it means that the terrorists are WINNING and how reformatting your hard drive is a great way to solve all of the world’s ill’s. Reformats his hard drive. Figures he’ll call Dave to help him fix it.

Needless to say, waving the one piece of swag I kept from BlogHer–a Flash Drive–near the computer didn’t work. I had no idea what the password was and my mother was just as clueless and Dave just rolled his eyes. My father has locked us all effectively out.

Don’t worry, though, I haven’t forgotten about the picture I owe you for voting for me (you can still vote for me! HOORAY!), neatly locked away from me on my father’s computer, inaccessible and sad.

It will be taken care of, though, my friends. Soon *cackles wildly* o! soon you will see the Halloween costume that many of you won’t realize is a costume. Which makes it that much awesomer.

So, that makes me curious, Internet. Why don’t you tell Your Aunt Becky what your favorite Halloween costume was?

*Sorry Dad, I’m not going ANYWHERE. You see these grandchildren? THEY MEAN I OWN YOU.

The Others

“They look like white elephants,” she said.

“I’ve never seen one,” the man drank his beer.

“No you wouldn’t have.”

Ernest Hemingway, “Hills Like White Elephants”

———————

In the Lifetime Movie of The Aunt Becky Story which would probably be called something like Stairway to DANGER or A Girl and Her Sausages I would take this post and explain that the reason that I take the opportunity to shed light on pregnancy and infant loss is because I myself lost a baby. Or I’m missing a brother. Or a sister. Or a cousin. Or a uncle. Or something.

But my life isn’t a Lifetime Movie, and even if it were, I wouldn’t be cast as Janeane Garofalo anyway because my hooters are too big, and really, I haven’t lost a baby. No one particularly close to me has.

I’ve known a lot of people through the years that have: neighbors, friends of my parents. One of my first funerals was for a baby and I was probably 8 or 9 and the coffin was so tiny and I remember feeling such sorrow.

Sure, astute readers will note that I had a couple of miscarriages, but they were so early that I don’t need sympathy and now that the time has marched on, I barely acknowledge them at all. I certainly didn’t mourn them when I lit my candle last night.

But when I started blogging, I fell in with the baby loss mommas and I’ve always stayed in touch with them. Maybe I feel a kindred spirit with them, not for the loss of their son or daughter but because I know how it feels to be on The Other Side looking in, I don’t know.

What I do know is this, I know how it feels to sit in a room with a gigantic white elephant sitting in the corner taking up most of the room, trampling your prized orchids and taking a shit on your favorite Swarovski figurines while people blatantly ignored it. It could hoot and holler and clang-clang-clang and people would STILL sit there and pretend that every-fucking-thing was okay.

Most people don’t know how to handle grief and they don’t know that it’s okay to not have a solution to offer. Dave’s like this and it’s one of the rare things we fight about because he cannot seem to comprehend that there are things out there that aren’t, well, solvable. AND THAT IS OKAY.

Sometimes the best thing that you can do for someone who is hurting is to say, “I’m sorry.” Because you ARE sorry.

Treating people who have lost a child or who struggle to conceive or people who have cancer or people who are hurting as though they are contagious and are better to be avoided lest you “bring up bad memories” or to “let things die down” well, that’s cowardly.

Sure, it’s easier to imagine that you’re doing your friend a favor by not calling or emailing or sending a card and pretty much leaving them hanging in the breeze because emotions are hard and they’re ugly and shit, no one wants to see the raw grief that comes with such things.

Trust me. The only favor you’re doing is for yourself.

If you want to be a friend, call. Keep calling. Send an email every time it pops in your head to do so. Talk about light stuff. Let them know you care and that you’re around when they’re ready. Be their friend.

Some day, you’re going to be one of The Others too, because that is life.

Thank you to anyone who left a kind comment or lit a candle to remember all of the lost babies and children. I know it means a lot to everyone involved. I was moved to tears each time I added another name. The list gets longer every time I do this and it breaks me up.

I’ll be back with my regularly scheduled snark soon, so don’t worry, this hasn’t turned into a blog about sad stuff or water safety or how to cross the street or how to start dating after divorce (all things I’ve been emailed by people to talk to you about)(I know)(what.the.fuck?)

Until then, I leave you with this:

MIMI ESCAPES.

How the hell did she manage to bust out of her cage? AGAIN?

They Call Him The King Of The Pumpkins

Even with the cancellation of Christmas, I’ve always been sort of a childish freak about the holidays. I’m the person you see jumping up and down and clapping like a goddamed monkey as they put up the displays of holiday wares in August.

I cannot wait for the stores to start playing Christmas music and as far as I’m concerned, they can skip back-to-school stuff entirely and stock Christmas and Halloween stuff year round. I’d keep the house decorated all year long if it didn’t piss off my neighbors and make me look like more of a freak than my electric yellow house already makes me.

(deep breath. You DON’T buy a house for the color of the siding. Yellow is cheerful. It is unique. It is ass ugly. It is cheerful. It blinds me on a sunny day. It is unique. I loathe love the color of my house.)

And I’ll admit, part of the allure of squeezing an 8 pound bowling ball from my cootch was the hope that one day, I could live out all of my holiday fantasies through my child.

But my first child, well, he does love the holidays…sort of. I mean, Ben has a lust for life that even Iggy Pop couldn’t rival. He loves the holidays, he loves Tuesdays, and he loves, well, everything except for bedtimes (which have convinced him that I am a communist dictator from HELL) and scooping cat poo from the litter boxes.

At age 8, his love of the holidays is only now being cultivated. At age 2, he was the oddest person I’d had the pleasure of knowing.

Conversely, at age 2, his younger brother has such a feverish love of the holidays that I wonder if I simply grew him on my body like a pod and shed him like a second skin. Were it not for his nearly translucent skin, which is eerily like his father’s, he would be my clone in every single way.

Daily, he begs to go to the greenhouse so that he may look at the pumpkins and the huge decorative gazing balls there (please, o! please make the jokes that I cannot make because they would be o! so inappropriate) and the trickies (fountains) and flowers.

Carefully, he selects the smallest pie pumpkin and brings it over to where the Christmas balls hang off of a fake Christmas tree and he carefully shows each of the balls his treasure: a pumpkin.

Neatly, sweetly he has personified both the pumpkin and the ball as beings rather than inanimate objects, in the same way he has to bid goodnight to “Venus” and “Mars-Gots-Moons” and my personal favorite “Purple Ball.”

“Blankie” is so much more to him than a piss-stained, ugly white blanket. It’s his best friend and playmate, his lovey, and his bedmate, one that I have to wrastle away from him many times each week for a bath in bleach, always amid tears and heartache. On his end, not mine.

It shocks me that this rough and tumble creature, this all-testosterone fueled boy could be so soft and gentle too. These days, this is one of the things–along with this blog–that keep me going.

I realize that I’ve been living in a fog: between the Topamax and the headaches, my wonky thyroid, the insomnia and the postpartum depression, I haven’t been myself lately. I put one foot carefully in front of the other, never faltering, because I have too much depending on my anymore to really falter without my house falling apart around me.

But seeing my son, a pint sized see-through version of me, all of the best parts of who I am coming to light, exuberant and alive, relishing the small things: the string of pumpkin lights I have hanging over my mantle that he dances in front of every morning.

His body wriggling with unabashed joy, barely containing his glee at what a genuinely wonderful world we live in, moving to music that only he can hear and I smile, the tears close. Tears of pride, of happiness and of joy.

And I know that I will be okay. Soon, the music that I’ve always danced to will start back up, because if I listen closely craning my ears, I can start to make out the sounds, way in the background, underneath all of the noise and dirt.

I am hopeful. I have hope.

The toddler, he trips over his own feet, looks around, bewildered by gravity and then gets back up, taking off running again after looking around warily to see if that wily gravity is going to punch him again, he knows that this is the way things are.

We all fall down. We all get back up again.

Alex as a Hedgehog

Mommy Wants Pharmaceuticals

It seems only fitting that, like the dead horse this is, the first article I was actually INTERVIEWED for–about Drinking Moms (WON’T SOMEBODY THINK OF THE CHILDREN?!?!*) would have aired yesterday, when I was working on the post about using–and abusing–prescription drugs.

Here is the link.

And here is the guest post that I wrote for The Drinking Diaries. I am very, very, very proud of it, but since I didn’t know it was going to put up until right now, I will re-run it later in the week here.

——————-

My Dearest Topamax,

I can call you Topamax, right? I know that technically I know you as Topiramate, but that simply doesn’t roll off the tongue with the same lilting lift as “Topamax” does, so we’ll just pretend.

Shh, baby, don’t be like that. It’s the insurance companies coming between us, that’s all.

Because for you, I would do anything. ANYTHING.

Until you, I was in a bad place, Topamax, see, I had a headache for 5 whole months. Maybe even 6. Now, wipe that look off your face, Mister, don’t you be acting like you don’t believe me. I don’t have secrets from you. WHY WOULD I LIE?

Shh, there, there. I’m sorry, baby, I didn’t mean to shout, I’m just tired of people giving me that look. That look that says, “I don’t BELIEVE you.” That look that says, “how could any SANE person last for 5 whole months with a splitting headache?” That look that says, “Bitch, you be looking for my sympathy AND my Vicodin.”

While it’s true, I WOULD take Vicodin over pretty much anything, including (but never limited to): vodka, whiskey, diet Coke (*sobs*), food, water, air, my dogs, my cats, and Dr. House, I’m pretty sure you, Topamax, kick his pasty ass squarely out of bed on his chalky, addictive ass.

Now, sure, your side effects are, well, I don’t know how to put this delicately, so I’ll just be out with it: they suck.

My friends on Twitter warned me so, my friends on Facebook pleaded with me to take care (ed note: how the hell did I function before my friends in the computer could tell me important stuff I wouldn’t otherwise know?) so I knew after popping the first of the delightfully teeny-tiny pills that I was in for a doozy of a ride.

First to go was my beloved diet Coke, but for you, Topamax, o! love of my life, anything, even the first love of my life. Honestly, I didn’t mind. If you rid me of my evil demon headaches, I wouldn’t mind if you turned my arms purple and green spotted. Priorities, people.

And, Topamax, please don’t tell anyone, especially that hateful bitch Imatrex, but I’m pretty sure that I’m pregnant with your baby because I am rife with the morning sickness and the nausea. I’d be stuffing my urpy face with saltines if my chemically exhausted butt wasn’t glued to the couch, so instead I moan pitifully at passersby. Like my children. Who are now so sick of me that they’re regularly petitioning for a new mother.

(can you blame them? THINK OF THE CHILDREN!)

This is chemical nausea, so I know better to pee on any sticks, so we’ll keep this between me, you and The Internet, but secretly, I’m thrilled. This is the only pregnancy with which I may actually lose weight instead of grow to water buffalo dimensions! The downside is, of course, chemical nausea which is very different than pregnancy nausea, but shh, honey, it’s okay, Momma still loves you best.

Because with you, my headaches, which have plagued me, making me wonder if maybe, just maybe I was slowly going mad(der), have slowly dissipated. They’re not gone, no, but they’re going. Which is more than that stupid whore Robaxin could ever have claimed to have done for me.

With you, Topamax, I may not be able to drink any longer. Maybe I can’t drive or operate heavy machinery. I may no longer be able to remember the words for certain things, but, between you and I, let’s face it, I couldn’t have done it before, either.

I may suffer morning sickness without the hint of a crotch parasite and vomit at the sound of mac-n-cheese being stirred in a pot. I may be the only un-pregnant, pregnant woman who loses 60 pounds (God willing) by eating approximately 8 calories a day, but I don’t care.

You, my sweet, sweet drug, are worth every blood draw, every dry heave, and every tingly extremity.

Always and forever, or at least until my body goes into toxicity and my organs shut down,

Aunt Becky

*You can quote me. OR Maude Flanders, which is who I am shamefully zoinking this from. But I’m pretty sure she’s a cartoon character who was killed off, so we’re probably all good.

Mommy Wants Vodka

I’m not sure if you heard, Internet, but there was this lady who got drunk, drove a mess-load of kids around, and then crashed her car and killed everyone. It was pretty gruesome. If you hadn’t heard, you’ve obviously been living under a rock, and if you’re living under a rock, perhaps the next logical question is this: how do you get Internet access there?

Anyway.

The media, of course, latched onto this case and immediately began nailing mothers who drink to the wall for people to shred. Some of us got spared, and well, the others, did not.

Honestly? The whole comparison to someone who names their blog “Mommy Wants Vodka” (or something similar) to someone who drives their kids around after drinking a 5th of Absolut is pretty much bullshit. Okay, so we have “vodka” in common. But, like one of my readers pointed out, it’s not like I named my blog “Mommy Wants To Get Loaded And Drive!” or “Mommy Says Drunk Driving RULES!”

Wanting “vodka” and wanting “to drive wasted” are two, well, separate things. Call me tasteless for not calling my blog “Mommy Wants Chicken Fingers LOL!!!” but don’t call me late to dinner a drunk.

It wasn’t that the comments by the readers about the articles were all together surprising. Combine the anonymity of The Internet with the asshats of the universe and you have the making for one ritual slaying. It wasn’t even the overly verbose, self-indulgent, pseudo-intellectuals who liked to wax boring poetic about how we were ruining society with our jokes about things that aren’t funny!!!! Some people have no legs!!!!

More than anything, this shit-storm of negative publicity got me thinking about how bloggers, especially ones who aren’t getting free cars and washers and iPods out of the whole deal, should handle criticism.

The general consensus about this situation is this: if you don’t want the nasty-grams, be more careful about what you put out there. And it’s true: I WOULDN’T post something about BPA in bottles causes cancer or abortion or gun control or even my relationship with Nat, because I don’t tend to court or appreciate controversy.

Plenty of people milk the controversy angle better than I do, because I’d never have made it onto the Debate Team because once I started to try and defend myself, I’d start throwing the podium around because I had no words.

But the things that I have put out there that you’d THINK I’d be thrown under the train for are never the ones that people tend to mock me for. If it were an if/then statement (50 million programmers can’t be wrong)(somewhere Dave started crying tears of joy at my proper usage of that term), it would be a clear cut situation.

“I will not talk about X and people will not assume Y.”

Anyone who has traveled around the blog-o-sphere knows that is a line of bullshit.

(coming soon to a blog near you! Aunt Becky carefully, thoughtfully lays out TYPES of trolls for your viewing pleasure).

The thing I am commonly trolled on involve one of my dogs, who, contrary to popular belief, I did NOT taxidermy when he misbehaved, and mostly reference things that are not quite true. Or they are, if you make up things that I write. Then, I suppose, they are.

The first time I got trolled by someone other than Pashmina (who was doing it as a joke) or a spambot (who cannot help itself), I was PUMPED. I did the White Girl Booty Shuffle and called The Daver out of a meeting to tell him. I was more excited than when I found out that they made sugar free Red Bull. Because I knew right then that I had officially Made It.

Mostly, the Trolls don’t bother me, except for when they kind of do.

I mean, I make my living (if you can call blogging tripe onto a free webpage “making a living”) off of writing about myself and my life. I don’t get paid for it. I owe precisely nobody a damn thing.

But how does someone, even someone with skin as thick as an elephant’s ass, handle the negativity? It’s not as though I’m performing a particularly poor rendition of Rosencrantz (or Guildenstern, even) and you’re telling the world that I couldn’t “inhabit the role.” No, you’re judging me on my life. These are MY stories, MY family, MY stupid human tricks.

The only answer is, of course, to stop blogging entirely.

It’s not an answer, of course, for someone as self-absorbed and narcissistic as I am, and I wouldn’t do it anyway. I’m not going to be chased off by some thesaurus-wielding moron, or someone who thinks that I am a worthless piece of shit, or someone who tells me in my comments that they WON’T be back. I’ve been called (and will be called) worse things by better people and I have had WAY worse things happen to me than this..

And besides, what sort of message would I be sending if I did that? Oops, kids, I can’t win and make everyone LOOOOVVVE me, so I threw in the towel! Not to be all “think of the children” or anything, but seriously, think of the children, people!

But I’d rather put myself out there than have ‘She Wasn’t Brave‘ carved on my tombstone. That would detract somewhat from the weeping out of work actors I’m going to hire to lay prostrate with grief on my grave, moaning and wailing, shrieking “WHY GOD?” at the sky.

Inheritance? What inheritance, kids?

So grab a drink, kiddos, if you’re into that, or don’t if you’re not, put on your Easter Bunny costume and let’s get this party started.

Your Aunt Becky? Not going anywhere. (Except maybe to hell.) *hums “Highway To Hell.”

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How would YOU handle criticism as a blogger?

In Defense Of The Cocktail Mom

times-motherfucker

It made the Sunday cover of the Life & Style section of time times. Which, WILD.

So imagine my surprise when I get a shout out in an article about my friend Stefanie Wilder-Taylor, from The New York Times. Certainly you should all take to the editor with your spears and torches to tell nay, to SCREAM to them that I am highly unworthy of such an honor.

Because, obviously.

———-

I stay at home now, with my kids, retired from my chosen profession at 26 and I write while my husband goes out and earns the bucks for us. It’s like a 50’s throwback here, without the pearl necklaces (something I’m ITCHING to bring back) and candied hams.

The Daver works in finance, which is a somewhat nebulous term that people typically respond to with a harsh intake of air and a drawn out, “Oooooh.” Since the Crash of Ought Eight, people tend to have a different perception of “working in finance.”

I don’t understand a single thing that The Daver does, and when he tries to explain, my eyes glaze over the same way that his do when I talk about my latest email from my agents. But, for all intents and purposes, what “working in finance” means to me is that he’s almost never home. A 70 hour work week is a relatively easy week for him.

Add to that an hour plus commute each way and you can easily call me a single mother during the week. Oh, don’t worry, I’m not up on the cross about it or anything; I’m sure some new mother needs the wood. To me, it’s just the way it is.

And while I did choose to have my three children, I didn’t expect that I would have to lose myself in the process to be successful.

Certainly, I am Ben’s mother, Amelia’s mother, Alex’s mother, Dave’s wife, daughter of Ann and Joe. Sister of Aaron. But I’m more than the sum of who I am to other people. This includes my children.

Sure, I suppose, I could go back to work to reclaim the Becky I was, now lost among piles of diapers and educational toys, but that wouldn’t solve anything. I’m fortunate that I’m able to stay home with my children, I’m not going to deny that, but, like any other choice, there are consequences.

It seems to me that with small children–even making the choice to have them–comes a loss of self.

Because for every healthful morsel I can shove down my kids gullet comes a meal I’ll eat cold and gluey. For every doctors appointment that I schlep someone to and from, I never can quite make the time to get my own blood work done. I peck out words onto my keyboard in between poopy butts and loads of laundry, and I’m expected to apologize for taking this time for myself.

I could, after all, be spending it growing my own organic food and mowing the lawn with my teeth. As Dave and I frequently joke, it never ends, does it? And it doesn’t.

That’s okay with me, honestly, because childhood doesn’t last forever.

My kids will grow up, go to college and move out (presumably). They’ll lay on faceless therapists’ couches and spill out all of my secrets: I didn’t prepare a three course gluten-free trans-fat free organic meal for dinner. I selfishly wrote about them and their lives. I reminded them every day that they should never lose track of who they are and what they want and that made them feel…angry?

They’ll grow up and be gone and I’ll have plenty of time to myself then. I’m sure I’ll spend a bit of that time wishing I’d done something different: spent less time worrying about washing their hair and more time inhaling that new baby smell. Knowing it will end helps me savor it.

And I do.

But I’m not selfless enough to live my life for my children. Nor, do I think, would they, as adults, want me to.

So no, I’m not going to apologize if I have a drink with my husband after they go to bed. I’m not sorry that I carve out some time each day to write and to connect with other people. I can’t tell you that I’m going to stop looking for things to fulfill my need to be Becky, As Herself and not Just Mom. They’re not mutually exclusive, people.

Lest you picture me passed out on the couch with a bottle of vodka next to my head, as the name of my blog implies, while my poor–WON’T ANYONE THINK OF THE CHILDREN?– children fend for themselves, let me assure you that I couldn’t tell you the last time that I actually had a drink. It wasn’t today, or yesterday, or last week. And when I *did* have a drink, I had just one.

The last time that I got soused was well over 3 years ago. I’m compulsive, maybe, but not when it comes to The Drink. I don’t have the luxury of a hangover any longer and I don’t care to wake up the Day After to pay for what I’d done the Night Before. It’s not my thing.

But responsibly letting your hair down with your friends, getting loud and obnoxious, or having kinky wild butt-sex with your husband? I can’t see the fault in that. Life–with or without children–can be tedious. It can be tedious, it can be boring, and it can feel long.

Certainly, that doesn’t mean that one should drink a fifth of Absolut, smoke a doob and get behind the wheel of a car. There’s nothing funny whatsoever about drunk driving or parenting while intoxicated, don’t mistake my meaning here. There’s no excuse for that sort of behavior, no matter how isolated, neglected, abused or miserable one may be.

There’s a happy medium to be found, I know that there is, between here and there. Between living for yourself and for someone else. And I like to pretend that it involves a cabana boy named Carlos and his well chiseled, oiled chest.

But maybe I’m wrong.

His name could very well be Paulo.

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So, Gentle Internet, what do YOU think?

Surely, Mr. Editor, There Must Have Been A Mistake

I’ve been in the paper before: one time I got busted shoplifting (shut UP! I was 14 and it was HAIR PICKS)(SHUT UP), I was typically on the honor roll because I am a complete over achiever, but for fear of a vicious ex-boyfriend, I didn’t even put my wedding announcement in there.

I didn’t really want a rehash of the last scene of The Graduate–this time with police and guns and restraining orders! Oh My!–on My Big Day.

So imagine my surprise when I get a shout out in an article about my friend Stefanie Wilder-Taylor, from The New York Times. Certainly you should all take to the editor with your spears and torches to tell nay, to SCREAM to them that I am highly unworthy of such an honor.

Because, obviously.

Like Babelfish for Toddlers

For some reason when I was pregnant with Alex, I somehow got it into my head that all babies were alike. I’ll allow you to revel in my stupidity for a moment, because even for me, this is quite a doozy. Go ahead, roll your eyes. I do.

I think Dr. Spock probably said that most PREGNANCIES were alike, you know, if you puked your guts out from the moment the sperm hit the ova, to the moment the baby crowned, it was likely that you repeated that with Baby #2. I can’t honestly say that my pregnancies were all that alike, besides my propensity to become brilliantly fat with each baby, no matter if I was hugging the bowl or stuffing my face.

But Alex was born and BAM! He was IMMEDIATELY nothing like his brother. He looked like a small yellow old man/garden gnome whereas Ben had looked shockingly like Chairman Mao. Then he acted nothing like his brother, further solidifying how dumb that thought train had been.

Where Ben preferred the company of his mobile to human interaction, I literally could not put Alex down without evoking a tantrum. He was born with separation anxiety so fierce that I nearly lost my marbles. No, I mean, like Crazy Town USA type marble loss (not ACTUAL marbles, because with a toddler, why on earth would I have marbles around?).

Language is one of those pesky ways in which Alex was nothing like his brother. Where Alex sat in his bouncy seat and babbled different sounds and managed a first word by age one, “kitty,*” Ben barely spoke until he was three. And then, only with the aid of speech and occupational therapy.

Now, of course, he never STOPS talking, and Alex is right along side of him, yelling over each other to hear and be heard. The tone and timbre of their voices are identical (Finally! Something that IS the same) and if I can’t hear who is doing the speaking, I cannot tell them apart.

When you get closer, of course, one of them speaks coherently and the other speaks and while some words may emerge, it’s more like listening to a long monologue done by someone in another language. Either Toddler or Devil, depending on his mood. Alex is my clone, be it good or bad, he’s very similar to me, although he’s infinitesimally more charming than I could ever be.

As proof of his infinite charm-a-bility I offer you this:

Whenever Alex has something with ketchup plopped neatly onto his tray for ultimate dipping pleasure, he partakes of the sweet red goo. Rather than use a pointless utensil, he would much prefer to place one of his fingers into the mound, coat the tip of his finger in it and then offer it to whomever it is that is sitting nearest to him.

Which is often me.

He offers it to me as “ice cream.” As in “Want some ice cream, Mommy?” Although with less intelligible words. And obviously, with less ice cream. Alex tears through the entire mound that way, finger full by disgusting finger full, each time gently promising ice cream when he will only deliver ketchup.

Can we get him a shirt that says, “Future Used Car Salesman?”

Anyway. Like I alluded to, you can understand a fraction of what Alex is saying up and to a point, always with context, and it’s frustrating for us all as he is obviously really saying SOMETHING. What it was, nobody really knew, except, of course, for Alex.

Earlier in the week, though, I woke up, grumbled to myself about having to get up and shuffled down the stairs to come upon my Alex, who ran full steam into my legs, demanding to be picked up.

Hi Mommy,” he screamed joyfully. “How’s it going?

“I’m fine, Alex,” I replied, confused. “How are you?”

I’m watching TV with Ben,” he hollered (Alex was born without an inside voice. This is, apparently, genetic). “Come sit with us.”

It was like I’d somehow gone to Turkey, gotten off the plane knowing all the Turkish I know (answer: none), and found that I could understand the cabbie perfectly. I don’t know if it was me or Alex or both, but it was like the Intelligible Switch was flipped into the ON position.

And now, the talking back begins. The Terrible and Terrific Two’s. I couldn’t be happier**.

alex-pool1

“Might I interest you in a genuine pair of WOODEN NICKELS? I only have one pair left and they’re going fast! Hurry and take advantage of this once-in-a-lifetime offer!”

*sounded like “titty.”

**I could, but it would involve a pit of black beans and wrestling female gladiators. And oodles of illegal AND immoral narcotics.

Only Slightly Better Than A Holiday In Cambodia

We were released from the ER after my diagnosis of pneumonia on the day after I was forever to become Mrs. David Harks*, and by the time we trundled off to the pharmacy and carried our wedding gifts up the 47 flights of stairs to our condo, it was well past dinner time. The limo was coming at the ass crack of 3:30 AM to take us to the airport so that we could properly celebrate our nuptials by drinking gallons of rum and laying around in our undies.

Which, come to think of it, was pretty much every Friday night for us.

Neither of us had slept well in days thanks to hangovers (The Daver), coughing so violently that I may have thrown up (me), and dealing with a sick child (both of us), so we threw some stuff into our bag…

(Pointless Rambling! Which was still reeking of cat pee, but it was Sunday night and neither of us was smart enough to go to Target and replace the damn suitcase, but this is neither here nor there)

…and went to bed. 3:30 is just a ridiculously ridiculous time to be awake.

Sure enough the alarm went off what felt like just after we’d fallen peacefully asleep and we blearily got our stuff together and hauled our jangly bodies down the stairs to wait for our limo. One limo ride later, we were at O’Hare, tickets and passports in hand and mustered up some glee as we headed towards the Delta counter. We were flying internationally to St. Lucia on a 6AM flight, and made sure to follow The Rules like good sheepies and get to the airport at 4AM.

Information that might have been useful beforehand:

Knowing that Airport Staffers? DO NOT WORK AT 4 AM. They’re sensibly ensconced in their happy Airport Staffers Bed, visions of murdering ignorant passengers dancing in their heads.

(notice I am not mocking them for this)

We did notice a gaggle of TSA staff sitting behind the desks, all drinking coffee and gossiping, I’m certain, about the terrorists they apprehended mere minutes before plunking their asses down together. I suppose that’s the time of day with which The Reign of Terror could feasibly sneak through security undetected.

Thankfully for The Friendly Skies that day, The Daver and I are not terrorists.

And after awhile, other people began to trickle in line behind us, all of us grumbling at what a stupid fucking idea it is to tell people to get to the airport hours before a flight only to stand in line, waiting for the staff to wake up. Apparently, none of them got that memo either, which made me feel a little less like the moron I am.

I admit, I felt pretty self-important being the first in line, like that was some kind of honor or something, which makes no sense considering it only illustrated what a dumb-ass I am. But we checked our bag eventually, as I glared, red-eyed and sick at the clerk who was still rubbing the sleep out of her eyes. It was unfair of me, I know, but I never claimed to be fair, smart or awesome.

Okay, I DID claim to be awesome once or twice. But that was a lie.

Not clever enough to pack a spoon, I began to chug the bottle of codeine-in-aded cough syrup as soon as our delicate butts grazed the seats of the airplane for the first leg of our bipedal flight (please tell me you get that.).

(bipedal = two legs = we had two flights? That was AWESOME! *high fives the air*)

I rested my head on The Daver’s bony shoulder and began to nod off, the codeine kicking blissfully in. I floated somewhere between awake and asleep for quite awhile until I realized that….we weren’t moving. The passengers had boarded, the gates locked, and we.were.sitting. The climate in the cabin abruptly changed as people began to chatter and twitter and grumble.

Something.was.wrong.

After about 45 minutes, the captain came on the speaker to tell us that the plane had engine problem.

Fuck.

Fuck.

Fuck.

That meant our connecting flight?

Not gonna happen.

There was one flight that would get us to a DIFFERENT connecting flight, the flight attendant told us, but it had maybe 4 open seats.

Hell hath no fury like a woman in the mood to fucking drink rum in her fucking underwear, so I pushed and pulled and fought my way through the rest of the passengers, grabbed Daver’s hand and we HAULED ASS through the terminal and back to, you guessed it, The Everloving DELTA counter again.

I was prepared to bribe, borrow, guilt, and even turn on the waterworks to get us on that flight. I’d suffered for many miserable months planning a wedding that I didn’t want, comforting myself the entire time that I would at least get a fucking vacation out of it, and I was going to fucking get that vacation, dammit.

By the grace of God, we got tickets onto that flight. *PHEW* Back through security we went, this time subjected to the rigorous pat down/partial strip search. Poor The Daver had been used to flying under the radar until he began traveling with his new wife: A TSA Magnet since 1980.

Deemed safe for travel, we pulled up our pants, tried to put our dignity back on our shoulders and continued down the terminal. Several hours until our next flight took off, we decided to start getting up with the get down and we found a bar. At 9 AM on a Monday in the airport.

We went to the bar.

And we got WASTED with a capitol WASTED. Screwdrivers, something I normally cannot stand, upon screwdrivers were tossed back as we laughed, HAHAHA, so funny! We’d been at the airport for 6 hours now and gotten nowhere! HAHAHA. At least, I laughed, the fucking wedding was over!

Finally it was time to get on the plane and we sloppily made our way to the gate, slurring our speech and staggering into each other. There comes a point during any clusterfuck that you have to look at the person next to you and quote The Dead, “Nothing left to do but smile, smile, smile.”

And it’s true. What else could we do?

Anyway, our happy wasted asses boarded the plane, trying to pretend that we were dead sober and no, ma’am, not the SLIGHTEST bit tipsy! Sober as a Judge! Sober as THE POPE! Sober as KEITH RICHARDS, more like it.

Plane #2 didn’t serve food, and landed in Puerto Rico many hours later, where we only had a short layover until Plane #3 took us to The Island. Heaven. Paradise. I could just picture myself swimming in the ocean! I could feel the hot sand beneath my feet and hear the lapping of the waves. The rum was calling me, I could hear it, and I was more than willing to answer it with a warbled “I loove you.”

By the time we sat down on Plane #3, a veritable tin can of a plane–incidentally, the ones I always see on the news in conjunction with the phrase “crashed into the ocean”–we were both sober and beginning to feel the effects of the vodka. Nothing worse than STILL BEING AWAKE when your hangover kicks in, eh?

The plane ride was as uneventful as being hurled through space in a Pepsi Can is able to be. The day that had now yawned into 18 hours. We finally landed in our destination at roughly 8 or 9 PM, the humidity curling my hair slightly and making us both sweat under our it’s-September-in-Chicago outfits of jeans, sneakers and hoodies. But we were there and we would soon be able to change into proper clothes, and we high-fived each other. We’d MADE it.

Sure, our 5 day vacation was now only 4 days, but, well, 50 million wild condors don’t give a shit, right?

The island has two airports and we’d flown into the smaller of the two, barely a shack, no food, no food courts, no nothing. ESPECIALLY no luggage belonging to the happy couple. Turns out that our luggage (to no one’s surprise) was lost in a nebulous sea of nothingness. It hadn’t followed us onto our second plane. Where it was, nobody could say. Gone baby, gone.

Also absent? Transportation that the hotel was supposed to provide. Stranded on the Island, no luggage, blood sugar plummeting rapidly, I promptly lost it.

Just like at the old Delta counter, there was no one currently working to lose my crap on, so I just sort of raged indignantly at a palm tree. Unsurprising to no one, it didn’t give a shit either.

Finally, after about a half an hour or so, the resort van picked us up and we wound through the hilly island in the back of what I lovingly call “Child-Napping Vans” due to their lack of windows and huge back cabin. At this point, I’m not sure how much I would have cared about being kidnapped anyway, but it turned out that fortune smiled upon us: the driver merely wanted to escort us back to the hotel.

Winding through the island, bumping this way and that, while it would never normally bother me, netted my new husband the lucky honor of watching his brand-new bride dry heave into her backpack. Considering he’d already escorted me to get a colonoscopy the year before, this was probably marginally better.

Although not by much.

The hotel concierge was unbelievably kind and offered us some sorts of promotional alcohol shirts to wear–we could buy some new duds at the gift shop in the morning–as we checked in while I was openly weeping. Because, you know, crying totally helps, right?

The following morning, after we laid about in hotel bathrobes in our mini-hut, we purchased some ill-fitting clothing from the gift shop. Not only was the selection awful, but nothing fit well.

It didn’t matter. It’s all what you make of it. And we? Had a blast. Pneumonia, luggage lost for 2 days, airplane trouble. Didn’t matter. At least the fucking wedding was over, right?

*kind of want to punch myself for calling myself this.

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Photographic evidence of my ill-fitting (likely) zillion dollar sundress:

honeymoon

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All right, Internet, pull up a chair, pour yourself a cup of coffee, make fun of the longest blog post ever (there was NO good place to break it up that would make sense whatsoever) and tell me about YOUR vacation nightmares. Or other superficial disasters.