Go Ask Aunt Becky

Dear Aunt Becky,

There is a burning question I think we all want, no NEED, to know that answer to.

Of the Uncrustables, (which I think we can agree are all awesome) – what’s your fav?  I personally can’t get enough of the PB/Honey….

Inquiring minds want to know.

As far as I am concerned, Prankster, there IS no other flavor than the Peanut Butter/Honey Uncrustables. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that all other flavors of Uncrustables are BULLSHIT.

Knowing that you’re a fellow Uncrustable lover makes my heart happy. And hungry.

(no, this blog is not sponsored by Uncrustables, just powered by it)

Dear Aunt Becky,

I was divorced a couple of years ago when my son was 2. Since then, he has been diagnosed with a (ultimately) terminal illness that will make him progressively mentally and physically impaired.

He is unable to report abuse (or even pain – he had an undiagnosed small bone in his foot for three weeks before we figured out what was going on because he never complained or even limped) because his vocabulary is approximately 50 words, all nouns like “apple”, “water” and “chicken” to let us know he is thirsty or hungry.

I am so fearful to get out into the dating world because I am afraid of predators who would love to get into a relationship with a woman whose 5 year old is unable to tell mommy about being molested. How many dates is appropriate before tell you tell a guy you have a kid, get to know that they like you for yourself and not for your luscious little boy? Yes, I have issues.

Signed,

MPS Mom

Dear Prankster, Living with a child with such an illness must be a tremendous stress and I’m very sorry. I’d love it if you wrote about it for Band Back Together.

When I met The Daver, my son – who is autistic and, at the time, had a very limited vocabulary – was two years old. The Daver knew from Moment One that I was “Becky, the girl with a kid” because that’s the way we were introduced. Ben has always been a part of my vocabulary and I’d never once considered that he might be after me for my kid.

If and when you’re ready to date, there’s no reason you have to introduce your kid to your dates until you trust them. That’s TOTALLY up to you!

However, I believe any future relationship may run into issues if your boyfriend learns way down the line that you have a kid. Might be a little off-putting and awkward.

I’d say tread lightly into the dating world if it worries you. Good luck, Prankster.

Dear Aunt Becky;

After reading almost all of your blog posts in a week (yes ma’am I have) I have determined: a) you’re the smartest person in the universe or b) slightly off key, and either way, I am seeking your advice, because I find I am not receiving good advice from my fam.

I’m a single mom, 2 years divorced, and trying one of the oft advertised “dating” websites, and wondering: WHY THE F**K ARE MEN SUCH F**KTARDS?

Why, after speaking to me for approximately two seconds, would anyone feel is it appropriate or appreciated to tell me the how’s and why’ of their sex life and what they prefer?

I clearly stated in my profile I want to know someone longer than a minute before divulging my preferences about having the sex, so why does anyone think that is appropriate? UGH.

I am destined to be single forever.

DOUBLE UGH.

I might prefer to be single.

Thank you, Aunt Becky (btw, you’re far cooler than any of my real aunts, even though I think you may be younger than me in real life, which would be very strange.)

-Aggravated at Dating in General.

Aw, Aggravated, I’d be happy to be your Aunt. Adopting The Internet RULES, especially because I don’t have to buy it all Christmas gifts. Although since you said I might be the smartest person ever, I’ll buy you LOTS of presents. LOTS.

I’m going to make the assumption that you’re not using Match.com (read: hook-up.com) or Craig’s List to find dates.

Do you remember Penis Gate? Are you on The Twitter? If you were, you probably would.

Basically, word got out that a certain well-known daddy blogger had been sending naked weenie pictures of himself to others (people tend to email me pictures of a) three wolf moon paraphernalia or b) orchids). Like a lot.

So I made a joke about it. And it comes to my attention that THIS IS A COMMONISH THING. Which makes me wonder a) why I don’t get naked weenie pictures and b) why the fuck anyone would WANT a naked penis picture. #blech.

There are certain men (and women) out there, I suppose Prankster, that are just morons. And the availability of Internet hook-ups makes enough of them think it’s perfectly normal to be all Uncle Pervy.

Just think of it like your Pervy Uncle who goes out to weddings and tries to grind with everyone from the cocktail waitress to the wall because he thinks you want to rub up against his sweaty wang. There’s those guys out there. And the guys who kindly ask you to dance.

They’re there. Just not as….prominently.

And should you decide to remain single together, you can move on in with me. I have cats AND orchids. We can be two freaks in a house. Maybe we should learn to KNIT!

This is gonna be EPIC.

Finally, Something I Can ACTUALLY Frame. Unlike Those Pesky Kid-Pictures.

Before I became a mother, before I became Student Nurse Becky, before I became Your Aunt Becky, I was something else entirely.

(no, not a mail-order bride)

(like anyone would pay for that)

I was a waitress. Well, before that, I was a hostess and after I turned twenty-one, I bartended, too. In fact, working in restaurants is the only thing besides blogging that I’ve managed to do for more than a couple of months.

There was something electrifying about working in a place where so many people had to work in unison to achieve a common goal: namely, make as much money as possible with the least amount of effort. Of course, there was much effort involved. Carrying trays of hot food, trying to keep it on your shoulder, not trip over other servers while avoiding the crotch parasites that were always underfoot during the dinner rush.

The Us VS Them attitude (staff versus customers) united the lot of us. Didn’t matter who you were or where you came from, so long as you weren’t a jackass to the other servers.

You have some assbag at Table 65 staring you down because the kitchen fucked up your order and it’s late, and you get why they’re mad, but it’s not ACTUALLY your fault, but you can’t really explain that to them, because it sounds like a classic case of “pass the buck, SERVER EDITION?”

Send your friend, the one who can heap on the fake-sweetness without seeming insincere, over with their food when it pops up.

I worked in restaurants from the moment I turned 16 to age 23. The hours were flexible, which meant I could work weekends, and I’d make more money in a couple of hours than I’d make working all day in retail.

waitressing-serving-rules

After work, the servers would sit around, drinking and shooting the shit. The sense of camaraderie made all of the bullshit we’d put up with worth it. We were an instant party, hitting up the bars that served late after we’d closed down. If you needed something; anything, you could count on the staff helping out. I have no doubt that if I’d murdered someone, my work friends would be there with black garbage bags and shovels to help bury the body. Without question.

Being a server also meant we fucked around a lot. There was the Pizza Suit we’d all take turns running around the restaurant wearing, the beers we’d sneak into the cooler and chug and this, the best thing ever.

old-man-in-thong

This was the picture I’d carefully taped onto the front of my server’s book. I have to wonder how many people wondered what the fuck was wrong with me (more than normal). I’d never mention the picture to my tables, it was just THERE.

I stopped serving when I realized I was burnt out. Being asked for another Coke would be enough to set me off. I’d seethe as I handed them the Coke I’d ALREADY POURED.

HOW DARE YOU ASK ME FOR SOMETHING I ANTICIPATED?

But before I left, I learned how important tips are for a server.

In Illinois, at least, I made $3.29 an hour, minus 10 cents each hour for food (company policy). That $3.29 was taxed to DEATH, as the government assumed we’d make cash tips.

That meant that most of the “paychecks” I got were between two and four dollars. Every two weeks.

Occasionally, I’ve lamented that I never actually framed the checks I’d received for $0.00. Asinine. The company had PAID to print said check.

Hil-arious.

As a blogger, I never expected to make money. I do the occasional freelance thing, but the concept of “money” and “blogging” seemed as odd as blogging, itself.

I’d joined BlogHer ad network awhile ago and was content until I noticed my checks grow smaller and smaller as my readership increased.

Huh. Inversely proportional ad network?

I dropped them once the checks grew so abysmal that I was actually offended.

Anyway, last week, I got my final check.

check-for-one-cent

I am SO framing that.

 

This Is, At Least, A Better Idea Than The Velcro Wall I’d Been Planning.

Of all the many things in this world I don’t understand, my greatest confusion lies in this: I don’t understand why ball-pits smell like pee.

I desperately want to make my basement a gigantic ball-pit, but I’m terrified that if I did so, people would simply come over to take a whiz in it. Like, RANDOM people would show up at my door to pee in my ball-pit* and then I’d have to call my television serial killer husband Dexter to take care of them. Because peeing in ball-pits is bullshit.

*(You know if it had to happen to anyone, it would be me)

But still, the allure of a basement ball-pit (along with my tree house Panic Room) is strong, Pranksters.

Last week, my son turned four. And thanks to Product Placement during Team Umizoomi, he decided that he was going to spend his birthday at Chuck-E-Cheese. Had I turned him down, I have no doubts whatsoever that he’d walk there. Alex will get what he wants, when he wants, period. Luckily, it’s normally just juice or something.

I dislike Chuck-E-Cheese for the same reasons I hate Worst Best Buy: total sensory overload. Chuck-E-Cheese has the added bonus of smelling like poo.

But for my son, I’d manage.

Bonus! I had a coupon for 6 kajillion tokens.

As we waited for our Mouse Pizza, I noticed that this particular Chuck-E-Cheese sold both beer AND cotton candy, I was pleased. I pink-puffy-HEART cotton candy.

The risk for Oregon Trail disease was at an all-time high, but I managed to sit down without a hazmat suit. Progress, not perfection.

I captured my children’s horrified reactions:

chuck-e-cheese

The Birthday Boy, himself.

chuck-e-cheese-mouse-cups

I’m a bit disappointed that I couldn’t get beer in those cups.

toddler-chuck-e-cheese

After a solid lunch of Mouse Pizza, it was Game Time.

Happily, I noted that the once pee-infested ball pit was gone.

The boys crawled around in the tubes, probably infecting themselves with poo germs while I took my daughter around to see if there were any games SHE could play.

I didn’t find any Amelia-sized games, but I did find Skee-Ball, which she was immediately enamored with. Happily, she took the cup of coins, which she called “Treasure” and inserted them into the game while I Skee-Balled my ever-loving arm off. I won like 8 tickets and a sore arm for all of my hard work.

After she tired of Skee-Ball, I realized I still had a zillion and a half tokens. Shitballs.

So I went off to find a game where I could dump the tokens in and win “tickets,” because like it or not, the kids were going to beg for some sort of “reward” at the Redeeming Tickets For Overpriced Crap counter. It was tickets or spending 8 bucks on three tiny boxes of nerds.

I found a game where I could bang a button* and win tickets. Perfect. No effort or skillz necessary.

I’d blown through most of my Treasure in a minute or two when I was hastily shoved out of the way by a rolly-polly woman at least ten years older than me. I’d thought she’d merely bumped into me, but no, no, of course not. This WAS Chuck-E-Cheese, Home Of The KlassE, after all.

Nope, she’d shoved me out of the way so she could play the game.

Bitch.

Whatever. Instead of punching her in the taco, I dumped the rest of the tokens and headed back to my three overly-exhausted kids. We redeemed the tickets for three wee Halloween-Candy-Sized boxes of candy and headed home.

So far, I haven’t shown signs of Dysentery or Ebola, but it could happen at any moment.

And now I’m obsessed with the idea of my own personal ball pit. I’m adding a moat, razor wire and an electric fence to my previous ball-pit design.

Perhaps some guard-dogs, too.

You never do know when someone might pop into your house and take a whiz in your ball-pit.

*Cue Bevis-like laughter

Purple For The People

I’m was all lamenting that I hadn’t bought MYSELF a gift for Alex’s birthday because, well, I’m the one who expelled him out of my uterus. But then the heavens opened up and shone down upon me.

I got an email from my friend who makes my profanity-laden shirts.

My new shirts were READY. I nearly peed myself.

Behold the newest in my line of shirts:

purple-should-be-a-flavor-shirts

It is so full of win that I can hardly stand it.

I also make other profane shirts. They’re available in “fashion fit” (order a size up) for The Ladies and Unisex for The Mens.

Shut Your Whore Mouth shirt, now available in purple, pink AND black:

shut-your-whore-mouth-shirt

A Not Your Bitch shirt:

not-your-bitch-shirt

A With The Band Shirt (now available in sizes up to 2X):

with-the-band-shirt

A Cancer Is Bullshit shirt:

cancer-is-bullshit-shirts

I Kicked Cancer’s Ass shirt:

i-kicked-cancers-ass-shirt

I may be weeping with The Awesome right now.

To celebrate my overemotional status, I’m going to do a giveaway of one of these fine shirts. Why? Because obviously. Also: I love you guys to pieces.

Let’s give this two weeks to play out. Tax Day, April 15, a winner shall be announced.

How do you win one?

First, tell me which shirt you’d want and why.

For extra! entries! you can do the following (please leave me an extra comment for each entry):

Write a POST about the contest (two entries!)

Be my BFF on The Facebook.

Follow Mommy Wants Vodka on The Twitter.

Follow Band Back Together on The Twitter.

Tweet about the contest.

Add Mommy Wants Vodka to your blogroll.

Add Band Back Together to your blogroll.

YAY for new shirts!

And Now You Are Four.

Dear Alex,

I took a pregnancy test – the only positive one I’d seen since getting knocked up with your biggest brother – while drinking vodka and smoking a cigarette. I was so certain I was doomed to another month of negative tests, and the test was simply a way of dashing any lingering hopes for that cycle.

When the digital test read the elusive, “PREGNANT,” I’d been chasing, I looked at myself in the mirror and said, “No fucking way.” I simply couldn’t believe that I’d actually managed it. I was finally knocked up.

After getting knocked up while on the pill, I figured another pregnancy was a Sure Thing, and frankly, from the moment I met your brother, I decided that he needed siblings (although not by his father).

When your father proposed to me I said, “Can’t we have some more babies instead?”

(I’m not much of a romantic)

Your dad insisted that no, in fact, we could not just pop out more kids, so he dragged me down that aisle in a while dress, slung a ring on my finger and made me an “honest woman.” I kept my eyes on the prize (more babies!) while month-after-month of negative pregnancy tests taunted me.

By the time I took that one positive test, I’d given up hope of conceiving without outside help. But there you were.

I quickly snuffed out my cigarette and dumped out the vodka I’d been drinking. I was a PREGNANT LADY now.

The nine months that followed were some of the most excruciating I’d had. I barfed until I had nothing left to barf and still I got fat. My ribs spread. I looked like Grimace (but less purple).

By the time March 30, 2007 rolled around, I was four centimeters dialed, and beyond ready to remove you from my body cavity. By force, if necessary. I’d told my doctor that I was going to induce labor in the back of a car – (and I would have) so that I could get you the hell out.

I waddled in to the hospital and a couple of hours later – and a mere three pushes – there you were.

You promptly whizzed all over your father, something I considered appropriate since he’d “had a headache” and slept through your entire labor. The nurse said that you looked like an angel. I thought you looked like a cross between a garden gnome and Elmer Fudd.

sailor-suit-baby-boy

I didn’t care.

(I think I yelled “NORD-BERG” after you were born, as a joke.)

What I’d wanted, prayed for my entire pregnancy was to have a child that liked me. Years of being rejected by your older brother had left me feeling pretty shitty about myself, and this time; this time I wanted a baby who loved me.

You know the saying, “be careful what you wish for?” Because that’s exactly what I got. A child that liked me best. A child that liked me so much, in fact, that I couldn’t put him down. Ever.

crying-baby-with-brother

For a full year, you only had eyes for me. I nursed you while walking through Target, I nursed you to sleep, I got up with you every two hours to nurse you more. You nursed 18 hours a day. Sleep-deprivation took on a whole new meaning.

gerber-baby-adorable

God forbid anyone attempt to give me respite. It was Alex’s way or the highway. And all roads lead to Mama.

Mama got you back.

toddler-hot-dog-halloweeen-costume

At four now, you’re still a Mama’s Boy, under duress you’ve learned to like others as well.

I’ve never met anyone quite like you before, Alex. You bring a whole new meaning to the word, “intense,” because you are so very intense. But that intensity has a streak of sweetness a mile wide, which is how we find your severely passionate quirks charming rather than difficult.

Child of mine, you march to the beat of your own drummer, the kind of drummer who doesn’t give a flying fuck what other people think of them. You wear your cupcake shirt with joyful pride, fluttering around in your Flutter-Bye costume (which is always worn, of course, for all holidays), and I’m certain if anyone questioned it, you’d just give them the hairy eyeball.

butterfly-boy-halloween-costume

You like it, therefore everyone else should, too. If they don’t? Fuck ’em.

That’s an admirable quality, Alex. Don’t lose that.

toddler-poking-baby-doll-eyes

Sometimes, I wish I’d been blessed with an imagination as vivid as yours. Your Playmobil Guys go on many adventures, sliding down slides, robbing banks, and other assorted escapades while the rest of us simply watch, stunned. I’ve never been creative like that.

spider-bite-toddler

Like your brother before you, The Planets are everything. You mapped out your next Halloween Costume (Saturn) immediately upon returning home from Trick-or-Treating. I’m forever tripping over mini-solar systems you’ve set up around the house, only to be scolded, “Mom, you RUINED NEPTUNE.”

Sorry, kidlet.

toddler-boy-sprinkler

Your sweet streak, well, it knows no bounds. Your preschool teacher is forever praising your behavior with your sister. You treat her with kindness, dignity and respect. You look out for her, gently leading her around and taking care of her. As well you should. Your teacher has never seen anything like it.

best-friends-and-brothers

I know it won’t always be this way between you three, but I do know this: you three have each other, and someday that will matter. Never stop caring about your siblings. They’re your best allies and someday, I know they’ll repay the favor. Your sister, especially, will kick anyone’s ass for you if need be. I know this because she is like me.

dog-pile-kids

We’ve had a rocky couple of years, you and me, but in the end, we’re better for it.

Remember when things go to shit – even when they’re at their worst – you’ll find inner strength that otherwise, you’d never know you had. In the end (and there is always an end), it’ll all be worth it. Somehow. You may not know precisely why you had to walk through bullshit until much later. When you do, it’ll all make sense.

I’m honored to know you and I’m honored to call you my son. You’ve given me redemption and love at a time when I needed it most. I cannot repay that debt to you. But I will try. You deserve that and so, so much more.

toddler-boy-laughing

Love Always,

Mama

P.S. A Saturn Costume? You sure you don’t want to be a pirate or something?

 

Be A Model….Or Just Look Like One!

When I was a wee Aunt Becky, there were many things I’d desperately pleaded, begged and bargained for in the hopes that my slightly boring parents might pull through.

When the EZ Bake Oven came out, I wanted one so badly I could almost taste the tiny, yet delicious cakes I’d create all by myself! My parents, being the dull-as-toast sort, informed me that I could, at any time, use the REGULAR oven, therefore I did NOT require an EZ Bake Oven of my own. Of course, I was never actually allowed to use the oven to make cakes or anything else for that matter. With my propensity for bizarre injuries, who can blame them?

Another time, I begged for a bunny rabbit, only to have to sit through a lecture (complete with pictures) about how our dogs would kill my bunny. They weren’t wrong, but I could have done without the the graphic images of dead bunnies forever seared into my brain.

Although my parents had plenty of money, I never managed to convince them to buy tasty and delicious movie popcorn, either. They’d claim it was too expensive; too fattening. Instead, we’d bring our own refreshments into the theater, stuffed handily into my mother’s huge purse. I’d munch on boring tasteless air-popped popcorn while the smells of fake butter intoxicated, taunted me.

My requests for a pony on roller skates and a wee sub-machine gun for my hamster were flat-out denied.

When the new mall opened up in my hometown, I noticed they had an fabulous place unlike anything I’ve ever seen; a place where I could wear a classy boa or rhinestone cowboy hat. A place where I could get fancy portraits done. This place even boasted Soap Opera Mood Lighting.

Glamor Shots.

Swoon!

Even the NAME had “glamor” in it. I was hooked. I wanted MY portraits done. My parents are sleek oak, teak, and fine china people, and even then, I knew that bedazzling anything made it classier.

I begged. I pleaded. I wrote page after page of letters to my parents, outlining all of the reasons I should be allowed to have my Glamor Shots done. “Why don’t you have me take portraits?” my father asked. “Have your father take your picture,” my mother said. Considering that I had 8 million pictures taken of me by my father – not a single one including pancake makeup or anything bedazzled – that was not what I had in mind.

Shortly after, Glamor Shots closed. I’d still see the portraits around; my friends got THEIR portraits done because their parents weren’t dull as beige paint, but eventually, I gave up. I thought the chain had gone out of business.

When I found Glamor Shots on The Twitter a couple of months ago, it was as though the heavens opened up and smiled down upon me. I could still be a model…or just look like one! All this time, I’d thought the chain had gone under, donating their extensive boa collection to the drag clubs in the city. And yet, THERE THEY WERE. OH HAPPY DAY.

Quickly, I followed Glamor Shots and PRAISE BE, Glamor Shots followed me back.

Visions of Soap Opera Portraits swirled in my head now that I had a new-found friend on The Twitter.

Glamor Shots just unfollowed me on The Twitter.

My heart shattered into a million tiny pieces. How could the very chain that I’d so badly wanted my Glamorous Soap Opera Portraits from UNFOLLOW me?

Generally, when people unfollow me on The Twitter, I ignore it.

(pointless aside: Nothing makes me quite as stabby as when someone thinks they’re “calling me out” on The Twitter. Like this one time after I tweeted about Alex calling SNOMG a “wizard,” I made a remark about liking the phrase, “The Undertoad.” No less than twenty people got all high-and-mighty because, “The Undertoad,” is a phrase from a book called ‘The World According To Garp’ and I had the audacity to tweet about The Undertoad without mentioning that it wasn’t my phrase. Um. Okay.)

The Twitter can be a little weird. I mean, I just splat out whatever’s in my head (which is kinda scary) in 140-characters (or less). Twitter = a microblog.

Like this:

gift-for-four-year-old-boy

gifts-for-four-year-old-boy

mutant-fish-chicago-river

blog-spam

I’ll give you that some of my tweets can be marginally offensive but so am I. I’ve ALWAYS been marginally offensive. This is nothing new. And being marginally offensive does NOT cancel out my desire to have a Sparkly Boa Mood Lighting Soap Opera Portrait done. Why would they smite me like that, Pranksters? How could Glamor Shots DO this to me?

All I wanted was to look like THIS guy for a day:

unicorn-glamor-shot

Sighs.

Maybe it’s time to track down Barbizon. There I can be a model…or just look like one.

————-

So dish, Pranksters. Does anyone else get their feelers hurt when they’re unfollowed on The Twitter? What DOES hurt your feelers?

Reminders Of What Never Was.

In order for me to Get Less Anxious, I’ve been doing a lot of purging. Getting rid of what’s not important. There’s a lot of noise and crap (literal and figurative) out there and if you’re not careful, it can take over your life.

This week, I braved the Salvation Army drop center, where I swear to you, Pranksters, they judge my stuff before begrudgingly giving me a tax receipt. I did end up holding onto a few things. Maybe I will hold an Internet Garage Sale to raise some money to try and turn Band Back Together into a Non-Profit (I’m guessing it takes more than just batting my eyelashes and swinging the word “bullshit” around).

I came across something in my garage, buried under the piles of stuff to be donated; something I’ve never quite known what to do with.

elmhurst-college-nursing-school

Let me back up a second.

In 2002, a freshly single mother living at home with my parents, I’d realized that I needed to figure out What Next. Since toddlerhood, I’d planned to be a diamond-encrusted, world-saving doctor. Newborn on my hip, I realized this was probably going to have to be put on hold until said infant got a little, well, bigger.

Half a degree in bio/chem meant that I could handily enroll in nursing school, which was, at the very least on a similar plan, and wouldn’t make med school too far a distant chipmunk on the horizon.

So I did.

The first year, I spent doing the typical freshman pre-reqs, falling in with a motley crew as I commuted by train to the closest school that I could get my bachelor’s degree in nursing. I earned the nickname Super Becky Overachiever, acing all the exams (a degree in bio/chem is far more rigorous), becoming a TA for inorganic, organic and biochem as well as picking up some tutoring gigs for Anatomy and Physiology I and II.

Sweet ASS, I thought, as I patted myself on the back. I loved being busy, feeling useful, and doing something with myself back then just as I do now.

The first year of nursing school dawned and I parted ways with my homies from my pre-req days. They had another year before nursing school, so I’d be meeting a whole new set of people. No bother, I figured. I tended to get along with just about everyone.

When I walked in that first day, thirty pairs of eyes glared at me. To this day, I don’t know why I was met with so much hostility, but there it was, and there I was. I slurped my coffee, smiled a big ole fake smile, walked to the back of the class and took a seat.

The instructors bounded in applauding, “AREN’T YOU JUST SO HAPPY TO BE HERE?”

No, no I was not. In fact, this was not at all where I wanted to be, but I grinned uneasily as I looked around at my classmates; the ones I’d be stuck with for the next two years of my life.

Everyone else beamed, nodded, and started applauding back.

Okay then.

I tried to make nice. Really, I did. As a (former) waitress, I can bullshit with the best of them, but man, these people, I couldn’t crack ’em. For the next four (four!) hours, I sat there, alone in the back row, listening to a discussion about wiping butts, properly changing sheets, and bedpans. Each point the instructor made, punctuated by a question or comment from my classmate about something inane.

“One time, my grandma had the bed made wrong at the hospital.”

“I like cheese.”

“Our bedpans at the hospital I work at look different.”

Four hours a week of this, four days a week.

I walked back to the train, alone, and I wept. Not the kind of cry that leaves tears dribbling out of the corners of your eyes, oh no. I sobbed. I sobbed so hard that cars passing by stopped and asked if I was okay. No. But I would be.

My heart was broken.

I did what I always do: I made the best of it. I befriended the other outcasts. I zoomed to the top of my class, got invited into the prestigious nursing honor society, while slouching in the back, playing Bejeweled on my phone. Every time I got discouraged, I reminded myself that this was temporary.

I developed an incredible respect for nurses. Still have it.

Nurses = awesome.

I wouldn’t be where I am without where I’ve been or what I learned.

A couple of weeks before graduation, there’s a big thing for nurses called a “Pinning Ceremony.” It has nothing, I learned, to do with wrestling or sex. First, you get your picture taken, something I didn’t want to have done (I’m a rebel like that, and really, who the hell wants a snapshot of a twenty-five year old?), but my friends all insisted.

nursing-school-picture

I love the surly face.

Anyway, there’s a big ceremony, a bunch of yapping, and we get pins.

totally-retouched-nursing-school-picture

That’s a nursing school pin. (also, like my retouching job?)

The night of the pinning ceremony, it was unveiled that some of the class had made each of us a gift from money leftover from something or another.

I don’t remember precisely what the ceremony involved, only that I spent most of it thinking about a) how hungry I was and b) listing the periodic table of elements (Hydrogen, Helium...) in my head. I probably played Bejeweled on my phone. Afterward, I went to the alter to collect my gift, the flowerpot I still own.

As I was looking for my name-flower pot (what the fuck was I going to do with that?) two nearly identical very short, very round woman with matching tight perms and haircuts so short they like tattoos waddled angrily up to me.

One of them shook their finger accusingly in my face: “WHERE IS NADIA’S?”

“Huh?” I replied. Nadia was a classmate who, well past the normal age of the graduating class, spent most of her time bitterly gossiping with her friend Melissa about everyone else. She especially hated me because, knowing I didn’t want to be a nurse – her life’s ambition – and beating her test scores seemed to mean that I was an asshole. (I am an asshole, but not for that)

“EVERYONE ELSE HAS A FLOWERPOT. WHERE IS NADIA’S?” the woman spat at me. Clearly, sparkling personality ran in the family.

I shrugged. I hadn’t been in charge of the flowerpots. Didn’t care about Nadia or her flowerpot. She could have mine if it meant so much to her.

The two woman stood there, on the alter of a church, no less, firing insults and complaints at me. I walked away.

It was a perfect end, really.

pinning-ceremony-nursing-school

I graduated some variation of cum laude and ended my illustrious career as a hospice case manager (nurse) at the age of twenty-six. I’d been a nurse for under a year. Longer than I’d expected.

college-graduation-aunt-becky

And now I have this completely useless flowerpot in my garage. Generally, I hate useless things. But I feel as though I should want to keep it. Or smash the shit out of it. Or something. Yet, I don’t. Which is why I’ve held onto it for so long. I just don’t quite know what to do with it, so I do nothing. It sits there, quietly haunting me, reminding me gently of where I’ve come from.

Maybe, just maybe, that’s a good thing.

This is the Blogging Equivalent of Flinging Glitter

These pictures are the epitome of win.

Train-for-the-CIA-Facebook-Ad

Look closely, Pranksters. Look very closely at this Facebook Ad.

You too, can be a member of the intense, elite CIA!

Then, you too can pose triumphantly with a squirrel carcass.

There is nothing not AMAZING about this picture. I’m going to frame it.

Then, while trying hard not to delete my own Facebook Profile (I was creating one for Band Back Together)(I don’t know why either), I came across this beauty, which makes me really happy, and will probably ensure that I never, ever, ever, delete my Facebook profile, ever.

things to do in chicago

Now, I’m a born and raised Chicagoan, and I’ve never, ever considered putting a tiny pig in red galoshes as “something to put on my Chicago Bucket List.” Become a mob boss? Yes. Become a Mafia Princess? Yes. We teethe on deep-dish pizza and are well-accustomed to corrupt politics and locals never go to Taste of Chicago.

I might have even once had a love-affair with Rod Blago’s magnificently luscious hair (this was also probably my favorite post):

blago's hair

But to dress a wee pig in tiny boots? I don’t think I know any Chicagoan who wants to do that. That sounds like something a Wisconsinite would do.

This morning, as I was getting my blueberry-flavored coffee and Junior Mints at the Sleven down the street (Breakfast of Champions, I told the guy behind me who snickered wildly at my selections), I noticed something so awe-inspiring that I simply had to take a picture for you.

purple-is-a-flavor-dammit

Do you see that, Pranksters? PURPLE IS A FUCKING FLAVOR NOW. I have been petitioning for “purple” to be made a flavor for YEARS.

Don’t believe me? LOOK

purple should be a flavor, dammit

And now, Pranksters, it is. Purple is FINALLY a flavor.

Horny Goat Weed. WTF?

Um. UM. UMMMMM.

This exists. I don’t know why.

Next time, I’m TOTALLY buying it and leaving it out around the house so when people come over, they’ll see it and be SUPER uncomfortable when they see it. Like, “woah, does Becky USE this stuff? If so, WHY?”

I love making people uncomfortable.

Last, but certainly not least, is an email I got awhile ago from someone I do not know.

break-up-emails

I think she’s in love with me.

Un-Slumping Myself

I’ve been in a slump.

I’m not even certain why I was in such a slump; I mean, my Rod Stewart CD’s were all playing perfectly, there were no Uncrustables shortages at The Target, and I’d even managed to figure out how to work the washing machine! If I could somehow manage to work the coffee maker, my life would be a series of wins!

And yet, I was still feeling downright…sad. My emotional continuum is not used to dealing with complex emotions like that. At best, I’m used to handling such bumps in the road as “my People Magazine was not delivered on time” or “my cheeseburger arrived with mayonnaise.”

This, this slump was not exactly something I could easily handle. Especially since it involved more complex issues than Going on a Campaign of Doom to Get My Way.

I was Losing My Way.

I HATE Losing My Way, Pranksters. I hate it more than I hate anything, ever. Even at my worst, even when I seem the most scattered, the most illogical, the most twisted, I always have something brewing in the back of my mind. Some nefarious scheme. Something. Even if it’s “buy a pony and put it on roller skates,” or “turn treehouse into a panic room filled with ballpit,” there’s something back there.

When I can’t see what’s next, when I can’t find my way, when I have no wacky, off-the-wall-plans, I fall into A Slump.

That’s where I’ve been.

I guess I don’t know what to do next. I’d planned my life up until this point, “finish nursing school, have a couple more kids, then…” and now I’m at the “…” part of my life.

I’d expected to go back to school to become a virologist after my kids were old enough to be packed off to school themselves; that was always the plan. But when I realized that I could write – really write – it was like I’d found my missing piece. That was what I was supposed to do.

So what I do I do with that? What do I do knowing that this is what I am supposed to do?

I do not know. I’ve spun around in circles. I’m still spinning.

The publishing market is in the tank. Selling a book to publishers now isn’t exactly…easy. And yet, writing is what I do. It’s my missing piece. I cannot believe I was brought to this realization only to stop and say, “eh, MOVING ON TO THE NEXT THING.” I love to blog, I love living in Your Computer, but I want to make something more of myself.

I want A Career. Even if I make five bucks a year, I want A Career.

So now I have to figure out What Next. Even if it means “buying a pony and roller skates,” I need to figure out What Happens Next.

Any suggestions, Pranksters? I’m totally asking you because you’re smarter than me and stuff and I no longer have a Guidance Counselor and even if I did, he’d probably tell me to “apply myself more,” which is what he always said. I STILL don’t know what that means.