There Your Heart Will Be Also

Dear Pranksters,

Normally, I wouldn’t bother to write out a long-winded and boring explanation for my absence from my blog (I’ve been active on The Facebook and The Twitter, but that is neither here nor there) because frankly, it could read “Been busy, cat knocked over computer, broke my toe making a sandwich,” and it would have as much impact as the words I’m typing now. But since you have been my family for as long as I can recall, I wanted to explain why I’ve been silent and moreover, how much I’ve missed the fucking shit out of you. When I started blogging, it was to feel like I wasn’t alone in the universe. What I found was so much more – I found you, my Pranksters. In the process, I found myself, too.

(insert “My Heart Will Go On” – muzak rendition, natch)

While it seemed as though I’d fallen prey to the whole “I don’t blog any longer” phenomenon that seems to happen to bloggers after a certain timetable, the reality is that you were never far from my mind. So many years I spent pouring out my brain into an empty WordPress box, it was impossible for me to not come back to it. It just had to be the right time.

The time is now. (imagine me fist-pumping in the air)

I’d stopped blogging when the whole D-Word came into the picture because a) I didn’t want to somehow get my blog into the prying eyes of a judge and 2) I felt like I didn’t have anything left to say (okay, that’s presuming I had anything of any importance to say in the first place, which is debatable). When I announced that I was getting a divorce, I know that some people – myself included – were taken aback by it. I hadn’t really shared my struggles with my marriage – or even let anyone in on the whole “I’m separated” thing – because if I said it, that would make it real. And I was SO not prepared for that. No one goes into a marriage to get divorced.

So I continued blogging from my [redacted] box, which grew smaller and smaller as time went on. I didn’t want to put it out there that we were struggling, so I stopped writing anything I cared about. When that happened, I stopped blogging. Yeah, I was busy, yeah, I burnt my tongue making toast, yeah, the cat knocked over something or another, but no, honestly, that wasn’t why. I could feel that my heart simply wasn’t in it. So I stopped, knowing that one day I’d return.

And now I can safely say that I am ready. I’m done living a [redacted] life and I’m ready to get back into blogging. Just bear with me as I get my sea legs back.

Thank you, my Pranksters, for being there for me, for being my friend when I felt alone and for picking me up, dusting me off, and reminding me that things will be okay. I’d love to thank every person who reached out to me, who sent me a sweet care package, and who believed in me when I didn’t believe in myself, but the list would be three pages long. I promise to do better in the future and thank you in a timely manner.

Without your support, I honestly do not know if I’d be here today, typing these silly words into this empty WordPress box. Together, we can take the world by storm.

Love always,

(your) Aunt Becky

P.S. As I’m doing some spring cleaning (early or late, depending upon how you want to look at it), please let me know if I need to add you to my blogroll. If you’ve sent me an email and I haven’t replied, go ahead and send another one to becky.harks@gmail.com

P.P.S. I’m thinking about revamping my crappy advice column – Go Ask Aunt Becky. Thoughts?

Should I Resurrect "Go Ask Aunt Becky?"

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P.P.P.S. I’m going to try something new. I’m always bragging about how I have the best readers on Teh Internets, so I’m gonna test you. Every Friday, I want to put up a guest post from one of you guys. Doesn’t matter if you blog or not. If you’ve got a great, hilarious story, I want to share it with THE WORLD. Throw me an email with GUEST POST in the subject line so I can easily tell that it’s not trying to sell me Viagra to becky.harks@gmail.com and we’ll go all EYE OF THE MOTHERFUCKING TIGER on this shit.

P.P.P.P.S. Since Google dumps everything that is awesome and good to develop garbage like Google Glass, I’ve lost all my RSS feeds which makes me sad in the pants. Do you have any good suggestions for feed readers?

P.P.P.P.P.S. Now is the time to throw your link into the comment box so that I can add it to my new feed reader. I gots to keep up with my Pranksters! And you know what? Everyone deserves a little self-promotion. NOW IS THAT TIME, PRANKSTERS. SEIZE THE OPPORTUNITY.

Also: I realize that I left a number of unanswered questions behind when I stopped blogging. If’n you have a question, leave me a comment and I’ll do my best to answer it.

Like Some Passing Afternoon

There are very few questions I detest more than “Are you okay?”

(Runners up include: “Where are your pants?” “Why do you hate thousand island dressing?” and the statement, “I’m worried about you.”)

I must’ve asked that question to thousands of people over the years, especially when I was serving. The standard greeting of a new table was something like, “Hi, my name is Becky and I’ll be taking care of you tonight. How is everyone doing?” 999/1000 times people would reply with the standard, “We’re doing fine” or “What the fuck kinda name is “Becky?””

When you’re in the weeds, slammed beyond control, have one eye on the three tables you haven’t yet greeted that are looking around for you, the bartender yelling at you across the restaurant that he’s somehow out of sour mix and you just heard your second set of dinners hit the line, you don’t really have the time for more detailed interaction with people.

That 0.001% of people, though, responded with something to the effect of, “I’m alive,” or “do you really want to know the answer to that?” When you’re juggling three sections and dealing with half a kitchen that’s doing the YMCA (en espanol)(which really makes you want to join them) instead of cooking your food and you can’t find spoons for the coffee you just brewed after dumping out the last of the coffee and cleaning the maker, and trying to figure out how, exactly someone drinks an amaretto stone sour without yacking, you don’t have the time for personals. Even if you wanted to.

Because you walked in that day wondering if you’d be making enough to cover formula, diapers and gas to get to school, you’re worried about your own problems: does my son have autism? What am I supposed to do about the dude that’s stalking me? What do I do with the rest of my life? You can’t really handle any problems besides what’s directly in front of you: get food, drinks, and merriment to your tables without having to sing Happy Birthday with the few cooks who don’t speak English and your manager who thinks singing to customers is dumb, but they asked so you gotta start begging the cooks and the busboy and the brand-new dishwasher to help you out here, please? And you look up from your soggy birthday cake and notice that the inept hostess is now triple-seating you at 10:30PM on a Thursday night.

There’s simply no time to be a counselor. Which is why I still hate the question.

“Are you okay?” most people want a reply that sounds positive, “why yes, I’m delightful, thank you for asking! Little Jimmy, the highest human pedigree of child, well, he’s just been enrolled in NASA’s young genius program, I’ve been promoted from CEO to heiress, and I just bought the most gorgeous 874,623,722 foot yacht – you should come over for a sail and I can regale you with perfect stories of my very perfect life.”

(okay, that just sounds like one of those Christmas card letters, but you know what I mean).

No one wants you to reply to “Are you okay?” with “No, not really.” Simply put, they don’t exactly want to know if you’re okay; it’s a formality, something that fills the space between “hello” and “goodbye.” I get it – I’ve been there and I understand that there’s not a lot of room for the truth.

Which is why I’m no longer able to really answer that simple question. The qualifiers, stories, the explanation is far longer than most people care to hear – especially when your primary response would be (if you actually said it), “No.”

Because while I’d love to come here and type you a wonderful story of how much better my life has gotten since July, it’d be a lie. Things are different, that’s for certain, and not always in the best of ways. I’m getting a crash-course on Living Alone 101, and it’s one motherfucker of a ride.

There are good moments and bad. Feeling liberated and feeling defeated. Darkness and light. Continue obnoxious comparisons ad nauseum.

But the truth of the matter is this: I’m not okay. I’ll be okay again, but I can’t tell you precisely when or how. Making the right decision doesn’t always mean that it’s the easy one.

And for now, for this very moment, and, I’m certain, many moments after this one, I’m not okay – I’m simply learning to be okay with not being okay.

That’s the best I can do; it’s the best we all can do.

We grab a life raft where we can, hold onto the hope that this, too, will pass, and that someday, this will all be a time we can look back upon as The Time Things Weren’t Okay. We’ll wake up each day hoping to slay the dragons, hoping the darkness won’t win, and we fight to do better; to be better.

There’s growth to be had. There are changes to be made. And there are things to be done. Life will, once again, be good.

Some day, some passing afternoon, in the not-so-distant future, I know that I will be able to once again answer the question, “how are you doing?” without feeling as though I’m lying through my teeth when I say breezily, like our endless numbered days, “Oh, I’m fine.”

And mean it.

The Games People Play

Most days, before I go pick up Alex at kindergarten, I swing by my former house to pick up my mail while I grab the various and sundries I’ve inadvertently left behind. I guess that’s the problem with moving while other people stay behind – you have the ability to leave your crap behind to be picked up at a later date, which makes you extraordinarily lazy, especially when one of the boxes contains nothing but bacon spam. I try to get this sort of thing done sans kids because it’s just easier that way, hence my 10:30 trips back to the House Formerly Known as Mine.

Tuesday morning found me there, bright and bleary, seeing if a) the mail had come and 2) trying to knock the two remaining neurons in my brain into functionality so that I could figure out what, precisely, I’d gone there for.

After I pulled into the driveway, leaving the car to idle, I’d noted that the mail was not yet delivered, which had been my main reason for the visit. I weighed my options: I could go skulking around the garage, where Dave had thoughtfully piled anything I’d left behind or I could try and make those misfiring neurons work their asses off to recall what, in particular, I’d wanted so badly from the house.

Standing in the driveway like some sort of mouth breather, staring into space, making my neurons work hard for their money, it dawned on me: MARK ZUCKERBERG. I needed MARK ZUCKERBERG.

the games people play

While I’d bought him to be a hulking force in my backyard, poised to take over lesser companies and get sued every other day, I no longer had the yard. And, to be frank, Dave wouldn’t miss him – gaudy shit is more my speed than his.

I’d bought Mark Zuckerberg on one of my Friday night excursions to my boyfriend, Target, grocery shopping with my daughter, and upon bringing Mark Zuckerberg home, Dave had bluffed, telling me that he didn’t absolutely hate the peacock, which meant that he probably would’ve burned it, given half the chance and double the energy.

It’s a good damn thing he’s not a poker player, because damns, his bluffing skills need some work.

I’d been anxious to bring Mark Zuckerberg home with me and kept forgetting to grab him from the backyard every time I swung by because, well, with a mountain of my crap in the garage, I sorta hated the idea of neglecting that in favor of a lawn ornament. Hence the skulking.

I’m not sure my neighbors know that I’m gone, although I imagine they suspect it, what with the U-Haul and removal of loads of boxes and furniture. I didn’t have the heart to tell them before I left because I knew I’d fall into a sloppy sobbing mess – I loved living in Pleasantville – and that would be awkward for all involved parties. So I put on my best poker face when I moved, bluffing my way to my new place, hoping the neighbors would simply think I’d gone on a long trip or something.

Which is why, on Tuesday, I felt like a fugitive, standing in my driveway, ready to sneak into my own backyard to take Mark Zuckerberg. I simply couldn’t imagine what they’d think was going on, and while my neighbors weren’t particularly nosy, sneaking into someone’s backyard for a statue could’ve caused some particularly ugly conversations.

I considered making a dash for Mark Zuckerberg, only to remind myself that I am still on the mortgage, which means the house is technically still half mine, which made me stupidly sad all over again. Instead of skulking around in broad daylight (I prefer to skulk at night, thankyouverymuch), I walked into the backyard, opened the gate – the one that never actually latches – and meandered over to the pine tree to take my peacock and bring him home with me.

Carefully, I avoided looking at my roses, which I’d spent so long maintaining (if I couldn’t see them, they didn’t exist, right?), and marched back to the front, Mark Zuckerberg in my arms, half-expecting one of my neighbors to be standing in front of the car, all, “Hand over the tacky peacock and no one gets hurt,” but save for some chalk drawings on the driveway, no one was there.

I put Mark Zuckerberg into the front seat with the wind-chimes I’d bought myself for Mother’s Day and slammed the door. I got back into the car, sobbed for a couple of seconds like an asshole, then dried my eyes before backing the car out of the Driveway Formerly Known As My Own, and heading toward the school to pick up my son.

He bounded toward me, arms wide open, and I smiled my first genuine smile of the day as I swooped him into my arms, kissing his face as he told me about his morning at school, as I thought about the games that people play.

Won’t You Be My (Nosy) Neighbor?

I don’t know if I told you, Pranksters, but the apartment complex that I moved into was the only other apartment complex I’ve lived in. I moved here with my then-boyfriend-turned-Ben’s-father back in 2000, where we lived until July of 2001, at which time I waddled back home just in time to pop out my bouncing baby boy.

(completely pointless sidebar, why do they bother calling babies “bouncing?” My kid screamed a lot, rarely bouncing, and, in fact, didn’t begin bouncing until he was well over two)

This time, clearly, I’m not living with anyone and I’m pretty sure that while I’m at the age where women ovulate all-the-fuck over babies, my uterus has decided to move somewhere up into my lungs that the idea of popping out another. Can’t say I blame it.

As most of you know, I began moving last Wednesday, piling up boxes as I desperately tried to unpack my house. Keeping busy, I’ve learned, staves off The Sads for awhile until you’re no longer busy and then you suddenly feel run over by a truck, but alas, I digress. Sometime over the weekend, The Guy Formerly On My Couch began to bring the piles of boxes out to the recycling area of the complex while I carefully placed each pair of shoes into one of those clear plastic shoe boxes, because, well, I no longer have the option to leave my crap strewn about without looking like Slob Bob.

Later that evening, as we sat on opposite ends of the couch, panting and smelling like we’d just managed to move everything I owned – and unpack the majority of it – in the span of three days, Ben spoke up:

The Guy Formerly On My Couch: “Totally met your neighbor when I was carrying out boxes.”

Aunt Becky: “Oh yeah? Is it the dude named “Buts?” Because that would be awesome. I wanna have a friend with that last name.”

The Guy Formerly On My Couch: “No, it was an older lady – a redhead.”

Aunt Becky: “She nice?”

The Guy Formerly On My Couch: “She was out there breaking down every box I’d put into the recycling bin.”

Aunt Becky: (gapes)

The Guy Formerly On My Couch: “Yep. She then told me all about WHY she was doing this – apparently the boxes have to be a certain size and you share the complex with a bunch of other buildings, blah blah blah.”

Aunt Becky: (gapes)

The Guy Formerly On My Couch: “Then she told me AGAIN.”

Aunt Becky: “Woah. She watched you carry out boxes? I WISH I had that kind of time on my hands.”

The Guy Formerly On My Couch: “No, you don’t.”

Aunt Becky (attempts to make neurons fire at the same time): “Yeah, you’re probably right.”

The Guy Formerly On My Couch: “I’m always right.”

Aunt Becky: “I SAID PROBABLY.”

—————-

The following morning, I woke up in my new house, and was greeted with utter silence, which is, of course, a new thing for me. I’m accustomed to the noise that goes along with three kids and the silence was somewhat deafening, if not mildly pleasant. It was quiet, of course, until I rolled over in bed, at which point in time, my back cracked like a bag of microwave popcorn, my legs actually groaning in protest.

A cacophony of various creeks, cracks, and pops followed me out to the kitchen, where I began a pot of coffee, wincing when I had to reach for the filters, which helped combat the silence. I curled up on the couch with a heating pad and watched a few episodes of White Collar before the dawning realization that my laziness had taken a whole new meaning and I’d better get some more of those damn boxes to the recycling before my ass became permanently affixed to my couch and they’d have to cut out a wall to get me out if I died or something.

I grabbed a box full of other, broken-down boxes, groaning a little as I bent over, and lugged them out front.

There she was, standing at the recycling area, just as The Guy Formerly On My Couch described, standing over some boxes she’d pulled from the recycling bin, which, I should add, is as deep as I am tall (5 foot, 5 inches); a tiny thing, ripping apart cardboard boxes like it was her job or something. I stood watching her a spell before I snapped out of my daze and into the lion’s den, waiting for my own lecture. I considered inviting her into my apartment to break down boxes, since she seemed to be enjoying it so very much, but decided that it would be best if I left well enough alone.

Aunt Becky: “Hi! I’m Becky and I just moved in.”

Cardboard Lady (not unkindly): “Hi, was just explaining to your husband that cardboard has to be broken down into small pieces or they won’t take it when they pick up the recycling. Didn’t you get the sheet about that when you moved in? Because the office told me all about it when I called about something else. You should get one of those sheets, because you want to make sure you know what you can and can’t throw into these bins.”

Aunt Becky (chokes back laughter the word “husband” referring to The Guy Formerly On My Couch): “I’ll have to pick up one of those sheets tomorrow. Thanks for the info!”

Cardboard Lady: “Yeah, for some reason they just won’t accept the cardboard if it’s bigger than two feet, and well, you want to be sure you break down all of the boxes so they take them and if you can’t or they’re too big, throw them into the dumpster because you want this stuff gone. They only pick up trash twice a week and you should really get that sheet.”

Aunt Becky (cowers): “Okay, I will. Thanks again. Nice to meet you!”

Cardboard Lady: “Nice to meet you too! Don’t forget that sheet!”

And just like that, I met my first nosy neighbor.

Limboland

I’m not the kind of person who likes to have Master Plans. It’s not that I don’t like a good plan, I just know whenever I shake my fist at the sky and say, “I *will* do (insert action item here),” The Universe laughs, pats my head condescendingly, and says, “Isn’t THAT special.” Come to think of it, The Universe sounds a lot like the Church Lady from the old SNL skit, which is neither here nor there.

Because my plans so rarely work out as according to, well, my plans, I’m used to shrugging my shoulders, cursing a little, and saying dramatically, “Come what may,” or, to be honest, it’s more like, “whateves.”

Instead, I grit my teeth, throw shit at the wall, and see what sticks. And I wonder how I broke two teeth in the span of six months. Here I was thinking it was “stress,” but we all know it was the rocks I’ve been gargling.

Wait, what?

MOVING ON.

Or, I should say, EVENTUALLY moving on, because really, that’s what Life in Limbo means: you duck, cover, and hope that this time, you’re the pigeon and NOT the statue, and tell yourself that if you’re the statue, that pigeon shit on your head makes a LOVELY accessory, isn’t THAT special?

I’d been planning to move into my shoebox apartment, of which I am extremely proud because it’s MY awesome dorm room, October 13. I’d figured that giving myself the opportunity to find things like oh, JOBS and DRINKING glasses might be good, because, hey, drinking water from champagne glasses sounds a lot more refined in theory than in practice. Kinda – but not really – like communism.

I’d slowly begun packing my things, realizing that I’d been in FAR too many weddings, what with the sheer number of black high heeled shoes I own, labeling them all “fragile” (FRA-GEE-LAE) just to confuse myself later on, because hey, moving sucks – gotta get your kicks where you can. If I don’t own a magnificent leg lamp, the best I can do is pretend that one might be in one of the boxes I’ve packed.

limboland

I do not, in fact, own this. However, THAT DOESN’T MEAN I CAN’T PRETEND.

Late last week, the apartment company called and told me the original apartment in which I was going to be moving into wasn’t going to be vacant any longer – blah, blah, blah owners staying blah blah blah – but that I’d be able to have another apartment. Did I still want to keep my move-in date October 13?

The answer was, of course, a resounding NO.

Not because it would be terrible to stay here a couple more weeks, not because I was quite ready to move, not that I actually owned glasses yet (SOON!), but because it was time. Living in my home, which I’d spent a hell of a lot of the past (counts on fingers) LOT of years, is just a reminder of what’s over. And while I may loathe goodbyes, it’s time for me to pack my happy ass up and move on down the road.

I told the apartment people I’d be ready to move by the end of September, because, well, I am. Days later, I’m still waiting to hear back if my NEW apartment will be ready by this time. I know apartment people are busy, and while I’ll usually use my patented, “stalk you until you tell me what I need to know – good or bad,” these are the people I’ll be renting from. As such, it’s probably a better idea NOT to piss them off or come across as “that crazy chick who calls every five minutes.”

So I wait. I pack, hoping I’m not going to be wearing the same outfit for the next 4 weeks, and I plan ahead, even while The Universe giggles in my direction.

While I wait, I play with this, which is pretty much window shopping for me (especially since they give away cool shit for free), while I wait.


And I research how to live on my own, how to cut costs, and what I can do to ensure that I don’t fall on my ass too hard. Learning how to live frugally? Kinda awesome.

Some Things Are Over. Some Things Go On.

I’m not very good with things ending. Or change. Or wrapping anything in bubble wrap, because, while many have suggested I attempt to live in a bubble, you can clearly see why this is not feasible for someone as “graceful” as I:

some things are over some things go on

That was last night’s performance of “Why Becky Should Never Touch Anything, Ever.”

When I was pregnant with Alex, a new Mexican restaurant opened up nearby, much to my delight. Somehow, barfing up Mexican food was easier than, say, Italian, which meant that once I’d been there, I was hooked.

The next time we tried to go, the place was closed. Out of business? Afraid of scary pregnant ladies who want extra! salsa! and meat? I don’t know. But I do know that I spent the next few days SAD about it – it was good, nice family owned place (which I love) and the food was amazing. Chicago and the food we have, man, it’s incredible.

There’s just something about saying goodbye, or being unable to say goodbye to something I once really liked that makes me sad in the pants.

Watching the ash (ass) tree in front of my house be slowly killed by the Emerald Ash Borer (Ass Boner) was horrifying to someone like me. “Why can’t they put it out of it’s misery?” I’d sit out my window and wonder. If only I’d managed to start spraying for a bug I had no idea would be causing a plague on our (houses) trees back before they’d known the Ass Boner would be destroying the trees lining my street, maybe I could’ve saved it. Or, at the very least, I could’ve tried, and known that I’d done my level best to deal with the dying.

I didn’t because we can’t prepare for these sorts of things.

I grow roses, because I’m a nerd and, well, it runs in my blood. The roses, not the nerddom, although one could make a case for either, I suppose. I spend an inordinate amount of time preparing my roses for the plagues on THEIR houses, and still, I’ll go out and shake my fist at blackspot, before I wander back indoors – annoyed – to get my gardening tools and other sundries.

The tree is gone.

Last week, or perhaps it was the week before, the tree people came and took the branches, half-dead, down, chainsaws whirring, while I sat back in my chair, working on this or that, and felt a peace wash over me.

I’d said my goodbyes to the tree and I knew that it was time.

Time to move on.

The sadness I’d felt over the loss of my beloved tree, over the things that are over, they have been replaced by a new feeling, a reminder of sorts: while some things are put to bed, forever lost, others will go on. New places. New people. New experiences. New life.

I may never be the sort of person who celebrates the death of something I love. I may always find change to be overwhelming and scary. I may never be able to easily say goodbye without weeping. But that’s okay.

The things that are over are gone forever.

But others, so many others, they go on.

some things are over some things go on

Even walls fall down.

The Lollapalooza Chronicles: Day One – We’re ALL Mad Here

I blearily rolled out of bed Friday morning (Lollapalooza Day One), my to-do list a mile-and-a-half long. Turns out that moving, trying to find work, and setting up for an SuperFun Internet garage sale is a metric fuckton of work. But no fear! I made myself my famous “coffee brewed with Redbull” and hoped I didn’t have a heart attack from all the caffeine.

(spoiler alert: I didn’t)

I went about my day, waiting for Dawn to show up, occasionally trying to put things that weren’t ridiculous on my Amazon Wish List (see below):

lollapalooza day one

I’d leave that fucker out just to make people who come over VERY uncomfortable.

Or this, which I’m dying to own so I can put it on my pillow every night before I go to sleep:

lollapalloza

But, considering I need things like “toilet paper,” and “things to drink out of,” I sorta feel like that’s a pretty um, juvenile thing to do.

Anyway.

About 2:00 (or maybe it was 1 or 4 o’clock, I don’t fucking know), Dawnie came over to find me almost entirely dressed – save for a pair of shoes. We chatted a bit about this and that before embarking on our Journey To Day One Of Lollapalloza. She’d warned me (needlessly, or so I thought) about the heat and the importance of proper footwear as well as explaining that coffee, my lifeblood, is dehydrating, so I should stop drinking it.

I made a second pot and drank it in her honor.

I also decided that a kicky dress would be fine, paired it with some comfy, blinged out flippy-flops and off we went into the wild blue yonder.

Traffic, if you’re not aware, in Chicago blows hot ass because half of the roads are shut down due to construction, and, well, our dumbasses were driving from the ‘burbs inbound at 5PM. You may commence mocking me.

….

….

….

Done?

GOOD.

Assholes.

While we were stopped at a stoplight, Dawn practically begins hollering:

“Oh My GOD. That Guy is styling his beard.”

I swiveled my head around as I reached for my iPhone, “No fucking way.”

True to her word, he was, in fact, not JUST styling his beard, he was styling it with a motherfucking comb.

I snapped exactly one picture of the dude before he noticed me.

my lollapallooza day one boyfriend

Back off, ladies. HE’S MINE.

Finally in the city, wristband FIRMLY in place and itching horribly, we were off.

lollapalooza wrist band

This wristband took bionic hands of doom to snap on – Lollapalloza wasn’t kidding about making sure people didn’t slip off their wristbands and sell them to other people. If only they’d been so vigilant about booting the super drunk(slash)barfing people out.

Alas, I digress.

While I love music and have been to numerous festivals in my lifetime, nothing could’ve prepared me for this. Honestly – nothing.

Wall-to-wall people. People peeing on fences. Lines of porta-potties (not a one, I’m sad to report, had a great name). Food everywhere. Garbage everywhere. I stopped in the middle of the (closed) road to just gape – because holy SHITBALLS, Batman. My initial reactions were as follows:

Gape at the half-dressed people -> Notice that everyone – despite the ridiculous temperatures and 900% humidity – is fucking hammered -> Marvel at the smell of vomit -> Elbow some people who’d pushed into me -> Have sudden urge to crawl somewhere and hide, where no drunk people could excrete bodily fluids on me.

Instead I just kept walking, while cursing my choice in blingy footwear. It’s perfectly comfortable for a short walk, but we’d hauled ass from Dawn’s office to Grant Park, which meant that my feet were complaining loudly. I told them to “suck it up, cupcake” and continued on our merry way, snapping photos and photoboming other people. It really IS the small things in life.

In a lull between bands, we decided to take a walk through the “farmer’s market” which really seemed to be more about calling itself a farmer’s market than selling fresh greens or anything. Well, except for this:

lollapalloza day one

Notice the decided lack of people clamoring to slurp down what appeared to be blended kelp? Wrong crowd, Wheat Grass Shots People. Perhaps they’d have done better in Oak Park.

(that was a jab that two of you – IF I’M LUCKY – understood)

Also: you couldn’t PAY me two bucks to drink that shit.

Unlike the poor Wheat Grass stand (I nearly bought a shot JUST to make the guy feel less bad about his decided lack of customers), this stand was bumping like WOAH:

lollapalooza day one

Now, I have to make a confession (whispers): with the exception of fondue, I’m not really in to cheese. STOP THROWING SHIT AT YOUR MONITOR – it means MORE for YOU! I was deeply saddened by this because – generally speaking – I adore food on a stick.

Anyway, unlike the poor Wheat Grass Shot dude, the grilled cheese on a stick was bumpin’.

Now THIS is where marketing comes into play: had there been a guy IN a suit of cheese, I’d have bought some. Why? BECAUSE DUDE IN CHEESE COSTUME – WHAT’S THERE NOT TO LOVE?

And on the following end of the “farmer’s market,” we found this:

lollapalooza Day One

They had a chocolate bacon cream puff, and while I could be a crazy internet person and be all OMFG BACON CREAM PUFF, THIS IS BETTER THAN THE BACON-FLAVORED SALT I PUT IN MY COFFEE THIS MORNING, I’m going to tell you the truth.

I tried the bacon-flavored cream puff and…

(whispers)… It creeped me out.

I know I KNOW, I’m a failure at life AND at loving bacon.

On our way over to see Black Sabbath, we stopped so I could snap a picture of this:

Lollapalooza Day One

While the name “chubby wieners” is awesome, no doubt, what really struck me was this the guy in this shirt. I thought the dude wearing the Camelback was wearing a shirt. I looked closer and realized that he was not, in fact, wearing a shirt, unless he was wearing a SKIN shirt, which goes to show how truly overwhelmed I was.

“Dawn,” I whispered loudly (dead sober, I should add). “That dude is wearing a skin shirt.”

She looked blankly at me.

“A SHIRT MADE OF MOTHERFUCKING SKIN,” I went on. “See?” I pointed at him.

She stared at me.

“I hope you’re joking,” she said.

“Uh….heh-heh-heh,” I replied.

“Becky,” she said as though I’d grown a second head in a manner of seconds. “THAT GUY IS NOT WEARING A SHIRT.”

“So…wait,” I wanted clarification. “That guy is not, in fact, wearing a skin shirt.” I stated.

“We’d better get you into the shade, dude,” Dawn said, dragging me away from the guy wearing a skin shirt.

“But…” I protested. “SKIN SHIRT.”

I was handily escorted into the shade, where I drank my water bottle and stared at the guy wearing a skin shirt on my phone until Dawn saw me and threatened to take it away.

Which, I can hardly blame her for.

—————

How was YOUR weekend, Pranksters?

Lollapalloza: Dog Days Are NOT Over

If you want a tour of Chicago, I’m not your (wo)man.

(apologies, Mr. Cohen)

Certainly I’m Chicago born and raised – born in Highland Park, lived in St. Charles for most of my life – hell, my apartment is straight off the dirty banks of the Mighty (Gross) Fox River, which I understand is not this gross everywhere. That was the beginning of the day.

—————

A couple of days ago, my friend Dawn, who I call my boyfriend because, well, she is, said, “Hey bitch, you’re coming to Lollapalooza with me. I have an extra ticket and this can be your monthly “road trip.” It’ll be fucking awesome – Black Sabbath is playing.”

“Say no more,” I said, although my stomach was churning alarmingly with fear. “I’m in.”

Now, in my old life, I’d have said no.

Or given a wavering “maybe.”

Not because I didn’t want to do it, but because it was out of my comfort zone, which approximated about three feet in any direction around me. I’d made sure to start doing things that scared me – every teeny step I took was a minor victory. Yesterday, for example I braved the post office, which is one of those places – like the DMV – that makes me want to vomit because people always treat you as though you have an IQ of four because OMFG why did you stand in that line – IT’S THE WRONG LINE?

After signing my lease, I swung by the post office to pick up some of those “click and ship” boxes or whatever, so I can hunt down someone who is localish and send them shit to sell on eBay (which is scary as fuck). I’d planned to use the self-service kiosk and be in and out. The kiosk was down, which meant I had to talk to a real person and show what a post office moron I was. I sat with my anxiety as I waited in line and managed to do it.

One thing I’d been afraid of is no longer something that makes me weak in the knees.

Aunt Becky: 1

Post Office: 1 (The boxes I got to ship shit in were WAY too small for a “large” box)

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For being a Chicago native (North SIIIIIIIIDDDDDEEE!), I’ve not spent much time doing the touristy shit around here. When I play tour guide, it’s all, “Here’s the dumpster I once threw something away in,” or “Sometimes I like cheese.” Not exactly the reception people are looking for.

I’ve never, for example, gone to the Taste Of Chicago – which we just call “The Taste” –  which is this gigantic thing that always goes on during the dog days of summer (I don’t know HOW they predict the dog days of summer, but whomever does should be a weatherman). It’s one of those events that illustrates JUST how serious Chicago is about their food (answer: as seriously as they take to voting in corrupt governors).

I’ve also, oddly enough, never been to Lollapalloza, despite being an avid music lover. It’s always been too much, the crowds too big, and frankly natives know better than to try and go to festivals unless they feel like complaining bitterly about the tourists.

This time, though, I don’t care. 

I’m not just going to see rad bands (although I will). It’s not about meeting a musician husband. It’s not even about being able photograph names of the port-a-potties (seriously, The Honey Bucket?).

No.

It’s about taking a risk. Doing something different. Stepping outside the comfort zone I’d created for myself. And working on becoming free to be you and me.

Each time I do this, it gives me the confidence that I can do more. And I can.

Right now? That’s what I need.

Well, that and a cabana boy, but you can’t have it all.

(I’ll probably be tweeting a lot about Lollapalooza, so if you want to follow me, I’m shockingly @mommywantsvodka on the Twitter.)

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Pranksters, how do you step outside your comfort zone? Do you try? What are some things you’re weirdly afraid of? Any advice for how to continue stepping outside this comfort zone?

Also: I love you.

PS. I love you MORE.

PPS. Don’t forget that tomorrow is another edition of “Shit I Found Saturdays,” a culmination of the awesomest shit on the web, ever. Best part? You can join in!

Free To Be You + Me

When I’d first begun dating Dave, he took me to his friend’s house so that I could meet them.

Sweet, I thought to myself, I’ll choose the BEST shirt I own.

The shirt itself, which I’d once picked up at Old Navy for approximately 42 cents* was a sight to behold – it was Peter Max style –

free to be you and me

I actually had these bedsheets growing up. AND YOU WONDER WHY I’M LIKE THIS.

and prominently displayed across the boobs, “Free To Be You and Me.”

Me, I just liked the bargain.

But I knew the shirt could be, well, BETTER (and it neither involved vodka OR cowbell, I should note): I could add my NAME to the back of it. But not my REAL name; no. My NICKNAME, which was, at the time, “StinkyButt.” Not because my ass reeked or anything, I simply liked that nickname. I mean, what girl ACTIVELY calls herself “StinkyButt?”

(answer: a very select few).

Over at his friend’s house, his friend Rob goes, “Oh my GOD, I LOVE MARLO THOMAS! I grew UP on that record.”

I stared back – completely confused – was he talking about the musical Hair, which I’d been forced to watch on more than one occasion? Or, uh, was it in reference to the StinkyButt name on the back of my shirt.

“Oh my GOD,” Rob said. “You have NO idea what I’m talking about, do you?”

I shook my head slowly and replied slowly – “noooooooooooooo…..

He slapped his forehead. “I’m SO fucking OLD!” he cried. “Wait – are you in high school?”

I giggled a little, “Nope, I’m 22.”

Apparently that answer did NOT help and he groaned, “I’m SO old!”

We both burst into gales of laughter.

—————-

I don’t remember the last time I felt truly free to be (you +) me.

When I got married, I tried everything I could to be a good wife. Dave’s a great guy – I’m sorry if I’ve ever made it sound on my blog that Dave is anything less than a great person. He doesn’t deserve that – we are, as I’ve said to many, simply two people who went their own ways. It’s sad (hence my crying hour) that it had to happen this way – we certainly hadn’t planned to allow things to get as bad as they had.

I’ve always been the classic overachiever – I can do ANYTHING! BRING IT THE FUCK ON! – which included being a good wife and a loving mother. There’s no doubts that I love my children fiercely – they have brought me redemption and filled my world with colors I didn’t know existed. I’ll never regret marrying Dave – without him, my world would never have become as bright as it is.

That said, I didn’t make a good wife.

I won’t say that I didn’t try, because I approach most everything from a balls to the wall, y’all perspective, but the steps I took weren’t enough; no matter homemade lasagnas you make or how spotless the floor is, two people who see the world in very different ways won’t magically see eye-to-eye just because you love one another.

Don’t get me wrong – I don’t blame myself for the state of our union any more than I blame Dave: we both played our part and we’re both walking away from this to find our own happy. And in my case, I’m going to find that girl who feels free to be whomever she really is, deep down in there. A girl I can be proud of. A girl who makes her own way, no matter how odd, fucked up, or twisted it may be.

It will be there that I can finally feel free to be (you +) me.

————–

Pranksters, I owe you a debt of gratitude I can only repay (at the moment) with words. Without feeling the love you’ve bestowed upon me; without feeling like I have an army supporting me during my good AND bad moments, I do not know that I would get through this transition as well.

Writing has always been my outlet, my free therapy, and the way in which I process the events in my life – both good AND bad. For nearly a year, I lost that freedom, but not because I was told I could only write about:

No, it was more complicated than that – tell any writer that they cannot write about something fairly big in their lives, and they’ll feel as though their fingers had been chopped off. Suddenly, that’s the only thing I could think to write about and I know that my writing suffered for it. I’d actually considered shutting my blog down because, well, I never had much of value to say.

But in opening up about my marriage and divorce, I suddenly felt as though feeling in my fingers had returned – I’d managed to find the part of me that had been buried for so long. That brings me more joy than I can possibly express.

Knowing that you’re here – that you’ve been here – and that you’ve got my back, there’s no value I can place on that. Every word you’ve written, every email you’ve sent has reminded me that I will, in fact, come through this and be better for it. It all matters.

All of it.

“Thank you,” hardly seems enough, but I’ll say it anyway. Thank you, my friends, my chosen family** for being there for me. It is a debt I will forever owe you.

Thank you.

Thank you for reminding me that it’s okay to be free to be (you +) me.

———

*Bargains make my vagina happy.

**No, don’t drink the KoolAid