When Roses Attack!

One of the first things I did after we bought our house was lay down on the then-only-slightly-dingy-white (WHITE!) carpet and make a carpet angel. Because, well, OBVIOUSLY. Also: we’d gone from living in the three-bedroom equivalent of a dorm room into a house that had three floors. Like I could be in one room? And Daver could be in another? And we couldn’t hear each other.

(unless, of course, Daver was chewing, in which case, the squirrels in Siberia heard him)

It was beyond weird.

One of the second things I did was try frantically to make a baby (sorry for making you want to scrub your brain). For someone who got pregnant while on birth control just by being in the same room with a dude, I expected it to *ahem* be easier.

Eventually I got knocked up with Alex and 9 excruciating months full of  prepartum depression and lumbering about like a sea lion in maternity clothes later, he was born.

Hit your fast-forward button past the part where Alex looked like a garden gnome, his obsession with boobs, past the tremendous thyroid crash, past the near-nervous-breakdown, past the part where he wouldn’t let anyone but me hold him without shrieking, past the not-sleeping, past the insomnia and postpartum depression. Then go past the part where my friend of many years dies of cirrhosis at age 24 (or 25) and you’ll be caught up to Alex’s first birthday.

Or you can skip the words and just look closely at this picture to know all you needed to know about that year.

Anyway, when I told people I’d “planned to have another” I meant, “I’d planned to have another since I’ve been living in some sort of vaguely adorable hell and if I go too far from it, I’ll never go back.” They shook their head in disbelief – that is the kind of baby Alex was.

(thankfully, he’s merely grown into a maniacal mastermind who dresses up in butterfly costumes and watches My Little Pony)

A couple of days after Alex’s first birthday, once he’d finally decided that other people were not, in fact, Satan, I was out in the back yard, working in the garden I’d already painstakingly removed all traces of fake plants from (except, however, the petals, which I still, from time to time, find lurking in random places as a lil “Fuck You” from the previous owners, but I digress).

I realized, as I was sitting there, knee deep in dirt and mud, that I couldn’t actually recall the last time I’d had a period. Considering I hadn’t slept a full night in a year, I also didn’t know where my pants were and had just, upon waking one morning, poured an entire pot of scalding coffee on my hand before registering “FUCKING OW.”

I got up, left the kids out back with Daver, and went upstairs in search of an ancient pregnancy test. I’d had to stock up on them while we were TTC and had one leftover. One ancient test.

I bathed it in my urine, alone for once, quiet in the bathroom

Two lines popped up. The first – the “YOU’RE PREGNANT ASSHOLE” – line was there, but it was kinda…smeary.

Whatever, I said to myself (likely out loud, because I was that far gone). A line is a motherfucking line. Guess I’m having another baby!

I proudly brought my pee-covered stick outside to show Daver who had no idea what I’d been doing. “THERE,” I said, happily. “We’re having another baby!”

We did the happy dance for a second before returning to our children who were mucking around the backyard together.

The following morning, I woke up and, upon wiping, saw blood. Lots of it.

Okay, I figured, prolly a chemical pregnancy. That sucks.

I called my OB to make an appointment with the doctor to get my shot of Rho-Gam and make sure my beta was going down properly. He comforted me, I remember that, by saying that “sometimes these things do happen.” And while I was a little sad, I’ve known WAYYYY to many baby loss mamas for me to be sad about a bundle of cells that were never meant to be.

I called Daver at work and informed him that I’d lost the baby. We were both a little sad, but not like, prostrate (or prostate) with grief.

Until the next month.

When I got pregnant again.

The line was fainter, but, I told myself, it was still a line and hey, I’ve been drinking lots of water and shit, and well, LINE!

Two days after THAT positive pregnancy test, I began to bleed. Another chemical pregnancy.

I tried to comfort myself, but it didn’t work. I’d lost a lot in the previous year and, well, I’d really wanted that baby. I curled up on my couch and wept. And continued weeping until the hormones went back to normal. Dave just looked at me, unsure of what to do.

I did the only thing I could think to do – I went and bought roses. I come from a long line of rose growers, so I figured it was in my genetics.

It was.

It is.

Two climbing roses, I got that day at the greenhouse, 4 years ago. I didn’t know shit about climbing roses, besides that they prolly had spidey-sense and could be all, I WILL GROW ON TALL BUILDINGS WITHOUT TRAINING.

I was wrong.

Turns out? You have to train the fuckers. Like the puppy I’d gotten who, rather than comfort me in my grief, ate his own vomit, then puked it out on the carpet.

By this time? I was pregnant again. With my daughter. And when I began to spot around six weeks, I was placed on activity restriction. So my roses languished.

They languished again the following year, when I was coping with PTSD. The year after that, I tried, but barely managed to keep them “trained.”

This year, though, I have some help in the garden.

(not actually my garden. But my actual children)

I fucked up this year. When I was all, “Imma be proactive and shit, but not like John C. Mayer because I don’t have acne,” I got out all my chemicals and sprayed the bejesus outta the climbing roses, who have been fighting with black-spot for years.

Then, in an odd twist, we have a sudden cold snap. Guess what happened with the roses?

Oh yeah, their leaves were all, “Fuck this noise.”

So I was all, “Fuck me gently with a pickax – I’m never gonna be proactive again.” Then I kicked myself and thought about bacne for awhile.

I’ve spent the better part of several weeks removing the unhappy leaves from each of the roses. For normal roses, of which I have a kajillion, there are like 20 leaves. Maybe 100. I don’t know. Climbing roses, though, are a different story.

This rose?

Mark Zuckerberg Naked

I can’t count past twenty, but I think it has more than 100 leaves. And half of them have had to go. Painstaking, but true.

I’ve been removing dead shit like a motherfucker. And yesterday? I fought the rose.

Mark Zuckerberg Naked

The rose won.

And How Was The Play, Mrs. Lincoln?

I have a problem with windows.

Now you’re probably thinking:

a) AB is being neurotic about inanimate objects again

2) Another weird phobia? I thought the MAYO was bad enough.

But you’d be wrong.

When we bought our condo in Oak (no) Park (ing) (that’d be HiLARious if you knew what I was talking about), we were warned that our condo needed “new windows.” Now, after being told that the bedroom our son was sleeping in had high levels of lead paint, and the porch out back was being replaced as a part of a “special assessment” fee of 5 grand per unit, and that the walls of the living room were painted a color and texture best described as “cat pee on plasterboard,” learning that we needed new windows seemed almost…easy to rectify.

The windows were all, “how was the play, Mrs. Lincoln?” After the rest of the shitstorm, getting new windows was about as likely as being able to get central air, learn to fly, and be able to murder people with my mind.

And we moved before it turned into any problem. Considering our third floor walkup was directly under the gigantic (ancient) radiator, we spent our only winter there walking around in shorts and tank-tops, all windows open. We played “summer condo.”

We moved to our new house in um *counts on fingers* *recounts* *counts again* A LOT OF YEARS AGO. Or, back in 2006. When we did, we reveled in the lead-paint free walls. Sure, they were painted colors of green that made me want to lob things at small adorable animals, but they HAD NO LEAD PAINT. Also? Central air? After living with 4 window units that blew hot air into the already-hellishly hot condo, I nearly humped the real estate agent after learning we could get a house with CENTRAL (motherfucking) AIR.

Yeah, sure it had ugly white carpeting, that appeared to beg my children to want to upend grape juice and vomit on it, and yeah, okay, the backyard had fake flowers planted in it, and okay, the color of yellow our siding is tends to require sunglasses to look at it, but CENTRAL (motherfucking) AIR.

We bought our house in February, the inspector didn’t even note that a) the bathroom upstairs doesn’t work or 2) the windows were falling apart.

Whatever, I shrugged, imagining my Midwestern Summers spent lounging about the house in a parka and hat. CENTRAL (motherfucking) AIR, MOTHERFUCKERS!

Once spring hit, and I decided to open up the house, I realized that our windows? They could’ve been imported from the condo we’d just moved from. The condo that was built in like 1901. The windows appeared to have fallen off the back of some truck at some point during the Lincoln Administration.

Half the screens were ripped. The half that weren’t had storm windows that were rusted so tightly that I broke three fingers trying to pry them open. Most of the windows let in more air closed than they did while opened. Windows were constantly slamming shut, mere moments after they’d been opened.

The icing on the proverbial cake came when I opened the windows in my bedroom this spring, ready to air that motherfucker out. I have those light-blocking shades and the window in question, well, I didn’t open it often.

When I finally managed to draw the shade, I saw it.

Mold.

Motherfucking mold on this motherfucking window.

I bleached the fucker as quickly as you could say, “dumbass” and began wondering if this, in fact, was the reason I’d been sick since 1980.

Figuring it was time to draw a cross-breeze, after much work, that involved both sweating, breaking fingernails, and trying to navigate those stupid fucking cords, I began to draw back the blind from that window. Thank the Good Lord of Butter that I was somewhat slow on the uptake.

Because that window? The window on the FRONT of my house?

Got a nice crack in it. While other people might feel mortified that their neighbors would see that they’d improperly cared for their windows, I feel it adds a certain…something to my house. Like a creepy homeless tribe vibe.

But the mold? That’s problematic.

So I had The Daver Feldco, which is a window place out here. It’s probably a nation-wide chain, but I’m too lazy to Google it. The window guy came out on Saturday.

Window Guy: “Blah blah blah, here’s a quote if you do it today. Here’s another quote. Here’s another one.”

Aunt Becky (to herself): “I hate companies that pull that “if you sign today,” bullshit.”

As he was wrapping up, he asked The Daver if he wanted to sign today. We’d gotten a quote from a local guy and the quote from Feldco, well, it was substantially higher. Knowing Daver can’t say no to anything or anyone (see also: my Kirby vacuum), I piped in:

Aunt Becky: “We’re still looking around at other quotes.”

Window Guy: (rolls eyes)

The Daver: “Can I have a copy of the quote?”

Window Guy: “WHY? You already said you’re going with another place.”

The Daver: “…”

Aunt Becky (now annoyed): “I *said* I was gathering other quotes.”

Window Guy: “FINE. I’ll mail you a copy.”

Aunt Becky: (rolls eyes) thinks, “you just lost yourself a sale, fuckwad.”

Three days later, the local guy shows up and gives us a quote on replacing windows. He didn’t offer any special deals or bargains, he was no-nonsense. Also: probably part of the mob. But I didn’t care.

We signed the papers THAT DAY and by next Saturday? We should have new windows.

I haven’t reached such heights of orgasmic potential since I threw my serving apron on the floor and stomped off.

Oh wait. That was Jennifer Aniston in Office Space.

Same fucking difference.

I may have a window party. You’re all invited – IF you promise to admire the new grass growing on my lawn. (no, that’s not a euphemism for “admire my vagina.”).

I’m totally NOT inviting the douche from Feldco.

This Message Sent From My Dishwasher

I remember when I got a pager. The thing was gold, tiny, and worn by a nice white suburban girl who was all Damn It Feels Good To Be A Gangster. I think it increased my street cred by at least -37 points. (those are NEGATIVE points, yo). If the thing played music, it’d have chosen with, “Up Town Girl.” It was THAT cliche.

Apparently, I’ll never be, “Becky From Tha Block.” Which is prolly good – I don’t want J Lo or Jennifer Lopez or whatever her name is now to be all, “bitch you be stealing mah shit,” as she smacked me in the face with stacks of fat cash. This is how I envision it – I’d probably just get a cease/desist letter from her lawyers, which, SO not fun.

Anyway, back when I got the pager, my friends would page me and I’d have to scramble to find 35 cents to call them back (like I was ever HOME or anything) Usually this was our conversation:

Aunt Becky: “Hey, what up fool?”

My Friend: “What up, stinky-butt?”

Aunt Becky: “Whatcha doing?”

My Friend: “Nothing. Wanna hang out?”

Aunt Becky: “Sure! I’m doing XYZ – come join us.”

My Friend: “Only if we can go whip donuts at old people.*”

Aunt Becky: “Whaaa? Okay.”

Then we’d scamper off into the night, merrily pranking our way through life.

I proudly showed it to my mom one day. And by “proudly” I mean that I said, “hey, can you pull over? I gotta make a call.”

She shook her head as she pulled over and allowed me to make my very unimportant call. When I popped back into the car, she sighed deeply and said, “I don’t know why you do that.”

My mother, always oblique, confused me, so I waited for her to go on. I knew a rant was a-brewing.

“You’ve gotten this thing that connects you to the world – why the hell would you want that? Don’t you want times of your life where you’re unreachable?”

No, no I didn’t. And I told her as much.

She shook her head, “Someday, you may feel differently.”

I was pretty sure she was full of shit. Until recently. Recently, I’ve been kinda digging on the time I’m able to unplug. I’ve got just about every sort of social media outlet, just about every type of communication device you can think of – usually multiple accounts. Therein likes the beauty (read: rub) of being the founder of a site that staffs upwards of 100 volunteers (that would be The Band Back Together Project) – someone always needs me for something.

Generally it doesn’t bother me. I love what I do, I’m thrilled to do it, and I’m over-the-moon that I’ve found such an amazing group of people to work with. I know how blessed I am.

But damns, it hurts to say this.

(small voice) My mother was right.

(somewhere she’s rolling her eyes at me, feeling a smug sense of satisfaction)

There are times that I simply don’t want to be dealing with anything but whatever is directly in front of me.

The worst part? My mother was right BEFORE her time – BEFORE email became the standard method of communication. Before The Twitter expected that you reply to each! and! every! response!

Before the world became so fucking urgent.

Sometimes, it’s nice to stop and remember that life? It’s not always such Serious Business.

Sometimes – it’s worth it to stop and smell the tulips**.

*still don’t know what that means.

**I don’t think tulips smell. But DAMNS they’re pretty.

It’s Likely That I’ll Be Smothered By That Pink Goo From Ghostbusters II

I’m not very good at relaxing. Those who know me best are sitting at their computers, nodding vehemently while (perhaps) shouting, “No shit, dumbass.” Even if I win at life*, I suck at relaxing.

When my life gets stressful, like it has been for the past few months, instead of doing the smart thing and taking a nice bath** or zoning out and watching some reruns of The Girls Next Door, I work. More. I take on more projects. I buy diseased plants from the nursery just to prove to myself that I can rehabilitate them. I add more pressure. When I feel that pressure? I add even more.

I actually DO own this orchid – and dozens more like it. They’re blooming right now. It’s gorgeous.

It’s a vicious cycle. It’s also how I get so much done.

Until I hit That Point. The point at which I realize I have so much on my plate that it’s going to smother me while I sleep like that pink goo from Ghostbusters II if I don’t watch out.

(I don’t imagine my pressure goo actually dances to that (Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher song – I imagine my goo is into either thrash metal or Burt Bacharach or both)

It’s now the time of year in Chicago in which dead people vote, roads begin to get worked on, and everyone slithers out from their houses, all pasty, sluglike and squinting into the sun. We’ve not been outside unless it’s on the way to or from the car for the better part of four months, even after a winter as mild as the one we just had. We’re all a deathly shade of what I like to call, “Midwestern Pallor,” and we’ve, of course, forgotten how to be neighborly. After all, we’ve been hiding in our houses for months now – we’re just as likely to try to gnaw on our neighbors as we are to invite them for a BBQ. Our social skills have gone down the shitter.

But this weekend was one of the first genuinely nice weekends we’ve had in months that I didn’t feel like I was going to die from the flu or whatever. It was 80 degrees and sunny, though the chance for thunderstorms loomed large, they didn’t happen until nightfall.

I strapped on my ugly gauchos and an ill-fitting tank-top, noting my particular pallor was even more pronounced than normal, as I prepared to Tackle The Garden. If you’re read my blog before you will know two, maybe three things:

1) I love to garden. I also love hotdogs, the color blue, and Tom Jones.

B) The people who first owned the house went all bush-wild and added a fuckton of professionally landscaped – yet hideously fug 70’s style bushes. No, not vaginas. Although everything WAS a bush back then. The people who I bought the house from had let it all go to shit, so I’ve spent the better part of two kids and four years trying to hack the garden into submission.

3) I consider proper punctuation bullshit.

For the better part of two days, The Guy on my Couch and I tackled the garden. Mulching, seeding the lawn, bagging up refuse, watering, pulling weeds, training roses (sadly, not to shake or speak).

It was the best, most stress-relieving thing I’ve done in months. I’m reminded again of how much I need balance in my life. How much I need to stop, smell (or spray) the roses. How much better I feel after a good solid day’s worth of solid hard labor. How I need to remember that not everything is such! serious! business!

How I need to stop pushing and learn to breathe.

Just breathe.

*I don’t.

**No, I’m not 800 years old, I just know the value of a good bath. Oh shut your whore mouth 🙂

Home….Improvements?

Last year – or perhaps it was two years ago – I decided that my house looked like a serial killer lived here. Not just a serial killer’s GIRLFRIEND (I heart you, Dexter), but a reclusive serial killer who probably chopped up hookers to make light fixtures out of their boobs.

The overgrown shrubbery had practically obscured all the windows in the front and I intended to remove them. All 958 of them.

I’d bought myself a pickax and a number of loppers capable of removing my fingers with a quick motion and set to work. I did manage to remove a few of the bushes myself before I paid the neighbor kid to remove the rest. When I’d started the process, see, I hadn’t expected that the early landscapers would plant so many fucking bushes atop each other.

But they did. Thanks, old landscapers.

After my neighbor was off spending the check I wrote him on a new iPod, I surveyed my lawn. Clearly something had to go in the gigantic trench the bushes had left behind. But…what? I’m no arborist or botanist and frankly, by that point, I’d rather have gouged out my eyeball with my pickax than replant some.

I made mention of this requirement to The Daver.

Me: “It looks like we’ve dug a foxhole in our front yard.”

The Daver: “Yep.”

Me: “Like any moment, World War II vets are going to pour into the holes and start shooting at the neighbor’s dogs.”

The Daver: “Yep.”

Me: “Or maybe a moat.”

The Daver: “Yep.”

Me: “But it can’t be a moat without a fire-breathing dragon and some cannons. Can we get a fire-breathing dragon?”

The Daver (not even looking up from his work): “Nope.”

Me: “Well, I need to replant some shit in there.”

The Daver: “Yep.”

Me: “Maybe some of those plants that eat people.”

The Daver: “Nope.”

Me: “Okay, then what?”

The Daver: “That’s your job to figure out.”

Me: “I hate planning.”

The Daver (now looking up, exasperated): “You need to sit down, figure out what will grow in there, the supplies you’ll need to install them, the places you can purchase these plants, and how long it will take you to put them in. I want an itemized list.”

Me: “Hrms. Maybe I can put the old, dead bushes back.”

The Daver: “Nope.”

Me (flicking off the back of his head): “Bite me.”

Asking me for an itemized list, cross-indexed and color-coded is a lot like asking me to turn into a bullfrog. Much as you might like it, it just ain’t gonna happen.

So my foxhole sat through the winter, sadly unoccupied by any roving WWII vets or fire-breathing dragons.

This spring, rather than broach the subject again, I simply went to Lowe’s and bought a bunch of flowering shrubs, giggling because the term “flowering shrub” sounds like a wicked STD.

Feeling particularly eye of the motherfucking tiger, I planted them a couple of weeks ago. And when I did, I realized there was a conspiracy afoot.

I needed to buy dirt.

Let me say that again: I needed to buy DIRT. Somehow the shit manages to find it’s way into my carpets and all over my children, and yet, I had to go spend real dollar bills on DIRT. In fact, I needed to purchase a substantial amount of dirt. Clearly, this was The Man keeping us (me) down.

It was also bullshit.

I haven’t exactly BOUGHT the dirt yet, which means I now have what appears to be a foxhole with shrubs growing out of it. I suppose the roving WWII vets will be pleased that their foxhole has been decorated with some fancy new shrubs.

Even with the occasional rain of bullets from down below, I’m certain my neighbors are thrilled that it no longer looks like a serial killer resides here.

Probably.

—————

Who wants to come over and fill in my foxhole for with me?

A Life Less Ordinary

I’d been casually chatting with my father about my growing orchid obsession. He looked at me a little funny – nothing out of the ordinary there – when he dropped a bomb, “You know, your grandfather grew these orchids.”

No, no I didn’t know that. I’d remembered the greenhouses from my early childhood. Every other weekend, I recall, we’d go to a certain greenhouse or another, which is why the smell of that good green growing earth makes me nostalgic and warm inside. I remember being a toddler, spending hours at the rose garden at the Chicago Botanic Garden, listening to my family plan my future wedding there. I cannot tell you how sorry I am that I did not marry there.

My grandfather grew roses – beautiful roses – always puttering around with them, lovingly spraying them with this and that, warding off all potential pests and coaxing out the most beautiful, heavenly-scented blooms.

When I grew my own rose garden, lovingly spraying them with this and that, warding off potential pests, and coaxing out the most beautiful, heavenly-scented blooms, I’d think of him. Not at first. But eventually, I felt as though he was right there beside me, helping me identify pests and apply the proper fertilizers.

The orchids, though, they threw me through a loop. Until I found this:

That’s an orchid bloom in my curls.

My grandfather is with me always, it seems.

He is my hero.

And not just because he grew orchids and roses like I do, but because he lived the sort of live I hope to live. It was a life less ordinary.

He graduated from Johns Hopkins medical school at nineteen and became a doctor at the same age that my life hit a crossroads. I’d always planned to go to medical school myself, and life found a way. I became a mother.

He worked as the sort of family doctor that made housecalls, his forceps and stethoscope always in his medical bag, ready to deliver a baby, diagnose rubella, or treat a broken arm. It was during these housecalls that he was exposed to tuberculosis and spent many months at a TB sanatorium in the mountains, missing out on his first son’s – my father’s – early life.

Before that, though, he was a doctor in the United States Army. He was the first on the scene when the Allies liberated the concentration camps. He was the first medical personnel to treat the concentration camp victims. He never spoke of those days, what he saw, the atrocities of the Nazi’s, and what he had to do to help the survivors, although I know they weighed on him.

By the time I rolled around, he’d given up his medical practice and became the head of pathology at Northwestern Memorial Hospital.

The apple of his eye, his granddaughter, he spent as much time with as he could. Weekends roaming the botanical gardens. Nights at Ravinia, on the lawn, under the stars, listening to the magical strains of Saint Matthew’s Passion and The 1812 Overture, eating fried chicken on a picnic blanket. Those were the best days of my young life.

An adult with children of my own, my grandfather long-passed, I have the vain hope that one day, my life will, too, be remembered as less ordinary, if only by myself. That because of the choices I’ve made, the people I carry in my heart, the people who now (however virtually) walk by my side, the experiences I’ve put behind me, that my own life can be as far from ordinary as his.

I’d say that I miss you, Grandpa, but I know you’re always with me.

Today, tomorrow, always.

When “Vintage” Means “You’re An Idiot.”

I’m getting a new central air conditioner today. It’s been dying a slow and painful death since Alex was a wee babe and we’ve put it off because, well, it hadn’t entirely bit the bucket. The guy came to install it and was all, “Holy shit, I can’t believe they hooked it up like this. It could have blown up.”

“Holy shit, I can’t believe XXX” is about what I think when I think back to our old first floor bathroom, so I think he and I are going to get along fabulously.

three-wallpaper-bathroom

(yes, yes that’s right, Pranksters. That IS three types of wallpaper in that tiny room. And, why yes! How astute of you to notice that it’s GLUED TO THE FUCKING DRYWALL. GOD, that was a bitch to get off.)

Anyway. I couldn’t be happier to have this installed, even though it’s costing me a couple of G’s.

As I told The Daver this morning, “Hey, it beats the condo.” He laughed knowingly.

Back when I didn’t know better, The Daver and I bought a three bedroom condo in Oak Park. It was a beautiful red brick building, right on the edge of an “up-and-coming neighborhood.” (in this case, “up-and-coming” means “on the edge of the ghetto”)

Our condo was a charming thing, all tall ceilings and dark wood floors. Very beautiful.

Until we moved in.

It was only then when I realized what “vintage” really meant. It meant, “you’re a fucking sucker.”

We had a radiator in the basement, one that heated all of the units, and, well, it was on when it was on and when it wasn’t on, it was still on. Our condo was right below it, so during the winter, it wasn’t uncommon to see me walking around in a tank top and shorts.

We’d gone to a Condo Board Meeting to learn that our poor radiator was on it’s last legs…and there were no funds from our condo dues to pay for it. It cost something like ten billion dollars.

We’d just shelled out five grand for a new back porch.

Great.

And the lead-paint covered windows that may as well have been screens for all the air they kept out? Well, if we wanted to replace those, they were a thousand dollars.

Each.

A thousand dollars.

Each.

We had something like ten windows. Ten grand (plus installation!) for windows. Windows NOT made of solid gold.

See, we needed to get specialty windows – replicas of the original – to match building code.

(fuck you, vintage)

When we added fans (and learned about the faulty wiring that may have killed us in a fiery blaze, had we not gone up and fixed it) in our condo in the summer because it was 8000000 degrees and window AC units don’t work so well when the windows allow hot air to pour in? Well, we were in trouble with the condo board for not using their electrician.

I have never been happier to move back to the land of the pre-fab.

At least now, when our AC unit craps out on us, I can buy a FLOOR MODEL and have it installed. It’s not specially carved by small children in Zimbabwe to match my house. It’s just an AC unit.

And when I decide to recarpet my house, it will be regular carpet, not carpet hand-crafted on the backs of seventeen vestal virgins.

Which is fortunate. I don’t even know what a vestal virgin is.

If I Wasn’t On The FBI’s Radar For Shopping In The Serial Killer Section Of The Hardware Store, I Certainly Am Now

Last summer, during the Great Bush-Whacking escapade, I spent quite a bit of time perusing the Serial Killer Section of the Hardware Store. I had to buy the proper supplies to remove the eleventy-million bushes that had taken over my yard; making me look like some creepy (ier) shut-in who probably killed people in her very secluded (looking) house.

I figured that anyone who spent as much time as I did ogling shovels and pickaxes was probably carefully watched by the FBI as a Potential Serial Killer. (if they’d seen the bushes in front of my house, they’d have redoubled their efforts to apprehend me)

Sadly, I’m not a serial killer. In fact, the pickax I’d so lovingly bought nearly broke both of my ankles when I tried to use it. I should know by now that I’m not coordinated to be a serial killer.

(insert awkward segue)

After my daughter was born so sick in 2009, I developed a pretty serious case of PTSD and PPD and probably some other acronyms, too. One of the ways I combated my misery was to buy myself flowers every week.

You may want to sit down for this.

Ready?

READY?

Good.

I’m an avid gardener.

I know, I know, you’re shocked. Everyone always is, especially since I’m such an awkward cook and a poor excuse for a female, but it’s true. Gardening is one of my favorite things to do.

My daughter was born in January and my garden covered in thick Ass Cold Chicago snow so there was no way I’d be able to get outside and tend to my plants. Seeing those beautiful cut flowers every week cheered me up intensely.

One week, while at the grocery store about to select this week’s batch of flowers, I came across a mysterious-looking plant.

An orchid.

orchid-picture

(my first orchid as it is today)

Despite having roses that tower over me, I’d never tried to grow plants indoors, but at $15 – cheaper than the bouquets I normally bought – I figured I’d give it a shot.

But, like anything I set my mind to, rather than just enjoy that one orchid, I painstakingly researched the orchid family, learning about temperatures, light, and humidity levels. I poured over books, websites; anything I could get my grubby hands on.

I wasn’t going to grow orchids, I was going to Grow Orchids. Perhaps even Grow MotherFUCKING Orchids.

I started An Orchid Collection. Rather than buy cut flowers that would invariably die in a very stinky heap, instead, I combed hardware stores and greenhouses for these beautiful, exotic tropical plants.

Soon I had not one, not two, but a metric fuckton of orchids.

orchid-collection

(This picture was taken a year and a half ago.)

In that year and a half, I learned more about orchids than any normal person should. In fact, I have grand plans to GO to an orchid show, but that’s mostly to see what kinds of people attend orchid shows. Are they like Dog Show People? I saw Best In Show, and I’m anxious to find out what Orchid People are like.

Believe me, I’ll take ridiculous pictures and show you.

After my painstaking research, I realized that I needed More Cowbell Light. I had The Daver build me a Light Box, which meant ANOTHER trip to the Hardware Store for Grow Lights and various other things. You know what MOST people use Grow Lights for, right?

Exactly.

The cashier looked at me and giggled as he rang up my lights. Like, “I can’t believe this lady grows The Pot.”

(SPOILER ALERT: I DON’T)

But I AM a bit, uh, compulsive, so I kept buying orchids. (you shut your whore mouth)

orchids-light-box

(those are the same orchids today)

Soon I outgrew the lightbox and started a second table of orchids.

Earlier this week, for my second table of orchids, I bought another Grow Lamp. And since we all know what Grow Lamps are REALLY for, and because the Grow Lamps are sitting in front of my windows, I know one thing:

It’s only a matter of TIME before the FBI breaks down my door, looking for my Mary-J stash.

Man, won’t THEY be disappointed. Maybe I should bake them a cake.

Cake-Wrecks

On second thought, maybe not.

They Call Him The King Of The Orchids

In one of my favorite pictures of Young Aunt Becky, I’m wearing a flower in my hair. It’s not surprising that I’d have a flower in my hair, as my parents are fucking hippies and all that, but it was only recently that I identified that flower: it’s an orchid.

For those of you not playing along at home, I’m a little obsessive about my orchids. It’s not that I’ve named them and have wee little orchid dresses and suits painstakingly knitted for them that I change them in and out of, but that’s only because I can’t knit and the last thing I tried to name was a cat I was fostering that I named Little Cat. You can guess why.

But my favorite memories as a child involve being in a greenhouse somewhere or another (there are a shocking amount of greenhouses in the Chicagoland area); the smell of green, alive things filling my nostrils while the warm humidity curled my hair. I didn’t have a particularly happy childhood, so those really were the best of times, and the holidays always bring back the worst of it, that feeling of being on the outside, looking in. I wrote about it on Band Back Together, because, well, obviously.

Since I still live in Chicago where the temperatures range from Ass Cold to Ass Hot, and we’re clearly in the middle of an Ass Cold spell, I haven’t had much need to visit the greenhouse in a couple of months. And because Ass Cold lasts somewhere until mid-July here in Chicago, I didn’t expect to be visiting one until then.

Your Aunt Becky was sad in the pants.

Then, I found this video of Amelia eating a lollipop, for the first time, right? She was probably about 8 months old and it was about the most hilarious thing ever and I’ll have to upload it somehow for you because DUDE, HILARIOUS BABY.

BUT.

In the background of the video, I can hear my three-year old son, Alex going on and on about going to the orchid greenhouse. He’s begging to go there.

He, too, loves greenhouses (I wrote about it here). He loves the garden and flowers and plants and digging in the earth and I’m looking forward to taking him to the Chicago Botanic Gardens some day soon. Clearly, I’ll wait until the ground isn’t covered in a thick blanket of snow and ice. Because I might as well save myself a trip to the North Shore and take him out to my backyard.

That video had given me an idear. We all know Aunt Becky doesn’t often have idears, so when I do, it’s important that I actually inform someone that my brain made a thought. So I did.

And that is how I ended up taking my three-year old son to the orchid greenhouse yesterday.

This isn’t your mom’s orchid greenhouse – presuming, of course, your mom HAD an orchid greenhouse. This is four acres of swinging death orchids in various stages of growth, all of which you can peruse and enjoy at your leisure. If you’re into that thing, which I TOTALLY am.

Alex ran inside, begging for an orchid of his own, a smile stretched ear to ear, the only three-year old on the planet who could properly identify varying orchid species.

They Call Him The King of the Orchids

It’s likely he’ll never know why I was a little misty-eyed by his delight at the orchid greenhouse. It’s likely he’ll never understand why having a connection to his great-grandfather is so important; that knowing where you came from is half of where you’re going. I can tell him, but he won’t understand that the same blood courses through both of our veins, just as it always has, uniting the three of us.

All he will understand is that while he ran through, yelling “HI ORCHIDS,” the orchids seemed to bob and wave, in an almost-human way they’d never done for me, as if to say, “Why hello there, Alex. We’ve been waiting to meet you.”

And it was then that my heart finally took flight.

Proof That God Hates Chicago

After my quivery “Not Without My Roses” post on Thursday, my friend Mitch, who is always sending me awesome links, send me this:

Lightning strikes three of the tallest buildings in Chicago at the same time! from Craig Shimala on Vimeo.

I don’t tend to watch videos on blogs because I always assume it they are hilarious pictures of cats playing the piano and frankly, I have SCADS of (insert term for computer memory) of my OWN fake cat Mr. Sprinkles and his wacky antics! He’s quite an accomplished fake piano player, don’t you know!

But this, well, Mitch doesn’t send me bullshit, so I watched it. You should to. It’s like 40 seconds, and it’s WICKED AWESOME. DO IT, I’ll wait here.

Apparently, The Daver did have reason to worry…IF I WERE AS TALL AS THE SEARS TOWER*.

(hint, I’m not, but I’d be WAY cooler if I were)

Or perhaps had he come outside to see this:

I know, can you believe it? How had I not shown you photographic proof before? How had it not ruined my camera? How had I not been sucked off to Kansas City to be welcomed by a swarm of very tiny people?

It’s almost like it hadn’t existed in nature before Photoshop was invented. (thank you Mrs. Soup for helping this bitch out).

While I was selfishly off pruning my roses, my daughter escaped from jail:

Then, proving that she learned what thug life means, she stole a cookie and ate it wearing her gold chains. Maybe SHE stole my pants!

And indeed, she never DOES say please. Or anything else, really.

(I do have to tell you more about that, but for now, know that I have read every single email, comment, Tweet and DM you have sent me, but I have been literally paralyzed by the gravity of the situation. I am sorry. I promise I am not being rude)

Then, my middle son decided to outdo us all and become half human-half arachnoid:

When he starts scaling buildings and fighting crime, I’ll totally claim it’s my awesome genetics.

And my last son, Benjamin, became a teenager at age 9. He is also for sale.

Actually, I may PAY you to take him for a couple of years. Attitude is included. All sales final.

And now that I have offered to sell my son (POOR TASTE, AUNT BECKY), I will advise you to pretty PLEASE vote for me (for funniest blog), which is ALSO in poor taste, I know. But what can you do? You may vote once per day.

If’n you are the voting type, you can also vote for me in the awards on my sidebar, which would be rad. Voting is good for karma, unlike stealing, which gives you herpes.

*No, I will NEVER, EVER call it the (Wesley) Willis Tower, THANK YOU VERY MUCH.