A Love Letter To A Lunch Lady

While it was easily one of the quickest decisions we’d made, I haven’t been happier that we pulled our son from the hippie nut ban! school. Okay, so I was happier the one time I realized that marshmallows did really weird things when they were microwaved, but I’m pretty sure that I was wasted at the time.

I was unsure of our motives, because, quite frankly, Dave and I stuck out like a pair of brightly colored, mismatched, rain-forest-chopping-down, as-far-from-eco-friendly-as-one-can-be-without-driving-Hummers thumbs. Now, it’s not as though we don’t recycle or love Mother Earth, because we do, and if you’ve been around for any length of time, you know that I garden like I used to drink diet Coke (read: obsessively).

But, according to the other parents, it just wasn’t enough. Because if we shopped at Trader Joe’s, they shopped at Whole Foods. If we shopped at Whole Foods, they organically grew their own fruits and vegetables. While I am not a competitive person by nature, the other parents seemed to feel absolute moral superiority towards us both and quite frankly, it got old after 4 years.

Adding fuel to the fire was the poor communication between the school and the parents. Like this charmer of an example. What Dave was told was that our son “ran into a fence and got a little banged up.”

What I got was this:

Ben, Beaten Badly

This picture does not do justice to how beaten my child looked. It took ALL MY WILLPOWER not to comment on it, because with Ben, if you comment on something like a paper cut, suddenly he will expect sympathy cards and ice packs. And this? DESERVED SYMPATHY CARDS AND ICE PACKS.

So I admit that I was slightly annoyed by the downplaying of his injuries, mainly because I had to rely on acting skills *I* had never honed to not shriek when I saw him. I was also several weeks postpartum at the time, so the hormones may not have helped.

The nail in the proverbial coffin was the aw-shucks sort of after-thought type letter sent home right before school was set to begin for Ben, though, at the hippie nut ban! school. Because the school was so small, you see, we had to pack lunches for our children.

Maybe for other families, this was like the heavens opening up and shining down upon them, bento boxes neatly packed with nutritious choices like edamame and perfectly cut carrot coins, sandwiched between homemade whole grain crackers and cheese made from the milk of Buddhist cows.

There were, of course, lots of restrictions about what we could and could not pack. No refined sugars. No juice boxes. No chips. No candy. No cookies. No soda. Nothing that needed to be microwaved or prepared. Reusable containers. No brown paper bags.

In theory, none of this should have been an issue.

In theory.

But my darling son, Benjamin, is autistic. With food issues.

For an entire year, I tried all kinds of combinations of foods, and about 95% of the time, he’d come home with a full lunch bag, his lunch untouched. Certainly, while he was not starving to death, this troubled me.

Food issues were nothing new, but this particular medium–lunch food with millions of restrictions–was, and I was at a loss. The only, and I do mean the ONLY thing I could safely get him to eat was a peanut butter sandwich.

So the day that the leaflet arrived informing us that we could no longer pack anything with nuts, or nut oils, in our son’s lunch, The Daver and I looked at each other and (in uncharacteristic unison) said, “oh FUCK.”

(as a jaunty aside, what irritated me highly was that this was a very ill-researched ban. When pressed, after many desperate phone calls, the answer Dave got when he wanted to know how specific we needed to be about nuts–because nuts, nut oils, stuff that’s been manufactured in nut-producing facilities are in fucking EVERYTHING, was sort of a, well “ANYTHING with nuts.”

If you’re going to ban something, shouldn’t you understand it all a little better beforehand? Especially since the allergic child was a sibling of a student who didn’t even go to the school.)

So that was that, we plucked him out and plunked him into the public school system.

Where they have nut-free tables and nut-free snacks, but even better than that? THEY HAVE LUNCH LADIES.

*cue angels singing on high*

And with lunch ladies (*hums the lunch lady song*) comes lunch. HOT lunch. Lunch with choices! Glorious, glorious choices! Every single day *I* am not responsible for providing food for my son! If he doesn’t eat? I am none the wiser.

I no longer have to sadly throw out the old, pathetic, stale and untouched sandwich each night. I don’t have to throw out uneaten shriveled carrots, looking remarkably like flaccid penises (penii?), wondering how my child will gain weight. Nor do I have to flip coins or play rock, paper, scissors with The Daver to determine who is unlucky enough to have to try and make Ben a lunch he’ll never eat THIS time.

No.

It is with great pleasure, pomp and circumstance that I write out a check every month to the lunch ladies, signing my name with an extra dose of pizazz because I am just that mother-fucking happy to be letting someone else cook for my child. I would TIP the lunch lady if I could, I love her so much. I might even bear her children, if she asked me.

And if, for some reason, I had to pack my son a lunch, I could EASILY pack him, like Dave and I were always tempted to do while Ben was at the hippie nut ban! school: a 5 pound bag of white sugar and a can of Mountain Dew. I don’t think ANYONE would say anything.

God BLESS the public school system.

Aunt Becky Travels The World And Does Stuff.

I have a fuck-ton of swag from BlogHer that I just don’t need. Sure, I could give it to charity and be a Good Person, but I’m ALWAYS giving stuff to charity. So, I figured I’d run a contest.

I sent out my business cards to my friends who asked to play along–because of their infinite awesomeness–and they are planning to take pictures of my cards doing various things. No, not like THAT, you Uncle Pervy.

The links you see here are what, where, and who Aunt Becky has been doing (ooo! Scandalous).

The deadline for entries is September 8th at 11:59 PM and voting will open at 12:00 AM on September 9th. Voting will last for one week, and on September 15, at 11:59 PM, will dramatically cease. If all goes well (read: I can figure out the results without a Gideon’s Bible, a stack of tequila and a bottle of uppers), and it should, the winner, along with several runners-up shall be announced on September 16.

It’s like Where’s Waldo, but WAY cooler. Because it involves drugs, booze and The Internet.

———-

First, I tackled Florida, because I was in dire need of some R and R. Too many Sausages, not enough sleep.

Then, because I am a highly skilled nurse, I examined and cared for a wee puppy. I might have gotten a little misty at the cute overload.

Then I went to Canada, where a small girl named Munchkin played a game with me. And Aunt Becky smiled when she realized the small girl could not read. Aunt Becky is not, of course, intended for small children.

As further evidence of my R-rating, I offer you proof of my debauchery with my girl Beautiful Mess.

Aunt Becky returned to her PG roots with a couple of dinosaurs and some Storm Troopers. And of course, some cuddly kittahs.

After that, Aunt Becky traveled to a land of bobble-headed kids–not unlike her own–and rednecks.

Having been a Damn Yankee (a word, I should tell you, that online Scrabble does NOT recognize because it is an assbag), for most of her life, Aunt Becky had never been to The Dirty South to meet Cardboard Brad. Until, of course, NOW.

And then, Aunt Becky needed to work through the injuries sustained on Amy’s watch, so she went up North and went Skidoo-ing. Which, of course, we all know is good for healing.

Then off to Canada for some soccer balls, condoms and tampons, Aunt Becky traveled.

Knowing that Her Aunt Becky adores Dolly Parton, Aunt Becky was taken to Dollywood. Squee!!

Then, it was time for some vodka. And it was goood.

In a stunning fit of Awesomeness, I took my favorite food group, besides butter, and turned myself into it: Stuff on Sticks.

And nothing screams “Aunt Becky” like tripping it to Iowa. I turned into The Other White Meat.

Tasty.

After all that fried food, I figured a good fight might help me digest the food. My ass, it was kicked.

In a stunning fit of the utmost drunkenness, I was seduced and had a foursome with an old friend. And maybe some ice cream and romance novels. And fish food.

Also: why do waste management centers always smell like poo and farts?

Then she learned to play the ukulele (also: need to learn to spell that properly), cuddled a fussy baby, and then was placed in mortal peril. OH NOES!

Aunt Becky was cornholed before hitching a ride on a monkey’s ass, and eventually hoofed it back to safety on a moose’s toe. It. Was. Rad.

Aunt Becky decided that the best course of action was to go back and get re-socialized at preschool.

It worked, for awhile. Then, she was part of an encased meats sculpture. And. it. was. divine. We all know how much Aunt Becky loves her encased meats.

Other things that Aunt Becky both loves and requires include toilets and boobie beer steins. Welcome to Germany! Aww, YEAH!

Then, in a supreme effort of defiance, screamed “NOBODY PUTS AUNT BECKY IN A CORNER!” But after that, she held a friend’s hand as she went into her PET scan. HELLS FUCKING YEAH TO REMISSION BABY!

After that, I went to hang with my East Coast bitches, where I flung poo at small children (wouldn’t you?) and drank copious amounts of tequila. I’m starting to think I’m going to have a hell of a time detoxing after this is all over.

Where else would a wanna-be microbiologist go but to a lab to grow some bacteria. Oh, and play with some wicked cool weapons. Rock. Music. Fucking scientists are awesome.

Down to the land of Florida, my business card traveled to go to work with my friend RJ Flamingo. Watch as I get rowdy, Xerox my own ass, drink some mighty fine coffee and wish like hell I lived down there.

Swallowing my hatred for DMB groupies, I went with Mrs. and Mr. Soup to a Dave Matthews Band concert. While I groaned and complained about it, we had a freaking BLAST. Cool Ranch Doritos and hot groupies are Where It’s At.

After a quick bath in bleach to rid myself of the Pachulli from those damn hippies, I drown my sorrows in tequila. LOTS of tequila. Which we all know gets us all fucked up. I’d tell you more, but then I’d have to kill you.

Then, I pimped a friend’s Escalade by being in the car with her after we baked *wink, wink* cupcakes. It was hot. She tried to make me go to rehab and I said, no, no, no.

Quick! Dial 9-1, Wait For The Screams, Then Dial The Last 1

So, Internet, did you hear? There’s this big ass conference this weekend about blogging (dude. How lame does THAT sound? SHUT UP) and it’s in Chicago and at least 103% of the Internet is going. I won’t dare say it’s name, lest I annoy everyone more than they already are, but let’s just say it rhymes with “FlogHer.”

But I’m going, in fact, because I am Super Becky Overachiever, I am going down to the city on Wednesday night so that I can peel myself out of bed the following morning to go to this Ford-Motor-Car thingy. I’m not really sure what it is, but I have a sneaking suspicion that it’s very James-Bondy and I might be doing death-defying stunts and saving the planet from peril. I’ll be like Jack Bauer, WITH A (floppy) VAGINA.

You’ll be happy to say that “you knew me when.” Hell, maybe you can even raffle off the comments I leave on your blog for big ca$h money! Rock. Music!

Or maybe, just maybe, we’re forming focus groups to discuss What Women Want In A Car, which is not nearly as Double O Aunt Becky as I thought. Like at all. THIS is why I need someone to read the fine print FOR me, since I am obviously not capable of it whatsoever. But whatever, it should be fun as hell. Even if I’m doing the opposite of fighting The Terrorists.

What I cannot believe is that for the first time in 4 years, I am going to go away for 3 nights. 3! whole! nights! without my children. I plan to spend the time either blitzed out and drooling in bed–alone–or running around like a previously caged beast.

[excruciatingly pointless details redacted for boringness]

Let’s just leave this at this: I haven’t been out of the house without my kids for an extended period of time in 3 years. This will change soon either way, because I plan to either get a double stroller and force my wee beasties in it, or become independently wealthy, whichever comes first.

(I figure the wealth will, no doubt, buy me some Wild Baby Handlers)

This means that since I quit my last job as a nurse case manager 3 years ago, I haven’t been required to be in public for any length of time. Sure, I do go out and about, but only for short periods of time, and always with a purpose.

While other people may be afraid of not having anyone to talk to or eating alone or maybe they’re afraid of a gigantic gaggle of women (shit, right?) all in one place, I’m afraid I might soil myself. Or streak. Or soil myself while streaking.

It’s been so long since I’ve been in public, what if I can’t remember not to pick people up and gnaw on their necks while blowing raspberries? Or what if I check to make sure YOU haven’t pooped your pants by popping a finger down your crack and looking for the telltale smudgey pooness? Or worse: what if I just bend down and smell your ass?

WHAT THEN, INTERNET?

What if I have gotten so used to being with small kids that I try to cut up your steak or try and airplane your mashed potatoes into your mouth? What if I nag you to put your cup away and finish your drink?

Maybe I should take some sage advice given to me on Facebook and just roofie the hell out of myself and take to bed for 3 days. Then I couldn’t shame myself in a room full of bloggers who could happily report on my misdeeds for days. Which, wouldn’t you?

I would.

(also: completely unrelated segue leading to pictures of my babies, if listening to an a cappella version of “Don’t Stop Believin'” is wrong, Internet, I don’t want to be right)

turn-off-the-goddamn-journey

Turn off the fucking Journey, Mom. This is child abuse!

Oh, and maybe you want to see who *I* am so that you can properly identify me and run like hell, lest I come over and nom your ears?

232323232-fp58ot_23245593_488_8b282_45233232757637_nu0mrj

(whispered voice-over from guy with indiscriminate European accent: “so, we’ve cornered the Aunt Becky in her natural habitat. Here, let’s ply her with vodka and cupcakes. QUICK, NOW INJECT THE SEDATIVE! WHEW, that was a close one! Wild Aunt Becky’s should be approached with care.”)

Except I’m fatter now. Also: will not be wearing my wedding dress. I am saving it to wear to my BFF Pashmina’s wedding. Because wedding dress = something you wear to a wedding, right?

RIGHT?

If I Had A Septic System, I Would SO Call Them

As some of you may recall, last summer I made mention of the words “book proposal” and “agents,” in regards to a Super Drooper Trouper (Grouper?) Tippy Top Secret project I’d been working on. Because somehow, a pair of agents (having agents PLURAL makes me sound impossibly cool, I know) had taken an interest to a collection of essays–much like blog posts but longer and better edited–I’d written and I put together a book proposal.

(I know, you can’t believe that I would be able to have the brain power to put together a proposal. Neither can I.)

Just as they were shlepping it out to publishers, the great crash of aught-eight occurred, and the publishing industry tightened up. Considerably. Which makes sense. If people are laid-off and facing foreclosure, I found it highly unlikely that they would consider shelling out $15 bucks for my pithy book.

But the bright spot in this sea of rejections was this: I had a couple of publishing houses suggest that I write up another different book, similar style, this one dealing with autism. Not one of those cure-all-vitamin-diet-no-vaccine-way; those have been done ad nauseum and I’m no damn authority on that anyway. Nor do I want to be.

No, what I ended up writing was a companion book. Not like a TRAVEL companion book or another-word-for-lover kind of book, no, not that book. A book that entertains you. Makes you feel less alone. Because with all of the therapy and cure-all’s and special schools and special needs that our kids get? We parents are left out in the dark. Hurting and scared, but afraid to talk about it because how dare you complain about your child? How dare you when there are so many that have it so much worse than you?

Having a child with special needs–especially as a young, single mother–was hard. It was isolating. It was lonely.

So this was the book I wrote: not what I thought I’d be writing about, but mine nonetheless. And this week the proposal will go out to publishers.

I’d gauge the likelihood of this book getting eagerly snapped up at about a 0.05 percent. Not because I’m trying to be self-deprecating or depressing and not because it’s not good: it is good, I know it is, but because I’m being realistic. It’s going to be damn near impossible to break into publishing right now.

And that’s okay. I wrote it. I’m proud that I wrote it. If this isn’t what I was supposed to do right now, well, at least I tried. Rejection (in this case) isn’t personal, and it doesn’t bother me. It is what it is.

I’m making this sound so much drearier than I feel about it. I’m thrilled, excited and completely reserved all at the same time.

So, let me end it on this note: this truck, if only for a moment, made me wish I had a septic tank:

besttruckever

Sometimes The Best Thing You Can Say About The Day Is “Hey, At Least I Didn’t Have To Wear The Pizza Suit.”

When Ben was a couple of months old, I went back to work as a waitress. I’d waited tables for years before, so I was eagerly hired at the new pizza place that opened up in town. In a sea of newbies, I was a Master of my Trade. Queen of the Kingdom.

The general manager of the restaurant was a guy I’ll call Phil (although, I am stating for the record, this was not his name) and he was a decent guy. For an over-worked underpaid restaurant GM, that’s a huge thing.

He’d show up on the weekends and despite occasionally trying to get us to unsuccessfully have team building meetings at 5PM when the dinner rush was beginning to discuss things like “selling more pizza,” and often telling a server who was so slammed that she was eyeball deep in the weeds to “smile more,” I always liked him. Probably because he called me “efficient” which is a label–unlike ‘stupid bitch’ which I am called quite often–that I had never before heard.

Hokey and corny, yes, but Phil was a good guy. Which meant we’d often mock him behind his back–although, I must add, not unkindly–and try to do our best Phil impression. This often involved frowning a lot and bursting out conspiratorially with the often-heard “I think someone is stealing cheese,” and by far and away the best impersonator was one of the managers, a mexican dude named Cesar.

One Saturday night after close, Cesar, who was the night manager, pulled from the manager’s office this large cloth contraption. Mystified, we all grabbed our smokes and gathered ’round, our piles of tips left on the tables near the halfway rolled up basket of silverware. Cesar was laughing so hard that he was crying. Although this wasn’t uncommon as he was known for his excellent sense of humor, we all clamored to know what the hell was so fucking funny.

Once he’d caught his breath and wiped the tears, he turned around the cloth contraption he was holding. On the back it had been brown but on the front, it was red. With large circles of purple and dots of grey felt and slices of green felt. It took us a moment to realize what we were looking at, but we all saw it at the same time.

“Holy SHIT,” Amy–another server–yelled. “That’s a gigantic fucking pizza suit.”

And it was.

Phil had bought us, for no reason we could ascertain, a gigantic triangle-shaped pizza suit. I can swear to you, The Internet as my witness, that I have never, ever laughed so hard in my entire life. It was a typical Phil thing (it is killing me, I should add, to not tell you his real name not because it’s an exciting name, but because I can’t think outside the effing box) to do: pointless yet hilarious, hokey yet comedic, and one of those things that no one else would think was a good idea.

I mean, sure, I do sometimes see those poor fuckers, dressed up as a taco or a sandwich on the side of the road. We live far enough from stuff that driving from place to place is a necessity, so these people merely stand listlessly on the side of the road, wilting in the heat and freezing in the cold and choking on the exhaust of Escalades and Bentley’s. And I will tell you that I have never, ever, EVER stopped to eat somewhere because they had a person dressed as a chicken sadly standing at the side of the road.

If anything, I keep driving and pretend for both of our sakes that it never happened. I had not seen an actual humiliated person standing there, dressed as a large Chicago hot dog or a milk shake. Seemed healthier that way for all parties.

Anyway, there we were, a cluster of servers, bartenders and delivery drivers, staring slack jaw awash in awe of the possibilities that only a gigantic felt pizza suit would provide.

Which.were.endless.

mr_peetza

Part Number B will air on Monday.

Come Fly The Unfriendly Skies

Operating on about 3 hours of sleep combined, my husband of 40 hours sat across from me shoe-less, his shirt up around his pasty nipples while another man rubbed him up and down. While an awkward woman rubbed my butt and patted down my vagina, our eyes met. Without attracting any more attention, I mouthed “I’m sorry.” His eyes smiled right before the man grazed his balls with his elbow. Then he wasn’t smiling anymore.

It was all my fault. Honestly.

Later, he expressed, several screwdrivers to the wind, that this was his first experience with being singled out and searched by airport security.

Mouth full of egg and cheese biscuit and several screwdrivers drunk myself, I slurred, “Well, dude, at least they didn’t take you to that back room.” I took a long drag off my drink, “Because that shit is WHACK.” I paused. “And hey, the let me keep one of my lighters.”

The Daver looked less than pleased.

“I’m sorry,” I said, chastised. “It’s all my fault.”

But was it? Was the issue with having a face (presumably) like a terrorist my fault? Certainly I’d been stopped by customs and security more times than I could possibly count, singled out from a crowd each and every time I flew since I was a small child. My father and brother, who turn equally brown skinned in the sun, get it also, but not as bad as I do.

I can’t put a toe into an airport without securing a nice frisking and potential strip-search.

While I can easily claim that I *am* an asshole, the moment I hit the airport, I turn into the mentally challenged sister from Hee-Haw. I’m all “Golly Gee,” this and “Jeepers, Mister,” that with a side of “Gee wilikers” thrown in for good measure. You’ll never see a more ridiculously PC, G-rated version of me.

And still. And yet. And how.

I’ve learned to show up to the airport extra EXTRA early. I’ve learned that flip-flops–even in the dead of winter in Chicago–are the footwear of champions, and I know to wear loose baggy pants for easy up and down access.

But this begs the question. Why me? Was I marked as a potential terrorist when I was a baby? Is this on my ever-fucking Permanent Record?

I’m going to California on Friday at the ass-crack of dawn and I’m certain that on each leg of the trip, I will be searched up and down, and God forbid I pack the wrong toothpaste or something, because I am hoping to catch each connecting flight.

(What the hell can’t I pack anymore anyway?)

(also, LA, here I come!)

And if I do end up in the clink, let it be the California clink, where not only can I make Heather bail me out, I’m sure my cell-mates will look like models. Maybe they’ll make out with me.

2009 BlogLuxe Awards

In Memorium

It’s safe to say that I don’t know a whole lot about sacrifice.

Sure, I didn’t get to go out binge drinking and pub crawling a hell of a lot, instead pulling all-nighters with a drooling, balding man (Ben, I mean, not The Daver. Who would like me to inform you that he does NOT drool). Maybe I didn’t get to spend my early twenties being frivolous and stupid(er), maybe I changed the entire course of what I had planned to do with my life for the fruit of my loins.

So fucking what?

The sacrifices I made are nothing, and I mean by nothing “whatever is possibly less than nothing, maybe like chicken poo or something” and while I occasionally I do bemoan them, even I know I don’t really mean it or deserve sympathy.

On a day like today, all that I can think about is sacrifice. REAL sacrifice. Throwing your own life on the line to protect something you believe in. That, THAT, is bravery.

I don’t know a lot of soldiers, but I do know that one of these days I’m going to get off my fat ass and start sending care packages to them, because they do something so beyond brave that I cannot comprehend it. As someone who occasionally expects sympathy cards for bug-bites and ingrown toenails, it’s safe to say that I am whatever the opposite of brave is.

My grandfather is the only one close to me who has served overseas. He died when I was eleven and the older I get, the more I realize how much I missed by not getting to know him. My middle son is named after him–the Joseph, not the Alexander part of his name–and I sometimes regret that I didn’t name him Joseph Alexander instead of the other way around.

What I know about him I’ve Frankenstein-ed from family members and I’m certain I have some of the facts wrong.

He graduated high school at 15, Harvard at 17 going on to graduate from Johns Hopkins Medical school at 21. At some point in his career, he contracted TB and had to spend my father’s childhood holed up in a sanitarium in the mountains somewhere.

My grandfather left his family to go serve in World War II as a doctor on the front lines, pulling out bullets and putting rogue guts back into their body cavity.

When the Allies invaded and Germany surrendered, my grandfather, whom my son is named for, helped liberate the concentration camps. My grandfather cared for those who were left as the walking dead, and he saw that the piles of dead were treated with more dignity in death than they had been in life. He saw horrors unimaginable and refused to speak beyond what I have shared with you.

But I loved him as a child not for his bravery but because he called me the apple of his eye. I loved him because he bought me the fancy train set that I’d coveted one Christmas. I loved him because I knew he worked as head of the pathology department at a major hospital and I thought that was wicked cool.

The older I get, though, the more I love him for all the things I hadn’t known of him in life. That my parents still have a pair of forceps somewhere that they use to get stuff off of shelves–they’re quite handy! Somewhere, I have his old dissection kit. That he tried out the new-fangled X-ray technology on my grandmother while she was pregnant with my father and as a result, we have a picture of my father in-utero. That he loved going to the symphony and loved fried chicken.

(who doesn’t love fried chicken?)

That he was the bravest person I know, and that I slouch here today at my computer, pecking out words about “bravery” and “sacrifice” onto my stupid little blog, no matter how brave and tough I am not, I still have his blood coursing through my veins.

Today, that makes me sit up a little straighter.

Today I remember.

—————

Who are you remembering today?

Or I Will Surely Burst Into A Gooey Splat

Last year, ’bout this time, in between Miscarriage #1 and #2, The Daver sat me down and said something to the effect of, “blah, blah, blah..You need to get a hobby…blah, blah, blah.” At least I think he said that. I wasn’t really listening. I was too busy lobbing a lamp at his head.

He wasn’t trying to be unkind in anyway; he’s a lot of things (patient, kind, infinitely tolerant of His Old Ball And Chain) but never unkind. He was merely trying to get me to “expand my horizons” and “do something for myself.” Come to think of it, he sounded a hell of a lot like my High School Guidance Counsellor. All he needed to add in there was an “apply yourself” to make the comparison fail safe.

But telling someone that hasn’t slept for more than 1-3 hours at a stretch in close to two years (a very hearty thank you to my youngest son and my predisposition to that old bitch Insomnia) or taken a shit without the watchful eyes of half of the family in as long isn’t really a wise idea. Of COURSE I needed to do something for myself, who doesn’t?

Problem is, and always has been, my decided lack of free time. Well, that and the fact that I’ve been pregnant and/or nursing for the past 3 years, both of which obscure my normally sunny disposition (shut UP.).

I mean, yeah, I’m home with my kids and all that stuff and I do have the time to occasionally sit down and plop out a blog post, but I normally have a kid on my lap while I do it. See I can’t very well open a bag of Cheetos and turn on Lifetime and leave the kids alone. For one, Cheetos stain like a mother-fucker and for Part B, no one, not even the baby likes Lifetime. Not that I would know or anything.

My God-Almighty Plan has always been that I would go back to school once my youngest was in school herself. It’s been indelicately suggested that I try and go back sooner but honestly, I juggled the school/work/child thing when I had Ben and it was gruesome. I won’t do it again unless I have to.

See, I got my degree in nursing not because I am a Caring People Person(tm) (stop snorting. I can hear you laughing at me!) but because I was a slave to the almighty dollar. Single parenthood and undergraduate degrees in Biology don’t exactly scream I’ll Be Able To Support Us, Honey, And We Can Move Out Of Grandma’s, now do they?

And while I strongly considered becoming a Trophy Wife, I didn’t think that my child would really sweeten the deal for someone who likes silicone and bleach blonde hair.

The compromise always was (to myself and later to The Daver) that I would eventually go back to school and pursue my PhD in microbiology. No, seriously. I’ve been lucky enough to know what I really, really love and what I’ll really, really be good at. I know this doesn’t happen for everyone.

But I’ve got some time before this Plan Of Action will Come To Fruition. Time that I desperately need to fill with something. Anything.

I write here and sometimes elsewhere and I do it because I don’t know how not to anymore. It’s weird to me because I never was A Writer. I tried in the 3rd grade to keep a diary and it ended up sounding so incredibly stupid when I read it back to myself that even back then I knew it sucked.

I can’t write a fictional story to save my life unless the main characters name is E-Becky and she has three kids: E-Ben, E-Alex, and E-Amelia. I’m not creative like that. But now I write because I have to. I just have to.

So from now until I’m able to rejoin the ranks of smelly stoned college students once again, I’m afraid that my only outlet and project is to write. Here, there, everywhere (okay, so mostly here. Where else?).

Any other suggestions for things to do for myself? What do you do just for you?

The Grifters

There was a movie that came out when I was in high school. It had Jennifer Love Hewitt and Jamie Lee Curtis (?), I think. I don’t know really. It obviously wasn’t Oscar-worthy. But it was about this daughter-mother duo who would go from place to place being, well, grifters.

They’d con free dinners, free hotel stays, free cars by pretending to find a bunch of glass in their dinner, or slipping on a “wet” floor in the lobby. The movie wasn’t all that exciting, truth be told and I’ll not be sad if I never see it again.

I worked in the restaurant industry for many years, first as a hostess, then as a waitress and occasionally bartender, and I saw this happen infrequently. But it did happen.

I used to work Sunday afternoons at a pizza joint while I was in college. The money was never stellar but since most of my friends were sleeping off hangovers, and baby Ben was with his father, I didn’t have anything to do but sit at home. And working would at least give me an extra $50-70 dollars (yeah, it was shit money for serving) to tide me through the week.

Sundays are a notoriously bad day to work in the restaurant industry, any server knows this. In a diner, you might turn a number of tables more than normal, but the people you’d serve were often religious folks or older people, or both. In lieu of a tip you’d occasionally get a pamphlet about God, telling you to renounce your sins (as an aside, how did they know that I hadn’t?) and that you would go to hell if you didn’t. Sometimes you’d get a verbal “you’re the best waitress EVER” tip, and sometimes you’d get nothing.

And at the pizza place where I worked, we were usually slow as hell. While this was boring, it meant that I could get paid (something) do my homework, and, like I said, it beat the shit out of sitting at home under my parent’s disapproving eye.

About 2 PM on one Sunday, I got seated a two-top of old people. I popped over to get their drink order and they ordered immediately: a large pizza, two salads and a couple of Cokes. They were typical Sunday diners: rude, entitled, and unpleasant.

I called these sort of people The Crusties.

I imagined my $3.00 tip as I rang in their food and got their sodas. Lacking anything else to do, I strolled back to the kitchen to get their 2 salads. I dropped them off and they grunted a monosyllabic “uh” rather than say thank you. It was all I’d expected from them, so I loudly said in my saccharine sweetest voice “You’re welcome.” It was my passive aggressive way of reminding them that I wasn’t a servant, and I’d perfected it so it sounded completely sincere.

(and yes, I’m aware that this didn’t do anything to affect anyone’s attitude. It just made me feel better.)

A couple minutes later, as I was checking on my other tables, the Female Crusty beckoned me over with a couple of finger snaps and a wave. Just like I was a dog. I put up my first finger, signaling that I’d be there in a moment yet she continued snapping. This only made me move more slowly.

I finally made my way back to their table and inexplicably the old bag ordered a bottle of light beer. I walked back behind the bar to grab the beer and as I’m standing there, talking to my manager Old Man Crusty storms up to us. When my manager asked if he could help him, the old man opened up his palm and showed us a large crescent of a fingernail.

“This,” he said accusatorially, “THIS was in my salad.”

My manager fell all over himself apologizing, promising free meals and free desserts and shoving his face so far up the old guy’s ass that I rolled my eyes.

The salads were pre-made every morning by the line cooks, and although I frequently told them that they had “poquito huevos” (small balls) after they’d catcall me, they weren’t unsanitary. I couldn’t imagine that these dudes, who routinely worked 80+ hour weeks to support their families in Mexico would cut their fingernails into the salads. I’d worked with these guys for years and although I could see a staple accidently falling into the salad mix, the fingernail made no sense.

Anything that made it’s way into the food at any of the places I’d served was usually put there by servers or by accident. While I never spit into food, I will tell you that I may have accidentally on purpose added some hot pepper to the sauce. Maybe.

What made me increasingly suspect of the motives of these Old Bags was when their attitude shifted 180 degrees. Knowing they’d get anything comped they could think of, they began ordering multiple drinks, extra appetizers, and eventually desert. And now, rather than treat me like the piece of scum on the bottom of their shoe, they were unfailingly kind, gracious, and overall pleasant as hell. They now asked after my son (his picture was on my server book), made jokes with me, and smiled when I spoke.

Not normal unless you’re mentally ill.

Of course, after they left without having to pay a cent for their meal, to-go bags brimming with unfinished food, I knew my fate before I walked over to the table. They’d left me exactly nothing. Zero dollars and zero cents. I’d run my ass around for nothing. Less than nothing, if you want the truth. I lost money waiting on them.

The government, you see, looks at the gross amount of money a server sells and takes a certain percentage of that as assumed tips. They then tax the shit out of it. So, for the whopping $3.19 I got an hour, I saw maybe 10 cents of that. Less if I’d had high sales. So the government was taxing me on money I hadn’t made. My paychecks ranged from $0.00 (they totally wasted money printing me this check. I always meant to frame one of these) to maybe $3 or $4 a week.

I just sighed as I bussed the table. Nothing more to do. They’d eventually get what they deserved.

Karma, after all, is a total bitch.