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“Think of all the FREE TIME you’ll have,” my well-meaning friends assured me when I confessed that I was devastated by moving out of my home.

Free time, I mused (while probably pooping). What a novel concept. Those two words fit together in my brain about as well as “Tom Greene” and “thong bikini.” While I’d heard about this “free time,” in the same way I’d heard about “anal sex” and “fun,” neither made any sense. Sure, I couldn’t recall the last time I’d been able to take a pee without the company of at least two humans and several cats vying for my attention and/or lap. Bathroom time was Happy Hour in my house and while it was somewhat awkward when there were guests afoot (who really wants to have to listen to someone else pee while a small child yells, “MOMMY FARTED?”)(Answer: not most people)(I assume), I’d grown so accustomed to it that whenever I stayed in a hotel, I needed some drab talk radio on to actually take care of business.

(what, me neurotic?)

So the nebulous concept of this “free time” didn’t really sink in as something someone would actually strive for.

And for months following my departure from Casa de la Sausage and my arrival at the FBI Surveillance Van, I didn’t know what to do with myself. Certainly, I had scads of time with which I could watch Mad Men reruns and fantasize about wrestling Don Draper in a vat of lime Jello, but it didn’t feel particularly… freeing. Instead (cue violins) it felt quite lonesome.

Starting over after a divorce – much like using the microwave – it seemed, was not, no matter how simple it looked on television, an easy process. In fact, I’d happily have shoved a porcupine up my snatch rather than start over.

Slowly, though, things, as they always do, began to change. I found a job. Then another. Then another still. Work kept me occupied and reminded me that while I may have felt like a steaming pile of dog vom, I had skills and I had the ability to take care of myself – two things I’d forgotten I possessed.

I began to reform old friendships and sought new ones. The times in which I was neither working nor taking care of crotch parasites began to fill. The formerly nebulous concept of “free time” became time in which I was able to do as I pleased with whomever I pleased – no one needed to know where I was or what I was doing at any given time.

My apartment, which had, in months prior, felt so empty without the giggles of my children, began to fill with laughter and love. I found myself laughing and smiling without the aid of a stunt double. My heart, once defeated, filled slowly with light.

Life, I finally was able to say (without fingers crossed behind my back), was going to be okay – no, it was better than okay. My life was finally becoming something I’d be proud to live.

And I am.

One year after my world fell apart, I’m still standing. The life I’d been so terrified to leave behind pales in comparison to the vibrant days I now live. Getting from there to here was, at many points, something I’d never thought I’d be able to do. So many days in between I didn’t believe worth breathing – dark, dark days, followed by even darker nights.

But now, today, my days and nights, they’re filled with laughter and love.

And my heart, well, it soars.

I’ve been doing a lot of Deep Thinking, which is not easy for someone like me. Even if gnomes hadn’t absconded with my brain and eaten it slathered with ice cream and sprinkles, I think the three children and chronic migraines would have done a number on it. (I strongly feel that gnomes have a sweet tooth. That is neither here nor there.)

I think that I have part of A Plan worked out, and I’ll tell you a bit more about it tomorrow.

I haven’t managed to accomplish much this week beyond “drink my weight in coffee,” which, if you knew what I weighed, you’d be a step ahead of me, because I don’t like to weigh myself.

I know you’re supposed to watch “trends over time,” and “not get bogged down in the details,” but that’s a steaming pile of bullshit. I’ve gained (and lost) 60-90 pounds with each of my three babies and I’m telling you, Pranksters, I get bogged down in the details every. fucking. time.

I’ll start on a diet, right? And because I’ve got a Glandular Condition (read: hypothyroidism) and, like I’ve previously stated, I’ve gained and lost a metric fuckton of weight with each of my babies, I know how to do it properly. If you want to lose weight, it’s simple: eat less crap, move your ass.

So I get all EYE OF THE TIGER for Week One. I run to the grocery store and stock up on egg whites and skim milk and edamame and yogurt I feel all smugly superior as I DELIBERATELY don’t buy any Uncrustables or Captain Crunch. I may even sneer in their general direction.

Because I WIN.

Instead of lazily refreshing The Twitter and my email all day while popping Junior Mints into my mouth, I get up off my ass and I vacuum. Snappily. I pump my three pound weights and I’m all, LOOKIT ME GETTING INTO SHAPE. I’M A WINNER, BITCHES. I eat eggs and drink protein shakes and I scoff at junk food. I’m SO OVER EATING JUNK FOOD BECAUSE I WIN AT LIFE. Painstakingly I document every single calorie I put into my body.

I spend hours thinking about how many calories toothpaste has. I buy new running shoes and a new sports bra because, well, I’M A FITNESS GURU NOW, Y’ALL. In the few moments I spend online, I research the best vitamins and herbal supplements for weight loss.

I practically skip to my first weigh-in, flexing my muscles, convinced that I’ve lost twenty pounds. My clothes fit better. I look Dead Sexy. I’m going to be in a bikini in NO TIME.

I’M A WINNER.

Smugly, I look at my reflection in the mirror as I wait for the scale to calculate how awesome I am. I wonder if I can, perhaps, develop a scale to measure awesomeness. I bet my Pranksters can help with that. They’re awesome. Like me. WHO IS AWESOME.

Blink, blink, blink goes the number.

It stops blinking.

I’ve gained three pounds.

Um.

What?

Huh?

I’M A FITNESS GURU. I EVEN BOUGHT RUNNING SHOES AND EVERYTHING. HOW COULD I HAVE GAINED WEIGHT WHEN I AM A FITNESS MASTER OF THE UNIVERSE?

It’s clear that my scale is broken. That’s the only explanation.

I test that theory by recruiting one of my children, the nine-year old, who can vividly recall what the scale had said twenty minutes before, and twenty minutes before that. He’d been weighing himself all week. Ah-HA! My inner Sherlock Holmes cried. It was clear to me that he had broken it.

Blink, blink, blink, the scale flashed.

60.8 pounds.

Exactly the same, he said happily, scampering off, leaving my crushed ego in his wake.

Well, I reasoned, standing there in the bathroom, my self-esteem plummeting, I was probably getting my period. I hadn’t looked at a calendar or anything, but it was probably just period bloat. Not that I normally turned into the Stay Puft Marshmallow man when I was surfing the crimson wave, but still. THIS TIME IT HAD TO BE.

Except no. When I thought about it, I realized that it was the middle of my cycle.

Okay, so maybe I had to poo. That had to be it! But just as I was comforting myself, I remembered that I’d had Chipotle hot sauce the day before and the lining of my colon had been stripped bare.

Well, uh, HM, I stood in the bathroom thinking: I probably should try and pee. Maybe it was all that Diet Coke I’d had to drink the day before. I pushed on my bladder with both hands, willing my kidneys to work harder, faster. After a couple minutes, I felt like I’d gotten rid of every ounce of extra liquid in my body. Hell, I probably looked all shriveled up and shit, like a particularly large and pasty raisin.

I got back on the scale. That had to be at LEAST six pounds…right?

Blink, blink, blink.

[exactly the same number]

How the hell was that even possible?

Didn’t the scale KNOW that I was on a DIET?

I flounce off to the computer to order a diet book. Because NOTHING scares a scale into moving the proper direction (down) more than a diet book. Also: I’m a FITNESS GURU. I’m going to MAKE IT. I’m a WINNER. My resolve is strengthened!

Week Two:

I drink lemon water the WHOLE NIGHT BEFORE my weigh-in to make sure that I’m not retaining any water. I’m so dehydrated by the time I wake up that my tongue is actually stuck to the roof of my mouth. I’d normally guzzle some coffee to unstick it, but I’m ready to get on the scale. I’M A WINNER.

I’ve lost two pounds! YAY!

Wait. That’s still a pound heavier than when I’d started this stupid diet. Um. That’s not so Winning-y.

I start trolling for diet advice and have found a mysterious quote that pops up over and over: “Remember, muscle weighs more than fat!!!” I spend an inordinate time wondering how the hell that makes any sense. Realize they are talking about density not weight.

I wonder how much hair weighs. Because if it weighs a lot, I may go all GI Jane.

I can do this. Deep breath. I WIN AT LIFE. Sorta.

When I’m not feeling a little deflated.

Week Three:

Have lost another half a pound. Still half a pound up from starting weight. I’d left the diet book in the bathroom where the scale can see it. Figured I could try bullying the scale into submission. I was quite sad to note that the diet book was proven ineffective at scaring scale into telling me that I’ve lost sixty pounds in a week.

I have now thrown diet book away for being bullshit.

Also: have looked into removing the heaviest of my unuseful organs. Have decided that the heaviest of my unuseful organs is probably my brain. That kid from Jerry Maguire said it weighed like 8 pounds or something.

That’s a LOT of pounds.

Week Four:

Have gained four pounds. Status: actively homicidal.

Also: looking into profit margins of a tapeworm farm. Healthier (and probably includes less jail time) than a killing spree. Possible Killing Spree Targets include everyone with discernible waistlines and perky people on The Twitter who only tweet about “loving (insert trendy form of exercise) OMG!” and “how much weight they lost this week LOL OMG BBQ STFU ASSHOLES FU SHOOT ME.” Also: the producers of The Biggest Loser for making anyone on a diet feel like shit for not losing weight more quickly (AND MORE SAFELY, YOU FUCKING FOOLS).

Weeks Five Through Elevnty-Niner-Infinity Times Three:

Diets are bullshit. My scale is an asshole. Jillian Michaels can kiss my dimply white ass.

I go back to refreshing The Twitter and my email thirty-five-niner times a day but continue eating less crap and moving my ass more. I’m just not so fucking cheerful about it. I’m nobody’s ray of fucking diet sunshine. Instead, I concern myself with trying to decide which version of Hair of the Dog is better: Nazareth or Guns and Roses.

Then, because the scale has Borderline Personality Disorder, it’s all, Aunt Becky! COME BACK, I LOVE YOU, GO AWAY, and the numbers finally go down without the aid of a tapeworm.

Which is fortunate. Parasites are so 1880’s.

Scales are Bullshit

Also: This picture had nothing to do with anything except that I found it when I was “organizing my desktop” (read: deleting old cactus videos).

Despite my almost encyclopedic knowledge of Britney Spears* it comes as a shock to tell you, Pranksters, that my brain banks hold no information about birds. I take that back. This is what I know about birds:

They make noise.

Sometimes other animals eat them.

Orange cupcakes are the world’s most perfect food.

It is there that my knowledge of birds begins and ends.

So it came as a shock to me that one of my neighbors at the FBI Surveillance Van came up to me as I was devising a proper scheme to break the lock on the canoes sitting by the garbage cans and ascertaining how, exactly one might rob a liquor store and/or pawn shop while on a canoe.

Her: “The birds are attacking.”

Me: “AAAAH! Plausible deniability! I’ve! I didn’t rob anything yet! I PLEAD THE FIFTH!”

Her: (goggles at the crazy lady and takes several steps back)

Me: “uh, Ha-ha-ha. I meant, WHAT about birds?”

Her: “They’re attacking. I got hit yesterday.”

Me: (goggles, mouth open and catching river bugs)

Me: “But… but… birds are so cute and fluffy and now I want an Orange Cuppy-Cake.”

Her: “Every year, the complex sends out a warning when the birds begin to attack.”

Me: (stunned into blessed silence for once in my life)

Her: “Yeah. Sometimes a hat works. I used an umbrella last year.”

Me: (still sitting there with my mouth open)

Me: “….wow.”

Her: “So be careful! And get a hat!”

Me: “Thanks for the warning!”

She walked away, eying the trees suspiciously.

I dismissed her as being “crazy,” (which, as someone who’d been plotting to rob a liquor store using a canoe, is not exactly appropriate) and went about my day.

The following afternoon, I stepped outside, my mind full of such things as “I wonder if Bill Gates knows my orthodontist” and “do bands really set out to become “light rock” or is that just one of those unfortunate labels that gets stuck on bands who happen to use a rocking sax?” when, from out of nowhere, there was a loud buzzing noise and suddenly, my hair, which had been happily attached to my head, was now being pulled. Hard.

Whipping around, I noticed that there was a bird there, his mouth shaped into a sadistic smile. I whipped him the middle finger before yelping like a little bitch, figuring that flipping a bird the bird would have some sort of effect.

It did not.

Before the week was out, I’d been dive-bombed more times than my fingers could count and I’d begun to develop a nice bald spot where my formerly hair had once been. I looked like the before picture in one of those baldness infomercials.

Even worse than female baldness was the fact that I’d turned into this raving lunatic every time I ventured outside. Scanning the sky for Attack Birds I tripped on my own feet so many times that my knees turned black and blue and my palms had crisscrossed scars. Furtively, I’d scan the sky, flipping off rogue birds intent upon attacking my new bald spot when I realized that my neighbors were probably craning their necks to examine me for the marks left by the straight jacket.

I had to develop a new strategy.

I considered umbrellas, but decided that walking around with an umbrella during a perfect summer day would only further my neighbors conviction that I belonged not in the FBI Surveillance Van, but in  yee old Funny Farm.

I was left with one option. One kicky option.

Hats.

Kicky motherfucking hats.

And you know what, Pranksters? It WORKED. So what if I look like a tool in cat-hair encrusted sweatpants, a ripped tank top and a fedora? So what if I wore a poker visor out in public?

AT LEAST I WASN’T GETTING BALDER.

Soon, Pranksters, I’ll be the AFTER picture in that infomercial.

It’s only a shame Billy Fucking Mays won’t be there to jubilantly hawk my new hair.

*my parents are SO proud.

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