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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.

Somehow, when my middle son, Alex was a wee fetus tap-dancing on my bladder, I was signed up with all of the formula companies to receive formula checks. These puppies were worth upwards of twenty bucks!

Considering I’d planned – and subsequently did – nurse the kid for a year, I was totally baffled by the coupons. It’s not like I’m particularly pro or anti formula feeding – I wouldn’t pull a PETA and throw balloons full of breastmilk at women who were formula feeding or anything – I’m neither that passionate about it nor would I have wasted the precious pumped milk I kept carefully stored in the fridge, then the deep freezer, because the kid ate. A LOT.

Anyway, those coupons (like the  got me a little hot and bothered in the same way finding an awesome new shower curtain) (mental note: find shower curtain) marked down 75% off does – I was saving MONEY on something I NEVER BOUGHT and oh EM GEE, the glory of it all!

I decided then that I would learn how to correctly cut coupons (like these awesome Vistaprint Coupons).

I’d always assumed that coupons were sort of a scam – I mean, I’d find myself cutting them, using them, only to realize I’d bought 76 bars of that soap that removes all oil from your skin and leaves you looking like a tree. I learned back then that there were a whole host of folks out there who did this coupon thing so hardcore that it made me and my piddly formula coupons look like child’s play.

I was going to BE! A! SMART! SHOPPER! I COULD TOTALLY DO THIS, I thought, AND PUT THEM ALL TO SHAME. But first, I need some kicky supplies. Off to The Target I went, armed with the notion that the next time I was there, they’d be PAYING me for my company and awesome couponing! I’d be a PRO at this shit! I mean, so what if I hadn’t slept in 95 days? I COULD BE A SAVVY SHOPPER.

I began going to my parents house under the guise of “visiting” so I could raid their Sunday papers and snitch the coupons. I mean, SAVING money by NOT buying a paper! I was winning at this ALREADY.

Carefully, with my new fancy scissors and my rad coupon binder, I began to cut out coupons for things I figured I’d need… eventually. I mean, EVERYONE needs thirty five bins of cornstarch! THICKENING STUFFS FOR THE WIN! I didn’t, of course, take into account that I used one tablespoon of cornstarch once every three months. I HAD A COUPON FOR A DOLLAR OFF TWO THINGIES OF CORNSTARCH!

And how could I forget the dog food? I could get a whole dollar off if I bought a completely different brand of food! So WHAT if that meant he’d decide to evacuate his bowels on my white (white!) carpet? A DOLLAR OFF! That was totally worth the piles of dog poo!

Except that half of the time I’d go up to the register, my cart full of crap I didn’t actually need, the coupons were expired and shit, the baby was screaming (again) and I didn’t want to be THAT person who demanded to remove all the items that were supposedly couponed.

Coupons: 1

Aunt Becky: 0

It didn’t take long for me to realize that I wasn’t cut out (har-dee-har-har) to be a couponer. Not only was I too tired to be organized, the time I spent scouring the Internets for coupons I didn’t have the capacity to print could’ve been better spent, well, watching paint dry or grass grow. It’s not that I needed more practice, it’s that I SUCKED at trying to keep it all organized. I’d blame that on the squalling baby, but really, it was my problem.

Any way I cut it, I was NOT destined to be an extreme couponer.

With all of the things going on in my life, I realized that it was probably time to start really learning how to use coupons again. Half the reason I put that widget on my blog was to remind myself to actually learn to properly use coupons to save money. Without a dog to poo on my new white (white!) carpets or a squalling baby to keep me all night, every night, I anticipate that I can (probably) do a little better this time around.

Which is why I’m asking for your help, Pranksters. YES YOU.

Any advice or suggestions for about extreme couponing? What do I need to know? Where are my pants? Do you have a coupon for my pants?

————–

I’m going to combine what I learn over here, on my Life on the Frugal Side blog, where I keep tips and deals for living more frugally (mostly for myself since I lose stuff all the time).

If’n you have a good idea and want to write a guest post for the Frugal Side, don’t hesitate to email me becky.harks@gmail.com.

P.S. Sorry my site is so janked up – I’m trying some different stuff to see what looks good and apparently, I am NOT someone who should be doing that. Kinda like couponing. EXCEPT I WILL LEARN YOU, COUPONS.

“We live in the park!” is the brightly canned response I give my kids whenever they’re stuck staring at a mountain of gleaming green goose poo or shrieking about spiders daring to breathe in their direction (side note: do spiders practice aerobic respiration? I DO NOT KNOW).

I’m not exactly lying to them, unless you add in the two parking lots because I’m pretty sure parks don’t have parking lots, despite the interchangeable names; I’m just sort of… bending things. I mean, yes, the reason I flipped out during FLOODGATE 2013 was partially due to my proximity to the river (8-9 feet) and the proximity to the park behind The FBI Surveillance Van… *ahem* the FLOODED park mere feet from Your Aunt Becky’s front door.

*in high-pitched, I-just-got-kicked-in-the-balls-voice* But who’s counting? (answer: me)

While my idea of “roughing it” involves having to walk more than three feet to an ice machine and staying at a hotel that does NOT have twenty-four hour room service in which I can order my waffles and coffee brewed from beans the magical unicorns fart out (see also: hotel coffee = expensive), I don’t actually mind living in a park. Beats the SHIT out of saying, “I live in a van down by the river” along with something about “government cheese*” which would be a great name for a rock band, if’n you think about it.

Completely pointless sidebar: do you, o! wise Pranksters, think that any band starts out with the objective of being dumped into the “light rock” category to be played by orthodontists everywhere? THESE are the things that keep me up all night long *guitar solo*.

Alas, I digress.

While you won’t find me within ten miles of a campground for fear that a motley band of rogue campers will attack me and take me hostage AT aforementioned campground until I finally crack and tattoo I HEART CAMPING on my ass, I do enjoy nature. So long as it isn’t in my living room.

When I first moved into the FBI Surveillance Van, my upstairs neighbor warned me about the spiders that dare to weave webs SOMEHOW BREATHING in our vestibule and how he’d occasionally pull down the webs in such a tone that I knew the appropriate response was to shriek and possibly throw something out of panic. I didn’t. He was visibly disappointed.

What I didn’t bother explaining that, as a former waitress who once worked summers at an outdoor fancy gazebo, slinging Honey Brown and wearing dryer sheets to protect my allergic ass from bees, we were daily assigned tasks to complete before our shift. Several hours we spent at a whopping two bucks an hour getting our gazebo ready for business. One of these tasks was a duty we called “cobwebbing.”

The server stuck cobwebbing would bemoan her fate to the rest of us who were MORE than happy to be brewing iced tea and wiping down tables in preparation for the inevitable onslaught of people who wanted to get drunk and feed the carp bread for amusement.

Cobwebbing became a thing the night that my former friend Mikey decided to tell a woman who’d noted that there was an unsightly stain on her cheeseburger that it was “spider poo.” Whether or not spiders shit, I don’t know. The spiders could’ve been spitting on us, crying spider tears for their slain kin, or, as Mikey so tactfully pointed out, flinging poo on us. We can’t be sure.  All I know is that from then on, one of us had to grab an ancient broom with a handle so frayed it would leave us blistered and splintered, and begin to sweep the cobwebs from the top of the gazebo.

Not a terrible job.

That is, if you don’t know what happens when you remove a spider’s home.

(for the uninformed: they get pissed and fall all over you and crawl up your shit)

I quickly got over any fear of bugs after slinging beers and burgers for several summers there (mostly)(okay, earwigs are still fucking minions of Satan). This also would be why I didn’t give my cobwebbing neighbor a medal or something.

The only bug that has remained both mysterious and full of the awful was The Tick.

Not only is that motherfucker creepy looking, it also carries Lyme Disease which is one of those things you do NOT want to have. While the name is fairly innocuous – cute, even – the effects are not. I’ve known people who’ve died from Lyme Disease and that does NOT even include my fake dead cat Mr. Sprinkles. Earwigs, sure they’re creepy, and spider bites can get kinda gnarly, but The Fucking Tick of Doom? You do not want to piss off The Fucking Tick of Doom.

Early Sunday morning, my kids were climbing all over me, trying to get me to wrap them in bubble wrap and let them roll around in it, and because I am both lame and boring, I explained that we simply did not have ENOUGH bubble wrap to attempt such tomfoolery.

“Mooooom,” Alex said, exasperated by my acute onset boriningness, “Can’t you go to the store and pick some up?” While this was a good idea and a sure-fire way to have some fun, it was a quarter past Let Mommy Sleep Until The Sun Rises and I was in no mood to track down an industrial amount of bubble wrap.

“I need my coffee, Al.”

Mimi poked her head up and calmly informed me, “I drank all your coffee, Mama.”

I groaned. “Was it good, at least?” She nodded her head vehemently reminding me, once again, that one cannot drink coffee through osmosis.

I turned to Alex, sitting to my right attempting to hack my i(can’t)Phone when I saw it.

No, not the ear boogers I’m normally on the hunt to remove.

It was a fucking tick.

In my kid’s ear.

There was a fucking tick in my kid’s ear.

The one child who will kick the ass of anyone who dares speak ill of his Mama is terrified of bugs. And no, it can’t be some weird childhood fear: we’re talking Phobia Country.

I used my superior memory of completely pointless acronyms to access the one that serves me best: IPDE (Identify, Predict, Decide, Execute)(TEN AND TWO, GODDAMMIT, REBECCA! AND WHERE ARE YOUR FUCKING PANTS?) and not the one that has never served me well, ever: Turn Around, Don’t Drown.

I had to get the fucker out of his ear before he saw what, in fact, had been crawling around his poor ear canal and before the fucker decided to make Tick Babies in his ear or some shit. I did the only thing I COULD do in such a situation: I pinned him down, teased him about an ear boogie and pulled the still-squirming The Fucking Tick out of his ear canal while I dry-heaved into his hair. I levitated to the bathroom to kill The Fucking Tick of Doom, trying to recall what one must use to kill The Fucking Tick of Doom without alerting children that there was an actual problem.

Bleach! I can use BLEACH! That shit is AWESOME! I patted myself on the back for thinking so quickly on such little coffee. But try as I might, no amount of bleach killed The Fucking Tick of Doom and I didn’t want The Fucking Tick of Doom to make Fucking Tick of Doom Babies in my drain, so I dusted off the neurons that held the information I so needed.

Oil.

I can use oil to kill The Fucking Tick of Doom.

I scampered into the kitchen, pleased to note that my children had not, in fact, noticed anything awry and were intently working on hacking into my electronics, and grabbed a Ziplock baggie. Back to the bathroom I dashed, bag in hand, ready to execute The Tick of Doom for DARING to crawl NEAR my child.

I picked up the still-squirming Tick of Fucking Doom, holding back the urge to heave, and dumped his bleach-covered ass into that baggie. Then, I grabbed some of that oil you’re supposed to put in your hair to make it shiny but usually makes it end up looking like you shellacked your head and squired that fucker down. Then, I closed the baggie, making sure The Fucking Tick of Doom was submerged in the oil.

It worked.

I had successfully slayed my first Fucking Tick of Doom.

*Not entirely sure if this is actual cheese or a pasteurized processed food-like product or something that Dick Cheney invented when he was hungry one day.

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