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To call my father “fastidious” would be akin to saying that “diet Coke tastes okay.” Sure, they’re both true statements, but they don’t quite delve into the true essence of the statement. I’d say he probably has some degree of obsessive-compulsive disorder, but I’d imagine it’s more the “compulsive” rather than obsessive part of the diagnosis.

(he reminds me too much of my daughter and her great range of Barbie dolls, which she obsessively fusses over)

When I was a wee Aunt Becky, rather than swatting me or yelling, he’d sit calmly in his chair, insist that I take a seat on the couch and begin to drone on lecture me:

Dad: “Well you know, Rebecca, that I like my hairbrush to be on this specific shelf.”

Wee AB: “Yes.”

Dad: “And this morning, when I went to brush my remaining three hairs, it wasn’t on my shelf.”

Wee AB: “Yes.”

Dad: “This is a problem.”

Wee AB: “Yes.”

Dad: “I need my things to be where they are put.”

Wee AB: “Yes.”

(three hours later)

(by this time, I’ve already rearranged the features on his face to make him look like a Picasso and begun a letter to my Congressman about unfair lecturing by an adult to a minor)

Dad: “So, when I went to the bathroom this morning to find my hairbrush it wasn’t there.”

Wee AB: *stares at wall*

Dad: “REBECCA ELIZABETH, ARE YOU EVEN LISTENING?”

Wee AB: *nods*

Dad: “What did I say?”

Wee AB: *drones back* “I should always put your hairbrush away.”

Dad: “Right. Now, where was I?”

This tactic worked well on my brother, who’d have been wracked with guilt and pleading for forgiveness by this point, but I’m more of a quick, “hey put my crap back,” or “smack me across the face,” kinda girl. Always have been. My father has never understood that about me, so for years, I’d get The Lectures. It became a running joke once he realized that I wasn’t listening to him or feeling in the slightest bit guilty for committing such a heinous and unspeakable crime.

When it comes to his compulsiveness, though, nothing matches the way he feels about his car. Now most of you Pranksters know that I’m a bit of a car nut myself, but I’ve never had the opportunity to select a car for myself, so I don’t show the proper amount of respect for a car the way my father does. Someday I will and when I do, I am positive I’ll similarly warp my children.

Thursday evening, I’d left Not Chicago on time and had managed to wrangle my children into my CR-V without too much mayhem, which I considered a bonus. They were even wearing pants!

Sitting in the turn lane, waiting to make a left through “rush hour traffic,” I finally saw my opportunity and I took it. We sped off toward home for a nice night of lounging against the machine. Except… there was this rattling noise coming from the bottom of the car. Not the Oh CRAPBALLS You Blew A Tire noise, it was more You Ran Over A Branch, Moron,” so I wasn’t particularly concerned. I figured I’d lose the branch on the drive back to the FBI Surveillance Van or extract it when we arrived.

Alex sprang out of the car to examine it.

“Uh, Mom?” He said unhappily. “There’s something broken under there.”

I groaned. I’d just gone through the most ridiculously dramatic blown tire event of my life and now this? Really? I bent down to examine it. What appeared to be half a gigantic metal pill was, in fact, actually hanging off the bottom of my truck. Which meant absolutely nothing to me, which is I why I snapped a picture and sent it to The Twitter. Really, it’s the best course of action. The Twitter is ALL knowing.

Always a Daddy’s Girl, even after suffering the lectures about my improper placement of personal items, I called my father, who then stopped by on his way to visit my mother in the hospital, and explained the problem as I understand it to be. I sighed a little bit, cursed the CR-V and went about my night.

Until it dawned on me: I shouldn’t be driving the thing until that was fixed, and there was no way in balls I’d manage to get to the dealership for a couple of days.

Once again, I called my father, which I consider repayment for hours lost to lectures and asked him the most dreaded of all questions: “Can I borrow your car?”

Now, my father loves his car more than he loves his children, of this I am quite certain. Hours upon hours he spends babying the thing, carefully detailing it on his days off, making sure it’s beyond pristine. He’s so fastidious about his car that I normally refuse to ride in it for fear of somehow breaking it and being subjected to yet another lecture. I mean, I don’t breathe near the thing – my breath might contain something that could potentially damage it’s impeccable paint job. I don’t even look at the thing when I’m at my parents house, just in case my eyes somehow refract sunbeams onto the wrong spot and cause a dent.

So for me to ask to borrow it took a few Klonapin and a whole lot of “calm the balls down.” Honestly, I’d rather chug gasoline than ask him for this favor. He responded in a way most unlike him:

Not-So-Wee-AB: (deep breath) “Dad, can I borrow your car to get to work tomorrow in Not Chicago?”

Dad: “Yes.”

Not-So-Wee-AB: “Are you feeling okay?”

Dad: “I’m fine. Hey, you do know how to drive stick, right?”

Not-So-Wee-AB: “Yes, Dad, you taught me.”

Dad: “And you were terrible.”

Not-So-Wee-AB: “No, I drove home in a winter storm. I’m excellent at working a manual – I miss the crapballs outta it.”

Dad: “Oh, that’s right. It’s the BIKE you had issues with. You were 11 before you could properly pedal.”

Not-So-Wee-AB: “Thanks for the reminder, Dad.”

Friday morning, bright and blurry, I drove my father’s car for the first time since he’d bought it, back when I was pregnant with Ben. And with the exception of the sixth gear, which I wasn’t accustomed to using, it was a blast.

He’s going to have a heck of a time dragging those keys out of my hands.

I don’t get the impression, Pranksters, that a lot of us hold much stock in the idea of Providence (always with a capitol “P”) because, well, we’re a little bit jaded. It’s hard to see a world in which so many bad things happen to good people and say “everything happens for a reason.”

I don’t buy that statement.

What I do believe, as cynical as I can be, is that sometimes, sometimes, we’re given a nudge from the very most unexpected of places.

Providence, I suppose.

————–

Earlier in the day, I’d been chatting with Crys, who is not only my pseudo-shrink (read: I don’t pay her to listen to my babbling), but my friend, about jobs.

Crys: “I need to call this lady back about an interview.”

Me: “Oh yeah? What for? Toxic waste handling?”

Crys: “Hahahaha. No.”

Me: “What about being Billy Mays replacement? Or being the MOVIE PHONE guy?”

Crys: “Hahahaha. No.”

Me: “Okay, well, I’m out of ideas then.”

Crys: “I don’t even have the energy to call them back. I mean, I’m not sure I’m up to interviewing right now.”

Me: “*nods* Yeah, I get that. I’m burnt out on applying for jobs. I can’t even fathom trying to interview somewhere without shitting myself.”

Me: “Which I do every single time I get a text message. I also drop a remote, which is neither here nor there.”

Crys: “You’re so weird.”

Me: “I’ll take that as a compliment!”

After several hours of watching dancing cactus videos, my cell rang. A number I didn’t recognize, which is generally code for someone looking for my “expert” opinion on salt or attempting to guilt me into donating to the “People Affected By Sarah McLaughlin ASPCA Commercial,” so I tend not to answer.

For some reason, unbeknownst to me, I answered.

It was a friend of mine – we’d worked together as servers when Ben was a baby, sneaking off and chugging beers in the coolers during our breaks, causing mischief and mayhem wherever we went. Ah, the days of wine and roses.

*looks mistily off into the distance*

ANYWAY.

Her: “Hey, you still looking for work? The (insert rural hospital here) is hiring.”

Me: “Yes.”

Her: “Okay, here’s my boss.”

Me: “?…?”

*cue annoying hold music*

Boss: “When can you come in to interview?”

Me: “I can make time any day that works for you.”

Boss: “Tomorrow, 10AM, okay?”

Me: *does happy dance*

See, Pranksters, I’ve been working on finding gainful employment since July, when The “D” Word was made official. I’ve written resumes, studied how best to create one. I’ve had friends read them and editors examine them. I’ve applied to places until my fingers were cut to the bone. And? Nothing. Nada. Zilch.

Zippity-motherfucking-doo-dah.

Now, don’t get me wrong, Pranksters – I love blogging like I love diet Coke, but I want to be able to come here, stare at a blank WordPress box and fill it with words. With stories. With tales this side of normal.

What I don’t (and have never) wanted to have to do was to resort to blogging as a means to pay the bills. While I’m entirely aware that Dooce can and does, we all know I’m no Dooce.

When I’m staring at a blank WordPress box, trying to come up with an extraordinarily dull tale in order to “put something; anything up here,” a fat wad of nothing fills my brain. When I tell that motherfucking organ to get all creative, it tells me to shut the fuck up. Trying to force creativity is akin to putting flippers on a monkey – it can be done, but why should it?

So that call? That, right there, was Providence. With a Capitol P.

I’ve been blogging, you see Pranksters, since Jesus rode me to class on his handlebars and gave me noogies on the playground behind the slides, and I’ve watched the evolution of blogging as a way to tell our tales into a way to “get famous” and “make monies,” by allowing advertisers to pay us pennies to promote their product.

There’s not a damn thing wrong with that, I should add, it’s just not why I started to write.

It’s also not why I continue to write. My space is my own and I want it to remain that way – I don’t want to be a corporate shill for a shitty product and I don’t want to be a “brand.” I’m me. I’m really Aunt (Motherfucking) Becky, and I’m really real. End of fucking story.

By taking a job at a hospital in the real world, where people are judged by their merit, not by number of “fans” or “comments,” I’ve inadvertently liberated myself from the business end of blogging. An unexpected side effect, I suppose.

I couldn’t be happier to be back.

And without you, Pranksters, I’m not sure I’d be standing today. I hope you know just how much you mean to me. You’re my family and without you, I’m not sure I’d have survived the Dark Time.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have something in my eye.

Damn allergies.

*two

————-

What’s been going on since I’ve been away, Pranksters? How are you?

First things first, Pranksters – allow me to answer the two most burningest questions on your mind:

Yes, I did get a job, but I have yet to find myself craving Mr. Rogers sweaters or penny loafers, nor have I decided that a “five year plan” is worth my brain power, so it’s safe to say that I still haven’t grown up. More on that another time when I have more than two misfiring synapses to work with.

No, I have not gotten less annoying. Sorry. Thems be the breaks, I guess.

————-

I was probably five or six the first time my mother threatened me: “Rebecca,” she said sternly after I’d chosen to repaint her dull white walls with some beautiful markers and my most prized stickers. I’d thought that a picture of my unicorn, Mr. Snuffles was a fabulous addition to our dining room, but she, apparently felt otherwise, because she finished the lecture by throwing up her hands and yelling, exasperated, “someday, you’re going to grow up and have a child just like you.”

She said it ominously enough that I paid attention until I realized what she was saying.

“No,” I replied, all big eyes and curly hair. “I’m going to have a robot. I don’t like babies.”

She just stared at me, until she huffed off to her room to center herself by playing some depressing music. Turns out? She was right.

This weekend, I spent a good deal of my time doing the second, and most important part of any move.

(I know, I know, I’ve lived here since October, but trust me when I say that when it comes to funk, I am a junkie. Also: horrifyingly depressed)

I began to unpack the items I’d stowed in cupboards and closets when I was in the frantic, “OMG UNPACK, UNPACK! THE SPANISH ARE COMING!” stage of the move. Once everything was assembled and the resident OCD apartment owner a couple of buildings over had suitably drilled the whole, “do not recycle big boxes” thing into my head, I sat down. I didn’t really get up again for four months.

For those four months, I was The Ghost of Apartment 6B, shutting my blinds, and staring off into space. I’d shuffle to the computer to occasionally peck out a post and apply for some jobs when I wasn’t feeling suicidal, then shuffle back to the couch and pretend this was all a bad dream.

It, as I don’t have to point out to you, Pranksters, wasn’t.

So this weekend, I got off my ass and got to work whipping my house into the approximate shape of a home, which meant that I spent a great deal of time wondering why on earth I’d packed this or that, puzzling over the reasons the cupboards could possibly be sticky, and trying to turn my life into, well, a life worth living. I’m not stupid enough to say “the dark days are over,” quite yet, but I know I’ve turned some sort of corner, and for that, I’m grateful.

My daughter wandered into the Batcave while I was organizing some of my jewelry. It was time to go through a massive purge, and I’d figured that there was no time like the present to do so.

“Oooooooh!” she squealed loudly as she saw all the “pretties” I’d pulled out of one of my jewelry boxes. “That’s so BEAUTIFUL, Mama!” Her rapture was unlike anything I’d seen, unless I’d been looking in the mirror after a particularly wonderful sale.

I took a break from untangling a knot that was probably tied by a roving gang of sailors while I was sleeping and sat back and watched my daughter marvel at the pretties with me. Her unbridled joy made my heart grow about twenty sizes.

“Mimi,” I said. “Would you like your own jewelry box to put your jewelry in?”

“Oh MAMA,” she breathed in deeply. “That would be beautiful. How about I take this one?”

I laughed – that one was my favorite too.

“How about we find you your own jewelry box? You can store your pretties in here until I find you one, okay?”

She grinned, ear to ear, and then wrapped me in her spindly arms.

“Oh, MAMA,” she said. “THANK YOU!”

I beamed into her hair, feeling, for the first time in a long time, that same unbridled sense of joy that was oozing from her pores. This was truly one of the happiest moments of my life.

“Do you like the pretty picture of kittens I drew on your wall?” she asked daintily. “I used PINK! My favorite color! And Hello Kitty stickers!”

“Let’s take a look at it, Mimi!” I suggested, my legs creaking and groaning as I got up off the floor, still smiling.

A child after my own likeness, indeed.

Amelia party dress

Now, if you’ll excuse me, Pranksters, I’m off to find some costume jewelry to fill up my daughter’s new jewelry box.

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