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No matter how I begged, cajoled, pleaded, or attempted blackmail, I couldn’t get my parents to budge on their toy purchases for us when we were kids. While my friends were rocking out their Super Nintendo, I was stuck playing “Kris-Kross Make My Video” (which is something I will never, ever, ever play again) and/or gnawing on those now-popular wooden toys (although not generally at the same time, because obviously).

I can’t imagine where on earth my parents found such toys – they weren’t tragically hip or organic back then – which means that my mom probably found them in one of her weird sage-scented health food stores. In fact, they were probably covered in lead paint, which may explain a thing or two about me. As I lack(ed) an imagination, it was damn near impossible for me to get too excitable about stacking wooden blocks again. I’d rather have watched grass grow or play out in the mud with the worms.

I’d have cut a bitch for something garish and made of plastic. I wasn’t allowed Barbies which meant that I’d have happily eaten aforementioned wooden toys if it meant I could have a Barbie Dream House complete with working bathtub so that she and Ken could get down and dirty, obviously. Why else put a bathtub in a house? BATHING? I think not.

When I had my own kids, I was pretty pleased with the notion that I could, in fact, now purchase them the toys I’d so longed for. While my mother scoffed at the EZ Bake Oven, always promising, yet never allowing me to use the real oven instead (probably a good idea on her end considering my track record with appliances), I couldn’t WAIT to buy one for my kid. Until, of course, I did and the “delicious cake” tasted more like urinal cake than chocolate.

(don’t ask how I know what a urinal cake tastes like)

I’d realized this year, after perusing the Black Friday sales, that it was finally time for my kids to actually select their own Christmas presents because they’re so damn finicky that it’s damn near impossible for me to buy them an item of clothing without allowing them to select it first. They are, as Mimi gleefully sings, “Stubborn Assholes.*”

Friday night, after a botched Thanksgiving, I had Mimi over to my apartment for our weekly Girl’s Night. I have lofty hopes that one day we can paint our nails, play Truth or Dare, and talk about boys, but for now, Girls Night means that we watch whatever Mimi would like to watch and play the games she likes best. The youngest of three and all, she loves being in charge.

I’d been carefully perusing the Black Friday Deals at my boyfriend, when I came across something I knew my wee masked avengers would either love or hate, so I called my daughter – by far the pickiest of the three – and together we examined toys.

Because my kids range in age from 3 to 11 and my apartment is *ahem* cozy (read: small), I have to make certain that the toys I buy are toys that they can all play with – together or separately. Not always the easiest of tasks, but since Ben is happy to play with his siblings on their level and Mimi and Alex are precocious, it works out well… if’n I can find the right shit.

I did.

For the first year EVER, I managed to get ALL the Christmas shopping done for the kids (likely the only presents I’ll be buying this year) by Friday night with the help of one tiny moppet named Amelia who discovered that Fisher Price makes a series of toys called “Imaginext,” which is a dumb ass name for some neato toys. I vote we petition for a better name, like Sparkle Sparkle…. er, SOMETHING.

Anyway. Amelia quickly noted that they made a BATMAN series and fell in pink-puffy heart love. Thanks to crowd-sourcing via The Twitter, I able to find these toys on sale, which always makes me happy in the pants.

While I’m thrilled that I am, for once, on top of my game with the whole I’M NEARLY DONE WITH THE CHRISTMAS SHOPPING shit, I’m more than a little sad that my daughter, my VERY OWN daughter has, once again, foiled my attempts at the whole, “my daughter needs a Barbie” thing. I’ve offered, begged, pleaded, and blackmailed, and still, she thinks Barbies are dumb.

When I stop hyperventilating, Pranksters, I’ll let you know.

P.S. I really want to do a Christmas card exchange but that seems like a crazy-bad idea. Is it? Should we do one?

*No, I did not happen to teach her that phrase, but it cracks me up whenever she sings the song.

I’m tacky.

This statement is, of course, a “well, duh!” to anyone who happens to know me in real life. I like to blame this on genetics, considering that every time I walk into a room at my parents house, someone remarks “WOAH, NICE SHOES,” and then blathers on about how I’m “just like my grandmother” who had “the same garish taste,” but considering my parents find teak to be the most lovely decoration material ever, I take it as a compliment.

I don’t doubt that one day, along with finding the gene markers responsible for male pattern baldness, scientists will unwittingly find a “tacky gene” which I can only pray to the Good Lord of Butter that they name something like, “The Sparkle Gene” (which goes neatly along with my six-year old desire to rename our car “Sparkle, Sparkle, Sparkle Car,” to which my parents abjectly disagreed with)

(Never DID say I was any good at naming things, considering I own a cat named “Basement Kitty,” and I have no basement)

The Sparkle Gene has been neatly passed down to my daughter who, despite her ability to kick ass at a moment’s notice, loves all things sparkly, although she, like me, is not interested in Princess Gear. In fact, she’s now calling herself Bat Girl, which goes along neatly with my nickname: Good Catwoman. She’ll happily wear her superhero cape while collecting those shiny gem things you can get at craft stores for like a buck (I assume – never did buy any), which means that she too, has the Sparkle Gene.

I like to imagine that the Sparkle Gene is, in some small part, related to the reason I’ve never decorated a home before, excepting for our failed condo, which I painted all colors of the rainbow, just to turn around and sell it. When we moved into the house formerly known as mine, we decided that decorating and painting wasn’t really in our best interest.

Slowly, I did redo two of the three bathrooms and the kids bedrooms as they were popped from my girl bits. The dining room, which was formerly known as my office, I redid last winter, painting it a lovely shade of Eggplant and replacing the ancient light fixture. I loved that room until Hurricane July hit and it was made clear that I would be moving out.

When I moved into my own space, I made sure to pack the pictures I’d been collecting, the decorations I’d held onto for that one day – the day that would never come – I’d be able to decorate a space to call my own. Could’ve been my old bedroom or a real office for me, didn’t matter. I wanted to be able to look around a room and say, “O’DOYLE RULES!” or, at the very least, “BECKY’S BEEN HERE.”

For something so important to me – and it’s always been – I never did manage to get around to it.

Until now.

(cue ominous music)

I’ve been spending a lot of my time thinking about ways I can decorate my new place to make it feel like I’ve got a home of my own. Don’t get me wrong – I’d sooner get mauled to death by a rogue hedgehog before I’ll EVER be known for “my style” but I don’t care. It’s my space to decorate and mine to call home.

the sparkle gene

While non-traditional, you WILL note that there is nothing glittery on that wall, which means I’m decidedly not done.

(mental note: buy bedazzler)

the sparkle gene

This painting is probably one of my very favorites. While it looks depressing as hell, the graffiti says, “There is always hope,” which is one of those wacky new-age things I have to repeat to myself to get through the day. Well, that and “glitter makes EVERYTHING better.”

(Dear Depression: Fuck you. Love, AB)

One of the things I’ve been doing while recovering from the flu that ate my immune system is to play around on this site:

Which I’m only telling you about because they’re running some killer hot deals right now if you sign up. Makes me wish I were a new customer so I could YOINK that ten dollars.

I happen to like this site not only because it appeals to my Sparkle Gene, but because when I go scouring The Internetz for art, I hyperventilate.

Etsy makes me break out in hives because I can only peruse the site if I have something INCREDIBLY specific in mind, which, I’ll have you know Pranksters, does not often happen, and searching for “sparkle, sparkle art,” NEVER gets me ANYTHING I’d ever want.

This site happens to choose small independent companies and showcase their items at a deeply discounted price (especially if you earn credits, which you do by “peeking” at the prices of various items. It’s like a game and it’s probably the best time waster ever, besides Monster Pet Shop (Damn YOOOU CRYS!), but you know and you should totally try it. It’s a ton of fun, even if I can’t afford half the things on there, it’s a great way I get ideas for things to put on my walls, until I own a bedazzler.

Or manage to extract the Sparkle Gene from my genetic makeup. Y’know, whichever comes first.


So what about YOU, Pranksters? Where do you find stuffs for your walls? I’m all about getting my house to look as though I live here.


P.S. Inappropriate frog is inappropriate.

The Sparkle Gene

It’s no secret that I’m the finder of odd things (baggies of diamonds, a child, a can of diet Coke), which, is going to make this story incredibly anti-climactic, so be warned.

I’ve spent the better part of two weeks on the couch, wearing an Aunt Becky shaped groove into my couch, moaning histrionically while my cat watched from a distance, all, “bitch, you be crazy – ain’t nobody here to hear your pitifulness besides me and I don’t give a rat’s ass.” Cats, man, not the most sympathetic of creatures.

I’d thought it was low-grade depression, but no, it turns out that I’ve had the flu, which is my PSA for “GET A FLU SHOT, FOR THE LOVE OF BUTTER.” Being me, I had assorted complications with aforementioned flu, none of which are in the slightest bit interesting (okay, malnutrition is kinda wacky, but that’s neither here nor there).

The one thing that kept me sane was playing online games on my iPad (Monster Pet Shop, you are a cruel, cruel mistress) because I was too full of the histrionic to even attempt sitting up long enough to do anything at my computer, which, if you ask me, is the epitome of pathetic. But that is neither here nor there.

Finally, on Saturday night, after tearing myself away from Tiny Tower,

three-peteI decided that it was high time to get off my ass and take out the garbage which had been silently taunting me for days. It was all, “I need to be taken out and yooooooouuuuu can’t do it. Ha-ha!” and I was all, “We’ll see who’s the bitch now, motherfucker.”

Apparently, the flu makes you weaker than a mosquito in cold weather, because I swear to you, Pranksters, I’ve never had so much trouble taking out the trash in my life, even WITHOUT household appliances attacking me. I had to take a breather on one of the benches overlooking the river before I could even attempt to crawl back into my house and see what online games required my immediate and undivided attention.

It was then that I saw him.

Now, my neighbors are known for walking their house-pets around, especially cats, which has both befuddled and betwixt me, because, well, who wants to take a CAT for a WALK? Mine would be all, “shit bitch, shut your whore mouth,” the moment I tried to strap a dog harness around him (he’s not fat – he’s just big-boned!)(also: he likes Cheesy Poofs)(then again, who doesn’t?). He’d probably sever one of my pesky – yet important – blood vessels before he let me take him outdoors.

But anyway, the sight of my neighbor walking around with a cat isn’t nearly as shocking as it should be.

“Hi,” he said (my neighbor, not the cat). “Are you missing a cat?”

I looked around wondering if this was a code, but before I could respond, the cat began twirling itself around my ankles all, “I love you,” which is a far cry from my own cat, who’s all, “I love being fat.” I looked down at it and realized it didn’t weigh 82,747 pounds, therefore, it was not my cat. Also: it was orange, which my cat is not.

“Um,” I said, still a bit winded and more than a bit weirded out by the cat who was now making sweet love to my calf. “No.”

“This cat,” he explained, “was in my car. I noticed it when I was over at one of those big box stores. I’d bring him in but I have a small baby at home and I don’t know what the cat could do.”

I didn’t have the heart to tell him that I WAS the small baby at my home, and instead looked down at the cat, who had firmly attached itself to my leg like a barnacle. I sighed.

“I can take him in for the weekend,” I agreed, knowing that I’d never forgive myself if I didn’t and something happened to the cat. “Then I can see if I can track down his owner.”

The dude smiled, obviously relieved that he’d passed his stalker onto me. The cat, I swear, grinned like the Cheshire Cat as it sprung into my apartment, all, “lookit me, I’m so damn cute.”


I call him Dolomite, rather than “Three-Pete,” which is the name I should’ve given him, in following in my pattern of naming orange cats “Pete.”

Upon further inspection, I realized that Dolomite has been traveling quite a bit – his paws are busted from walking and he’s in dire need of some food and water.

And I’ll nurse him back to health because it’s the right thing to do.

Once, of course, I’m done restocking my Tiny Tower shoe store.


Got any better names for me, Pranksters? I should warn you that my other cat? His name is “Basement Kitty,” or, as I like to call him now that I’ve moved, “Basementless Kitty,” which goes to show you how badly I name animals.

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