There Your Heart Will Be Also

Dear Pranksters,

Normally, I wouldn’t bother to write out a long-winded and boring explanation for my absence from my blog (I’ve been active on The Facebook and The Twitter, but that is neither here nor there) because frankly, it could read “Been busy, cat knocked over computer, broke my toe making a sandwich,” and it would have as much impact as the words I’m typing now. But since you have been my family for as long as I can recall, I wanted to explain why I’ve been silent and moreover, how much I’ve missed the fucking shit out of you. When I started blogging, it was to feel like I wasn’t alone in the universe. What I found was so much more – I found you, my Pranksters. In the process, I found myself, too.

(insert “My Heart Will Go On” – muzak rendition, natch)

While it seemed as though I’d fallen prey to the whole “I don’t blog any longer” phenomenon that seems to happen to bloggers after a certain timetable, the reality is that you were never far from my mind. So many years I spent pouring out my brain into an empty WordPress box, it was impossible for me to not come back to it. It just had to be the right time.

The time is now. (imagine me fist-pumping in the air)

I’d stopped blogging when the whole D-Word came into the picture because a) I didn’t want to somehow get my blog into the prying eyes of a judge and 2) I felt like I didn’t have anything left to say (okay, that’s presuming I had anything of any importance to say in the first place, which is debatable). When I announced that I was getting a divorce, I know that some people – myself included – were taken aback by it. I hadn’t really shared my struggles with my marriage – or even let anyone in on the whole “I’m separated” thing – because if I said it, that would make it real. And I was SO not prepared for that. No one goes into a marriage to get divorced.

So I continued blogging from my [redacted] box, which grew smaller and smaller as time went on. I didn’t want to put it out there that we were struggling, so I stopped writing anything I cared about. When that happened, I stopped blogging. Yeah, I was busy, yeah, I burnt my tongue making toast, yeah, the cat knocked over something or another, but no, honestly, that wasn’t why. I could feel that my heart simply wasn’t in it. So I stopped, knowing that one day I’d return.

And now I can safely say that I am ready. I’m done living a [redacted] life and I’m ready to get back into blogging. Just bear with me as I get my sea legs back.

Thank you, my Pranksters, for being there for me, for being my friend when I felt alone and for picking me up, dusting me off, and reminding me that things will be okay. I’d love to thank every person who reached out to me, who sent me a sweet care package, and who believed in me when I didn’t believe in myself, but the list would be three pages long. I promise to do better in the future and thank you in a timely manner.

Without your support, I honestly do not know if I’d be here today, typing these silly words into this empty WordPress box. Together, we can take the world by storm.

Love always,

(your) Aunt Becky

P.S. As I’m doing some spring cleaning (early or late, depending upon how you want to look at it), please let me know if I need to add you to my blogroll. If you’ve sent me an email and I haven’t replied, go ahead and send another one to becky.harks@gmail.com

P.P.S. I’m thinking about revamping my crappy advice column – Go Ask Aunt Becky. Thoughts?

Should I Resurrect "Go Ask Aunt Becky?"

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P.P.P.S. I’m going to try something new. I’m always bragging about how I have the best readers on Teh Internets, so I’m gonna test you. Every Friday, I want to put up a guest post from one of you guys. Doesn’t matter if you blog or not. If you’ve got a great, hilarious story, I want to share it with THE WORLD. Throw me an email with GUEST POST in the subject line so I can easily tell that it’s not trying to sell me Viagra to becky.harks@gmail.com and we’ll go all EYE OF THE MOTHERFUCKING TIGER on this shit.

P.P.P.P.S. Since Google dumps everything that is awesome and good to develop garbage like Google Glass, I’ve lost all my RSS feeds which makes me sad in the pants. Do you have any good suggestions for feed readers?

P.P.P.P.P.S. Now is the time to throw your link into the comment box so that I can add it to my new feed reader. I gots to keep up with my Pranksters! And you know what? Everyone deserves a little self-promotion. NOW IS THAT TIME, PRANKSTERS. SEIZE THE OPPORTUNITY.

Also: I realize that I left a number of unanswered questions behind when I stopped blogging. If’n you have a question, leave me a comment and I’ll do my best to answer it.

Panic! In The Elevator

When my kids were little and we’d get onto an elevator, they’d get this horrified look on their face like, WHATTHEFUCKISHAPPENING? And I was all, I know EXACTLY how you feel.

See, eleventy-niner years ago (rough estimate), I worked for a much-hated insurance company. While the company was a hot pile of bullshit, my job was actually to look for loopholes in insurance plans to allow people to cheat the system. While my title wasn’t “System Cheater,” like I’d regularly petitioned, I wasn’t one of the total assholes. At work, at least. Still, that didn’t stop people from regularly coming up to me and saying, “Wow, you work for Evil Insurance Company? I’d like to take a machete and cut off your fucking head and shit down your neck hole.” Didn’t EXACTLY boost morale, so when I quit, it was kind of a relief – at least my head would stay atop my spindly neck to annoy another day.

Anyway.

While I was usually one of those bring your lunch people (read: I bought a bag of baby carrots and diet Coke and ate them at my desk), occasionally my co-workers would strong-arm me into popping down to the bottom floor to eat lunch at the semi-pathetic cafeteria there. Normally, I was into taking the stairs because sitting at a desk all day, pouring over insurance plans to find ways to cheat the system wasn’t exactly getting the old heart pumping.

But when I took lunch with my friends, one of them had a problem with her knee and couldn’t exactly take the stairs without running the risk of falling down and smashing her head open like a melon. So I’d take the elevator with them, feeling like a total lazy-ass for going down four fucking floors when I had perfectly functional legs.

One day, we all piled onto the elevator like a bunch of puppies and pressed the basement button. We chatted idly about who would win American Idol that year, how the rain was good for my garden, and what a raging cuntbag our big boss happened to be when it happened.

A screech of metal gnashing upon metal, the lights flickered, and the elevator car fell for a couple of feet before grinding to a halt. Never having been one to be fearful of elevators (despite my fears of other things such as the color orange and fish – all fish), my heart began to pound. Desperately, we pressed the “DON’T TOUCH THIS UNLESS YOU MEAN IT” emergency button – the very same button my kids ALWAYS try to press because you’re not supposed to press it – and waited, sweating and panicked for someone to respond. The tinny voice coming out of the box informed us that the fire department would be there as soon as they stopped busting teenage smokers or whatever it is fire departments do in boring towns.

We settled in for the long haul. That is, all of us but one settled in for the long haul. As I sat on the floor, bored and hungry, there was that one guy. THAT guy. There’s always THAT guy. And this time, it was a girl.

I tried to be understanding, I really did. Getting trapped in an elevator wasn’t exactly how I planned to spend my lunch break either. And shit, I was a little claustrophobic, too, but I was determined not to be all Chicken Little and Panic! In The Elevator because I knew it would make it worse.

I don’t fault her for the panic. I do, however, wish she’d managed to control her screaming “WE’RE GONNA DIIIIEEE!” replete with pulling out her hair and clawing at her face, mostly because it seemed histrionic rather than genuine fear. Luckily, the fire department got there and pried the doors open before she could begin to eat her shit, as she’d been screaming she’d do. Why? I don’t know. Apparently that’s what some people do when they’re scared.

Me? I smother myself in condiments and try to get at least ONE person to wrestle me in a vat of baked beans.

Different strokes and all that.

What do YOU do when you’re scared o! Pranksters, my Pranksters?

—————-
How have you been my Pranksters? I’ve missed you so much! C’mon over, grab a nice cup of coffee and tell Your Aunt Becky what’s been going on in YOUR world.

Siri Is A Fucking Bitch

Despite my plans to run through the Apple store up the block screaming “Android Rulez!” (and yes, the “z” is absolutely necessary) every time Apple launches a new product, I’ve yet to do it. Why? Because that would be a hot, steaming pile of bullshit. I miss my i(can’t)Phone like I miss butter. Wait, back up. I still eat butter. No, not by the STICK or anything, but alas, I digress.

My coworkers and I had gone out for lunch on Monday because, well, FOOD, DUH, and we’re used to the whole “working lunch” thing which basically means we try not to drool on the keyboard as we work. In my case, as you may have guessed, this is more of a reality than it is for the rest of my coworkers. On the way back, my coworkers rubbed their awesome i(can’t)Phones in my face as I tried to make my Android pull up a text message*

*note, it did NOT work

by showing me how awesome Siri is.

And by “awesome,” I mean, “she sucks.” While Ryan got Siri to tell him a story, I couldn’t even get my phone to turn on. When I asked the bland Android female robot in my phone to “tell me a joke,” my phone sorta did this fizzle-out thing and turned itself off. Apparently, my Android doesn’t like awesome. Or me.

Now, I’ve been working hard to stalk one of my coworkers as it seems like a good thing to do. Not because I really have the time to wipe my ass these days, but because, well, I’VE NEVER STALKED ANYONE. I can imagine getting a telephoto lens and taking rando surveillance photos o him doing such things as “taking out the trash,” and “eating an apple,” and then developing them in the darkroom I don’t have, then pasting them above my bed. Why? IT JUST SEEMS LIKE A GOOD IDEA.

Because I have absolutely no filter, he knows my plan to stalk him and is perfectly happy to allow me up to two minutes each work day to do so. We’ve gone to great lengths to determine what “stalking” entails – it’s not standing and having a conversation or even doing that standing uncomfortably close massaging his shoulders and creepily whispering “Hey Buddy,” in his ear. He’s immune to all that. I think it’s because he’s from New York and that’s probably how people there greet one another. Or maybe they sniff each the other’s butt. I don’t really know.

The last time we spent time discussing my stalking habits, my coworker Ryan overheard us yammering on and was all, I should do something. Thanks, Ryan. So what does he do? He whips out his cell phone and tells Siri,

“Help, Becky is stalking me.”

Siri responded by providing him local emergency contacts. I can’t take a picture on my phone and Siri is ready to make Ryan coffee, walk his dog, and protect him from the big, bad, mean girl in the office.

I guess I should be grateful that Siri didn’t actually call the police or anything, but really, I’m just pissed off that the bitch can’t even tell me where to bury a body.

Wait. What?

A Divorce of a *Different* Color

(ring ring)

Dave: “Hey, just calling to see what time you’d be by to pick up the kids tonight.”

Me: “Erms…kids? I have kids?”

Dave: “Well, I think so.”

Me: “Huh.”

Dave: “But… they do sometimes make mistakes with these things.”

Me: “Must’ve been a burrito and an overworked L and D nurse.”

Dave: “Yeah, that’s what I’m thinking too.”

Me: “Well, I guess I’ll be by to pick up these so-called “kids of mine” between 6-6:10 depending upon the train.”

Dave: “That works.”

Me: “I mean, if they ARE my “children” after all.”

Dave: “They’re actually reporting to the NSA about all the times you go to the bathroom.”

Me: “I KNEW there was something funny about the way they looked at me when I said I had to go to the bathroom again.”

Dave: “Ha-ha.”

Me: “I’ll text when I get close.”

Dave: “OH! And have you looked at the settlement agreement?”

Me: “Well, I did notice it was lacking in something very important.”

Dave: “What?”

Me: “Nowhere in it does it stipulate that I get a pony.”

Dave: “I must’ve left it out.”

Me: “Well, that’s a must. Please write it in or I won’t sign it.”

Dave: “I may have to cross “And Becky gets a pony” out of the final settlement.”

Me: “So long as the judge takes note of that.”

Dave: “I’m sorry I overlooked such a viable part of your future.”

Me: “You and me both. See you tonight!”

Dave: “Laters!”

Me: “Bye, yo.”

It didn’t dawn on me until after I hung up the phone that I didn’t specify if the pony had to be alive or not. Devil in the details and all that.

Pair-a-Dice City

Scene: 6:05AM, my house

Dan: “I found your glasses in the bushes yesterday.”

Becky: “Uh…”

Dan: “I’m not gonna even ask.”

Becky: “Wise move.”

Dan: “You look like you’re ready for school. You got your new laptop (thanks Staples!) in my old Army bag and your new kicks on.”

Becky: “I love these shoes. Sole Provisions rocks mah socks off.

Dan: “You’re not wearing socks.”

Becky: “Good point. But if I were, they’d be knocked off.”

Dan: “I can’t help but laugh – you’re using my tactical Marines backpack for diet Coke and a laptop. That bag saw three tours of duty.”

Becky (laughs): “And now I’ve made it a yuppie backpack. I’m planning to add sparkles to it somehow.”

Dan (laughs): “Better make ’em pink sparkles.”

—————————

Scene 8:45AM

Becky: “Ugh. I think it’s gonna rain this weekend.”

Lauren: “Oh no! I’m going to a concert tomorrow!”

Becky: “Iron Maiden?”

Lauren (laughs): “No, Mindy McCready.”

Adam (walking by): “Who’s going to the Iron Maiden concert?”

Becky: “Apparently not Lauren.”

Lauren (laughs)

Adam: “I’m totally going. I’d bring you if I had an extra ticket.”

———————–
Scene: 3:20PM

Becky: “You know what this place needs?”

Adam: “A souffle chef?”

Becky: “Ha. No. I’m thinking a ball pit.”

Adam: “Or a wrestling ring.”

Becky: “Only if it’s full of baked beans.”

Adam: “Point taken.”

Becky: “Also: we need a dodgeball team. I’m just saying.”

Adam: “I like the way you think.”

———————-

I think I’m going to be very, very happy here. Sparkly tactical backpack and all.

Year Twelve: Your Song

Benjamin Maxwell,

At the highly polite hour of 2:50 in the afternoon on August 20, 2001, my life was forever altered. Certainly, people say this sort of thing, attempting to make a situation sound that much more important than it was, but in this case it was true. Because it was at this extremely civilized hour that everything, every event, every decision, every m0ment, it all changed.

Forever.

Now, to be fair, I didn’t – I couldn’t – see the magnitude of the doctor yanking you from my wrecked girl bits with forceps with every fiber of his VERY tiny body. I didn’t understand parenthood. I didn’t know what being a mother was all about. Sure, I’d “Sure, I had the cute, adorable, and teeny, weeny baby clothes as I was Looking for the baby things at TradeTang.com I had a swing that squeaked loudly when wound (I did place a cat in there to test it out prior to your arrival), and I even had a stroller. I had stretch marks and feet so swollen in the hot August sun that they appeared to be over-cooked marshmallows, and I hadn’t seen my very own crotch in many moons.

But if I’d given birth to a basket of fluffy kittens or 8 pounds of ground beef, I wouldn’t have been surprised. I was, however, surprised to note that there had been a real, live baby inside me for all those months. And boy, Ben, were you pissed at me for yanking you unceremoniously from your comfy womb. I’ll hope you’ve forgiven me that, considering this world is a far more beautiful place than my womb (I assume).

That moment changed everything. While at that moment, I had nothing, save for the kindness of strangers and family, I knew I had to do better by you. I had to change everything.

I decided to become a nurse. To settle down and get married. To give you a brother and sister to romp around in. Your own backyard with a fancy swingset to explore and rooms to romp around in. I changed it all for you. Every decision, every move, everything I did, it was all based on the events of 2:50 in the very ordinary afternoon of August 20, 2001. I’ve never really told you that story and I don’t know that I will because that seems too heavy a burden for a child to carry.

That, everything we both knew, it all changed last year before your birthday. I know it did and I’m sorry for it. Change is hard, harder for some, like you and I, and I know that we both handled it as well as we could. Fences were made, walls were built, and bonds were strained. But somehow, we always find our way back to those who love us most.

What I want you to take away from this all is simple: when things change, the things – the people – who matter, that is what matters. Change is hard, but change is normal, and while it may break our hearts and leave us gasping for air, there’s some small part of that change that makes our heart of hearts grow stronger; tougher, mightier. It leaves us a better person than we previously were, even as our hearts shatter.

While I don’t have a huge yard and a swingset any longer, while I don’t have an extra bedroom or your siblings every second of the day, I carry you each with me wherever I go.

This year, I want to remind you of a simple truth: the people who we meet, the lives who we touch, those who we help and those who we hurt, we’re all connected. It may sound silly or trite or too new-agey for you, but it’s the truth. Everything matters and we are all connected in the infinitesimally tiny moments of our lives, which is why you must make each of them count. Make them matter. I hope that you can see that some day.

For some day, you may be in the shoes I wore the day I bore you. Finding that one moment; that one inexplicable moment that changes everything to come.

That moment for me; that was you. And nothing can change that.

Ever.

Happy Twelve, Benny.

Love,

Mom

P.S. This is your song. Always has been:

If You Work For A Living, Why Do You Kill Yourself To Work?

So, Pranksters, brace yourself. I have an announcement:

I have, once again, decided to leave the nursing field.

(if any one of you is surprised, you should probably take off your sweat pants – there will be no leg humping from Your Aunt Becky).

Okay, so that’s not entirely true (the leg humping bit maybe a little), but it became entirely obvious to me during my stint at both Not-Chicago and Almost-Chicago that being the Director of Nursing isn’t really what it’s cracked up to be. Between the 24/7 calls and the management politics, I remember why I chose not to pursue my nursing career.

So it’s time for something entirely different.

Okay, it’s not really any different than the work I do for The Band Back Together Project, which is my non-profit organization dedicated to reducing the stigma of mental illness and traumas while providing educational resources to help people learn and heal /end elevator speech. Oh, and if you want to write for us, we’re ALWAYS looking for writers and volunteers (email bandbacktogether@gmail.com if’n you want to volunteer), but that’s a totally different story.

(sidebar: I love what I do for The Band. Always have. In the same way I love other non-profit organizations, like SoapBoxSoaps, which is a nifty non-profit that does almost nothing like what we do.)

With the help of my team, we’ve created nearly 600 resource pages, which has, for the first time in my life, become a plus. See, Pranksters, I’ve taken a job IN Chicago working for a massive healthcare conglomerate* to do exactly what I’ve been doing for nearly four years: write medical research. This will allow me to continue to blog and do my own thing on my own time, which makes me almost as happy in the pants as a stick of butter.

I’ll be working full-time as a writer.

In Chicago.

I start September 2.

*gulp*

*which, when you put those words together, sounds like a particularly nasty case of crotch cooties, which I can almost assure you is not the case. Almost.

Local Woman Claims “Only Thing Worse Than Having an iPhone 4S is NOT Having iPhone 4S”

St. Charles, IL – an area woman often known as “Aunt Becky,” although she is, at time of print, not an actual aunt to anyone at all, claims that “the only thing worse than having an iPhone 4S is not having an iPhone 4S.” Aunt Becky, more commonly known as Becky Sherrick Harks, makes it a point to state, “my last name is not hyphenated,” even without being asked, sits in her apartment drinking one of many diet Coke bottles lying her tiny apartment.

“It’s like this,” Harks states, “my iPhone couldn’t really make phone calls, which is why I got a landline,” and “It made me really mad at my iPhone.” Upon catching her breath she informs us that, “it was kinda a piece of shit, for an Apple product. I mean what fucking phone can’t make a call?” She then adds that while she was often frustrated by her “inability to use the ‘phone’ part of the iPhone 4S,” she did like to use it to play Angry Birds. “I mean,” says Harks, “the birds are so cute when they’re mad,” and when this writer agreed, she replied with, “Fucking-a, right” after offering a hot dog to the writer.

“It goes like this,” Harks said, getting visibly choked up. “I had this piece of shit phone that can’t make a fucking call to save itself, even though it says right on the box “PHONE.” I kept threatening the damn thing with a NOT-Smart phone, but those things don’t have those cute fucking angry birds on them.” She dabbed her eyes on her shirt and resumed, “but I didn’t really mean it. I mean, yeah, the damn thing couldn’t cure cancer, but I sorta kinda liked it, like a little bit.”

After a nasty battle between iPhone 4S and the washing machine, Harks knew it was the end of her iPhone. First, she cheered, “finally, I can get another phone!” then immediately lamented, “but I miss my iPhone 4S already.” When questioned regarding the duality of her statement, Harks simply stated, “Android sucks. Sure I couldn’t call anyone from my iPhone, but at least I could find Angry Birds without having to flip through 736 screens.” “Although,” she continued, “I do like that little monster guy icon. He’s pretty cute.”

Harks states that she will probably return to get another iPhone the moment her contract is up with her mobile carrier, even though she may be unable to use it to call for help if there is an actual emergency, unlike the previous 3,483 times Harks has called 911 when McDonald’s forgot to give her extra BBQ sauce.

When asked for comment, Sprint, her mobile carrier, simply stated, “That girl is a dumb bitch.”

The Android phone, in a rare moment of Smart Phone clarity, agreed.

27 Ways To Make Enemies and Lose Friends

With a little help from mah friend Jason.
Also? Have been blogging on my Frugal Living Blog again.

1) Order sweet potato fries for the whole table, then, rather than share, grab the basket and lick each fry, claiming them as your own.

2) Order – and drink – Appletini’s. For real.

3) Inform everyone from the guy down the street selling papers to the barista at Stardollars how much better Breaking Bad is than The Wire. If they disagree, begin to speak in a loud voice using small words to provide a moment-by-moment breakdown of each scene for the past four seasons. When they finally agree, just to shut you the fuck up, then admit, “Hey, but it’s not as good as Lost.”

4) Whistle badly, tunelessly, at all points in which your mouth is not defending The Lost Conspiracy.*

5) Casually mention that you’ve “discovered” the most amazing (insert store/bar/restaurant here) even though all of them are easily found in the phone book or on Yelp.

6) End every conversation with, “Yes, but what would FREUD say about that?”

7) Insist upon chewing at least three pieces of gum at all points while away and rather than chew quietly, smack your mouth open and closed as loudly as possible so as to mimic a cow eating grass.

8) Quote Scarface often in the worst possible accent you can muster; inserting it into conversations in which it has no bearing.

9) Drink beverages with a straw and spend at least ten minutes after the liquid has been ingested making that horrifying sucking noise, trying to ensure that every single molecule is inside your mouth.

10) Brush off every single one of the accomplishments of other children by saying breezily, “Yeah, well, Little Jimmy was doing THAT at age four. Do you think something’s wrong with (insert name of other child here) to be doing this so BEHIND?”

11. Aimee says: Talk on the phone while in the bathroom. Loudly. And be sure to choose the only stall next to another person.

12. Stacey Says: Never let anyone finish a story. ALWAYS leap in with yours before they get to teh end. Bonus asshole points if it isn’t just a similar story but tops theirs significantly.

13) Luna Says: Ask them if they’ve found Jesus yet. If they say “Yes”, ask “Was he under the couch?” If they say no, invite them to read from the Bible with you.

14) Luna Says: Fart. Loudly. Then chide them loudly for farting.

15) Luna Says: Stand the wrong way in the elevator.

16) Luna Says: Start selling a MLM scheme.

17) Luna Says: Demand that you split the restaurant bill evenly (5 people, check split evenly 5 ways), but order 3 times as much as everyone else. Do not share under any circumstances.

18) Cindy Says: show them all the pictures of your kids/dogs/boat collection. (yes, I just had someone show me pictures of his boat collection.)

19) Sandy Says: Put an “Out of Order” sign on the door of the restroom at work and see how long it takes for maintenance to take it down.

20) Anonymous Says: Invite yourself to move in with your best friend, decide to stay indefinitely, talk about inappropriate subjects in front of their children, be late with rent, and just generally overstay your welcome.

21) Luna Says: TMI. Always tell people about your bowel movements and your menstrual flow. Words like “clots” and “squirt” are particularly useful.

22) Luna Says: Make a great big screaming deal out of your birthday. Refuse to acknowledge anyone else’s.

23) Luna Says: Make food for your friends with food allergies. INSIST that the food is safe. Refuse to let up until they try it. When they get sick, say, “Well, I tried my best! I didn’t think a LITTLE would hurt!”

24) Brenay Says: Call/ text/ email obsessively to confirm a date to spend time with your friend. Cancel five minutes before you are supposed to meet, using the worst excuse you can think of. For example, you can say you totally forgot about the lunch date because you had to go get a gallon of milk. (You are lactose intolerant.)

25) Lovelyn Says: Call your friends regularly at ungodly hours. When they answer ask, “Where you sleeping?” When they say yes, ignore them and start giving them a minute by minute account of your day.

26) Ryen Says: Step into a busy elevator, press every button, then turn around to face your now angry audience and clasp your hands together and say, “I’ve gathered you all here today to”……and then finish with the most awesome, bizarre thing you can think of.

27) Meg Says: Don’t flipping tell me to have a BLESSED day. I’ll go see  a priest if I need to get fucking blessed.

*I do not know what this means either.

—————-

Your turn, Pranksters!
 
Leave me a comment with another way to make enemies and lose friends and I’ll add it to the list above with your name and a link to your blog or social media!

She Spent The Next Several Months Making Room For Him To Stay

“Hey! Rebecca!” My father exclaimed in the gleeful way he does now that he’s retired and in the mood to fuck with me.

“Yeeeesss?” I looked up briefly from my phone, where I’d been frantically editing photos to make sure cats with freakin’ laser beams appeared in every snap.

“What do you say? Wanna talk about guys? I know guys. We can totally talk about guys,” he said, his eyes twinkling.

“UGH,” I replied. “Why don’t you go reorganize something?”

He laughed and left me alone with my mother.

“Have you thought about dating again?” she asked, in the same way that everyone from my mailman to the guy at Starbucks had begun.

“No… not really,” which was the truth. I’d been putting the pieces of my new life together, working a zillionty-hundred hours a week and trying to ensure that I made time to pee once in awhile.

“I don’t know if I’d get remarried – too much work,” she mused.

I HEARD THAT!” My father yelled from the kitchen where he’d begun arranging glasses by color, size, clarity, and width. Retirement is not his OMGBBQBFF.

—————

After a long day at Not-Chicago, I wearily climbed into bed for a brief nap before I tried to muster up the energy to make myself something to eat. The job; well, I loved it, but damn if it didn’t take the fuck out of me. Eventually, I pulled myself out of bed, intending to pop outside for some fresh air and to watch the sun set. The sunsets in Chicago, well, they’re amazing, and I try not to miss a single one, even if sleep is where I’m a viking.

Eyes filled with sleep, I opened my front door, immediately confronted by a large grey cat, who appeared to believe that he, too belonged there.

“Meeoooow,” he whined at me a long-drawn out moment, before sauntering back into the bush in front of my window.

“Hey buddy,” I said, rubbing sleep out of my eyes. Living on the river = you never know what sort of critter will be popping out to try and eat, maim, or love on you.

I rounded the bend out of my stoop and there stood a man who appeared as shocked as I was. Critters I was used to. A dude standing there? Not so much.

“Hi,” he said. “Sorry about my sister’s cat – he likes to hang out in front of other people’s doors. He’s a pervert, but he means well.”

I laughed. “Well, at least I’m wearing pants.”

Turning thirty-seven shades of red, he laughed awkwardly.

I walked out further to stand near him – I love my neighbors at the FBI Surveillance Van, and this one seemed friendly.

“Dan,” he said, formally holding out his hand.

“Becky,” I said, adding, “with a ‘y’ not an ‘i.'”

“Nice to meet you, Becky-with-a-y,” he smiled at me.

“Nice to meet YOU, Dan,” I smiled back, the way two people do when they know they’re sharing a special secret; that this is about to become something big; bigger than either of us could’ve imagined.

—————

“Hey Baby,” Dan called over the sound of the vacuum. “You should SEE what I found behind the couches!”

I popped out of the bedroom, where I’d been purging all of the “maybe I’ll use this someday shit” that multiplies while I’m asleep. Or gnomes drag it in – I can’t be sure. Either room, I needed to make some room in my life.

“WOAH,” I took a step back. “That is GROSS!”

“No more eating in the living room, I’m thinking,” he replied.

“Agreed.”

“Okay, YOUR turn! Come and see what I’ve done with our bedroom!” I squeeed. I love purging like I love butter.

“HOLY SHITFUCK, Becky!” he exclaimed. “This is all my closet space?”

“Yep,” I said, beaming. “It’s almost like you live here or something.”

“Baby,” he snorted back laughter; a private joke between us. “I DO live here. I haven’t left since our first date.”

I smiled at him; that same knowing smile two people can share when they have a particularly delicious secret.

He grabbed me and spun me around as I squealed happily, until we both fell onto the bed, dizzy and smiling, knowing that indeed, this had indeed become bigger than either of us could’ve imagined.

“So,” he said. “THIS is what happiness feels like.”

I smiled again. “Yes, I believe it is.”