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.”

Leather Face

When most people consider moving from a house to an apartment, they see it as a step down. Like ordering creme brulee and getting a dish of plain vanilla soft-serve (WITHOUT the all-important sprinkles) or something.

I won’t lie: I felt the same way. In October I moved from a three-floor house with a yard full of my roses into the FBI Surveillance Van where I shared all walls with other individuals whom I figured were always up to some nefarious hijinks. I even thought of getting a black light to ascertain if there had been any semen stains on the walls from previous tenants.

(Lazy + too – even for Your Aunt Becky – creepy = not gonna happen)

But I didn’t know quite what to expect beyond dorm living, which had been my only real experience living outside of a single home, and we ALL know the hilarious hijinks that go on in those dorms.

It took a bit to warm to the idea – being reprimanded by the self-appointed friendly neighborhood garbage police for not properly breaking down my boxes after moving in did NOT help in any way to reduce my paranoia – (personal motto: just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not out to get you) but slowly I did. And my neighbors? Well, they’re FULL of the awesome.

(pointless sidebar: not NEARLY as full of the awesome as YOU, Pranksters)

Kitchen sink busted? Call maintenance.

Car battery dead? Ask aforementioned maintenance guy to give you a jump.

Need counseling? Talk to The Twitter.

Slowly, I got into the groove of living life in the FBI Surveillance Van, even if it did mean I shared my bed with children who, despite their relatively diminutive size, managed to abscond with both space on the mattress and all of the covers. The mornings I’d wake up shivering cold and half on the floor I dubbed “cozy,” rather than “dude, where’s my sleep?”

Things took a turn for the better once the pool opened. The home previously known as mine didn’t have a pool, unless you counted the three inch plastic baby pool, which I, of course, did not. Even if I’d wanted a pool, I knew better than to actually have one constructed – growing up with an in-ground pool is enough to scare you out of your mind. I saw more dead animals each spring than I ever dissected in my biology classes, which is saying a LOT.

I’d not given the FBI Surveillance Van’s pool much thought at all – I hadn’t really wanted to take a dip on my own without my kids (who really wants to feel like the creep by the pool?), and as there was only one of me and three of them (two of whom couldn’t swim), I didn’t feel entirely safe bringing them, either. But once the weather warmed up, the chants of “MAMA, CAN WE GET SOME CANDY? IT’S CANDY DAY, MAMA!” turned into “MAMA, CAN WE GO TO THE POOL? I READ THE SIGN, IT’S OPEN.”

Then I cursed the public school system for teaching my child how to read and tried to recall where, exactly, one purchases a swimming suit and those floaty things for kids.

With great trepidation, I filled my ugly-ass beach bag (which has been around the world to various and sundry disgusting beaches) with towels, goggles, floaty things, and sunscreen and decided that it was high time to work on my tan and teach the kids to swim, which is no easy feat considering I’m not a swim instructor and I don’t even play one on television.

The kids bounded on ahead, ring things around their waists, trying to avoid the red-wing blackbirds dive-bombing their sweet heads while I trudged behind them, lugging approximately 847464 metric fucktons of pool shit.

It took them awhile to warm up to it – and by “them,” I mean “Alex,” who is ALWAYS hesitant to try new things – but slowly, they inched their way into the water with Dan and I keeping an obnoxiously close eye on them. Eventually, the sun decided that it was high time for me to take a rest on one of the germ-laden pool chairs and so I did.

It was then that I saw him.

Leather man.

Not an unattractive guy by any stretch of the imagination, somewhere in his mid-to-late sixties, he was simply sitting and drinking with his buddy on the other side of the pool fence, trying to catch some rays. Which wasn’t too far from what I was doing, excepting that I had a swimsuit on and wasn’t drinking alcohol.

The problem was, I couldn’t honestly ascertain whether or not he was wearing clothing or not. His shorts very nearly matched his torso, which meant that he could have easily been wearing a shirt. In fact, I figured he was. No one has skin quite that color. No one.

Or so I thought.

I was, I admit, intrigued by how closely his body resembled one of those brown body suits that fancy-pants surfers wear, and wondered why on earth he was wearing it not on the beach, but on the banks of the gnarly Fox River. I shrugged it off, thinking of sprinkles and cuppity-cakes and went back to resting quietly.

Just nearing that sort-of slumber brought on by intense sunbeams, it smacked me upside the face in a nice, neat mushroom print:

He had puffy nipples.

If he had puffy nipples hanging out, then he wasn’t wearing a bodysuit.

That was his skin.

“Dan,” I whispered frantically as I dipped my legs into the water. “I think that guy is wearing a skin shirt.”

“Where?” he asked.

“Over outside the pool area. DON’T BE OBVIOUS!” I replied.

He pretended to be checking out something in that general direction for a few moments before returning to face me.

“Babe,” Dan said. “I don’t think that’s a shirt.”

Half the pool turned around at the audible SMACK that my jaw made when it hit the concrete.

“That’s his… skin?” I asked.

Dan nodded and chuckled at my reaction.

“He’s like a walking poster boy for skin cancer,” I said, awed.

Dan laughed.

“When I grow up, I want to be JUST LIKE HIM.” I stated firmly.

“Tanned like a leather hide?” Dan asked, eyes still smiling.

“YES. I’ll be too old to give a fuck.”

“It’s good to have goals, Becky. I think you should put that on your bucket list, alongside “tango with Elvis impersonator,” Dan snorted.

“Already done.”

“You’re so weird,” Dan laughed. “Now get in here so we can have a proper squirt gun fight.”

Kitty Porn

Scene: Me, entering the bedroom after depleting the minor reserves of piss in my squirrel sized bladder; cursing my parents for allowing an experiment to be performed in which a squirrel’s bladder was replaced with my own. Somewhere, there’s a squirrel who hasn’t peed in 25 years while I pee every time the wind changes – which, in Chicago, is every other minute. I come across a man laying in my bed, fully clothed, surrounded by my cats.

Me: “I’m pretty sure you should’ve ended up with some crazy cat lady.”

Dan: “You know, you DO have three cats – you’re kinda the crazy cat lady.”

Me: (laughs) “Yeah, but only one is mine – the other two are Mimi’s birthday present.”

Dan: (smiles): “True.”

Dan: “Besides, you met me while I was walking my cat.”

Me (mulls over the statement): “This is true.”

Me: (thinks for a moment before flopping onto the bed next to Dan): “You know, I’m sensing something here.”

Dan: (rolls eyes jokingly): “Yes, I’m only dating you for your cats.”

Me: “No, dumbass, I’m thinking something completely different.”

Dan: “…”

Me: (three remaining brain cells knock into each other trying to formulate an idea): “I may have an idea. A BRILLIANT idea.”

Me: “Or it may be gas.”

Dan: “Go on…”

Dan: “Wait, no, not if it’s gas.”

Me: (smiles): I think it’s high time we make a calendar.”

Dan: “Oh?”

Me: “YES. A calendar FOR crazy cat ladies.”

Dan: “…”

Me: “You know, they’re always coming out with adorable fluffy cat calendars that are used by secretaries and middle-management worldwide. I think it’s to show their humanity, but that’s merely speculation on my end. ANYWAY. I think what we need to do is to riff off that idea. And no, it’s not my ‘cats with fricking laser beams coming out of their eyes’ idea, but that would be awesome too.”

Dan: “….”

Me: “Why not combine the two? Women, who, I’d surmise, are the major buyers of calendars because guys just check their cell phones for the time and date or run late to shit, really enjoy two types of calendars: men in skimpy clothes and fluffy cuddly animals.”

Dan: “Not sure I’m following, Babe.”

Me: “Why not combine shirtless dudes AND fluffy kitties?”

Dan: “Why WOULD you combine the two?”

Me: “BECAUSE IT’S SUCH A STUPID IDEA, IT MIGHT WORK. Think about it: KITTY PORN!”

Dan (slowly begins to nod): “Okay… I still don’t quite get this idea.”

Me: “We can theme out the months. Y’know, kitties in stockings with a shirtless dude dressed as ‘Sexy Santa’ for Christmas?”

Dan: (laughs)

Me: “IT COULD TOTALLY WORK.”

Dan: (nods disbelievingly)

Me: “Tell me, what do you know about those weird thing dude’s can put on their wang to make it look festive? Like, a candy cane for Christmas or something?”

Dan: “Absolutely nothing.”

Me: “Well, time to get crack-a-lacking on this idea.”

Dan: “Wait…what? You’re actually considering pulling this off?”

Me: (nods emphatically) “Why the fuck not? It’s stupid enough that it just might work.”

Dan (dubiously): “I…guess.”

Me (flounces off the bed happily and claps hands together): “YAY!”

Dan (shakes head, laughing at my reaction)

Me: “You’ve got until next summer.”

Dan: “For…what?”

Me: “To get your ass in shape. We’ll go jogging together!”

Dan: “Uh, Babe, what does this have to do with me?”

Me (does pivot and jazz hands): “I’m gonna make you a star, Baby.”

Dan (to himself): “It’s a good thing that she forgets these things quickly.”

Me: “I HEARD THAT.”

Dan: “I said you looked nice today.”

Me: “Oh. Well. Um. Carry on. Now let’s talk monthly THEMES.”

Dan: “OH LOOK, A BLUE CAR!”

Me: “HUH? WHERE?”

Dan (laughs quietly)

Me: “I have a sudden urge to watch a documentary about the Nazi’s and eat donuts.”

Dan (openly laughing): “Rock on with your bad self, Babe.”

Me: “Also: hot wings.”

Dan: “Sounds like a plan.”

——————-
How have YOU been, o! Pranksters, my Pranksters? I’ve missed you much.

Aunt Becky’s Piss-Poor Guide To BlogHer

So, first things first. I know most of you read my blog in a reader *waves at reader people* which is all good, because I would too*.

Today, however, you need to pop through. No, seriously, get your ass over here and be amazed at it’s awesomeness. Now, when people ask about web designers, I have two in mah back pocket. Princess Jenn (who did the coding but ALSO does WordPress blog designs) and Lindsay Goldner (who did the blog design itself).

Now you know who can make your blog FULL of the awesome.

—————-

So there’s this GIGANTIC blogging conference in a couple weeks, right? I haven’t seen the ZOMGBBQFAQ posts on The Twitter or The Facebook, mostly because I’m ignoring them. There’s only so much of that I can handle.

Having been now, to two BlogHer conferences, I feel I can share my wisdom with you. And by “wisdom,” I mean, “bullshit.”

0) Um. Chill the fuck out about it all of you type-A people. You’re making me nervous.

1) No one but you is going to give a shit about your shoes. By all means, by new ones if it makes you happy, but don’t make it into a ‘ZOMG IF I DON’T PEOPLE WILL SHUN ME.’

1) The conference is intimidating. That’s okay. After your first time, it won’t seem overwhelming. Heh. Kinda like The Sex.

2) Introduce yourself to other people. Why? Why NOT?

3) Remember that for some people, thanks to gaps in geography, this is the only time they’re seeing each other all year. They’re hanging with their online besties and may seem hard to infiltrate, but seriously, most people are kind.

5) If they’re assbags? Fuck ’em. You don’t need ’em. Come find me. We’ll hang.

8 ) There will be a hell of a lot of sponsors. Just accept it and move on.

13) Most of the swag you get is bullshit. Unless you need 9573636 flash drives, in which case, well, you’ll be in luck. But there is NO REASON to interrupt a perfectly good conversation with someone to make a mad dash for a swag bag.

21) There will be drama. Stay out of it.

34) If someone introduces themselves to you, be kind.

55) Be very, very wary of the drive-by social networker.

89) Actually attend the sessions. Your fellow bloggers work hard as hell to put ’em together.

144) I wasn’t invited to a single party, either. *shrugs* More time to get liquored up and do something I regret in the morning.

233) Unless you’re me, you DON’T want to be debaucherous in front of a zillion people who can live-blog it.

377) You’ll walk a hell of a lot more than you’d think.

610) For the name of all that’s holy, if you want to be recognized, do NOT do what I did my first year and use this as your avatar:

mommy-needs-vodkawhen you look more like this:

Swimsuit chainsaw

because no one will know you.

987) Send your swag home via UPS. You can thank me in gifts and/or cash later.

1597) COME HANG OUT WITH ME. No, I’m serious. We should hang, get liquored up and make asses of ourselves ALL OVER San Diego.

What am I missing, fellow BlogHer veterans?

*If I subscribed to myself, which I don’t think I do, because that’s kinda weird.

Independence

“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.

My Scale Has Borderline Personality Disorder

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).

Mother Thinks The Birds Are After Her

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.

Exxxxtreme…Couponing?

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.

TICKle Me Alex

“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.

Dear Bleach: You Complete Me

This was sorta a sponsored thing, but I’d have done it for free because THAT is how deep my love for bleach is.

Despite now having three children, becoming an Infection Control nurse, and having the not-so-insane-(probably) desire to return to school to become a virologist, I’m not particularly germaphobic. I mean, I’m not exactly begging for germs to come into bed with me and make germ babies, but I am pretty laid back when it comes to Teh Germs.

See Pranksters, even knowing full well that I don’t usually WANT to know where that thing the kid is shoving into his mouth has been, I’ll admit it: I’ve allowed all of my children to crawl around on the floor without washing it first, I let dogs lick their faces, and I consider “washing a pacifier” to be throwing it into my own mouth for a couple of seconds. I own a thing of antibacterial hand sanitizer for those particularly disgusting stink-a-palloza (a term normally reserved for the scent of particularly badly cooked fish) diaper changes, but I often forget to use it unless it’s a true craptastrophe.

Despite all of that. Despite being raised by hippies whose idea of “cleaning” involved some patchouli-scented spray that ended up gumming up entire surfaces. Despite the “germs are our friends… sometimes” mantra I chant after I watch the dog eat his own excrement, I have a confession to make.

Ready?

Hold your breath, Pranksters. This is gonna be a shock.

I love, love, LOVE bleach. If I was allowed only one cleaning product for the rest of my life bleach would be it. Between the cats with worms and the kid who cannot seem to manage to pee sitting down, yet lacks the attention span to actually aim his urine at the gigantic gaping porcelain god, bleach and I are BFF. No, it’s DEEPER than that. I love bleach like I love oxygen. I’d marry bleach if I could be certain I wouldn’t inadvertently mix it with ammonia while cleaning the craptastrophe under my kid’s bed.

(Hey, I never said I was smart)

My love of bleach, though, it’s now bordering on obsession. Suddenly I want to dip the baby in bleach after his diaper explodes. I have to stop myself from following both Ben and Dave around with a spray bottle of bleach. I’ve considered bathing in bleach because I love it so very much. Instead of sprinking sage or whatever it is new-age people do around a house, I’d happily use bleach-scented air freshener if I didn’t think it would squick people out.

THAT is how I feel about bleach.

When Clorox asked me to come up with some words to describe occasions in which I’d use bleach, I was all, “WHERE DO I BEGIN?” and started writing a sonnet. But they got specific: they wanted SILLY words to add to their Clorox Icktionary not an ode to bleach.

I came up with two: stinkapalloza (overcooked fish) and craptastrophe (pile of crap under my kid’s bed). Because, well, obviously.

Anyway, it’s a good thing I’m in therapy or I’d (still) be standing on the side of the road with a big “I HEART BLEACH” sign. We all know how THAT turned out.

(answer: straightjacket time)

Blah, blah, blah disclosure time:

“This blog post is part of a paid SocialMoms and Clorox blogging program. The opinions and  ideas expressed here are my own. To read more posts on this topic, you can totes click here.”