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I was a waitress for close to ten years. And by “waitress,” I mean that I worked anywhere from the hostess stand, to the busboy station, to slinging drinks behind the bar. And for most of those years, I loved it. I love people, I love meeting people, and I’m one of the better bullshitters I know. It’s an art form, really.

During my stint as a waitress, I learned how to deal with people. I think every teenager should be forced to spend a year working in a restaurant in order to properly prepare them for the real world, where some people are assholes for no fucking reason, and rather than pee in their drink you simply smile and nod. It’s a good life lesson – being able to stare someone in the face that you hate, while not letting on that you’d rather be curb-checking them somewhere.

I realized, during my final stint as a server, that I was done. Just DONE. I couldn’t do it any more. Why? Someone had the audacity to ask me for a refill on their soda WHILE I was on the way to get them a refill.

HOW DARE THEY?

(I kid, I kid, I drink Diet Coke like it’s going to be extinct)

If I’d continued working there, I’d have ground my teeth into nubs by the end of each shift.  I could no longer smile and make nice while I served up pizza, pulling in $30 for a 5-10 shift. It just was…it was over.

I’d begun to feel that way about blogging.

Gone were the days that I could pull up a blank WordPress screen and pour my heart out through my fingertips. Gone were the days when stories flowed. It’d become so much harder. I’d hurt too many, I had to censor myself, I didn’t always have a hilarious spin on shit, because, well, shit isn’t always funny.

I worried I’d become boring – I wasn’t doing much new. I didn’t want to become one of those bloggers who’d been around so long she had nothing else left to say.

And the in the New Blogging World, well, I still don’t fit in. In a space where Tumblr and Pinterest can capture the attention because oooh! shiny! who wanted to read WORDS? LOTS of words! BORING words? Was blogging worth it?

I couldn’t answer that.

I’ve been around long enough to have been able to see the metamorphosis of blogging – people had gone from using blogging as a means to tell stories and keep up with family and begun buying into the business of blogging. While I *do* run a non-profit now, it’s not like sponsors are piling up at my door, knocking themselves over trying to sponsor me. And frankly, I don’t know that I’d want them to, anyway. I like blogging on my terms. I’m beholden to no one but myself and my Pranksters.

But in a world where blogs are now businesses, and the “Word Of Mom,” has become king, where does that leave someone like me? Sure, I sell ads – I have to support the cost of running a non-profit, but I’m still waiting on my yacht or my all-expense paid trip to Detroit or Delaware.

I’ll be waiting a long damn time.

I considered shutting my blog down – I mean, it’s only a matter of time before I reach the end of the Internet – which, I imagine, will look a lot like a ball of hair – and why not quit while the quittin’s good?

I’ve been thinking long and hard about that.

And it came back around to this: I started writing because I needed a place to fit in; a place I could tell my stories, and a place I could make friends and connect with other people. I never expected I’d find a family in my Pranksters. I’d never expected to have a soul read my blog, unless it was some spambot named Robert trying to sell me some quick and easy pay-day loans or enlarge the size of my non-existent penis.

When I began Mommy Wants Vodka, I fit in on the fringes. My very first friends were my baby loss mamas and the infertile community – these two groups understood how it felt to be on the outside looking in. And today, my greatest friends are still from the IF/Loss community. They’ve been the sort of friends who have dusted me off, wiped the vomit off my proverbial chin, and reminded me that sometimes life is a hot bag of dicks.

These two communities are what lead to the embryonic idea behind Band Back Together: it would be a space for the IF/Loss/Special Needs community to get together and share stories – libraries of stories of people who had been through the same problems. In that way, we could be none of us alone.

In turn, I’d use my nursing background to create valuable resources for those who are struggling; to be used as a sort of reference, to learn more.

But being exclusive hurts my vagina, so I opted to invite anyone to share their stories: stories of IF and loss, stories of mental illness and triumph, stories of natural disasters and recovery. YOUR stories. We ALL have a story – it’s up to us to tell it. To reach someone in some far corner of the universe who may find your words and take some comfort that he or she is not, in fact, alone.

The shelves in my online library of stories at Band Back Together have grown and outpaced anything I could dream of. I couldn’t be more proud of The Band and all that we do.

All are, as always, welcome to submit their stories. Even you. Your story is just as important as the next person’s.

Here’s the link to submit to Band Back Together and here is the link to read stories.

But it was thinking back on where I’d come from and where I’d go from here that I was reminded of my roots. How I do have the capacity to simply open up my blog and pour my stories out, whether or not I win fancy awards or get sponsored to visit Texas. How all of that bullshit about ranks and numbers and followers, it’s just that: bullshit.

I still have my words. I’m going to continue to write like no one’s reading.

And as I do that, I’d like to remind you, the Infertile/Loss community, that I’ve never forgotten my roots. June is National Infertility Month, and each month on Band Back Together, we choose to shine the spotlight on a condition (or conditions) that do not receive enough time in the sun.

This month, we’re shining the spotlight directly onto IF/Loss so that we can turn what was once hidden in the dark, back into the light.

I invite you, my Pranksters, to join us in getting the Band Back Together. For infertility. For loss. For ALL of you.

(yes YOU)

So get your leather pants strapped on, and start your storytelling. You never do know who will be touched by your words and be reminded of our mission: we are none of us alone; we are all connected.

It’s safe to say (I think) that I came from an abnormal family. Anyone who writes a blog on the Internet as “Your Aunt Becky” is not exactly someone who you’d hold up as the pinnacle of normal.

My parents, as white-collar hippies didn’t exactly promote the idea of normalcy as something to strive for.

You want to shave half your head and dye your scalp purple? Go for it!

You want to shave your legs in vertical stripes and wear mini-skirts? Why not?

Want to get your belly button pierced at age 14 by some guy in the back of a music store with instruments that were probably NOT sterilized? WHY NOT?

They did draw the line at both tattoos and visible body piercing, for which I am eternally grateful. While wearing an eyebrow ring through the hallowed halls of my high school may have made me stand out from the crowd, ten years later, that pesky hole would drive me bonkers.

Being quirky as an adult is kinda awesome. It means that people who meet you after reading your blog think that you’ll probably de-pants them while eating a hot dog, humping their now-naked leg, while yelling, “EYE OF THE TIGER BABY!” Imagine their surprise when you do neither.

My middle son, Alex, he’s always been a character. He’s the guy who you’ll find hanging out at frat parties, double-fisting cheap keg beer while breaking furniture just to make you laugh. He’s a non-coke addicted Chris Farley in toddler form. At least, I HOPE he’s not addicted to coke – he’s been told “no recreational drugs until he’s twelve,” but you know kids these days.

Anyway. Alex is the epitome of different – he’s quirky and charming.

His Halloween costume for three years running now is a butterfly costume. Why? Because the kid loves butterflies, and why the fuck not?

(no, the wings are not some weird PR stunt – the kid just likes butterflies, and why the fuck not? They’re fucking awesome.)

He’s the first in line to get his nails painted – fingers and toes – and while he’s as rough and tumble as little boys can get, he’s happily in touch with his exuberant side.

Who the shit doesn’t love silver fingernails?

This Friday, on our weekly pilgrimage to The Target, I strong-armed my daughter into picking up some new underwear (she potty trained herself, which just figures). She, being related to me and somehow sensing that my very first training bra was a Wonder Women bra, gravitated toward not Dora. Not Diego. No. BATMAN.

Because obviously.

(I’d totally wear Batman undies if I could find ‘em in my size.)

While we were in the undies aisle, I grabbed a couple more packs of undies, including two packs of My Little Pony undies – one for her, one for her brother. I *knew* he’d get a kick out of them.

And he did.

But Sunday morning, he wandered over to me, and asked me in the very serious way in which a five-year old who thinks a lot can, “Mommy, will you kill me if I wear girls underwear?”

My heart dropped a little bit.

I wrapped him in my arms, and said, “No, baby, you wear what you want to wear – just look at your sister!” She stood next to him, adjusting the crotch on her Batman skivvies, the flap that normally covers the twig and crackle-berries sadly vacant, and smiled.

“Alex,” she said. “I love your My Little Ponies underwear.”

And they scampered off, hand in hand, and I sat watching them, hoping the rest of the world will be as kind.

When I moved out to the suburbs back in aught seven (or was it aught six?), I didn’t expect that I’d blend right in. While I do live in the area in which I was raised, being an adult is much different than being a child. Mainly because you have to remember to take out the recycling bins every Tuesday, and who can remember THAT shit?

(answer: The Daver)

I was a young mother. Not like Teen Mom style, but birth-control-fail-whale and happy-twenty-first-enjoy-your-bottle-of-baby-formula, kind of young. In some parts of the country, having a baby at twenty-one is more normal than it is here in Saint Charles, IL (NOT MO). I’ve never been looked down on, per se (unless the person in question was taller than I), but I’m definitely the odd one out when I take my kid to Jr. High orientation, and not just because I’m wearing a shirt that says “HOORAY BEER” on it.

So the house in the suburbs, that seemed pretty okay with me. I mean, it beat Oak (no) Parking, which is so beyond liberal that me and my boring biological child (not a baby I adopted from some exotic country) well, we were breeders. I was never gonna make it there as a parent.

But here in St. Charles, well, people here are NICE. Within five minutes of moving in, two sets of my neighbors had brought over brownies and cookies for us to eat. It was incredible, considering that, in my condo, the last thing I’d gotten on my doorstep was a bag of dogshit.

My neighborhood is so overrun with kids that when mine go out to play, I can barely identify them in the swarming masses of swirling kids clamoring for money for the ice cream man. It’s fucking great. No, seriously, it is.

Until I go and fuck shit up.

Now when I moved in to my house, I hadn’t realized how piss-poor the landscaping job was. It was like the original owners hired landscapers and every owner since just sorta threw up their hands and decided that rather than “maintain the bushes,*” they’d just wallpaper the bathrooms in every possible fug ass pattern. I imagine it went like this:

Old Owner #1: “Man, those bushes need to be trimmed.”

Old Owner #2: “I’m thinking a three swatch pattern for the bathroom. The room’s only 4×2 – that should make the three patterns POP!”

Old Owner #1: “But the shrubbery must be maintained! We cannot see out of the windows!”

Old Owner #2: “You’re right! We should put a faux wood toilet seat on, too!”

Old Owner #1: “But! We look like recluses!”

Old Owner #2: “What do you think of an angel theme?”

It was February of Aught Six when we moved in and I didn’t know anything about the shrubbery except that there were a number of fake flower beds planted in the front of the house. Oh, and the old owners had been kind enough to leave us a hanging basket of fake flowers that looked like it had come over on the Mayflower.

It took walking into my backyard after the snow melted to note that there was, in fact, two gaping holes in the lawn as well as a number of bushes so overgrown I wouldn’t be surprised if we were on the FBI’s watch list.

“The Serial Killer Next Door,” tonight on Fox News Chicago.

(please ensure, Pranksters, that you find the picture of me with a chain saw to accompany that particular news segment. OH! And I want Tori Spelling to play me in my Lifetime Original Movie.)

I applied this bizarre mix of shredded paper and grass seed to the gigantic spots on the lawn, and oddly, grass grew. Apparently, you grow grass by putting newspaper on it. Perhaps print media ISN’T dead!

But the shrubbery? That was a different ballgame. Two years, two busted ankles, a couple of trips to the Serial Killer Section of the hardware store, and eventually, all of the fug ass evergreens were replaced by daintier azaleas and rhododendrons. Flower beds with REAL FLOWERS were planted and sometimes? They even LIVED.

The problem started here:

I bought Mark Zuckerberg.

Yeah, I know, he’s not the ultimate in tacky and he and I aren’t speaking terms because HELLO, he had a wedding and didn’t invite me. HOW DARE YOU, MARK ZUCKERBERG, HOW DARE YOU?

Once I bought Mark Zuckerberg, I realized he needed some friends. Sure, you can’t have a million friends without making some enemies, but I suspect Mark Zuckerberg has very FEW friends.

I introduce to you, The Bros Winkelvoss, or, as I like to call them, The Winkelvii:

Now you may be saying, THAT’S FLAMINGO ABUSE, or, if you’re my mother, “I raised you better than that.”

But what makes these flamingos even awesomer? THEY’RE SOLAR POWERED.

Yes, that’s right – I have light-up flamingos that I named after the ALMOST Founders of The Facebook.

I decided that this wouldn’t do. It simply wouldn’t do. It needed MORE.

It needed THIS:

I’m thinking these may be Tom from MySpace (that dude was EVERYONE’S friend), Justin Timberlake from Napster, and the guy who put together Friendster.

Who doesn’t want a prop-filled backyard filled with Internet People?

Jimmy Wales – you and your eyes that watch me wherever I go, silently judging me for looking up “Why is orange a color and a fruit” on Wikipedia – You’re NEXT.

You’ve been warned.

*giggle-snort

Edited to add: Here is the link to where you, too, can purchase Zombie Gnomes!

P.S. The flamingo one is next.

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