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Many, many moons ago, before I was Your Aunt Becky, I was Nurse Becky. However, Nurse Becky had a problem – namely, she didn’t want to be Nurse Becky.

(okay, that’s me being done talking about myself in the third person)

No, I’d given up my medical school dreams for a young lad I’d indelicately booted out of my crotchal regions at the tender age of 21. Me, not him. That would be pretty weird – pushing a 21-year old outta my vagina. Mental picture of a full-grown frat boy (including crappy shamrock tattoo from one drunken night in Cancun) climbing out of my vagina is full of the awesome, though.

The biggest problem I had was that I had no desire whatsoever to actually BE a nurse. Which came to light day one of nursing school. I held on, worked my ass off, and graduated at the top of my class, hoping something – anything – would change my mind.

Of course, it didn’t. The same way I’d make a terrible teacher because, hello, it’s not as though I should personally be ministering to small, impressionable minds. Parents would take one look at me and run for the hills quicker than you can say, “bong water.”

So there I was – freshly graduated, diploma in hand, mind not magically changed to, “Imma let you finish – then Imma administering you some morphine – can I have a drag?”

Not the image of someone who should be giving you drugs. Legally, I mean.

Blithely, I applied – and got – a job working on a cardiac floor at a hospital in Elmhurst. That lasted six weeks before I quit. I’d been told that the floor I was on was one that “made a lot of people ditch nursing a career.” Apparently, I chose even more poorly than I’d thought.

When we moved to our current house, faced with the prospect of dueling mortgages (this was almost immediately before the housing market bubble burst), it was decided that I’d go back to work. After spending a few months sitting alone in our condo with a small autistic boy all day, I was more than happy to get back on the (work) horse and ride that fucker all the fuck over the place.

This time, I knew better – I wasn’t going back to a hospital – oh no. That shit was for the GOOD nurses out there. Instead, I chose a desk job working for a major insurance company. I’d be approving certain claims as well as finding ways to extend the benefits for people who were using in-home hospice.

Now hospice, if you don’t know, is for people who are no longer pursing active treatment of their terminal illness. Hospice is designed to let you die with some dignity at home (or in the hospital) as comfortably – and pain free – as possible. Hospice is also one of the last options for people who are terminally ill, which means that most people don’t stay in hospice for very long before they pass.

However, some people had certain hospice benefits provided through my company – but the terms and conditions were, as many people forget, set by the employer – and some of their hospice benefits were way weird. So it was my job to look for loopholes, draft care plans, and show the insurance company as well as the employer that being in at-home hospice was far cheaper than being hospitalized.

It wasn’t as glamorous a job as, say, BLOGGING, but I liked it – I was actually helping people in a way I knew how – by finding and exploiting the system.

But elevator conversations always turned sour:

Someone Else: “What do you do for a living?”

Nurse Becky (prays they’ll stop questioning there): “I’m a nurse.”

Someone Else (warmly): “My [insert relation here] is a nurse! That’s so wonderful! You’re a very special person for doing all that you do. Where do you work?”

Nurse Becky (mumbles): “[Company that shares a name with an airline]“

Someone Else: “Oh, FUCK YOU! That’s a fucking BULLSHIT company. I fucking HATE them – you know they denied my claim for a routine appendectomy? HOW THE HELL COULD YOU WORK FOR SUCH EVIL CORPORATE BASTARDS? You’re one sick puppy, you know that?”

Nurse Becky (mumbles): “Well, I’m one of the good guys – I look for ways to….”

Someone Else: “Fuck you and fuck your mother for birthing you, you soulless bitch.”

(storms off)

Nurse Becky (crestfallen, to herself): “I gotta remember to say I’m an astronaut or something.”

Eventually, the soulless heart-slurping company switched my job to that would primarily involve cold-calling people and giving them health examinations over the phone – not my cup of tea. This, at the same time I’d found out I was pregnant with Alex and couldn’t stop yarfing everywhere meant that it was time for me to mosey on down to greener – nicer – pastures. Like blogging. And wearing ass grooves into my couch.

At least then, only my couch could really bitch at me.

I was born jaundice – some kind of issue with blood incompatibility and got to hang out under those wicked baby sun-tan lights for awhile (I hope my mother was sensible enough to give me some wee baby Ray Bans) before I got to go home and annoy the shit out of my family with my lilting wails.

At my six-week well-baby checkup, I had an ear infection.

It’s been like that ever since. Excepting the Ray Bans – never owned a pair. And I stopped crying and started yelling – it’s more effective.

Wailing non-withstanding, I’m the Sick One around these here parts. I don’t remember a time when there wasn’t something wrong with me*. I was plagued by ear infections as a tot. When I grew out of those, it became strep throat – which I had at least once every three weeks until I turned 14 and got my tonsils out (this was back in the day when they didn’t put in ear tubes or lop out tonsils very often). By the time those puppies came out, they were necrotic – er….dead. Like for reals.

You’d think that by lopping off my dead tonsils, I’d somehow get an immune system – I mean, why else would you go through that particular type of agony?

(answer: Vicodin)

I try not to talk about my shitballs immune system very often, because the conversation invariably goes like this:

Anyone Else: “How are you?”

Aunt Becky: “UGH. I’m sick.”

Anyone Else: “AGAIN?”

Aunt Becky: “No, I mean I’m STILL sick from the last time I told you I was sick.”

Anyone Else: “Wait – that was like 6 months ago.”

Aunt Becky: “Yup.”

OR THIS:

Anyone Else: “How are you?”

Aunt Becky: “Sick.”

Anyone Else: “You should try standing on your head 18 hours a day – my friend’s friend’s barber’s wife did that and she’s feeling better than ever.”

————

I get a couple of days a month that I’m in decent shape, but most of the time, my walking, talking, breathing, pissing, moaning petri dishes of children bring me home whatever lovely virus is currently circulating around. I invariably catch it and am laid up for longer than anyone should be.

And you know what, Pranksters? It’s damn depressing. I *loathe* being sick. I’d gnaw off my ear if it meant that I’d grow an immune system.

Rather than sitting around moaning about it – it sucks, we all know it – I’m trying something new.

I took my happy crappy ass to the local health food store and picked up some motherfucking herbs and homeopathic shit. I figure, modern medicine isn’t doing a whole lot for me, I may as well try something else.

I’ve been drinking gallons of tea that tastes remarkably like garden clippings, downing all sorts of vitamins and supplements that make my pee electric yelor low, and trying to spend some time away from the computer. I’m one small toke away from bathing in Patchouli Oil while listening to my Grateful Dead LP’s.

So far? I’ve gotten a chest cold. And my pee is hilariously colored.

But I’m willing to try anything**.

So, Pranksters, give me your tips and tricks. Tell me all about the weird shit you do to keep healthy.

Should I bathe in the blood of vestal virgins (assuming I know what “vestal” means, because I don’t)? Should I sacrifice some goats? Find a voodoo priestess to take this curse from me? Sleep with a raw egg under my bed? Perform some weird black magic to get this evil eye off my fucking back?

*BESIDES my sanity, naturally. That’s been gone for years.

**I will not renege on my New Years Resolution to “not become Lil Wayne” even if it means I’ll be healthier. Probably.

I remember when I got a pager. The thing was gold, tiny, and worn by a nice white suburban girl who was all Damn It Feels Good To Be A Gangster. I think it increased my street cred by at least -37 points. (those are NEGATIVE points, yo). If the thing played music, it’d have chosen with, “Up Town Girl.” It was THAT cliche.

Apparently, I’ll never be, “Becky From Tha Block.” Which is prolly good – I don’t want J Lo or Jennifer Lopez or whatever her name is now to be all, “bitch you be stealing mah shit,” as she smacked me in the face with stacks of fat cash. This is how I envision it – I’d probably just get a cease/desist letter from her lawyers, which, SO not fun.

Anyway, back when I got the pager, my friends would page me and I’d have to scramble to find 35 cents to call them back (like I was ever HOME or anything) Usually this was our conversation:

Aunt Becky: “Hey, what up fool?”

My Friend: “What up, stinky-butt?”

Aunt Becky: “Whatcha doing?”

My Friend: “Nothing. Wanna hang out?”

Aunt Becky: “Sure! I’m doing XYZ – come join us.”

My Friend: “Only if we can go whip donuts at old people.*”

Aunt Becky: “Whaaa? Okay.”

Then we’d scamper off into the night, merrily pranking our way through life.

I proudly showed it to my mom one day. And by “proudly” I mean that I said, “hey, can you pull over? I gotta make a call.”

She shook her head as she pulled over and allowed me to make my very unimportant call. When I popped back into the car, she sighed deeply and said, “I don’t know why you do that.”

My mother, always oblique, confused me, so I waited for her to go on. I knew a rant was a-brewing.

“You’ve gotten this thing that connects you to the world – why the hell would you want that? Don’t you want times of your life where you’re unreachable?”

No, no I didn’t. And I told her as much.

She shook her head, “Someday, you may feel differently.”

I was pretty sure she was full of shit. Until recently. Recently, I’ve been kinda digging on the time I’m able to unplug. I’ve got just about every sort of social media outlet, just about every type of communication device you can think of – usually multiple accounts. Therein likes the beauty (read: rub) of being the founder of a site that staffs upwards of 100 volunteers (that would be The Band Back Together Project) – someone always needs me for something.

Generally it doesn’t bother me. I love what I do, I’m thrilled to do it, and I’m over-the-moon that I’ve found such an amazing group of people to work with. I know how blessed I am.

But damns, it hurts to say this.

(small voice) My mother was right.

(somewhere she’s rolling her eyes at me, feeling a smug sense of satisfaction)

There are times that I simply don’t want to be dealing with anything but whatever is directly in front of me.

The worst part? My mother was right BEFORE her time – BEFORE email became the standard method of communication. Before The Twitter expected that you reply to each! and! every! response!

Before the world became so fucking urgent.

Sometimes, it’s nice to stop and remember that life? It’s not always such Serious Business.

Sometimes – it’s worth it to stop and smell the tulips**.

*still don’t know what that means.

**I don’t think tulips smell. But DAMNS they’re pretty.

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