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In The Kitchen With Aunt Becky

This was originally posted on Mommy Wants Vodka, content reproduced with author’s (me) consent. 

One of those things that I always figured I’d do when I was bored and had scads of free time, which, you know, I’m just swimming in with my three kids and houseful of pets, was to learn to decorate cakes.

I somehow forgot when I was hatching my Great Plan, that I have absolutely no eye for detail and have about as much fine motor skill as my poo-eating dog. But yes, in my head, I was going to be the next star baker.

Just like I was going to be the next Rembrandt, Britney Spears, and uh, Martha Stewart, because all of those plans were SO SUCCESSFUL.

But when I saw that I could buy something that fit my “I never got an EZ Bake Oven” fix AND test my prowess as a Master Cake Baker, I was all over it. (if you have no idea what I’m talking about, go here)(then come back)(and you should know that I do love me some Pioneer Woman)

Really, I didn’t see how I could go wrong. Except that a 29-year-old woman with a full kitchen of her own had bought a toy cake bakery. That seems all kinds of wrong when you put it THAT way.

But let’s not dwell on the negative here, Internet!

Microwaving, AWWW YEAH!

Now, see, THAT is the kind of cooking I can do. Short and sweet. None of those wonky STEPS that I can misconstrue or FORGET because I’ve accidentally wandered off to see what happens when I put the cat in a box.

While I don’t know why someone would want a pamphlet of “DUFF” inside a box clearly marketed for children, I suppose that is neither here nor there. He seems a little, uh, CREEPY and vapid, doesn’t he? (I know he’s on the Ace of Cakes)

No accounting for taste, I guess. Which is why you read my blog.

While shit, man, that’s waaaay too many instructions. I don’t need to read instructions. Those are for sissies.

Why, isn’t that perfectly darling? A wee cake decorating set! I can’t figure out what most of the doo-hickies are for, but, you know, I AM READY TO LEARN. Providing I don’t have to READ WORDS and FOLLOW INSTRUCTIONS.

Well, THAT is fancy-pants. It’s either a toothbrush holder…or a sex toy. Kind of advanced for children.

Huh.

If parents can get outraged by the Fresh Beat Band, why not providing our children SEX TOYS!!1!! OH THE HUMANITY!!

Guess you know what I’ll wander off to do.

….

BRUSH MY TEETH, YOU PERVERTS.

Here we go, with some mother-humping yellow cake. That’s wicked yellow and I stirred it approximately 4.3 times before it was mixed thoroughly. Because that is the way I make cake, bitches.

Well, now, here I have expertly poured two thimbles of cake into the microwave pan where I shall bake it for exactly 30 seconds. How can this be bad?

(cue ominous music)

Well. That…uh, looks appetizing. It’s really a shame that I can’t make this blog post scratch and sniff, because this smells like burning hair.

nom nom nom SOYLENT GREEN nom nom nom.

The Soylent Green patties are, I should note, about the size that one might expect to feed a wee field mouse. I am holding my lens cap up for perspective.

Cue the old joke… “the food was so bad….And there was so little of it!”

In an effort to cover up the horrible yellow color of the cake, I have chosen blue as my fondant color. Note my expert mixing technique. I should probably get a medal from the Mixing Olympics.

This fondant looks like a pile of, well, blue…poo.

I’m certain that I can roll it out and make it look better.

Oh. Well. Um.

Maybe I should have read the directions.

I know, I’ll read them now!

Okay, that looks NOTHING like what I’ve got.

Uh. Well. I KNOW. NEXT STEP.

Icing. I can cover this with icing. THAT’S ALL. I bet it’ll look as good as new in NO TIME.

That looks a lot like we’re about to artificially inseminate something. WICKED.

My pre-iced cake on it’s pretty little platform. Doesn’t it look like, well, someone with no thumbs decorated it?

Scratch that. People without thumbs could do better. BLIND people without thumbs could do better.

Aunt Becky’s Weapon of Mass Destruction. The ICING GUN. Prepare to meet your MAKER.

Uh. WHOOPS.

I genuinely do not know what I did wrong here. It appears as though my icing gun misfired.

I, um, I swear guys, this NEVER happens to me.

(cue inappropriate jokes)

UGLY CAKE, PREPARE TO MEET YOUR MAKER, uh, PART II.

Awww! Lookit my whimsical, drippy heart! With some balls thrown on it for good measure. Because everything is made better with colorful balls and icing.

(go ahead)(make your jokes, people)

Ladies and Gentlemen, this is the reason that you do not want me to cook when you come to my house. THIS is the reason that I order takeout.

Because while this appears to have been done for comedic value, it actually was not. This was genuinely the best that I could do.

For serious.

My Person

Recently, someone came back into my life.

This person was my whole entire world for three years. This was My Person, the love of my life.

They loved me.

Completely.

All my flaws.

My Person made me feel whole.

my person

My Person calmed the negativity I had in my life.

My Person held me when I needed to cry. They listened when I needed to yell. This person sat behind me and picked head lice out of my hair for 8 hours when I cried because no one else in my life would help me. My Person was so beyond good for me.

Then, slowly I started letting the negative creep back in, I let the people that were supposed to care talk me into believing them instead of this amazing person I had in my life.   

You see, I always knew I was a failure. 

I always knew I would never amount to anything.

My Person believed in me and my worth and well… I really don’t know.

I have no excuses except I was young and dumb and influenced easily by people that should have been supporting me.  I longed for THEIR approval and love and if I didn’t have that, why should I deserve anything else.

I left this amazing person with a heavy heart but headed in a direction I was being basically shoved into for many years.

I married, had kids, was verbally and emotionally abused before I finally left.

Even after I left I tried to make it work. I mean, no one else would ever want me.

During this time I searched out My Person.

They’d moved far away to another land.

They seemed happy and from what I could see from my computer screen didn’t want me anymore.

I did reach out, I called, I emailed, I basically stalked this person.

But they had moved on. I was just a memory to them; that was okay. After all, I didn’t deserve them.

Fast forward a few more years.

I still watched My Person from afar. I was friends with their family but still had not contact with My Person.

That was okay. I was happy knowing they were happy.

I met someone, dated for a few years, got married again. And I am finally HAPPY!  Well, at least most of the time. My old negative thoughts are all still there but I’m mildly successful at pushing them down.

A couple weeks ago, My Person showed up in my life again like a whirlwind.

They have never been far from my thoughts; I still watched.

But here they were in my inbox and we’ve been talking and it’s like the last twenty years disappeared and I am right back where I was, where we were; My Person and I.

And I am so so so in love. I always was.

And I’m torn: how can I love two people this much?  What do I do?

I need this person in my life, they are a part of me has been missing for so long.

It’s like I got my right hand back.  I need them to know I love them. Because I do…

…but we can’t be together.

I love where I am now, I love the person I’ve married. I love my home and my job. Right now? There’s half a century and twenty years between us, but I still need them in my life.

I find my mind wandering a lot lately.

The what if’s. 

I find myself wanting to wake up in one of those stupid romcoms where everything is different but it just seems right and you don’t want to wake up.

I want to find a damn DeLorean and make different choices.

Dose of Happy: Even The Mistakes Are Good

With all the upheaval and negativity running rampant through our lives, it’s important to be able to stop, take stock of what’s important, and find some joy wherever we can.

At The Band Back Together Project, we like to take the time specifically to arrange a little happy boost for everyone.

You’re always welcome to share your story with us!

dose of happy

My daughter has always loved to cook and create in the kitchen. When she was four, we were able to have cable television for a time, and the Food Network.

She was in heaven.

Other children turn on cartoons on Saturday mornings. My daughter would rather watch Paula Dean or the Barefoot Contessa.

She had – and still has – such a passion for cooking. She would get so excited every time she made something. It was always excellent! And amazing! Delicious!

Even when things didn’t turn out quite right, she always found a way to declare them good.

The bottom of the cookie might be burnt, but the top of the cookie? That was delicious!

dose of happy

Our scalloped potatoes and ham might be a touch closer to soup than a casserole, but didn’t it taste amazing?

She’d declare our efforts good, and then turn to me and say something like,

“We made this good. But next time, we should make it different, so it’s more good!”

Grammar aside, my daughter knew something at four years old that I still forget:

Even our mistakes can be good.

Our mistakes are how we learn. We muddle through our situations as best we can, and then we look back and see where we can do better next time we’re faced with something hard.

Even our mistakes can be good, if we learn from them.

Is This Living? Because It Feels Like Waiting

Addiction isn’t called a “family disease for nothing.” The family of an addict is just as impacted as the addict.

This is her story of her son’s addiction:

 

My child has become an addict and loving my child is so very hard. I’m trying to find my happy as I learn to deal with his addiction.

With the overload of health issues around here, along with the common “life stuff,”  I willing took a break from blogging after the last attacks from trolls; trolls who don’t know me, know my child, know my life, know my situation, and will never understand my life or my thoughts.

Simply: I took a break because I wasn’t strong enough to keep going,

Three blogs, five days a week, and two little freelance writing gigs with groups have kept me tied to the computer dumping out my odd take on humor, insane fake advice, and occasional a vaguely serious topic.

I have decided I will blog, on my blog, and the trolls will not, cannot affect me. I won’t allow them that kind of power. I have to share this story because as odd or awful as this is, I can’t believe I am the only one. Sometimes knowing you aren’t alone, can make a differences on your life. It has in mine, just like everyone here at Band Back Together.

For a very long time, I’ve been living while waiting for the other shoe to drop.

I call it “living” but it’s really just existing –  when I can muster the strength to push the elephant in the room to the back of my mind. This horrible addiction elephant.

an addiction elephant in the room

When someone you love makes horrible choices, you can still love your addict child, but you also have to make a choice.

I made a choice to love from a distance to allow my son to deal with his addiction on his own time, allow that person to do things at their will, wherever they wanted. The condition was: I would not support that person, their activities: not emotionally and definitely not financially.

Of course that comes with a higher emotional consequence for me, a soul-eating, mind -boggling, hellish existence.

Torn when the phone doesn’t ring, furious, emotional and torn when it does. There is no happy medium, is no mutual enjoyment of life, it’s an inner ring of hell.

loving an addict family

It’s odd how the human brain learns to process things so completely outrageous and unacceptable if they happen often enough; the brain removes logic to save the heart. The brain knows if one more little piece of your soul falls to the floor, you will collapse and finally fade away.

Things you never thought you would hear, become expected. Disappointing? Of course. Scary? Almost every time.  Seeing red with anger? A lot. Somehow, your brain allows it to roll off your back.

loving an addict through childhood

loving an addict through childhood

You can’t fix it, they don’t want to be fixed, no matter how absolutely insane and ludicrous the situation, you cannot even point out how completely illogical the situation is, let alone offer solutions. There are no less than 683 million reasons why all of your ideas are completely stupid.

You learn to focus not on the highs, not on the lows. Not the shocking news, but only that you love that person, your child, who just happens to be an addict.

You make sure whatever you say won’t offend them, or their choices, and you make double damn sure that person knows you love them, you love them deeply, you love them completely, you love them from your soul.  You only want the best for them, safety for them, happiness for them.

No one really has the same idea of happiness.

it took me 43 years to realize that.

Another thing I learned; just because it’s ” the normal” thing that you’d make anyone happy, happy and delighted and feeling so very lucky, this can seem like hell on earth to someone with a different view of happy. So who am I to attempt to enforce my idea of happy on anyone? Simply put, I am no one. I am just a daughter, a wife, a sister, a mother, an aunt, a friend.

I am made up as we all our of a unique cocktail of our childhoods, our teachers, our elders, our peers, our life lessons, co-workers, books, and shows we have seen. Just a big casserole of a human being trying to find “happy.”  When I achieved happiness, I assumed it would be wonderful – more than wonderful – and that, in turn, everyone else would become happy. Everyone would see how hard work brings happy, how loving each other brings happy, how walking the right road, singing your own song, and smiling would obviously land you in happiness.

The past 20 years, I tried to shove people into the happy, I tried to drag them into happy, push them in, beg them, lure them, slide shows of happy, handmade cards, long emails, song dedications, heartfelt talks, and hugs, I could surely get them to happy. Once they saw happy they would be like “duh, I want to be happy too!”

I was wrong. Their happy was so different than mine so I had to accept they would not be in my happy with me. Maybe they were taking a different route, and we would meet up in happy. Maybe their happy just meant more pit stops, more experiences, different criteria, maybe their happy would never lead to the same location as my happy. What would I do then?

image of addict son as he gets older

Their happy could be really good for them, so I will work on being happy for their happy.

Little crumbles of your heart fall as your soul tears.

In the end, all you really want is for them to be happy. You convince yourself not to be such as narrow-minded selfish ass who demands everyone’s happiness is within arms reach of your happiness.  We are not all alike, and really, what a boring world that would be. Keep telling yourself this as it makes it easier to persevere your heart, mind, and soul. Besides, it makes them happy that you are happy for them. It’s painful but it’s good for them and for the relationship.

Then the call comes, not a happy call, you are prepared because you know when this disease spins ’round, the calls come in two forms and two forms ONLY.

One, the world’s best thing ever, everything is amazing.

The next call, though, could be in a week, a month, a day, or within several minutes: the world is ending, there is no hope, no escape.

There’s not a single thing you can do to make it better. So you listen, try not to cry, remembering to love, offer helpful solutions, offer to make arrangements or calls, you do what you can and it’s usually for nothing. It rarely works out, but you make damn sure they know you love them so much you can’t breathe when they are in pain.

The calls – you see the caller ID – it’s a number from a state that you don’t know, but you do know who is on the other end, you never know the type of call, only that it’s from them. So you take deep breaths and you prepare to play the roulette game of their life. What kind of call you don’t know it could be: an incredibly fantastic words of grandeur.

Or the call can be gut-wrenching, heart-breaking, sobbing pleads for help.

You don’t know, because you can’t know but you answer the phone, inviting the roller-coaster of love and hate and pain into your world.

Nothing surprises you now.

As long as it’s their voice on the end, you are prepared, it’s now become common practice. You’ve learned to stop yelling, begging, urging, and learned to focus on conveying the fact that you love the elephant in the room. You love that elephant when your eyes open in the morning, and you love that elephant when your eyes close at night without a tear running down your cheek. No one sees your tear.

No one hears your cry and no one, no one can understand why this elephant is needed, deeply; it has become comforting.

Then as you are in your happiness on the back porch wind blowing you sit with your little family, cross-legged looking at your happiness, eating sandwiches, and thinking how peaceful and loving and happy this all is.

The phone rings.

The addiction elephant steps outside. The elephant sits on your chest, takes your breath, and overcomes you. Sometimes, when that elephant climbs on you, you compartmentalize you soul, your heart, and your brain as this allows you to attempt to speak in a sane, calm, tone, using gentle words, no blame, just love.

The call ends, with mutual ” I love you’s.”

The happiness is now gone for them as they are faced with a very adult matter that can’t be “worked away.”

You don’t remember the rest of the happy picnic: the people in your happiness with you do not have a conversation about it. You move on as you do after every call. But something is wrong, very wrong

You can’t tell anyone, yet you don’t cry, you don’t sob, you don’t fall to the floor, you don’t steal a car to get to the addiction elephant to hold them.

What the hell is wrong with you?

Why are you not responding like a human?

Why aren’t you happy?

Why not like the other times?

You haven’t fallen apart yet.

Will you fall apart?

Will this change your ability to move forward?

You know that If this person comes back, can you handle it?

Can the happy team handle it?  What will be the cost of the elephant if you don’t?

What will be the cost of happy if you do?

I know the other shoe will fall, there’s just no way to process this without dying more inside. Maybe I am out of a soul, a heart, tears. Maybe I have been cried out, maybe I am stronger, maybe my brain is trying to protect me.

I am very much not okay, mostly because I feel okay, there is no way that I should feel okay.

Why am I not shaking, sitting in the shower crying, sobbing, and vomiting like I’ve done before when the bad news comes?

I’m not even shaking.

The shoe will drop, I hope, I beg, I have the strength, the knowledge, the wisdom, the compassion, the ability, the life experience, balanced with the brain, the heart and soul, to take this journey.

To share my happy, to understand their happy, to make a new happy, but most of all, to convey they undying, deepest of love and the basic humanity to make their happy the best happy I can.

Please find your happy; let everyone you know how much you love them – no matter what what makes them happy.

Nothing Like A Homemade Cyclotron To Ring In Autumn

Originally written on Mommy Wants Vodka by Becky Sherrick Harks in 2010. Reproduced with permission from the author, who is me: Aunt Becky. 

Summer holidays always confuse me. Not just because I think the only one worth celebrating is my birthday, which, *ahem* I did change from the actual date of my entrance into the world (July 15) to a day that should be less, well, cursed (July 28) on Facebook, which is kind of like when you say you’re “in a relationship” on there. It means it MATTERS now.

We’re going STEADY, me and my birthday!

With the exception of my national-holiday-birthday, I don’t get summer holidays. I mean, day off, FUCK YEAH, but we’re not like Jello Mold Salad people who burst out the limbo stick and dust off the old camper on Memorial Day or Labor Day. Probably because I don’t HAVE a camper but mostly because my idea of “roughing it” involves staying in a hotel without room service.

glitter on woman eye mommy wants vodka

I have lots of traditions, but none of them involve setting up a tent in the middle of the woods where there are earwigs and trees and possibly rabid squirrels that might want to eat my face off while I sleep. I mean, if I want to “get back to nature” I can turn on the National Geographic Channel and not immediately flip through to a Law and Order: You’re About To Be Depressed marathon.

I’m all for a good BBQ, don’t get me wrong, so long as it doesn’t involve any additional planning on my end. Encased meats are kind of my thing, so any chance to roast weenies on a grill makes me happy in the pants (GO MEAT!), but if I have to turn a relaxed, “get your ass over, fuckwad,” invite into,

Miss Rebecca Sherrick Harks kindly requests your presence at Casa de la Sausage at one ‘o’ clock in the afternoon on…”

then I’ve lost something in translation. I don’t want to have to turn a Labor Day BBQ into a LABOR DAY BBQ. Because then I have to clean and make appetizers and put on pants and we all know how much I hate pants.

This Labor Day, I’m torn. Since I’m clearly not going to be camping or hosting a Jello Mold Party, I’ll be doing one of two things (while eating encased meats pantsless, of course). Making Skittles Vodka or designing a proton accelerator.

Or maybe both. Why have or when you can have and?

———

Are you a Summer Holiday Family? If so, can I come over and celebrate with YOU? Even if I’m not wearing pants? Because pants are BULLSHIT.

In These Dark Times Practice Love and Kindness

Every time I see the latest affront to human decency perpetrated by this administration and its dark legions of slavish devotees, I make a point of doing something kind for someone else. I practice kindness.

Anonymously, if possible.

practice kindness rocks colorful

Practicing kindness doesn’t have to be a big thing, or involve money, or even a lot of time. The point is not self-aggrandizement or warm fuzzies; the point is to pump an antidote and practice kindness to combat a pathological campaign of destruction, bigotry, and vile greed back into the body of this nation.

The point of practicing kindness is to actively resist an agenda that others women and minorities, strips hungry children of food, destroys families, and trades respect and decency for jingoistic greed and willful ignorance about our shared existence on this precious earth.

My kindness suggestions are always simple, but they are also effective:

  • Feed someone who’s hungry.
  • Help someone who’s struggling with work, their kids, with transportation.
  • Support artists, writers, and other creatives who are generating the beauty we need to combat fascist exploitation and dehumanization.
  • A friendly ear and a smile; a hug.
  • A cold drink on a hot day.
  • A ride to the grocery store.
  • Speak up when you hear someone abusing another.
  • Refuse to leave unchallenged the propaganda and bigoted views you encounter on the daily, especially if they’re being used to actively attack, demean, or insult someone outside of the oligarchy’s CisHet Anglo Ubermensch paradigm.

Remember that you have far more in common with every day citizens of all races, sexual orientations, genders, and creeds than you will EVER have with a cadre of planet-crushing exploiters and fear-mongers eager to add more filthy lucre to the golden beds around which they coil like the dragons of old.

I used to agonize over who could possibly save us from this slide into brutish dystopian horror.

But I have come to realize that the light we need to banish the darkness comes from within each of us, and it is only by combining that light that we can combat the torrential flow of poison and bile.

So yes, absolutely call your elected officials. Definitely vote. Volunteer your time and resources to causes you care about. March, protest, resist.

But remember, too, the smallest acts; those tiny daily affirmations of our shared humanity, kindling a light to push back the dark.