The Lights That Guide You Home

It’s fucking insane that my kick ass Aunt Crazy Pants has been partying up above for nearly 365 days. Some moments, it feels like two years ago but mostly I still forget and think to pick up the phone to text or call and then remember I can only communicate via the red bird, a cardinal.

A song s-t-u-c-k in my brain like a worm the last couple of days has been “Fix You” by Coldplay from their X&Y album (if you haven’t heard it, stop what you’re doing and go download it or,  for those of you a tad more technologically challenged, click on the pink “Fix You” words above for a link to the video – you’re welcome. Now listen to it before reading the rest of this post).

I’ll wait.

Still waiting. (Uncle Toddy, have Gma’s second favorite grandchild help you. Mama CBXB, I will help you. Uncle Lew, you’re fucked unless Aunt Patti knows how to do it.)

OK, then.

In honor of Aunt Crazy Pants, raise those gin rickey’s (or Black Velvet and Diet 7Up, whichever you’re feeling) high in the air, as we celebrate how much we miss her and hate the fuck out of cancer in my mixed lyric rendition of the song.

Fix You

When you try your best

But you don’t succeed

When you get what you want

But not what you need

When you feel so tired

But you can’t sleep

Stuck in reverse

And high up above

Or down below

When you’re too in love

To let it go

But if you never try

You’ll never know

Just what you’re worth

Lights will guide you home

And ignite your bones

And we did try to fix you

Tears stream

Down your face

When you lose something you cannot replace

Tears stream

Down your face

When you lose something you can’t replace

Tears stream

 Down your face

When you lose something you cannot replace

Lights will guide you home

And ignite your bones

And we don’t have to fix you

CBXB

 

How to Beat the Birthday Alternative

Getting ready to start another 365 fresh days, looking back on birthdays of yesteryear has been bittersweet. I’ve lost (and found!) the “celebrate everyday” mantra that I was so used to pre-Rapegate, coupled with the loss of relationships, deaths and general life changes that have been no control of mine.

YOU WILL CELEBRATE. AND YOU WILL FUCKING LOVE IT.

However, peering back over my shoulder now, there are extremely important lessons that I adhere to even today, as I prepare to celebrate another year of fabulous fun.

Huff. Puff. and Blow.

Huff. Puff. Blow.

Still at it.

Thank God I have candle blowing help now.

1) Always take a peek in a mirror before a photo is snapped, forever capturing the loveliness of you on your special day or you may end up with something like this….

My most gorgeous birthday photo ever.

Hello Gorgeous.

Relax already.

Seriously. Stare in the mirror and give a rat’s ass or you’ll be gazing at your lovely self in something as beautiful as a crocheted vest for years to come.

Crochet nightmare

Fashion at its finest accessorized with wispy bangs.

Celebrate

Own advice not taken. Clearly.

2) Upon receiving presents, always act like you’ve just received the best.gift.ever. Even if you have no clue what it is or have no intention of ever wearing/using/displaying/eating/drinking.

Always act surprised.

Holy shit! I love it! No, truly I do.

3) Hold up fingers to commemorate which age you were celebrating, as these photos will end up in albums and you won’t always remember what outfit you wore which year (side note: how hilarious is it that I have a shirt on that says First Mate, First Mate?).

Insist

I’m this many today.

Even if you’re not quite sure how old you are, own whatever you are saying which will demand more attention on you.

Even

If I say I’m two and a half, I AM TWO AND A HALF, ya dig?

When you’re out of fingers on both hands, just count drinks.

Three times….infinity?

4) Cake matters. Choose your design wisely.

Scoobs.

Everyone wants a piece of Scooby.

Then insist someone hand feed it to you.

Keepin' it classy. As usual.

Keepin’ it classy. As usual.

Just be careful if your cake starts on fire due to the copious amount of candles.

5) Practice your ‘birthday face’ so you can look adorable in all photos.

Mug for the camera.

Oh who me? Why yes it is my birthday. I’ll just hold this pose for the rest of the day.

Camera!

Adorableness fail.

Oh hi, just an adorable Mexican giddy-up for a girl who can’t keep her eyes open.

6) Be sure to have a themed party. Even if it involves you looking like an ass clown.

theme

Send in the clowns.

Even if no one shows up, you still look like you got it going on.

7) Dance, jump and twirl to your heart’s content, acting as if you have one ounce of rhythm somewhere in your being.

PARTY!

Shake, rattle and rollin’ expected.

Dance

High kicks accepted.

Head banging also accepted.

Head banging also welcomed but you’ll regret it in the morning. Trust me.

8) Noisy favors are a must. Especially if party goers are under the age of six.

Blow it out.

Blow out birthday party.

It’ll wear them out and force them to be couch potatoes.

Overcrowded couch? What’s better than that?

9) Always go with the celebratory flow.

Go with the flow

Balloons in my hair? Sounds like a good birthday look.

Or at least let someone catch you when the flow gets to be too much for you to stand on your own.

Hey-oh!

Hey-oh!

10) Don’t ever turn away a birthday kiss, no matter how much you think it may hurt your face.

Scruffy faces hurt my cheek. Always low maintenance.

Always being low maintenance, scruffy faces hurt my cheek. Shave already!

Presh loves to French kiss. Don’t judge.

11) Even if you share the same birthday with a cousin (gentleman to my left in photo below with thrilled look on his face) be sure you try to be the star of the show anyhow.

Sharing

Sorry. Not sorry B. Happy Birthday by the way!

12) Never, ever, ever, ever turn down a birthday shot. Ever.

Why thank you

Birthdays taste so good.

13) Enjoy the fuck out of the loved ones who surround you for celebration because you never know when it’ll be the last time.

Teddy B and me.

Crazy and Aunt Crazy Pants.

This year, I’ll be drinking to the wise words my Gma always told me as I bitched about growing another year older, “having another birthday sure beats the alternative.”

She was one smart lady.

I’ll drink to that!

No matter how hard I have to huff, puff and blow on my candles.

Cheers to your birthdays of yesteryear – as well as a year full of the happiest of birthdays for all of us and those we hold dear!

CBXB

CBXB!

 

Family Traditions of Christmas Past

How different would Christmas be if I wasn’t surrounded by family?

IMG_2941

Opening packages would be such a bore,

IMG_2940

If I wasn’t encircled by cousins galore.

Christmas chaos.

A lonely gal Christmas sock affair,

Image 6

Instead of hanging stockings by the chimney with double the care.

IMG_2938

All dressed up with nowhere to go,

IMG_2932

Instead of trying to be one of the stars of the show.

IMG_2934

Christmas pageants with one can be so annoying,

Image 2

But with two, the show is much more enjoying.

IMG_2943

Lonely lonely would Christmas celebrating be,

Without the decades of fun with family.

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From past to present with futures near,

Hold those who are dear with your heart full of cheer because you never know when they may not be here…

Image 8

Cheers to keeping the memories, traditions and spirits of Christmases past alive and kickin’.

CBXB

CBXB!

The Underdog

It’s no secret that I’ve had a rough go in my personal life the last few years. Of course, no one has perfection and bad shit happens to everyone, however, I’ve been numbed to the point that I don’t expect the worst but am surprised by nothing. Nothing.

Martians falling from the sky? We believe you.

It’s also no secret that I love college football – especially my alma mater, the Iowa Hawkeyes.

Fans #1 and #2.

The last day that I can truly say I was ‘in the moment’ was December 5, 2015. I got to experience the first Big Ten Championship with my dad, The Silent Indian (who cheered for the wrong team) and Camo with my Iowa Hawkeyes taking on Sparty of Michigan State.

Big four at the Big Ten game.

It was one of the best days of my life even though Sparty won in the literal last second of the game.

All the after morning feels.

Four days upon returning home from that game, I was pushed out of a career that I’d worked my ass off to obtain in the music business. Eleven days after that, I experienced the worst Christmas of my life – a day I cherish (almost as much as my birthday) due to family dynamics shifting and my unwillingness to accept it. Less than one month later, a woman who was like a little sister to me died in a car accident. That evening, I went to my best friend’s house and was raped by her boyfriend.

That period of time was as beautiful as I look in this photo.

The day I was at the hospital awaiting my rape kit to be performed, I was asked if I’d like an advocate to come sit with me. I didn’t know if I did or didn’t because as my bare ass was hanging out of the back of a hospital gown, I was in a state of shock. An advocate was called on my behalf. Aside from her beyond sweet demeanor, her name being Barbie (I mean, c’mon!), her fabulous Louis Vuitton purse (obvies the right advocate for me), she said something that still rings true to this day.

“There will be a before rape in your life. And there will be an after rape.” A before and after. Seems like a simple enough concept but I did not comprehend then how fucking true this would be in my daily life moving forward.

The Before: last selfie I took before Rapegate.

The After: first selfie taken after Rapegate.

It’s now been 616 days since the saga of Rapegate began. At first it was all-consuming, eating me up – a worm in my brain, invading every moment of my sleep, thoughts, feelings – I had no idea that I might as well have been standing at the bottom of Mount Everest, readying to climb 29,029 feet with zero conditioning. Because that’s what this last year and over a half has dealt…an excruciatingly slow climb out of (or rather up) the lowest of extreme lows, seeking the summit of a mountain top that appeared further and further away by the day.

What happens when I hike.

Thing is, life goes on all around even though time stands still for victims of any sort of trauma. For me, I was stuck on January 29, 2016 but I still had a job to find, bills to pay, fur ball mouths to feed and personal hygiene to maintain (this took much insisting from Mrs. America and my sister). I just wanted to wallow on my leopard couch and have it swallow me whole but of course that didn’t fucking happen.

Not so fresh and so clean clean.

With the support and love from my family, friends, and readers of this blog (my sparkly army), I was encouraged to put one (semi-clean) foot in front of the other and got into counseling. I tirelessly acted as my own advocate with a less than helpful (and that description is extremely nice) detective, found a job, kept my lights on, was diagnosed with PTSD, adjustment disorder and severe stress and stumbled forward.

I don’t wanna but I’m gonna!

Through what felt like a continuous avalanche in my life, I put on the happiest face possible and plowed forward. Although, everything had less meaning, was less fun, was just not right. I went to my fave watering hole Dalts, invited girlfriends over, tried to read books but couldn’t remember the page I just read, watched TV only to forget what the episode was about as my mind couldn’t stay focused, stopped going to yoga and jogging due to not being able to be alone with my thoughts – because the aftermath of Rapegate was never far.

SAY WHAT?

Trying to trudge through life, every step felt like I was moving through snow waist deep. Yet again, life stops for no one. Aunt Crazy Pants was diagnosed with terminal cancer almost six months to the day after I was raped. She passed just a little over a month ago, ten days after I suddenly lost the fur ball love of my life, Ted. The searing losses felt like a hot iron had been stabbed into my chest. I’d never experienced the throes of despair (navigating my way out of Rapegate), alongside devastating, life altering grief (losing those we deeply love) at the same time.

There’s not enough wine for this.

While I was home for ACP’s celebration of life, I had an opportunity to go tailgating with my Uncle Toddy, Aunt Crispie, my cousins and their many friends at the in state rivalry of Iowa versus Iowa State. It was a thrillingly unexpected day jam-packed with tailgating shenanigans.

The fun of family…

Mama CBXB, Uncle Toddy and Aunt Crispie host tailgating done right.

Friendly family rivalry.

OR WAS IT?!

The fun of the endless booze all around…

I hate tailgating.

The classiness of passing time while waiting to use the port-a-potties…

Shotski for three please.

The catching up with old friends…

Game ready.

Having to ask your uncle if there’s anyone he’s friends with in his season ticket section just in case I embarrass him with my loudness…

A beauty and a sparkly beast.

Embarrassing my youngest cousin with all the right moves…

Cousin love is acceptable below the Mason Dixon line.

Seeing a live marching band was fulfilled for the season…

March on.

Up close and personal for the live action overtime win didn’t suck!

End zone win baby!

Afterward, I realized how much fucking fun I truly had that day. I lived in the moment for the first time in almost two years – at yet another football game. I didn’t think about anything other than what I was partaking in every. single. second. The bands marching through the tailgates. The booze. The Hawkeye buses arriving. The booze. The food. The booze. The rivalry. The family and friends I was enjoying the fuck out of spending time with. The game I got to watch from the end zone and the exciting win by the Hawks in overtime.

Some cousins took it well.

Others were sore losers.

Point is, for a brief day I got a taste of what it will be like when I transfer from survivor to thriver. I felt normal. I felt the fun I was experiencing. I felt like pre-rape me for once in almost two years. And it was fucking fantastic, freeing and I caught a glimpse of my old self starting to shine through the cracks I still carry.

Fist forward.

The Hawkeyes are almost always considered the underdogs. And it’s not lost on me that both the last and first time I realized I was living in the moment were at football games, watching my favorite team with some of my favorite people.

It was a much needed reminder that I’m doing the best that I can every goddamn day. Aren’t we all?

Happy tailgating!

CBXB

One More Time, Mom

My beloved Aunt Crazy Pants passed away after a valiant fight against terminal lung cancer (after never smoking a goddamn cigarette in her life). By the time cancer was found through an unrelated surgery, it had already spread everywhere but her brain and she was given six months to a year to live last summer. Well, being a feisty little bitch, she survived with cancer 370 days.

Beat cancer for five extra days. Suck it.

Family and friends gathered to give life stealing cancer the middle finger, celebrating ACP with her favorite cocktails of Gin Rickeys, Black Velvet and margaritas.

Gin Rickeys all around.

Sharing stories of peeing our pants over shit she would say or do (when she literally shit her pants – like during a shopping trip at Target with her mom once. I just got an eye roll (sorry Gma) and a belly laugh (you’re welcome ACP) from the sky), witnessing tears running down her leg from laughing so hard and generally remembering the spirit this woman, mother, daughter, sister, crazy fun aunt and loyal friend to countless people sprinkled throughout our lives.

To say there’s a hole in my soul doesn’t do it justice, as my aunt was like a mother to me and I take after her in many lovely ways.

What I do know is:

I will carry on her klutziness (I fell into her closet after getting out of her bed the day after the funeral).

We also ruin phones the same. She dropped hers in a toilet, I run my over with cars. It’s a special talent.

I carry her ability to get tongue tied at any given moment (I asked a male co-worker at a new job if “these are the size of rubbers you wanted” – I forgot the word band after rubber).

Did I seriously say that?!

I have the ease of her unabashed bluntness and no fear of confrontation (she deemed me the biggest bitch of the family before she passed. I know, so sweet).

Wanna hear it or not, we tell it like it is.

I will honor her by eating double what I normally do during trips to the Iowa State Fair.

Two for me.

Being a crazy aunt is something I’m already all over.

Or rather, they’re all over me.

I was born with her dramatic flair for life, so that torch was lit long ago within me.

Jazz hands for life.

While it’s important to remember that when someone may no longer be among us on earth, our relationship with them can still exist, it’s also important to remember the quality of life given during an especially grueling battle with cancer. ACP’s youngest son R. Nasty made sacrifices I can’t say many young adults his age – let alone any adult – would do to care for his dying mother. I mean before being diagnosed with cancer, she was already the most dramatic woman on the planet (like bitching about “having” to pack to go to Hawaii – or any other fabulous destination…yeah, poor thing), so you can imagine the sheer joy the magnification of her theatrics became.

Flair for fun dramatics.

R. Nasty moved in with his mom (all young men’s dream come true) being closest in proximity and able to make accommodations to do so, while his other brothers and extended family lived further away.

All other Bros and Hos live far away.

He answered every time she hollered with a patient, “yes Mother,” sauntered into her room after every bell ring (a sound that will surely haunt him for the rest of his days), removed an ice cube each time he accidentally put four instead of three into her water and endless other duties that come along with caring for a cancer patient.

The true meaning of ‘got your back’.

My point is, this dude is a fucking saint. Throughout all the treatment routines, doctor’s appointments, therapy, surgeries, etc, ACP’s absolute favorite time was watching The Late Show with Stephen Colbert with R. Nasty every weeknight. Even if she dozed off in the evening as she got more cancer riddled, she wanted to be woken up to watch Stephen Colbert with her son.

Wake me up before you go go!

In the evening on August 31, 2017 my feisty aunt was taken from home hospice to the hospital. That night, as the end was drawing near, the room full of family was clearing out and R. Nasty leaned in and said, “We’re going to watch Stephen Colbert one more time, Mom.” And that they did. She died at 3am on Friday, September 1st, 2017.

While we’ve partied in every way possible in honor of Aunt Crazy Pants’ love of life, I’d like to acknowledge the sacrifices her son made so selflessly. When asked about it he always says (and still does), “it’s my honor to take care of my mother.”

                 

I hope my cats step up to the plate like that for me when the time comes.

Yeah…I’m fucked.

Cheers to the craziest fun aunt I got to call mine. We all miss you something terrible.

Life already isn’t the same.

I love you.

CBXB

 

Griswold Family Style Fourth of July

Driving a boat at Lake of the Ozarks…

Party Chick

…is a party girl from Tennessee.

Party Girl

As cousins gather every Fourth…

Cousins

…to be with family

The Griswolds

From Jell-O shots…

Jell-O

…with whipped cream.

Whipped Cream

Constant fights over the mic…

Mic Fight

to sing karaoke.

Karoake King

Trivial Pursuit winners, always reign supreme!

Winners!

From new tattoos…

Tattoo

…to pool dunks…

Dunk

…with drunken dancers around a hunk.

Hunk

Our favorite toy is the aqua bar…

Aqua Bar

…that prevents us from floating too far.

Floater

 I’m proud to be from my family!

Family

Where at least I can be me.

Beerpoo

And they never, ever let me forget

Just how handy my booty can be.

Handy

Cousins blowing their muscles up…

Blow Hards

…next to me

Muscles

so I won’t cry and feel left out.

Cry Baby

There ain’t no doubt I love my clan –

Clan

Thank God for my family!

Fam

Here’s hoping your version of the Griswolds has a safe and booze filled 4th.

Cheers!

CBXB

CBXB!

 

Red, Wine and Booze

Driving a boat at Lake of the Ozarks

Party Chick

Is a party girl from Tennessee

Party Girl

As cousins gather every Fourth

Cousins

To be with family

The Griswolds

From Jell-O shots

Jell-O

With whipped cream

Whipped Cream

Constant fights over the mic

Mic Fight

To sing karaoke

Karoake King

Trivial Pursuit winners, always reign supreme

Winners!

From new tattoos

Tattoo

To pool dunks

Dunk

With drunken dancers around a hunk

Hunk

Our favorite toy is the aqua bar

Aqua Bar

That prevents us from floating too far…

Floater

 I’m proud to be from my family

Family

Where at least I can be me

Beerpoo

And they never, ever let me forget

Just how handy my booty can be

Handy

Cousins blowing their muscles up

Blow Hards

Next to me

Muscles

So I won’t cry and feel left out

Cry Baby

There ain’t no doubt I love my clan

Clan

Thank God for my family!

Fam

CBXB

CBXB!