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.

IMG_2933

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!

The Snowpocalypse of 2016

Living in Nashville, winter has brought on a whole new experience when it comes to weather.

The city is currently completely shut down (the mayor has asked everyone stay off the roadways today) due to inches of ice on roads and temperatures below freezing, topped with new fallen snow.

Lacking appropriate snow accessories.

The snowcessories most Tennesseans use to clear their cars (maybe minus the Captain).

While this seems piddly compared to what other Americans are experiencing to our north, this slight winter weather halts an entire city, as there is a lack of equipment to care for the roads. Citizens can hardly handle driving in the rain, let alone freezing precipitation and quite frankly, current weather conditions happen about once every 15 years.

90 minute workout

It was a 90 minute workout and half a tank of gas to get my car de-iced.

Because I had to get through this first…

How badly do I really want wine today?

How badly do I really want wine today?

And while businesses, schools and folks everywhere are turning into Jack Nicholson from The Shining due to cabin fever, I’m not sorry the Snowpocalypse of 2016 is now occurring. Because snow days are fun. Snow days are for play.

Being raised in the Midwest, it was a very rare treat to get your ass out and actually play in the snow when you were supposed to be sitting in a social studies class.

I'm a lotta help. But I look cute.

Helping Dad shovel the sidewalk. The broom was a big help.

Growing up in rural Iowa, no one batted an eye when several inches (or feet) of snow, high winds and freezing temperatures were included in the forecast for the next day. No one rushed home early from work clogging up the streets, made a mad dash to the grocery stores buying all of the milk and bread in sight and no one abandoned their vehicles on the side of the road due to the frozen flakes falling from the sky (as people tend to do in my current state of Tennessee).

Anytime winter weather is in the forecast, the South freaks the fuck out.

No shit.

Bread and milk aisles in Nashville when snow is in the forecast.

Where I grew up, school was never, ever cancelled the night before predicted winter weather – which often included blizzards, sleet, hail, ice accompanied by subzero temperatures and wind chills (in Tennessee, entire counties and districts will call off school if any meteorologist utters the word “snow” during the weather segment).

Getting a snow day in Iowa was about as possible as Martians landing in the community park.

I DON'T WANT SNOWFLAKES IN MY EYES.

I wish I may, I wish I might, please let the snowfall cancel school for my delight.

So it was a rare treat when the phone (that was connected to the kitchen wall – oh the good ‘ol days) would ring in the wee hours of the morning announcing that school was cancelled (mostly because the buses couldn’t make the trip to get kids in the country).  Instead of sleeping one moment more, my sister and I got our asses out of bed like it was Christmas morning, adorned ourselves in all kinds of snow gear and headed out to play in the wonderland of white (usually with our cousins, who lived right across the street).

It takes this kind of snow to shut down schools in Iowa.

This kind of snow won’t merit a school snow day in Iowa.

After getting gussied up in our winter finest, first we’d sled in the road, which felt like we were breaking all kind of societal rules.

The dog.

How ’bout my mom’s shit kickers? So warm in subzero temperatures.

Next, my sister and I would build snowmen complete with cute, cozy accessories (mine came off of my body).

Sacrificing my warmth for a fashionable snow man...or maybe snow gal with the pink stocking hat.

Sacrificing my warmth for a fashionable snowman, naturally.

Then my cousins, the Morris boys, thought it would be a good idea to dig through the snow to Timbuktu.  I would rather have made snow angels and bedazzle my handmade frozen creatures but of course I agreed to help excavate (as I had a cute shovel I wanted to put to use – and by I, I mean my cousin Derek. Let’s remember my fingernails are jewels, not tools).

Can we live here?

Can we live here?

I thought it was nothing short of a winter miracle when my dad and Uncle Lewis came out to play with us, constructing a snow fort out of a drift in my backyard, complete with a tunnel – diverting the dig to faraway lands (thank GOD – I was getting tired of being the project manager).

All these years later, I long for a true snow day to build (well, rather sit on my ample derriere and watch my cousins, dad and uncle construct) a fort but instead, I’m longing for a winebulance to head down my snow covered roadway, rescuing me from my current situation.

Near tears stuck with mere ounces of wine left.

Near tears stuck with mere ounces of wine left.

Anyone want to road trip it to the liquor store with me?

C’mon!

CBXB

Image 1

Star Spangled Shenanigans

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

And 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!