Heavenly at Seventy

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 in July of 2016. Well, being a feisty little bitch, she survived with cancer 370 days.

Beat cancer for five extra days. Suck it.

Today is ACP’s heavenly birthday and she would be turning a very young 70. Ever since her passing in September of 2017, we keep celebrating the fuck out of one of our favorite crazy ladies. We always cheers with her fave cocktail – specifically from The Cheesecake Factory – a gin rickey.

Celebrating ACP’s first heavenly birthday together, Mama CBXB and I did what all mother/daughters do to bond. We got tattoos of ACP’s signature. We were the first ones at the tattoo shop that day and acted like we’d never been in a place of permanent ink before.

Totes normal Saturday with static in our hair.

In fact, we’d been several times with ACP to get her tattoos, so we brought her along in pictures. 

She was there to witness our ink ups.

The photo I chose was of me holding her hand while she got her first tattoo. It was at the Lake of the Ozarks non-world renowned Tattoo Ted’s after a day of coving out and cocktails.

Mothers and daughters who tattoo together, PARtay together.

We then went to our fave spot on Broadway in Nashville, Robert’s Western World to keep the celebration alive.

We love sharing stories and peeing our pants over shit she would say or do (she literally shit her pants during a shopping trip at Target with her mom once. When ACP shared why she had to rush to the bathroom, Gma might have well been on the store’s loud speaker and announced loudly, “YOU SHIT YOUR PANTS?” For the record, I’ve also shit my pants at Target. Must run in the family….). I just got an eye roll (sorry Gma) and a belly laugh (you’re welcome ACP) from the sky, I’m sure. We’d often witness tears running down her leg from laughing so hard and we have fun 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.

I carry the torch for her klutziness (I fell into her closet after getting out of her bed – still in my emerald green stilettos and funeral dress – the day after her funeral).

Humor helps klutzy broads.

We also can ruin phones like nobody’s business. She would constantly drop 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). She constantly called my boyfriends the wrong name. I once dated a guy named John for a few years. He answered the phone when she called once and, for whatever reason at a loss, she said, “uhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh GARY?!”

Quite the combo.

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).

Whether ya wanna know the truth or not, ya gonna hear it. Even if we look like ass clowns with delivery.

I will honor her by eating double what I normally do during trips to the Iowa State Fair when this bitch Rona finally gets the fuck outta dodge.

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 bonfire 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.”

So how can you show a small token of appreciation in return to a son who lost a friend, a mother and a fucking funny lady all rolled into one? Sister CBXB came up with a great idea, reached out to me to execute (why do I have to do all the work?) and with the help of some letter writing, reaching out to every.single.contact I have and making them reach out to every.single.contact they have, magic happened.

Through the efforts of fabulous friends and the help of family, we were able to pull this shit off and I scored two VIP tickets (yeah, you read that right – VIP bitches) to The Late Show With Stephen Colbert. R. Nasty and I graced the Big Apple for a taping of the show, celebrating ACP in NYC.

The start of my 28 hour stay.

R. Nasty flew from Iowa, I flew from Music City and we met at the airport. Sounds like a meet cute except we’re cousins. 

Of course I had to document every.single.moment of our celebration trip and ever accommodating, R. Nasty indulged me.

VIPs Baby!

See me? I’m the blonde in center of the row. The guests were Lucy Liu (boring) and Henry Winkler (fun).

Regardless of R.Nasty’s twisted ankle and me accidentally crashing a rapper’s photoshoot in Time’s Square, we had a fabulous trip celebrating ACP’s life with a whopping side of shit show. We were only there for what some would say resembles a long layover but it was worth every second.

Oh I’m sorry, this is a prop for your photoshoot? Sorry. Not sorry.

The deeper the love for someone, the deeper the grief. For grief is the price we pay when someone we love the fuck out of departs us for greater pastures. For me, celebrating their life and what they loved makes me still feel connected. And boy, does the grief still run deep for those of us who loved ACP.

We all miss you something terrible.

Cheers to the craziest fun aunt I got to call mine. I promise to quietly laugh my ass off at memories of you (after probably tripping and falling down some stairs first) forever.

Join me in raising a gin rickey high to the sky tonight in honor of the Aunt Crazy Pants in your life. Throw on a little green (emerald or kelly green to be precise) if you really wanna kiss some ACP ass.

Happy Heavenly Birthday Aunt Nancy. 

Love ya, Mean it.

CBXB

BUY ME A DRINK

 

Christmas Memories Worth Repeating

Christmases of yesteryear brought endless glee because I was surrounded by so much family.

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Opening packages would have been such a bore,

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If I wasn’t encircled by cousins galore.

Christmas chaos.

A lonely gal Christmas sock affair,

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Until I got to hang stockings by the chimney with double the care.

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All dressed up with somewhere to go,

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And I always tried to be THE star of a great big family show.

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Christmas pageants with one were so annoying,

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But with two, the show got much more enjoying.

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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.

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Cheers to keeping the memories and spirits of Christmases past alive and kickin’ while embracing new traditions with the best kind of family additions.

No matter if you love your given family, choose to embrace love of friends like family or enjoy solitude, I hope you’re filled with happy holiday gratitude. The time we have is so fleeting, cheers to being kind, coexisting and making memories worth repeating.

Happy Everything!

CBXB

CBXB!

Turkey Table

Oh the good times I had at the kids’ table on holidays. Us cousins would sit around a tiny table that our Gpa Morris constructed for Mama CBXB’s pre-school kids (she ran Kiddie Kollege from our basement) and we would have our construction papered pilgrim hats proudly atop our noggins.

Pilgrim Fun

Yeah, we know. Killer hats.

Topics often covered during the meal at our no-one-yet-in-the-double-digits table included knuckle sandwiches (usually whether or not I wanted one to which my response was, “No thank you I’ve already had one”), Sister CBXB announcing for the umpteenth year in a row she was thankful for her “Gaggy” (in non-toddler speak, that means dad although she couldn’t enunciate the “d” sound which made her declaration all the more nauseating for those of us who understood) and who was going to get a Jell-O knox block (this was obviously long before we started adding vodka to this delicatessen) for dessert first.

A few decades later, here’s what the same cousins look like at a “table”.

Knuckle sandwiches traded in for Patrón.

Now that we all live in different cities, states and the majority have procreated, the tables at turkey time look different but that doesn’t mean they still aren’t full of some fucking fun.

Maybe your table leans on the traditional side with overflowing dishes prepped by master family chefs (that would not be me, mind you).

Come and get it.

Maybe your table is a mixed bag of friends who all have human offspring but yours truly.

Maybe your table is surrounded by folks who don’t have spawn.

Fur moms.

Maybe your table is for two with your great aunt who has more energy at 90 years young than you’ve ever had in your life.

Head locked lovin’.

Maybe your table is surrounded by folks who show the fuck up when it matters most.

Sisters sandwich.

Maybe your table is reserved for remembering those who don’t physically sit with us any longer.

Margs and memories.

Maybe your table is full of extended family from far away, new friends and not one of you knows how to carve a fucking turkey.

Who has the knife?

Maybe your table is reserved for jazz handing, crown wearing queens.

Yes. We are all queens.

Maybe your table is filled to the rim with vino and friends.

Fuck food. Fill us up.

Maybe your once full table is empty as you relish a second helping of pumpkin pie.

Still desserting.

So Aunt Juju virtually joins you because we’re 500 miles apart.

Maybe your table is a toilet because you just need a holiday alone.

Never not classy.

Now new occupants reign the kids’ table, complete with their own artwork.

Turkey masterpiece.

The pilgrim hats of yesteryear have sure come a long fucking way.

The next generation at the turkey table.

Thanksgiving is a holiday for appreciation and I’m thankful for my fellow pilgrims who’ve weathered every type of table with me.

Love ya, mean it.

Cheers to enjoying your seat at the table, wherever and whatever it may be.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!

Gobble on.

CBXB

CBXB!

Badass Family Therapy

I’m in the middle of EMDR therapy and it’s hard.as.fuck.

My family is joining me in this therapy ride, whether they like (or know) it or not.

Cry Baby

Thoughts on therapy.

EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) therapy is an interactive psychotherapy technique used to relieve psychological stress. It’s often used to treat trauma and post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which I’ve had for over three years thanks to Rapegate.

This poop emoji raft really “gets” me. I want to float on it every Thursday after therapy.

PTSD doesn’t necessarily last forever – but it can linger. It’s just the fucking hardest thing to describe a disorder that is invisible. It’s like having a ghost live within you and it comes out to haunt your body where its housed anytime it motherfucking pleases. Just like no two rapes are the same, no two pregnancies are the same, no two diagnosis of PTSD are the same.

I need a tank that reads “Surprise! It’s PTSD!”

So, there are obviously different treatment approaches depending on the person, the therapist, the situation. I started with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). Rationally, I knew it wasn’t my fault I was raped. But I could not help but feel that I let it happen to me. I was my own worst enemy, standing in the way of my recovery process due to my black and white thinking. I still wrestle with this after three years of therapy but CBT helps you become aware of inaccurate or negative thinking so you can view challenging situations more clearly and respond to them in a more effective way. Coping mechanisms are put into place and for me, mine is – ‘would you talk to a friend like this?’ Fuck no I wouldn’t, so quit talking to yourself this way.

We can be our own worst enemy.  CBT helps anyone learn how to better manage stressful life situations.

Jazz hands also help.

Starting EMDR with my therapist, Superhero Sheila, I was told to think of a happy, relaxing, real life place. Somewhere I’ve experienced first hand, where I felt safe. It took me a minute but I thought about water. I thought about laughing. I thought about what I loved in my life. Maybe it’s the time of year, but my safe place is memories of time spent at the Lake of the Ozarks with my family every Fourth of July.

Family

Clan

We kinda had some fun there over the years.

From wapatoolies, to aqua bars, to tattoos, to boys against girls Trivial Pursuit games (pretty sure the chicks won more), I can envision this place and be at ease. Hearing the boat motors, my family’s belly laughing, smelling the lake water, my uncle ‘washing’ his hair in the lake (true Griswolds move right here), the relentless teasing, remembering my sister getting hit in the face with a can of Budweiser thrown from the boat to the water (ah, memories).

Aqua Bar

Aqua bar doubling as a life saving device.

Tattoo

Tattoo Ted performing his kind of adequate skills on Aunt Crazy Pants.

Winners!

Trivial Pursuit Chicks rule. Dudes drool.

The first thing for me to tackle in EMDR was the exit off of the interstate which leads to the house where I was raped. My ex friend’s house. I pass by that exit almost every day. And every.single.time I think, “oh, that leads to Ex Friend’s house where I was raped.” It doesn’t ruin my day. I don’t ruminate over it. But it’s a thought that pops in my head and can causes anxiety that sometimes spills into my daily life.

To tackle this, Superhero Sheila hands me a device with two knobs – one for each hand. They vibrate, alternating, then at the same time, then alternating, using both your right and left sides of the brain to re-train your thoughts.

“Close your eyes.”

“You’re driving on Interstate I40, coming up to the exit. You see it through the windshield.”

*feel pang in my stomach, think of safe place*

Driving a boat at Lake of the Ozarks.

Party Chick

“You are getting closer to the exit, what are you feeling.”

*pang in belly, think of safe place*

Oh hello boozy party cove.

Party Girl

“Are you going to pass the exit or get off?”

*if I get off here now in my thoughts, it will take me to the place where I was raped…think of safe place*

Laughing with family.

Cousins

All day laughing with family.

The Griswolds

Family laughing all day with help from Jell-O shots…

Jell-O

…and whipped cream.

Whipped Cream

“You are going to pass by the exit. What are you thinking?”

*why are there tears starting to roll down my face..stop it…think happy place*

Lake of the Ozark patio karaoke nights.

Mic Fight

With a microphone hog.

Karoake King

 “Are you OK? Do you want to keep going?”

*yes…even though a river of snot is now accompanying the stream of tears down my neck*

“Take a deep breath in. Take a deep breath out. Think of your safe place.”

After boating pool dunks while our moms fixed supper.

Dunk

“You’re now passing the exit. You’re past the exit. Take inventory of your body. Do you feel anxiety anywhere?”

*a small pang remains in my stomach but it doesn’t ache*

“How do you want to feel?”

*more tears, happy place, happy place*

Drunken dancers around a hunk.

Hunk

*I want to stay afloat, I don’t want to cry, where’s the goddamned aqua bar when I need it*

Floater

 “Deep breath in, deep breath out. How do you want to feel – how do you see yourself?”

I see me cooling off with a refreshing beverage.

Beerpoo

“How do you see yourself?”

*I’m strong but I’m crying*

“You are not alone. Emotions don’t equate weakness. Feel them. Sit with them. Think about your happy place.”

Better together.

Muscles

*I feel strong. I feel like a badass. I am a badass*

“Know that this exit, this representation has a beginning, a middle and an end. You’re OK. How do you feel?”

*I feel…better…no dull ache in my body but what do I do when I drive by the exit…fucking christ, how will I feel then…*

“You will go to your secure place. You will use your coping tools. Now open your eyes. How do you feel?”

I feel safe. I feel happy.

Fam

Therapy of any kind is fucking hard. The interstate exit is the smallest of my issues that root in my Rapegate anxiety but, as with anything, sticking to it is a gigantic key to my recovery process. No matter how much I want to quit. No matter how many fucking tears I shed. No matter what. It’s my key to carrying on.

Here’s hoping you have a secure and favorable place to go in your mind, whenever you need.

Be your own badass – with as much help as you need. Thanks to my own version of the Griswolds family, I am…how bad can that be?!

Happy Fourth!

CBXB

CBXB!

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