Sunday, January 31, 2010

Happy Birthday, Miss Thang, Chicken Wang!

It's a little late, but quite the milestone, and since I have no children except the furry kind to brag about, I have to share.

My niece, Remi turned 3 a few weeks ago and to celebrate, we shoved her into a suitcase:

Her parents are really into the whole, not having to pay for plane tickets for children under two thing, so this is the perfect solution now that she's 3. Of course, there was that whole mass chaos birthday party as well, but suitcase stuffing is far more entertaining.

Everybody thinks she's 4 because she's such a tall, beautiful child that has carried on full, intelligent conversations with adults since she was about 2. It's still so bizarre to have this tiny person scream, "AUNTIE HARN!" when I walk in the door, run up to me, drag me by the hand to show me her latest discovery, then explain to me step-by detailed step how this newfangled thing came about and how it works. On her birthday, it was the toy box my mom and dad got for her, with her name stenciled in pink lettering on it.

"See Auntie Harn, you can open it and put toys in there and you can sit on it and it HAS MY NAME ON IT!"

And, holy shit, the suitcase, also with her name on it. She could hardly contain herself and all she could muster was a full bodied scream from those giant lungs of hers. I'll never forget the first time I heard those lungs. We waited all night and just before 4 a.m. on January 18, 2007 with our heads tilted and ears poised, we heard her first cries, loud and clear through the thick doors of the maternity operating room. My mom and I faced each other wide eyed, clasped our arms together and jumped up and down and squealed in the hallway like a couple of euphoric, sleep deprived lunatics. Then, with our noses pressed against the glass, we witnessed her first temper tantrum as her dad and a nurse washed her hair — this tiny, red, squirming, open mouthed, pissed off, gorgeous creature. Teary eyed, I choked out, "She's even cute when she does the mad cry." I was a doting auntie from the start.

Of course, this doting auntie, with a mouth like a drunk sailor, gets blamed for many of the choice words Remi says from time to time. My favorite was when she was making two hangers (yes, hangers) argue. "You're a dick! No! You're a dick!" She said, acting as though the hangers were talking by shaking them.


When asked where she heard that, Remi blamed it on one of her grandmas, which, while humorous, is impossible. And, when my sister pointed the finger briefly at me I said:

"No way! I'm not that big of an a-s-s-h-o-l-e! I spell out all the bad stuff, d-a-m-m-i-t!"

Because I actually am quite cussing conscious in front of the little ones. It's amazing what she can pick up from mom and dad when they have no idea she's even listening.

Her advanced grasp of language is coupled with an advanced understanding of certain concepts you'd think a small child could never comprehend. She understood cruelty at an extremely young age. I remember saying something vaguely snippy about a family friend that was pissing me off and Remi stopped, gave me the stink eye and said in an authoritative voice, "Don't say that!" While wagging her finger at me.

Comprehension of image came a little later when we were on the playground. I told her I was too fat to go down the slide and she stared at me puzzled, looked me up and down and said, "Auntie Harn, you're not fat." So I squeezed my fat ass down the slide made for toddlers anyway. I always do.

The other day, she dropped a toy and said, "Dammit!" Her dad turned away from making dinner to scold and before he could finish she said, "I know, I won't say it at school." At that point, I'm pretty sure Scott just sat there staring at this child, slack jawed.

Yeah, that's just great.

Of course sometimes the words that come out of her mouth are purely accidental and she doesn't comprehend. Friday night we were sitting around my parents' house with my aunt and cousin from out of town and my aunt was calling Lucie, my sister's black Lab Mix, Lucie Ricardo. Remi thought that was pretty hilarious and we quizzed her on Lucie's full name. Are you ready for this one?

Lucie Liu Black Betty Alabaster ...then we added the Ricardo on the end

Remi pondered a minute then gave it her best shot, but the words got slightly twisted on the way out and sounded more like:

Black Bastard Retard

My sister literally turned a shade of purple as she scrunched down in her seat on the couch trying to hold back the laughter, but it was impossible. We busted up laughing for a good five minutes, trying to turn away from Remi so she wouldn't see. Remi hid her face in her little hands and protested, "Don't laugh!" and my sister said, "We're not laughing at you, we're laughing at Lucie because she's so silly." Yeah, the kid wouldn't buy it. She's way too smart for that.

I think my ultimate favorite is when I call her one of her many nicknames, Miss Thang all sing-songy and she answers back, "Chicken wang!"

Her laugh, her smile, her little voice, or should I say big voice — this kid astonishes me and melts my cynical, snarky heart into mush on a daily basis. I'm sure being a mother is cool, but being an aunt is pretty damn amazing too.

Happy Birthday, my little toots. I can't believe you're 3!

Monday, January 25, 2010

The Meat Sweats

My entire apartment reeks of meat. I say "reeks" now because it smelled awesome yesterday with the pot roast simmering all day in the crock pot, but now after 24 hours, the fact that I still stink like a giant slab of slow cooked cow with potatoes and carrots every time I go into public makes me a little self conscience. The smell just seeps into everything, your hair, your clothes...your brain.

I just can't get away from it because not only did I transport my culinary delight in my car over to Kate's house last night giving my car that lovely air of beef, but my domestic goddess self also spilled a shitload of meat juice on the seat of my car. Fucking sick, dude. So now there's this weird stench of meat and my failed attempt of a clean up with all purpose cleaner in there.

Poor little Andy even smells like meat now because since he can't seem to be anywhere except right under my feet at all times especially when there is so much motherfucking meat smell in the air, little drops of meat juice splashed onto his head as I ladled it from the crock pot to the stove to make gravy. He climbed into bed with me last night and I was all, Goddammit! Why does my bed smell like meat? Before I realized that Andy's little greasy, furry head was actually the culprit.

After a couple more domestic mishaps including Kate burning the shit out of her hand on the oven while making tiny chocolate lava cakes and me dumping the entire contents of the Brita Water Pitcher on the kitchen floor, we managed to get quite the lovely meal on the table for our Sunday night "Big Love" viewing ritual.

Afterwards, I usually leave the leftovers of whatever I bring over for Kate's hubbins Sam, since I have no hubbins to cook for (don't I sound all house wifey saying that?) and if I take them home, they'll just sit in my fridge for however long it takes for them to become unrecognizable, then I get all pissed off at myself because I have to touch this once solid now liquified food for a split second when I finally decide it's high time to clean out the fridge. I'm kinda gross.

Anyway, Sunday nights always sort of depress me because the weekend is full of drunken togetherness combined with our Sunday night dinners then *poof!* I'm alone in my apartment with my dog by 11 p.m. Well, not completely alone this week since I'm sort of counting this lingering meat smell as some sort of presence...

I've always been a bit of a loner. My mom always says that I'd come home from preschool and be pissed because the other kids would try to play with me and I wanted to play by myself. In hindsight, I think my little 3 or 4-year-old brain just couldn't quite get the message across to my parents that I actually thought all the other kids were annoying and retarded and that's why I didn't want to play with them. Especially the boys. Most little boys are such pricks — constantly throwing whatever they can get their hands on at the other kids, screaming and running around, trying to take charge of every situation — and then they usually stay that way for the rest of their lives. I was aware of the world around me and participated in it and soaked it up like a sponge, but the world inside my head was much more appealing and something that none of the other kids could possibly grasp. Therefore I'm not a loser loner, but a loner by choice. If that's not the make up of a writer, I don't know what is.

While my introverted childhood has done almost a complete 180 into an extremely extroverted, social and outspoken adult, I still find that I love, and basically have to have, alone time. Maybe my alone time as a child stemmed from shyness, but now it's purely because I can't stand the general public in more than moderate doses. It's no surprise that I love living alone most of the time and not just because I get to walk around naked whenever I want. I was pretty proud of myself when I moved into this apartment. It was a starting over for me from what I called my "trainwreck of an attempt at a domesticated life." Then things sort of took a wrong turn...oh say, around April 20, 2009 and it was only after this turning point in my life that I ever felt any sort of loneliness living alone.

Living alone is never more fun than when your dog wakes you up a couple minutes before 3 a.m. barking hysterically at the front door like Andy did a few days ago. I shot out of bed and of course immediately thought vampires and shape shifters and half man, half bull-like creatures were outside my door ready to rip my face off. Damn you, "True Blood!" I got out of bed, turned on all the lights in the apartment, then stared out the peephole for about five minutes while Andy let out a defiant "woof" every minute or so. And, hell no, I did not open the door. Are you crazy? Vampires are stealthy creatures. Then for the second time ever in the year and a half I've lived in this place, I wedged one of my kitchen table chairs under the door knob, thought seriously about bolting out the door and driving to my parents' house, decided not to be such a pansy ass and then tried to get horrible "Three's Company" reruns to lull me back to sleep.

Those are the times I wish some tall, dark and strapping man was consistently laying next to me, or a short, chubby, hairy one, just as long as they fight off the 3 a.m. bull creatures for me. Of course, it's not that simple because there's so much douche in the world. Loneliness and the fear of getting eaten by mythical creatures in the middle of the night is far better than the company of an assbag. Smart ladies know that. I'm pretty sure my last boyfriend caused me to develop panic attacks because he stressed me out so much, therefore I'm holding out for much more than a warm body to lay next to me at night despite the 3 a.m. wake up calls by frantic Jack Russells. One of my sisters' friends told me once that I was brave for having such an attitude...I didn't really agree until now. It looks like I'm investing in some wooden stakes and silver.

Speaking of men and meat, I wasn't aware there were so many men in KC willing to tuck it back for the sake of a Lady GaGa vs. Madonna show. Some ladies and I witnessed vagina envy at it's finest Friday night for this event. I'm not sure if a winner was ever crowned, but the four of us definitely did a number on our livers that night making for a hideous Saturday morning complete with my signature crackhead hair and smeary mascara. What is it about lipsyncing drag queens that makes you want to guzzle alcohol like a 21-year-old?

This was my favorite, yet scary Lady GaGa impersonator:

Of course, except for the one that flashed her fake boobies:


My favorite part of the night was when we all realized that one of the queens either had great taste in shoes or Lacey and I both dressed like drag queens:

Next month, there's a Britney Spears party...oh dear.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Sunshine, Rainbows, Unicorns...and Boobs At The End

What a great couple of days. No, I'm serious. I'm not going to write a heart wrenching post that leaves you hiding in your office with smeary mascara from all the sobbing then needing a cup of chamomile tea to help you calm down — though I do feel humbled that you could share my pain.

I've had some people in the past question my motives for blogging and belittle it because they either didn't like what I've written, didn't understand it or took personal offense to it when it had nothing to do with them. While it's true I am a writer — a published writer on a couple of different platforms — and I do plan to make a lifelong career out of it, I don't blog for shock value. The things on here are real events in my life and thoughts in my head that I write down so they can stop swirling around in my brain and harassing me so I can sleep. It's my form of therapy and a hobby I love just like somebody might love painting or pottery or scratching their ass while they lay around and watch football on a Saturday afternoon. It's an added bonus that I'm supported by some readers and commenters. I think this recent tragedy in my life is a huge, glaring example of this. Thank you to those that read this then understand and support my reasoning..and to those that don't, just know that I'll be taking a very Uncle Pete embodying piece of advice from Marky Mark:

“Keep away from those who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you believe that you too can become great.” ~ Mark Twain

...And then I'll also probably tell you to fuck off — just saying...

Anyway, I spent last night watching the season premiere of "Big Love," (SQUEEEEE!) one of the only shows I follow, and being introduced to the first two episodes of the vampire porn known as "True Blood." I have some major catching up to do, but only if a huge fan of the show sits with me to warn me when the bloody parts are, so I can hide my eyes to avoid passing out over a T.V. show.

I spent most of my day today doing one of the things that usually makes me euphorically happy...yes, my "vice" — SHOPPING! I'm such a chick. A chick who loves gift cards, sales and weekday afternoons at the mall because there are far smaller crowds of inconsiderate doucherockets and sullen teenagers with their Uggs tucked into their "PINK" sweatpants there to piss me off. I realized that I may have a small problem because not only do I have a photographic map of the mall burned into my brain, but I also know exactly where the women's/juniors and shoes sections are in every department store — yes, I said juniors because I'm basically the size of 10-year-old only with hips, boobs and a ghetto booty...a miniature woman, if you will — along with the location of every sale rack in all the stores I frequent. I actually thought this was normal until I went with my friend Lacey, guided her to these places to help her buy a suit for job interview and realized that perhaps I'm a bit of an addict. Eh, if it makes you happy, it can't be that bad, right? Especially when you feed your addiction responsibly by using gift cards and finding sales that allow you to buy cute shirts for $6. Seriously, $6! Oh, euphoric sale shopping tingles...

After changing out off my stiletto boots of death that I so stupidly wore while prancing around the mall, I had dinner with my Mom and Aunt Maryo, then spent the evening and night at my aunt's house keeping her company. We chatted about all things family — mainly funny stories that revealed where at least part of my ornery nature comes from and Pete of course — while I read through the stacks of sympathy cards that just keep coming in the mail every day. The number of lives Pete touched is nothing short of mind boggling. I'm truly in awe.

I'm also really happy that my aunt is doing so well. She still seems sad, but accepting now and ready to continue living her own life rather than giving up. She talks candidly about what she thinks and wants and her mixture of progressive and old fashioned views make me shake my head and smile at the same time. True one on one time is pleasingly eye opening. You just have to love her...

While talking, I finally got this letter I got in the mail open. One might ask: How hard is it to open a letter? Quite difficult when it's completely covered in probably an entire roll of Scotch tape. When it arrived at my parents' house last week, my Dad sent me an e-mail about it that concluded with "We're dying to know what's in it!" which automatically made me picture my parents sitting there together, holding it up to the light and pondering this strangely addressed, tape covered letter. And, I do mean strangely addressed. The writing was kind of juvenile looking with the mailing address all the way over to the left of the legal sized envelope and the stamp was basically stuck smack in the middle of it...oh and did I mention it was COVERED in a fucking roll of tape? I knew exactly what is was — the money for one of my True To You wrist cuffs somebody ordered online and asked if they could pay by sending me "well concealed cash." Eh, why not? I've sold a grand total of eight of these things now. As I was opening it I found a large piece of notebook paper wrapped around a smaller envelope and thought, when I get to the center of this Tootsie Pop, will there be razors and Anthrax? Inside the smaller envelope was some foil and inside the foil was...DUN DUN DUUUUUN! A $20 bill. It looks like I'll be sending "well concealed" change along with my bracelet since it only costs $15. How bizarre...but I'm not complaining. I'm happy that people like my stuff enough to pay for it, even if the method of payment is all old school-like.

When it was time for bed, I went into the bathroom for the nightly ritual and as I was pulling my purple, So Long Saloon T-shirt courtesy of Manhattan, Kansas — one of the happiest places on earth, over my head, I saw a strange sight in the mirror in the form of weird marks on my boobs. At first I thought they were the most hideous and spontaneous stretch marks ever, but then I realized that was next to impossible and had a closer look. I had been wearing a Victoria's Secret "PINK" bra, purchased at a past semi annual sale of course, that had the word "PINK" in raised letters on the inside of both cups. Yes, my friends, my bra branded my boobies like a rancher to a cow's ass except far less burn-y, sizzle-y and permanent, yet just as frightening. The sullen, Ugg wearing, mall rat teenagers wear it scrawled across their ass and I wear it embedded into my cans. I'm not sure what that says about either of us, but all I know is that Victoria's Secret has one skank-tastic, yet brilliant and far reaching marketing strategy going on...Smart, you trendy little bitches.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Over The Hump

...And now...a little peace...

I had forgotten how physically painful it is to be so sad. I've had four nights of fitful sleep full of leg cramps, chest pains, headaches and a spastic back. I've cried and sobbed for three days until I couldn't breathe and I just when I thought there couldn't possibly be any moisture left in my body, I found another reason to bust out the hysterics again.

But, the day we all dreaded came and while it was the longest day of my life, a sense of relief and peace has come over me now that it has come to a close. The ceremony honoring Pete was just that — honorable. We put together a slide show and posters with pictures and the obituary I wrote appeared in not only the newspaper, but on the programs, the guestbook and on a sign above the guestbook.

All five of Pete's remaining siblings and their spouses made the trip from all over to be there and while the good majority of us were blubbering basketcases, I felt a great sense of comfort surrounded by not only my family, but the people I didn't expect to see at the funeral that showed up.

The past couple of days, my Dad and I especially, have had several conversations about closure and spirits. I am incredibly haunted and, to be very honest, pretty fucked up by what I saw at the hospital Saturday night. It made mortality and the reality of the fragility of the human body shoot straight to the surface of my mind. But, as I walked towards the casket today, I saw that Pete didn't look like Pete anymore with make-up caked on his fallen features and his hair slicked back instead of perfectly parted and swooped to the side. Like my Dad described it, his spirit had already flown away. My Dad realized it Saturday night and it took a couple of extra days and a second view for it to set in for me. Our bodies are nothing more than containers for our souls, but we never quite come to grips with that until somebody close to us dies. It's a huge reminder that we should constantly be working on and developing our character rather than being consumed with bettering our outward appearance. And, it just drives home that age old affirmation (in my own words, of course): If somebody doesn't like you because of the way you look on the outside, then they can just go ahead and fuck off because they aren't worth your time anyway.

Because of this realization, I felt more at ease and in control of myself at the service today. I already had the closure of seeing his body sans soul, so I was more apt to accept that he was gone, but never forgotten. Of course, I say that, but here's the rundown:

- I read all the cards on the flowers before the ceremony...and I bawled.

- Members of the Marine Corps League saluted Pete while the Marines Hymn played...and I bawled.

- "In The Arms of The Angel" played...and I bawled.

- My cousin Jake, Pete's grandson, spoke and it was funny and touching...and I bawled.

- I bolstered some bravery and told a story to the crowd about a time when I did laundry over at Pete and Maryo's and in the midst of folding, Pete picked up a tiny pair of my thong underwear, which he later nicknamed "slingshots," on the end of his finger, held it up and said, "I can't believe she pays money for these!" Everybody laughed...and I didn't bawl!

- My cousin Gayle, Pete's daughter, spoke extremely eloquently about how he didn't have to become her Dad when she was 6-years-old, he chose to and instead of talking AT her, he spoke TO her and cared about what she had to say...and so much more that I wish I could remember word for word because it was so beautiful...and I BAWLED.

- Then there was a 21-gun salute and Taps...and I bawled.

- Then the Marines folded up the flag and presented it to my aunt...and I bawled.

Yeah, totally in control, right? The Chaplain was an extremely Baptisty sounding black man who was all, " Je-SUS!" and "Oooooh LORD!" and he was wonderful. But, what I was so impressed with was the military aspect of the service — Semper Fi and the brotherhood of the Marine Corps and the extremely significant importance of serving your country — it all just sort of makes you burst with pride. I felt extremely proud of my Pete today and extremely proud to be his family.

Afterwards, we headed to the house where we ate and chatted and made googly eyes at the cute babies my family produces and got to know Pete's sisters and brothers a bit. They told me I was beautiful and hugged me warmly and I saw just where my giving, strong and kind uncle came from.

I left there with a horrendous headache from my snot filled sinuses, however, I finally felt at peace with what happened. We're allowed to be sad when somebody dies, and while it may happen unexpectedly, it's a part of life that we simply must deal with. Pete's still around, just in a different sense. Now we have to concentrate solely on the living — my aunt — to try and make sure her wounds heal along with ours.

And, just as I had finally stopped crying for more than an hour in three days, I get back to my parents' house, pick up a sealed flower delivery from the porch, open it to find a bouquet of pink roses, read the card and burst into tears again because it's from my best friends — Kate, Sam and Lacey. Goddammit, you dicks. Just as I was calming down, you have to go and be more amazing than you've already been this week. How did I get so lucky to have you in my life? Thank you.

And, thank you to everybody else who took the time to say a kind word to me and my family these past few days. Now that you've seen that this cynical bitch does in fact have a soul, a softer side that I rarely wear on my sleeve and usually only reserve for the handful of my trusted people, I hope you don't run away screaming from this blog, never to return. My funny and bitchy bone will be back momentarily.

I'm over the hump now. I feel more at ease and able to remember my Uncle Pete fondly with less and less of the painful sadness attached. Now...a little peace...for all of us.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Gone, Just Like That

I hit publish on my last post and two seconds later the phone rang. My sister notably upset on the other end said, "we're coming to pick you up," and I of course immediately demanded to know what was going on.

"Pete coded and we need to go to the hospital. I don't know if he's gone, but we need to go say goodbye."

Never in my life have I tornadoed through my bedroom so fast. Sobbing, I threw on a bra, a pair of jeans, my shoes and my unbathed ass was out the door in literally two minutes, sprinting through the once again falling snow and ice to the car and driving erratically down the highway to the hospital.

By the time I got there, he was gone. I was greeted by a room of my red rimmed eyed family and my beloved uncle lying motionless on a hospital bed, a tube sticking out of his mouth and his coloring just starting to fade to gray. I promptly sucked in a breath, turned and walked out of the room, holding back the gagging and vomit rising in my throat.

Apparently he just fell over in the snowy yard while feeding the birds and while he wasn't in the greatest of health, it still wasn't something anybody can possibly be prepared for. And now his cut up clothing, brown loafers and braided leather belt are shoved in plastic bags and placed on a chair, and my sister is taking his gold wedding band off his finger for my aunt and we're talking about the options of a military funeral — Taps and a 21-gun salute — and in the midst of it all I stop and stare at the pictorial ceiling tile in the ER room riddled with kitty cats, clouds, strings of pearls and long stemmed roses and laugh silently because Uncle Pete would have thought it was ridiculous. Later on, we all laughed out loud when we noted how pissed off he probably was that we were all putting him on display, staring at him and talking about him.

My heart is broken. I've loved and lost, but this is the biggest love I've ever lost so far. I've always thought that one of the reasons I have such a hard time dating and the reason why I don't just settle for some douchebag is because I know there are good men in the world. Uncle Pete was at the top of my good man charts — second only to my own father. Those little boys in the dating world have no idea what huge shoes they have to fill to be a part of my life. Our relationship was special in that he took on a grandfather role with me from the day I was born.

He was strong, yet gentle; stoic, yet kind. He never complained and his work ethic was one I've never seen before in any other person. He always put others before himself and spent a lifetime devoted to his family and the United States Marine Corps. He was by far the most generous and giving human being and he always left me with these sentiments: "Stay out of trouble" and "Anything you need, you just ask." He was constantly rooting for me, always saying, "You can do this, Lara," and I'll never forget it.

What I just can't deal with is the state my aunt is in — sobbing and clutching his driver's license to her chest and saying, "I just can't believe Pete is dead." Sure, I'm distraught, but my aunt's entire world was shattered today and there's just nothing we can do to make it better besides hold her hand, be there to help her make decisions and try to guide her through this suddenly unfamiliar world of a life without Pete.

I stroked his hair that he was so particular about and said goodbye one last time. We lost our rock, our Pete, today. One of my greatest cheerleaders and an integral piece of my support system is gone and I'm so very sad. I just don't know what else to do except remember and I guess I'll do that.

I love you and miss you dearly.

The Bad Is The Good

"I hope 2009 is better than 2010," I said.

"Well, it can only get better from the bottom," he said.

"That's what they say, but you never know..."

Damn, 2009...what a whore in a crap chute. By far the worst year of my life so far and I can only hope that I have in fact hit rock bottom and my life in 2010 can only get better. I know first hand the difference a year can make.

I rang in 2009 blissfully happy — I had a new job, a new boyfriend that was wonderful to me at the time (they're always so deceptively nice in the beginning, aren't they?), a large group of friends and an overall happy disposition that came with my good fortune.

...A year later
I rang in 2010 jobless, hopelessly single and severely depressed with a hole in my fancy tights.

Of course, there are worse things in life such as being set on fire, getting a colonoscopy with an un-lubed fire hose and being simultaneously kicked in the nose and shit on by a donkey with jagged hooves and IBS, so you know, I'm trying to think positively.

Think positively — now there are a couple of words that seem to fall out of people's mouth without a second thought. This experience has helped me learn that this little phrase is something only the prosperous say to the down and out as an attempt at comfort. While the meaning and the act behind the words is powerful, they are void of any meaning or comfort when uttered 6,000 times by people that have never even come close to walking even a step in the receiver's shoes. Chances are that if that down and out person is in front of you talking and breathing, then they're already thinking positively because it's the only thing keeping them going. My support system has thankfully been much better than that. Those few that I hold close are creative advice givers and, more importantly listeners, which has helped the "think positivelys" that I've encountered bounce off quite nicely.

Nobody knows you when you're down and out — another thing I learned in 2009 — thank you Eric Clapton. Well, not nobody, but this experience has given me the rare opportunity to separate the whole of the people in my life into three different categories — friends and family, assholes and half assers with not surprisingly lopsided results.

However, while this last year has been nothing short of excruciatingly draining in every aspect, in reality I'm lucky that life knocked me on my ass after only 26 years. I now know what it feels like to be physically and mentally unable to get out of bed each day and not just because I'm a huge, cranky bitch in the morning because I still feel the same way at 7 p.m. When I'm hung over, I often groan, "it hurts to live!" But now my morning after binge drinking catch phrase has taken on a whole new meaning and anything better than this feeling means it's going to be a good day. I've felt my soul age several years over the course of nine months, which will ultimately change the way I view everything for the better, especially the kind of people I connect with. I've been given the chance to step outside myself and evaluate the kind of person I want to be and I'd be an idiot not to take advantage of that.

As for dating, (BOOOOOOO) I've come to this conclusion: I break things off because I know what I'm looking for and most of the time not even the most simple of those things, such as respect, is fulfilled. On the other hand, I also realize it's hard to meet somebody when they're in any state except "normal." The best I can give people right now is a warmed over version of me at my worst, which is not exactly ideal or the most appealing, but it's still essentially me and that's OK. There's a huge difference between putting on a happy face a.k.a. "warming yourself up" as a coping and survival mechanism in certain situations and completely lying to yourself and everybody around you by constantly faking it and hiding your feelings. To bring us back down to earth, my high school drill team coach used to say, "Get real with your bad self," and that's exactly what I'm doing.

Recently, somebody said to me in response to my emotional state, "You choose your attitude." Once again, an excellent example of the oh-so-eloquent advice the perpetually prosperous give to the down and out. And, if that person had even come close to walking a step in my shoes or would get real with their bad self, they'd realize that attitudes are different than emotions and a lot of times they don't always match. Even though my attitude is hopeful, that doesn't completely squelch the emotional state of pissy frustration and sadness. People who constantly cram their positive mantras down your fucking throat are just as bad as the evangelical Christians who tell you you're a sinner who's going to hell then try to hand you Jesus-tastic literature and tiny bibles. Acting in such a way is just not human. It's faking it and I'm never going to hide what I really feel behind an attitude. If you're hanging with me, you're going to get both my attitude and my emotions even if they're not perfectly color coordinated because I'm not afraid to be human. I'm real with my bad self and that's the only way my life is going to get better.

Ultimately it comes down to this: If you can't handle me at my worst, then I'm certainly not giving you the pleasure of being with me at my best, so get your bitch ass out my kitchen and don't bother coming back.

Yes, it's true, 2009 was a douchebag, but I've done my best to squeeze the good out of it. I've realized that in actuality, I'm lucky to have gone through this early on so that when life is not swirling around in the shitter, I'll be less likely to take anything for granted — my amazing family and the couple friends who stuck around during the shitstorm, employment and just a general state of well-being. And, when life inevitably waxes and wanes in the future, I'll be better equipped to handle it and also be a better support for others. I've learned that it can take just a teeny gesture and a single person to lift somebody else up and make a huge difference in their life. I wish other people would realize that, too.

However, now that I've dutifully extracted these important lessons from this experience, I'm more than ready for life to stop being a dickhead. I'm not hoping for a miracle in 2010 because frankly it's going to take a lot less than a miracle for this descent and stagnant state of running in place to begin it's ascent. Like I said, it's simple things and small steps.

So, cheers to you readers from your slightly fucked up and completely frazzled friend, Harna.

Here's hoping the down and out become a part of the prosperous pack in 2010.

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