Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Processing Pain

I live in the shadow of new life and of death, mere feet from Rose Medical Center – a prominent hospital in the Denver metro area. A place where throngs of babies are born each day and dozens of others draw their last breath on this earth. It’s one of the first things I see, second only to the welcoming face of my perpetually happy boyfriend, Pat and maybe a few expectant, cold, wet doggie noses perched on the edge of the bed. That open, nothing-short-of-jolly spirit is something that first attracted me to him and it continues to make me thankful that it was matched up with my feisty, rough-around-the-edges one.

I walk out into the living room and there’s Rose out the windows, looming over our second floor apartment, cars zooming in and out of the parking lots. We see and hear ambulances throughout the day and into the night coming out of the ER, bleating out their warning sirens before heading into traffic. Pat and I often playfully mimic the sirens, “whoop, whoop!” then go about our day. Except on Tuesday, one of those ambulances picked up one of our friends and took him to Rose, where he drew his last breath. Never have I been so acutely aware of where I live and what goes on across the street until that day. Things are so different now.

I first met Kevin or “Donny” as we usually called him, and his then girlfriend Katie on my first real date with Pat just under two years ago, which also happened to be Donny’s 30th birthday party. It was a minor oversight when Pat scheduled the date with me, but instead of cancelling, I just went with it and thought, I barely know Pat, but why not meet all of his close friends and some of his family on our first date? I think that decision was one that helped seal the deal for us.

Since then, Pat and I have made so many great memories with Donny and Katie. Many a night, the four of us had dinner at their house. Donny would grill very manly-like while Pat supervised and Katie, the hostess with the mostess as Donny called her, would run around lighting candles and making sure everybody’s drinks were topped off. The boys would compare girlfriend/wife meltdown stories while Katie and I drank too much wine, laughed and denied every word. Pat took many trips to Home Depot with Donny and spent hours working in the backyard with him. We helped them celebrate their wedding this past August and before that at bachelorette parties and wedding showers. They made it to our housewarming party even after a long day with the family. We drank too much after a DU hockey game last month and shared a pizza in the back seat of a cab on the way home. Just last week we had dinner and drinks with them to celebrate another friend’s 30th birthday. A few weeks ago, their thank you card from their wedding came in the mail – a photo of them on the beach in Hawaii on their honeymoon. I commented that they looked like Ken and Barbie – a beautiful couple. And, warm, welcoming, loving people that are so special to us on top of that – just really great friends.

I came home from work as soon as I got the call from Pat and a few hours later we were on the doorstep of Donny and Katie’s house. Nobody was home yet, so we went to a nearby bar and on the way, Pat had the realization that he was with Donny at that same bar the night Donny asked Katie’s dad permission to marry her. Tears. A few beers, toasts to Donny and a mini therapy session later, we were back at the house where somebody had found a spare key. We hauled pizzas and beers through a crowd of about 30 somber faces, some I knew, some I didn’t. It definitely wasn’t the usual atmosphere of the gatherings we had at that house. It was strange; haunting. He was just there that morning and now he was gone. Just photos of him now in a house fully decorated for Christmas – a real tree trimmed with baby’s breath in the corner and children’s Christmas books on the coffee table.

Katie arrived a bit later, a little surprised and overwhelmed, I think, at the crowd of open arms that greeted her. She sobbed and said, “thank you so much for being here,” and we all followed suite. Her wails of pain echoed through the house - just a thick blanket of horrible, deep sadness that cut to the bone. However, she immediately said, “The Christmas lights need to be on, find the switch!” Then, she grabbed the remote for the TV. “I’m just going to turn on some music,” she said, changing it to a country music channel. Brief spurts of the real Katie came through the grief stricken woman standing in front of me despite being in the midst of the worst day of her life. It made me smile for just a second and I thought, hostess with the mostess.

She shuffled to each person, crying and hugging while wearing his watch dangling off her wrist and his wedding band on a chain around her neck. When she got to me, I said, “It’s going to be OK and we’re going to help you.” The thing is, it’s not going to be OK for a really long time, but one day it will be better. I would go to the ends of the Earth for that woman and the kindness she has shown me from day one and I’m sure many others share my sentiments. She’s so genuine, fun and cheerful and lights up a room – literally – when she walks in. I’ve never seen her sad. I just want her to be OK and for it to be better right now – right this second. I want to help her, but what else can I do besides show up, bring her lasagna, chat with her and make sure she knows I’m always here? I wish there was more that could be done. I feel crappy and helpless.

Throughout the night, waves of people came and went and with each wave came a renewed pit-of-your-stomach feeling of despair and uncontrollable weeping. This actually happened. We’re not going to wake up because this is real and we’re never going to see him again. At one point, Katie went into the bedroom, brought out Donny’s cowboy boots, set them on the coffee table in the living room with his hat and said, “That’s my boy.” She found a picture of the two of them on her iPad and propped it up next to the boots. I sat behind her and watched as she slumped down on the floor against the couch and just stared at the still life she had created while Lady Antebellum’s “Need You Now” played in the background. I completely lost my shit for the 42nd time that day.

Donny was only 31-years-old and from what can be gathered in this mess of emotions, whys and I don’t knows, it was a heart attack that took his life way too soon. How? How does a healthy, physically fit, non-smoking, happy 31-year-old man have a heart attack? How? I think that’s a question everyone is asking and maybe we’ll find the answer. But, the question I heard Katie asking that night is something we’ll never know the answer to…why? We’re good people. Why? Why does such a thing as a 28-year-old widow exist and why does she have to bury her newly wedded husband right before Christmas? Why? She said, “We were going to have such a wonderful life together.” They wanted babies and to grow old together and isn’t that what just about everybody wants and plans to do after they get married? It isn’t fair. It’s insane, it’s bullshit, it’s fucked up, it’s everybody’s worst nightmare. This isn’t real, is it? I will never understand life and why these things happen and the timing upon which they do.

I’ve been through some pretty horribly sad things in my life, but because of the circumstances, this might top them all. I haven’t been this pained and distraught since my Uncle Pete died. Death is funny like that. It can show up at any time and it can make you feel like nothing else can – a kind of misery that lingers relentlessly, hanging on you like an annoying, painful parasite. My mind is just blown…my heart is broken and my gut is wrenched.

This is a shit situation, but it did make me realize for the first time since moving to Denver that I belong to a group of people here that love and care very much about each other – and that group extends beyond the people that were there that night. It’s amazing and reassuring to see people come together and support each other like that. Kevin was a remarkable person…and a handsome man, too. A bit of a curmudgeon in such a way that it made you laugh when he’d grumble out a comment…then he’d smirk and laugh right along with you. He was somebody you could count on – somebody that would help you out in an instant no matter the circumstance. Katie was his everything – his one true love – and it showed. One time, he said to me, “Katie is so amazing. I don’t deserve her.” How beautiful. We will miss him so very much. My whole body aches for sweet Katie and the rest of his family.

Pat and I held tight to each other last night – arms and legs wrapped around each other, fingers intertwined, feeling the crushing weight of the what ifs and uncertainties of life. The thought of waking up and not seeing his smiling, bearded face in the flesh is just too much to bear and the thought of knowing that it could happen is even worse. I just love that man so much…and my mom, dad, sister, brother-in-law, nieces, aunts, uncles, cousins, in-laws, friends near and far, pups…and we are so happy. These kind of things make you dismiss the stupid annoyances that got under your skin yesterday – a stubbed toe, the co-worker that always seems to throw a wrench in your plans or the inconsiderate driver that cuts you off during rush hour. Who cares about that stuff? Life is a privilege we take for granted every day as we get wrapped up in the seemingly mundane routine of it all. Snap out of it and take the time to realize how lucky you are, and always cherish and breathe in the people and the things that you love because you never know what the next minute could bring.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Sinning in the City

It’s the first year in my adult life that I’m not drunk in a costume right about now. With the weekend before filled with a concert and a wedding, I missed the annual Halloween party, got busy with work and just said the hell with it.

With my apparent boycott of Halloween 2012, the boyfriend off shooting birds out of the sky up north and no desire to go anywhere with anyone tonight, I’m just hugging a bottle of wine with my dogs and waiting for midnight when I will ceremoniously begin my first novel. Well, not exactly my first one. I’ve started dozens – just never finished one. November is National Novel Writing Month where you write furiously without editing in an attempt to get 50,000 words on the page – in other words, the first draft of a novel. I like the structure and the discipline of it in the midst of my frenzied life. As a published writer of all things short, this seems like a welcomed challenge for me, like running a marathon…or earning a Master’s degree. ; )

Until the stroke of midnight, I’ve decided to write the very overdue post about my trip to Vegas as a warm up. I hope you enjoy it because there probably won’t be another post for a month…and let’s face it, with my recent track record, probably several months.


Did you know that the “What Happens in Vegas, Stays in Vegas,” tagline is one of the most successful branding campaigns in history? Not George Washington, nor Henry David Thoreau, nor Albert Einstein, nor Oprah nor even the Kardashians coined this pithy command, but a cleaver team of marketers that remain behind the scenes making it seem as if it has always been in place for all to follow. It’s all a big gimmick that just happened to catch on in a big way. It’s a beautiful thing…how’s that for an industry boost? You think you don’t need marketing? Think again.

So, why am I telling you this? Well, first because it’s fascinatingly awesome and second because being the devoted brand manager that I am, I’m going to bow down to the gimmick just like the masses. However, nobody ever said anything about it being against the rules to divulge what you SAW in Vegas, just what HAPPENED. One could argue that these are two different things. For example:

I saw a circus midget with an afro in Vegas.


I banged a circus midget with an afro in Vegas.

See the difference?

Well, here it is, almost six weeks since my trip and I’m just now getting over the casino lung I caught while there - even after a round of King Kong antibiotics. It’s just a little souvenir from my vacation that continually reminds me that I still need to write this post, which is why I had to mention it, *cough, hack*. It must have been all the old ladies rolling around on their rascal scooters chain smoking. The circus midget might have also played a role.

Anyway, I used to travel to Vegas for dance nationals all the time when I was younger and the last time I was here three years ago for Kate and Sam’s wedding was the first time I could enjoy it to its full extent. The two and a half days I spent there this time were full of best friends, a marriage proposal – not mine, unfortunately – a limo ride, pool side cabanas, blue haired crack heads, champagne, Beatles songs, a perverted cupid, lights and fun…as it should be.

Our journey began at the Fremont Street Experience, yet another genius branding strategy that revived the old, rundown part of Vegas and made it cool again with a semi enclosed pedestrian mall and a KISS themed laser and music light show on the ceiling. It’s the quirky side of Vegas that you miss on the strip full of old school walls of lights, cheap drinks, authentic coin operated slot machines that spit out nickels when you win your jackpot and a surprising array of ragamuffin performers that didn’t make the strip cut like the showgirls and porn peddlers…but are welcomed with open arms in this odd little place.

While we were too late to zipline down the length of the mall, we were right on time for dirty Santa and his old man jig, a gyrating latino boy in a bikini and a wig and of course, perverted cupid. While Santa was too drunk to put in the effort and bikini boy seemed to be a little ashamed of his night job, cupid was proud of his daisy dukes, homemade crop top, sparkly heart pasties, shiny head with hair halo and most of all, his ability to entertain and completely gross out a large group of people all at the same time.

As he sashayed to the music in the middle of the circle of spectators, showing off his perfectly placed pasties and hiking his shorts up his ass to make sure the observers on the balcony above didn’t miss even a glimpse of extra skin, a few brave souls decided to join him, mostly at his request. He’d hump their leg for 30 seconds then skip to the other side of circle to turn a few gimpy cartwheels, his furry bulge of a belly jiggling. Before long, he was selecting his next willing…or unwilling victim as we heard one lady exclaim, “Get the fuck away from me!” while running frantically in the other direction. I’m fairly sure this is something he hears on a regular basis as it didn’t faze him in the least. Once the laser light show came on, the cupid shuffle really began and while I was fairly certain an old man sack was going to come tumbling out of his tiny shorts at any moment, I just couldn’t look away.

We all eventually lost interest once our drinks ran dry. You really just can’t watch something like that without a steady stream of alcohol entering your system. Plus, none of us wanted to become his next dance partner. I just wasn’t ready to get close enough to know what Mr. Cupid smelled like either…

The next day we played high roller and got a cabana at the Flamingo pool. Drinking vodka and beer all day in a bikini in and by the pool with the sun beating down on you is always a great idea until about 6 p.m. hits and you not only feel like ass on a stick, but also really, freaking old…almost too old for Vegas…almost.

While enjoying our cabana day, we noticed a strange, blue haired creature in a leopard print dress slinking around on the other side of the pool deck. She seemed harmless, but definitely something to keep an eye on for future entertainment. Within a few minutes of flirting with a group of guys by the waterfall, she was in the pool – dress and all.

After a few more drinks and an over priced chicken wrap in our humble poolside hut, some of the others brought word that blue hair was acting up again. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been known to hot tub in attire that is not exactly meant for the water in the privacy of a residence, but never an ill fitting turquoise bra and white with black polka dot panties at a crowded public pool. The leopard printed modesty gown was long gone and the first thing I saw when I reclaimed my spot in the pool was blue hair’s ass crack through her underoos.

She flashed a sleepy smile, eyes caked with black mascara as she bobbed up and down in the water with a Miller Lite aluminum bottle dangling from her fingers. The lighter blue streak in her bangs nearly matched her makeshift bikini top. I couldn’t tell if the people she kept talking to were actually her friends, or just people that felt sorry for her…or were as high on ecstasy as she was.

The behavior got more bizarre as the day went on. If she wasn’t clumsily singing and dancing to the bumping music by herself in the middle of the pool, she was wrestling with a black haired man who looked shocked when she tackled him, but still receptive of the attention. She was in to making new friends, slowly bouncing from group to group laughing lazily, her eyes squinted into slits. I could only hope she didn’t make her way over to our group. While I’m not against meeting new people, I just prefer to gaze at train wrecks from afar rather than up close and personal. Of course, the minute the thought fell out of my mind, here she came floating over in slow motion. She suddenly grew a dorsal fin and sharp teeth as the Jaws theme music played in my head. I fought the urge to casually abandon my pool perch at the last minute, but decided to stay for what was sure to be an experience – hopefully sans bite marks.

She went down the line introducing herself and while I was expecting her name to be something like “Rain” or “Moonbeam,” when she got to me she said,
“Hi, I’m Bethany,” extending her hand upward out of the water.

That’s it? Good ‘ole crazy, blue haired Beth? I think I’ll stick with Moonbeam.

“I don’t usually wear stuff like this, I feel so fat!” She said, grabbing her smaller than normal rib cage right above her flat stomach.

Crazypants then asked where we were from – most from Kansas and Pat and I currently living in Colorado – we answered with one word to avoid any confusion caused by my tendency to explain my journey through life one city and state at a time.

“What?! KANSAS?” Moonbeam exclaimed. “That’s like…the prairie ‘n stuff…whoa.”

“Yep, people live there,” I said, annoyed.

“What do you guys do in Kansas?” She asked right after we told her we lived in Colorado. Of course, I couldn’t tell if she was asking what we did for work or what we did for play. Before I could answer with, “raves and club drugs,” Pat reminded her that we lived in Colorado.

“Kansas, Colorado, same thing!” She said, cocking her head to the side in blissful ignorance.

“And, where are you from?” I said, predicting the answer to my own question silently.

“L.AAAAAAAAAAAA.” She said, stretching out the “A” to emphasize the city’s perceived coolness.

Yep, just as I suspected as this encounter seemed eerily similar with people that had the same answer. How fun for L.A. to breed so many quality citizens. She was sweet as sugar, but too high and clueless to be a functioning human being. I immediately pictured her as the daughter of a washed up 80s hair band star. At that point, my interest waned and she eventually scurried off. That is, of course, until our bladders synchronized.

A bit later, as I made my way towards the stairs to start my journey towards the potty, a flash of blue appeared in front of my face and there was Moonbeam again out of nowhere wanting an escort to the bathroom. She held onto my shoulder part of the way and exclaimed at how young the crowd was at the Flamingo as we traipsed through the other side of the complex, home of the family pool full of skirted one pieces and gray haired chests.

“I usually stay at the Bellaaaaaaaaaaaaagio, where everyone is really old,” she said, stretching out that “A” again.

When two different people plus me had to point her in the right direction for the bathroom that was right in front of her face and she scampered through the door barefoot in her see through skivvies, I jumped in the next stall, peed as fast as I could and ran the hell out of there. I was actually kind of proud of her for not pissing in the pool.

Just when we all thought Moonbeam had retired to her room, head in the toilet in her wet undies, half an hour later, we saw three people wrestling with what looked like a leopard standing on its hind legs.  Nope, just Moonbeam unable to re-robe as easily as she was able to disrobe. Why she didn’t just wander through the casino naked is beyond me. At least I got away with the measly job of bathroom usher instead of redress team.

Well, thanks for an entertaining afternoon, Moonbeam. You almost made me miss all the other people in inappropriate swimwear…almost.

That night we headed to the show “LOVE,” which was amazing and the next day we hit up Margaritaville where we enjoyed free food since Pat’s uncle is the COO. Love it. After that, we dressed up, piled into a limo, hit a few spots, drank way too much free champagne and by the end of the night all I know is that I had a tear in my expensive dress as well as an entire Dr. Pepper all over it.

The details? Wouldn’t you like to know…and wouldn’t I as well. However, I did manage to learn a few things:

1.  Don’t stay at the Flamingo unless you are guaranteed to stay in the remodeled tower that has updated the bathrooms within the last 30 years and is away from the construction that rattles your hungover ass awake every morning at 8 a.m.

2.  Go to Hyde at the Bellagio, but not Pure at Caesar’s.

3.  Don’t miss Fremont Street.

4.  Spring for a poolside cabana with friends – Smurf headed visitors are extra.

5.  Report only what you saw in detail, not what you did because…

What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas…or something like that. Always know the rules, especially how to bend them.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Restless in Colorado

It took me four minutes to unpack from a trip to KC that was about four seconds long. Even when I decided to go on a weekend when there was nothing going on - no milestone birthdays, extended family making a visit or holiday hoopla - it still turned into this hurried frenzy of activity leaving me to sort it out and digest it after the fact...but mostly just leaving me wondering what the hell happened. Being pulled in 40 different directions isn't as glamorous as is sounds.

After mining the flashes in my brain that made up the weekend, the little quirks of home began to surface. I really can't get over how much my parents' house has turned into Mema's wonderland full of kid friendly adaptations of adult products and little trinkets hidden in closets and cabinets. While I'm no longer removing the tiny red Mickey Mouse potty seat from the toilet to pee, then washing my hands with pink, foaming Disney Princess soap, at least for a couple more years, I was bombarded with The Biebs and Slutty Cat Face Barbie.

I'm not sure why I found the Justin Bieber doll chilling barefoot on the kitchen counter so funny:

However, far more hilarious was when my oldest niece, Remi provided me with a choice of playing Barbies or bonker balloons and when I chose the obvious Barbies, she pulled a normal brunette Barbie out of the cabinet for herself then handed me the tard-faced blond one.

She explained that she had given Barbie a "cat face," while I thought it looked like she had just passed out in frat house...but that was mainly because she was naked. The choice of outfits wasn't much better as you can see. I exclaimed at how slutty Barbie's wardrobe had become, then I remembered that I was fairly sure I had something similar from 2003 lingering in my closet and I shut up.

Slutty Cat Face's alias was Elizabeth and after a short identity crisis typical of five-year-olds, the brunette became known as Grace. Elizabeth and Grace went to a prom and at the request of Grace, went straight to the bar where a puppy bartender served them up a dirty martini and a beer. When I told my sister about her daughter's advanced Barbie playing skills, she laughed and said, "In our house the women drink beer and the guys drink foo foo drinks!" A jab at my bro-in-law's anti-beer-ism. It reminded me of my friend Shaunna's Facebook update a while back that said something along the lines of, "my child can't say please, but she can say fart...#goodparenting." She did report to me on this trip that the child can now in fact say please, but quite frankly this is the stuff we all wish mommy blogs were made of. Brilliant children with a sense of humor - I can't think of anything better, except for maybe my friends amusing themselves with Slutty Cat Face after a few glasses of wine:

 Our first morning, Pat and I got a visit from Wolfgang, the little dog that goes ape shit on such things as a plunger, the hand held vacuum and Remi's bonker balloons. I just laughed out loud thinking about his attack on our balloon party during my visit causing screaming followed by uncontrollable little girl giggling and Remi's relief to get away from that "bastard dog." Shocking? Appalling? No, just a five-year-old sharing her feelings with her aunt. It's called being socially savvy - understanding things like subtle humor, witty banter and what she should and should not say in certain company - things that a lot of adults never pick up, unfortunately.

Did you hear that ole Woof? The little one called you a bastard, but you're totally not...neurosis just runs in the family.

After our morning snuggle, Wolfie and I wandered into the backyard to carry out a tradition that makes my mother cherish each one of my visits:

I don't think I can take credit for allowing the garden turtle statues to become better acquainted because I'm going to blame it on my cousin, Jake who totally started it years ago. When him and I are not quoting the South Park movie or saving each other from the fat, clumsy opposite sex at the bars (pre significant others, of course), we're providing humor the entire neighborhood can see and understand...but maybe not appreciate the way that we do.

Soon after, the remnants of Hurricane Issac soaked the city for two days and promptly flooded my sister and brother-in-law's basement. The first thing they saved were all my old dance costumes that Remi now uses to perform routines in the basement with her neighbor friends. Signs that instruct visitors not to enter if music is playing because dance is in progress are taped to the door along with faux awards for best smile and best choreography. I provided some award ideas to my sister a few weeks ago over the phone that were clearly a hit. I pawed through all the costumes that were now hanging over backs of chairs in the dining room from a night of drying out and Febreezing and 18 years of my life plus thousands of my parents' dollars flashed through my head. One year, I wore 16 different costumes if that gives you an idea of how many there were. I'm glad they're getting some use.

Remi and I postponed the dance moves until "the studio" had dried up and settled on building a fort in the living room. The big sister was gracious enough to allow her little sister to join us:

I must say that this little pumpkin:

Is quite the scene stealer. I asked Remi if she liked her and she said, "Yeah, but she doesn't share Mommy." She also made a request to her Mom that Auntie Harn only, "spend a minute or two with Kailer." I had to divide my time carefully. Kai is a head strong, yet nonchalant tank that loves to grab, eat and squeal and thinks Remi is hilarious. She's jolly like Remi was, but her personality is much different. She's way more chill and slightly less ornery. I saw Remi nearly every day from birth to age three, but this time I just have to rely on Skype, updates and occasional visits. It's something I'm having a very hard time with, but by the end of the visit Kai was smiling and reaching for me, so I feel my magical auntie powers still have the same effect from 600 miles away.

Sometime during the three days of crazy, we went to a soccer game for Kate's birthday. The Kansas City Sporting team has exploded since I left KC to the point where I'm now pretty sure my friends have joined a cult with all the drums and the chanting and the flag waving and the me saying I need 12 more beers before I can relate to this. Having somebody sit next to me that actually understood soccer probably would have helped too...though still an interesting experience.

My favorite part of my four second visit was combining my loves on a Sunday night with good friends, family, Mom's BBQ ribs, ample amounts of wine and dirty humor. Pat and I finished the clean up well after midnight and long after the parents had retired to bed. I used everything short of tackling to convince the heavy handed helper not to empty the dishwasher because it would wake up my mom. There are some things you never forget even when you move away. Of course, there are things that change too, like the size of my mother's glasses. Those tiny little slivers of spectacles that perch on the end of grannies' noses the world over are now in her possession as we discovered during our clean up. If she gets one of those beaded chains that hold them around her neck alla Sophia Petrillo of the Golden Girls, I'll have to intervene. This is what my mom will do when she reads this:

But, good thing for me, she can take a joke. Love you mama!

Before we went to bed ourselves, I shifted some things around in a drawer to make room for the extra paper plates and ran across another gem unique to my household:

Ketchup, soy sauce - same thing. This is surely something my dad ripped off his daily calendar and slipped into the drawer secretly in hopes my mom would find it and crack up. It's just short of a slapstick comedy routine that they've done all my life. My favorite was when a mechanical, stuffed kung fu hampster kept showing up in various places around the house to rouse a chuckle - in the office, on the bed, in the refrigerator...only a homesick Kansan would get sentimental over a redneck joke.

Then, it was time to go and half a second later I was washing and putting away clothes I had just worn as if I had never left. I tend to wallow around depressed for a few days after my visits home, but this time has been much worse. It probably didn't help that as I was grudging putting away the clothes I didn't wear out of my over packed suitcase in my typical fashion, I literally just leaned on the bathroom counter and it snapped like a twig.


Either I have reverse anorexia and that thin person I see in the mirror is actually a fat ass, or I really need to lay off the 'roids. Pat has compared me to Bruce Banner when I yell at my uncooperative hair...
Or perhaps the seemingly beautiful, cool apartment we moved into is really a piece of shit in disguise. Dammit. At least the leasing office didn't threaten to take away our deposit or our souls when I called them about it today.

Mishaps aside, Colorado has been so good to me and I often walk out of a store or drive down the street, see the mountains and feel lucky to live in such a beautiful place. But, I can't tell you how many people have taken it upon themselves to assume I don't miss Kansas because the superficial content of where you live is apparently the only thing that matters. I have to stifle the inner Bruce Banner when that happens and turn it into pity for those people. It's about the company you keep and the experiences you seek out that make your life interesting, not the scenery and sunny days. I moved to Colorado because I wanted an adventure and a kick in the ass and I got that. Been there, done that. Now it's time to reevaluate where I'm planted and what's important to me now that I've gotten to this point. It's amazing what a quick trip and a cracked counter can do for a restless mind.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The Current (and not so current) Events of Harna

Have you ever wondered what those graduate school graduates hide under those winged robes and hoods? Well here ya go and you're welcome:

Yep, I did it...and I wore sweatpants when I did. That's what happens when the weather turns to shit (rainy, dreary and about 40 degrees in mid May), but nothing could have gotten me down that day. It was all I could do to not bawl tears of joy through the entire ceremony. I've never worked so hard in my life and there are two reasons behind that: 1.) because earning a dual master's degree in business is not exactly easy and 2.) I was really fucking sick of being a victim in my own life. On my personal site blog, I described others earning their master's in a "la-dee-dah" kind of fashion, which is the opposite of what I did. The last two years have been nothing short of life changing...exactly what I needed. You've read the stories and I'm sure you agree.

 Of course, a lot of other things have happened since my last March. For one, I now have this weird thing called free time. I forgot what it was like to have hobbies and not hyperventilate daily from stress. I can now go back to regaling you with tales of stupid people and the inappropriately exposed body parts of said stupid people.

Trips: Florida, back to Kansas and Chicago for a post graduation trip, all of which were equally satisfying. Also, a successful mountain biking trip at Copper Mountain last weekend. Yes, I did careen down a mountain on a bike, but I did so without injury to my body or my pride...other than a sore ass from the hard wedge of plastic they call a seat...far more successful than my skiing adventures.

The bearded boyfriend and I found an awesome place on the east side of Denver...sadly the Hippie is not our landlord, but we are within walking/biking distance of both a dive bar and a liquor store. We have our priorities in order.

Also during my absence from this blog, the entire state caught on fire, a police officer was shot and killed during a jazz concert at a park a few blocks north of our apartment and just a few days ago a freaking lunatic shot up a packed movie theater several blocks east of our place. You might have seen it on the news...all over the world. Sorry for the downers, but when all these things happen in your own backyard, it tends to affect your life.

Text messages woke me up before I knew what had happened on Friday. The obligatory "please tell me you didn't go to the Batman movie last night" from Mom and another similar one from my friend Lisa in Chicago. Just precautionary, as most people know that I am now far too old balls to attend a movie at midnight on a school night and when a movie lacks poop jokes, the chances of me seeing it in the theater dwindle to nearly zero (with the exception of Hunger Games). I'll wait for Redbox or HBO to catch me up on a lazy night.

I've watched the coverage for three days, wide eyed. That's all that's been on here. Then last night, they showed the pictures of the people who were killed. Most of them were just like me: 20s, recent graduate students; a woman who had big dreams and moved here to make them happen. I held it together, barely, then they showed the last two little girls, about 6-years-old and I lost it because he shot and killed babies and I just can't deal with that.

They say the good news is he wasn't in a terrorist group, which I think is a stretch. He was a lone terrorist and now because of that we're all going to be looking over our shoulders when we go to the movies, planning an escape route when we walk in or even avoiding them all together for a time. It pisses me off.

In other, more lighthearted news, something good did happen last week. When my internship turned into a job a few weeks after graduation, I found myself doing things that only people with real jobs do - traveling to other cities, staying in hotels and attending trade shows. This one involved spending a day and a half in Laramie, Wyoming drinking beer, meeting the Governor and introducing the new brand that I developed and launched as an intern. Of course, there was also strategic dodging of a certain small town council member who called the gold chains that swayed to and fro across the billowing chest hair that peeked out the top of his fittingly, one-too-many-buttons-undone shirt, his "Mr. T Starter Kit." He admired my red shoes, which turned into a conversation about Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz. Funny how many of those conversations I've had in my life...yet none of them ended like this. The comment prompted me to mention that I had met Jerry Maren, the original Lollipop Kid and little person in the movie, when I was a cub reporter. He then went on to inform me that during the filming, "they couldn't keep those midgets away from each other" and that they were "horny little bastards!"

I slipped away after discretely picking my jaw up off the floor. You can take the girl out of journalism, but you can't take the journalist out of the girl. Complete strangers tell me all sorts of entertaining, ragingly fucked up things all the time. I think I just have some sort of look or air about me that makes the crazy come out. But, I'm pretty sure this guy didn't need me as a catalyst.

So, soon after my experience with TMI gold chain dude, an interview process started for a bigger, better job with the same company. While in the end, the job was tweaked here and there, I got it and suddenly find myself making nearly triple what I made out of undergrad. Yeah, it's partly about the money, but it's more about finally being paid what I'm worth, the satisfaction of knowing I rebuilt my life and being happy when I was unhappy and struggling for so long. I'm on my way and it's a far cry from scooping dog shit into a metal can.

I'll gladly take it - horny midgets and all.

Monday, March 12, 2012

House Hunting and the Hippie

OK, I’m just going to say it…I’m moving…once again, before the invention of teleporters, which goes against everything I promised myself the last time I moved and the time I moved before that. Why? Because I love being metaphorically punched repeatedly in the balls. I mean, I’m not sure what other explanation I can give you except that I’m really tired of being butt raped by my Uptown apartment complex, a.k.a. shoebox for a million dollars a month, and I’m excited to proceed to the next level with the bearded boyfriend. Yes, here I am taking the plunge again to live in sin, yet this time it’s a decision that was more calculated and made with a mind that is five years older and wiser. Any fiascos resulting from this decision will hopefully be kept at a low, perfectly acceptable pre-marriage behavior roar.

I’ve written about it on here before in 2008 AND 2010 – the crying, the screaming, the kicking, the pouting, the massive hair loss caused by uncontrollable ripping that all came about because of apartment hunting and subsequent moving of mountains of crap. This time, while I’m still neurotic about the whole process, it has yet to make me do any of the aforementioned things. The only thing that makes me cry these days is grad school. The massive, engulfing stress and lack of sleep is making me super pleasant to be around sans alcohol. When the stress of information and work overload is so bad that you lay down to sleep and your heart pounds up into your neck and face preventing any sort of rest night after night, it tends to make you a giant bitch little cranky. Just sayin.’ Stress manifests in strange ways. It’s two months until graduation, stay positive, I can do this, breathe, shot of whiskey, breathe, I can do this…yeah, you probably want to stay away until the night of May 10th…

Anyway, enough of that, back to the hilarious encounter we had earlier today while house hunting. After a gentle shove of the please-help-me-look-for-rental-houses-dammit variety a couple weeks ago, Pat has been calling to ask questions or make appointments every few days…it’s amazing how a few old pictures can make a total dump look like a palace on craigslist. We’ve seen a couple of places that have all been quickly vetoed, but today we saw a pretty good one once you looked past a few minor things…

It was a result of a drive by for rent sign sighting on a house near South Pearl followed by a quick phone call. We both took a short break from work and pulled up to the place around 9 a.m. and a member of ZZTop mixed with Grizzly Adams emerged from a beat up Chevy pickup. His tiny grey ponytail and ripped up flannel shirt accented the white/grey beard that reached almost to his stomach. My first reaction was, “Oh god,” then I told myself not to be Judgey McJudgerson because he was probably a nice old dude…and he was, as I quickly learned.

We walked into the house and it was completely trashed, at least by my standards, by the total stoner that lives in the basement. The guy that lived upstairs just moved out and basement dweller took it upon himself to take over the rest of the house. This also prevented us from seeing the basement, which is apparently finished kind of like a studio apartment. Note: Basement dweller is moving out soon and the entire house is for rent.

Pat walked past the beat up couch in the living room in front of me and subtly pointed at the floor. My eyes followed his finger and met up with a colorful glass pipe laying on the floor. Lovely. As we strolled into the kitchen, the first thing I noticed was the pizza box and random shit all over the counter. The second thing I noticed was the one hitter made to look like a cigarette laying next to the pizza box. I’m like, Jesus dude, calm down or at least put your paraphernalia away when your landlord comes over.

The two bedrooms and bathroom upstairs were empty and clean and the deck, backyard and two car garage were pretty much free of illegal substances. My ability to look past the dirty tenant and think ‘bleach, lots of bleach and this place will be beautiful,’ was pretty uncharacteristic of me, but the bedrooms were big, the closets were decent, the blonde hardwood floors were so pretty and the neighborhood is awesome. Hey, at least there weren’t dirty needles and a pile of cocaine sitting on the counter. This was actually the second place we walked into in a week that showed signs of massive amounts of marijuana usage. People just really, REALLY love their weed in Denver.

ZZTop landlord expressed how women were weird, referring to his wife, while we were in the backyard by making a funny little, rolling the eyes, throw the hands in the air gesture. We apparently have to talk to her if we want to know the rules of the rental house. As we walked from the backyard back to the front porch, Pat gestured to the neighbors’ koi pond and water feature and made a comment to which landlord man replied, “Yeah, you can just sit back, fire up a doobie and watch, heh heh.” Pat looked over his shoulder and grinned really big at me for about the third time on our tour while I refrained from yelling, “ZING!” or “HEY-O!” Things just kept getting better and better.

Then, as we said our goodbyes at the curb, landlord man inquired, “And what’s your name again?” I told him my name, he repeated it and then he said, “Niiiiiice looking,” while nodding with a big smile on his face. While I averted my eyes and turned a bright shade of pink, Pat laughed hysterically, put his arm around me and bellowed, “YEEEEAH!” I managed to utter a bit of a shocked, “thank you,” as I don’t take compliments very gracefully - I never have - especially from strangers and especially from ZZTop landlords. Yep, that’s me, the trophy girlfriend…riiiight. Maybe it will help us stand out from the pile of applications.

Moving is still a month and a half away and the location is still a mystery much to my dismay, but I’m not sure that anything – house or experience – can top what we saw today. Hopefully once pothead is kicked out and I employ my “bleach…lots of bleach…and Febreeze…and maybe Molly Maids,” theory, Pat, Andy, Maggie, old hippie ZZTop landlord and myself can all be one happy family. If not, then we’ll just have to continue the hunt and I’ll try to keep the neuroses at bay…as long as the metaphoric ball punching is kept to a minimum during the process.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012


I’ve had my fair share of strange and unusual boyfriends, including the guy with botched tattoos that showered literally four times a day for fear he would get into a car accident and the people in the ER would see his “dirty butthole.” His words, not mine. My words would be somewhere along the lines of, “what in the hell is wrong with you?” And, my actions were, in fact, to run very fast in the other direction.
However, I think the story behind a mysterious object in my apartment just might top the list of strange boyfriend behaviors. I present to you, The Tickle Tag:

This seemingly ordinary tag snagged from what appears to be a T-shirt of some kind has been pinned to our board-o-random shit on our TV entertainment center for as long as I’ve lived here. It’s surrounded by beach and kickball photos, a picture of a trio of disturbing dolls ripped from an IKEA magazine, a note from Whittah’s cousin expressing her love for after hours wrestling matches, a quote from a women’s magazine declaring that we will not drunk text our ex-boyfriends, a homemade birthday card from me with Whittah's face pasted over my boyfriend's face, who was sitting next to T-Pain in Las Vegas that reads, "T-Pain says: Happy Birthday, Shawty!" Just a note, my boyfriend helped me design and create this birthday card ever...And, another gem of a quote plucked from a food mail order catalog that reads, “It’s a great chicken pie, I tell you,” by Oprah. Hilarious in its unremarkable quality, yet it still appeared in the magazine because Oprah said it. She could scratch her ass near a product and the company would take it as a compliment.

All the other items were fairly self-explanatory to me, but the tag was a mystery. It took me probably a year to inquire about its significance and why it was in our apartment. I would have never even dreamed the story that followed.

Apparently, one of Whittah’s friends, who has now become my friend, also has the unfortunate (or fortunate, depending on how much you like storytelling) ability to stumble upon strange men. Her now ex-boyfriend that she lived with had a bit of a sleeping problem, but instead of treating it with the occasional Tylenol PM, counting sheep or deep breathing exercises, he decided to try a more natural approach. He used this tag to tickle his face, and probably other things, to calm his jittery nerves and soothe himself to sleep. One could compare his attachment to this shirt tag to that of a security blanket as he kept it under his pillow and couldn’t fall asleep without its calming tickles.

I could just picture the scenario in my head: Boyfriend thrashing around in bed dramatically, unable to sleep. He whines to his girlfriend, "I need my tickles...NOW!" She obliges, reaching under the pillow and stroking his face with the tag while he drifts off to sticking a pacifier in an infant's mouth.

Of course, I immediately shuddered from the heebie jeebies and said, “EW, I can’t believe I touched that thing! Why is it in my house?” As if it were covered in human excrement and crawling with spiders.

Ah, but the story wasn’t over. When our friend and Tickle Tag man broke up and she moved out, as a final “fuck you,” she snatched the man’s creepy form of Ambien out from under his pillow and triumphantly went along her merry way. Yes, she stole the sacred Tickle Tag. Apparently our apartment was the first stop on her way to a new life and it became the Tickle Tag’s new home, much to my dismay.

I guess we all have items in life that trigger memories from our past and remind us why we’ve moved on. For me, it’s seeing a stupid tattoo, for our friend, its The Tickle Tag. I’m not sure I’ll ever look at a shirt tag the same way again.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Oh, hey 2012, you snuck up on me, you bastard

I began 2011 barfing in the bushes outside of the apartment of a guy I hardly knew and began 2012 returning a dress I got for Christmas that made me look like a baby prostitute (It looked so non baby prostitute-y online). It seems as though it was a year of growing up for me. In fact, check this out:

It's a new addition to our family...

You totally thought she was mine for a second, didn't you?

Yeah, not that grown up yet. That would probably put a damper on the whole master's degree, new career thing I've been working on. This is my new niece, Kailer that was born on the 29th, while I laid around like a fatty, not working on my resume and website while on my two week Christmas vacation in KC. Essentially, I blame Jesus, this little baby, my other niece Remi, alcohol and fun people for my lack of productivity. I mean, there's always something better to do than prepare for your future when presents, babies, martinis and bad influences are in such close proximity.

After a semester of full time school, working three jobs and a particularly nerve wracking final presentation in front of the Colorado Office of Economic Development, it was a much needed, relaxing trip, that I was not quite ready to let go of. I said reluctant goodbyes, wrung out my liver and headed back to Denver a week ago. Now suddenly school starts back up in less than a week and I graduate in four months. This realization makes me go, oh holy shit, must stop laying on ass and find career!

And, so relaxation was officially over last night when I decided to unsuccessfully develop my website after a long day at work. I bought a domain in October, got busy and let it hang out for three months, which somehow screwed it up. I stayed up late in bed, sighing heavily and muttering, "why won't you WORK, you whore?" to my computer every five minutes while simultaneously shoving my boyfriend who was snoring right through his Breathe Right Strip.

After a night of dreaming about what could possibly be wrong and firebombing my provider, I woke to a blizzard and a bad mood. I came to the conclusion that I would obsess over this at work, so I stayed home to sigh and yell profanity at my computer some more. Of course, after a call to support, it started to work, then the second I hit the end button, it stopped working again. I screamed and shook my fists in the air, then looked around for a hidden camera. WHY?!

More tinkering around, cussing and a web browser update later, I was in business. It's a long way from done, but at least the stream of profanity directed at an inanimate object has ceased...

It's back to reality, an ass that is a more respectable size and a brain that is less like mush. It's a far cry from puke in the bushes and a slutty dress, but somehow just as entertaining.

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