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Isn’t This Crap Supposed To Get Easier?

Guys, I really need to get back on top of this blogging thing. I’ve been such a slacker over the summer. All that outdoor drinking, and frying myself like a giant slab of poolside bacon. I guess I also haven’t really had much to say lately that I feel I can express effectively. So many deep thoughts about life, and love, and waffles and stuff. My mind is all over the place lately. It’s a problem. Most of all, lately I’ve been thinking a lot about my brother. I sort of thought that after two months had passed since he died, I’d think about him a little less every day, but that’s ending up not being the case. I think about him all the time. I mean, when I’m not thinking about food, and the upcoming fabulous Autumn boot season. And puppies. I like puppies.

Anyway, you know what sucks about losing a brother? Besides pretty much everything? Before Jon died, I never burst into tears randomly in public. It’s a little inconvenient, since I don’t normally carry Kleenex, and it isn’t long sleeve season. Not even a sweater sleeve to wipe away surprise snot. Unacceptable, Sometimes, I really think I’m ok. I’m in a great mood. Life is good. Then out of nowhere- In the middle of the work day; At Spin class; Shopping for red meat-  It just hits me. I will never, ever see my brother again. Never hear his laugh again. Never hear him call me a giant pain in the ass again. I think back to the afternoon I went to see him in the hospital and we talked and walked and ate Frosties. I think back to his last few weeks here, taking him for a Taco Bell Mountain Dew slushie. (Don’t judge me. It’s what he wanted.) (Also, Mexican pizzas are delicious. Don’t pretend they aren’t.) I remember our last family barbecue, sitting next to him with my two other brothers, watching him scarf down a steak, and looking at him that night and thinking maybe there’d be a miracle. That maybe the doctors were wrong. I guess that’s just who I am. Even when all hope is lost, I still always keep just a little. I’m still trying to decide if that’s a good quality or a bad quality. And then, I remember his last days in the nursing home, sitting next to him as he stared off blankly, just being with him, with my hand on his arm. Then, finally, I think about how I’d give anything in the world to experience any of those moments just one more time. It’s sad the tiny moments with our loved ones that we take for granted. I’d give up everything just for one more day of having my brother tell me I’m a giant pain in the ass.

People always say this gets easier with time, but I don’t see it. I don’t feel it. Not yet. Not even a little bit. Fuckin’ cancer. You’re a dick.

Not you guys. You aren’t dicks. I was talking to cancer. You know what I meant.

I’ll write way less depressing blogs one of these days, I promise.

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Posted by on August 27, 2014 in Cancer, Humor, Life

 

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Mourning Max

I really feel like a major Debbie Downer blogger lately, but I figured since my memories of my big brother are permanently out here on the interwebs, I should also create a semi-permanent 1378071_10153348981200551_615562441_nmemorial to my 2nd hairiest best friend whom I also lost recently: My little pup, Max. Even typing his name here now and remembering him is causing tears to start to leak out of my face. I’m gonna need a box of Kleenex. Hang on.

…….

………..

(Insert Jeopardy! theme here)

……

Ok, I’m back. Who knew it’d be so hard to find Kleenex in this house? Apparently I’m not very snotty.

Anyway… You know, I always thought those people who took days off work to mourn the loss of a pet were insane. Until my Max. I’ve had dogs my entire life, but I don’t think I’ve ever loved any like I loved my Max. I fell in love with his little tiny furry Ewok face the first time I laid eyes on him as a pup, sitting alone in his cage, the last left of his litter. Actually, I should say WE fell in love with him, and by ‘we’, I mean, of course, my roommate, who is Max’s daddy. I suppose he loved him as much as I did. It was sorta hard not to. He was our baby. Our alarm clock. Our snuggle buddy. The dog who once tried to bite my face off. Our spoiled little lovable brat. Max could make me laugh on my worst day; The way he spun around in excited circles whenever we’d say the word ‘outside’, or ‘bone’; The way he’d wake us up by standing on top of us and staring directly into our faces; The way he growled every time we tried to kiss him, almost like he was saying “C’mon, I’m not a little kid any more!”. I loved him more than I even know how to express. So when he was diagnosed with cancer, we vowed we’d spend any amount of money and do whatever it took to keep him with us as long as possible. When he stopped eating, we syringe fed him baby food, heavy cream, Pedialite- Anything to try to bring back our healthy, energetic little pup. But as it turns out, Max was more tired than we thought. Odd timing, the fact that he started to go severely downhill the night my big brother passed, almost as if he knew that Jon needed a companion.

His last day on Earth was spent at his favorite park, and snuggling on the couch with us- His two favorite pastimes. I remember he kept looking at us with his big brown eyes, like he was trying to comfort us and tell us it was going to be ok. I think I told him I loved him approximately 8,428 times that day. I take comfort in the fact that I’m pretty sure he knew how lucky he was and how much he was loved. I mean, what other dog gets steak and eggs for breakfast while his mom eats Special K? He had a great life. A great life that was cut way too short.

So now, we grieve. Every day. I miss how happy I felt when Jon and Max were both here, even though I’m slowly but surely recovering. I cry for my brother, for my dog, and I hope and pray that they’re up there together, just waiting for me to get there. Hopefully Jon knows how to cook a steak. Because Max loves that shit.

Love you forever, little Max. Momma and Daddy miss you.

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Posted by on July 25, 2014 in Cancer, Humor, Life

 

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My Brotha From The Same Motha

Last night, the world lost an amazing human being, and I lost my older brother, Jon.

A few things have occurred to me here:

1.) I don’t think I’ve ever really felt pain before. I mean sure, I’ve lost people, I’ve been dumped, I’ve eaten the last of the microwave popcorn and forgotten to get more… But this. This is something completely different. There is an actual physical pain in my heart that I’ve never experienced before. It’s like Jon died and left behind a tiny little man kicking the shit out of my heart, Bruce Lee-style. When they coined the term ‘brokenhearted’, I guess I know now what they really meant.

2.) The mind is an amazing thing. Memories I thought had long faded are suddenly back. Listening to 8-track tapes in my parents’ room and pretending to be The Chipmunks (He was Alvin. I was Theodore. There was no third chipmunk. We were enough.); The time he slashed his leg open pretending to be Freddy Krueger. Our family road trip out west when he ordered the Short Stack of pancakes at every single restaurant we stopped at along the way. Listening to Casey Kasem’s Top 40 together, and waiting for Van Halen’s ‘Jump!’ to be number one again for the 12th week in a row. Listening to Pointer Sisters records in the basement. Jon introducing me to the scary German music that is Rammstein. Jon’s karaoke version of ‘Big Balls’, and subsequent drunken fall off the stage at my other brother’s wedding. Watching ‘The Breakfast Club’ so much we could recite every single word. It’s either a cruel joke or an incredible blessing the things you remember when someone’s gone. I haven’t yet decided which.

3.) I don’t know how to do this. I don’t know how to NOT have three older brothers. I don’t know how NOT to have holidays that include Jon piling enough food on his plate to feed a small country. I don’t know how NOT to call him to fix my laptop because I’m horrible with computers. I don’t know how to NOT to say “Awwwww Jon!” in unison with my two other brothers when Jon rips one at family gatherings. (We’re a gassy bunch.) Nothing will be the same. Ever. I know people say change is good, but frankly, this change, for lack of a better term, sucks.

4.) I’m pissed. Royally. Pissed that there are people who are allowed to live long, healthy, full lives, who are far less deserving than Jon. He was genuine, he had an amazing soul, and one of the greatest hearts of anyone I know. The fact that he never had the chance to fall in love, get married, have kids, and grow old just pisses me off. There’s supposed to be a reason for everything, but for the life of me, I can’t understand why my incredible, smart, and big-hearted brother was taken at just 40 years old.

But in the end, as angry, as confused, and as overwhelmed with sadness as I am, nothing will change the fact that he’s gone. I have no choice but to go on thinking the world and this life are simultaneously incredible and tragic, to be thankful for every single moment, and to pay far more attention to things I overlook most days- The greenness of the grass; The taste of Friday night margaritas; Sitting on the couch after a long day at work; Riding my bike down a deserted trail; How good it feels to drive down a country road with the window down and the music blasting. Because these are all everyday miracles. I don’t think a single day will go by for the rest of my life that I won’t think about and miss my big brother. And I hope I don’t. Because he deserves to be remembered.

Love you always, J.A.

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Posted by on July 1, 2014 in Cancer, Life

 

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I’m Going To Annoy The Crap Out Of You Now

It occurred to me today, as I was participating in the time-suck we call Facebook, that there are a whole lot of cranky people out there. Frankly, I find it disturbing. Sure, I suppose our natural tendency as humans is to complain about stuff, and I’ll admit that I’m guilty of it Imagemyself on occasion. Usually at work after a night of insomnia and a morning of dealing with bad people. But as a whole, I really try to be happy, and positive, and cheerful, and annoying as crap, and to not take one single tiny thing for granted, and to say really dumb stuff to try to make people laugh, even if it’s just for a second, because a second of laughter is so much better than a second of being all frowny. Write this shit down. I’m spewing wisdom here. Someone should really consider carving my head into a mountain or something. I’m gonna get on that. You guys know any good mountain carvers? If so, hook me up. Anyway, right now, I’m going to share all the things that are making me extremely happy right at this very moment, because complaining is dumb.

1. I’m eating a pork chop with my hands like some sort of caveperson, and messy eating is just fun.

2. I got carded for wine today. 38 years old, what? Not me.

3. I have no bra on, and my boobs are like, “Ahhhhhhh.”.

4. There is sunshine on my big toe, which is greatly in need of a pedicure, which I may just have to do this weekend.

5. My little dog just sneezed a bit of pork chop on my leg, and that made me laugh.

6. I spy a bottle of Sweet Red with my name on it over there on the counter.

7. Nothing hurts. Not even the mysterious intermittent right buttcheek pain I’ve been experiencing the past day. Don’t ask me what that’s all about.

8. Spring flowers I bought last Sunday are still as fresh as the day I bought them, and brightening my dining room table.

9. All the bills sitting next to my computer are paid, and I even have money left over for some new Dr. Pepper flavored lip balm or somethin’.

10. I have a date with a very nice comic book artist next weekend, and he’s promised me the best cheeseburger in Chicago. I have high hopes for this burger. And for the date, I guess.

11. My family is all alive and well and crazy and all mine.

12. Imagine Dragons ‘On Top Of The World’ playing on my iPod, and it just makes me smile.

13. I don’t have to do a damn thing for the next 6 hours except plop my booty on the couch and watch a chick flick while drinking wine.

14. Life is just good.

There you have it, folks. If I haven’t sufficiently annoyed you with my happiness, then you’re probably just a robot. I’ll try harder next time. For now, though, it’s Wine Thirty. Pants are comin’ off, TV’s goin’ on. Do not disturb.

 

 
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Posted by on April 11, 2014 in Humor, Life

 

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Life, Love, and The Pursuit Of Happiness. Or Martinis. Same Thing.

I know there’s a few people who read this thing, and if you’re one of them, I’m warning you now, I’m feeling a tad reflective, and shit could get deep here. You should walk away if you think you can’t handle it. I’ll wait.

……….

…..

Are they gone yet?

Thank God, I thought those people would never leave.

Anyway, as I was saying… Well, brave Paula In The Country readers who are still here, the truth is… I got dumped this week. I know it’s hard to believe. I mean, I’m practically the perfect woman. I drink, I swear, I just ate a piece of popcorn off the floor… Who doesn’t want a piece of that? But it happened. Out of the blue, too. One day it was ‘I miss you.’, and the next day it was ‘You’re a great girl, but see ya.’, which, honestly, makes me feel like I have a small idea of what it’s like to get kicked hard in the nuts now.

When things like this happen, it’s very easy to feel sorry for myself. I mean, I’m 38 years old now. Never married. I’ve had very few serious relationships. That shit can start to wear on any girl’s fragile ego. I also want a family. And let me tell ya, dating at my age is not easy. Assuming I can find a man that can actually form sentences, he either, a) Is newly on the dating scene and not ready to ‘settle’ for me, b) Has kids and doesn’t want any more, or c) Lives in a different state. All of which are not ideal for poor little Paula In The Country. But, just when I think I’m about to fall into a pit of self-pity, I remember something…

My big brother has cancer.

Cancer.

And I’m worried about finding a boyfriend.

Which leads me to my point, that everything is about perspective. Does it suck I’m 38 and freshly dumped? Meh. Not really. Because I’m healthy. I have a truly amazing life. I was raised in a great home with great parents who somehow instilled morals and values and kindness towards others in me, who gave me the gift of humor, and three older brothers who taught me about slasher films, and how to drink men under the table. I’m sitting here in fluffy jammies, drinking an extra-dirty martini, with a tiny Ewok dog staring at me adoringly. I have kettle corn. All of these things make me an extremely lucky girl. And maybe, when all is said and done, my goal should not be to find a man so I can start a family and a life, but rather to enjoy the road I’m taking to get there.

The long, long, long, long, long fucking road to get there.

Cheers, everyone who read this entire thing.

*Raises glass*

*Drinks*

*Stabs self in eye with falling three olive-laden toothpick*

(Side note: Shameless plug here for my bro’s cancer fund! In case you have any spare couch change or anything. Just lick the Cheeto dust off first.)

http://www.gofundme.com/5v3eg8

 
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Posted by on March 8, 2014 in Cancer, Humor, Life

 

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My Songs Don’t Really Want To Know What You Did In The Dark

Weird thing about music; How a particular song can make you immediately leave the present and go back to a different time and place. This happened to me while driving home from work one day last week, and it got me to thinking about what songs really sort of define moments in my life. Some of them make me cry, but most of them just make me smile, and think about all those years that have passed that have made me exactly who I am today. That shit makes me kinda happy. So here they are, folks, in no particular order:

The Superbowl Shuffle by The Chicago Bears Shufflin’ Crew

I couldn’t find a decent video of this one, but I couldn’t not include it here. You all know it anyway. If you don’t, you really should. The 1985 Chicago Bears were kind of the shit. This song always takes me back to the basement of my childhood home, singing it over and over with my older brothers. I can’t remember who they were, but I was the Punky QB known as McMahon. Duh. Because I look just like him.

Jump by The Pointer Sisters

Singing this song repeatedly while using a hairbrush microphone is how I discovered I wanted to grow up to be a black lady singer.

Manic Monday by The Bangles

You can’t be a girl who’s grown up in the 80’s without having loved The Bangles. When this song comes on, I’m 12 years old again, jumping on a mini trampoline at my friend’s house, a game of Q-Bert paused on the Atari, and empty bowls with remnants of ice cream with Diet Pepsi poured over it. Because we were healthy like that.

Jump! by Van Halen

Times were so much simpler before David Lee Roth went kinda nuts. This song was #1 for, from what I recall, approximately 86 weeks in a row, and every week my brothers and I would sit by the radio in our family room, and wait for Kasey Kasem to announce that it was again the #1 song in the country. Then we’d all go David Lee Roth air guitar. We were pretty good air guitarists, too, I gotta say.

Mack The Knife by Bobby Darin

I’m at my oldest brother’s wedding reception, and I can’t even tell you what year it was. All I remember was a horrible giant pink bridesmaid dress, and I was acting like a teenage asshole because I didn’t get to ride in the limo. The only other thing I remember is watching my mom and dad dancing to this song. For a couple of old farts, they could really dance. This may be one of my favorite memories of all time.

Lighters by Bad Meets Evil

This song lost its appeal for me after I heard it approximately 86,432 times on the radio, but it still always takes me back just a few years to one of my top five best birthdays of all time. I spent all day lounging at the beach, then had one of the best and most memorable dates of my life. Rooftop bar, Cajun potato salad, Absolut Orient Apple, and a nice boy wearing plaid shorts, who I have since then called many a man-hating name, but who has, oddly, become someone I consider a great friend.

No, No, No by Destiny’s Child

I’m on the dance floor at a local bar called Mark’s with my friend Janet, in a shirt that shows off far too much of my young 20-something chubby belly and freshly pierced belly button, which I did myself with a sewing needle in my parent’s bathroom because I thought I was badass, and I’m dancing like an idiot, attempting to get the attention of the DJ, who I worshipped from afar. It also reminds me of 2am trips to Denny’s, car dancing, and also, one unfortunate White Russian bad cream incident. I may or may not have Exorcist-like bad cream vomited on myself.

Watch The Wind Blow By by Tim McGraw

This was going to be my wedding song. Yep, Paula In The Country could’ve actually been Married Mom In The Country right now, but life sometimes takes unexpected turns. Luckily, the man who was my fiance has ended up instead being like a best friend/brother to me, and I’m grateful to still have him in my life every single day. All right, enough mushy shit, guys. Knock that off.

You Dropped A Bomb On Me by The Gap Band

Whenever I hear this, I think of my oldest brother in his Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo phase, breakdancing in our family room. I thought he and his friend Hilbert were the coolest people ever as they were attempting to spin on their backs on bad orange-ish carpeting. I’ve since raised my ‘cool’ standards by a lot.

Ho Hey by The Lumineers

My most recent memory, and yet another story about a boy. The song turned out to be better than the guy, but this will forever remind me of drinking martinis and sitting across from someone I thought could be ‘the one’. Mostly, it reminds me of how amazing those first few weeks of falling for someone can be, and how that shit should really last longer.

Why Don’t We Get Drunk by Jimmy Buffett

Summer of 1993. Post-high school graduation. I was shy and quiet, but hung out with a group of rowdy drunken bastards, all of whom I still love dearly. A lot of Cardinal Puff, a lot of Jimmy Buffett, and a lot of REO Speedwagon happened that summer. Side note: Once a Cardinal, always a Cardinal.

Pump Up The Volume by MARRS

This takes me back to watching Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve when I was probably about 12 or so. My parents used to go out and leave me at home alone with my older brothers. Let me just say, for anyone who has children and is considering leaving boys in charge: Don’t do it. Peppermint Schnapps and ballet dancing in the kitchen may have happened. I turned out perfectly ok, though. Right? Just go with it.

Everybody’s Free (To Wear Suncreen) by Baz Luhrman

This probably reminds a lot of people of their high school graduation. However, since it came out around 1997 or so, which is 4 years after I graduated, it actually takes me back to New Year’s Eve of 1998. I’d been sick, but wanted to go out anyway because it was New Year’s Eve, damn it! I was also young and stupid. I drank too much, don’t know how I got home, and woke up on New Year’s morning with this song playing on my radio. While listening to Baz Luhrman’s words of wisdom, I got out of bed and immediately passed out and crushed a wicker garbage can with my giant ass.

Ah… Ass-crushing memories.

 
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Posted by on January 26, 2014 in Humor, Life, Music

 

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Santa, You’re Gonna Need A Bigger Bag

Earlier today, someone asked me what I want for Christmas. Most people could probably answer this question without too much thought, right? But tonight, for some reason, I’m still struggling with this. I mean, not that I don’t want stuff. I like stuff just as much as the next girl. Especially boots. It may be a borderline boot fetish. But I guess when it comes right down to it, the stuff I REALLY want isn’t as easy to obtain as heading to the nearest Kohl’s. Nope. I’m a little more high maintenance than that, I’m afraid.

First off, I’d like to never have to shave my legs again. Sure, it’s not so bad having a nice set of fur-covered legs to keep me warm in these frigid Chicago temperatures, but unfortunately it makes it difficult to pick up men at the local gym while wearing capris or shorts. I suppose I could possibly attract a Wookiee or a Sasquatch or something, but they don’t seem like they’d be very good dinner companions. I’d like my body hair in general taken care of, really. It’d be a hell of a time saver. I’ll even take care of my own increasingly abundant nose hair. I feel this is a decent compromise.

Secondly, I’d like a person. Not just any person. A go-to person, A best friend. One person I feel like I can completely be myself with. Someone I can tell anything to, with whom I can completely let down my guard, who will tolerate my vodka and snack habit, who will take my insecure and overemotional moments and love me for them just as much as my moments of joy, love, and hilarity. Someone who’ll hug me and tell me everything will be ok, and make me believe it. If he’ll spoon me and kiss me goodnight on the forehead, that’d be pretty cool, too. Also, rub my feet. And take out the garbage. Not at the same time, though. I don’t want any various garbage juices to somehow end up on my feet. That’d be gross.

Third, (and this is a biggie, Santa, so listen up) I’d like my brother to not have to fight cancer any more. Because it’s stupid. In addition, although I’d probably never say this to their faces, because I’m the bratty little sister, and it’s hard to talk to them when they’re giving me wedgies and swirlies and such, I want to bonk ALL of my big brothers on the head and make them realize how badly I wish they’d all take better care of themselves, and recognize that I don’t want to ever have to be here without them. Sure, sometimes they’re a huge pain in the ass, especially when they get into stupid fights over The Walking Dead and Rock Of Ages, but they are mine, and without them, I’m not quite sure what I’d do. Idiots. I’m probably going to get beat up for this at the next family gathering.

I’d like to be able to talk to my dad again. In a few days he’ll have been gone four years. Man, I can’t believe it’s been that long. You know, sometimes I talk to him at night, but he never says anything back, which is ok because I’m used to rambling with no response, kinda like I’m doing right now, but it’d be cool if he’d give me a, “Good Lord, shut it already and go to sleep.” or something. That’d probably totally scare the shit out of me in the middle of the night, though. It’s weird, after all this time, I still remember exactly what his voice sounded like. I miss that. I guess you never really realize how much you miss someone’s voice like that until they’re gone.

I’d like the Monchichi I had as a child, and also my Strawberry Shortcake doll that blew strawberry-scented kisses. because I loved them; And even though I’m supposed to be mature and shit, I like toys.

I want time to slow the hell down. Although 38 is pretty kickass, what with how much more confident and happy I am than I was 10 years ago, I’m totally not digging the random inch-long hairs I find growing out of my forehead, nor how I get up and walk into the other room and completely forget why I’m there.

And last, but definitely not least, I want to be able to eat cupcakes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and never gain any weight. In fact, the more cupcakes I eat, the skinnier I get. Whoa. Whoa. Wait… Whoa.

I totally just blew my own mind. I have to stop now.

But seriously, Santa… I hope you wrote this shit down, fat man.

Sorry I called you fat. I didn’t mean it. You’re very svelte for an older man. Yup. I’m just gonna go now.

 

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on December 11, 2013 in Humor, Life

 

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