Saturday, October 9, 2010

Great Moments in Lara History (possibly tl;dr)

Since yesterday was another Bad Day, I thought I would devote today's entry to something positive.  Today, I'm taking y'all down Memory Lane, Lara style.  When all you see in your immediate future is hospital visits and sickness, I think it is good to look back at all the awesomeness that has happened in your life.

Eighth Grade

I always knew that I liked to tell stories - I would be quite the liar at home and make up some great excuses to my parents as to why I couldn't do X or Y chore.   I had a teacher in the eighth grade who helped me realize what it was that I loved to do: writing.  My teacher split the lessons up between traditional teaching and then writers' workshop.  Mrs. B set a minimum of how many stories you were supposed to write during writers' workshop and I am pretty sure I wrote double the minimum amount.  Instead of being the girl with the unfortunate afro haircut, I was Lara - the girl who wrote stories all the time (but still had an unfortunate hairdo, much to my dismay).  Mrs. B was very encouraging of my writing and beyond helpful.  She got me excited about writing short stories and translating the crazy inner monologue in my brain to paper.  I credit this teacher with helping me realize why I was put on this earth: to tell stories.

High School

During high school, I was a member of the school's Writers' Club, which put on a yearly performance called "Coffee Talk."  While in high school, I was big on writing one-act comedy plays.  My first year, I wrote a one-act play about a girl who got stuck under a garage door.  My junior year, I wrote a one-act about a guy and a girl that got stuck in a room together by their mutual friends.  The guy was full of himself and the girl hated him.  When the actors, Aaron and Cassie, were about to go on, I high-tailed it from backstage to the back of the auditorium to watch my play being performed.  

I snuck into the back of the auditorium and saw my two friends performing something I had written.  When the whole audience laughed, I cannot begin to tell you how incredibly awesome that felt.  The corny way to describe it was: my whole body felt like it was overtaken by happy butterflies.  I was in the back of the auditorium doing a silent "YES!" victory dance.  That was the moment I realized I could make people, even large groups, laugh.  It was probably the first time in my awkward teen years where I felt a sense of pride.

This is me at a Writers' Club meeting.  Man, I loved those corduroy pants.

Summer During High School

Like my two brothers, I worked at Worlds of Fun, an amusement park in Kansas City.  I didn't have a license or a car, so I thought to myself: "I will work where they work.  It sounds like fun."   From when I was 16 to 18, I worked in Admissions at the amusement park.  I am so very glad I did.  Working there helped me go from a shy teenager who looked at the ground a lot, to one hell of a smart ass teen who frankly lacked in customer service skills.  Haha.  I wasn't good.  This job helped me develop a backbone and a sense of belonging to a group.  They liked me!  They really liked me!  

In middle and high school, I always thought I was being compared to my stepsister who was infinitely more popular than me.  "Oh, you're Lucy's stepsister?"  I hated it.  I was the dorky awkward one with a couple of friends and she was the popular one who got invited to everything.  True story - we are now 30 now and that is still how one could describe us: I'm the dorky awkward one and she has a billion friends.  Unlike high school, I don't hold a stupid and irrational grudge against her for it.  Anyway, working at WOF enabled me to develop my own social identity.  Nobody compared me to my brothers or at least not how much I was compared to Lucy.  It's been over 12 years since I moved many states over, and I still keep in touch with some of the WOF crowd, which I think is amazing.

That was my 18th birthday cake, which was made by my friend Harry.  See, I told you that I didn't have the best customer service skills.  At the time, I couldn't figure out why I never got promoted.  Looking back, I see it very clearly, haha.  

Summer After High School

I used the money I made the previous summer at WOF to go on a week-long trip to Mexico.  I went to Mexico City, Taxco and Acapulco.  The picture below is one of me on top of a pyramid.  I wouldn't trade that experience for anything.


My twenties were good to me - very good to me.  Most everyone had their teenage angst and bullshit in their, well, teen years.  Mine was my early twenties.  I stopped being petrified of the menfolk and was always surprised when a guy showed interest in me.  Who... me?  I graduated from Pitt.  I gained a best friend (Hi Pookie!).   I became a beer drinker.  I started going to live music and festivals.  I was figuring out who I was and what I liked. 

The big moment in Lara History was when a doctor finally saw a giant-assed goiter in my neck.  It looked like I had an Adam's Apple and yet I went years undiagnosed.  For years, I was apparently hyperthyroid, which explained my insane anxiety and my ability to eat everything under the sun and never gain any weight.  My anxiety was affecting my performance at work and harming my personal relationships with people.  I mean, how can you be friends with a girl who freaks out over everything?  You don't.  You ignore that bitch and get the hell out.  After they treated me for my goiter, I started to notice a difference in my anxiety within a couple of weeks.  It was a miracle!  I wasn't insane anymore and having panic attacks two to three times a week.  Others started enjoying being around me, too.  It.  Was.  Awesome.

One of the biggest highlights was finally going to New York City.  I always thought New York City was the biggest city and would crush a little peon like me.  Well, New York City is the biggest city but it didn't crush me.  I was like Mary Tyler Moore getting out of the cab, but I didn't throw my hat up in the air.  With the help of the lovely A & M, I learned to navigate the subway system and felt like a real New Yorker.  Oooh.  I love love love the Flatiron Building and in my many trips back to New York, I have taken a lot of pictures of that building.

The best part of my twenties was meeting my sweetie or as a lady at my oncologist's office called him: my Boo.  I met him and that was it.  I thought he was (and still do) the most handsome man I had ever seen.  It was like the moment in Wayne's World: he will be mine, oh yes.  He will be mine.  Before my Boo, I had never been in a relationship longer than 10 months.  I had two relationships before him that each lasted 10 months and those flamed out hard.  When I met him, I was 100 percent convinced that I would be moving back to Kansas City.  I was done with Pittsburgh and wanted to go back home.  Fate showed me, haha.  I even told him that when we first started going out and his response: "I'm confident I could probably change your mind."  He totally did.  I love him with all my heart and want to spend the rest of my life with him. 

What a year this has been, and that's not even including the breast cancer.  My sweetie and I bought a house together in March.  (Zomg, I live with a boy!)  We have spent most of this year working on getting the house from trashy to clean and simple.  The yard.... oh my stars, the yard was wrecked.  (Caution to those who look at homes during the winter - you might come across a surprise!)  We worked on this yard for hours, hours and hours trying to get rid of the trash and debris.  The people I bought the house from never did anything with it.  True story: if you google street view my house, you could see how trashy and weedsy it looked.  No more. 

This summer was one of adventure.  During Lucy's wedding down in Florida, I went jet skiing with him and that was amazing.  Sometimes when I close my eyes and picture happiness and serenity, I'm out in the ocean with my sweetie on a jet ski.  It was nothing like I had ever done before and I would never had done it without him insisting.  The hour we spent riding out on the ocean... Man, I wish I could go back.  The following day, we went parasailing.  I thought I would freak out at the thought of being up hundreds of mile over the ocean.  Quite the contrary - I freaked out for a split second and then quickly realized: "Oh, this isn't so bad."  Between the jet skiing and parasailing, I was checking off items on my bucket list (if I ever made one).

The best best part of this summer was white water rafting in Ohiopyle with my Boo and great friends of mine.  Holy shit, that was fun, peaceful and mind-blowing crazy scary all at the same time.  I can't believe scaredy cat Lara ever did such a thing nor did a lot of my friends.  My boyfriend got knocked out of the boat twice, which he was a good sport about.  "Hold on, we got a swimmer!"  After we got past the one rapid our guide was warning and instructing us about, the adrenaline going through my body was intense.  Oh noes.... am I becoming an adrenaline junkie.  Prior to the cancer, this year was pretty kick ass. 
By the way, thank you if you made it this far.  It is pretty freaking long.  

What was the whole point of this trip down memory lane?  In order for me to deal and cope with what is about to happen to me, I needed to take a look back at all the great things that has happened to my life and see how far I have come.  I have met so many great people and transformed from the dorky awkward girl to a confident and content woman.   I stopped being a punching bag for negative people in my life who treated me like I was shit.  Who I used to be, who I am now, and who I am about to be.... change seems to be the only constant.

I have no doubt that I will meet so many more people during my cancer treatment.  I have already made a new online friend because of my cancer schmancer (Hi Jo!).   While I do not know what the future has in store for me, at least I can look back at my past and smile smile smile at so many things.   

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