“Celebrate good times…C’mon…” ~ Kool and the Gang

So, one of my sweetie peeps asked me why I didn’t blawg over Thanksgiving weekend and the ‘easy’ answer is that I’m just too doggone busy with grading, preparing finals, and roasting my famous turkey I handed out to my neighbors (bless their hearts…no salmonella yet 🙄). However, the ‘true’ answer is this: I have a love/hate relationship to holidays.

Now, when I was a kid I loved loved loved the holidays and I still do! Ma and pop always made me and T’s birthdays and Christmases awesome. Every birthday, pop would call us up from work in the morning after we got up, to wish us a happy birthday before we left for school. Yes, I know this sounds ‘boring’ to my grasshoppers who have grown up with cell phones and constant contact, but for pop to call us from work was a huge deal ‘back then’ (I’m sure the local operator who had to connect the wires was a nice gal 😐). We loved getting ‘the call’ and then ma would pack up cupcakes and Kool-Aid for us to take to school for our class party. Now it literally (well…not literally or I’d be dead…but I’m trying to be dramatic here) breaks my heart that schools around my area don’t allow for homemade treats anymore. Sigh. Things were sometimes better in the old days. Anyhoot, after dinner, gramma and gramps would come over and we’d get to open our presents and bask in the glory of being in the spotlight that night. (Also, ma would let us pick our dinners and I always chose Kraft Mac and Cheese with green beans…every year…she got off easy, huh?)

Now, I love love love to open presents and I readily admit it. And yes, I know it’s much better to give than to receive which is why I just adore finding stuff for people that is funky or unique or really shows the person that I ‘know’ them. But, I do LOVE getting presents too! I love the wrapping paper and the shaking of the boxes and the anticipation of tearing off that first piece of paper and then seeing what the gift is. It always amazes me because because somehow, no matter what, the present is always something I wanted. Ma says I’m still like a kid when I open presents…and she’s right. (Of course, I’m just a couple decades out of ‘childhood’ so… 🙄).

Trying on my hot new pants with pop while T wears her fluffy new slippers!

Christmas was even better. T and I would always wake up and she’d come into my room and we’d dare each other to wake up ma and pop so we could all go in the living room to see what Santa brought. We’d say: “OK…on 3 we are going to yell WAKE UP…ready…1….2….3….” and we’d chicken out. Of course, the folks were already awake and wondering what the hell was taking us so long! Pop would say he wanted a BIG breakfast before we could open but T and I would yell NO and we’d unwrap our loot. Ahhhhhhhhh….the smell of paper, boxes, fresh plastic, etc. always takes me back. That afternoon, we’d schlep over to gramma and gramps where there were more presents and a special dinner with my aunt, uncle and cousin. It was a GREAT day every year.

O with his first phone!

And, I love Christmas with my little guy so much (he’s 6″ 😳) and he still gets so excited about the holiday too. However, ahem, it would be so much better if only I had a grandchild, ahem, to enjoy buying cutsie little clothes for, ahem, and every toy ever produced by Fisher Price…ahem…but I digress. *Note to son: read this paragraph again. And again.

So, why do I say I have a love/hate with holidays? As I’ve gotten into my 40’s (shutty the mouthies, peeps 😉) I’ve realized that holidays are a wonderful way of celebrating so many things: being thankful, the birth and resurrection of Jesus, the love of our lives, being an American, etc. But, here’s the thing: shouldn’t we be doing this all the live long day?

One year I was in Walgreens buying a Valentine for Hubby 3 (the mouthies are still shutty 😐), and I told the old gal at the register “Happy Valentine’s Day!” I knew her from going into the store every single day and she said this: “It’s not really a happy day for me…my husband died last year.” Ouch. I felt so so bad for my blunder and gave her a hug over the counter. I went home that night and really started thinking about why we assign 1 day a year to celebrating our ‘love’ by giving flowers, candy, cards, stuffed animals, etc. Then I started thinking about all of the other holidays and felt the same.

Apparently my baby wasn’t thankful for me that year!

Look, I love eating turkey on Thanksgiving (but not yams…I hate yams…🥔) but I think that we need to have thankfulness in our hearts everyday. Every single day. And, I think we need to share this with those around us while showing our appreciation for all we have. I don’t want to have ONE day where I say I’m thankful for my family…for piss sakes, I’m thankful for them every single day and I try to tell them often. Everyday, I’m thankful for my students, my pets, my friends, my neighbors, my precious blawg readers, my home, the food I have, the money I earn, my health, etc. The list can go on and on. Even at my darkest, I had blessings. When things were falling down all around me, I still had my ma…my son…my family. Even though this fucking (sorry ma 😳) bipolar makes my life hellish at times, I still have my physical health. I still have a doctor who helps me fight the damn thing. I still have people who stand behind me. Right?

And Christmas? Look, I know you all aren’t Christians because I have readers from all over the globe (that humbles me more than you could ever know 😘), but I know you all have spiritual beliefs and like I’ve said before, I believe God is the alpha and omega…the one and only…and the true God for any religion you practice and follow. Anyhoot, I talk to God everyday. I thank him for all he has done in my life and every night when I pray, I thank him for sacrificing his son for my sins. And I’m not going to ‘just’ thank Jesus for this salvation once a year…I thank him everyday as well I should.

And, here’s a little rant for ya: I hate the materialism of Christmas. I mean really…when you think about it why do we give gifts to each other on a day we should be celebrating the gift given to us? Like I said, I love presents and all the trimmings that come with Christmas, but actually, wouldn’t us giving the gift of time, money, help to those who are sick, homeless, poor, etc. actually be more appropriate for what the holiday is really about? I also have a problem (please don’t send me shitty messages…this is only my opinion 😐) with people who are scornful…disdainful…of my beliefs in Jesus only to be the ones who decorate and ‘buy’ for Christmas the most. Hmmmm. They laugh at me (yes, to my face…I’ve had colleagues tell me I’m ‘stupid’ for my beliefs…that I’m too ‘smart’ to believe in a higher power 🤨) yet natter on about how they much they love Christmas break and how much they got for Christmas and how much they ate over Christmas and how much they celebrated over Christmas. ‘Nuff said.

And back to Valentines day…I don’t want someone giving me flowers once a year to show their love. How about getting my car washed in the summer when it’s filthy? Or leaving me a card on a random Wednesday because you luv me? Or buying me the book you know I’ve been wanting to read? As someone who has had some…cough cough…experience with relationships (🙄), I’m here to tell you this: they need to be nurtured everyday. And yes, I do this myself.

The 4th of July? I love the fireworks and eats and the patriotism every year, but I’m here to tell you that I love America. Yes, we have some very big issues we need to tackle. Yes, things aren’t always just and fair. Yes, as far as we’ve come in terms of race relations, equality for women, understanding of mental illness, etc. we still have a long ways to go. However, I can talk about these things without fearing retribution from my government. I can practice what I believe. I can question, protest, vote, petition, and write what I want. I have the right to marry who I want, wear what I want, be educated, access info on the internet, own property, start a business, etc. Yes, I’m truly thankful to be an American every day of my life.

And other holidays? Thank a veteran every time you see one. Think about those who have passed and maintain the memory of them. Celebrate men like Martin Luther King Jr. regularly and strive to be more involved in your community. Tell your ma and pop often how important and loved they are…not just once in May and then June.

Look, you don’t have to make everyday a holiday…that would become tedious and disingenuous. Have fun with our holidays…cook turkeys, bake cookies (BTW, I’m a great taste-tester…just wanted you to know 🙂), wrap gifts, shoot off fireworks, and have a ball with family and friends. But you can also be thankful and loving everyday. You can have an open heart everyday. And most of all, you can keep that wonderful feeling of celebration all the year through.

Kristi xoxo

“Our house is a very, very, very fine house…” ~ Crosby, Stills & Nash

So, there is absolutely nothing that feels better than knowing you have truly helped someone on a deep level. Having said that, I am so proud of Bill for acting on the suggestions I had for making his place a bit…hmmmmm…well….better.

Walking in this weekend, I encountered a much more friendly entryway complete with wooden key. From what I can discern, this little gem is vintage…from the 1970’s…and says ‘Welcome to my Home’ more than anything else could. And, since it is such an ‘original’, nothing else needs to be added to compliment it. Nothing. 🙄

Then, the kitchen and what can I say? Did I step into Better Homes and Gardens? Will I see this as a spread in House Beautiful? He hung up the painting I gave him (cough…cough…no accolades please…this is about Bill 🤨) on a stunning ‘peach’ sponged wall which sets the ‘ocean theme’ of the painting off perfectly.

When you turn around and your eyes move past the kitchen table which now houses a salt AND a pepper shaker (very chic and I’m guessing from Big Lots) you see his dazzling bottle collection and I’m on hold for Antiques Roadshow as I type. The glass bottles are quite…ahem…nice, but the vintage plastic beauty there really sets the tone. I shed a tear of joy knowing that one day, this menagerie will reside in my own home. I simply can’t stand it wait.

Moving into the ‘dining room’, the most formal room of the house, really show’s his creativity. Who else but my beloved can take 3 bikes, toolboxes, empty jars of foot balm, coolers that haven’t been sponged out since the early 2000’s, muddy duffel bags, and running clothes all arranged on 2 industrial rugs that are more commonly found in the entry way of factories, and turn this ‘space’ into a storage unit that you don’t have to drive too? That, my sweet peeps, takes talent.

Upstairs has substantially improved as well…particularly in the ‘home gym’ for which my membership still hasn’t been approved as we are currently negotiating fees. Anyhoot, this health spa (it’s next to a bathroom and if he takes a long enough hot shower, you have a ‘steam room’ 😐) now boasts ‘storage facilities’ which are cleverly disguised as empty gym bags. Isn’t that clever?

Now, I’m not bragging but have to say this: my own decorating taste has always been impeccable ever since ma and pop let T and I pick out our own carpet, wallpaper, and ceiling lights when we moved into the house we grew up in (ma still lives there and has since turned me and T’s rooms into stunning retreats that we both would have given our eyeteeth for at one time 🤓). While T chose orange flower wallpaper with orange and green carpet (she was so cute), I chose a much more mature palette: gold and brown carpet, yellow huge flowered wallpaper, and a red/white/blue flag light cover. Edgy? Yes…it was. In fact, I think I have have been the first to use the ‘mix and match’ concept… you’re welcome Vern Yip.

My first apartment with Hubby 1 (shutty the mouthies 🙄) was breath taking, probably because it had 2 east facing windows that got no air and we could barely breathe in the summer. The carpet was, once again, orange and brown (however, this was 15 years later than when it was ‘tres chic’ and thus referred to as ‘vintage heirloom’) with dark brown cabinets and dark brown doors and a dark brown bathroom. I cried when we moved…I’m sure you can see why.

Never again.

Our green trailer was something to behold and I must say I got on my knees and thanked the Lord that orange was no longer part of the color scheme. Instead, it was avocado green of which I said to hubby: “I’ll never get tired of this…it will always look like spring!” The problem was it was always spring: every single appliance and bathroom fixture along with the linoleum floor and carpeting was green. And yes, it was avocado green and no one likes guacamole like this girl does, however, the green was more reminiscent of guacamole that has sat out for a day…or 2. Luckily, the walls and cabinets were dark brown so in that way, we came full circle. Charming.

Now O’s dad and I had different tastes in decorating. We first found this out when we moved into our house and got ready to paint O’s nursery since he was well on his way. I wanted primary colors with Sesame Street characters mod-podged all over his closet doors while B wanted to slap some ‘Dover White’ on the walls and call it a day. So, we started painting with the primary colors and after it was done and I rescinded the divorce papers I had filed (never paint when your hormones are raging and your hubby hates to paint and yes, I wore a mask for the fumes. We can’t blame any of O’s behavior as a teen on that 🙄) I looked at it and whispered into B’s ear: “I hate it.” I knew my soon to be born baby would be horrified to see a 5′ Elmo on his closet and the primary colors gave me a migraine. I decided to ‘change my theme’ and we (meaning me) went with soft pastels and Mickey & Minnie mouse. As we stood, once again, looking at our handiwork together after I promised my lawyer I wouldn’t call him again until the baby was grown, B whispered into my ear: “If you don’t like this, you can raise YOUR baby alone.” I loved it.

Fast forward 6 years and B and I built our dream home! I got to pick out everything for it and was like a kid in a toy store. I brought home dozens of color swatches (that became my favorite word and I threw it around like Coco Chanel 🤨) and finally told B we had to make a decision as the builders were ready to strike. He said: “Dover White.” I said: “No.” He said: “Dover White.” The builders and painters who were observing this all said “Dover White.” But even in the face of all of this pressure, I decided to be a rebel. I chose “Eggshell White.” Ha!

My ‘yellow phase’!

I’ve lived in my current house for almost 15 years now and have painted the kitchen so many times, O says it’s significantly smaller than when we moved in. I went through the tan phase…yellow and red phase…and now I’m into blues. I no longer hang my pictures with 10 penny nails and have learned to putty and patch so I don’t have to put up said pictures only where there are holes in the wall. I’ve learned to coordinate colors: blue, yellow, purple, and green rooms all next to one another. I’ve learned, after having pulled my carpeting up, to put ‘rag rugs’ over pee spots that ate through the varnish on the floors and now understand you can take any piece of furniture, plop a plant onto it and you’ll be bohemian chic.

Y’all know I’ll be retiring (yes, at the age of 40 🙄) in a couple of years and instead of opening a plant shop which I intended to do, perhaps I should go into decorating with my own line of furniture, paint, etc. Just picture it. My taste…in all of the rooms in America. Takes your breath away, doesn’t it?

Kristi xoxo

Never Cut your Bangs when Mad. ~ Common Sense

From behindthechair.com

So, after all of the successes ma, sis and I have had in cutting our own bangs and hair, along with home coloring and highlights, I have absolutely no idea why none of us are licensed cosmetologists. 🙄

Ma, for some Godforsaken reason (and I blame Pop for not intervening 🤨), loved to put me and T’s hair in pink foam rollers. Apparently she thought we were future Shirley Temples and could make her and pop a buck or two in vaudeville. EVERY single time ma would do this, she would say (in a snarky voice I might add): “Girls, these won’t hurt at all to sleep in.” Well…ma…I can finally say it: “Bullshit.” So, after a night of tossing and turning thinking my gray matter was going to be squashed out of my ears, the rollers came off and we did NOT look like Shirley. We weren’t even close. And the more she did it, the worse it got…not better. What did we look like you might be wondering? Well…picture 2 girls who are NOT twins, dressed alike in the most horrifying outfits the 70’s had to offer with what looked like Halloween wigs on their heads. No wonder T and I have panic attacks whenever we see the color pink. Just sayin’.

Ma also loved to cut our bangs. Even when they were short, she still loved to cut the damn things. She’d either put a piece of tape (not ‘hair tape’ like ‘beauticians’ used to use but plain old Scotch tape which was sticky as hell) across our bangs and then ‘cut the tape off’ or, even better, use her finger as a horizontal guide across our bangs and try not to cut her finger off. Either way, T and I (see pics) had bangs that always sloped up our foreheads and were so short you could have shown a movie on said foreheads; plus, there was always…ALWAYS…a chunk (not just a piece but a CHUNK 😳) of bangs left long. Charming. And, until just now, I never thought to ask ma this: “Ma…in the name of all that is holy, why didn’t you just slice off those remaining chunks?” T…I’ll let you know what she says.

Then, when my sis and I were in our teens, T loved to mess with my hair. Note that I didn’t say we loved to mess with each others hair…I was the guinea pig in this particular part our relationship. When I was in the 7th grade, T read an article about how cool hair looked if you braided it wet and then slept on it. So, one night while her boyfriend “Jack” was at the house (on whom I had an incredible crush…like I did on all of T’s boyfriends 😲), she wet down my hair and started braiding. I couldn’t wait to see my head afterwards since I pictured myself looking like Bo Derek (look it up, younger peeps…she was in the movie 10) before the actual ‘do’ was finished. After looking in the mirror, I saw that I DIDN’T look like Bo…I actually looked like someone who had just stuck a bobby pin into a light socket.

Gilda Radner as Roseanne RoseannaDanna…I LOVED her!

Anyhoot, I slept on the braids all night long, woke up, took out the rubber bands, and viola! I had half crimped hair, frizzy, absolutely terrifying hair. T hadn’t realized the braids needed to be small and tight for actual ‘waves’ to happen and since she wasn’t the best braider in the world, she didn’t braid up to my scalp so the top of my head was as flat as my chest at that time, while the bottom stuck out like Roseann RoseannaDanna. Since I was already running late, I had to go to school like this and yes, I got a lot of looks. And no, they weren’t admiring. At all. 😐

Now, braiding and making ‘crimps and curls’ might not have been T’s area of expertise, but we thought we had a surefire way of getting noticed when school started back up. One summer, T took some of her allowance, rode her bike to the local ‘Thrifty Drug Store’ and bought a bottle of SunIn. This is still sold today (T? Are you thinking what I’m thinking?) but I’m assuming the formula has changed in the last 35 years. Basically, you put a BIT on your hair, lay out a ‘short’ while, and then bam!…you look like Farrah Fawcett (once again, peeps…look her up…she was actually quite hot 🤭)

We were close, T!

The minute she came home she started spraying our heads and instead of just dampening our locks, she decided to soak our locks. And then, instead of laying out for a few minutes (per the instructions which T and I didn’t read until…after…) we actually toasted ourselves for the entire afternoon…in direct sunlight. Yes, we were dehydrated. Yes, we were burnt (we didn’t care about sunscreen back in the ‘olden days’ 🙄). But it was going to be worth it! We tottered into the bathroom (the dehydration make it difficult to walk), rinsed out our hair and…wait for it…saw that it was orange. ORANGE. I’m not talking about red/coppery highlighty orange. Nope. I’m talking about traffic cone orange that made us both look like circus employees. 🤡 Charmed, I’m sure.

So, T wasn’t great at ‘chemicals’ either but still wanted to mess with my hair. The best solution? Style it! T would blow dry my hair with her white Conair dryer (it was awesome…and lasted for decades! No kidding!) which was great…until she would whip the dryer around from my right to my left, in front of my face, and hit my nose every. single. time. Then, the curling iron was brought out. She waited until it got as hot as a stove top and then would sear curls into my hair…often hitting my ears and neck in the process. In fact, she may have branded me. So, did I look beeeaaaauuuuttttiiiifull after all of this? Well…no. My hair was full of static electricity (we didn’t understand what conditioners were for…we used Prell and that was it🤨) and the curls were all over the place. Literally. But, bless her heart…those were the most fun afternoons we spent together. Truly. 😘

Fast forward to me cutting hubby 2’s hair and O’s. Let’s see…I want to make sure I say this next thing diplomatically…so here goes: Hubby was cheap. His wallets never ever wore out…they just went out of style. So, one day he said this to his sweet wifey: “Kristi. Why are we spending so much money on haircuts for me and O when you have clippers you use on Scooter anyway?” Well…I had no answer for that. Why wasn’t I cutting my family’s hair like I clipped the fur around Scooter’s butt so he wouldn’t get dingleberries? Beats me.

The minute these words were out of his mouth, I ran to get the clippers, put veggie oil on them (didn’t have clipper oil…ce la vie), set up a lawn chair on the deck, got out an old sheet and the ‘barber shop’ was ready to go. O went first. I basically put on a quarter inch blade and shaved his head. He loved it (of course he was 5) and kept saying how ‘cool’ he was. Not ‘popular cool’ but cool…since he had no way to hold in his body heat anymore. Hubby saw this and I could see the regret of his suggestion in his eyes. But, he sat down and told me this: “Kristi. I do not want a shaved head. I have to work tomorrow among mechanics as well as my brother and dad and really don’t want to get made fun of. Just give me a slight trim and go around my ears.”

Ok. Sure. I put on a longer blade and gave him a ‘trim’ and then went around his ears. Now, how to you go AROUND an ear with a STRAIGT edge? Beats the hell out of me. When I saw the results I realized I made hubby look like Spock from Star Trek…the hair around his ears was a completely shaved line and he now looked ‘pointed.’ But, before I could tell him what a miserable job I did, he said this: “Kristi. Can you trim up my mustache and eyebrows too?” SURE!! Why not? Remember how ma trimmed our bangs? Well…I used the same technique and hubby was left with an extremely crooked mustache and most of his left eyebrow gone. When he looked in the mirror he said: “OH MY GOD!!!” Quite loudly, I might add. Trying to salvage what I could from the incident I replied with this: “But honey…I saved you $8.00 😏”. I would love to tell you what he said, but I’d better not. The words would make ma faint.

So, why am I remembering all of this today? Well, for the upteenth time I just colored my hair and trimmed/thinned my bangs. EVERY single time I do this, I swear to ma and sis that this is the last time I’ll ever work on my own hair. I’ve even thrown away my scissors while ma watched (I live a mile from Walgreens…just saying 😁). Have I looked in the mirror to see the color and how my bangs look? No. I have not. I got out of the shower, towel dried my hair, combed it while the mirror was steamed up, and then boogied out of the bathroom. I’m trying to get up my courage to go back in, but keep finding things to do. Like write to you all. Anyhoot…wish me luck.

Kristi xoxo

“The stars at night are big and bright…”

So, Bill is in Sarasota which is pissing me off royally. He’s visiting his son and having a great time but here’s the thing: it’s WINDY, COLD, and DREARY here but SUNNY, WARM, and BEAUTIFUL there. Blech. Anyhoot, I started thinking about the times I would travel down to Texas to visit my sonshine when he lived there for 3 years.

Getting ready for a ‘safari’ ride in Texas! It was so much fun!

The first time I went was when O and I drove to Texas to unload all of his stuff he and his dad had already dropped off. Yes…you read that correctly. He and his dad took a U-Haul down with all of his stuff but DIDN’T unload any of it. “That’s women folks work! 🙄 ” So, when he got back to IL, we took his car down (and then I hitch-hiked home. Just kidding…I flew). The drive is about 12 hours and the first 4 were fun. Then the tedium set in and come to find out, I have to pee a lot more than O does. I’d need to stop every couple of hours (since I was guzzling water while he drove…in hindsight, it should have been more of an ‘adult’ beverage😳 ) and he’d say exactly what his dad used to say to me: “Already? Are you sure?” Hmmmm. Yes, already and yes, I’m sure. We would then look for places to ‘go’ and he’d keep driving by great prospects. I would say: “What’s wrong with there?” And his reply? “Ma…we need to get a few more miles in.” So I said: “For fuck sakes (sorry, ma), if I go NOW or LATER we’ll still drive the same amount of miles.” The response I received consisted of him rolling his eyes, sighing dramatically, and then taking me to a rest stop where serial killers like to hang out. Sheesh.

Actual map of that day. Seriously.

When we finally got to Texas and my ass was asleep and tingly, we spent the next few days getting his apartment set up. Then, I told him I wanted to sightsee before I left. We first went to the Cultural District in Fort Worth where there are museums all over the place. You can walk from one to other and they are pretty close together except for the museum I wanted to go too which was about a half mile away. O wanted to drive to it and I told him that we could just walk…it wasn’t that far. Well, a half a mile isn’t that far unless it’s 110 degrees Fahrenheit in the shade. Literally. But, here’s what I always heard: “Dry heat is so much better than humid heat.” Bullshit. It’s not. With humid heat, you at least have some moisture on you. So, after trudging to the museum, he was grouchy (I’m using a very mild word for his mood because I can’t think of a stronger one 🙄 ), I was gasping for breath and we both felt like raisins that had just trekked through the Sahara. Now, I’m sure my sweet peeps are asking if all of this was worth it. Long story short: No. 😐

I also wanted to go to the FAMOUS Fort Worth Stockyards because of the AMAZING cattle drive they have. I had to convince O it would be great to stand outside in an area that smelled like cow poop while waiting to see cows stampede down a street. But, there were other things to see too; for example, shops that sold t-shirts saying “My cowboy went to Texas and all I got was this t-shirt” and other such goodies. However, 90% of the shops were closed the day we were there…we don’t know why. Of course, before the cattle drive I had to pee…again…so we finally found an open shop. They directed us to a bathroom in the building and told us the ‘code’ we would need to open the doors. Well…the ‘codes’ didn’t work and I was starting to worry a tad. But, I knew if I peed myself, the 105 degree heat (it was much cooler that day 🤨) would dry it quickly. Finally, someone else came to use the toilet and we just slunk in after them when their code worked.

Watch out for the stampede.

Finally, it was time for the ‘stampede’! People were lined up, 3 rows deep, all along the street and the excitement was palpable. There was a good ole’ boy (that’s Texas talk 🤠) with a big cowboy hat on standing behind us and after hearing us talk with our mid-western accent, asked where we were from. Since O was grouchy again and didn’t want to visit with anyone, I told the guy that I lived in IL. He got so excited…he said (in the best Southern drawl ever): “Why, I know some people named ‘Miller’ that live in IL. You know ’em?” Now, I swear he said this…O will attest to it. So I said: “Sure! They’re nice people!” He was very pleased we had this national connection to one another.

Anyhoot, it was time for the cows. We started hearing some hooves and here it was…what we had waited an hour for. It was 5 (it had to have been an off day) long-horn cattle PLODDING down the street more slowly than my 95 year old neighbor walks, with 2 men who looked like they had never ridden a horse a day in their lives behind them. The entire ‘drive’ took 2 minutes and I’ve been more impressed watching grass grow… however, I told O how awesome it was so he would think it was worth it. He didn’t. 🐮

Ma drove down with me a couple of times too and those drives were always interesting but the first one was the most memorable.

We left the day after Christmas and luckily, there wasn’t snow to worry about.  However, this happened to be during the time of some of the worst flooding Missouri ever experienced, and it started in mid-December and lasted through the beginning of January.  The news media literally reported and said this:  “DO NOT TRAVEL THROUGH MISSOURI!”  I said this to ma, and her response was, “Kristi, we are going to Texas come hell or high water.”  Well, the high water was there, so I prepared for hell. 😈

This is a shot from the actual bridge during the actual time I was driving.

The first couple hours through scenic IL wasn’t bad but as we got closer to the Missouri border, we turned on AM radio (take a look at your navigation/computer system on your dash my young peeps…it’s a button around the area of Sirius and your iTunes library 🙄).  A reporter (a couple of miles away from us) was yakking about how she was outside in ‘flood waters’ and how she had never seen anything like it in her life.  In fact, she sounded a bit hysterical and I looked over at ma who was serenely looking out the window and wondering if we had passed the “Hen House” yet.  A ‘greasy spoon’ dive that was last cleaned (at least this one) in 1973.

Anyhoot, sheets of rain started falling and we saw rivers in ditches beside the road…it was getting precariously close to the highway.  I said: “Ma.  I need you to keep your eyes open.  I’m driving in a freaking flood so you can see your precious grandson and wander around an Ikea for the first time.  I need your help navigating.”  Her reply?  “What do you want me to do?”  I said:  “MA.  KEEP YOUR EYES OPEN AND TELL ME IF I’M GOING TO DRIVE INTO THE FUCKING MISSISSIPPI.”  I felt like Noah steering the Ark at first, but then realized if this really was another biblical flood, the only survivors on earth would be me and ma and I wondered how long we would last.  You know…without us killing one another.

Things weren’t too bad until we got a bit farther south and the rain started to turn into icy drizzle.  My hands were gripped on the wheel and we started creeping along at about 30 MPH in my ma’s light sedan, and while I was trying to say “Our Father…”, ma asked if we were getting behind schedule.  “Yes, ma.  We are behind schedule.  But only because I’m trying to keep you alive.”  With that, she started looking around for a place for lunch…my biggest worry too.  By the way, we settled on a Wendy’s.  When we travel, we go whole hog. 😉

Back on the road, things were getting worse.  There are a lot of twisty, hilly roads in Missouri and it was fun navigating through them while they were covered with ice, while barely being able to see out the windshield and ma asking me what other shops I like in Texas.  I snapped out something and she asked if I needed a break driving.  For fuck sakes, of course I needed a break.  I was about 20 miles from getting out of the car and hiking home.  However, there was no way on God’s green earth I was going to let ma drive.  I don’t know how to put this and want to be tactful:  ma’s driving sucks balls.

I know she’s picking up the phone right now to screech at me, but it’s true. She decides what lanes are turn lanes, whether or not she can make it through a yellow light a quarter mile away, and likes to sight-see instead of concentrating on the road. So no. I did not want ma to drive in a floody ice storm. 🙄

We finally made it to the middle of Oklahoma and got a room in the first hotel we saw. Well…let me clarify…the only hotel in this town of 30. The guy behind the bullet proof, locked cage gave us our key and we traipsed up to the room. The walls were beautiful, the color of baby poop after carrots have been consumed, and the towels for the shower were so thin I thought you were supposed to flush them. Anyhoot, the room was like a little oasis after that driving and after we (meaning me) moved every piece of heavy furniture in front of the door, we slept like babies. The next day, when we just had a couple more hours to go was sunny and bright. Go figure.

Anyhoot, I both hated it and loved it when O lived in Texas. It’s an awesome state with so so much to do and the people are truly wonderful…I’d always come home saying ‘howdy’ and ‘y’all’ for at least a few days. I wasn’t single then (of course) but I’m telling you that some of those cowboys were sexy as hell. I made so many great memories with O and ma and we always had a blast. But, I also had to say goodbye to O and that was tough. I was never able to do it without bawling. The plus side of that? The stewards on the plane thought I was a basket case (which I was) and always gave me free soda and extra snacks. Yum.

Kristi xoxo

“When it’s right…you just know.” ~ Janet Heffernan (King of Queens)

Dear Bill,

So, I know you aren’t going to mind me writing this to you in my public blawg because you are so supportive of all that I do; plus, you also don’t mind being in the limelight…after all, you were in show choir in high school (I just don’t understand why I wasn’t asked to audition…you know how well I sing 🙄).

Anyhoot, you are on a plane to Sarasota to visit your son and I know how excited you are to do this. You guys are going to have so much fun and I simply can’t wait to open up all of the souvenirs you are going to bring to me (cough…cough…🤨) but I already miss you. I know…how sappy can you get? Well…knowing me…a lot more, dude.

When we got together a couple of months ago, I was so scared. You knew I had come out of a very toxic and often abusive relationship and I knew you had left someone who had often been cold and distant with you. It was like we were both sponges…needing to soak up all the other had to offer. We both needed to be reassured we had worth, value. Remember our first hug? It was like I had been in a desolate, empty space and just needed to absorb your warmth to make me feel right again.

Why is that a bad thing? You know, the “You should feel good about yourself…no one can give that to you.” I disagree…to a degree (I’m a poet and don’t even know it 🙄). I do feel good about myself. It took me a year to realize I am capable and strong and deserving…I started feeling good about myself and that has kept growing day by day. But I was still lonely. Being lonely doesn’t mean you aren’t happy with who you are…but it does mean you are missing a piece in your life that would complete the picture of why you are. Why are people so quick to say “You shouldn’t have to have someone to be OK.”? I thought humans were supposed to connect. Love. Experience things together…especially 2 by 2 (thanks for that lesson, Noah 🤨). I don’t know how many times I heard people say: “Kristi, if you don’t find someone, you’ll be fine being alone for the rest of your life.” Yep. I woulda been fine. But fine isn’t happy or content or satisfied. It’s just…well…fine.

I didn’t know what to expect when me met up for the first time since our senior year. Yes, you knew I had a crush on you in high school. Why the hell did you think I loaned you so many pencils or always went to the garbage can in homeroom and walked by your desk even though it was a row out of the way? Hello??!! How much more obvious could I be? 😐

But it wasn’t meant to be for us then, was it? You needed to have other relationships and your kids and experience life in the way that you have. And ditto for me. My sonshine wouldn’t be who he is if I hadn’t been with his dad…and he’s a perfect son for me (don’t tell him that…he’ll get a big head 😁) .

After the relationship with J, I didn’t think I’d be able to love again. I also didn’t think I’d be loveable. You see, he made me feel so fucking (sorry, ma 😳) loved at first but then slowly, methodically destroyed it…and me…over the next 3 years. Not only did I feel like a failure because I couldn’t make him happy or fix in him what was broken, I got broken too. As silly as it might sound to others, after an abusive relationship, you feel different about yourself. Damaged. Used. Like you were a shiny new diamond at first but are now a little piece of powdery coal. It changes you.

But knowing this doesn’t keep it from happening. Knowing a snake isn’t venomous doesn’t mean I won’t scream in terror and run (just ask my neighbor…she’ll tell you 😐), and knowing I was jaded and confused and distraught, etc. didn’t mean I could patch it up right away. Understanding is one thing. Being able to mend it is something else entirely.

See, I knew I loved you not long after we got together. Yep, it was fast. But I’ve known you most of my life and it just seemed easy with us…natural…right. In past relationships, I sometimes had to ask others “How do you know when you are in love with someone?” Almost like I needed some kind of litmus test to determine if I was actually ‘loving’ or just wanting to love so much I sorta talked myself into it. And I have to admit that I still had some doubts about you, even after I said those 3 words you like to hear (no…not “You are right”…the other ones 😛). That is, until the other day when I looked at you and said (quite spontaneously I might add) “I’d go through these last few years again and again if they brought me to you.” I knew then that this was real for me. And I meant…and mean…those words completely (much like I tell O I would go through labor again and again if I had too for him while he rolls his eyes at me ❤).

But, even though I’m sure of myself, I was still questioning you. It’s not your fault because you were doing everything ‘right’. But in the beginning, J did too. If anyone would have asked me then if I thought he was capable of ever hurting me, I would have laughed and said a vehement NO! I can understand where my doubts came from.

So, I came to see you these past couple of days before your trip and really tested you, didn’t I? Anything I could think of I threw up in your face and acted like a complete ass-wipe. I was daring you to walk away. Daring you to say: “Get the fuck out!” Daring you to say: “You are crazy…”. Daring you to say: “This isn’t going to work.” The whole time I was doing it, I was hating myself but I couldn’t stop myself. Something inside of me took over and I didn’t fight it. Maybe I was just giving you an ‘out’ that you could take now…instead of later.

But you didn’t, did you? You didn’t shout back. You didn’t walk away. You didn’t push me out the door. Nope. You did something else: you cried. You cried and said that you loved me and understood me and knew how scared I was to be vulnerable with a man again. Then you hugged me and told me that you loved me and wanted me and that you needed me in your life. That’s when I knew this was real for you too. I saw it in your eyes: compassion for me even though I was putting you through a test you certainly didn’t deserve.

I can’t believe what those actions and words from you did for me…it’s like years of weight slipped off my shoulders and I could breathe again. I didn’t have to walk on eggs. I didn’t have to fake a mood to make you happy. I didn’t have to pretend to be perfect. I didn’t have to hide who I was. You accept all of me and that’s something I’ve never…ever…experienced before. Thank you so much for that. And Bill? I accept you for you too. You can always be just ‘Bill’ around me. Sweet or grumpy. Happy or sad. Confident or frustrated. It doesn’t matter. I’m here for you.

Anyhoot, I just wanted to tell you how special you are. How sweet you are. How smart you are. How funny you are. And how loved you are. God put us together for a reason and honey, I thank him every night for that.

Kristi xoxo

“…they did the monster mash…”

So, we just celebrated Halloween and for some reason I started thinking about the creepy people that I’ve had experiences with. 😲

Bill and I were driving back from Indiana and we stopped at a Taco Smell (we’re living large, folks 🙄). After eating our tacos and “power-bowls”, which include black beans which Edward snatched from me and then farted out for 70 miles, we walked Ed around the area so he could pee. There was a guy by the take-out entrance and Bill was walking a bit behind me. The guy yelled: “Hey…your dog is cute!” So, like an idiot I totter over to him and he’s wearing a ‘security uniform’ that fit him horribly: the pants were inches too long, the shirt was too large, etc. Anyhoot, I wanted to give this ‘dog lover’ a chance to pet my Ed but when we got to him, he didn’t reach down to pet him or anything. He just stood there and smiled at me in the creepiest way possible. Then, Bill sauntered into sight and I said I had to go.

The really weird thing was how the guy was parked. His car was not pulled into an actual parking spot, and now that I think about it, he didn’t have any take-out either. He parked so his car was facing the street. I got a vibe from him that made me get goosebumps and Bill felt the same. Eddie didn’t jump on him and just kind of looked at me which is definitely out of his character (he jumps and loves on everyone 🥰). SO…as we were driving away, Bill said this: “That man was going to kidnap you!” Yes. I know what you’re thinking…”why in the name of all that’s holy in this world would someone want to kidnap me?” Answer: because I was there! Listen peeps…it gave me chills.

My poor dad always had to sit by me on our family vacations!

Once, when I was flying home from Texas after visiting O in Fort Worth, a guy was seated next to me and he was wearing a trench coat (seriously!), clompy shoes, and he had an old style iPod (it was a real antique 😐). The flight was getting bumpy and as my family can attest too, I get motion sick very easily 🤢 . I literally (I hate it when people use that word but why the hell not?) can’t ride in a backseat of a car because I’ll barf, and even watching the ticker tape words under newscasts makes me get the dry heaves. Charmed, I’m sure.

Anyhoot, I told the guy this: “I’m probably going to puke and I’m really sorry if I do and I’ll aim the puke bag and my head away from you.” He said: “That’s OK and I’m glad you are talking to me because you remind me of my counselor.” Oh. Ok. I said: “Hmmm. So, were you on vacation in Texas?” (All the while I have that bitter, icky taste in my mouth…I’m sure I smelled yummy… 🙄). He said: “No…I was just released from the hospital.” Me: “Oh no! I hope you’re OK! What hospital?” And he said (get ready for it…): “The North Texas State Hospital.”

So, to make a long story even longer and more boring, we yacked all the way home and I didn’t barf at all (I was kind of proud of this 🤨). When we exited the plane, I noticed that the man sitting across the aisle from us led him out and there were cops by the baggage claim. After I got home, I looked up the hospital and it’s for the criminally insane. No joke. The hospital has 400 of the WORST criminal offenders in Texas who are…well…insane. Lord knows why he was in there but he seemed nice. However, I was glad I didn’t puke on a potential serial killer, upset him, and then have him come after me like Michael Myers in Halloween. Just sayin’. 🎃

I was also freaked out in an Uber while in Texas too. I used them all the time to go places and on this day, I was going to my son’s Verizon store to see him (actually, to bug him 😛). When the Uber pulled up, I got in the front because the back was full of stuff and there wasn’t room. To be honest, I didn’t even think about this. After about a minute, the guy turned to me and said I was beautiful. Well, right away I knew he had a screw loose. He kept talking about how lucky my hubby was (apparently not…🙄) and how he wasn’t married. Anyhoot, I knew the way to O’s store like the back of my hand (which I actually don’t study much since it now has age spots and looks like my grandma’s hands did 😕) and before we got to his exit, the driver took another one and we started driving in the country! I am hear to tell you that the hair on the back of my neck stood straight up (the only other time this has ever happened was when O was bullied in the 2nd grade and believe me, I wanted to bully the little brat back badly 😬). My phone was in my backpack purse which I was holding and I started to text when the man said: “I want to show you Texas.” I told him I had seen it with my son who was waiting for me and that I just received a text from him (I hadn’t…O wouldn’t realize I was missing until 2023 🙄) saying he was tracking me and wanted to make sure I was OK. Then he said this: “Will you get drinks with me tonight?” I said I sure would (not), just to appease him.

When we got to the store 20 minutes late, he gave me his card and come to find out, he was a State Farm Insurance agent (I use Geico and love love love them 🦎). I told him I’d call him in a bit to make plans, grabbed my pack, and boogied out of the car. When I got into the store, I was crying and shaking and the Verizon sweeties ran to me. I told them what happened and we called the police and Uber. And here’s the thing…the entire time this was happening, I was thinking about what the Dateline special about me would be like: “Kristi, a professor from IL, vanished while on her way to eat hamburgers with her son in Texas. Police are assuming she’s dead!” SERIOUSLY! That’s EXACTLY what I was thinking and I truly believe, if I hadn’t played along a bit and said O tracks me (he doesn’t 😐), I would have been fertilizer for the fields. Yikes.

And creepy things actually started happening as early as 5th grade. There was a guy in the other 5th grade class and he was a HORRIBLE bully who loved to pick on me. Glasses, skinny, zits, braces, mousy hair, etc. gave him a lot of ammo. One day, the recess bell rang and I was running down the hill towards the playground and he grabbed me and pulled me behind a tree (you can’t make this shit up…trust me… 😲) and put his hands around my neck and squeezed until my eyes were watering and I was red. He finally let go when he heard the teacher yelling for us and I was petrified. I never told because I was so so scared he’d hurt me worse but I steered clear of him the best I could.

Now, the follow-up: While living in Houston where he stayed for a couple of years before moving back ‘home, he actually stabbed to death a 66 year old woman (when he was 18) who was owner of the apartment complex he lived in. The case became cold until 2011 when DNA technology could pinpoint him. In the meantime, he was a registered sex offender who raped a 17 year old girl. When all of this came to light, I got chills…his bullying was just the tip of the iceberg!

So, because of all of this along with me being fascinated with the study of psychopaths, I study serial killers and teach all about them in some of my classes. Did you know that the FBI says there are over 2,000 ACTIVE serial killers in the U.S.? Isn’t that scary? And I know from studying so many of them that they look like ‘regular’ people (for the most part). Take Dennis Radar…president of his Lutheran congregation in Wichita, KS and he was the BTK killer his entire adult life. Who would have thought this husband, dad, church going ‘Christian’ would be a killer? Hmmm.

When you think about it, it makes you wonder how many psychopaths you’ve been close too. There are approximately 1,150,000 male psychopaths in the U.S. and about 16% of all male prisoners are psychopaths. Eeeks! And yes, women can be psychopaths too, but are a bit more rare. Also, female psychopaths tend to be more covert…verbally aggressive, sexually manipulative, etc. They are a ‘different breed’ so to speak.

So, I guess the moral of this post is that Halloween isn’t the only time monsters are out and about…these people (about 1-3% of the population) are around us everyday. And, like I tell my students all the time, listen to your instinct. If someone is making you feel uneasy or goosebumpy or the hair on your neck is at attention…go. When we are talking about ‘bad’ things in some of our classes, I make my sweeties repeat this to me ad nauseum after I ask this question: “What does Professor K say?” TRUST YOUR GUT! 🤨

Kristi xoxo

P.S. Ma, are you glad I didn’t say fuck today? 😁

“You better watch your step…” ~ Elvis Costello

So, Bill is a recovering alcoholic and he attends his AA meetings via Zoom every morning. When he’s at my house, I often hear these while I’m fiddling around in the living room or shoving an extra bagel down my gullet in the kitchen. Anyhoot, as the members talk about the 12 steps and other things pertaining to AA, I think about how this would actually be helpful to those of us with mental illness as well. Not that we have an addiction, mind you…but just that the basic tenets could also apply to us.

You know, everyday I take my meds and that’s pretty much it. I ‘live’ with the bipolar everyday, but don’t necessarily ‘work on it’ everyday and I think that’s a huge difference. I guess I believe that if my meds are working and my moods aren’t causing to me to either spend a few thousand bucks a day or not get out of bed, then everything is A-OK. But, is it? Can I take more ‘control?’ Can I start ‘working’ on my illness everyday? Hmmmm…

Anyhoot, let’s take a look-see at the 12 steps but rewritten and paraphrased (by your truly 🤨) to be used in terms of mental illness:

We admit we are sometimes/often powerless over our mental illness and that our lives can be unmanageable. Hmmmmm. As much as I might think I’m in charge of this fucking bipolar (sorry, ma…but you hate it too 😐), in actuality, I’m not. A few weeks ago, when I was transitioning off of an anti-depressant for a new one, the progressive reduction in the old med was too much and I had 3 absolutely horrible days without knowing why. Bawling non-stop, being so anxious I was beside myself, sweating and shaking, feeling nauseous…the whole 10 yards. It made me realize how powerful the meds are that I’m on, but also how much I truly do need them to feel ‘better’ since when I didn’t have them before, I was almost unable to function. I guess I liken it to a diabetic and insulin…we need these meds to keep on keeping on.

We believe that the Power we conceptualize can lead us to the path of treatment and hope. We turn our will and lives over to God as we perceive Him personally. Now, I’ve actually lost Facebook friends (yes, I’m 17…I actually think the term ‘social media’ is a synonym for high school 🙄) over this next one: “Kristi, if you TRULY believed in God, you’d be cured.” What? Heh? Ummmm…OOOOOKKKKKAAAAAYYYYY. So, in the same vein, if ma would have believed in God more, her breast cancer would have magically gone away? Right?

Why is it people will concede that God gave us the insight and knowledge that guide medical staff, but can’t see the same when the illness is mental? “God gave us chemotherapy.” Yep. I do believe he guided the development of it with human will behind the actual creation of the medication. “God will heal you of bipolar.” Well….nooooooo…but he pushes me to get the treatment I need and believe me, he pushed me hard for years before I decided to get off my ass and finally do it.

Then, it comes to ‘what God’ we are talking about and this is where things get tricky. In fact my son, who isn’t a believer (which breaks his mama’s heart but I digress 🙁) brings this up a lot: “Which ‘God’ are you talking about…the Power in Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoism, Shinto, Christianity, etc.?” My answer? All of them. You see, when I think of ‘God’, I think of the alpha and omega concept: he’s everything to everyone. He’s the center of all of these in the way the religions are conceptualized. God, to me, is omniscient. He’s all-knowing…all-seeing…all everything. I totally agree there’s not one ‘right’ religion. There’s religion and then there’s the Powerful One who can be conceptualized in so many ways in so many cultures in so many belief systems. If he’s truly ‘God’, he’s all God all the way. This might sound a bit juvenile but it’s what makes sense to me.

Would this be ‘funny’ if it depicted any other religion? Hmmmm…

Now, do I share this with a lot of people willy-nilly? No. I actually don’t. Talking about religion and God (which I contend are 2 separate things) can be tricky in this day and age…at least talking about Christianity is from what I’ve experienced (particularly from colleagues at work who have actually called me stupid for thinking a God exists…would they say the same if I were of another faith?) There’s seems to be less tolerance and respect for ‘us’ than those who might be Muslim or of another faith. It’s almost like being a Christian isn’t as ‘politically correct’ anymore, but being anything else is to be revered and respected. I hate to cuss when talking about religion, but what the hell is that all about? Anyhoot, it’s something that can turn people off or make them think you’re just another religious zealot out to save the world. Despite what some people may think, you can believe in God and not be a wacko who tries to lay hands on you the minute they meet you. Just sayin. 🙄

We make searching and fearless inventories of who we are and acknowledge what we have. We affirm to God, ourselves, and others the mental illness we have been diagnosed with. We admit we’re ready for God to help us learn to manage and live with the mental illness. It took me decades to do the first. Decades of pretending I wasn’t bipolar…denying I was bipolar…hiding the fact I am bipolar. I didn’t want this illness that some people think turns you into a serial killer or psychopath (yes, I’ve read papers that talk about both 🙄).

Then, admitting it to others. When I first posted on Facebook about being bipolar, I was petrified. Truly. And in some ways, I had a right to be: I lost friends, the respect of some colleagues, the closeness of some family…there were consequences to coming out. Then I started this blawg where I put everything out there. For as many people who question my sanity in doing this, I have more that thank me and say they have learned to be more accepting of their own mental illnesses. It’s so so worth it. In fact, and I don’t say this lightly, I’d lose every ‘friend’ I have if I help a handful of my students with their own struggles. Truly.

We humbly ask God to help us with our shortcomings. We make a list of people we’ve harmed and plan our amends to them. We make the amends unless they would be hurtful. I love the idea of taking personal inventories and making amends. I know I’ve done really really really (times 1000 😳) shitty things in my life and I know I owe a lot of people a lot of apologies. I’ve made so many of them, but some I haven’t made. Like, I’d love to apologize to my son’s dad for the roller coaster I was often on when I refused to see my bipolar for what it was and seek treatment when we were married. However, to be honest, I don’t think he would give a crap or even try to understand; so I’m not going to open that can of worms. I don’t think he ‘needs’ my amends.

Amends are so hard to do. Saying ‘forgive me’ is easy (so to speak 😐) but it often doesn’t feel like ‘enough’ to me and probably doesn’t to the one I’m apologizing too as well. And, I know amends aren’t the end of things. When I’m cycling through mania (which I kinda wish I was right now because I want to start painting the basement and it would be nice to get it done in a day 🙄) or depression, I know ma gets hurt by that. I know I say and do things that people don’t understand or take in a way I didn’t mean. We are never done making amends…because unfortunately, we are always doing wrongs. And…we need to admit that.

We continue to take personal inventories and address issues promptly. We pray to our God to use his will for us and to give us the power to carry it out. We carry this message to others and offer them hope in terms of their mental illnesses too. What good is all of this insight and work if we just keep it to ourselves? Why learn the lessons I have if I’m not willing to teach them to others. And, why would I ever think I can handle this alone. 45 years of trying says different.

Finally, in AA meetings the serenity prayer is recited: “God, grant me the power to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

Don’t you just love this? It makes so much sense to me. Why would I want to pray for the ‘impossible’? “God, take this bipolar away…now.” That’s not going to happen. I feel like I was given this for a reason and I’m the way I’m supposed to be in terms of this brain disease. But, asking God to help me manage it…change what I can…give me the ability to do what’s right regarding my bipolar actually feels very empowering.

I guess we can all use ‘steps’ in our lives in various ways. Steps to climb up the ladder of success…steps to take us upstairs to our crying babies…steps tried in order to learn to walk again…so many steps in our lives. But these steps are important too. Steps to make us see our illnesses more clearly. To see that we can’t handle them alone. To see we have obligations to others. To see that we are fallible and can take measures to either correct it or make up for it. All I know is this: learning about AA and seeing in work in Bill’s life has been so helpful in my own. And maybe that’s the final message of the program. You aren’t alone. You have Him. You have us. And ultimately, you have yourself. And when you think about it, that’s a lot of support to lean on.

Kristi xoxo

“I don’t want to grow up…” ~ The Ramones

So, I was perusing amazon the other day and came across a book called “How Not to Act Old” by Pamela Satran and it really interested me for a couple of reasons. First, what the fuck (sorry ma, I’m already cussing 😳)? Do we really need lessons on how not to ‘act old’ in this day and age? What is ‘acting old’ anyway and why must we shy away from it? Why is ‘acting young’ so much better? Second, why in the name of all that is holy do we fear aging so much in our society that we have to learn to ‘act younger’? Does that seem right to you? Grrrrrrrr.

Actually, this book is really funny and the author is excellent at satire. Plus, if I must be brutally honest with myself, I think I need a few of these ‘lessons’ myself. Let’s take a look see at the ones I apparently need to work on…I may need to leave a few out for the sake of brevity (look up that word, youngsters…it’s not used much anymore 🙄).

One of the tips is to not talk to strangers which is something us old folks do. My son is probably cheering right now because he absolutely hates it when I do this, but what can I say? I’m a talker and baby, this bird likes to chirp! No one is a stranger to me…literally. I’ll talk to anybody and everybody anytime and anywhere. And, while that makes my son very very nervous, ma will laugh after she realizes the person isn’t going to spit in my face.

The other day we were at Wally Farts and I was in the make-up aisle looking for the only lipstick that looks decent on me (Maybelline 24 hour matte…#50 🤨 ) and there was another gal yacking on her phone which kinda pisses me off. Is there anywhere we can go where we can get away from those damn things (I wanted to say ‘fucking’ instead of ‘damn’ but ma might get mad so I resisted 😬)? Anyhoot, she said the word ‘Aunt Linda’ and after she hung up I said: “Was that Linda?” And she tentatively said it was. I said: “Aunt Linda…from Decatur?” And she said YES! Do you actually know her? I said of course I did…I was trying to get some lipstick for her and this gal actually said: “She sent me to do that too!” Then ma and I started cracking up and the gal did too! I could hear her continuing to laugh through the body lotions aisle (note: I need to put that on my shopping list) and it made me happy. If my son had been there? He would have left the store and called an Uber for me. I guarantee it.

This is the exact watch I had…sigh…

Another suggestion is not to wear a watch. Heh?? I grew up wearing watches and since my phone isn’t connected to me via an umbilical cord like I know others have, I need to know the time. My first ‘fancy’ watch was a gold number from a store named “Venture” and it had the red numbers that lit up when you pushed a button. It was awesome and I loved it…very ‘tech’. I actually have a lot of watches I’ve collected over the years: Tweety bird, Hoops and YoYo, Mickey Mouse, various Timex’es and I wear them according to my mood. When O was a little guy, I had an Elmo watch and I’d say: “Elmo says it’s time for a nap!” Worked like a charm.

Another suggestion is to not talk about menopause. Yeah. Right. Look, when I was sweating like a dog every freaking day of the month for 2 years straight, wanted to kick anyone that got in my way, had mood swings far above and beyond anything bipolar can be responsible for, and saw my belly grow day by day because my metabolism was getting shot to hell…I’m going to bitch about it. To everyone. Hello??!! If I’m miserable, I want others to be too. It’s just a quirk of mine.

(NOTE: skip this part, ma). In another part of the book, the author says that although men continue to be randy throughout their lives (tell me about it 😐), women don’t want to really have ‘it’ anymore. OK. Here’s another area where I must be an anomoly because good Lord above, I still like ‘it’. Why is it assumed that older women don’t like to have sex? I hate to blame anyone for this situation but I tend to think that if our men (I’m leaving out women as a partner because I think we’re already OK at this) romanced us like they did when we were young…quit wearing sweatpants around the house all day while carrying a beer…stopped watching the boob tube for hours on end…stopped assuming that going out to dinner is just too much trouble…and not ogle young ladies that are barely old enough to vote then guess what folks? Women might really like it ‘again.’ Hello, men. Ever hear of foreplay? Sweeties, take it from me…that never gets too old for us. K?

This is one badass grammy! From: The Bored Panda

And tattoos? Not for the old? I disagree. What the hell? I’m getting older and fewer and fewer people are going to want to see my bod so why not get it covered in ink? I’ve actually got 6 tattoos and am getting a sun/moon on my right upper arm this fall. Ma doesn’t know about this and she is going to be calling me in 5-4-3-2-1…hold on, I’d better take this. 🙄

And, this brings me to something else ma has told sissy and I since were were 4. Long hair isn’t for older women. In other words, having 2 inch hair is the ONLY style acceptable for ‘cough cough’ women of a certain age. With no disrespect to ma, and I know I speak for sissy as well, bullshit! My longer hair can be used to cover up my face when my wrinkles are a bit more pronounced, look really great when nothing else does, and makes me feel like I’m at least a year younger than I really am. Win win win.

OMG. Me in the 80’s. Good Lord.

The author also talks about what you shouldn’t wear as an older woman and I agree with them…particularly the bright blue eye shadow which every single 80 year old I know wears (and yes, I live in a very old neighborhood where I’m the youngest resident by about 50 years so I know a lot of 80 year old women 👵). I don’t want to dress in ‘Jr.’ clothes…for fuck (sorry, ma 🙄) sakes, the day I show my midriff in public is the day you need to commit me, but I’m not going to wear these ‘new’ high waist ‘vintage’ jeans either. No way in hell. Look, maybe the ‘young folk’ think having the 80’s back is fun, but these are the jeans that us older people look at in our school pics and laugh at. No way are those boobie-touchers going on this bod. I will continue to wear my boring old Levi’s with the button fronts so when I eat too much dessert, I can unfasten a couple of ’em and shove more cake in. Seriously…what could be better than that?

Last one that made me think a bit? ‘Don’t fear the thong.’ Oh…I don’t know about y’all, but I fear them…a lot. Look, underwear is supposed to cover your underarea and keep you…well…contained. Free from drippies. Protected from chafing jeans. There is no way on God’s green earth I’m going to wear a 3″ swatch of fabric with dental floss holding it together in the back. I tried them. Once. And I spent hours with my hand picking the floss out of my butt crack which I’m sure looked very sexy. Regular panties it is.

So, getting older may not be cool, and yes, there are suggestions on how not to act too old, but here’s how I see it: I’ve gotten to 53 and I’ll be damned if I’m not going to take advantage of it. There are just some things us old folk can take advantage of and be OK…like staring at handsome firefighters while saying something naughty. “I can’t help it…I’m old.” That sort of thing. Pros to getting older? You can act about anyway you want and blame it on age. Cons? Well my sweet peeps…that’s a whole other post.

Kristi xoxo

“Is there a letter in your bag for me?” ~ Please Mister Postman

Dear 15 year old Kristi,

Howdy! Here I am in the future wanting to tell you a few things about what your life is going to be about and to give you info I think might be important to you. And please don’t roll your eyes…again…you will be 53 someday. I guarantee it.

Anyhoot, some easy stuff first: quit picking at your zits because it only makes them worse (you aren’t going to believe this, but in 2020 there is actually a show on Pimple Popping…it’s great!), use sunscreen every single day, don’t use Sun-In on your hair before your senior photos because your hair will be orange, you can shave up higher than your knees and not be a hooker (like Linda Belcher says…you’re going to love her 😏), and for the love of all that’s holy…do your freaking homework (you are going to be a college professor someday…can you believe it?).

So far, pretty easy. Right? Hmmm.

Look, when you are 16 you are going to be struggling with an eating disorder. In fact, it’s starting right now. Ma is really going to start worrying in about a year and will be sending you to the ‘best’ psychologist in Decatur. He’s a shit. Tell ma, respectfully, you want to see someone else…this is really important to do so work hard convincing her. You see, he’s going to hurt you if you don’t…in fact, he’s going to sexually abuse you. At first you won’t really understand what’s happening until you are so dependent on him you won’t be able to break free easily. So, find someone else and work as hard as you can with them. K?

Guess what? By 53, you are going to have had 3 hubbies (🙄) and yes, you will marry them all no matter what I say because you certainly didn’t listen to ma and she’s actually a lot brighter than me. Anyhoot, hubby 1 is who you’ll meet in college. And no, you can’t live on love. And yes, landlords like to be paid. ‘Nuff said on that one.

Hubby 2 is going to change your life because that’s who you have a son with! Right now, our son is 27 and he’s so amazing. He’s smart and funny and talented and your life is so wonderful because he’s a part of it. In fact, you won’t be able to imagine your life any other way. You and hubby 2 are going to be married for 13 happy years, and believe it or not, he’s a guy you are in high school with right now…but I’m going to keep you in suspense 🤨. But here’s the thing, around your 13th anniversary you guys are going to experience a lot of conflict and I wish my suggestion for you would be to try harder to make things work. But I believe the past builds on the future and that at 53 (yes, you get wrinkles and still get zits…God has a sense of humor 🙄) I’m where I’m supposed to be. Just be sure to cherish every year you do have together and by the way, read The Art of Loving by Fromm. It’s not as exciting as Judy Blume but the info is something you can use. 🤓

Hubby 3 is a wild one. Like, wild. You won’t believe this, but you’re going to marry an outlaw biker. Yep. Little prissy you! It’s not going to be easy in the beginning. He’s a troubled man who is going to push you away again and again and test you a million times in the first 2 years. Stick it out (and no, I’m not talking about physical abuse). He loves you so much and needs you so much. He’s going to realize this and become such a softer, sweeter, open guy who you laugh harder with than you’ve ever laughed before. He’s going to be the first man you’ve ever been with that you won’t have to ask “Do you love me?” because baby, you’re going to know it.

Then we come to the relationship after this divorce. Sweetie…listen to me now. Don’t go out with J. Don’t do it. He’s handsome and smart and loving and yummy right now, but it’s not who he really is. He’s a very troubled, sick man and no matter what you do, you are going to be hurt badly. Very badly. In fact, you’ll carry actual scars with you for the rest of your life. Yes, you helped hubby 3 but J is different. He’s mentally ill and can’t be ‘fixed’. In fact, he doesn’t want to be helped by you at all and what ends up happening is just a shit-ton of hurt heaped on you again and again. But, please do this for me: pray for his kids. OK?

And that takes me to something really important. Honey, you are mentally ill too. Yes, you are beginning an eating disorder right now but you are also bipolar. Let that sink in for a bit. Bipolar. I guess you are still hearing it referred to as manic depression, but it’s a serious one. You know how you feel like you don’t fit in? How you have all that crap going on in your head all the time? How you feel like you can conquer the world at times and then barely be able to face it at others? You know how you have always questioned your existence and wonder why you have to keep living your life? Well…that’s your fucked up brain talking (sorry, ma. Even at 53 she doesn’t like me to cuss…go figure. 😐) You are going to pretend and act and imitate others and hide what you are feeling so well you aren’t even going to see it yourself at times. But you need to see it! This is something that you need help with and the sooner the better. Trust me, it will save you from so much pain in the long run. Go tell ma NOW. I’ll wait. And don’t grab chips on your way back…the oil is bad for those zits. (And for fuck sakes, quit messing with them…I’ve told you once already and I’m not going to say it again. 🙄)

So here’s what happens if you don’t get help for your pesky bipolar: you are going to eventually experience a break down when you’re 51. You’re going to attempt suicide. You are going to cut yourself. You are going to lose a lot of friends. You are going to wish you could just get so far down the tunnel you’re in that you can’t see any light anymore and are basically empty to where you won’t be able to feel anything. Yes, you obviously survive this. No, I don’t want to see you go through this because I love ya. Sheesh.

And no matter what you say, I know you don’t love yourself now. In fact, a lot of high schoolers don’t regardless of how ‘popular’ they are (and guess what? High school never ends. Seriously. It’s just the same crap over and over again.) Look, I’m going to let you in on a secret: no one is looking at you. No one gives a shit about what you look like or weigh or wear as much as you do. Don’t believe me? Ask someone tomorrow at school what clothes you were wearing a month ago and they’ll be dumbfounded. No one remembers day to day…except you. Listen here girlie, when it gets right down to it, you are all you have in this world. You come in it with your own little soul and you’ll exit it with your own little soul, and no matter how many people love you, you are ultimately responsible for you. And honey, you need to learn to love yourself…take care of yourself…believe in yourself. OK? And, just a tip, but that blue eye shadow isn’t doing a damn thing for you. Just sayin’. 😳

OMG (that’s a saying we used in 2020…look it up, toots), you are going to love love love being a professor. LOVE IT! See, you won’t be able to have but 1 kid and your students are going to be your extended family. So many wonderful people will pass through your classroom doors and every single one of them has something special and unique about them that will teach you something…give you something…change you in some way. I know you are going to hate working at Hardees’ and Claire’s in high school/college, but it’s totally worth it to become a freaking professor. (By the way: always start some fries at Hardee’s 20 minutes before closing so you can chomp on them while mopping the floor. Trust me on this and don’t worry about zits. Free fresh fries are worth it. 😁)

Now, here’s some bad news: you know how ma is seeing that son of a bitch? Well, right now he’s not so bad. But, after they get married he’s going to become very violent and you are going to see ma hurt so many times that you’ll lose count. Sissy and you will try to help her the best you can and try as hard as you can to get her away as soon as possible. But, she’s not going to listen to you guys…she’s scared and in denial and at a loss as to how she got in the situation in the first place. Since you and T won’t be able to ‘save her’ until she asks to be saved, just love her and talk to her and tell her how you are always there for her. It’s going to kill you to see her black and blue. But never turn your back on her. She needs you.

And Kristi (I know…I hate our name too 😐), never ever lose faith in God. People are going to tell you how stupid you are to believe in him (even though they believe a ‘Big Bang’ that came out of nowhere caused all of the universe to be created…my point is they are both faith based to a degree) and there are going to be times where you think God has turned his back on you. God never turns his back. He’s always with you. Always loves you. Always feels for you. Thank him every single day for all the blessings you have because girlie, you have a lot of them.

Finally, a guy from high school (another secret I’m going to keep 😀) is going to message you in September of 2020. ANSWER HIM! He’s awesome and will make you feel more loved than you’ve ever felt in your life. And his voice? Sexy as hell. 😉 I know I’ve been to this rodeo more than once (shutty the mouthy 🤠) and can tell you this: he’s your last. OK?

Now, I could have told you something completely different in this letter: who not to marry…who to go out with…etc. but here’s the thing: except for me wanting to protect you from abuse, the people and decisions and behavior in your life are making you what you are today. Everyone in your life has played a role to where you are now, and I believe you are where you should be. When people ask you to listen to them, you do. When they talk about being divorced or mentally ill or feeling like they don’t want to live anymore, you are going to be able to say: “I understand.” You are going to be a hugger. A smiler. You are going to appreciate the people in your life so much and know what a gift each and everyone is. This past is making you into what you are today…and this is a pretty darn good place to be right now.

Look toots, I’m proud of you and want you to be proud of yourself now too. Sing more. Dance more. Put yourself out there more. Try more things. Open up more. Ask for more help. Give more time to family and friends. Say thank you more. Say hello more. Look up at the sky more. Cuddle with your son more. Get as many puppies as you want…carpet can be replaced. Don’t worry about wearing purple all of the time. Plant more flowers. Pick up more trash. And for fuck sakes (not even going to apologize for this one…I’m a rebel), eat dessert…first if you want.

And finally…just one more thing: for piss sakes, don’t go to prom your freshman year with that boob from St. T. But if you do, don’t buy the cream colored dress. It sucks balls. Instead, go for the red one! It rocks.

Kristi xoxo

P.S. I know I shouldn’t do this, but what the hell: In 2004 a company called ‘Google’ is going to go public. Buy some stock. FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT’S HOLY, BUY SOME STOCK. K? 😉

Dear John.

Dear J,

So, I know you won’t read this and that’s OK…sometimes you need to say something even if no one is listening.

When you texted me the other day, I was pissed. It wasn’t necessary to say you were ‘happy for me’ that I was with Bill and how glad you were that I was finally seeing our ‘relationship for what it was’.

Look buddy, I saw our relationship for what it was at the beginning. Remember then? When you and I were besties and did everything together and took care of each other? Remember when you thought I was the most fantastic person who ever walked the earth and you made me feel like I was loved more than anything? I do. And I believed it. And reveled in it. And savored it with every piece of who I was. I fell in love with you so fast…so hard… because you were every single thing I had wanted.

Then, things started to change. You began to get impatient with me…cut me down…mock my art…make me feel insignificant in your life. And, like I always tend to do in any relationship, I felt it was all my fault. See, it had to be. Right? Because you were perfect at the beginning and I had to have done something to screw that all up.

When I first suspected you were talking to your ex-girlfriend, you assured me you weren’t. And I believed you. Totally. Because I trusted you. Totally. Then the angrier and more distant you got that first year, the harder I tried. Because that’s something else I tend to do: try when things look to be at their worst. What’s a partnership when the people don’t work on addressing their issues and fixing them? The answer is nothing…and both have to want something to work.

Anyhoot, you know how it was that first year. You also know how bad you were because you’ve apologized for it. But I was so attached. Not just to you, but to your amazing kids. J, I love them so so much. I never ever would have let myself get so close to them if I thought we weren’t going to end up working out. I never would have been a 2nd ma to them…never would have held them and kissed them and played with them and took care of them. I hope to hell you gave them the letter I wrote them when I sent your things to you. I want them to know they will always be a part of my heart. Always.

Was it silly of me to think we were still going to work after all we’d gone through in those early days? Was it stupid of me to believe it after you put your hands on me twice and then cheated on me throughout that first summer? Was it naive of me to think that was a one-off and you were truly repentant and that it would never happen again? I guess so. But part of that was your fault. You told me from the very beginning that I was going to be your last. That we’d be a family. That we’d be a forever. I’m one of those people who believe what people say…particularly if it’s something I want to hear.

And things were so much better for our last 2 years. So much. We traveled and grew together and solidified what were building. Yes, there were some bad times too. Some raging…some horrible words…some days when you would simply leave without contacting me for days. But it was better and I knew in my heart you were trying.

I excused so much of what you did because of your PTSD. I was so so proud of your military service…3 tours is truly amazing. I was also aware of your friends death that happened in front of you and the other terrible things you had to witness. Of course I took that into consideration during the times you were unstable. I also knew of your childhood. How dare your family raise you and treat you the way they did. No little boy deserves any of what you suffered. None. You were an innocent child and because of their own ignorance, selfishness, and issues they raised a boy who never had the chance to experience the unconditional love from a family which later provides the base for future relationships. I hate that for you.

So, I tried to give that to you and people thought I was nuts. I lost friends because I kept taking you back. But they didn’t understand how fragile all love is to you…how much you fought against it because you had never had it…how much history I was trying to erase for you. They didn’t understand how bonded I was to you. How connected.

And yes, I know my anger at your cheating and abuse was a problem during those last years. You would get so upset when I asked to see your phone or ask who you’d been talking to or where you’d been. In fact, you’d get so upset that I felt guilty for it, even though I was completely justified. Having to win back my trust was your penance so to speak…the price you needed to pay for the months of cheating that happened. Do you really blame me for that? Then, when you’d lash out at my ‘control’, I’d get even more angry since you just didn’t get it. You were in a similar situation once and told me you couldn’t handle it. Well, I was handling it the only way I knew how…trying to get out my anger and build up that trust.

I also knew how distant I was that last summer we were together. I think I had to do it though. I needed to know that no matter what happened between us, I’d be OK . And, I needed that lesson…didn’t I?

Then, we argued over your son needing some help. You know he does and I couldn’t understand why you were fighting something that he needed (needs) so desperately. I got loud and angry and said things I shouldn’t have…but someone needs to fight for that little guy. And it was my turn that night.

But, the ‘fight’ led you to someone else who I had the pleasure of seeing in the apartment I helped you move into, decorate, and furnish. That was fun. I had come over to tell you we both needed to let go of our anger and move forward. And you said this: “You’re a day late.”

Wow. It’s my fault you cheated again because I was a day late in coming to you. And then? You wouldn’t even speak to me. I haven’t heard your voice for a year now and it was the most humiliating thing in the world for the person who hurt me to disregard me so completely. Like I never existed. Like I was nothing. Like I was simply thrown away. Which actually, you pretty much did.

I mourned us for months and months and months. Every single night, without fail, I’d ask God to bring you and the kids back to me. Every. Single. Night. And he didn’t. Finally about 5 weeks ago, I asked God to just do his will and what he knew was right for me. Bill literally messaged me the next day.

He’s awesome. Totally. He’s kind and understanding and sweet and smart and funny. Actually, he’s everything you were in the beginning. And that scares the fuck out of me. I never would have believed in a million years you would end up treating me like you did, and Bill is having to show me again and again he’s not going to do the same. Bless his heart…he’s taking on this baggage and doing it so willingly and well. I love him. To be honest, it’s not the “Oh my God I’m going to die without him love” that I had for you. It’s different. Softer. Nicer. It’s safe and content and secure and I’m growing in it. Instead of shrinking. Damn that feels good.

So, it’s been a year since we parted and you told me I was finally seeing things for what they are. Let me shed some light on this for you: I loved you. More than you’ve ever been loved by anyone in your life. I took care of you. I loved your children. I wanted nothing more than to build a future with you. I even loved you enough to forgive you again and again and again. That’s what things were. It’s funny, isn’t it? I tend to remember the good we had, while you ruminate on the bad. You need to break that habit for your next love.

Anyway, it’s been a long time coming and I’m finally ready to let you go. Took a while, didn’t it? So here it is: goodbye, J. God bless you and the kids. I hope you find your happy. I hope the kids grow into the awesome people I know they can be. I hope they lead happy, healthy, safe lives and will one day hear my name and smile. If that’s all that’s left of everything I went through with you, then it’s enough. Truly.