“But you are not alone…I am here with you…” ~ Michael Jackson

So, the beginning of this post is going to show you my ‘Professor K’ side and I hope you’ll bear with me…and maybe learn a new bit of info to boot. In the United States we have awareness months and here is a SHORT list of issues that I feel are particularly important…let’s take a look-see:

  • January:
  • February:
    • American Heart Month – leading cause of death in the U.S. and a person dies of this every 36 seconds.
    • March:
      • Colon Cancer – it’s estimated that around 150,000 new cases will be diagnosed this year and is the 3rd leading cause of cancer deaths in the U.S.
    • April:
      • Autism – 1:54 kids diagnosed each year with boys representing the majority of cases.
      • Child Abuse Prevention – there are 3.6 million referrals to agencies every year which represent 6.6 million kids. Between 4-7 kids die each day due to abuse/neglect.
      • Sexual Assault – 1:6 women and 1:33 men will be the victim of an attempted or completed rape in their lifetime.
    • May:
      • ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis – Lou Gehrig’s Disease) – 5,000 new cases diagnosed each year in the U.S. 80% die within 2-5 years of their diagnosis.
      • Brain Tumor – 24,530 new cases are diagnosed each year.
      • Mental Heath Awareness – 1:5 adults (with 45% seeking treatment) have a mental illness and 1:20 have a serious mental illness (schizophrenia, major depression and bipolar) with 65.5% getting treatment. 16.5% of youth have a mental illness with 50% receiving help. And, suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death for ages 10-34: 46% have a diagnosed mental health condition and 90% have symptoms of one.
    • June:
      • Alzheimer’s – 1:3 seniors die of this each year and 6 million are living with it currently.
    • September:
      • Childhood Cancer – 16,000 new cases are diagnosed each year and it’s the #1 cause of death by disease in children.
    • October:
      • Breast Cancer – 13% of women are diagnosed with invasive breast cancer over their lifetime as are 2620 men (who are most likely to die from the disease).
      • Domestic Violence – 1:4 women and 1:9 men experience SEVERE physical violence which figures to 20 victims per minute.
      • Bullying – 20% of student are bullied at school and 31% of people have experienced it as an adult. Bullying can lead to depression, anxiety, PTSD, and suicide ideation/completion.
    • November:
      • COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) – 16 million adults and 4th leading cause of death in the U.S.

Whew. Now remember, this isn’t all of the awareness months we have…just a sampling of the major physical and mental diseases that are experienced by so many people.

What’s my point? Well…this: around 9% of people have had COVID with 1:6 experiencing severe symptoms; approximately 2% will die from the infection and as of today, there have been 561,052 deaths in the U.S. Yes, COVID is serious and we need to tackle it. (By the way…did you know that during the same time period, 24,000 – 62,000 Americans died from the flu and pneumonia and is the 9th leading cause of deaths yearly? I didn’t. 😳) But, 48,500 people (kids – elderly) die of suicide each year and we take 1 month to highlight it. There’s no vaccine…no daily advice…and very few PSA’s, etc.

Sssssooooo…why do we only take a month to tackle the huge issues we have consistently in the U.S.? One month to focus on mental health when 20% of us have a mental health issue or illness? And, thanks to COVID, this number is increasing. The loneliness and depression people have felt during the pandemic…the stress and anxiety of losing jobs…it’s worsening and I think this trend will continue.

Let me tell you what it’s like to have a severe mental illness, which for me is bipolar: it’s hell. Truly…it’s that simple of a description. Hell. Every single day I’m on this earth I struggle with what’s happening in my mind. I can’t remember ever not having this…it’s been with me for the vast majority of my life. Like I’ve shared before, it was evident something was wrong with me as early as 3rd grade and by the time I was 13, my grandma talked to my mom about her worries regarding my mental health. I attempted suicide in high school and was either so depressed I could barely slog through my days, or I was so manic I could hardly sit still in class and did some really stupid things after school that I’m not real proud of. It was hard for others to handle this, so I really had only 1 close friend, but she was amazing; I know it was sometimes hard on her to be there for me like she was (thank you, M…I love you🥰) .

My brain has a little demon bastard in it. This guy (I picture him as a guy…go figure 🙄) dictates when I’m up and when I’m down. When I can function around other people and when I can’t. When I can go out without either crying or having anxiety or when I have to stay home and try to deal with the panic/mania my brain is producing. It tells me to spend $1000’s of dollars at a time and when I get depressed, it shames me for that money spent so I eat noodles and salad every night to save a few bucks (and remember, my anorexia feeds off of these small menus). It dictates how much love I can give at any one time or compels me to push people away. In other words, this mother fucker (sorry, ma…but you feel the same way about him 😐) has control over me.

Think about that. Control. Other words for control are: Power. Command. Dominance. Pretty strong stuff. ‘Kristi’ is rarely in control…and even when I think I am, it’s only because this guy has loosened his hold for a while and is allowing me that privilege. Look, try to understand it this way: when ma had breast cancer (over 20 years ago and has been fine every since 🙏), she had good days and shitty days. But regardless of how she felt on any given day, she always had the cancer. It was there with her for a year.

In the same way, no matter how those of us with mental illnesses feel…we still have the mental illness. This is why you simply can’t tell someone suffering from depression to ‘cheer up!’ Or someone suffering from anxiety to ‘calm down!’ Or someone suffering from a personality disorder to ‘get right!’. It’s akin to telling someone suffering from ALS to just ‘get up and walk’. See my point?

To be honest, I never knew the strength of my demon-guy until I had a mental breakdown 3 years ago and I realized that he is one strong son-of-a- bitch. He took me from being a fairly confident, secure woman to someone who was absolutely nothing. Everything that had been good in my mind was tossed away and only a shell remained. He filled this shell with suicidal ideation until I attempted again. He told me to cut myself all over my body…and I did. He poured words into my head like ‘worthless’, ‘ugly’, ‘you deserve to die’, and I believed them. In other words? He tried to kill me, and he almost succeeded.

Long after COVID is under control with yearly vaccinations, etc. we will still have people suffering from everything I talked about above. There’s no vaccine for cancer…for sexual assault…for human trafficking…for domestic violence…for child abuse. None. And there never will be.

That’s why it’s so important that we don’t have special ‘months’ where these issues are highlighted; instead, they need to be talked about all year around and publicized continuously. If we can all come together as a society and fight COVID…why can’t we do that with mental illness? Come together and learn how to recognize it in ourselves and others…how to seek treatment…how to help a friend or family member…how to direct people to the resources they need…how to listen…how to help…just how to talk about it.

Yes, I know suicide and mental illness and domestic violence and rape and child abuse and all of these other things are ‘icky’ to talk about. Just like the ASPCA commercials that show abused and dying pets. It kills me to see those and I used to look away. I don’t anymore. I watch them when they come on. Why? Because animals are being abused and killed daily and the only way to stop these commercials is to stop this treatment. I donate to local pet shelters…I rescue dogs…I always tell new puppy owners to spay or neuter their pets…I try my best to do what I can.

From Beacon Health Options

We can’t turn away and say: “I don’t want to see a PSA commercial about suicide while I’m trying to watch Wheel of Fortune.” You know what I don’t want? Someone committing suicide while I’m watching Wheel of Fortune. Why can’t we have these months where we strongly highlight various illnesses/diseases, but still talk about them and learn about them always? Domestic violence awareness shouldn’t end on October 31st. Sexual assault awareness should continue past April. And mental health awareness shouldn’t only be in May. We can’t let these arbitrary ‘months’ and the media dictate what we pay attention too. People are dying every single day due to mental illness. We need more than a month.

The ‘theme’ of this month highlighting mental health is “YOU ARE NOT ALONE.” But you know what? When those of us who suffer from mental illness only hear and feel this support for 31 days out of the year, it pretty much feels like we are.

Kristi xoxo

“My mama told me…you’d better shop around.” ~ Captain and Tennille

From the Dallas Morning News

So, when I go to the great heavenly crafting area in the sky, I’m hoping my last conscious act will be buying something at IKEA. Preferably, I’ll be buying yet another organizing system while shoving Swedish meatballs down my gullet. Awwww…what more could I want? Well…that my son and my 15 grandbabies are there with me…but…that may be too much to ask. 🙄

Anyhoot, I had never heard of IKEA (except in a King of Queens episode and I didn’t understand the reference) until Oliver moved to Texas and we went to one in Dallas. Before we left he said: “Ma. This is a really cool store and we will be there most of the day. Be sure to pee before we leave and have an appetite.” I said: “Oliver. We won’t be there most of the day because you are not a ‘browser’. I always have an appetite and the next time you tell me to pee as if I’m an elderly aunt, I’ll ‘forget’ all about your next birthday. Kapeesh?” So I peed, had an appetite and made sure my debit card was handy.

Everywhere you drive in Texas takes forever since it’s so freaking big (I LOVE Texas…I’d live there in a heartbeat! 🤠) but I knew we were getting close when the hairs on the back of my neck started to prickle and the smell of furniture was in the air. We found a parking spot so far away that we could barely see the store on the horizon, but after a nice trek over the macadam, we entered the doors.

My IKEA living room!

My first thought was “What the hell? This sucks balls. It’s a concrete warehouse.” I rolled my eyes at Oliver and he pointed to the escalator. We got off and I swear I heard some angels singing while I took in the sights: furniture, dishes, lights, full decorated rooms, linens, rugs…it was like every single store I had ever dreamed about was rolled into 1. I had found my utopia.

I started, manically I might add 🙄, running around and exclaiming over everything with glee. Oliver reigned me in (which is never an easy thing to do) and said: “Ma. You have to follow the arrows. We walk through the entire thing.” WHAT? OMG! Not only did this store have everything my little heart desired in life, but directions? That was super fine for my OCD tendencies. Could it get any better? 🤔

Yes, it could. We started in living rooms and I took pics of EVERY single one (to Oliver’s obvious embarrassment 😐) exclaiming in my LOUD professor-teaching voice: “I want my house to look just like this!” If I had my way, my dream home would consist of a humongous structure that had as many living rooms, kitchens, and offices as IKEA does. I’ve already started saving.

Plants at IKEA? Yes!

I was amazed by all the colors and design ideas and funky looks but said to Oliver: “But what can you buy?” Dumfounded he said: “Ma. You can buy everything. Just don’t go overboard like you usually do.” Apparently my eyes rolled back in my head and I started having heart palpitations…I was able to squeak out “GET A CART” before I had to lean against a wall and catch my breath. It was a moment of pure elation.

Now, for those of you who may not know, IKEA is a Swedish company and all of their products are priced low but are quite chic. For example, my sofa cost $1300 at a furniture store in town…I could have bought one at IKEA for a couple hundred. And, believe it or not, the quality is really good for the price. They specialize in affordable products that are decorative and sturdy. And yes, that’s all well and good. But I’m going for looks, peeps! And they got ’em.

Our First Trip!

So I began pushing my cart around the maze of rooms and started coming across the bins of items and tags you snap a pic of to pick up later. Within 5 minutes, the cart was full and Oliver was saying: “Ma. You flew here. What the hell?” And I said: “Oliver. I’m your mother. Hush it up. I’ll figure it out.” Which, by the way, I did. Sort of. Oliver had to ‘store’ some of my things for future trips when I only packed a few pairs of undies and 1 extra shirt so my suitcase was empty for more goodies to lug home.

After we shopped for about 4 hours, I was exhausted…both mentally and physically and Oliver told me I just had to eat IKEA’s famous meatballs. Sure! So, we chowed down on a couple plates of meatballs and I told myself I will never eat another type of meatball in all my life. And actually, that ended up being a lie. Not 2 days later I was gorging on Olive Garden’s spaghetti and meatballs, but that doesn’t really count. Different countries…different balls. 😉

Anyhoot, the other day, Oliver, his girlfriend (K) and I went to the IKEA in St. Louis to get some things for their new house. I sternly told myself: “Kristi, this trip is for Oliver and K. Not you. You don’t need to buy anything…you have enough ‘stuff’. Focus on your son and save your money.” So, I ended up only spending around $700. I was quite proud of my restraint. However, Oliver and K bought about the same amount of stuff too…and as stoked as were were about our finds, we started to worry as we pushed out a furniture cart, 2 regular carts, all while carrying 3 huge IKEA bags to the loading zone. We drove my Jeep Renegade and it’s not a huge SUV. In fact, it’s a bit small. But my son is a complete rock star…he was able to get everything packed in with ‘justenoughroom’ for the 3 of us. You couldn’t have added a pack of gum to the Jeep…it was that tight.

Oliver and K trying to figure out how to load the Jeep!

My big find was a cabinet I’ve been wanting that I saw people on Pinterest using for plants. I got it put together and ta-da…I loved it…but a bit too much. The next day, I ‘had’ to drive all the way back down to St. Louis (5 hours round-trip 😳) just to buy another one. That’s all I wanted and all I ‘basically’ got. Well…I did buy some artwork. And storage bins. And towels. And plants. And a couple cute garbage cans. But that was all. I ate my meatballs and headed home.

When ma visited Texas with me, we took her and she had the same reaction…she was gobsmacked. It was so much fun showing her around and seeing her get excited about $.99 potholders. Sissy, ma and I are going down for a girls day this summer, and I have a feeling we’ll buy out most of the store. I can’t wait.

Anyhoot, now you know why I want IKEA as a final resting place. It’s always fun…there’s so much to see…there’s so much to buy…there’s so much to eat…and for a manic gal like me, the space, colors, and ideas satisfy my need for stimulation. Win win. So…if you ever come to IL, look me up and I’ll take you down there. Not for me, mind you…but for you. I won’t buy a thing. Except maybe another cabinet. And a new rug. And maybe a few knick-knacks. I guess we’ll just have to see.

Kristi xoxo

“But now the past lies sleepin’ in the deep…” ~ Bernie Taupin & Elton John

This is not me…my ass isn’t this tight. Picture credit

So, I made a decision that I thought was a really smart one but I think other people might find it weird. And yes, I do know I AM weird anyway! Let me explain: Bill just bought a house! It’s 2 doors down from me…I can throw a rock (or egg on Halloween 👻) from my yard and hit his every time. He will be moving in on June 10th and he’s excited for it. It’s been a long time since he’s had a house of his own.

It was never my intention to live with Bill so quickly after we started seeing each other. But since he lived 4 hours away, we’d have to stay with one another when we visited. Then, when he moved back to town, he didn’t have a place to live or the time in a new job for a mortgage or lease. So…he’s been living with me since January until this opportunity came about.

Here’s my life in a nutshell (in terms of men and relationships…get a drink, it’s gonna take a bit 🙄): I went from living with mom’s 2nd husband (the fucking bastard 😡) to marrying Hubby #1 (shutty), then a few months after that fiasco of a divorce I married Hubby #2 (shutty again…I’d known him since the 3rd grade), and then months after that divorce, I married Hubby #3 (I know, I know!! 😐). After we divorced, I got into a relationship with J who I also thought I was going to marry. Whew. Hold on…I need a drink….🍹

OK. Sssssooooo…I went from an abusive step-father (yes, you know what I’m calling him in my mind but ma will get mad if I use that phrase again in the same post 😳) to marrying WAY too young because I had to get away from him…to marrying O’s daddy (best decision I ever made)…to marrying R (still one of my best friends)…to being with an abusive partner myself. Are you seeing a pattern?

Since I’m bipolar (big shocker, huh?) and a huge extrovert…I never look before I leap. I just climb up on that board baby, and jump right in. I don’t even look to see if there’s water in the damn pool. I just take my chances and hold my nose. And…look where that has gotten me. An unstable ‘love’ life.

So, after J left me I was really alone for the first time in my life and I’m going to be honest with you: I was scared shitless. I really was. I mean…I know I’m a mama and a professor and a daughter and a sister, etc. but WHO was I without a man? WHO was I if I wasn’t someone’s wife or partner? WHO was I if I was alone?

Well…after a while, I found out. As I started doing big stuff around the house and taking care of things by myself and spending scads of time alone thanks to the pandemic, I learned to be happy with myself. I learned WHO I was: me. Kristi. I didn’t need someone ‘backing me up’ or validating my worth anymore. I was starting to learn to do that for myself. I started getting up in the morning and instead of crying, I’d be smiling at the thought of what I was going to accomplish that day. Instead of saying “I don’t care where we eat…what sounds good to you?” I started eating anything I wanted. Instead of feeling like I was trapped in an unhealthy relationship, I started to feel free! YEA!

Then Bill and I connected. Our relationship went FAST…we never really dated…we went from talking to overnight visits justlikethat! It was repeating a pattern I’ve always done, and one that he has done all of his life too: jumping right in without taking a breath or seeing what was below. After a couple of months of him living with me, I knew I needed that space again. Why? Because I’m not done.

I’m just not done knowing me yet. Look, I’ve been married or in a relationship since I was 19 years old. That’s 35 years living for someone else…working to please someone else. See, I get lost in relationships. I don’t give 100% of me…I give 1000%. Not only is that too much to give…it never left anything over for myself. And, I also know it’s too much for others to take at times.

Getting ready to read this!

And there’s also this: I’ve made the vow to be with someone ’til death do us part’ 3 times now (🤨) and as hard as it may be to believe, I meant it every time. I’ve been told I’m the love of a man’s life…but we divorced. I’ve told men I will NEVER ever ever let them go, but then just watched them as they walked (or ran 🙄) away. I’ve heard someone say “I love you” on a Monday and then never heard his voice again from the following Thursday. I’ve had men tell me ‘We’ll always be friends…I’ll always love you…” to doing hateful, ugly things to me. I’ve told myself I would never allow someone to put their hands on me…and I did. This pattern needs to stop.

Look, after 35 years I still need to discover more about myself. I need to keep depending on me. I need to keep growing me and learning about me and taking care of me. And yes, I’m using the word ‘me’ an awful lot…but for once, that’s who I’m wanting to focus on. Just for a while. You know, it’s not a cliché that time flies by faster and faster as you age. It’s true. And when I look back at my life, I see a blur. From marriage to marriage to marriage…it’s all happened too freaking fast. So, for once I’m slowing it down. Taking my time. Keeping things in perspective. Is it weird to live with someone a while and then have them move down the block? Probably. But is it right for us? At least for now it is.

I don’t know what the future holds for Bill and I. Maybe we’ll be together forever or maybe we’ll just end up as life-long friends. Maybe we’ll get stronger in our relationship because we’re working on ourselves…or maybe we’ll drift apart. All I know is this: I’m breaking the cycle of never ending relationships and focusing on little independent me some more. I think Bill and I are making the healthiest relationship decision in both of our lives we’ve ever made. And to be honest, I’m proud of us for doing it.

Kristi xoxo

Oh, Taron…DAMN!

“When the walls come tumblin’ down.” ~ John Mellencamp

So, blech.

I’ve blawged about toxic positivity in the past (you can take a look-see at it here) and one of the top ‘guru’s’ regarding this movement is was Rachel Hollis of the “Girl, Wash Your Face” and “Girl, Stop Apologizing” fame. Both of these books have been New York Times best sellers and yes, I’ve read them; I started thinking about these when one of my students in my Marriage and Family class chose “Girl, Wash Your Face” for her book review. She wrote how she was moved by Rachel’s advice and wants to live her life more like Hollis herself. I can understand that because when you first read books that contain mountains of toxic positivity, it’s easy to get caught up in the spirit. Then, you start to eventually understand that once you climb a mountain, you have to make your way back down. (Note: I hate the use of girl in her titles…I am not a girl! Saying ‘boy’ to a man is a slam…why is saying ‘girl’ to women OK?) 🤔

Anyhoot, why am I picking on Hollis? And, isn’t this bullying…something I absolutely abhor? Well…no. It’s not. Here’s why: Hollis has built a career on her positivity approach, no judgement stance, strong marriage example, etc. which have all come tumbling down. And she herself is the reason behind the fall.

First, Hollis is very well known for HER inspirational quotes on Instagram and come to find out, they aren’t even hers. The best example? In April, 2020, Hollis posted this:

I hope like hell y’all know this is NOT an original Hollis quote…in fact, it’s a Maya Angelou quote for which she was given no credit at all. So, Rachel ‘apologized’ for this blatant plagiarism by saying this: “This morning I found out that my social team posted a graphic on my Instagram yesterday that said, “Still… I Rise” and then she goes on to explain how there is no excuse for this oversight.” Well…gee. She says there is no excuse but quickly blamed her social media team. Yes, she said she was responsible since she’s leader of the team, but it still sounds like a way to get the blame off of herself. If she truly wants to take responsibility and apologize, she needs to NOT mention the team she apparently leads and simply say “I’m truly sorry for this post…”.

And, this isn’t the only quote Rachel has taken credit for…another example: “Ambition is not a Dirty Word” is actually Debra Condren’s self-help book (2008) of the same title. Hmmm. There are many others. Now, as a professor (🤓), I STRONGLY emphasize to my students the importance of citing sources and referencing quotes…to me, plagiarism is lying. Right? You are claiming someone elses work for your own. Isn’t that cheating? Lying? SO…it’s interesting to me how Rachel can have a chapter in her Wash Your Face book that says it’s a lie that you CAN’T tell the truth. Well, Rachel…maybe that’s not a lie after all…because you seem to not be telling the truth in this sense.

Then, there’s the toilet fiasco she has recently been embroiled in. Here’s what Rachel said just a month ago in a deleted TikTok post: “Someone commented and said ‘You are privileged AF, and I was like, ‘You’re right, I’m super freaking privileged. But also, I worked my a** off to have the money, to have someone come twice a week and clean my toilets’. And then she said ‘Well, you’re unrelatable.’ What is it about me that made you think I wanna be relatable?”

Okey dokey. In her books, she writes about how judgement has to stop among women, yet she is saying her housekeeper is a toilet cleaner. Really? That sounds pretty judgey to me. I have a feeling her housekeeper does more than scrub where she poops. And relatable? She doesn’t want to be relatable? Relatable means you’re approachable…empathic…cordial…responsive. I’m sorry, but those are things I want to be. Then, in the caption to the video, she lists other women: Harriet Tubman, RBG, Marie Curie, Oprah Winfrey, Amelia Earhart, Frida Khalo, Malala Yousafzai, Wu Zetian who she says are all “unrelatable AF”.

Harriet Tubman

Heh? Rachel compares herself to Harriet Tubman? The hero who escaped from slavery, led 13 potentially fatal missions using the underground railroad, and freed up to 70 slaves in the process? And Malala Yousafzai? The youngest ever Nobel Prize laureate (2014) who is an educational activist for women and children in her native Pakistan? THEN, if these comparisons aren’t bad enough (regarding all she listed), she says they were all unrelatable AF. For those of you in ma’s age group (old and older 🧓👴), this means “as fuck”. I’m sorry, peeps, but saying the word ‘fuck’ when talking about these women is demeaning. Like when Justin Beiber said Anne Frank would have hopefully been a ‘belieber.’ OOOKKKAAAAYYYY!

And Rachel’s ignoring of societal constraints so many people find themselves in really pisses me off. “You and only you are responsible for who you become and how happy you are.” Well…not really. Name a female president. Name more than 3 female CEO’s. Name an African American President (President Obama is mixed race). Get my point? It’s not right…but it’s a reality: there are constraints in our society that affect who we become. Period. Further, you can’t force yourself into ‘happy.’ When the crux of the pandemic hit and small businesses closed with the loss of hundreds of thousands of jobs, it was hard for these people, who spent years and years building their businesses, to be ‘happy.’ And what about the Asian American community that is being targeted for COVID? People being spit on…harassed…set on fire…slashed with box cutters, etc. In some areas, the discrimination against Asian Americans has increased 9 fold over the course of the pandemic. This does not lead to ‘happiness’ for those being targeted…it leads to fear, anger, disillusionment and confusion. Right? So there ARE barriers in our way to who we become and how happy we are. If there weren’t, this would be a utopia and believe you me, grasshoppers we are not living in a perfect world.

Finally, Rachel has given us a front row seat to her marriage in which we found out these things: she was 19 and he was 27 when they met but he never asked her age (hello…she could have been underage); he used her as a booty-call (her words) during which he was emotionally abusive for the first couple years of their relationship which only started to change when she was on the road to becoming a success; and he told her he would only be a part of her company if he could be the CEO…if he wasn’t, he wouldn’t have anything to do with it and she capitulated to the ultimatum (what a dick-ish demand on his part…narcissism anyone?). They went on to have a “Rise Together” relationship podcast as well as live conferences where people could go and hear them wax on about their great marriage and how you can have one too…for the low low price of $1800 (not including the travel, hotel and food). Come to find out, they weren’t as happy as they made themselves out to be and have recently divorced after 15 years of marriage.

YES, I KNOW! I am the LAST one to gripe about someone’s divorce since I’ve had 12 3 myself (shutty the mouthies 🙄). But, I’m also the last one to say my relationships are perfect and were problem free. I’m also not purporting you should be someone’s ’emotionally abusive booty-call’ for a couple of years. Here’s some advice the Hollis’ shared at their conferences: “We feel like it’s possible—we know it’s possible—to have an exceptional relationship despite the stresses you have in your life.” And, “Don’t give notes. Give praise.” in which this goodie is telling women to not bring up anything negative about their sex-life. Apparently, his pleasure is the only one that matters. And if there are issues? Work through them with better communication and a therapist. But really, based on Rachel’s own advice: your happiness is up to you so if you want to be happy in your marriage, just be happy. Duh. Why didn’t my hubbies and I think of that? 🙄

Lastly, Rachel got a boob job after her kids were born. So what…right? No biggie…unless…you’ve said you have to accept yourself for being good enough. There’s nothing wrong with plastic surgery…unless…you’ve preached body positivity. C’mon, Rachel…actions speak louder than words.

Look, my point here isn’t to bash someone, but to let people know that so many of the influencers and self-help gurus out there are simply parroting platitudes, re-packaging what has already been sold, and giving advice that they themselves don’t follow in order to make money. Period. Yes, I want my students to read read read! But, I also want them to read smart. You can’t take things as gospel just because this person has a multi-million dollar company. You shouldn’t emulate someone who isn’t living their words themselves. You needn’t copy someone elses’ ‘perfect’ marriage which was actually created out of emotional abuse. You can’t blindly take the advice of someone without knowing what advice they actually live by. We all need to be smart consumers of self-help books and the people we follow and put our trust in. Because sometimes, they simply don’t deserve our support.

Kristi xoxo

Here are 2 excellent videos that talk more about Hollis:

“…the confidence with a creased face was going to be her biggest head-turner.” ~ Justine Bateman

From Page Six

Dear Justine,

So, let’s just get this out of the way first: when I was a teenager, I wanted to be you! Seriously! Here you were starring in my favorite show with Michael J. Fox (who I had planned to marry but I decided to step aside and let Tracy have a shot at him 😐) and I just knew we would be besties if we ever met. And to be honest, I think that still applies.

Anyhoot, I bought your book yesterday…FACE. I had read about it online and couldn’t wait to take a look-see at it myself. I was literally only a paragraph into it when I started highlighting passages; after a while, there was more highlighting than not and I gave up and just enjoyed. It may not have looked that way to my neighbors though since I was in the backyard and every few seconds I would yell “YES” and “NO SHIT”; and I actually cried through much of it because you showed me a different way of being.

I had already started a blawg post about the unreality of instagram (I hate social media…hate it! Why in the fuck do they call it ‘social’ media when it’s really an individual love fest with yourself? 🤔 And, sorry for the cussing, ma…but Justine cusses too so there! ) but knew I had to finish that one later because this took precedent.

Here’s what pulled me completely in:

“I was elated when creases emerged across the top of my cheeks when I smiled, when I saw the promising beginnings of small bags under my eyes, when the skin loosened on my neck. One summer, I even noticed a real bonus of cleavage creases on my upper chest from the sun. I was finally beginning to look like the kinds of women I thought were the most interesting, and the most attractive.”

Then later: “I hated the idea that half the population (*women) was perhaps spending the entire second half of their lives ashamed and apologetic that their faces had aged naturally.”

Wow. Then, through the various stories you told, you were able to get me inside other older women’s heads to see how they had been berated, humiliated, vilified, and scorned because…GASP…they had the audacity to grow old.

And here’s the conundrum: if a woman tries to ‘grow old gracefully’, she is made to feel horrible about herself for having wrinkles and thinner skin. BUT, if she gets any work done (and you are right…that’s a rabbit hole for sure), she’s made to feel horrible about herself for being plastic. So basically, women can’t win no matter what they do. Is that the point?

I had never really thought about how all young women are looking the same. But they are! When your face is made up to the point you can’t smile and you have now got the perfect nose, filled lips, manicured eye-brows, and creaseless skin you look like ‘everyone’ else. There’s no uniqueness. No individuality. As Julia Bruccilieri writes in her Huffington Post article “Between make-up and Facetune, we’re creating a homogenized expression of beauty.” Look at this from Seventeen magazine…these are 3 different women who all want to be Kyle Jenner (🙄)…you can’t tell one apart from another!

You are so so right when you say that being called ‘pretty’ is the ultimate in female praise. Someone calls you smart? That just means you’re not pretty. Someone says you have a nice personality? That just means you’re not pretty. Someone says you look good for your ‘age’? That just means you’re not pretty. Blech.

But here’s the bad thing…I’ve bought into it! Hook, line and sinker. I am smart (shutty the mouthies, peeps 😐)…have an OK personality (I’m bipolar…not always the most charming 🤨)…look OK for 54 (more about that in a bit). But, call me pretty and I’m elated! After all, isn’t that what women have been striving for since the beginning of time? Isn’t that the end all and be all?

Love this!

I have to say my favorite story was about Denise who was sitting at the kitchen table while her hubby was looking at a pic of an aging movie star saying how ‘he wouldn’t do her for anything.’ OK. Right. Because, as Denise points out, what woman WOULDN’T want a thinning hair, drooped eyes, potbelly man offering to boink her. She should be grateful since he’s such a catch. Rrrriiiigggghhhhttt? 🙄

And that’s what pisses me off so much! How men CAN age and look it and not be ashamed of it. In fact, they still think they are God’s gift. Another rrrrriiiiiggggghhhhhtttt. But a thinning haired, potbellied, droopy eyed woman needs to hide herself away from the world because she’s so hideous she shouldn’t be out. And people say men and women are treated equally. Hmmm…

It’s like the worst thing you can say to a woman is: “You look as old as fuck.” And that’s the ultimate put-down, huh? To be told that because you’ve been on this earth for a few decades, your value is nil. Zip. Zero. Yes, we can try to turn back the hands of time, but who are we really fooling? Us? ‘Them’? As Tara says in your book: “You’re people pleasing the group that cares the least about you.” Like in high school…all you wanted was for the popular bitches girls to notice you…compliment you. But you hated them. Why in the name of all that’s holy did you want their acceptance so badly?

I never realized how ashamed I was of my age and looks until I dated a much younger man. After just a few months together, he told me how old my neck looked and I instantly became obsessed with it and humiliated by it’s wrinkly skin. This was also around the time he started being mean to me…so…I had a face lift. I was promised by the doc that this would not only ‘fix’ my neck (which it didn’t…thanks for the extra pain and price-tag, doc 😳) but would make my face ‘fresher’. After all, I was 50 at the time and ALL 50 year old women need to start ‘maintaining’ themselves. This, Justine, was one of the worse decisions I’ve ever made. I thought that if I looked younger, J would treat me better. Actually, I looked a bit younger and J escalated his emotional abuse and serial cheating. So…looking younger is obviously not the panacea for all our troubles.

Here’s the thing: even as I write this, I’m crying. I KNOW age ‘shouldn’t’ matter…but I also know age ‘does’ matter. I’ve been conditioned for 54 years to strive, among anything else, to be pretty…which means at my age, to be young. The media has made me ‘believe’ aging is ugly…if they didn’t make us believe this, we wouldn’t spend billions of dollars on their fucking products. Like the story you told about Faith and her experience as a former advertising exec: “…people will accept what you tell them to accept. You tell them they have a flaw and you sell them your remedy.” So we’re pawns in a game. A game of money that preys on a culturally determined ‘flaw’ that is lucrative for so many, but emotionally detrimental for more.

Old me with my old man!

You know, I could talk forever about this and if you ever want too, I suppose I could make it to L.A. where we could pal around and yack. Just sayin’. But I want you to know that you have started the process of freeing me from these bonds of youth. You said something in your introduction that I have been reading over and over again: “Because, in the end, there’s nothing wrong with your face.” I needed to hear that. Most women need to hear that. This is MY face. My 54 year old, experienced, educated, mentally ill, professoring face. It’s been through a lot and I hate the diatribes I’ve directed towards it. It’s mine. All mine. And I’m going to love it for that.

Love,

Kristi xo

“Somebody Get Me a Doctor!” ~ Van Halen

So, GOOOOOOOODNESS!! This has been a month from hell and I’ve missed my peeps! Believe you me (what does that even mean? 🤔), I would much rather have been blogging than what was going on. Actually, I would have much preferred a root canal everyday for a month than what was actually going on. In fact, I would have taken the option of walking on hot coals every hour for a month. Get my point?

Anyhoot, here’s the whole kit-n-kaboodle for your reading pleasure. If you’re eating right now, please stop. This gets ugly.

Y’all know I was scheduled for a full hysterectomy on April 12 and I was a bit apprehensive. Little did I know it would be the easiest thing to happen to me in the course of a week!

The prior Friday (the 9th – ma’s birthday…she’s 99 but looks 75 😁), I woke up with a shooting pain in my side. No, it wasn’t Bill kicking me in bed…it was an actual pain. (Note…Bill can be a pain, but that’s more of a pain in the ass…not the side 😆). The previous day, I had run 7 miles and started feeling bad a couple hours later but figured a good night sleep would cure all. I was wrong! So, I headed over to the ER (by myself…Bill doesn’t drive and I didn’t want to bother ma in case it was just gas). I toddle in and tell the ER triage nurse the pain and she puts me in a room…not looking too worried. An adorable doc finally comes in and asks if I have my appendix. I assure him I don’t. So, he decided to do some CAT scans to see what the hell was going on and lo and behold…

This is not mine…Doc wouldn’t let me see it!

I had 4 kidney stones that broke loose! Isn’t that the most beautiful thing to visualize? Anyhoot, he called in an urologist who looked young enough to be my son…I wanted to tell him not to slouch and to call his mother more…and he said I had a couple of these gems blocking my urethra…charmed I’m sure. He and the ER doc were quite impressed though…both had never seen 2 of the little boogers in a tube at once…I was a bit proud (one was 10mm and 5mm is considered large 🙄…as always, I’m an over-achiever).

I call Bill and he calls ma and she calls O (son) and he calls T (sissy) and she calls dad and the hotline had reached it’s peak while I was being prepped for surgery. Then, the following conversation ensued:

  • Doc: “What type of pain medication have you been using?”
  • Me: “None.”
  • Doc: “NONE?”
  • Me: “None.”
  • Doc: “But you have 4 kidney stones.”
  • Me: “OK.”
  • Doc: “I’ve had 250 pound men writhing on the floor in pain and moaning with 1.”
  • Me: “OK.”
  • Doc: “You’re a pretty tough gal.”
  • Me: “Doc…I have fucking bi-polar. This is nothing compared to that. Now, scrub up and let’s get this over with…90 Day Fiancé is on at 7.”
Courtesy of the
Persimmon Group

Bill was there when I wake up in recovery and I got home a couple of hours later. And…yes, in case you are wondering, I was in plenty of time for my show (to my 90 Day fans: isn’t Andrew a piece of crap??)

THEN, I call my gyno (who is an absolute doll..she’s just the best!) and she said I can still go through with the Big H on Monday if I want too…I did. Let’s just get everything over with at once. *NOTE to Dr. L: please re-read that sentence. And, on a separate note, you haven’t billed me yet.

I drove me and ma to the hospital 45 minutes away (I may be tough…but not tough enough to endure ma’s driving) and I hadn’t eaten or drank anything after midnight. My surgery was at 1…I was done at 3:30…I woke up a while later…and was in recovery for a couple hours. By the time I got to my room at 6, I was FAMISHED. So, I got 4 saltine crackers and water. BUT, I got some heavy duty pain meds and didn’t mind too much. However, when I awoke the next morning (after being awakened every hour all through the night 🙄), I noticed 2 things: I was peeing in a bag and I was beyond famished. WAY beyond. To make a long story longer shorter, I didn’t eat until after 11 and have never been more grouchy in my entire life. AND that my dear peeps, is saying a lot (hush up, O…don’t argue with your mother 🤨).

So, this should be where I say: I was discharged and healed happily ever after…right? I wish! The next morning, I couldn’t pee in my bag. My ‘leg’ bag that showed my pee to all my family and my lucky neighbors who happened to watch me either through my windows (we all have large ones and ‘keep our eyes on one another’) or while I was letting out Edward. Me, being the medical scholar that I am (I have the WebMD app), thought: “If I drink a whole lot of water, it will force my pee out.” Didn’t happen. All that did was make me feel like my bladder was bursting…because in actuality, my bladder was getting ready to burst.

From Sister Talk on Spotify

Now T and I have a special ‘sister code’ that we use for one another that no outsider can probably understand. I texted her these secret numbers: 911. That means to call me back because it’s an emergency: either I’m on the verge of death, Ulta is having a sale, or I want to gossip about ma 😳). T’s an LPN and she rushed over…calling the doc on the way. We boogied to Springfield (again), and I was in so much pain! We darted in the center and the receptionist held up a finger while she finished typing something that was apparently more urgent than my bladder. My sissy is the best though: she whoosked me in the office where Dr. L was ready and I stripped while fumbling down the hall…yes…everyone there has now seen my ass.

When I laid on the table, T gasped and said: “You look 9 months pregnant!” and I did! I was so full of pee! An hour and 3 assistants later, Dr. L had drained my bladder (now I only look 3 months pregnant) and I could breathe again. I was THISCLOSE to it tearing and had it done so, I probably would be talking to Freud in heaven and rubbing Dottie’s belly instead of writing my peeps.

Anyhoot, I have my last follow-up appointment today regarding my kidneys and then I’m done until my 6 week check-up at Dr. L’s. Three surgeries…5 days…and I have NOT received any flowers. Cough cough.

Yes, my fam has brought me groceries, presents, lunches, etc. but no flowers. Not that I’m complaining, mind you. But…I could have been a goner…just saying’ (1-800-FLOWERS is a great number to call, Bill 🤨).

So anyhoot, hopefully I’m done for a while now. As of now, I have no gall bladder, appendix, cervix, fallopian tubes, uterus, ovaries or kidney stones. As ma said yesterday, there’s not much else that can go wrong. Well, as fate would have it, she was incorrect. I just cut my bangs and they look like crap. Go figure.

Kristi xoxo

“Happiness is a warm puppy.” ~ Charles Schultz

So, y’all know that my Little Dottie has been gone for about a month and I can finally talk about her without crying (most of the time at least). A while ago, my son, his girlfriend and I picked out a puppy from a friend of my pop’s and the little fart will ready for us on April 1st. I’m having a lot of mixed emotions about the pup and just wonder if I’m ready, or even up to this.

My Little Dot

After Dottie was gone, Edward moped around the house horribly and has gotten to where he won’t leave my side. It doesn’t matter if I’m eating, pooping (😳), sleeping, cleaning, etc. he’s always there. Eddie is a very ‘needy’ and social creature and it breaks my heart how lonely he is. I know he needs another little friend and I also know he’ll mother the puppy because that’s just how he is. Bill and O are excited too and ma can’t wait to meet her newest fur grandbaby.

But me? I just don’t know.

A huge part of me feels like it’s too soon…like Bill having a date a couple of weeks after burying me (I’d haunt him forever if he did 🙄). I don’t want my Little Dot to think she’s being replaced…no other dog could replace my baby diva. And, I also wonder if my heart is ready to love another puppy and not compare her to who Dottie was.

But then I remember how I felt after Scooter, my first dog, died and how distraught I was then too. B, my hubby at the time (shutty the mouthies, peeps 😐) took me to see some puppies just about a week after Scooter was gone. I wasn’t thrilled. O and B picked out a pup and I held him and all, but felt nothing. No excitement. No love. No want. Since he wasn’t going to be completely weaned for a couple more weeks, I had 14 days to worry about everything…remember, those of us with bipolar are GREAT worriers and ruminators…it’s really at a champion level 🥇. On the Saturday when were getting ready to pick him up, I told B I wasn’t going. I didn’t want too…I wasn’t going too…and if he made me, I’d hate him forever.

Me and Squirty

So, we left shortly after. O had already named the pup Squirty (a nickname my grandpa called my grandma ♥) and he was excited. We got there, picked up Squirty and made it home. I set up his little crate and playpen, etc. and went about ‘mothering’ him with nothing in my heart. Nada. Zilch. He wasn’t my Scooter and never would be…therefore, I didn’t want him.

Now mind you, I wasn’t bad to him at all…I’m a great nurturer…I can nurture the hell out of any animal or person. But I was just going through the motions…doing what I ‘had’ to do. Finally, we were outside in the middle of the night for him to pee (while B slept peacefully I might add 🙄) and for some reason, he looked up at me and his eyes broke my heart. It’s like he was saying “What’s wrong…why don’t you love me?”

My heart did a quick defrost and Squirty was my buddy ever after. After B and I got divorced, it was decided by B (as was everything else…go figure… 🙄) that Squirty should stay with him in the country and with our German Shepherd who loved him to pieces. So, I ‘lost’ him after just a couple of years.

Then came Dottie and I adored her from the start. O and I were struggling with the divorce and Dottie was our comfort and fun and we could feel playful even with the heaviness our hearts experienced. Because of this, and how Squirty helped me move on from Scooter, my family (and I) thought it would be good for me to get another pup this spring. Hmmmm.

Millie Grace

When O, K and I went to pup’s home, there were 3 pups in the litter still not taken: 1 boy and 2 girls. O and K each held one of the girls and I held the little guy. They were adorable and only 4 weeks old…their eyes had just opened and their little faces couldn’t have been any cuter. As much as O and I were liking and cuddling the pups we were holding, we kept glancing at the one K had in her arms. Right as she said: “I feel a really good vibe from this one” O and I looked at each other and nodded. We had actually felt it too.

K handed her over to me and I looked in her little face…she was precious. So, I told Chuck that she was the one we’d take and he literally said this: “Oh! You chose the one with the white dot on her paw!”

Heh? White dot? I hadn’t even looked at her paws but there it was…in a sea of red poodle, there was a perfect white circle on her little paw and I started to cry.

You see, the night before we trekked to the pups a couple of town away, I had asked my Dottie in heaven to ‘give me a sign’ about this. Yes, you can call me crazy (as if that’s never happened before, for fuck sakes…😐) but I believe in the supernatural…the spiritual…the ability to ‘talk’ to my family who are already in heaven with my pets included. I said this: “Dottie, I need you to let me know if this is right…if you’re OK with this.” And I believe that the dot on the paw was sign enough. She was the only pup to have this. We named her Millie Grace (from the Andy Griffith show of which I’m a HUGE aficionado) and were told to be back in a month.

So I feel like I have Dottie’s blessing but am struggling with something else too: Millie Grace isn’t a rescue…she’s from a breeder who is NOT a puppy mill and has a stellar reputation for how he breeds and treats his dogs. I’ve rescued 3 dogs in my life, Edward included, and feel guilty going to a breeder. But I’ve always had a toy poodle in my life and love the breed so much, and there are NO toy poodles to be rescued around this area…I’ve looked and looked. But like my pop said when I voiced this concern, getting MG doesn’t mean I won’t rescue again…I’m sure I will many more times in my life; it does mean that I’m giving a pup a great home though and that’s a wonderful thing no matter what.

Anyhoot, I don’t know how this will all go. Will my heart open to little Millie? Will I compare her to Dottie and not let her be who she is? Will I have the capacity to nurture her like I did Dot? Am I ready for this at all? I hope so.

I’m the type of person who will literally run around a bug on the sidewalk so I don’t squish them…talk to my plants so they don’t feel unloved…dote on Edward like he’s next in the royal lineage. It’s hard for me to think of not being a good ma to Millie but I want it to be genuine. Real. I want to love her and I keep reminding myself that loving Millie doesn’t mean I love Dottie any less. I’ll love my Dot until we’re together again someday.

So here’s the thing Little Dottie: you, my sweetie, were the best dog I’ve ever ever had…the funniest, bitchiest, cutest, and orneriest of all. If I hadn’t loved you so much and miss you so much, I’d never want another. But you showed me the joy a pup gives…the wonder and blessing of having a dog for as long as I had you…the everyday happiness and comfort a dog can give…the sense of fulfillment in terms of being a ‘new’ mommy again. In other words, Millie will never take your place. It’s because of the awesome legacy you left that I want another in my life. I hope you understand and also hope you’ll look down on us from time to time and grin at the antics this one pulls. And Dottie…I’ll keep you in my heart forever. There’s just no where else I’d rather have you.

Kristi xoxo

Will the real me please stand up?

So it’s been a while, peeps and I’ve missed y’all! It’s been a crummy couple of weeks…not only did my Little Dot pass and I miss her every hour of every day, but I also found out I need a full hysterectomy and will be having the surgery on May 17th. The timing is blech. You see, I LOVE my break between spring and summer classes…and now I’ll be spending it on the couch with Bill and Ma taking care of me. Hmmmmm…them waiting on me hand and foot…getting me whatever I’m peckish for…doing all the housework. Actually, this may not be so bad after all! I’m just glad I’m finally going to feel better after feeling lousy since September. Whew! 😳

Anyhoot, my Intro to Sociology class had a discussion last week about statuses and roles: we occupy various statuses and play roles tailored for them. As Erving Goffman said, we’re on a stage when we’re with others and ‘dramaturgy’ is the word he used.

People don’t like this idea. “I don’t ACT…I’m always me!” BUT…then you ask them: “So, who are you?” And usually the answer comes in a ‘what’ form: I’m a professor. I’m a mama. I’m a daughter. I’m a sister. You get the point. But that’s not really YOU…that’s just your statuses. Right? And yes, I play roles with my statuses; believe you me, I would never talk to ma the way I talk to my sissy. She’s probably plop over from horror. 🤨

So, let me ask you again: “Who are YOU?”

I’ve been thinking about this question a lot after grading the discussion and most of my students kept answering in terms of what they do. However, when I asked if we can ever REALLY (I’m into capital letters today…notice? 🙄) know our ‘true’ selves, most everyone said yes. Hmmm. That’s sort of a dichotomy though, isn’t it?

For me, I believe that we never get to know the ‘true’ soul inside of us and here’s why: from the second we are born, we are given statuses such as boy, girl, daughter, son, sister, brother, grandbaby, etc. Immediately we are a ‘what’ and we have absolutely no conscious awareness of a ‘who’ inside of us. We don’t know anything about anything at this point in our development! Now, when we do start being cognizant of ourselves, we’ve been so completely socialized into the above that these statuses have become a part of us. “I am a sister and daughter and friend and grand-daughter, etc.” THAT’s who I am.

Remember John Locke? He was the philosopher who used the term ‘tabula rasa’ for the first time in the 17th century (he and ma were great friends in high school…I think they still keep in touch 😐) and this basically means that we are born without any mental content at all. We are a blank slate or, as Locke put it, “white paper, void of all characters”. We are empty vessels needing experience and perception to start building up our awareness of the world…and of ourselves. Now, we have our own ways of interpreting these experiences and perceptions…that makes us unique individuals…but it’s a process. A learning curve.

I think about how many ‘people’ I’ve been. Not just in terms of statuses, but in terms of periods in my life where I’ve felt changes within me that have become a part of me. My parents divorce was probably the first time I could understand that life would never be the same from what I had known for 12 years and it made me look at the world a bit differently. A bit more guarded. A bit more understanding that things don’t necessarily last forever.

When I was bullied in high school, I learned that people can hurt you for no other reason than wanting too. That being good to others doesn’t mean they will be good to you.

I learned as a new mama to look at the world through someone else’s eyes while at the same time seeing dangers every where I went. “What could hurt my boy?” “Is this person safe for him to be with?” “Should I let him ride his bike alone to the park?” It’s like I became more open and more closed at the same time.

All of my relationships have shaped me in various ways…some good and some bad. I’ve certainly learned that I have a huge capacity for love…that I have a need for security…that I like being a part of a couple. But, I’ve also learned that people will lie to you…cheat on you…promise to keep a secret and then tell it anyway just to hurt you…leave you…use you…abuse you…etc.

Has this all shaped the ‘me’ inside? You betcha. I’m not the same today as I was 3 years ago or 10 years ago or 20 years ago (that’s going back far enough…don’t want to give my age away 🙄).

Now, with this pandemic having been around for a year now, I’ve basically been at home by myself for a great majority of the time. My students and colleagues, who are my main source of social activity, are suddenly gone and I spend my time working on a screen and then around the house. Days will go by where the only person I talk to is Bill or ma. I thought this forced alone time would finally let me find the real me that’s supposedly deep inside. But it hasn’t. It has shown me a lot about myself and what I’m capable of, etc. but it’s not letting a ‘me’ come out.

And here’s what I’m thinking: that maybe my ‘me’ is already here. A conglomeration of all my experiences and perceptions and knowledge and trials since the beginning of my time. Maybe Kristi IS a professor and mama and daughter, etc. Maybe the me inside is the me I’ve created throughout the years. So…maybe the question we should ask ourselves isn’t ‘WHO are you?’ but ‘HOW are you?’ Hmmmmm…

Kristi xoxo

“It was the possibility of darkness that made the day seem so right.” ~ Stephen King

So, I don’t know about you but February is a notoriously sucky month for me. Holidays are over…snow is coming down…there’s mud and slush everywhere…and you can go days to weeks without seeing the sun. Charmed, I’m sure. However, THIS February sucked balls even more…let me explain.

To start with, I had COVID during the first 2 weeks and was stuck at home in quarantine for 14 days feeling like Typhoid Mary. Bill and I did get along (he had it too and I don’t want to point the finger of blame at anyone for getting it but Bill gave it to me…probably… 😳) only because he has my basement fixed up like a little apartment and we didn’t have to really see each other unless we wanted too. After a few days, we didn’t want too. I know all of you women are nodding your heads right now…and believe you me, I got on my knees and thanked the good Lord above that I was insightful enough to buy a house with a finished freaking basement 15 years ago. Just sayin’.

We were lucky with our symptoms though: fatigue, loss of taste and smell, headaches, some congestion…and that was about it. As I’ve said before, I missed not having the senses but Bill, for some unknown reason, wasn’t as upset. When I asked him why he mumbled a couple of words that sounded like ‘kitchen’, ‘cooking’, and ‘God send.’ I’m really not sure what he meant.

Then, I had to put my sweet Little Dottie down. I’ve had to do this once before and I prepared myself since she was getting so old and I could see my baby failing. But when you actually do it, no amount of preparation can lessen the heartache and pain you feel. Not a minute goes by that I don’t think of my sweetie and I still look for her all of the time. Every night, for 15 years, she slept on my bed and I’m still putting her blankie out every night…I’m not ready to stop that yet.

Y’all might not agree with this but I once read that you might have a lot of dogs over the years, but 1 will always stand out as being ‘that dog’. The one that was just a bit more special to you. The one you connected with a bit more. For me, it was Little Dot. She was with me from the day I moved into my house with O and we were never apart. Her personality was something else: diva + sweetheart + ornery + sassy + adorable. It was quite a combination. I will miss her until the day I die and when I see her, I know she’ll bark her fool head off.

Then, I went in for a ‘procedure’ on Friday and to make a very long story short (but less dramatic 🙄), I need to have a full hysterectomy. Well, fuck me (sorry, ma 😬 ). This is major surgery and I’m scared! My awesome gyno is going to do it laparoscopically (it took me 4 tries to spell that correctly 😐) so the downtime won’t be too bad…just a couple of weeks. I’m going to schedule it, hopefully, on the first day of Spring Break so I can recover a few days before I go back to teaching.

The really fun part is going to be juggling 7 regular classes, a late-start class, healing, mourning, and taking care of my house. But as Hubby 3 used to say (shutty the mouthies 😳), I’m a ‘scrappy thing’ and I’m sure I’ll be OK. (Note to Bill, Ma, Pop, T, and O: I’ll still need a LOT of spoiling… 🤨).

So, ma went with me for my “procedure” (that sounds like such a weird word…old ladies say it with ‘quotation fingers’ because they don’t want to say the real reason because it’s usually gross, like hemmorroids or something; mine wasn’t that ‘gross’ but it’s still not table talk) and I got us lost. NOW HOLD ON A SEC…WE NEED TO WAIT UNTIL MA PICKS HER CHIN UP OFF THE FLOOR SINCE I DIDN’T BLAME HER LIKE I WANTED TOO.

Anyhoot, we had to go to Springfield to get ‘er done and I drove there so ma could drive back when I was groggy and possibly vomiting. Here’s how the conversation went and as you read it, be sure to make your voice very shrill (on ma’s parts), very sweet and patient (on my parts), with the volume increasing with every sentence:

Ma: “Kristi, do you know where we are going?”
Me: “Yes, ma…duh. In fact, you made us leave so early we’ll have plenty of time to kill. I know Springfield like the back of my hand.”

45 minutes later:

Me: “Ma, since we’re 40 minutes early, let’s pop into the General ($ General) and I’ll get a magazine to read.” We browsed for 20 minutes before I said, OK…let’s go!

I drove around various roads and kept taking wrong turns (there are too many one way streets there) and even though I had no idea where in hell I was, I DID not want to let ma know that. However, I finally found the building after driving by it countless times, and once I got going the correct way on the one way street, got the car parked, trotted into the building and…wait for it…didn’t see the surgery center listed by the elevators. I go up to a nice young gal and ask her where it is. She said: “It’s downtown…about 6 miles from here.”

Ma was still behind me…I rushed ahead ‘just in case’ something went awry, and when the gal asked me if I needed the address, I said “No! I know where it is!” before ma could hear this exchange. I didn’t know where it was.

When ma asked what was going on I actually said this (don’t judge…you don’t know ma when she’s pissed…right T?): “They moved the surgery center and now it’s downtown.” Ma: “Do you have the address?” Me: “Duh. Of course.” I didn’t.

So, off we go again with 5 minutes left to get back to the car and find this place that magically ‘moved’ overnight. I started down the street I thought was right and was fumbling with my google maps that was screwed up because it was trying to connect to ma’s fucking blue-tooth in her car. As I kept making more wrong turns, she kept getting more pissed off. I said a little prayer, found the place completely by accident, and didn’t have to read the magazine I had bought at the General.

BUT, here’s what’s weird: I had COVID, lost my baby girl, and have to have major surgery all within the span of a month, yet I’m in a manic phase. Bi-polar doesn’t give a hoot about what’s going on in your life. It’s going to do what it wants to do…period. How can you explain that you’re grieving or scared or achy or sad when you just can’t stop moving, doing, etc.? People with bipolar process emotions differently than others. I’m not saying I feel MORE than others, but I am saying what I feel is on a different ‘spectrum’ than others. It’s very very hard for me to process all of this: I’m ‘up’, yet I’m so so sad. I’m ‘up’, yet I’m so so scared. I’m ‘up’, yet I am worrying about how I’m going to do all I need to do while recovering. What a weird thing: it’s like my brain is experiencing this bit of mania (it’s not too bad, but Bill can’t believe all I do in a day) but my heart is experiencing so much else. And, since these 2 things aren’t matching, I feel confused. Kind of lost…even kind of guilty.

Anyways, I hope your February was better than mine and I already know March is going to suck balls. But, by April I’ll be ‘as good as new’ and hopefully have a great summer.

Take care of yourselves, peeps…stay healthy and safe. K?

Kristi xoxo

Dottie’s Rainbow Bridge

So, I’ve written about a lot of things in this blog: having bipolar, being sexually abused, being in an abusive relationship, and the list goes on. However, this is the toughest, and shortest, post I’ve had to write so far.

Yesterday, my son and I took our Little Dottie for a Quality of Life exam at our vet. She was almost 15 years old and was blind and deaf. She also was losing control of her bladder and back legs. In other words, she was suffering. After talking with the vet and her examination of Little Dot, O and I made the decision to have her put to sleep. We said our goodbyes, I sang her special song, and she died in my arms.

I don’t know what to feel. When Bill got home last night, I cried louder and harder than I ever have in my life…I made myself sick. I’ve never ever been in my house without her…and the emptiness of it is overwhelming. I see her everywhere.

Maybe people with pets can’t understand this, but she wasn’t a pet to me. She was my baby…my best friend…my comfort…my joy. It’s hard for those of us with mental illness to make real friends and I can honestly say I have only 3 human ones and that includes Bill. So Dottie was my bestie. She didn’t mind my bouts of depression and would lay down with me whenever I needed too. She didn’t care if I was manic…she’d be right along beside me watching me paint and getting drops of it on her back. When I had a mental breakdown, she was there…centering me the best she could. When I cut myself, I would hug her and try to forget the pain. When I attempted suicide and got off my bed to throw up the pills I had taken, Dottie was right by me…her brown eyes telling me I had way too much to live for.

There’s no words that can describe what she did for me, and I hope, with all my heart that I was a good mama to her. I believe in God and I believe he made animals for us to love. I truly know that my Little Dot is in heaven now…in my Grandpa’s arms…bossing everyone around like the diva she was.

Dottie: you were my precious baby and you are now my angel. I will never ever forget you and you will be in my heart forever. Someday, I’ll be making my way to heaven and I know you’ll be right there at the gate…barking at me to hurry up because you want to play fetch. And honey, I’ll do it.

Kristi xoxo