“Lean on Me” ~ Bill Withers

Dear Terri,

So, I know you don’t get quite as mushy as I do, but bear with me because I promise to make this as painless as possible! Anyhoot, I don’t know if you realize this but you are a great sister to me and always have been…right from the start.

Remember when I couldn’t talk at first before I spent a few years with the Speech Pathologist and no one could understand me well…including ma and pop? The thing is that you always could; so from the very beginning you had to help me by being my translator and my voice. I wonder why you could get my words when others couldn’t? Maybe because it’s just a ‘sister’ thing? Or maybe because as much as we’re different, we’re so similar too (except in the ‘chest’ department where you were blessed more than me 🤨)?

There’s that arm!

Almost every single picture I have of us as kids, you have your arm around me. Not just casual like, but grippy…possessive…like you were broadcasting to everyone that not only were you my big sis (remember, you are significantly older than me 😐) but my protector too. And you had a job with that, huh? Both of us were bullied in elementary school…especially by that kid ‘B’ who would not only taunt us at school but also follow us home while making our lives hellish for that 2 block walk. But honestly, you remember that better than I do because you shielded me from so much of it. You took the majority of the bullying and pushed me aside. That was such a selfless thing to do, particularly for a kid whose instinct is often to protect themselves first.

I loved it when we would go to gramma and grampas. Getting on the floor with gramma while playing triple solitaire and squawking when we beat her. Running errands with her in the VW bug and arguing over who got to sit in front. I know…I won most of the time since I got carsick so easily. It was either win or have you see me puke. I honestly think you dodged a bullet in that case. And then we’d spend the night and grampa would make us something special and always had teen magazines for us to read. I think we both felt so cozy and loved and sharing those memories of all 4 of us together makes me smile every time. They both would be so so proud of you for the grandma you are today and your grandkids are just as lucky to have you as we were to have our own.

Thanks for the fashionable dresses, ma.

Did you know I started getting jealous of you when you hit Jr. High? You got to go to a HUGE school and have a locker and have more than 1 teacher and ride the bus (which come to find out sucked balls😬 ) and then the best part: go to dances and get calls from boys and have secrets behind closed doors with your best friends. I wanted to be a part of that so badly! And, you were beautiful too! I know you’re shaking your head or rolling your eyes or retching right now, but I’m being honest. You were…and still are! Being the first to try make-up made me long to be older and acting as the guinea pig for your hair styling skills was fun…but to a point. That damn nozzle on your hairdryer would whack me in the nose everytime…and I know it wasn’t YOUR fault…it was the dryer itself…right (🙄)? You know, I just realized that may have been the cause of my deviated septum, and not the broken nose I had years ago. Hmmmmm…

(Did you know I saved all of the letters you wrote to me when I was at summer camp those 2 summers? I saved every one!) 🧡

I loved talking to your boyfriends and even keeping them company while you finished getting ready for dates. I remember when Ben and you were an item and had an argument: he called and I was so pissed he was fighting with you that I yelled at him and called him a ‘hoodlum’…the worst word I could think of at the time. You were gobsmacked I’d do this but here’s why: it was my turn to stand up for you! And a secret? I always had a HUGE crush on Jack. HUGE! I pictured you dumping him and then him looking at me, scooping me up, and carrying me off into the sunset like a prince. A prince in a cowboy hat no less. Did it matter that I was 12 and he was 16? Nope. I figured that would work itself out in time.

And for a couple of years, I was your voice too! Calling into the high school, pretending to be ma, and telling the secretary you were too sick for classes that day. How I wanted to play hooky with you and your friends! When I’d be sitting through yet another lesson on biology which I had absolutely no chance of understanding, I’d wonder what you guys were doing. Make overs? Talking about boys? Sneaking a smoke? Exciting stuff to a younger sister!

You and your cute boys!

When you got married and left home, I missed you so much. The house seemed so empty. It was just ma and me and the vibe changed…the energy. That’s because you had brought it in. But it was exciting when A was born and I was an aunt. I could finally drive and loved visiting you in the country and playing with him. I can still see him on the walkway to your front door, riding his trike with his curly blonde curls bobbing up and down. Then when D was born and I was a bit older, I finally was comfortable changing his diapers and taking more care of him…that was so much fun for me and gave me the even bigger desire I had to be a mom myself. You are a great one.

Does this all sound too Pollyanna-ish up to this point? Like we never fought? Of course but these good memories stick out much better than the bad.

Showoff!

We fought like cats and dogs sometimes…we said things we didn’t mean…we did things we shouldn’t have to one another…and we sometimes couldn’t stand each other and made that clear. In other words, we were sisters. And yes, this sometimes still happens. But we always work through whatever it is and come out stronger on the other side. It makes these fights worth it just for that. BTW, the maddest I’ve ever been at you in my life was when you won the twisted balloons at the Mueller Christmas Party and you REFUSED to let me wear them. It still gets me going. 😬

I know you hear a lot about me being bipolar, especially since you read this and hear me talk about it with others. But I also know you battle so much with your own disorders too…after all, mental illness runs in our family and were both blessed to continue the tradition. Charmed, I’m sure.

The anxiety and depression you experience is horrible and I know your life has been affected by it in so many ways. We didn’t know much about mental illness when we were kids/teens…it just wasn’t talked about or recognized in younger kids. But our struggles were real…even if not always validated. I know these issues can cripple you at times and when they do and you reach out, I often don’t know what to say…because there’s no words that can truly help. It makes me feel powerless to protect you from this like you used to protect me from things. So we both listen to each other…commiserate with one another…and know that no matter what or when, we’re both there to listen. No matter what.

I know you’re hard on yourself for having anxiety and depression…in fact, we were talking about it this week. You said how you feel guilty for letting your grandkids see it…that you want to be ‘perfect’ like gramma and grampa were to us. But the thing is, you are. Your sweeties love you like no other and here’s what you’re teaching them by being who you are: that it’s ok to struggle…ok to express feelings…ok to say you need help. In other words, you are providing the example that being perfect isn’t possible, but being honest and true to yourself is. Think about how valuable of a lesson that truly is.

And today? You are still protecting me. Still keeping me in your grip. Still standing up for me and believing in me and loving me. In other words, you are still the sister I’m so blessed to have and my life would have been so lonely without you. I know this is getting long…and starting to get mushy…so I’ll stop here. But, just know that I love you. YOU. Imperfect, mentally ill, emotional YOU. Because just like you see the real me…I see the real you. And the vision that I see is wonderful.

Kristi xoxo

“I am thankful for laughter except when milk comes out my nose.” ~ Woody Allen

So, tomorrow is Thanksgiving and I have so much to be thankful for in my life. It’s also the season of buying gifts and I’ve been working my little fingers to the bone making stuff as well! However, my son has told me he doesn’t want another quilt from me even though he loves the ones I’ve made him over the years: it’s a storage issue and I understand!

Anyhoot, I was putting the idea of thankfulness and gifts together in my mind (🙄) and realized that the people and things I’m thankful for have given me lifelong gifts I cherish.

Ma has given me so much over the years that it’s hard to sort them all out. I think the biggest gift she’s given me is that of support. I actually call her my bra because no matter what, it’s there holding things up. Yes, sometimes there’s chafing, but that’s to be expected. If I said “Ma, I want to fly to the moon and plant a quilt I’ve made on a pole by the American flag” she would say “That’s a great idea…how can I help?” I’m not kidding…her support is unconditional and always there. I have taken that gift and tried to pay it forward with my son. When he wanted to quit his job at Verizon and start a photography business, he needed to live with me to save on bills in order to buy equipment he needed. I was happy to do this for him…even though there was some ‘chafing’ there too! He had lived on his own for a few years prior to this and for both of us to live together again was sometimes a challenge. (The best part was when he’d make me supper…he’s a great cook! The worst part was me seeing my basement full of dirty clothes…he’s not OCD’ish like I am 😐).

I also supported him in his move to Texas…just like ma supported me when O’s dad and I moved to Kansas for his job (O was born in Kansas). Ma visited a lot even though it was 8 hours away and we yacked everyday on the phone. Back then our phones were ‘on the wall’ so I’d sit with O sleeping in my arms while talking to her on her work line so I wouldn’t have a humungous long distance bill. Thank goodness for that…I don’t think B would have appreciated that.

My first visit to Texas!

I went to Texas as much as I could…at least every 12 weeks or so and I know O appreciated it (since I cleaned up the apartment and bought food) and I always loved seeing his face looking for me as I exited the airport! One day he came home and said that another guy was in the store that had moved and he hadn’t seen his parents for a couple of years. He told me how much he appreciated my effort in seeing him so much and that just made my heart sing.

And what has O taught me? Love. It’s that simple. Yes, I loved people very much before having him but the love of your child is just a another thing entirely. The minute he was put in my arms I thought: “I would kill for you, kid…I already adore you that much” and it grows everyday. Literally. It’s hard to explain how much space he takes up in my heart…but I know that no matter what ever happens in this world, the love I have for my boy lights me up from the inside out.

And my pop? He’s given me so much as well but a couple of things really stand out. First is the love of running he instilled in me. I began running in the 4th grade when pop started our local running club and have pretty much run since then. Pop has gone to EVERY single race I’ve ever run in…whether they are in town or miles away and whether they are a 5k or a marathon. I love running…it’s not a chore to me but a pleasure and I know that comes from him. When I train for marathons, pop rides his bike next to me and those are the best times I’ve spent with him. We talk and reminiscence and say things to each other we probably never would have in another situation.

But he also gave me the gift of being a good neighbor. Pop has always helped neighbors and made sure they are taken care of. He mows, scoops snow, helps unload trucks, takes food to those who can’t get out, and the list goes on. I’ve done the same in my neighborhood. I raked my leaves last Sunday and then raked 2 more neighbor’s yards. One of the old men came home while I was working on his lawn and asked why I was doing it (we’re friends…he was being sweet) since he was able too himself and I said this: “Norm, you are always helping out neighbors and I wanted you to do the same for you!” He was so thankful and it made me happy. I guess pop has shown me that helping and doing for others is a gift of enjoyment for yourself.

My sissy has given me so many gifts too but I think the most important one is that of being authentic. My sissy is who she is…she doesn’t wear masks and has the attitude of ‘take me or leave me’ like I am. I love this! She is so strong and when we were little, she was my protector. Every pic of us when we were kiddos shows her with her arm around me and even now she wants to look after me. For example, she has offered to punch various guys in the face and tell them exactly what she thinks of them…which I know would include some VERY colorful language! If I need to vent or cry or bitch or anything, she’s there to listen and do what she can for me.

Me, sissy and ma!

She also has the biggest heart…especially when it comes to kids. She adores kids and is Gramma T to the dozens that have come into her life. Kids adore her too and she knows how to spoil any kid rotten. I don’t know if I’ve ever told her this but I love this about her…it’s her ‘soft’ side and it’s a beautiful thing to see.

I’m really thankful for my pets too…Edward and Mally (they don’t mind me using their full names 😉). All of my pets, past and present, have taught me patience, joy, affection, loyalty, enthusiasm, and most importantly: unconditional love. It doesn’t matter if I’m down, grumpy, manic, sick, or stressed, I get snuggles, cuddles, wagging tails, licks and life is just better because of that. Wouldn’t it be nice if people could do the same (especially the licks 🤭)?

And my students? Wow. I’ve had thousands of students over the 25 years I’ve been teaching at my college and they have all had an impact on me. They have taught me strength, motivation, compassion, understanding, kindness and have given me the huge family I always wanted. They are the recipients of my passion and I’m the recipient of them…each individual ‘them’ that put just one more spark in my heart. They are the best.

I could add so many other people I’m thankful for like my extended family (my nieces and nephews rock), colleagues (especially you Grand Poobah, who can be quite the ass at times which means we get along great), neighbors, friends, and the list could go on and on.

But I’m also thankful for the things in my life that I tend to take for granted: my cozy house, my Jeep, my job, the fact I always have enough food and clean water, etc. How do you even begin to count all of these blessings?

Finally, I’m thankful to all of you, my sweetie readers! You’ve supported this blog for the last couple of years and I’ve made wonderful connections with you…as well as a super great friend (Hi Susan!). Writing is an outlet for me and for you to appreciate it makes it all the more special.

So, Happy Thanksgiving to all of you…eat a lot of turkey, stuff yourself, fall asleep on the couch while you digest, and then wake up and have just one more piece of pie. K? 🦃

Kristi xoxo

“Machines to save our lives, machines dehumanize…” ~ Mr. Roboto

So, the fam was at my great-nieces volleyball game the other night (she is an absolutely gorgeous, smart young woman…much like me and sis were at that age…) and during a break ma said this to T and me: “I need a new phone.”

And just like that, the world stopped spinning for a moment…T and I stopped breathing for a moment…and we could see the horror in one another’s faces.

Look, we adore ma! We love her to death! However…introducing her to ‘new’ technology can best be described as traipsing through the bowels of hell and I don’t know about T, but I’m going to be BUSY for the next so many weeks until ma’s new phone is in her sweaty palm and she knows how to use it. There are 2 ways this can happen: either I leave the country before T has a chance too or I break my fingers. Regardless of the choice, I just have to do this before T does.

Ma’s iPhone is a generation 6 and she got it in 2014. Yes. Let me say that again…2014. The screen is the size of a postage stamp and her home button is grimy with use. However, she’s been happy with it so far until she saw me and T’s bigger and newer phones.

T and I aren’t ogres…we want ma to have a new, shiny, big screened phone (which she was too cheap to buy until now 🙄) to enjoy in her golden years. We just don’t want to be the one’s to get it set up.

Let me share how this is being anticipated:

Ma: So, if I get a new phone, my old stuff will be on it…right?

Kristi: Yes, ma.

Ma: How do we know we’re buying the phone with MY stuff already on it?

Kristi: Ma, I will take your NEW phone and download your OLD info into it from the cloud.

Ma: The what?

Kristi: THE CLOUD, ma. All of your phone info is in the cloud.

Ma (scrolling through her old phone): I don’t have a cloud on my phone, Kristi.

Kristi: Ma, the cloud isn’t on your phone. It’s out in ‘cyberspace’.

Ma: KRISTI. I DON’T HAVE A CLOUD WITH MY PHONE.

Kristi: MA. For fuck sakes…everyone has a cloud and I have yours set up! Everything on your phone is uploaded to it for saving. Think of it as a file cabinet in the sky.

Ma: Kristi…

Kristi: OH NO! Ma, I have to go…Edward needs to pee…

After I recovered my sanity from that conversation ma had more questions and called me back:

Ma: Will the buttons be the same?

Kristi: No. There is no home button on the newer iPhones.

Ma: How will I get ‘home’?

Kristi: Take the bus!

Ma: Kristi. How will I get home on my phone?

Kristi: You’ll swipe…everything is swipes…

Ma: Will you show me how?

Kristi: Yes. I’ll show you a hundred times. T will show you a hundred times. O will show you a hundred times. Then, you’ll have it down pat.

So, sometime in our near future, T and I will be taking ma to get her new phone. I truly feel the need to psychologically prepare for this and I’m sure T could use some prepping as well. However, as much as I tease ma about her technology gaps, O does the same to me and for some reason, it’s actually not as funny then. 🙄

Now? Google the topic, go through the 1000’s of hits, learn more about the concept, read the books/journals in the area, and get more info in 10 minutes than it took me hours to get in school. I love this in so many ways because I’ve come to depend on Google for so much info…but…I also miss the days of seeing scads of students in the library, researching their little hearts out, traipsing through the aisles and aisles of reference books, and pulling all-nighters together to finish up the work. Ahhhh…the good old days. 😳

But, it seems a little ‘too’ easy now. You know? We can just say: “Hey Alexa…who was Emile Durkheim?” And poof, the answer is given. (To my past and present Intro to Sociology students: you know the answer to this…right??)

I was reading one of my fave books the other day (I have dozens of fave books)- “The Accidental Tourist” by Anne Tyler, and one of the characters is suffering from dementia and talks to his grandson about all of the inventions he’s working on: A motorized radio that will follow you around, a floating phone, and a car that will come when you call it. This was proof to the family that gramps was diminishing quickly; actually, he was ahead of everyone.

P.S. He never let me drive it. 🙄

When I first read this book in the late 80’s (it was published in ’85), these inventions made me laugh. “Ha! A car that will come to you!” But all of these have come true (I wish Anne Tyler would have patented these ideas she wrote about…)! Wasn’t the Sony Walkman the radio that would follow you around…and then the iPod…then phones? And think about phones…no phone booths you have to wait for (that’s how I had to call ma when I was living on-campus)…no more waiting for T to say goodbye to her boyfriend and finally hang up…no more talking where everyone can hear since phones were plugged into the wall. Now? We have them all of the time. And cars that come when you call them? When I was dating ‘The Counselor’ he had a Tesla and we were coming out of Walgreens in the dead of winter and not wanting to traipse through the slush. He got on his phone and the car started up, backed out of the parking spot and came directly to us. My mouth hung open but I tried my best to take it in stride.

It makes me wonder about my future grandkids (if I ever get any… 😐) and what they’ll grow up with and how much things will have changed by then. I try to think how it can and I simply can’t! I can’t imagine anything more than what we have…unless it’s faster, etc. I said the same thing after my pink Motorola Razer I had in the early 2000’s: “What can be better than this?”

Anyhoot, we’ll get ma her new phone. T and I will help her set it up and we’ll tag team it: she can explain some things and then bump my shoulder and I’ll take over for a bit while T practices meditation and deep breathing. However, cough cough…I think I feel the ‘flu’ coming on. Bit by bit. Like maybe it will really hit me the day we have planned for shopping. Hmmmm…

Kristi xoxo

“…on Sundays I used to like to go hiking, but now…” ~ Heather / Blair Witch Project

Photo by Nicolette Attree on Pexels.com

So, I just want to publicly thank my son for already ruining next week for me: “Thanks, son.” 🙄

Courtesy of Pokemon Wiki – Fandom

A couple of months ago, my son got the brilliant idea of going camping which entails he and his girlfriend driving halfway across the country and camping in the back of his recently purchased pick-up truck. When he said this, I was dumb-founded since the only camping he has ever done was to stay in a hotel that didn’t have turn-down service. However, I wasn’t too worried that this venture into the wilderness would ever come to fruition. Afterall, he once told me he was going to be a professional Pokemon trainer and that sort of fell through 😐.

Then, I bought O a present off of his Amazon wish list for his birthday in August. Little did I know he never updates the damn thing, so of course he already had the fancy-schmancy keyboard I so lovingly purchased; he asked if he could exchange it and that’s when he bought “The Tent.” I put it in quotation marks because that’s how he emphasizes it when he talks about it and alongside the flowery words, his eyes get a look of pure glee in them. Apparently, this is something he’s wanted his entire life (of which he’s lived with me for 21 of those years and I never heard a damn thing about it 🤔) and it fits in the back of his pick-up truck bed. According to him, it will be ‘just like home.’

And I have to agree that a tent popped up in the back of a pick-up truck bed minus the toilet, refrigerator, TV, couch, stove, beds, DoorDash, air conditioner, electricity, and running water is truly going to be ‘just like home.’ You know, Hubby #3 always wanted to go camping and promised me the same thing: “It’ll be like you’ve never left the comfort of the house…except you’ll be sleeping on the ground and will have to use a spade to dig a latrine if you have to poop.” Charmed, I’m sure. And guess what? We never went camping. Ever.

Anyhoot, even after all of this I still didn’t believe he’d go until he called me yesterday to remind me that I’ll be watching my grand-dog all next week. So now the trip is real and I’m already worrying about the fucking (sorry, ma 🙄) thing.

Let me replay the conversation we had:

Kristi: Where exactly are you going, son?

O: We’re going to drive half-way across the country and back in the span of 6 days.

Kristi: That’s nice and specific. So, where will you sleep?

O: In the truck bed, ma…in the tent.

Kristi: WHERE will you sleep? Have you made reservations at campgrounds along the way where there’s at least some sort of a structure or facility you can use so when you pee, you don’t have to worry about getting a tick and/or poison ivy? Where there’s a water hook-up so you and K don’t wither away from dehydration? Where’s there’s electricity so you can have light in case there’s a flood and you both need to run to high ground? And for the love of all that is holy, haven’t you ever watched The Blair Witch Project??

O: I’ll make reservations when the trip is closer.

Kristi: You’re leaving in a couple of days, son. It’s close.

O: We’ll be OK…we’ll just sleep any old where out under the stars. That’s the point of camping, ma.

Kristi: Do you know how many serial killers are in our country at any given time?

O: No, Mother. I don’t. What’s your point?

Kristi: There are a million of them (slight exaggeration but try to understand my reasoning here 🤨) and they prey on kids like you in trucks along side the road in the particular states you’ll be driving through. Also, they like Toyotas.

O: Mother. I can take care of myself.

Kristi: No, son…you can’t.

O: WHAT???

Kristi: Let’s just say…for the hell of it…that a 300 pound bear comes up to your truck smelling what you and K somehow miraculously made for dinner with a kitchen no where in sight. What would you do?

O: We’ll be in the tent, Mother.

Kristi: Ketchup packets are harder to tear open than that tent.

O: OK, MOTHER. What’s the solution because we’re going.

Kristi: To get a dog sitter to watch all 3 pooches while I follow you in my Jeep to make sure nothing happens to my one and only child who I bore in my womb and raised. I’ll sleep on my back seat and live on KIND bars for the entirety of the trip. You won’t even know I’m there, but by golly, if a fucking bear starts attacking you, I’ll wave my arms and scream like an idiot to distract them while you and K scramble through the back window of your truck. And then, son, I will have saved your lives.

O: Sigh.

Now, do I have the right to worry? Yes. Yes, I do.

My son, to my vast knowledge of his every movement since the moment his little feet kicked the inside of my uterus, has never gone camping. Ever. And he’s taking along his girlfriend who gets a look of sheer horror on her face every time O mentions the trip.

So, I pulled K aside and talked to her:

Kristi: What do you think about this trip, K?

K: I’m dreading it. I’ve never gone camping. I’ve never wanted to go camping. And the thought of peeing in the woods makes me itchy and ill.

Kristi: I’m here for you, honey. WHEN you get fed up on this trip (which I’m assuming will be within the first 3 hours after they leave), call me. I’ll send you a pre-paid ticket to Vegas, will take some personal time off to hop on a plane myself to meet you at the airport, and we’ll have a few days at the Bellagio where we will tan by the pool and get massages from cabana boys while drinking ice-cold Mai Tais.

K: You’re the best.

Do I think she’ll call? Yes. Will I follow through with this? Yes. AND…am I worried to death over my only chance in the world to be a grandma traipsing across a country he didn’t know enough about to pass a geography quiz in the 7th grade? Yes.

Courtesy of delish.com

O keeps telling me it’s not my job to worry about him so much. But here’s what he doesn’t yet understand: it IS my job to worry about him. I don’t care if he’s 8, 18, or 28. I’m his mama and he will always be my baby. I’ll always have the instinct to take care of him…that doesn’t just magically disappear once your child grows up. One day, he’s going to understand that…just like I’m trying to understand the same thing regarding ma. 😉

Kristi xoxo

The Adventures of Me and Ma!

So, I know my sissy is going to be very jelly when she reads this because instead of being able to experience what I did this past weekend with ma, she was lolling on a gorgeous beach with her wonderful hubby and 2 beautiful grandkids. I feel so bad for her. 🙄

Anyhoot, ma and I have been going out to lunch on Fridays so she can have fish. Yes, she grew up Catholic. And no, she is not a practicing Catholic but for some reason, she likes fish on Fridays so go figure. We’ve been going to the same place for a while now (a GREAT old bar that has the best fish ever! 🐡🐟🐠) but decided to try something new this past week. As always, I told ma to choose the place and as always, she said it was up to me. There’s no use arguing (been there, done that) so I said: “Ma, give me 5 choices.” She did and I made my choice. However, she grimaced at each choice I made until I picked the one (0n my 4th try) she actually wanted anyway. My ma is a clever woman.

The actual bar we like to eat at…I LOVE bar ambiance!

So, we head off to Pop’s (another great bar…I love love love bar food…😐) and are faced with a crisis right off the bat. The only tables available are the tall ones with the high bar stools. I chose a 2 topper (restaurant speak for 2 seats…I waitressed through my last year of college 🤨) and helped ma clamber up the stool. It was horrifying at best and I just knew she was going to topple off this backless seat and I’d be blamed. Luckily, she spotted an 8 topper that had seats with backs. She scaled down where she was sitting like Edmund Hillary coming down Everest, and once again, I helped her get on top another god-forsaken chair. She got settled and I said: “Ma, despite the debacle of getting you seated with 40 truckers looking on in horror, the fish smells really good!” She agreed and when the waitress came by for the order, ma said: “I’ll take the shrimp basket.”

Heh? All week I heard about how excited she was to eat fish with me and she orders shrimp. I said: “Ma, didn’t you want fish?” And she said, quite snippily I might add: “Kristi, shrimp are fish.” Oookkkaaayyy! They aren’t exactly the Walleye she was craving, but I guess any old crustacean would do.

We gobble down the food which was delicious and since it was ma’s turn to treat, she had to get her purse off the back of the chair to pay the bill. This required her turning around on a chair she could barely balance on while telling me to leave her alone, she could do it herself. After saying a quick prayer promising God that I would never curse again if ma didn’t fall over, she wrangled it up and asked me what she should leave for a tip. I said: “Five bucks, ma.” She looked at me as if I’d said, “Ma, give the waitress a kidney and let’s blow the joint.” However, since the poor was called to our table numerous times (by ma…), I knew she earned every bit of that fiver. Just sayin. 😳

When I got her back to her house, she said: “Kristi, you need to come in…I have an emergency I need you to deal with.” Thinking she was experiencing a carbon monoxide leak but wanted to eat first, I cautiously followed her in. She grabbed her iPad and said: “I can’t get past level 47 on this game you had me download.” I said: “Ma. For fuck sakes…THAT’s your emergency?” Yes…it was. She had tried over a dozen times to get past that particular level and asked if I could help. Since I’m on level 317 myself, I did it with a few minutes to spare. It’s hard to describe the look on her face right then. It was part pride, part gratefulness, and part disdain.

This particular thrift shop has a huge amount of doll inventory…they are terrifying to say the least.

The next day, I wanted some stuff for my basement and we went to a GREAT thrift shop in town that has a bit of everything (please Lord…let there be thrift shops in heaven…😬). As ma was looking at the clothes, I was digging around in old books and furniture. All of a sudden I hear a loud “KRISTI?!!!” I said, just as loudly, “MA?!!!” She kept shouting (yes sissy…shouting…😐) until I tunneled through the hodge podge of crap and found her. I said: “Ma, what the hell??” She said: “Do you like this top?” No, I didn’t. Did I tell her that? No, I didn’t. After all of the energy she put in to getting my opinion, I didn’t have the heart to tell her it was ass ugly.

After this adventure, we went to an antique furniture shop that looks like a hoarder bought anything and everything he had ever set eyes on in the last 100 years and threw it all in the very old, wooden, partly dilapidated building. The aisles (I use the term loosely) are approximately 10 inches wide and since most asses are bigger than that, you have to wiggle through them like those bubble tea beads through a straw. Ma and I had just gotten down the first aisle and had to trek back because a couple was coming down it the opposite way carrying chairs. After they were through, we went back in. To make a long story short, there were 12 fucking chairs in the set these boobs bought and instead of telling us they would be making numerous trips (6), we kept traipsing down the same aisle again and again until they’d come tramping back and we’d have to backtrack. Why didn’t we go down another aisle? Because this place is like a maze…one way in, one way out. And believe me, you don’t want to get lost unless you have provisions for at least a week.

Anyhoot, I had previously found the perfect piece for my basement (an AWESOME marble topped chest!) but didn’t have the cash at the time to pay for it. When I had pulled out my card days back, the salesman looked at me as if I were another life form using a currency never before seen on earth. He said: “We don’t take those things.” OK. Got it.

I told the guy I’d be back that weekend and he said he’d write out the sales ticket for it and have it waiting for me. The price was $150 but I got him down to $120. The owner of the shop, born during Lincoln’s time, was there when ma and I arrived and when he saw I had gotten a ‘discount’ he asked how I had managed that. I looked him straight in the eye and said: “I flashed the guy my boobs.” He didn’t flinch…just nodded and started loading it up. Apparently I’m not appealing enough that he wanted a rerun of that particular show. And no, I didn’t really flash ’em the first time around anyway. At least that’s my story…and I’m sticking to it. 😲

See the furniture piled up in the windows?? NOTHING is secured!

As the old geezer (who I will be referring to as Red from here on out) was loading up my stuff (that man might be old but my goodness, he’s strong 😳), ma found some vintage quilts. She asked Red the price and when he quoted it, she balked and put them away. I pulled her aside (the best I could in a 10″ space) and whispered: “Ma, for piss sakes, you’re supposed to bargain!” Instead, she and Red started talking about our town (since they’ve both been around almost from it’s conception in 1829) and while I was leaning on a dusty, moldy something or other in a building that wasn’t air conditioned on a 100 degree day, I began to get a bit delirious. Not really wanting to be a part of their conversation but needing something to take my mind off the heat stroke I could feel coming, I made a couple of quips I found amusing. Red didn’t. He looked at me like I was nuts. Which…actually…as we all know…I pretty much am. 🙄

Finally, I rasped: “Ma, we need to get going…” and I took matters in my own hands: I got my chest, 2 vintage quilts and an AWESOME vintage lamp for $150 less than marked. After we shook sweaty palms on it, Red looked gobsmacked. I think the heat had made him delirious too (believe me…this guy is known to be a bit of a shyster and I guarantee you he made plenty of money on this sale).

So, we were all loaded up and I was getting ready to pull away from the curb when he comes trotting out. I rolled down my window and said: “Whatcha need?” And he said: “What all did you get?” I told him and he rolled his rheumy old eyes and said it had been our lucky day. Yes. I was lucky in that I didn’t think I’d have to visit the ER that evening after all. When he was walking away I shouted: “I thought you were coming back to ask me out!” He looked back at me and said: “No.” Well…that hurt. 🙄

Anyhoot, ma and I always have fun when we’re together and we got laughing so hard at times this past weekend we almost peed ourselves. However, just because I love my sissy so much, I’m going to let her schlep ma around next weekend. Not that I need a break or anything. Just because I want to make up for what she missed while on vacation. I’m all heart.

And ma, you are the best…I love you so much and if you can’t get past another level, holler at me. K?

Kristi xoxo

“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

“Take me back to the good old days” ~ Tommy Collins

So, with Bill and I being in isolation because we have COVID, we’ve been watching a lot of true crime (very uplifting when you’re sick 🙄) and just finished ‘The Night Stalker’ (Richard Ramirez) on Netflix. As fascinating as it was regarding the investigation of this serial killer and how horrible we felt for all those he victimized, here’s what really got us: how old the film clips, tv’s, clothes, cars, etc. looked. When we started watching this, we both would have sworn that the time period being shown was the 60’s, but alas, we would have been wrong. It was the 80’s.

Courtesy of parade.com

Heh? The 80’s look OLD to us? Archaic? It was the 80’s…our era, baby! Just a few years ago…right? Well…no. I remember when I was growing up and grandma and grandpa would talk about the 40’s and 50’s and to me, it seemed like a life-time ago (and it was…literally…duh…🙄). Now that we’re in 2021 (the year in which I thought everything pertaining to the Jetson’s would be happening), the 80’s was a life-time ago; after all, my sonshine was born in 1993 and he’s 27. Damn!

So after the show ended, Bill and I started to play the ‘Did you ever imagine…’ game, and we realized how much the world has changed in the decades that followed the cool one we were teenagers in (OK, I was never cool…nerdy/homely would be a better descriptor for me 🤓). Here are some examples:

  • Didya ever think that we’d hold a phone in our hands…without cords…that had a MUCH bigger computer capacity than the combination of every single computer we ever used in high school had?
  • Didya ever think that you could ‘send’ a message to someone instantaneously?
  • Didya ever think the world would be connected and we could access that knowledge every single day without leaving home?
  • Didya ever think ‘books’ would be read electronically?
  • Didya ever think you’d be able to take a better pic through a PHONE than you did using the most expensive camera out there when you were a kid?
  • Didya ever think we’d have electric cars?
  • Didya ever think there would be a more graphically ‘real’ game than Pac-Man?
  • Didya ever think there would be something to ‘hold’ your music that was more compact than a Sony Walkman that used cassettes?
  • Didya ever think you wouldn’t be using VHS tapes someday?

And the list goes on and on.

My first camera! The film just popped in…what could be better than that?

Take cameras: my son is a professional photographer and he is a hybrid shooter in that he uses film and digital cameras. The first time he started shooting in film, he was so excited! You would have thought he discovered an ancient civilization that hadn’t been seen for eons. For the first few months, he would show me every single pic he took on film and he was just gob-smacked by how they looked…they were so ‘vintage’! And, every time he did this, I’d be giggling inside: “Sweetie…what the hell do you think ALL of your baby and childhood pics were taken with?? ”

And the computer stuff really does boggle my mind. I remember sitting in Mr. B’s computer classes in high school and trying to wrap my head around ‘Basic Programming’. In only 1 semester, I learned how to program a computer to scroll my name on the green and black screen! It was quite an accomplishment. Really. If you would have told me that computers would be the size of your palm someday…AND…we would carry them around in our pockets and be obsessed with them…I would have said you might be a tad delusional.

Courtesy of Reddit

When hubby 2 and I got our first ‘real’ desktop computer, we were a bit afraid of it, and after getting an AOL disc to use in it, we were petrified. The disc said we had like a zillion hours of ‘internet’ time and we couldn’t understand what the hell the internet was and why the hell we’d want ‘on it.’ We popped the disc in after O was in bed for the night…that way, if something horrible happened, he wouldn’t be a witness to it. A funny, screechy, dial-y sound (much like how my voice is described 😐 ) started and we thought the computer was blowing up. After about 5 minutes (SO FAST!), we were ‘online’ and had no idea what to do. Hubby started clicking around on things on the AOL homepage but we closed it out because there was nothing that interested us. Here’s what we said (word for word): “The internet is stupid…I’m never using it.” 🤨 I guess we were sorta wrong on that one.

Courtesy of Screen Rant

And movies? Good lord…I remember traipsing to the local ‘video store’ and checking out a VCR and a movie…this would cost about $40! BUT, since VCR’s were around $600-700 in the mid-80’s, this was a steal! My boyfriend and I’d lug this badboy home in the ‘suitcase’ it came in and then spend a grueling hour trying to figure out the fucking wires that needed to be connected while ma was shouting down the stairs: “Don’t mess up the damn TV!” After saying some not-so-nice things to each other during this fiasco, we’d finally get it hooked up, watch the movie (in our house…oooooo…😲) and then unhook it the next day to get it back before we got hit with astronomical fines. Tech at it’s best!

For my son, using Netflix and Hulu is nothing…he’s been doing it since he was a teen. He doesn’t remember a time when movies weren’t at our fingertips! I do though…and I’m still amazed that you can watch about anything you feel like with a few clicks. And I LOVE how you can stop watching something after a few minutes and go on to something else. When I would ‘rent’ VHS tapes, I’d watch the movie even if I hated it…I didn’t want to waste money by not watching it. BTW, I just got my first talking remote for my cable and using it amazes me…I don’t even have to change channels myself anymore!

And social media? I never dreamed…in a million years…that you’d be able to connect with anyone and everyone in the WHOLE world you wanted to with the ‘click of a mouse’. Further, who could ever have seen the effects of doing so? I’ve been off Facebook now for a few weeks and really don’t miss it at all…except for seeing what my sweetie students are up too. I certainly don’t miss the gossip, political fighting, high-school type antics among adults, etc. In fact, my stress level has decreased knowing I can just enjoy something without worrying about having to post it. It’s freeing! 😛 Plus, I just finished a quilt, have kicked ass on getting my classes set up, and am running 4-5 miles a day! Know what? That’s better than clicking on a thumb for hours at a time!

Anyhoot, how weird to think the era I grew up in was as many years ago as when my gramma would talk about the depression. It’s funny how time goes by so fast, but then you sort of get stuck in a time and it stays the same in your mind as if it were just a few days past. Sometimes I miss those good ole days when kids were out riding their bikes all over the city, and were playing tag at night under the street lights, and playgrounds were full and waiting for a swing was your biggest worry at the time. I feel like people were more connected back then…regardless of the social media and technology we have today. We called each other and yapped for hours on the phone. We had slumber parties and would stay up all night telling naughty stories and freezing each other’s bras. If you wanted to date someone, you had to ask them face-to-face…no swiping…and then you’d actually talk and do things together with no phones interrupting your time. You also didn’t have the pressure of ‘having’ to take photos to post to prove to others you were having fun with so and so. You didn’t have to worry about documenting everything…you just lived it and made the memories in your head where they aren’t judged. People felt better about themselves because you weren’t comparing yourself to others on social media and feeling less than because of everyone’s ‘perfect’ pics. If you had an issue with someone, you actually had to talk to them…not see it splattered across an open platform that everyone reads and can judge you by.

As much as it ages me, it’s like it was a more ‘innocent’ time…more laid back…more linked…united. I didn’t take pics of my son 100x every single day…film and developing were expensive! But when I did take pics, they were special and showed a time in his life that I really wanted to capture; then I’d mail copies to the grandparents for them to stick on the fridge. I didn’t force him to pose or stop playing with him to get yet another pic to post because it wasn’t about the pic…it was about us simply being together.

My life was my life…it wasn’t a life that was open for others to criticize publicly. If I wanted to learn about something, I got actual books and read them and studied them and learned from them. I didn’t passively ask Alexa for an answer…I found the answer myself.

So yes, I’m old. Yes, I’m feeling nostalgic about the 80’s. And yes…even though it was far from perfect, there is so much I miss about it. I guess I’m finally one of those people who yearn for the ‘good ole days’…and in fact, I think a lot of us actually do.

Kristi xoxo

“You gotta keep on doing it right.” ~ Brady Bunch

(*Note to my Sweetie Peeps: actual pics of Bill’s stuff was not used in order to protect the dignity of my beloved). So, first I want to say that everything is ‘all right’ between Bill and I even we experienced the greatest challenge to our relationship thus far. It was a bit dicey for a while but we (or actually, mostly me 🙄) overcame and are still going strong. You see, Bill is getting ready to move back to his hometown where I live and he has a new job in, and while I was at his bachelor pad this past week for a couple of days, I helped him pack. Ladies: you may now groan.

It’s funny how you have to learn things about people as you go. For example, we all remember Bill’s aversion to buying furniture…and food…for his pad, but now there’s something else I have to accept: my man is a pack-rat. Yes…for a man who has nothing of substance in his rooms, he has a fuck (sorry, ma 😐) lot of crap hiding in his closets.

We got started and I’m thinking: “This will be a cinch! How much can he have shoved away? We’ll be done in an hour at the most.” Ha. How naive I was. I got out a couple of hardback books that I could sit on in the hallway (no chairs…) while he began dragging out boxes that were barely held together with tape that was beginning to yellow.

I open up the first box he shoved my way and as I started rummaging around, he said: “Kristi…be careful…there could be valuable things in there.” Well, there wasn’t; it was full of books from the 1980’s he had promised himself he would eventually read. Some of the titles that stood out included “Electrical Technology” (this was sure up to date…the PC hadn’t been invented yet 🙄), “The Book on Running” which said, among other things, to run between 40-80 miles a week…no matter what (no pain, no gain), and “Intermediate College Algebra” which of course you want to revisit again and again despite the fact you graduated in the 90’s with a C in it.

So, I said this: “Bill…this box is full of books that are out-dated and would cause even Job to poke his eye out with a stick. I think they need to go in the ‘donate’ pile.” He said: “I need to go through every one of those.” In actuality, this meant that he had to open EVERY single book to show me a page or 2 in it that might be of interest to me or trigger a memory for him. Yes, seeing an electrical wire was not only a thrill but a trip down memory lane. Finally, after we got through only this one box after an excruciatingly long amount of time passed (🥱), I began to think this was going to take longer than expected.

Then came the box of Victrola records and come to find out, Bill no longer has a Victrola. I told Bill: “This box definitely needs donated since you don’t have anything to play these on.” Bill looked dumbfounded and said: “Are you nuts? These are worth money!” So, I looked them up on eBay and at the best, with what he had, he would have gotten about $30 for the lot. That is, if the person didn’t mind that the covers were seeped in mold with centipedes crawling out of the record jackets willy nilly, and the records themselves so scratched up, that anything played was going to sound like a screechy mess (much like my own singing voice 🤨).

What followed was a ‘discussion’ about memorabilia. Look, I’m all for keeping things that mean something to you…I have a nut cracker my grandpa had and it’s one of my favorite things. However, do we need to keep EVERY piece of memorabilia ever saved from his family for the past 3 generations? Hmmmm. So we compromised…he kept a couple of records that were the ‘least’ moldy. 🙄

Another box slid my way and while Bill sort of hinted around he didn’t want my ‘help’ anymore (“Kristi, is there something else you need to do?”), I nevertheless grabbed it and started my archeological dig. This particular box had papers in it. Papers. Not letters from gramma or recipes from mom or little prayers from Uncle Bob, but paper; for example, an empty envelope with a cellophane ‘window’ in it that was torn down one side. I said (very patiently I might add): “Bill…this box is full of useless papers and needs to be thrown away.”

He looked gobsmacked and ambled over to see what I would dare call trash (I called the entire box trash). He said: “Let’s save it.” Now it was my turn to stare at him wide-eyed and I said: “What in the name of all that is holy are you going to do with a torn, used envelope?” He said: “I don’t know. Tape it and use it?” With the patience of a saint, I looked at this man who might be my future hubby (why not…after 3 what’s one more 😏) and said, slowly so he would understand, “Bill…you can buy NEW envelopes at the Dollar Tree. For a dollar.”

So, the process went on. And on and on and on (😐). After we tackled the boxes, we moved on to his closet where I methodically went through every item that was hung up and told him to tell me which clothes he actually wore and liked…the others would be donated: the processing of every garment took him about 5 minutes each, and all of the clothes I thought would look so cute on him are the one’s he didn’t like. For example, he told me to put a dark blue, chambray shirt by Ralph Lauren that matches his eyes in the donate pile but to keep a solid white polyester number he wore to a dance decades ago. He tossed the hot looking Army green work shirt aside but kept a green polo that had some indistinguishable animal over the left boob.

By this time it was almost dark, and I was dusty, moldy, sweaty, hungry and cranky so Bill says: “Wanna tackle the kitchen?” I’m almost ashamed to tell you my response but since I’m always up-front with my sweetie peeps it was this: “Fuck no. Feed me now or I’m outta here.” He understood.

Anyhoot, he’s pretty much packed up and thanks to me, boxes and boxes of stuff was given to Goodwill. I know I’ll never…ever…help him pack again and I’ll monitor his ‘collecting of nostalgic items’ since he’s one ceramic figurine (without limbs 🙄) away from being a hoarder. Yes, we survived this first real test of our relationship. Yes, I forced myself to continue packing even though I would have given my adult coloring books for even a small break. And yes, if he ever asks me if he can go through my stuff…my answer will be no.

Kristi xoxo

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