“I love my rejection slips. They show me I try.” ~ Sylvia Plath

So, my sweetie students and I were discussing Fritz Perls today (father of Gestalt Therapy 😳) and it reminded me so much of what else I’ve been studying: mindfulness. The whole idea behind Gestalt (‘configuration’) psychology is to be more aware of yourself, to stay present, and to process things in the here and now. Further, it’s also based on the idea that our overall perception depends on the interaction between many factors, including our past experiences, current environment, thoughts, feelings, and needs. Whew. Nice lecture, huh?

Anyhoot, as we were talking about our perceptions of ourselves and how much it affects the ‘whole’ of our being, one of my students who knows me well said this to me: “Professor K, you are always so dismissive of yourself. You always put yourself down and act like less than who you really are.” Wow. This really hit me because I know what I think about myself on the inside, but had no idea that it was seeping into the outside as well. However, as I’ve been contemplating it (in the new meditation area I made in my house…complete with chakra stones and all!😲 ), I started to understand where this has come from and why it’s such a big part of the ‘whole’ that I am.

I’m talking about rejection. None of us likes rejection…right? However, some of us handle it better than others. My sissy is wonderful…truly! She is never scared to speak her mind is one of the most authentic people I know in my life. If someone doesn’t like her, she says: “Fuck them! What the hell does that mean in my life?” I love that and wish I was that strong! Instead I say: “Why the hell don’t you like me and how can I act so you will?”

You know, I’ve talked a lot on this blawg about wearing masks and taking off the mask that covered up my bipolar was so hard. Having to confront the part of me that has a mental illness was terrifying…both in terms of myself but also in terms of how others would see me. But that’s my big ‘mask’ accomplishment…that bipolar one. But what about the others?

As we all know, I’ve experienced rejection in my life, like so many of you have as well. Do I take it harder because my emotional make-up is screwed up by my bipolar brain? Am I just more sensitive? Hmmmmm.

I think this rejection started in grade school when both T and I were bullied…we both had buck teeth and mousy hair and didn’t have the coolest clothes. And this continued through high school with me. I had 2 bullies that were particularly brutal and as many secrets as I’ve shared with ma, sissy, partners, and friends, I’ve never ever told anyone what one of the bullies would call me. It still hurts that much after 35 (cough cough) years. 😔

Then we have my relationships. O’s dad was terrific and I thought our marriage was a good one and would last forever. After we divorced, I was convinced we would co-parent O and be friendly and cordial…hells bells, we’d known each other since the 3rd grade and that’s a lot of history. This didn’t happen though. In his family, after you get divorced, you get cut out of pics and the ex-spouse simply pretends like you never existed. Charming. 🙄

So, when we see each other at graduations, weddings, etc. he nods at me. Yes, I said NOD. I gave birth to his only child (who by the way is amazing beyond anything) and we were married for 13 years. And he nods at me. Hmmmm. That may be his families mode of operandi, but it sucks balls because it feels like such a rejection. Not even a ‘hello’? Jeez.

Fast forward to Hubby 3. I’ve been thinking a lot about him lately and I’ve always said how we were still besties and talked just about everyday. But I did something last week I didn’t think I’d ever do: I told him ‘goodbye’ and that I couldn’t be his friend anymore. He’s with another woman…the one who was in his life while we were still together. He says he loves me…wishes he’d never divorced me…that I made him happier than anyone…but he’s with her. Period. He made his choice and can’t have it both ways. The straw that broke my proverbial camel’s back was this: a couple of weeks ago, the ‘club’ went down to Daytona for a bike thing and he took her with them. They had a vacation while down there and he got in the ocean for the first time in his life…something I had always wanted to do with him. Throughout all of our marriage, I’d ask to go on these trips with him and he’d say no every time. But then he took her. And that opened my eyes to the fact he’s hanging on to something that’s no longer there and I don’t deserve, nor need to listen to the ‘fun’ he has with his (I want to put another word in here but I’m going to be nice 😐) girlfriend when he never did the same with me. I realized, like a curtain opening, that he doesn’t love me…he just wants me in the wings and I’m not going to do that anymore.

Then J came into my life and started cheating on me months into the relationship and continued throughout the entire 3 years we were together. If that’s not a rejection, I don’t know what is. Basically it said: “You aren’t enough for me. I don’t love you enough to be faithful. I love this woman more.” Yikes. How can you feel good about yourself in terms of how men see you when this is thrown at you again and again? Then when we ‘broke up’, he never spoke to me again…and still never has. Yes, I loved him for 3 years through some pretty bad crap not many women would have, adored and parented the heck out of his precious kids, and helped him go from a jobless vet living in his grandma’s basement to someone with his own home, money, etc. He always used to say I ‘saved him’ but he treated me like shit and then walked away without another word. Rejection to the max.

Finally, my last relationship. Yep…I thought this was it. We had so many great times and I traveled all the time to see him in another state and then had him live with me while he found a house here. He has a self-proclaimed ‘anger issue’ and when he lashed out at me a couple of times, I let it go. I wanted to make it work! Then we got Covid and Dottie died and I had 3 surgeries and he was moving and my mania was out of control due to meds and the list goes on. So, we get into an argument where he said some pretty nasty things…and I said something back that I know hurt him. He walked out and I’ve literally never seen him or talked to him again…even though he lives 1 door down from me! He completely ghosted me after knowing each other 35 years. Once again, rejection.

By Bianca Xunise – there’s an entire comic about this on The Lily. It’s GREAT!

Being dismissed like this by these men has created a ‘habit’ of demeaning my own self…even though I really do love who I am. It’s almost like a knee-jerk reaction. I’ve been made to feel I’m expendable. Extraneous. So…bored with me? Have sex with other women. Tired of being with me? Move in with the (cough cough) woman (🤢) you were seeing before you walked out the door. Angry at me for losing my temper? Ghost me and never acknowledge I even existed in the first place.

Am I that easily forgotten? That easy to get over? That easy to pretend like ‘we’ never happened?

See, I don’t do that. It’s beyond me how B and I could have gone through the birth and raising of our son and spent 13 years of our lives together every day…often working side by side…and then nothing. I don’t understand how you can say you’re in love with someone while making plans to hook up with another woman at the same time. I don’t get how you say you are committed to a relationship, say some pretty terrible things, but when something is said back, it’s over. By the way, I’ve e-mailed this guy 2 times…I’m obviously blocked so I used another address. It was actually an apology about my role in the argument and I’ve never heard a thing back. It hurts but as T says, ‘fuck him!’ She’s the best!

I don’t know why I still find the need to do this, but I depend on others for much of my validation. See, I feel really good about me in terms of me. But in terms of men and relationships, I’m starting to think I’m one of these women who will be used and thrown away. It makes me wonder if any of these men ‘really’ loved me. Their words said they did…but their actions? Nope.

So back to my student: I need to quit being so dismissive of myself. Quit thinking I am ‘rubble’ that can be tossed away. That I’m not worth working for…trying for…apologizing too…or even talking too. Is it a game guys play? Hmmm. I don’t think so. I know my son doesn’t do this…I know my dad didn’t do this with ma…I know sissy’s hubby is there through good and bad. So is it me? How can I not think that? But even more frustrating, why am I convinced it’s all about ‘me’ and my short-comings? Why can’t I see outside of myself at their short-comings too?

I always call ma on my way home from school and we were talking about this. She said: “Kristi, this is their lack. Not yours. You wouldn’t do this to someone…but they would. That shows you who they are.”

And she’s right. I’ve had a couple of relationships that I ended and we’re friends. I would never ghost somebody. Ignore them. Act like they never existed. It’s cruel and simply not in me to do.

Here’s what I told ma today as we were finishing up our daily cluck fest: “You know, I don’t think I want someone else in my life. It’s too hard knowing that what they say and what they might do may not match up. It’s just too damn hard to take that risk again.” And I meant it. But that’s sad to me. To think that these men just didn’t take away themselves but took something inside of me too. The openness to believe in people and the ability to trust them when they say forever. They’ve taken away my ability to look at myself and not be so judgemental…so brutal about ‘what could I have done different?’…so willing to think it’s all me. Thanks, guys. 🙄

You know, it makes me sad to think I might be alone for the rest of my life…but you know what? It makes me even more sad to know how people can deceive you and lie to you and hurt you…and they don’t really care.

Kristi xoxo

“But it’s time you started living…” ~ Mary Tyler Moore Theme Song

Dear Mary Tyler Moore,

So, I don’t know if God allows computers in heaven and I’m really not sure how’ll you’ll read this letter but I’m going to give it a shot anyway.

I grew up watching you on the MTM show and wanted to be you so badly. Not only did you have this amazing apartment (where you even got to sleep on a pull-out bed…how cool was that? 😲) but good friends that were your neighbors. You were beautiful, funny, smart, empathic and loved to eat salads like I did. And you know…besides the beautiful, funny and smart parts, I’m very much like you were then.

Every show that I watched up until yours started airing was about a family…you know, the dad who went to work everyday, the mom who wore heels to vacuum in, and the darling little angels whose worse problem was getting lobbed in the nose by a football. Then you came on the scene: this unmarried woman who lived alone, had a successful career and embraced singlehood and all that it entailed. Wow. What a new concept to me.

It’s funny to re-watch these shows now because the sexism in the workplace is horrendous. Lou looking at your butt when you walk out the door…you making $50 less than the man who had your exact job but had a family to support…the men in the newsroom calling you honey and asking for coffee even though you were an associate producer. It’s hard to remember that this was normal for the 70’s and sometimes I have to wonder how much it’s really changed. We’re still making coffee…often being talked to condescendly…and have to keep doing better and better to prove that we are the woman for the job. I remember when I met a neighbor after moving into my house. He asked what I did and I told him I worked at the college in town; then he asked what department I was a secretary in. Now granted this guy was about a billion years old, but even so it shows that we still have work to do. 🙄

I took you as a strong feminist and until I started reading more about you and realized how much our views on women mesh. You weren’t a big fan of Gloria Steinem, huh? In your last TV interview, when asked about why you didn’t relate to her well, you said this:  “I believed that women—and I still do—have a very major role to play as mothers.  It’s very necessary for mothers to be involved with their children.  And that’s not what Gloria Steinem was saying.  Gloria was saying oh, you can have everything, and you owe it to yourself to have a career.  And I didn’t really believe in that, so that was a little difficult for me.”

When I read that, I actually shouted AMEN! When I was growing up amidst the women’s movement, I thought I had 2 choices: have a family or have a career. Gloria chose her career and after having an illegal abortion in 1957, said she needed to prove herself and make her life count. It was as if she couldn’t see any way to do both but you did.

Why is being a mom often seen as second to being a career woman? “Oh…you’re a mom…so you just stay at home?” Uh, yeah…I did. And no matter how much I’ve achieved on a personal level, it doesn’t mean jack shit next to the fact I raised an amazing young man who is doing such wonderful things.

We’ve gone from saying “You can’t have it all!” to “You can have it all!” but is this true? Christine Hassler wrote this in the Huffington Post in 2011: “…not only are we supposed to have it all but do it all at 100 percent: the career, relationship, children/family all while looking good, doing good and being good.”

Really? That’s having it all? Hmmmm…I think that might be having too much. After all, how can you give 100% to 5 different things? How is that possible, and why don’t men need to do the same? An article in Psychology Today says this: “It’s true that many husbands are more willing to pitch in today, but things are far from equal. Taking care of the home is still squarely on the shoulders of wives, despite the fact that many are working. Some studies suggest that women have almost three times the workload of their husbands. Interestingly, these proportions stay about the same, regardless of whether a wife has a full-time job, and whether or not her husband is currently working.”

Yeesh. Three times the workload? So let’s see: we have being a wife/partner, being a mom, having a career, looking good (which is a requisite for women in our society today), and being good which is also still a societal expectation. And then we wonder why the hell women are twice as likely to be on anti-depressants and more likely to be on anti-anxiety meds than men. Some of this is due to biology…thank you, estrogen. But like the APA says, there are life factors as well: unequal power and status, work overload, and being the victim of abuse.

Maybe the question shouldn’t be “Can you have it all?” but what your opening song says: “You’re gonna MAKE it after all.” And to me, making it means being who and what you want to be. That’s part of what feminism is to me: having a choice in creating the life you want instead of having to follow a preordained path.

You didn’t have a partner or family on the show, but you were happy. Fulfilled. Had fun experiences. You did have it all…a full, satisfying life you were living on your own terms, despite what our culture said at the time.

And in your ‘real’ life? I know you suffered with diabetes beginning in 1969 after having a miscarriage, and that this disease almost blinded you as you got older. You had a benign brain tumor in 2011 and were very open about being a recovering alcoholic. And worse of all…you lost your only son after he suffered an accidental gunshot wound at the age of 24. I can’t even begin to imagine what pain that brought to your life. Bless your heart. 🧡

You see, that’s what I love so much about the ‘real’ you..and not just the TV you. You stood up for your own beliefs. You fought battles and talked about them…were open about them…didn’t shy away from answering the hard questions about them. So really, in that regard, you were the MTM on TV…someone living an authentic life and being exactly who you wanted to be. How refreshing…and how rare.

Anyhoot, I admired you as a kid and I still admire you as an adult. Watching your show not only gives me some really great decorating ideas (like when you antiqued a piece of furniture by hitting it with a chain 🤨), but shows me that being single doesn’t have to be seen as a flaw. I don’t need to feel less than because I’m alone; actually, you’ve taught me that I’m really not alone after all: I have an awesome family, friends at school, my students, my neighbors, my pets…I’m really blessed! You showed me I can have a full, happy life with ‘just’ me at home. Being single isn’t a curse…it’s an opportunity. What a great lesson that is.

Finally, you taught me that voicing views different from others is a privilege we should all take more advantage of, instead of this ‘herd’ mentality. I can be loved…liked…and me at the same time. Confidence isn’t conceit and having a sense of self-worth isn’t selfish. It’s simply strong.

So thank you for the lessons growing up…and the lessons I’m still learning now. You know, I can picture you having coffee with Rhoda, Phyllis and Lou while trading stories about anything and everything that comes to mind. Perhaps you’ll let me join you someday. If so, I’d be honored.

Love,

Kristi xoxo

“But there is love and love is warm.” ~ Time to Wander

So, I left my Theories of Personality class crying yesterday and when I was traipsing through the library to get to my office, my friend asked me if I was OK and here’s what I said: “I’ve been teaching college for 28 years at 3 institutions and this was the best class in my life!” And I meant it. It gave me chills and the warmest feeling in my heart. Damn I love my students! 😃

Anyhoot, we are talking about Erich Fromm and discussed the “Art of Loving” and while doing so, we reviewed the 4 elements Dr. Fromm said were necessary for true love:

  • Care – the active concern for the life and the growth of that which we love.
  • Responsibility – the voluntary act (not obligation) to be ready to respond to the psychic needs of the other person.
  • Respect – (literally means ‘to look at’) ability to see a person as they are and to be aware and accepting of their growth.  Seeing the person as a unique person who is NOT an object for use.
  • Knowledge – the knowing of a person on a deep, intimate level in which you can ‘see’ when they are hurt, angry, upset, etc. even in the face of their denial. 

Each of these is difficult to define and can differ depending on the people involved and their circumstances. Seen in these terms, love is hard work, but it is also the most rewarding kind of work. Do you agree? I sure as fuck (ma? Are you there? 😬) do!

Dr. Fromm also goes on to state: Love is an art and has to be practiced like any other art; it requires discipline, concentration, patience, and a supreme concern to master the art. Those are some pretty hard things to do, aren’t they?

Well, my students started discussing this and they had such insight and examples from their own lives and relationships. And of course, I had a few tidbits to share as well.

Why is it we work so so hard at other ‘love’ relationships in our lives, but when intimate, partner relationships get tough, we walk away? It’s almost like relationships are expendable nowadays. Not ‘happy’? Go find someone else. Not ‘getting along right now?’ Go find someone else. ‘Arguing?’ Go find someone else. I mean really…isn’t it easier just to jump on an app and find another person to be with? It’s a hell of a lot easier than working…trying…being patient. Right?

Heh? SO…when O was a little guy and he was sick and cranky and I was ‘unhappy’, I should have walked away? When he was a teenager and we argued about various things, I should have walked away? When he comes over and starts yapping about religion where his views are different than mine (vastly different 🙄) I should walk away?

Of course not! Duh! I love my son. Unconditionally. I have always cared for him (and it’s hard for him to understand why I still have the need to care for him even at 28). I feel a responsibility towards him and respect the amazing man he has grown into. Finally, I’ve learned to understand him…know him. And I reap those rewards everyday.

But, if these things happen in an intimate relationship, we don’t feel the need to put in the work to solve them. What does walking away do? It changes the situation, but not the people. And it’s the people who are important.

My students and I went on to talking about whether or not you need to love yourself to love others, or to have others love you. Our consensus: Oh yea!

Look, I don’t always like me…in fact, there have been times that I’ve hated what I’ve said or done. But I still love me. We all have too. We come into this world alone…with our own little souls. And we’ll leave alone…with our own little souls. When it gets right down to it, we ultimately have to depend on ourselves. People come and go. Ma and Pop will leave this earth someday (even though I have forbade them both to NOT too 😳) and it will crush me to pieces. I know it will. My son has forged a new life and I’m a part of it, but not the central piece of it that I used to be. My sissy has her own life and beautiful grandbabies to be with and take care of. In other words, people in our lives change roles…leave us…pass away…and fundamentally speaking, we have ourselves in the end.

If love is an art…a discipline…a concept to be learned and practiced like Fromm says, then can’t we do that in terms of loving ourselves even more? Can’t we learn to care for ourselves more? Carve out more time to do what makes us happy? Allow ourselves to try things that will help us grow? Take the time to explore the creative side we all have?

And what about responsibility? Don’t I need to face what is happening in my life at any given time…with kindness? Don’t I have a responsibility to myself to be the best person I can be…to myself and to others?

Respect? I think this is the piece that really grew in myself after the breakdown I experienced. I was this ‘thing’. This object. This ‘something’ that I felt had no value…no purpose…no hope. So I attempted suicide. So I cut myself. So I didn’t eat. So I didn’t shower. So I just ‘didn’t.’ Why wasn’t I still seeing ME in the midst of all that was happening? Luckily, I started too. I’m ME. Kristi. A person that deserves to be seen and loved. By others…and by me.

Further, I’m learning more and more about myself as I purposely focus on that. I’m learning I’m not a bad person because I have fucking (sorry, ma 😐) bipolar. I’m not a failure because I’ve been married 3 times (shutty 🙄). And, I’m not a horrible person because I make mistakes.

In other words? I’ve learned to treat myself like I treat others. It’s a process. A journey. It’s not selfish or narcissistic or boastful. It’s loving yet another person in my life who happens to be me.

You know, being dumped as many freaking times as I’ve been has always made me feel less than. That happened yet again a few weeks ago…being ghosted after a year of being together and after 35 years of knowing each other. That hurt. Bad. But are the dumps all my fault? Have they happened because I’m just a bad person? Nope. I’ve come to realize that the blame doesn’t rest solely on me. It rests on both people…in the context they are living in…with the baggage they carry…with the issues they have.

I do believe what Dr. Fromm says: Love is an art and has to be practiced and nurtured in order to grow. I know I can do this…I have for all of the people I love in my life, including me. If I ever find someone (🤨 ) that will see things the same, then that will be fucking fabulous (sorry again, ma). But, after class yesterday I also learned this: if I don’t, that’s ok too. Because love is in my life so much with my family and friends and students and neighbors. And…maybe most importantly of all…because it’s in me.

Kristi xoxo

Denial ain’t just a river in Egypt.

Photo by Matt Hardy on Pexels.com

So, it was a long weekend of reflection, ruminating and crying…something a bipolar woman like me is very good at. Go figure. 🙄

I was talking to ma about how my last boyfriend moved on so quickly and seriously and how rejected I felt. He ghosted me after an argument where we both said things we shouldn’t have. However, I truly believed it was a cooling off period and he would come back so we could talk. I tried to talk to him once myself and didn’t get an open response so waited for him to make a move. Living 2 doors apart and the time we spent together along with things we went through had me convinced that this was the guy that was going to be the one to stick around and work on what we were building. Once again, the old refrain holds true: I was wrong.

It hit me this weekend when I saw him with his ex in the house I thought he was buying for ‘us’ so that we could have a balance of togetherness and independence and do the relationship ‘right’…not living together already but living close. This is going to be interesting now.

I lied to myself after J and I broke up. After that fiasco, I told my son (who is very strong emotionally…he obviously takes after me 🙄) that I would never let my heart be broken like that again. Never. And I was living up to it…for a while.

The rejections I’ve experienced in my life make me very hyper-sensitive (for lack of a better word) towards them and I think I know who was the biggest rejection of all: me.

My Theories of Personality class and I were discussing Anna Freud today and the various defense mechanisms we might use throughout life to mitigate internal stress. Three of them really smacked me in the face for some reason and made me think about the weekend: denial, distortion, and delusional projection explain so much to me about how I lived my life for decades.

You see, I always knew something was wrong with me…I’ve mentioned that before. I got help in high school and that led to 2 years of sexual abuse by the psychologist and understandably, that was a HUGE rejection of me as a person as opposed to an object. When B and I were married, I thought “this is it!” This is the guy I’m going to spend the rest of my life with and build a family with no matter what. In other words, despite the fact I had a mental illness, I was going to build that life perfectly come hell or high water.

So, I ‘denied’ everything that pointed to me being bipolar. Mania? Nah…I’m just really really ‘happy’ right now. Depression? Nope…not me. I just needed to clean more or make a big dinner. And then to deal with the imperfection inside my mind, I ‘distorted’ my reality in that I figured if the OUTSIDE was wonderful and perfect, then the INSIDE would be wonderful and perfect. I was perfect in a lot of ways…our house was fastidiously clean, dinner was always on the table at 5, holidays were a huge to-do, my room mothering was like no other (teachers fought to have O in their class since my class parties were legend 😳) , I parented the crap out of my son and loved on him until he was blue in the face, and pretty much created this ‘delusional’ world where everything was great. Super. Wonderful. Perfect.

I’m not going to lie…it was tough as fuck to do this. Sometimes getting out of bed took ages and I had to force it and then other times, not going through the roof took all the control and energy I had. The worst part? This charade obviously didn’t work…no matter how hard I tried. Why? Because charades are a game…not reality.

Hubby 3 accepted me completely…sorta. He accepted me completely as long as he was happy and settled and content. If I tried to talk about needing help or other issues, I was told: “You don’t need that…you’re perfect like you are.” Bless his heart…he meant that and thought that was what I needed to hear, but what he didn’t know was how devaluing that was for me. He wasn’t seeing ME. He wanted me to be the perfect one. He didn’t want to know that I was broken too. When our lives began going on different trajectories, he decided he needed to choose between his motorcycle ‘club’ and me and you know who won. I was thrown away for a group of grungy guys who drink beer, belch, ride Harleys and think they’re contributing a lot to the world. Ok. That didn’t hurt the old self-esteem.

J rejected me in the worst way possible and actually SEEING it made it that much worse. The absolutely most horrible and humiliating thing I’ve ever done in my life was to go to his apartment after this situation to ask him to work on things ONE more time. He rejected me (‘she’ was there 🤢) again when ironically, I should have been the one to kick his butt to the curb.

And now? It’s happened again. But the funny thing is this was a guy that I didn’t think would do it because it’s been done to him a lot of times too. It was like I finally found the man who could understand me. Would persevere with me. Would work with me. I did. I handled his ‘drinking’ problem…his anger issues…his trust issues. But he couldn’t handle anything about me? Women cheated on him with best friends and I’m so bad of a person that I’m left for saying 1 thing I shouldn’t have? Really? That’s how disposable I am as compared to others? Wow.

I threw my true self away for so so long in my life and I’ve had others do the same. I’m getting to where I feel unloveable. Or at least I’m loveable when they’re happy, but just not when I’m unhappy. They’re happy when I forgive their outbursts. Their anger. Their diatribes. But they can’t reciprocate. Really?

Maybe that person isn’t out there. I know I finally found her in me and am living as authentically as I possibly can (which is the only reason I can even write these things let alone hit the publish key). It took me about 35 years to do it and I’m wondering if that’s how much longer it will take me to find the person who accepts me for me…imperfect me who is going to fuck up and make mistakes. I’m ok with that me now. I hope someday I’ll find another who will be as well.

So, I realized I’m not just crying for the loss of another relationship that really meant something to me. I’m crying over the years I was lost to myself. For the hiding I had to do. For the daily performances I had to give. And I’m also crying for just how fucking hard it is to be the ‘real’ me.

Kristi xoxo

“Love will keep us together…” ~ Captain and Tennille

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

So, my sweetie peeps know I began this blog to have an outlet for the myriad of thoughts that run through my mind 24/7 and to hopefully show that living with a mental illness isn’t easy. Like anyone, we have good days and bad days…we just have this additional issue that’s always lurking in the back of our minds and that can pop up and take us by surprise anytime.

Anyhoot, I’ve been thinking about the concept of ‘love’ a lot lately. It’s no secret I’ve been married (cough cough) 3 times and have had 2 partners I’ve lived with. On the surface, that sounds like so much but really, that’s not much for a 54 (blech 🙄) year old but still an embarrassing number to admit too.

I was never a girly-girl…I never had dolls and preferred to climb trees at grandma and gramp’s and work in the yard with my dad. But, I did always want 3 things: a marriage where I would celebrate 50 years with someone who loved me throughout, kids (I got the perfect one the first time around 😍), and a home full of pets and family and security. Hmmmm…maybe 2 out of 3 ain’t bad.

You would think after all of these years in relationships, all of my book-learning regarding the study of marriage and family, and the lessons I’ve learned from each experience I’ve had that I would have this whole ‘relationship’ thing figured out. I don’t.

Really, the question for me comes down to what love is. I mean think about it…what ‘is’ it really? A feeling? A passion? A cognitive connection? A sense of responsibility? A sense of care? A willingness to always continue moving forward even after you’ve taken some steps back? Forgiveness? Appreciation? Promises that are kept? Compassion that’s freely given? An ability to empathize with the person and see/feel their point of view? All of the above? None of the above?

I think one of the issues in relationships today that partly stem from this ‘me first’ attitude in our society is instead of asking ‘What am I getting from this relationship and am I happy?’ we should first think ‘What am I giving to this relationship to make it better everyday?’ But, that’s freaking hard to do, isn’t it? For all of us.

Until R (Hubby 3 – shutty the mouthies 🙄) left our house on Christmas eve, I was pretty sure I knew what love was all about. O’s dad and I had a really good marriage for 13 years…and I know it could have continued had we gotten help. His family doesn’t ‘believe’ in counseling so that pretty much set us on course for divorce when issues started to pile up. But, I know he loved me and I know I loved him. I think that my first marriage was a college/youth/not-prepared-for-this situation and can understand how our lack of readiness led to the demise but it was different with B…it was the ‘real’ thing.

R and I loved each other so much…for the first couple years of our relationship, I didn’t think I’d be able to breathe without him in my life. I adored him. And he reciprocated and still tells me he loves me. I believe it as a best friend but also know this: you don’t leave who you love. Period. I never imagined we’d divorce: after raising teenagers together…going through the deaths of his parents…taking care of his schizophrenic nephew for a couple of years…it was like the ‘bank’ was full and nothing would be able to diminish all of those deposits. I didn’t know that if someone wants to clear out the account in one day, they will.

Then J came into my life. The one who I thought: “OK. This is it. My soul mate.” Yes, he was younger than me (cough cough 😳) but because of what he’d been through as a kid and as a vet, we were pretty well matched. He had his kids and I knew we could be a family; it’s like that dream of the long life being a mommy and wife again was coming back. But we all know how that ended…terribly. Here’s the funny thing though: up until the very end, he said he loved me and I believed it. I always believed it. Even when he took my hands one day and swore he’d never cheat on me again and that he loved me all while having tears in his eyes…and then cheated on me 12 hours later. When he later came back, it was ‘I really do love you’ all over again. And I believed it. Again.

Looking back now I know he never actually did. Maybe he ‘wanted’ too. Maybe he ‘needed’ that family as much I as I did. But the love on his part never really materialized. I was a toy. A resource. A comfortable place to be. But love? No…because you don’t purposely hurt those you love either.

I thought I had this again not too long ago. I got with a man and actually was so giddy over him that I would have married him in a heartbeat. We exchanged rings to show our commitment and swore to one another that no matter what…good or bad…hard or easy…happy or sad…we’d persevere and be together ‘forever.’ We even took ‘vows’ together and for me, these were as strong as ‘real’ ones.

And this was true at first and I was so content. Then, we got COVID, and Dottie died, and I had 3 surgeries in which 1 was performed minutes before I could have easily died, and I was hitting my breaking point with being home from campus for a year and a half and not having that outlet I so badly need, and being on meds that were creating a manic episode like no other I’ve experienced. He had his own stressors as well that were tough on him but I thought: “OK. This is the rough spot. This is the one that’s going to cement us together and we’ll get through this and come out stronger on the other side. This is the test.” And? We failed it.

We started taking things out on each other and as much as I felt he didn’t understand me, I didn’t understand him either. And we were so busy being angry about that, we got to where we didn’t try. When he walked away from me for something I said (he had spoken some pretty bad words to me a few times before this incident too, but I forgave him and wanted to move forward), I figured that was a good thing…we’d cool down…I had an appointment with a specialist to help me figure out the mania…and I was heading back to school which finally got my life back to normal in terms of work.

That didn’t happen. I never heard from him again. Never. Like the year together never was…like it didn’t mean anything. But here’s the thing: throughout our time together, he’d tell me how much he loved me…adored me…needed me…wanted me. He even said if something happened to us, he’d never be with another. And I believed it 🙄. Did he mean this? Obviously not.

Getting through good times in relationships is a piece of cake. Anyone can do that…it’s nothing. Going through bad…and coming out stronger on the other side…takes work. Commitment. Forgiveness. Understanding. In other words, it takes love. How do you LOVE someone with all of your heart on Saturday and then hate them on Sunday? Maybe that’s possible for some…but I’ve never been able to do it.

I love this quote that’s attributed to Marilyn Monroe (although some say she may not have said it herself):

“This life is what you make it. Not matter what, you’re going to mess up sometimes, it’s a universal truth. But the good part is you get to decide how you’re going to mess it up…” “…as for lovers, well, they’ll come and go too. And baby, I hate to say it, most of them – actually pretty much all of them are going to break your heart, but you can’t give up because if you give up, you’ll never find your soul mate. You’ll never find that half who makes you whole and that goes for everything. Just because you fail once, doesn’t mean you’re gonna fail at everything. Keep trying, hold on, and always, always, always believe in yourself, because if you don’t, then who will, sweetie? So keep your head high, keep your chin up, and most importantly, keep smiling, because life’s a beautiful thing and there’s so much to smile about.” ― Marilyn Monroe”

So now he’s already back with an ex and that’s great…I’m happy for him because once someone is in my heart, they never fully leave and I want the best for them; there’s always that box they’re inside of which I never get rid of. But it also makes me angry and sad. Sad that moving on was so easy for him and angry that he must have never stopped loving this other gal. Maybe that’s why he could walk away so easily after all of the forever platitudes. She was already waiting on the sidelines while I was trying to figure out why he had started treating me so differently. So coarsely. I forgave him for those times…I had anger…but I wanted to keep moving on. He couldn’t do the same the 1 time I did it back. So he’s gone.

I’m to the point in my life that I’m not sure I’m ever really going to find that ‘true love’. That one who isn’t going to walk out when things get tough. The one who stays and tries and loves with his heart…not his words. The one that understands I’m going to say things and do things and make mistakes because I’m human. The one who doesn’t try to hurt me with words or threaten areas of my life when things are going bad. The one I know will have love for me through the easy and tough. Does this exist? I think so…because that’s what I do. Because when I love…I love.

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

“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!

“Just stop! Cause I really love you.” ~ Captain and Tennille

So, when are words not enough, and why am I thinking about this now? Well, the sweetie students in my Marriage and Family classes (shutty the mouthies 🙄) had to write their own original definitions of family and marriage, and what I got was great: some students insisted that blood defined a family while others agreed it was love/support/understanding that made a person family to you. In terms of defining marriage, I got a lot of people talking about commitment, loyalty, etc. and the word ‘unconditionally’ was used a lot. Then, one of my sweetie students wrote this: “What couples have is indescribable to me…it’s so much.”

As always, I was gobsmacked by this insight and she is absolutely right. How do you find words that encompass all that a couple has? How could words ever truly be enough? Our textbook (and I also saw this on spruce.com) states that: “…marriage is a formal union and social and legal contract between 2 individuals that unites their lives legally, economically, and emotionally.” Is this really ‘all’ that marriage is? A contract that unites people on these 3 levels? I don’t know about y’all, but there were times in my marriages (😳) where there was a lot ‘more’ to that definition.

I remember when O’s dad and I were married and how we faced a lot in our first few years together: O having severe asthma that led to hospitalizations, living away from all of our family at all and knowing just a handful of people in a strange state, ma being diagnosed with breast cancer, me going to graduate school, B working overtime so we could save up a nest egg since we were living paycheck to paycheck, and the list goes on. And this is nothing different…and much much less than other couples face…in that we ALL have sicknesses, financial issues, family trauma (and drama too), etc. that we have to deal with. It’s true that B and I were legally a couple, economically tied to one another, and had an emotional connection, but there was just ‘more’ to this time in our lives than what was seen on the surface.

We went deeper than just ’emotions’ and acted as anchors for one another…support. We sacrificed for each other and made decisions that put both of our interests out there. We worried and cried over O more times than I can count and held hands or hugged while we did…we knew we couldn’t live without him. We went ‘deeper’ than just the mental state we call ’emotion’. But what other word is there?

Then, I think about my sonshine. There is no way I could ever completely express the love I have for him…as John Candy says about his wife in the movie “Planes, Trains, and Automobiles” (my ALL time favorite film EVER 😎), “Words just aren’t big enough for what I feel” and he was referring to his wife. Hmmm…think about that: words aren’t big enough. You know, I wasn’t a mama yet when I first watched this movie in 1987 (I was 5 at the time 🙄) and when John said this, I teared up. But when I watched it again after O was born, I got it. I truly got it. There’s not words that encompass all I feel for my boy. And there never will be.

I also think about my ma. The other day I told her that I forbade (my favorite word to use with her…she hates it 😐) her to ever die. Period. Yes, she’s 75 but she’s going to live to be 150…I won’t have it any other way. Anyhoot, how do I put into words what she means to me? What she’s done for me? How she supports me every single day of my life?

Being mentally ill is a challenge for me, but it’s just as big of a challenge for the people around me. Ma has been there through my ups and downs, and I wouldn’t be here today if she hadn’t nurtured me through the breakdown I had. I don’t say that lightly either. I don’t throw around the words: “Oh…you saved my life!” when someone brings me a sandwich. No. I mean…she SAVED my life. Literally. So how do I put all of that in a word? How do I define that dynamic? That support? That love? That commitment? Well…I can’t.

Today Bill and I are both getting COVID tests…he was exposed at work and we both have some symptoms, so he was home for the day. We were fixing lunch (I found out he finished off our chocolate chip cookies…I had words for that…🤨) and I asked him if he loved me. He stopped what he was doing and looked at me and said: “Why are you asking me that? You don’t know?” Well, yes…I guess I ‘know’ he loves me, but I need to ‘know more’ that he loves me. Does that make sense?

One bad thing about having bipolar is that my brain is never fucking (sorry, ma 🙄) off. It’s always on. And I don’t mean just ‘on’…it’s always on at full-blast 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It’s constantly imagining, ruminating, wondering, fretting, deciding, etc. and so I told him this: “Yes, I know you love me…but what does that really mean to you?” Isn’t that a tough one to answer?

I don’t know if I can answer that myself. I know what love isn’t…it’s not manipulation, retaliation, distrust, disloyalty, etc. but what IS it? I guess that’s what I was after. You know, after you’ve been in an abusive relationship, you question so much in other ones. J said he loved me all of the time…everyday (except for the days he was cheating on me and sometimes, even then) so was what we had love? I look back and know I loved him, but have also accepted that he couldn’t have loved me. You don’t purposefully hurt those you love. You just don’t do it. I can’t imagine laying a hand on my son or dog…I can’t imagine ever saying something cruel to ma…I can’t imagine ever PURPOSEFULLY hurting anyone I love. So…maybe that’s why we say actions are louder than words…they simply ‘show more’.

When you think about it, words are finite…they have some definitions to them and then the entry in the dictionary ends. Maybe what’s important is to figure out what words mean to you, and then try to express that in any way you can…sort of like the Love Languages. What says love to me might be different than what says it to you.

Sometimes I think we get too caught up in words. We give words way too much weight. We give them way too much power. After contemplating all of this, I realized that words are something that we need to sometimes throw away. If Bill got mad at me today and said something hurtful, I’d still know he loves me. He’s human…he’s going to say unloving things just like I will. Maybe instead of getting bitter about this and racking up all of his ‘mistakes’, I could instead look at his actions all of the other time…his behavior…his loyalty…his support. Maybe we all need to work on ‘showing’ than on ‘saying’. Words can hurt and sting and destroy…no argument there. But actions and future behavior can heal that…if we let it.

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

“The stars at night are big and bright…”

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

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

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

Actual map of that day. Seriously.

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

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

Watch out for the stampede.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kristi xoxo

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