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

Dear 15 year old Kristi,

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

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

So far, pretty easy. Right? Hmmm.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kristi xoxo

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

“Your problem is you’re…too busy holding on to your unworthiness.” ~ Ram Dass

So, I talked a while ago about toxic positivity and how it was really quite detrimental to mental health since it is impossible to be ‘happy’ all of the time. Well, I’ve been looking at a lot of self-help advice lately and to be honest, have to wonder about these too 🤓. I’m here to tell you: there are some doozies out there.

Hows about a book I found that basically tell you that if you read it…and follow it’s advice to a T, you will have NO WORRIES. None. Zippo. Zilch. Really? OMG! So…if I read this gem and practice what it says, I will literally HAVE NO WORRIES? Well spank me hard. The whole world should be on board with this one. Right?? 🙄

Or, how about this advice which is literally labeled under the title “How to Improve your Life.” One tidbit is to deep condition your hair once a week and another is to have a skincare routine. OK. I’m all for these 2 things. However, I find it difficult to believe that the happiness of my life is dependent on what I do in the shower. After all, I deep condition more than once a week (which is why my hair is often ‘stringy’ but healthy 😳) and my skincare routine is consistent, but hey, I’ve still experienced ‘unhappiness’ at times. But, if you want to try to improve your life, try my skin care routine which consists of the following:

  • Wash face with one of the 15 cleansers I have accumulated over the last month because each one said they would make my skin ‘radiant’ after just the first use.
  • Tone my face with one of my 20 bottles of Witch Hazel which I hoarded because it contains alcohol and I figured there’d be a shortage during the first quarantine.
  • Re-wash my face with another one of my cleansers because now it feels a little tight and ‘sticky’ because of the coveted Witch Hazel.
  • SLOWLY open the medicine cabinet in case some of the products are jarred and start tumbling in the sink and select:  1 tube of deep wrinkle cream, 1 jar of retinol, 1 jar of collagen blend, 1 jar of hydralaunic acid, 1 jar of ‘water boost’ gel, and 1 tube of acne medication since I always have a fucking (sorry, ma…😐)  zit on my face regardless of my age.  
  • Looking like a mad chemist in a lab, I begin mixing, rubbing, slathering and schmearing all of the goop from the previous point until my face is covered with 3 layers of ‘stuff’.  
  • Find one of my 100’s of tubes of Carmex (EVERY single time I’m at Walgreens, CVS, or the ‘General’ I buy one by the cash register 🤨) and then plaster on a nice thick coat like I’m icing a cake until my lips become stuck together if I’m not careful.

Now, looking at this, I can see how my regular skin care routine makes me a better person.  So, my sweet peeps…if my life is in the shits and I find myself struggling, I’ll just do my routine a couple more times a day and I’ll be fine and dandy.  Phew. 🙄

I like this advice too:  “Start working NOW!”  Ummmmm.  OK.  Now?  Middle of the night?  While I’m on the toilet?  While I’m fixing dinner?  Just do it?  OK!  I’ll get right on that.

Another self help goodie that is packaged in various ways is this:  “Avoid negative people.”  Hmmmm.  First, a lot of times I don’t know a person is negative until I’m with them so avoiding them would be difficult unless they had a shirt on that said “I’m a negative person.  Avoid me.”  (You know…I might just make this shirt…I can see it selling 🙄).  Second, what if you work with a negative person?  Have one in your house?  Have one living next to you?  Have one in your class?  Have one at church?  You have to avoid them all the time?  We’re not talking toxic people here…just negative.  

So my question is this:  why?  Why avoid negative people?  Why not interact with them and find out why the hell they’re negative?  What bee is in their bonnet (perfect title for a self-help book…remember this one, ma)?  Maybe we need to learn to get along with all types of people and not live in a Pollyanna bubble.  Just sayin’.

Another self-help tip for y’all:  “You are your only limit.”  Heh?  Really?  Soooooooo…if I want to be President (and I’m here to tell you I’d be WAY more polite in the debates if I was 🤨 )  I’m my only limit?  I’m a middle class woman who doesn’t have any millionaire friends that can start off my campaign with lots of moolah in the coffers.  And, if I quit teaching to campaign…then lose (which I undoubtedly would since running my house is stressful enough for me)…I’m outta work?  OK!  No limits on this girl!

I like this one:  “Read a book everyday!”  Yes!  I love love love to read, so…after I take care of the 8 classes I’m teaching online this semester while starting to prepare for spring semester that will also be online but with different classes I have to develop, get my laundry done, eat and do dishes, take care of Eddie and Dottie, do my daily grooming, water the 50 plants I have, run errands, finish painting the house, mow the yard, trim the bushes, and help ma with stuff, I’ll read a 300 page book today!  No problemo.  

Maybe this would be easier:  “Quit bad habits.”  Yes, this is another one I need because I know I got them…big time.  Since I was little Professor K in her crib, I have rubbed my upper lip when I’m thinking, worried, stewing about something, etc.  It’s a 53 year habit (shutty…) and I don’t think reading 3 words is going to compel me to stop doing it.  Great advice?  Maybe.  Reasonable?  No.  We all have bad habits.  So what?  We’re human for piss sakes (see ma, I didn’t say fuck again…aren’t you proud?? 😀).

“NEVER GIVE UP!”  This is another common self-help theme out there and is great advice.  For some.  Not for me though…because sometimes I give up.  If I’m working on a project that isn’t going well…that I hate…that is causing me more stress than good…and it’s not a necessary thing I need, I give up on it.  Why waste my time?  In fact, why is it bad to quit things?  Don’t we all have to do that periodically?

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Some of you runners out there may know who Paula Radcliffe is…an AMAZING runner from Britain who has set numerous world records including the one for the marathon which she then held for 16 years.  Now, in the 2004 Olympics that were held in Greece, she dropped out of the marathon with just 4 miles to go after veering around and trying to start back up after she stopped.  People were HORRIBLE to her after this…calling her a quitter and slandering her in the press.  Of course, this came from people who couldn’t walk from the couch to the fridge without a break, but anyhoot, they should stand in judgment.  So why did she ‘quit’ and disappoint all of her Olympic fans?  Two weeks prior she had a leg injury, the anti-inflammatory drugs made her nauseas with her food/nutrients not being absorbed, and the temperature was 95 degrees Fahrenheit.  When you run, you tack 20 degrees on the temp in terms of how you feel:  so, we had this woman who was injured, sick to her stomach, not fueled well, running a 26 mile race in heat that equaled 115 degrees.  How dare she quit.  Right?  

And finally?  “Always let out your feelings.”  Now, I’m all for letting out feelings…bottling them up isn’t healthy and pretending they don’t exist doesn’t work either.  However, you can’t always let them out when YOU want too.  What if your boss upsets you and want to cry and yell?  I would kindly suggest you wait until you are out of their office…and earshot.  K? 

Look peeps.  Self-help advice is out there everywhere and to be brutally honest with you, much of it’s crap.  Really.  It’s just someone taking a few choice words and turning it into something ‘necessary’ that we all have to do in order to be the ‘very best ever.’   You know, my belief is that the more you read ‘self-help’ advice and books, the more you feed into the fact that you aren’t OK like you are.  As if having flaws and challenges and bad days is something you should be able to avoid since the advice feeds into you thinking you have to be ‘perfect’…the ‘best’…the ‘most’…etc. all the time.  Sweetie peeps, you are never going to be all of that.  We are never going to be perfect unless we are the one who can walk on water, and we all have different obstacles, situations, environments, etc. that affect how we are at any given time.  

So, here’s my self-help advice for tailored just for you:  do the best you can, be as kind as you can, try as hard as you can, cut yourself slack when you need too, and remember that bad times don’t equal bad life.  They are simply a part of a regular life and trying to avoid anything ‘bad’ to always feel ‘good’ is not possible on this particular earth.  All of this may sound simple and not very exciting, but honestly…I think it’s way more realistic. 😃

Kristi xoxo

“I am woman, hear me roar…” ~ Helen Reddy

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Photo by Nadine Wuchenauer on Pexels.com

So, I’m very confused.  Yes, I know it’s not a new state for me to be in so maybe I should have said that I’m confused even more than usual.  However, that’s a very confusing sentence and I’m confused about whether or not I should have stuck a comma in there somewhere, but anyhoot, confused is what I am.  😀

Answer me this:  why are we constantly being bombarded by ‘motivational quotes’ and people’s posts that say we’re all beautiful and wonderful and talented and special, etc. but then when we say it about ourselves, we’re called narcissistic?  In other words, I’m supposed to ‘think’ I’m all of these incredible things, but if I say that I’m any of these things well then by golly, I’m being conceited.  Really peeps, does that make sense to you?

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When did it become such a bad thing to say good things about ourselves?  I always give compliments to people and I mean every one of them I say.  I tell my students how amazingly wonderful they are (which they really are…funny thing:  every single semester for 25 years I have gotten the BEST students in the college in my classroom 😃)…I tell my son how incredibly talented he is (his photos blow me away 😮), I tell ma how beautiful she is (and she is…except for the way she does the sides of her hair…”Ma: for the love of all that is holy, don’t comb them back, just scrunchy them and let ’em go.  Just sayin’ 🙄), and the list goes on.  But if I compliment myself?

Look at what we say to people who do:  “Well, you must think a lot of yourself!”  “You’re full of yourself, aren’t ya?”  “Who do you think you are?”  “Don’t get above your raisin!”  “Remember, pride goeth before a fall!”  “Gee…you’re so self-centered!”  And on and on and on.

What the hell?  So, let me get this straight:  I’m supposed to take in the messages that I’m beautiful in my own way, understand that I have talents and things to offer, feel good about myself and have high self-esteem, but if I SAY any of these things are true, I’m pretty much looked at as an egotistical maniac?  Okey Dokey.

C’mon peeps.  I’m here to tell you something you might never have heard before.  Are you ready?  It’s OK to have pride in yourself and to talk positively about yourself and feel good about yourself.  So there.  Got it?

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I’ll start it:  I’m beautiful.  Well wait a sec…let me rephrase that:  I’m a 6 out of 10 after I take my shower, wash my face with micellar water (the freaking best thing ever…I’m going to buy stock in Garnier 😳), blow dry my shampooed/conditioned/twice rinsed/gelled hair…curl it up with my curling iron…apply my ‘blur’ moisturizer to lessen the looks of my laugh lines (a.k.a. wrinkles)…put my mascara on with a double coat and then use my eyelash curler which looks like a little S & M device…put oil absorbing powder on my face since I’m a shiny person…put on my all day lipstick (L’oreal  #50)…slather gloss over that…pick out my clothes and make sure I have something on that’s dark because I’m a ‘winter’😳…and there.  I’m beautiful.  Sorta.  🙄 (Now…I’ll bet you each a donut that ma writes a comment to me on FB saying how beautiful I am just because she’s so freaking sweet ♥).

So please Pinterest, quit telling me I am every time I open your app.  I’m average (or a tad under) but I’m OK with that.  I’m ok saying I look ok instead of saying I look like crap when someone compliments me:  “Hey Kristi…looking good!” (I heard that once…a LLLLOOOONNNNGGGG time ago but I digress).  “Hey, thanks!”  So many of us women will say:  “Aww, no I don’t!  I didn’t get much sleep last night!”  Or, they’ll point out specific things.  “My hair just won’t do anything today!”  It’s almost a given to counteract a compliment instead of agreeing with it.  BUT, we’re told that we ARE beautiful so what are we to do?

Another one:  I’m talented.  Not in the way I want to be:  on stage singing and dancing with Taron while he whirls me across the floor at Carnegie Hall, but in other ways.  Like, I’m a talented professor.   “OMG, Kristi…quit bragging!”

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Why?  I’m a really fucking great teacher (sorry ma, but remember that I said how sweet you are 😳).  It’s what I’ve wanted to be all of my life and I’m very very proud of going from being a high school ‘D’ student who barely graduated, to a Professor who earned her Master’s Degree while being a full-time mama to a 1 year old son and maintaining a perfect 4.0 GPA.  School is my thing, peeps, and I’m really good at it.  📚

Is that bad for me to say?  Why?  Aren’t we supposed to have pride in what we do?  You know, I was a really fucking great waitress too while I was in college.  I didn’t have the boobs to help me get better tips, but my service was great.  Hello!  I’m bipolar and being a manic waitress is awesome!  Water glasses were filled immediately…I could handle 10 tables at once…I was quick to bring extra ranch dressing (everyone always wants more ranch…Hmmm.), etc.

And on another note…why is it wrong to be self-centered at times?  My sweetie neighbors are wonderful.  WONDERFUL.  (R, if you’re reading this, I have another succulent cutting for you 🌵).  The guy has been working hours and hours restoring a car and he’s an amazingly talented man…the car will be perfect!  We were yakking over the fence the other night and he said he felt selfish restoring this car for himself because of all the time it was taking.  I said:  C, it’s not selfish to do what you want!  To work on something that’s so important to you.

And it’s not!  What’s selfish about pursuing things you want to do?  Eating what you want to eat?  Saying no to commitments you don’t want to go too?  I’m not saying you should be so self-absorbed that you are shutting out other people, but I’m tired of treating others better than myself.  Tired of allowing them the leeway I don’t give myself.  Guess what?  I’m going to start being a bit more selfish.  And I think that’s healthy!

Look my sweetie grasshoppers, I’m not saying you should be an egotistical asshole.  But I do think you should have pride and self-assurance and a sense of being pleased about who you are and what you have accomplished.  I think it’s OK to be your own cheerleader.  To be your own support.  To be your own fan.  (I bought a fan the other day and was blown away by the price.  Get it?  I’m funny too! 🙄).

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I saw this quote on Pinterest:  “The more you like yourself, the more other people don’t.”  What the fuck?  You told me to love myself!  That I’m wonderful!  BUT, if I LIKE myself, others won’t?  So, using my deductive reasoning skills: if I actually LOVE myself, others will hate me.  Right?  Sheesh.

Why are we like this?  Why do we preach to others about how important it is to build up a high self-esteem and feel worthy and have pride in ourselves, but then put people down when they achieve it and show it?  I’m done doing that.

Look, I’m 53 years old (blech 👵) and it’s time I started saying I’m a pretty cool person.  No, I don’t think I’m awesome or amazing or the ‘best’.  But I do think I have a lot to offer…have some talent…have some things about me that are pretty boss (like my use of groovy slang and emojis) and by golly, it’s time to be proud of who I am.  For all of us to be proud of who we are.  Out loud.  🎺

Kristi xoxo

 

“Jenny don’t change your number, 867-5309…” ~ Tommy Tutone

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So, I got a book on my good ole’ Kindle this morning and sat down to read just a couple of chapters.  Instead, I ended up reading the entire book in 1 sitting.  It’s called “How to Break up with Your Phone” by Catherine Price and it’s a fascinating, but scary look at how addicted we are to our cell phones.  Unfortunately, even though I have always prided myself on not being tethered to my phone that much, I was quite surprised to realize how much I really am.

Take a look-see at this info from PsychGuides.com

  • 60% of college students in the U.S. consider themselves to be addicted to their phones (60% peeps…that’s HUGE!)
  • 71% of people sleep with their phones in bed (OK…that’s me because I listen to an audio book when I fall asleep and I’m jolly well not sleeping with anything else these days)
  • 35% of people think of their cell phones first when they wake up and only 10% think of their partners (so our phones are on our minds more than the people we LOVE?  Hmmm…)
  • 36% of people check their phones constantly (bugs the shit out of me, particularly during a meal) and 54% of young adults do (aren’t young adults people too 🙄)?
  • 44% of us say we couldn’t go a day without our phones.  ONE day.  Sheesh.

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I remember when I got my first phone and was so excited.  O’s dad, O and I went to the Best Buy in Wichita (we lived in Hutchinson for a few years) and bought the ‘newest’ device on the market:  a BAG phone (for my younger peeps, this was literally a phone in a briefcase style bag…ask your folks).  The set-up only took 6 hours (I swear on ma’s good name 😳)  because it was such a new thing, NO one knew quite what they were doing.  We were actually in the store for so long that the sales workers were making friends with O as he was toddled around the aisles.  Someone even asked me if I had met him yet, but since he was getting grouchy and grubby by this time (as was I), I said ‘no’.  Sorry son.  Anyhoot, the was an amazing technological marvel and Hubby said, in a very sappy voice, that he was getting it for me in case I had trouble when I was commuting to grad school every night.  Awwww…that sounded great:  if I needed help, I’d be able to get it quickly.  Right?

Wrong.  Here’s what I would have had to do to get my ‘quick’ help:  plop the magnetic antennae on the top of my wood paneled van, turn the phone on while it was plugged into the cigarette lighter which allowed it to move about 2 feet, get out my handy chart of roaming codes which was typed in 5 point font and figure out where the fuck (sorry, ma 🙄) I was on the highway in the middle of nowhere in Kansas, punch in said code to see if I could get a ‘roam’ signal, wait until the phone beeped that a signal was found, punch in our home number, and pray the signal didn’t disappear before Hubby answered which would have been a 1/1000 chance since he was most likely playing a video game (another high tech item) with ear phones on.  Now, if I had been in wreck I would have had to do all of this with a fresh concussion, blood dripping from my forehead while puking in the passenger seat since that’s what I do when I see blood dripping from my forehead.  Wow.  That phone was well worth the money for my peace of mind.  An easier way I could have gotten help would have been to crawl the 40 miles home which would have taken less time and effort on my part.  Just sayin’.

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Anyhoot, when my son and I got matching CELL phones a few years later we were so excited because we found out it could actually take a picture on the 1″ screen!  (BTW, he was in Jr. High and you should have seen his hair.  He went through a phase where he refused to have it cut and because it’s so curly, it looked like he had a crows nest on top of his head. 😬).  Anyway, a picture from a phone that closed in half?  OMG!  There was no way technology could get any better than this.  After all, it only took 10 minutes to type out a text one letter at at time.  When ma learned to text (Lord help me…sis and I still fight over who has to help her with her technology needs) she’d send it and then immediately call me to see if I got it.  I would say:  “Ma.  You are defeating the purpose of the text if you are just going to call me anyway.  So, just call me in the first place.”  Then ma would reply:  “OK, you don’t want to talk to me.  I understand I’m just an old lady with nothing to say.”  My response?  “Ma, dammit, just CALL me and quit texting!  I love you and want to yack (sorta) but for fuck sakes, having texts and calls coming in every 20 minutes is a nightmare!”

Then, the smartphone came along.  The screen was so big and in color!  Holy crap!  Then, there were these things called ‘apps’ which I had no idea what they were.  So, for the first week after getting my smartphone, I just looked at it and texted ma on a regular keyboard.  My son looked at my phone one day and asked where the hell my apps were and I said I didn’t know what they were in the first place.  Very patiently (not really, he was kind of an ass), he showed me how to ‘download’ (sounded naughty to me) these app things so I could play games and get my e-mail and do this thing called “Facebook” which was going to make my life so much richer than it’s ever been before.  I went nuts and downloaded every free app I could find.  Then I used 3 of them.  (Confession:  I STILL have no idea how to play Candy Crush and earn ‘candies’.  Maybe it just goes against my principle of destroying anything that’s yummy.  It may be a psychological issue.)

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Fast forward to today and 5 smartphones later and guess what?  My life ain’t richer.  In fact, it seems a bit more empty to me now.  After all of this texting, messaging, Facebooking, Twittering, Instagramming, e-mailing, etc. I don’t feel any more connected to people and in fact, I actually feel less connected.  Plus, after having installed a screen time tracker, I found out I spend a LOT more time on my phone than I had thought and research shows I’m not alone in this:  most people underestimate their screen time too.  When I see the number of hours a week I’ve spent looking at this 5″ screen, I think that I could have painted my living room like I want to do.  Or, I could have gotten my bike out of the garage and ridden it around town.  I could have planted some more flowers in the back yard or read a couple of the books I have that I just don’t have ‘time’ to get too.  I could have made some jewelry to give as presents or organized my closet.  I could have done a lot that would actually have served a purpose…instead of looking at a screen and doing what?  Not much.

So why do we do it?  Why do we waste time on these devices doing things that really don’t mean a lot in the long run?  Easy answer?  Because we are ‘addicted’ in a lot of ways.  Longer answer?  Here goes.  Leaders in the study of how smartphones keep us coming back for more and more illustrate very clearly that companies find ways to change the way our brain looks at and responds to various cues that are constantly out there.  Ramsey Brown of Dopamine labs calls this brain hacking and his company is hired to work with others to make their online content as ‘addictive’ as possible.   Tristan Harris, a previous Google employee, says how our smartphones are like slot-machines.  If we scroll enough, interact enough, and play enough, we’ll be rewarded with likes, emojis, ‘streaks’, followers, etc.  It’s like gambling and we get a squirt of dopamine when we come across something we like…when we ‘win’!  If I scroll through Facebook a bit longer, maybe I’ll see something really really interesting…and there it is: a video of a baby elephant (my downfall 🐘).  And if I play this game just a tad more, maybe I’ll move up a level and be respected by all.  That’s why scrolling is actually used as opposed to other ways to present info…so we keep going and going until we are satisfied, for the moment at least.

Larry Rosen, psychology professor at California State University, talks about how our phones raise anxiety levels by increasing the release of cortisol to where we get almost panicky if we DON’T check our phones often because we’re thinking about what we might we be missing out on.  Sound crazy?  Vow not to look at your phone for an hour and then leave the sound on.  Every chime of a message coming in or a notification popping up will make most people have to consciously force themselves not to look at their phone, and it’s easy to see just how anxious that makes them.  I see this with my students in class all the time when I let them know I don’t want phones out while I’m lecturing (call me old-fashioned, but I think this is rude).  And when I’m with someone (and yes, even you ma 😐) and a text comes through, they’ll say: “Oh…just let me check this quickly.”  Or, they pick up their phone like a robot programmed to do so, without realizing they haven’t actually made the conscious choice to do it.  It pings…you look.  Simple as that.  (The best source for all of this info is a 60 Minutes report by Anderson Cooper called Brain Hacking).

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Ivan Pavlov and his conditioning experiment.

Think about texts.  That little chime tells us someone out there is connecting with us, and who could it be? Is it someone proclaiming their everlasting love to you (in my case, nope 🙄)?  Is it someone who needs your help for an emergency (probably not and wouldn’t 911 be a better choice anyway)?  Maybe it’s your friend sharing the gossip they heard and swore they would never tell anyone about that you just gotta hear.  Regardless, we HAVE to look.  We’re conditioned to look!  It’s like Pavlov’s dogs:  we hear the chime or feel the vibration or see the screen light up, and we salivate!  We respond.  In other words, the phone is in control of us…not the other way around!  When you think about that, it’s actually pretty scary.

Maybe because I’m so old, I want to fight against this more than I have.  I want to really accomplish things…not look at things.  I want to make stuff…not look at stuff others have made.  I want to connect with a ‘real’ someone…not see another pic of them as I scroll through my feed.  And think about that term – feed.  It’s like our phones feed our need for something to do.  Are we that unable to entertain ourselves that our phone has to ‘feed’ us stuff to sustain us?  What happened to days outside working in the yard or setting up a badminton game or taking a long walk with your partner?  What happened to laying on the couch with a couple of library books?  What happened to starting a new hobby and learning to make something special?  What happened to baking in the kitchen and having a special dessert for dinner that night?  What happened to having a jigsaw puzzle on the kitchen table that everyone in the family works on?

But most importantly, what happened to thinking these things weren’t enough, but that a screen is?  And our phones are just 1 screen of the many we have.  Add laptops, iPads, and smart TV’s in the mix, and it’s a wonder we get anything done off a screen.

To be honest, I know I couldn’t ever give up my cell phone completely since it’s the only way I have to talk to ma and sis and other family when they want to natter.  I also feel better having it when I’m on the highway in case I need help, while it’s also necessary for work.  So I guess the question for me is this:  how do I balance the use of it against the ‘want’ of it?  How do I use it as a tool instead of it using me to buy more, scroll more, click more?

I’d ponder this a bit more if I could, but here’s the thing:  my screen just lit up and it’s Kohl’s telling me my new shoes are ready to pick up, Subway sent me a new text coupon plus I have to know the sandwich of the day, I haven’t checked Facebook yet to see if the pic of me and Dottie got anymore likes, and last night when I was scrolling I saw a great shirt advertised at 80% off.  How can I pass up that deal?  Hmmmm.  Maybe I should try to find out.  Maybe we all should.

Kristi xoxo

“Happiness depends upon ourselves.” ~ Aristotle

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So, what does it mean to be happy?  Really think about it.  Everyone says that all they want from life is to be happy…but what is it?  Contentment?  Security?  Being loved?  Having a family?  Enjoying your career?  A minimization of stresses?  Is happiness the addition of good things/feelings, or a subtraction of the bad?  Is it a concept like ‘love’ that has a different meaning for everyone?

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I’ve been contemplating this a lot lately for a variety of reasons.  I used to think that my happiness stemmed around having a family.  The white picket fence, “Leave it to Beaver” type family I always wanted for myself, and I pretty much had that when O was a little guy and his dad and I were raising him for the 13 years we were together.  I can honestly say that was the ‘happiest’ time in my life since being a mama and wife meant so much to me.  It was also then that I was hired as an adjunct instructor, got a full-time position, and then was rising up the ranks to being a professor.  It was almost like the stars were aligned just right and everything that I had ever wanted came together.

Fast forward to my life now, single and living alone, and I ask myself if I’m happy like this.  I never thought I’d be because here’s a secret for you:  I was always VERY scared to be alone.  VERY.

Even when others were at home with me, but I was upstairs while they were downstairs, I’d still be scared!  Sometimes sissy would spend the night with someone and my parents would get me in bed before they went down to watch TV.  I would lay in bed shaking…literally.  My family used to laugh at how I’d sleep with all of my stuffed animals in my bed to where they surrounded me like a fence, but it was my safety net, so to speak.  If anything could scare off a monster or axe murder, it was my pink bunny with the ears pulled off.  I don’t think they know this or not, but I often snuck out of my room and would sit on the steps for a time just so I could hear them talk and the TV playing.  I felt much safer then.

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Ted Bundy…Seattle Times.

Then, it was around the time I was in the 6th grade or so that ma started working outside the home full-time (and yes, I used to roll my eyes at that expression but after raising a son, I’m here to tell you that professoring is a freaking breeze compared to the work load of mommying) and my sissy was in High School.  Ma would drop her off and I’d get myself off to school.  No biggie…right?  I had 2 blocks to walk and I was only home for a half hour or so before leaving.  But I was petrified every single morning (which is why I often called T in sick to school so her friends could come over for a skip day, courtesy of my excellent imitation of mom’s voice that the school secretary never questioned) and having T at home for that 1/2 hour before I tottered off to school made me so much more comfortable.  If anyone could stave off a Ted Bundy wannabe, it was T!

Even as an adult, I was scared.  When M (Hubby 1) and I were married, he often had to work 3rd shift and I was alone in our green trailer (if I never see a toilet the color of a rotten avocado, I’ll die content).  I’d pack up Scooter (my first ever dog), Sheldon (my parakeet) and myself and traipse over to ma’s to spend the night in my old room.  She was married to R at the time (get ready for it…the fucking bastard) but even spending the night in the same house as him was preferable to being by myself.  That, my sweet peeps, says a lot.

When O’s dad and I got married, we moved a couple of states away and sometimes he’d have to go on 2 day trips around Kansas (very exciting stuff) while I stayed at home with my baby.  I couldn’t go to moms unless I wanted to drive 14 hours, so I’d barricade me and O in my bedroom with my German Shepherd posted outside the door (God bless you, Tessie) and would count the hours until morning.  Hubby never understood why I was so freaking tired when he got home since O could sleep through the night by that time.

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The real Bloody Mary – First Queen of England

I don’t know what did it, but being alone started to change for me when I was married to Hubby 3.  He spent his summers riding with his motorcycle club (gang 😳) and I was alone for 3 day weekends all through the season, as well as during his  4-5 day trips.  I hated it at first, but then started savoring more and more of the aloneness (is that even a word?).  I liked having the time to do whatever it was I wanted to do, but yes, I was still really scared at night.  Do you remember the game “Bloody Mary”, where you look in a mirror, chant that phrase, and then you’ll actually see her ghost appear?  Because of that damn ‘game’, I couldn’t sleep in a room with a mirror for ages.  So, when Hubby was gone, I’d put a blanket over my dresser mirror that faced the bed, and hoped for the best.  Eventually, I took it down…believe it or not, that was a huge step for me!  (P.S.  She never appeared…go figure 🙄).

So here I am now…alone.  Everything I didn’t want to be but suddenly the situation I find myself in.  Surprisingly though, I don’t hate it and in fact, sometimes I really love it!  You see, I used to depend on others to make me feel secure.  Safe.  And to go even further with it validated…important…needed…and yes, happy too.  I sought these things from everyone I had been in a relationship with.  I wanted them to be the one stop shop where I could get all I needed just from them.  I wanted them to be responsible for the things that made me ‘happy’ and as you well know by now, those situations didn’t last.

You know, I used to hate it when people would say:  “You are responsible for your own happiness.”  OK…I’ll jot that down in my little book of advice.  But actually, it’s true.  I think I turned away from the gist of that phrase because I didn’t want the responsibility of my own happiness.  I didn’t want to learn to depend on me.  Feel safe with me.  Feel secure with me.  That sounded like a crap load of work, and it was so much easier to put that onus on someone else and then blame them when I wasn’t happy.  Right?  Why take on a job when you can pass it along to another?  (By the way sis, you still owe me a vacuuming from 1980 when I did it for you that one afternoon before ma got home…just sayin’).

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So, I’ve been put in a situation where I’m having to depend only on me.  If I want to feel secure, I am the one to make that happen.  If I want to feel safe, I have to understand I can take care of myself.  If I want to feel content…fulfilled…’happy’…then it’s up to me to create that environment to do so.  Period.  Me.  Just good old (cough cough) me.

And guess what?  I’m doing it!  Over these past months, I’ve learned so much about myself.  I’ve learned how much stronger I am.  How much more capable.  I’ve learned to take care of me…by myself.  I’ve come to understand I can weather storms with just me, Eddie, and Little Dot and it’s empowering every time.  I have finally come to see that depending on me is something I’ve needed for a long long time.  I’ve also learned something so so important:  that being with someone who creates unhappiness for you is so much worse than simply being alone.  I don’t NEED anyone to fulfill my needs now (although having one of those fulfilled…ahem…would be sorta nice), I’m doing just fine on my own.

So, back to my original question:  is this what happiness is…at least for me?  Yes.  I think it is.  I know when I wake up, I smile.  I know doing things around my house to make it exactly the way I want it makes me proud.  I know that watching Eddie and Dottie play out in the yard makes me laugh.  I know that watching stupid movies and eating dinner on the couch with Eddie’s head on my lap makes me feel a sense of contentment.  Maybe this wouldn’t be enough for someone else.  Maybe it’s too ‘little’…after all, I’m not traveling the world or jumping out of a plane, but it’s what I like.  And for me…that seems to be my happiness.

I still cry.  I still deal with issues relating to being bipolar.  I still get scared at times…lonely…sad.  I still miss having a partner at times.  I still want a picket fence family again.  Right now, I’m cycling through a bit of a manic stage but with some depression in the mix (it’s such a weird feeling to be on top of the world while crying at times), and the other day, I was really struggling.  I reached out to a friend and asked if they could come over for even just a few minutes to give me a hug and reassure me I was going to be OK.  They couldn’t so I weathered the storm on my own, and came out just fine.  By myself.  All by myself.  And…I was so proud.

For me, this is all happiness.  Knowing that no matter what happens to me in life, I’ll always have myself.  I’m happy with being ‘just’ me.  I’m happy with how I’m living right now and what I’m doing.  Maybe happiness is different for everyone, but sometimes I think people seek it too much in things…or in other people…or in constantly striving for that ‘something’ else that will miraculously fulfill them and make them believe they have finally reached the nirvana they sought.  I’m thinking it’s a little more than that…and a little less.  I’m thinking that it really does come from within…that it’s not money or cars or houses or others.  It’s you, and being content with who you are.  That, grasshoppers, is enough…at least for me.

Kristi xoxo

“I can tote it, I just need an egg.” ~ Angela (90 Day Fiance)

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So, it’s no secret that I’m not the greatest at relationships (shutty 🙄) and thought it might behoove me to take lessons so to speak.  The experts I’ve decided to turn too, who I know will guide me through the perils of relationship dynamics and teach me lessons I’ll take with me for the rest of my life, are known around the world.  Their platform?  A very serious and insightful show called ’90 Day Fiance’.  As I’ve been watching it these last 7 seasons (as well as all the seasons of their many spin-offs) I’ve gleaned knowledge that’s applicable to any future partnership I might have and I’m certain that the secret to relationship bliss is mine.

For example, did you know it’s not necessary to learn about a mate’s culture, even though they have a different religion, a different language (tip:  learn at least a few words in their native tongue…just so you can…you know…communicate 🙄) are half-way around the world, and live in a way you have never experienced yourself? I’m mean hells bells, that’s just tiny stuff…right?  So, when a woman who dresses like a stripper falls in love with a man who practices Islam, this will be super.  When she visits or even moves to his country (which many of them do), he’ll want and expect her to wear the hijab per Muslim tradition, but why do that?  It’s not fashionable and we definitely don’t see those on American catwalks, so obviously this doesn’t apply to these gals.  They’ll go on wearing outfits with their boobs showing, sans nipple, and wonder why their man is angry and others in his family don’t accept them.  Well…guess you can’t please everyone…huh?

And food?  Don’t try to learn about a cultures food before visiting or moving to the country your sweetie resides in.  Why would you do that?  Just traipse over there, and then when the very poor family sacrifices a goat for you (which is an extremely gracious gesture), don’t eat any.  After all, you prefer steak.  When a future ma-in-law makes you a beautiful dinner she spent hours on, be sure to make faces, spit food out in your napkin, and stage whisper to the lucky sap who’s going to marry you that you’ll puke if you actually swallow a bite.  That way, the ma gets a very good impression of you as a independent thinker with distinct tastes. 🙄

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Did you know that houses in the poorest of our world’s nations aren’t built of wood, brick and siding?  Some are little more than huts with no air-conditioning, no running water, no bathroom, no electricity.  Yes, it’s uncomfortable for the 3 days you’ll be staying there on your visit (God forbid you actually move there, it would just be ‘too much’ for you to ever get used too), even though the ‘love of your life’ has lived in these circumstances all  their lives.  And if they take you to a local hotel for some, ahem, private time?  Be sure to bitch and complain, because I’m here to tell ya, they aren’t the Hilton.  If there are lots of  bugs or animals roaming the street or stores that are carts with torn awnings, it’s always a good idea to make fun of these things or complain bitterly.  Nothing brings a couple closer together than a great deal of mocking.  (Also, did you know that countries on the equator are hot?  Apparently, not a lot of people realize this so don’t realize they might sweat a bit on their visit).

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Here’s something I truly didn’t know but is quite exciting if I ever marry a 20 year old:  even though I’m 53 (blech), I can still have a baby!  YEA! Actually, I would sorta ‘have too’ since my future hubby is expected to have an heir and is wanting his own shot at raising a brood (even though I have a kid older than him 😳).  Now, it doesn’t matter that I’ve gone through menopause (which at 53, one would assume I have) or that my eggs are as old as dirt (if I even have any of the little boogers left), I can still get an egg from someone else…preferably in my immediate family so the baby will be my blood…and then have that little nugget inserted into my nice, healthy, still like 18 pink uterus I presumably have.  Well for piss sakes…this is an epiphany for me!  Here I’ve been wanting a grandbaby, but instead I’ll just have a little cutie myself.  As Angela (who is my age and whose YOUNG hubby wants a little guy running around that’s his own) says to her daughter:  “I can tote it, I just need your egg.”  (Starts picking out names, ma!).  Nuff said on that one.

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And age doesn’t matter!  Whoo Hoo (let’s face it…a LOT of guys from my generation are pretty much set in their ways and aren’t quite as exciting as a 25 year old)!  OK…some of you may not know this, but J was significantly younger than me.  No, I’m not going to tell you by how many years, my sweet and nosy peeps.  Suffice it to say we got a lot of looks, and yes, I was often self-conscious about it!  I was the wrinkly elder with this younger guy on my arm (for balance since I’m so old I could fall and easily break a hip) and folks would stare.  Like I’ve said before, aging is a sin in our country and many of you younger people are apparently going to figure out a way to dodge it (but still be alive)…best wishes to ya.  Anyhoot, a 65 year old and a 30 year old are actually fine and dandy (no peeps, J was not that much younger 🤨).  And just because my new man will have to wash my hair for me and help me up out of a chair doesn’t mean things won’t work out in the long run.  He’ll love doing that and more when he’s 40 and I’m 75.  And families love these age differences too.  In fact, I’d love for O to marry someone older than me.  We could be besties and eventually room together in the old age home.  That way, O would only have to make one trip to see us both.

Were you also aware that lying doesn’t matter?  No wonder I’m thrice divorced, I didn’t lie enough.  Well spank me hard…I know what to do next time now, don’t I?  Seeing pics of a body builder from Great Britain who actually speaks with a Nigerian accent when you chat and doesn’t know where London is on a map does NOT mean you are getting catfished.  And if you are?  Well, they must have a good reason and actually be an ok guy to hook up with anyway.  If you’re already married and wait until you’re engaged to your new baby to tell them, whatever.  It’s just a teeny little detail you forgot to mention.  If you’re moving halfway across the world and your darling hasn’t shared with you the fact they are broke and don’t have a job…no problemo.  Just live on love.  And the best kind of lie?  If you say you’re 40 and use a filter during chats and while sending pics that make you look 20…it’s ok.  Your beloved will be so happy at your 55 year old self complete with lines, sags, spots, etc.  It’s just a cool surprise.

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Now, not every one of these relationships work out (why, I have no idea).  So, if that happens here’s a sure fire way to feel better:  get some plastic surgery like HUGE lips…butt fillers…DD boobs…liposuction.  It’s because of YOUR bod things didn’t work out, so the more fake you look, the more you’ll be loved.  Who woulda thunk that?  No wonder I’ve been divorced…I’ve still got my original breasts. 🤨   Another idea if things don’t go perfectly with this soulmate of yours?  Just get your newly rounded butt back online and try again.  It’s really as easy as that.

This next one is a shocker to me.  Truly.  SOME people are out there to take advantage of you.  To use your for a green card.  To get to America the only way possible for them.  I know…I know…that would never happen to any one of US.  That only happens to people who aren’t truly in love.  So, when your parents, friends, colleagues and neighbors pull you aside and say they think the behavior of your intended is pretty bad and they don’t seem to love you (look, they only go out by themselves to a bar a few nights a week…we all need our space 🙄) tell them they’re crazy.  In fact, the longer you’ve known this friend, the angrier you should become. People in love always know what’s best…they are always the most rational and most objective.  Look, if I want your advice that could save me from getting into a marriage that’s going to last 6 months and then bankrupt me after, I’ll ask.  Got it?

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And this brings me to the last lesson I’ve gleaned thus far, and that’s about what love really is.  True love comes from texting and face-timing with no physical interaction what so ever.  It comes from jumping into bed the minute you land in their country, and then pointing out all that’s wrong with the area while praising your own fatherland.  The love is seen in little spats that end up with a drink being thrown in a face…smashing a cake over a head…or storming out of a restaurant screaming the entire way.  And the little sweet names you have for one another (and did you know that nicknames are truly good for a relationship)?  Here are some ideas from the show:  bitch, cow, douche, jerk, asshole, idiot and f##ker (you’re welcome, ma).  Those are sure to help your love bloom even more.

So thank you, 90 Day Fiance.  I now know what I’ve been doing wrong in finding a soulmate and I’m going to remedy it now.  I’m staring my search for a 22 year old guy from a very poor country (whose language I can’t speak), who sends me pics in which he looks different in every single one in terms of his hair and eye color, body shape, & height, who wants at least a half dozen little ones running around soon, whose parents are horrified I’m of a different religion, and who I’ve caught lying (but hey, none of us are perfect).  When I find this gem, I’ll let y’all know right away.  I promise.

Kristi xoxo

“You are you. Now, isn’t that pleasant?” ~ Dr. Seuss

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So, I saw a Facebook post for an art exhibit at Kettering University by Guy Adamec, who is quoted as saying:  “Anything imaginable is possible.”  I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately, and even though I think he was referring to art, I know so many people believe the same about life in general.  “You can be anything you want!”  “The sky’s the limit!”  “Just do it!”  But can we…really?

Call me a pessimest or a party pooper if you want, but I firmly believe we can’t be anything we want or do anything we desire.  We all have ceilings and limitations like race, gender age, and social class just to name a few that we need to recognize before aspiring to things that simply won’t come to fruition (every time I use this word, I feel like I sound so smart). 🤓

For example (and son, I’m sorry but I had to use this), my sweetie son played basketball when he was in 5th and 6th grade.  Now, he did well in baseball and is an amazing swimmer, but basketball was not his forte.  Yes, he was tall-ish for his age, lean, and fairly coordinated (as much as a boy that age can be) but he, well, sucked at basketball.  It wasn’t his thing!  Please don’t think I’m being mean, because I recognize all the wonderful gifts he has; all I’m saying is b-ball wasn’t one of them.  So anyhoot, we were at a game and my baby FINALLY made a basket…his first one in the 2 years he’d been playing.  I was so excited I literally jumped out of my seat and screamed so loud the referee stopped the game thinking I was having either a fit or heart attack.  I reassured him I wasn’t dying and yelled: “No…I’m fine…I’m just happy my boy finally made a shot!”  After I sat down (and began breathing again) a couple of the other moms berated me for my comment and they said how he would be a terrific player someday.  After all, he was built like one and with enough practice, why he could play for the Chicago Bulls.  Hmmm.  Son, I’m sorry if I deprived you of this, but I really didn’t think you were another Michael Jordan.  My bad.

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Eggs are still eggs.  Except now they are eggs in a cake with a bunch of other things. Duh.

I don’t like it when parents over-praise their kids and make them think they are something so above and beyond when in actuality, they’re pretty darn ‘meh.’  A kid brings home an A paper in math and hears:  “Oh sweetie…this is AWESOME!!  You’re another Einstein!”  Ummmmm…I’m sorry, but no he’s not.  He’s a kid that got an A.  It’s not AWESOME (a word that I believe is terribly overused…an A paper does not leave me awestruck as would Jesus walking the earth again), it’s what he should have gotten anyway.  Right?  And to tell him he’s another Einstein…well hells bells, I’m a decent writer so I should be up there with Stephen King.  🙄

A few years ago, I had a student I simply adored.  She was a sweetie-pie and one day she told me she really wanted to be an illustrator.  Her parents encouraged her to the point she believed she’d be drawing pics for the most famous of children’t writers.  After one of our classes, she asked if I’d like to see her portfolio and of course I did…I couldn’t wait to see her ‘masterpieces.’  Well…come to find out, the drawings she showed me were pretty freaking bad.  I’m no art critic…I’m the first to admit that.  However, these were not something I’d like to open a book and see.

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I told her they were very nice and was sweet about it, but truly wondered how her parents could push her towards something for which she didn’t have the talent.  Now, fast forward a year when she applied to some art schools and university programs; not surprisingly, she didn’t get into any of them at all.  She was devastated and I can understand why.  Her parents had put her on a pedestal in terms of her ‘talent’ and the fall was brutal for her.  She finally heard the truth about her work and had to restructure her college career around another field.  She basically had to start over from square one with her confidence pretty much destroyed.

Why do parents do this to their kids?  Why do we see all of these posters saying things like:  “You can be anything you want to be with the right positive attitude.”  Okey dokey.  Well, I’d like to be a princess in England and use my power for charitable works like Princess Diana did.  I’ve got a great attitude about it.  So…should I buy a plane ticket?

Or, more realistically, I’d like to be a national motivational speaker on mental illness issues.  I really would…that’s a huge dream of mine!  Yes, I’ve done 2 local Tedx Talks and have made 3 graduation speeches at my college, but my town is small ‘taters compared to the entire country (I would bet that the vast majority of you couldn’t pick my town out on a map)!  How many people want to be on that stage?  Thousands?  Maybe more?  And to think that only MY positive attitude and ability will win the spot is truly unrealistic.

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One of my friends and I were yacking about Simon Cowell (sigh…he’s a cutie patootie) and they said he is so cruel to contestants auditioning for ‘America’s Got Talent’ when he tells them their singing is “hideous”, “atrocious”, and the “worst he’s ever heard in his life.”  OK.  Those words are harsh.  But c’mon…they’re true!  You got this gal tottering into the audition room belting out ‘Over the Rainbow’ (which I can actually sing pretty well 😁) in a key never before heard by human ears.  What’s he supposed to say?  For fuck sakes, she can’t sing a freaking note! Then the parents will storm in when their little song bird doesn’t make the cut, and Simon sets them straight right away by saying it’s their fault for encouraging something that’s not there.  They’re the ones who let her down…not him.

I agree!  Recently I saw a ‘motivational’ poster that said this:  “You can have, do, or be anything you want.”  Heh?  Are you joking with this?  I can have a million bucks so all of my family is set for life?  I can fly to the moon to experience outer space?  I can be a best selling novelist known worldwide?  Nope.  Probably not.

The 2017 Miss Universe Pageant

Why the fuck do we set ourselves up for failure…disappointment…negative feelings of self-worth?  We see sayings like that and feel guilty that we aren’t achieving anything and everything we’ve always wanted too.  Look, I’ve always wanted to be in a pageant!  Yes, a silly, superficial pageant where I parade around on a stage while being applauded, have a sash wrapped around my shoulders, a diamond tiara placed on my head, and roses held in my arms as I walk the runway to a sappy song waving the half-turn wrist twist.  So, why am I not doing it?  Well…let’s see…I’m a 3 on a scale of 1-10.  Have crepey skin and wrinkles.  Wear glasses and have mousy hair.  And my 53 year old bod has lost some of the ‘ooomph’ it once had.  No matter how much I try (contacts, dye in the hair…which I actually do but let’s not tell anyone…make-up, spray tan, tape to pull up and stretch out things that are droopy, etc.) I will not be the next Ms. America.  I can guarantee it, peeps. 😐  (P.S.  Hubby 3 knew how much I wanted a sash, and he bought me one that was white satin with “The Most Beautiful” written on it!  Best surprise I ever got!)

Look, I’m not saying you can’t have dreams or aspirations or goals.  Of course you can!  I remember walking into my first college class and coming out of it saying I wanted to be a professor.  People laughed and thought, “There’s goes Kristi…probably manic and delusional.”  But I have a talent for learning…an affinity for school.  I can read, retain, and pretty much see words on pages after I’ve shut the book.  But, had I said I wanted to be President of the United States, I would have understood that my thoughts were a bit unrealistic since I understand very very little about politics, economics, and global markets and learning these is like teaching my little Dottie to take her meds without snapping at me…it ain’t gonna happen (although I must say, I think I would do a better job than some of those we’ve had).  🙄

What I’m saying is this:  you can be what you want to be with the talent, intellectual capability, and resources you have.  But don’t beat yourself up for not being what you dreamed of being when you were a kid (we don’t need a million more paleontologists and astronauts).  Use your gifts, do the best you can, and be happy and content with who you are.  And I’ll tell you what…that’s always enough.

Kristi xoxo

 

 

 

“Oh-Oh, Yes I’m the Great Pretender, Pretending that I’m Doing Well…” ~ The Platters

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So, I read an excellent post yesterday on the blog Pointless Overthinking called “Is Social Media Toxic – Being Mindful” which really got me to thinking about my own use of Facebook: my fave social media platform. And here’s what I discovered: I’ve been a total hypocrite at times. Here I am yacking to my peeps about how important it is to be genuine and authentic, yet I’m not necessarily doing that on FB. What the hell?

I don’t ‘use’ Instagram because to be honest, typing in all of those hashtags is simply a chore, and Snapchat just doesn’t make a lot of sense to me (yes son, roll your eyes and call me a digital immigrant even though I gave birth to you after 16 excrutiating hours of back labor without a grandbaby in sight to make up for it 🙄). I get where you send pics and videos that you’ve jazzed up with cool editing, but they ‘disappear’ (not all together true…you can take screenshots and as such, naughty pics can be actually be saved and shared) in 10 seconds which seems like a heck of a lot of work for that incredibly short period of time. And yes, I know all about tiktok and whatsapp as well, but have never tried them. 🤓

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Anyhoot, that’s why I’m focusing on FB (that’s short for Facebook son, try to keep up) to illustrate my own hypocrisy. See, I’m not being completely genuine on FB. After all of my orating about opening up, being honest, being yourself, I realized I wasn’t practicing what I was preaching. Yesterday, I downloaded all of my FB pics so I could make sure I have them myself for all posterity. As I was scrolling through them, I started laughing at my use of editing tools and how absolutely horrible some of them looked. I started out with my grunge phase where every pic looked like it was run through an incinerator, and then using frames that just were ridiculous. The biggest thing I noticed though was my use of filters so I would look as perfect as I possibly could in the pics I posted of myself.

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O didn’t need the filter, I did!  And look…no pores! 

After looking at these pics, I started wondering about my posts. So, I clicked on a bunch of them that went along with the pics, and saw I was filtering those as well. There are a few of R (Hubby 3 🙄) and I where I’m smiling broadly with him, when actually the day was pretty rotten. But like I think others do, I was just wanting to show everyone how ‘happy’ we were no matter what. I saw so many from my time with J…some on an outing just a day after getting back together following the first month he cheated on me. I guess I wanted to prove to myself and his ‘ex’ how we were meant to be; but all I can see now is a confused look in my eyes and a resigned expression on his face. I have some upbeat pics during the time of my mental breakdown…I wanted people to think old Professor K was fine like always, even though I had attempted suicide just days before. I think you get what I’m saying.

Why did I do that? Why did I think I had to pretend my life was going great all of the time? Well…because it seemed like everyone else’s life was. You see, I was still pretending my way through life and wanted to make sure everyone saw the best me. The ‘perfect’ me if you will. The me that would get a lot of likes because hey, that’s the whole point. Right? I needed that outside validation because I knew on the inside, I wasn’t accepting myself. I didn’t want too. I had worn the mask of ‘normality’ for so fucking long, I didn’t want to take it off in front of a keyboard either. In fact, that was one of the the last places where I wanted to show my true self. As long as I looked right in real life and also online, the longer I could convince myself it was true.

I see my eyes in these pictures so well now and notice the desperation in them. Wanting so bad to believe I was ‘normal’ and not face what my true self might be. I think we all do that to a degree…put what we wish was true or want our ‘friends’ to believe is true, despite the actual circumstances. When you think about it, you can’t be authentic in real life and not on social media…that’s an oxymoron for sure.

And when I put ‘friends’ in quotes (yes peeps, I know I’m not using “quotation marks” but apostrophes are easier for me to find on my keyboard 🙄) I do that for a reason. C’mon now…how many friends do you actually have? Hundreds? Really? You know hundreds of people so well that you could call them right now, from another phone because you have the number memorized (like friends usually do), tell them you’re in trouble and need them to bring a hundred bucks to you now, and they’ll drop anything they’re doing to come to your rescue. Because isn’t that a true friend? Someone who will be there for you not matter what? Someone that you know so well you could talk all about their likes, history, relationships, etc.? Nope.

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From Identity Magazine and how I look using my bifocals to read my laptop screen.

It’s almost like a contest to see who can have the most friends on FB…when in actuality, I would guess the vast majority are acquaintances and maybe not even that. I have over 1000 friends on FB (many of them students who I adore keeping up with) but in reality, I only have a couple of friends I can really talk with in my non-social media life. Literally two. Hmmmmm…I’m so often lonely, but have 1000 friends. Something just doesn’t sound right to me.

I also noticed I checked in a lot while out and about. Am I so narcissistic to think people give a flying rat’s ass where I ate dinner last night? That I’m in a new store? That I took a trip? Am I that important? So influential that the check-in will promote the business? For fuck sakes, no (sorry ma, but you know I drop the f-bomb just for you).

After the breakdown when I had to face the mental illness I battled all of my life, I started talking about it in dribs and drabs. I needed too for a couple of reasons. First, my masks didn’t just fall off during that time, they were stomped on as well. Second, I started allowing myself to be more genuine. More ‘me’. I was so fucking exhausted from acting all of the time, and didn’t have the energy to continue. And third? I was done being ashamed of who I was. Someone that’s always been different…always had a tough time making friends and fitting in…someone who is way way way too sensitive…someone who doesn’t always laugh and smile, but cries too. In other words, someone who is human, doing the best she can with the cards she’s been dealt.

So, once I was healed enough after the breakdown to be able to get back on FB, I discussed why I’d been absent. I was honest, more so than ever before, about having had the breakdown, what I had been dealing with, who I really was. Later, I did a Tedx Talk where I addressed being mentally ill for the first time in another very public forum. I think I did these things to make sure I had people around me who would not only understanding who I was, but hold me accountable for being real. Not fake. Then I started this blog just a couple of months ago to further yap about my bipolar life in a no holds barred way.

My point (after all of this rambling)? I need to make sure I’m consistently real on social media too. Last February, as I was spending my first Valentine’s day alone in decades (I hate this holiday…hello…be loving to your partner everyday), I scrolled through FB and read posts like “My husband just brought home 3 dozen red roses, booked us a cruise (not a good idea then, but who knew?), and bought me yet another diamond ring.” Okey dokey.  I was sitting at home in my old jammies with the hole in the arm pit, Biore strips on my blackhead infested nose, eating Reeses Pieces while bawling, and watching a Lifetime movie to make me feel better by seeing some boob being stalked by a deranged contractor. Great holiday. 😳

Unfortunately, I know a lot of ‘friends’ of mine on FB who are pretending their way through life via social media. They’re like I was: hoping that if they write it…put it out there…it’ll be true. I’m here to tell you grasshoppers, it’s not.

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No filter…I actually have pores! 

So now, when I’m having a shitty day and need some support I post “I’m having a shitty day and need some support.” It feels so freaking good! And this week, I uploaded a profile pic with no filter…there I am, wrinkles and all. But it’s me. Not a better, more attractive me. But me. And shouldn’t that be enough?

My new resolution (in writing so that I’ll have to honor it) is this: no more lying on FB, ever. If I’m sick and having diarrhea and feel a compulsive need to post, well, there you go. And no more filters (😱)…no more pretending. If I do any of these things, it means I’m not accepting myself for who I am or the life I’m actually living; and if I can’t do that, how in the hell can I expect others too? I’ve been working on this very thing for a couple of years now, and am understanding that there’s no shame in being who I am, which in my case is a thrice (never used that word before) divorced, mentally ill, 3 on a scale of 1-10 in looks, wrinkly, mom-bod (but no mom jeans…ever), imperfect woman. But now, I’m not wasting energy trying to think of posts that will make others envious. Pics that show me so freaking filtered I look 12. Lies about my life I have to remember so when I talk about my weekend to colleagues, I can keep my stories straight. I’m done with that.

And you know what? It’s actually quite liberating. 🙂

Kristi xoxo

 

“…Revved up Like a Deuce, Another Runner in the Night.” ~ Bruce Springsteen I

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So, in a post last week, I talked about whether or not love is blind and I said that actually it’s not since we all have our preferences along with what we NEED to see.  But like I do, I’ve been going over that in my mind and started thinking about how love truly is blind in certain circumstances…places where none of us want to go, where we say we would never go, and swear we would leave as soon as the issue is clear.  My son and I were talking about it yesterday, and he said this:  “Love isn’t necessarily blind in the beginning, but it can become blind after the love has taken hold.”  Let’s take a look-see.

For you sweet newbies, my ma was married to R (I won’t say what I usually do when I hear his name in my head but I have to say something so I guess asshole will suffice), for 28 years and although my sis and I knew about it and tried very hard to get her to leave him, she didn’t for all of those years.  In fact, she wouldn’t admit to the abuse until close to the time she was able to get away.  I saw black eyes more times than I can count, black and blue arms, marks by her neck, a beating so bad that she was rushed to the ER and was throwing up blood, and an eye injury so serious I took her to the doctor to make sure she wasn’t going to lose her vision in it.

Now, for the big question:  why the hell did she stay?   The first reason after the initial act (just a ‘little’ slap) was, she told me, almost unbelievable to her.  She grew up with parents who were never violent in any way and my dad treated her very well; she didn’t have any experience with domestic violence so it was out of her realm of comprehension that it could happen to her.  Using my favorite phrase, she was simply gobsmacked and since it was ‘small’, and he profusely apologized, she assumed it was a one-off and wouldn’t happen again.  The second reason?  Because she loved him.  Because she had fallen in love with who she believed to be a good man, and this one incident didn’t change that.  The next dozen didn’t change it.  The love was still there and she said she could compartmentalize the bad and only focus on the good.

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Photo by Francesco Ungaro on Pexels.com

Years later, after the abuse intensified , she continued to stay for a myriad of reasons:  he broke her down so far she had absolutely no self-esteem or feelings of worth; he manipulated her thinking to believe she was the cause of the violence; he psychologically abused her to presume she was unlovable and no one else would ever want her, and the list goes on.  In other words, he used the proverbial ‘Game Book’ entitled:  “How to Beat Your Wife and Get Away with it for Decades.”  (Probably the only fucking book he ever read 🤬).

So, she stayed for love in the beginning, and he used that initial showering of love to get away with just enough until she was essentially his prisoner.  I remember my grandma, T, and I sitting down with ma before she even married him and telling her how much we disliked him and were suspicious he was hurting her.  She looked us straight in the eye…  said she loved him…he loved her…and everything was fine.

Hmmmmm.  Love is blind.

After living with R for 5 excruciating years and then having to see him for 23 more, I swore to myself I would NEVER ever ever ever be in a situation like my poor ma found herself in.  Never.  And seeing that written, and remembering how smug I was every time I said it, makes me realize how terribly naive we are when it comes to our hearts.  Those fragile, irrational hearts that can cloud our eyes and dull our senses because all that matters in the end is the love.  Right?

I’m going to be honest with you (because I always try to be), as much as I loved Hubby 3 (shutty the mouthy) and still do…we talk almost daily and are very close…our first 2 years of marriage were horrible.  Like I’ve said before, Hubby came from an extremely physically, verbally abusive home which was coupled with neglect so awful he basically had to raise himself from about the age of 10.  His adult relationships were very volatile with tons of drama, yelling, throwing things, alcohol fueled incidents, etc.  Then he married me, and guess what?  He started re-creating the only dynamic he knew.  So, I got yelled at, accused and berated for the most absurd things which forced drama into our lives, had things thrown at me, had my bathroom door ripped off the hinges because he was upset I had slammed it, had a chair thrown across my kitchen, had my arms grabbed.

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And I stayed.  Yep…I surely did.  Why you ask?  Because I loved him.  I really really loved him.  I was terrified when he was angry and would cry when he’d scream at me (and once, peed myself 😟), but I loved him.  And guess what?  Love is blind.  But finally, after those first 2 years, I told him this:  “If you ever do anything to me again, you will be out of here and probably in jail.  Period.  You need to grow the fuck up, learn some self-control, and realize I’m the best fucking (sorry for the cussing, ma 😳) thing that’s ever crossed your path.”  And he began too.

Hubby put so much effort into his behavior and words…he truly did.  He made changes that most people wouldn’t think are possible and our last 8 years together were actually very happy and fun.  Yes, we’d butt heads at time, but I’ll tell you what:  he changed into a kind, sweet, loving guy who would run bubble baths for me when I was having a bad day, wrote notes for me every single morning of our lives together to start my day off with a smile, took me to Chicago each year after Christmas for a fancy schmancy time to celebrate the year, and told me he loved and appreciated me more times than I could ever try to count.

Just last week were were yacking on the phone and I told him I was feeling down and here’s what he said:  “Kristi, you are a beautiful woman who is the sweetest person I’ve ever known.  You made me a better man and no one has ever given me the chances you did.  I will always love you for doing that.”  But you know what?  I should have left him the first time he was abusive to me.  The very first time.  But I didn’t because of that love I had for him.  Yes, after 2 years it was ‘worth’ it but the road to get there was NOT guaranteed at all (so please please please don’t think I’m advocating staying with an abusive partner…not at all!) and it could have ended horribly.  I gambled and that time, I ‘won.’  A million to one shot (I think I’m going to buy a lottery ticket today…you never know 😳).

Not so with J who was physically abusive twice, psychologically abusive for most of our 3 years together, verbally abusive countless times, would go into rages (which I now understand to be part of his Borderline PD), and finally was cheating on me in very public ways numerous times (in other words, he never tried to hide it once it started happening) and blaming me for it.  And once again, I stayed.  I had gambled once, and won!  Who’s to say I wasn’t on a streak?

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Photo by Anton Hooijdonk on Pexels.com

Like a broken record, I stayed at first because of the love I had for him.  I loved him with a passion and yearning I’ve never had before and doubt I’ll ever have again.  I can honestly say I felt he was my soulmate.  My forever.  I could see all of the good in him (because like Hubby, there is a lot of good) through the bad.  I kept thinking that all he needs is patience.  Understanding.  Security.  Why?  Because he too grew up in a very abusive home and also had PTSD from his 3 tours overseas.  Of course I needed to stay…for fuck sakes, he needed me!  And I also needed him.

So, I took him back again and again after he’d leave and cheat.  After he’d swear to me about things right before catching him in a lie.  After he put his hands on me.  After he said horrible things to me.  I stayed because I loved him.  Because I was blind to what was outside of that love.  It’s almost like our heart creates a space that doesn’t allow anything ‘bad’ to get in to threaten those feelings.  I had to work my way out of that tunnel I found myself in where I couldn’t see anything but what I wanted to see.  Maybe that’s why people say hindsight is 20/20.  And it really is.

Look, we see what we want to see.  We believe what we want to believe.  We love who we love no matter how irrational it might be.  We are blinded while in love (or at least I’m convinced we are) and that accounts for a lot of things we accept in our relationships.

And I’m going to tell you one more truth today:  Even though I have ‘learned my lesson’ about this phenomenon, I also understand it could happen again.  Because each time we open our hearts to love, we are taking the risk of being overpowered by it.  So, what I’m hoping to remember is this:  to keep my eyes as wide open as I can in the beginning.  Look for red flags.  Trust that intuition.  Let the mind rule the heart while it still has a chance.  Actually, I think that’s something we all need to do.

Kristi xoxo

“But She Was… Blinded by the Light” ~ Bruce Springsteen

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So, my sis had me watch “Love is Blind” on Netflix and it was fascinating.  Here’s the premise in case you haven’t watched:  30 men and women go into these rooms (called ‘pods’ on the show which makes me think of a post- apocalyptic time 🙄 ) in which you can’t see, but only hear, the other person.  All of the contestants spend 10 days speed-dating with each other, and then can talk to certain people they connect with the best.  After 10 days, some of the people get engaged, and it’s only after this that they actually see each other and meet.  They go on get-aways and then tackle ‘real life’ before getting married (maybe) after a month of being face-to-face.   Plus, during the ‘pod’ interaction and get-away, there are no phones or social media of any kind so that the people/couples can totally focus on one another.

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Now, as the name states quite clearly, this ‘experiment’ is trying to answer the day old question:  Is love blind?  I’m not going to tell you what happens to the 8 couples that actually get engaged (6 are followed on the show) since I don’t want to spoil it for you, but it’s interesting to watch the relationships unfold.

I think we would all like to think ‘love is blind’ but after watching this, and really stewing about it, I believe this concept is more complicated than what’s seen on the show and can be looked at on a lot of different levels.

First, the show focuses on looks and race in terms of ‘blindness’.  Fall in the love with the person, not how beautiful or handsome they are and learn about a person without stereotyping in terms of skin color or ethnicity.  The thing is, this isn’t a big deal on the show.  EVERY single contestant is gorgeously yummy, so anyone picked is going to look good!

Why did the producers do this if they really wanted to see if love is blind?  Because it’s not.  Does it sound shallow if we say looks don’t matter?  I personally don’t think it is.  I believe we all have somewhat of a type, but if you talk about it you sound superficial as if knowing what looks good to you is wrong.  Look, I like a certain look in fashion (running shorts and t’s…quite the couture), a certain type of car style, a certain type of house architecture, etc.  I know what I ‘like’…what pleases me.  Why is it bad to have preferences for partners too?  I like tall men, a bit bigger guy (but someone that can hike and run and do stuff with me…in other words, keep up with this bipolar woman), a crinkle to the eyes when they smile, hands that show they know how to work, some arm muscle, facial hair, nice teeth, etc.

This is MY type.  What I like.  So, if I meet a man who is shorter than me with a smile I don’t find attractive and very skinny, I’m sorry but I’m not going to be attracted.  “But Kristi, for fuck sakes, you can learn to love them if you have the right foundation.”  Maybe so.  Platonically at least.  I’m not saying this guy wouldn’t be a good, kind, sweet, smart man by any means.  But, I happen to believe that sex is an important part of a partnership, and not being attracted to someone physically, even though you are mentally and emotionally, can cause the relationship to be more brother and sister, than hubby and wifey (I’m looking at this heterosexually since that’s what I am, although it hasn’t worked out great for me 😳).

“But Kristi, you yourself, in your amazingly brilliant, much sought after lectures, have yacked on (and on and on) that you can learn to love someone.  That love is an ‘art’ (thank you Erich Fromm)…something you have to build and nurture.”  Yes, I know that grasshoppers, but building love, and building sexual attraction, are 2 very different things.

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Think about this:  I knew a guy from 7th grade through high school that I thought was ‘it’!  I tried to get him to notice me all of those years (don’t say it…pathetic) and finally, after graduation, he asked me out!  YEA!  I was so excited!  I don’t think I ever spent as much time getting ready for a date in all my life since I wanted to look as perfect to him as he did to me.  When he picked me up, I was almost giddy; I mean, this was it!  My dreamboat (🙄)…my 18 year old soul-mate.   He drove us to the mall to look at CD’s (shutty…I know I’m old(er) and can even remember buying…gasp…cassettes at the mall too, along with 45’s.  If you don’t know what those are, ask your ma.) and after just arriving he opened the mall door, stepped inside and kept walking.  Heh?  He let the door close on me.  OK.  But I figured this was a small thing and something I’d fix when we were married.  Throughout the night he proceeded to be the most self-centered, pompous, narcissistic asshole I’d ever met (and even now, he’s still up there).  Those 4 hours we spent together made me go from salivating over him to thinking how ‘ugly’ he was after all.  I wouldn’t have been with him for a million bucks (OK, maybe for a million…but then again, getting paid for sex is well…ahem…a bit slutty), but you get my point.

Maybe some looks don’t do it for me, but then again, some personality quirks can turn me off an attractive person as well.  Hmmmm…love is blind?

Why didn’t the producers use people that were overweight?  Disabled in some way?  Here’s one:  mentally ill (gasp!)?  More regular looking, as opposed to every woman having a flat belly and big boobs, with the guys having extra good looks.  Would love be blind then?

Then, you have to look at another question:  SHOULD love be blind in terms of other aspects of the person?  Once again, rail against me if you must, but a criminal record that includes any sort of domestic violence or child abuse is something I need to SEE.  What about a current addiction for which the person isn’t wanting to get help?  How about them being an atheist when spirituality is important to me?  Seven divorces (above my own personal record)?  No thank you.  A man whose work ethic is non-existent?  Someone who is racist?  Homophobic?  Refers to mental illness as those ‘crazies’?  Nuh uh.  How about someone who is as opposite me politically as you can get (been there…done that…and the arguments left us both alienated and frustrated)?  Someone who has never had kids because they really don’t like them?  And I could go on and on and on.

My belief is that we should NOT be blind to these things.  Seriously.  Because as an older woman (but not that old…remember that, peeps) who does have some (cough cough) experience in the realm of relationships/marriage, these are things that can greatly affect your relationship and can pull you apart faster than Taron can get my heart racing (and that’s mighty fast, y’all 🤭).  These are also things that can be dangerous (obviously), pull your own family apart, have a horrible impact on your kids, etc.

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When I was dating ‘The Counselor (lawyer)’ in December and January (much too long), I ran a report on him like I did for Hubby 3 and J when we got together.  Look, I have a son (and with Hubby, he was only 12) and hope to have grand kids soon (O…did you read that sentence?  Go back honey…and read the freaking thing again); I definitely don’t want some boob around them.  ‘The Counselor’ was highly pissed when I casually mentioned the report (run one on me…I don’t care!) and that was a huge red flag for me.  For piss sakes, he has a daughter!  Does he want her to jump into something with someone who’s been in jail 5 times?  C’mon now.  Or, as my ma likes to say:  “Think Man!”

The last really interesting thing I got from this show is when the couples had no access to their phones or social media, and only focused on each other, things were hunky-dory.  However, after their engagements and get-aways, when they got these things back, a lot of couples slid downhill and were really negatively affected by them.  That in itself teaches us a huge lesson.  Let me say it Professor K style (not like I would in the classroom, but with frankness): leave the fucking devices alone and focus on the real person right in front of you!  I know couples that can’t even eat together without their devices.  That are on them when they are watching a movie together…when they’re out and about.  Great.  This will be a terrific foundation for caring for a baby together, where you have to put these time-suckers down and get your hands dirty…literally.  Hey, there’s no freaking app that changes diapers, wipes up puke everyday, helps you handle the stress of colic, deals with a tantrum in the middle of the store, etc.  Right?

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So, is love blind?  Nope.  And it shouldn’t be.  You should look for what your preference is.  What you want in terms of looks, personality, morals, ideologies, etc.  In class, I call it my ‘Captain Crunch’ theory (this is going to get copyrighted since it’s such a deep theory that could be written about in a textbook):  if you like CC, crave CC, are always happy with CC, and enjoy the looks and texture of CC, for fuck sakes don’t buy Fruit Loops just because you have a coupon and it’s easier to reach on the shelf.  And if you do, and decide they’re icky after all, hey…that’s your fault.  You chose what you didn’t like instead of what you knew you wanted.  You went the easier route…and look what it got you.  A taste of fake orange in your mouth that you try to brush out and then your toothpaste tastes disgusting and mouthwash only moves the goop that gets stuck in your teeth all through your mouth and for the rest of day, you are tasting spearmint fruit.  Ugh.

‘Nuff said.  🤓

Kristi xoxo