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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

45 minutes later:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kristi xoxo

Stop and Smell the Roses.

Photo by Anete Lusina on Pexels.com

So, I’m over all of my COVID symptoms except for 2: I’ve lost all taste and smell. I know this is very common and apparently it could last for a few more days or even a few months. You know, I never realized how much these senses affect our day to day lives until I lost them.

Danny Bonaduce from the Partridge Family

Have you ever played the “Would you rather?” game? For example, would you rather kiss a frog or a rat (I’ve kissed both…remember, I’ve been married 3 times 🙄)? One question that always pops up is “Would you rather lose your sight or your hearing?” Of course, this is a toughie and even contemplating losing these senses makes you realize how dependent you are on them. But I’ve never heard the same question asked about taste or smell…it’s almost like these are the red-headed stepchildren of senses. Right?

I didn’t realize these senses had left me until we were sitting down to ‘dinner’ (a wrap with chips and salsa…I’m a gourmet cook…😳) and I couldn’t taste ANYTHING at all. Nothing. I was chewing and swallowing but the experience was ’empty’…there was no sensation at all. Like I told Bill, “Hells bells…I might as well be eating ma’s meatlump right now.”

It was so strange because I could feel the heat of the salsa on the roof of my mouth, but there was no taste to it…no flavor to anything. Then, I started smelling various things to see if that was gone too…the biggest test was smelling Dottie (who, to use my son’s words, does have a bit of a stench) and I smelled nothing. Nada. Zip.

In order to further test all of this, I got out ketchup, mustard, ranch dressing, poppyseed dressing, and the ‘smooth’ part of salsa. I blindfolded Bill (he was excited at first and then realized what it was actually for 🙄) and put a taste of each of these on his tongue to see if he could figure out what he was tasting. He didn’t recognize any of them!

Never ever ever.

You know, until you are going without something you’ve had all your life, you don’t realize how much of an impact taste has. How much the flavor of our foods please us. Even flavors that aren’t fancy schmancy…like peanut butter…are missed. Instead of eating and having some enjoyment…you are just ‘eating’. And it tastes like you are eating nothing while your brain is saying: “I remember this…what the hell?” A couple of days ago after we were released from quarantine, I went to Wally-Farts and bought a ton of food. As I was self-scanning it and yacking to the employee who was watching, I told him I didn’t know why I was buying so much ‘good’ stuff since I couldn’t taste anything anyway. Why spend the money on purple grapes (I LOVE grapes), fresh veggies, deli roast beef, etc. ? I literally could have bought crappy substitutes and never would have tasted the difference. Right?

Well, not really. See, even though I theoretically could eat something I hate (prunes and brussels sprouts come to mind 😐), my brain…as fucked up as it is (sorry, ma 🙄)…would still know I didn’t like them and I don’t think I could eat them without barfing. The ‘memory’ of the taste is there…just not the taste.

And then there’s smell. How boring the world seems without this. Smells infiltrate our lives constantly and without them, everything around us is just bland. Just ick. And not being able to smell food is one thing that’s hard for me. After a fiasco of a dinner with ma, pop, and sis when I was younger that involved spoiled milk (ma doesn’t ‘believe’ in expiration dates 🙄), I refuse to eat just about anything without giving it a good sniff. Here’s how this went down:

  • Little Kristi: “Ma, this milk is spoiled…it tastes funny.” 🤢
  • Ma: “It does not! I would never serve you spoiled milk!”
  • Little Kristi: “Ma. The milk is clumpy. Like cottage cheese.”
  • Ma: “Kristi. For the last time the milk is not spoiled. Just drink it and eat your dinner!”
  • Pop: “Aaaaagggghhhhh! C, this damn milk is spoiled!”
  • Ma: “Oh no! I’m so sorry!”

In other words, ma didn’t trust me to know that when milk is clumpy and causing you to make the same face you make when eating a rotten lemon, it’s spoiled! Now when I eat at ma’s, I (and sis) smell EVERYTHING. And…it pisses ma off royally. However, she didn’t get a mouthful of the expired, sour milk so she has no room to complain. For fuck sakes…no wonder I’m dairy free now. 🙄

I miss so many other smells too: just the everyday smells in the house, smelling Eddie when he’s cuddling me, smelling Bill’s hair right after a shower, smelling that ‘fresh’ aroma of snow (yes, I can smell snow), smelling the towels to make sure they’re fresh, smelling the body wash I like to use, smelling Little Dot when I’m holding her, and the list goes on. It’s like the world is now ‘turned down a notch’ because of the lack of smells.

In fact, smells trigger the most powerful memories for me. T and I LOVE the smell of English Leather. It’s that VERY strong aftershave that older men used to use (I don’t even know if they still sell it 😳) and grampa would douse himself in it everyday. T and I loved to hug him and smell that and even now, if I get a whiff of aromatic cologne when I pass by an older gentleman, I get a tug in my heart.

This one is going to sound nuts (go figure 😐), but even cigarette smoke triggers good memories for me. Gramma always smoked a LOT and the house was full of second hand smoke (this was the 70’s and 80’s, grasshoppers…we didn’t know the hell we were doing). It would sometimes get overwhelming for me at holidays when a lot of the family would smoke, but when it was just gramma, it didn’t bother me (although my lungs suffered). Now when I smell a hint of smoke, I think of gramma sitting on the couch, rolling her hair in pin-curls, while a cigarette waits in the ashtray on the old coffee table they had. In a weird way, the smell comforts me.

And kids? After having a sweaty little boy for so many years, that smell is a huge one for me. Boys have a sort of musty, sweet smell to them and after O would play ball or mess around outside with his cousins, his sweaty head would smell so ambrosial…so fragrant. It was the smell of a happy, playful boy and I’ve never forgotten it. In fact, J’s son would smell the same and he brought back so many memories for me.

I think everyone has a smell and I also believe that our attraction to someone is very much related to this. Some people just don’t smell ‘right’ and no matter what they do, it’s just not there. Out of all of my many hubbies (shutty the mouthies please 🤨), #3 smelled the best. Even after working in the garage or coming home from a 2 day weekend motorcycle trip without stopping to shower, he still smelled yummy to me. And yes…Bill does too.

Courtesy of classmates.com

Other smells I love? The smell of school books and supplies like pencils, notebooks, erasers, etc.; in fact, the smell of an elementary classroom is what I’m hoping heaven smells like. I love the smell of laundry in the drier and when I run by a house when this is happening, I can smell the steam and I get a great feeling inside. I love the smell of running gear…after you wear it a few times and sweat your butt off in it, it doesn’t matter how many times you wash it, there is still a smell….mmmmmm. Going into ma’s house with all of its smells always makes me feel at home and this sounds gross, but when I’m really upset and need something to calm me down, I snuggle Little Dottie or Eddie and smell their ears. Believe me…it works.

Anyhoot, I was just surprised at how much a lack of taste and smell would affect me. Life is more humdrum without these senses…I can’t wait until they come back. EXCEPT for this: picking up the dogs’ poop has never been better…I’m actually doing it now without gagging. That’s the only plus I can think of.

Kristi xoxo

“…rolling on the river.” ~ Proud Mary

So, blech. Isn’t that a great way to start? Makes you really want to read more, huh??!! 🙄

Anyhoot, Bill started his new job and guess what he brought home? Wait for it….wait for it…

COVID!

On Sunday morning, I told Bill that I felt ‘warm’ and he put his hand to my head and said I was nice and cool. So what did I do? Take my temp for the first time in years. It was a couple of degrees high and later in the day, we both were coughing and tired and achy…you get the picture (there was also a bit of diarrhea involved, but I’m not going to tell you which one of us had it…just suffice it to say it wasn’t me…😳). We got tested Monday and our results were back Thursday. We are in isolation until Feb. 3rd. I’m not good at isolation.

When I got the test results back, I called ma and said: “Ma, I’m sad because I’m not going to be able to see you for 10 days!” She said: “Kristi, we have gone a lot longer than that without seeing each other.” So I said: “But ma…when I CAN’T do something, I WANT to do something…you know, like when you forbade me to pierce my nose and I pierced my nose.” Ma said: “We’ll facetime.” Here’s the problem with that: ma doesn’t prop her phone up during our screen time and I get nauseated because of the movement…I liken it to being on a boat during a storm.

I am one of these people that get motion sick REALLY REALLY easily. Just watching the words scroll at the bottom of a newscast can make me dizzy and if I ride in the back-seat of a car, watch out. It’s going to get ugly.

When I was a junior in High School, me, ma and her fucking bastard of a husband went camping on Lake Michigan in the Cabin Cruiser they had (he could be fun at times…he got progressively worse through the years and they weren’t even married yet). I have no idea why I didn’t beg off of going except I thought it would be fun. You know…camping on a boat, in Lake Michigan, and not setting foot on land for a week. A couple of days into this nightmare, we decided to boat across Lake Michigan and because I’ve always had such great luck in my life, a storm came up and the boat that always seemed big to me felt like a raft in the ocean. Wave after wave was hitting us and I thought we were going to die. Ma thought we were going to die. R was having the time of his life…I’m assuming he felt like Skipper on the Minnow. 😐

Anyway, did you know Lake Michigan is HUGE? And once you’re in the middle of it, you can’t see land? And when you are in the fucking middle of it during a storm you can’t see land and you have to barf in a minnow bucket because you’re scared if you do it over the side of the boat you are going to fall in? And when you barf in a minnow bucket that smells like dead minnows, it makes you want to barf even more?

So, R was steering, ma was yelling, and I was barfing. Charming. Finally, after what seemed like days but was only about 4 hours, we motored into Chicago. I was REALLY sick by this time and getting dehydrated, plus we hadn’t planned on staying in the city so we had nowhere to dock. R finally spotted a small marina which was labeled “Yacht Club”. The boats were the size of my old snow saucer so the fellows there used the term ‘yacht’ very loosely. In fact, it was a pretty seedy place. But, they let us dock there and we set out to find somewhere I could recover.

We started walking (this was pre-Uber, my sweeties, plus we didn’t have cab fare…no cash and ATM’s weren’t a big thing yet 😐) and we walked and walked and walked. Actually, ma and R walked…I wobbled and teetered and barfed. We were in the Southside of Chicago, it was getting dark, and we had no idea where the hell we were going. We passed a billboard that said “God is watching you” and I said to ma: “I hope!” Finally, we spotted a hotel and R used his last check to book me and ma a room…he wanted to sleep with his boat.

So, ma and I were in a hotel on the Southside…I was moaning and groaning on the bed while she was trying to determine if I needed to go to the hospital or not. Finally, we both fell asleep until we heard someone messing with the door. They were actually trying to break in! Luckily, they left after they heard us scream and we spent the rest of the night with me dry-heaving and ma watching the door like a hawk.

A Greyhound from the 80’s.

The next day, it was decided that I needed to get home since there was no way in hell I was going to step foot on that Godforsaken boat one more time. The solution? I got to ride a Greyhound home! That was an adventure as well…my first time traveling across the state alone on a bus (actually, it was my last time too…so far…). At first I was excited, that is, until the last words I heard from ma while I was boarding were: “What if she doesn’t make it home?” That was comforting. Ma always has a way of seeing the bright side of things. Well, obviously I made it home and gramma and grampa took care of me and spoiled me to bits…it was heaven.

You know, I realize how lucky Bill and I are that our bout with COVID is mild and we are doing well. I also know how horrible this virus is for so many and my heart goes out to them…truly. Finally, I know that no matter what, ma has always been, and still is, there when I’m sick. Thanks, ma…you’re the best.

Kristi x0x0