the last 359 days and counting

I've actually been terrified of looking back over the notes I made about a year ago.  Specifically, I opened a Google document to track my days - the notes about all the Estate mess, notes about what I would tell a new widow based on my experience, and mostly notes about the timeline.  Because having  already been through a few days of not knowing what I was doing, where I was going, or how the &*%$ to pay for it or even get myself out of bed to try - I had enough sense to write some things down.  Now I can't make myself look at it.  

And I guess I would want to start writing today with the announcement that my smile at work or other responsible adult activities, my ability to function, feed my kids - albeit frozen food everything, plus a jar of peanut butter - isn't necessarily a reflection of the state of my heart at any given moment.  Because I think there has to be a scientific term for all the directions that such a mix of dark and sharp and deep places I never even knew were there would shine.  Or not shine.  What's the right term for feeling like poop a certain percentage of the time?  

I've had people at work comment on how I must be doing so well because I'm happy in class.  Y'all, I'm happy in class because my mind gets to think of something else other than what it does the entire rest of the time when I'm not.  And then again there are the days that people pretty much know to just dance, as it were, and leave me the heck alone.  Thar she blows... I think might be a fair estimate -  if you look me directly in the eye at just the right moment and ask me how I'm doing.  Especially after you've just laughed at how silly/ridiculous/tiresome your husband is, was or can be - doing the normal things that couples do.  Because I don't get normal anymore.  

And old news, yes, but nothing will make me more upset and, if being totally truthful - which I have always prided myself on in this blog - than when I get the attempts at comfort words, well wishes, and Lord help us all, advice about life and going on and dealing or coping, when the person talking is half of a living pair.  A pair of hearts still together.  A pair of minds to make decisions.  A pair of working individuals to support a family.  A pair of voices to talk about the day, the kids, the broken people, places and things.  Oh, and did I tell you that last week when it was a wind chill of 6 degrees that the front door knob fell off?  Yes.  Yes it did.  But Fireman Dave didn't buy just a regular ol doorknob that could easily be replaced.  He went all top of the line designer, special order size and shape, and we ended up trying a whole host of options while freezing and deciding to just plug up the hole with whatever would keep the wind out for the night and planned to use the deadbolt and key to exit as any emergency arose.  

And I will note right here, that the backdoor knob has also been missing for approximately a million years and we have yet to figure that one out  - but how at this time even 6 months ago I would've been in a crying heap over the weight of such a disaster.  But now?  I'm pretty much all about , What the hell? as the answer to every question.  And then I decide if we may or may not die from it.  I think things may be progressing along nicely.  

Would bitter be a good word to describe the new me?  Maybe one day a week, give or take a day here and there.  I've been labeled as  - the ones I know of anyway - aggressive, offensive, mean.  Most of those have been from the male persuasion who can't figure out what to do with me. But in all fairness, I'll accept mean depending on the circumstance - but I stand by my conviciton that I probably earned the right.  I think Fireman Dave would be proud, actually.  

But I don't think the term, strong, is totally correct.  Maybe persistent is a fair description. Because I've had to be for as long as I can remember.  But though a large part of me wants to just quit the whole game today, as I have for the last 359 and counting, the mom part of me makes me drag my variety of emotions out of the bed every day to provide a life for the boys - in my only hope that they end up with a better one than I did.  

I found the restaurant receipt for what may have been our last Date Day Wednesday last November.  It's on the refrigerator door now.  And I'm trying to remember our last week together as a family, but not sure I can or really want to - right now anyway.  I will tell you this:  we took this last family picture one year ago today in Vicksburg, Mississippi.  We were on an official college tour with Kid 1 and stopped to see the sights.  I remember it being cold and how Fireman Dave gave me his oversized coat to wear as we walked the historic battlefield.  And I remember him talking to Kid 3 about death and burial and all the things  - and me just listening in as he taught the ever important life lessons that he always did as Dad.  

And we stayed in a super nice AirBnB rental house close to the Millsaps campus and all 5 of us sat on the sectional sofa and watched a movie that night.  The memory of which one hasn't come back to me yet.  Then we spent the next 5 days together being clueless and happy.    

I guess the funny thing is that for months I had been praying for God to show me what was next.  But just like the majority of us out there who haven't figured out that this world isn't really on our side, I assumed it would be a mid life career choice or travel or the adoption of a kid who needed us.  I was as blind to the possibilities as most people I encounter every day.  But now I'm not.  

post script - October 18 would've been our 20th wedding anniversary and I decided the best way to celebrate it was to drive 6.5 hours to take a kid out for pizza, dress in purple and rent a house for all my babies and me to be together. 


We're probably on the Mississippi Most Wanted list by now...

Sort of like a debriefing after a dangerous and harrowing mission - which these past couple of weeks have totally been.... um, here's the news.  And you may need a snack to get through it.  Y'all, would anyone like to dress up as me for Halloween and take my place for just a day?  I'll pay you a million dollars.  In Monopoly money.  

First, my benefits battle update, as many of you have already heard, ... I lost this round with the City of Dallas, and tried to handle it as gracefully and graciously as possible given my super sized level of discomfort and disagreement with the outcome.  But I am nothing if not a lady, so I expressed myself through letter writing to every City Council person, may or may not have called them all big babies, and invited them for another round of back and forth for the next budget year.  It's already on my calendar.  

And seriously, Fox 4 news was outside my door before I even got home from work last Friday - which isn't my best look if you know what I'm talking about - but when opportunity knocks for publicity of a cause, Girl's gotta act fast.  So I invited them in, asked them not to film my pile of trash and recycling by the back door - or my awful burn that won't heal on my left hand and looks like a disease, took the sweaty pony tail holder outta the hair... and prayed to Jesus that his words would win over my own.  And a big thank you God for good editing, as I heard it turned out sounding not totally bitter and angry.   But next time I want to change clothes first.  

But the reporter's question that I keep going over again and again in my mind is this one..... If the City Manager has already made it clear that no change, if any, will be retroactive - meaning, even if I were to ever affect a change in any form ...  and that there's a good chance I'll still be sitting in the sad chair with no promise of ever getting up  - then why do I care?  And God help us all as we, on so many levels every. dang. day. have to answer that question in this selfish culture we now call our own.  If it won't help us, then why should we care?  Because y'all, it's just the right thing to do.  Simple as that.  And as I told the reporter, even if it never helps me - which please please please -  I'm begging for it to help me - this pathetic issue will most certainly affect another unsuspecting widow at some point and if I can do anything to stop that from happening, sign me up.  

And on the home front.... Rita the Dog is still old.  And her arthritis looks a whole lot like my Zumba hip after a long day's work - but I am proud to announce that, unlike Rita, I can absolutely potty all by myself and do not require any assistance with form or function.  She does, however, and in the middle of a very arthritic night  - recently sat in her own poop.  This blog has now reached an all time low with this story and I am sorry.  And Kid 2, trying to save us all from what he knows would make the situation even worse should he wake me to help - cleaned her up outside the best he could, cleaned the floors as best he could, and then tried to mask the smell with coffee grounds.  But not the open the coffee and sit it nearby in the stinky room sort of air freshener, but the how about I pour the grounds all over the hard wood floors method.  

And I woke up the next morning wondering if he took the coffee pot into his room and left it on all night.... but sadly, no.  But I applaud him for his 2am creativity, questionable as it may have been.  And I continue to tell each of the boys to prepare for the day when I will not be here to handle, help or fix life for them... and this was a small step in that direction - if you turn your head just a little to the left, squint your eyes, and look at it with a hopeful eye.  

Y'all, true story:  I've only dreamed of Fireman Dave twice in all these months.  The first time was nice.  Till it wasn't.  But it felt so real.   And last week I dreamed that I called what I am thinking may or may not have been Heaven?  And Fireman Dave was working the switchboard and answered.  And I swear it was his real voice that I haven't been able to conjure up no matter how hard I've tried in all this time... and know what he said?  ...

He told me I had the wrong time for the party.  Seriously, hold my purse, y'all.  I'm goin' in.  

And I told him he was completely wrong about that - mostly about the party part ... as this life here?  It aint no party, my friend, and you better quit while you're ahead.  He heeded my dream advice, knowing me well enough to trust my words as full truth..... and he was gone.  Again.  

I moved a few things into his closet this weekend.  Left all of his stuff right where it is, so my dresses are gonna totally smell like fire station, but that's not a terrible thing.  Reminds me of love, and home and all the good stuff.   I doubt he'll mind.  

And then I took these new pics for the blog.. which I will only show here because this page is mine and I want the world to know that I really do have good hair.  

I took my hair down at the gym the other day, actually brushed it, and a lady just about exclaimed full joy about it.  I was perplexed, but remembered that most people just see me sweaty and never have any clue that I don't always look like the bride of Frankenstein. Maybe that's not the best way to catch a new man, but  .... it worked the first time.  

And then we went to Mississippi.... Oh, Jackson, Mississippi, how I am learning to love you... and I look at real estate listings on every visit - thinking maybe a big ol' move will just remove all the mess here in Dallas.  But then I wake up and remember that I still have some stuff to wrap up here.... and hopefully time will help me figure out the next step.    Or someone smarter, wiser and more level headed than I please just tell me what to do.  I'm listening. 

And I shared a picture or two on Facebook because everyone always likes to see the Walters not looking sad.  But you know and I know that every single picture tells another story... and I'm just the girl to share it.  It was a short, fast trip, telling everyone that I think we spent more time driving than we did awake in Mississippi.  We just went for the football game and for me to get a little hug from Kid 1, maybe the cute coach while I'm at it, and then back early the next morning.  It almost killed me. 

I actually think it fun when my car gives me messages and tells me to keep my hands on the wheel.  And sometimes it even invites me out for a mid-drive coffee break.  But trust that I needed a whole lot more than caffeine by the time that trip finally ended.  Ask the boys.  Ask the friend who witnessed my mom meltdown moment.  By the time we arrived in Jackson, after 6+ hours of listening to Kids 2 & 3 randomly break into British accents, call each other fat, and talk about how one or the other always dresses like an old man, well, Mama had just about had it.  Add some enclosed car boy smells, jumping on hotel beds and driver's exhastion and it was what it was.    And when each boy wore the opposing team's colors - on purpose - I walked to the stadium and imposed a mom restraining order against them until further notice.  Do not look at me, Do not talk to me.  Do not make a sound if you are within 50 feet of me.  Do not act like you know me or that I know you.   Caring and loving mother stuff like that.  They disappeared for a bit, showed up again later  - both wearing newly purchased and proper team colors from the campus bookstore.  They chose the most expensive ones.  

Kid 2 acted like an arse for about 80% of the game.  Kid 3 equalled that amount if not exceeding it.  And I almost lost my mind at the man sitting behind me in the stands who had the whistle of death at a constant 2 minute interval.  Worse than labor - and I've labored and birthed 3 times so definitely an expert.  It was pretty much a weapon of war -  and by that point I had consumed diet coke and pseudoephedrine in unrecommended doses for a headache that could've made me violent had there not been witnesses.  And then I cried, considered alcohol and gave up on motherhood for the 1000th time.  And I thought how dysfunctional this family has become minus our center.  Minus our person that could calm the beast and bring out the best in us all.  Y'all, that's what's really happening in these pictures.  Yes.  I love them.  I loved being there.  I loved hugging my kid for the first time in weeks.  But I feel the difference.  And that... I'm not sure will ever be the way it was.  

But always, ... if I just give it enough time,  finally eat something to go along with my headache remedy overdose, and watch  my boys in action.... I'll remember why I love them enough to try one more time.  The following story is for your eyes only... please do not report the Walters to the police or the credit card company.  Thank you and God bless.

We stayed in a local Jackson hotel - let's go with classic -  possibly,  legendary.  Think back to the old family vacations of your youth when you'd pull the station wagon up the Holiday Inn, get out, wonder if the pool would be clean or green, go into your floral bedspread/ generic over the bed landscape painting room, and fight over who gets to use the bathroom first.  Yep.  That was our hotel.  It practically sits on campus and so easily walkable to the stadium so we chose adventure and convenience over the Hilton.  Dear Hilton, I still love you.  

 The old wall unit air conditioner wasn't quite winning against the Mississippi heat that night, so we called the desk and asked for a different room.   However, not knowing our innate and oh-so-natural sneaky streak, they gave us new keys to the room across the hall - but didn't take the old ones.  So when deciding the sleeping arrangements between 3 giant boys plus one very agitated mom and only  two double beds as resources, Kids 1 and 2 decided to go for the hot room and hope no one noticed.  Y'all, someone noticed - when at approximately 7AM the housekeeper went into the reportedly empty room to find one totally naked football player and a shocked accomplice in his boxers.  And within seconds as my and Kid 3's door sounded like it was being broken into by the Jackson Strangler, I wandered to the door in the dark to find my angels running from the law and trying to pull up their pants.  I now know that the Walters boys can get out of a burning building or any other host of  unpleasant situations without stress or warning.  I am very proud.  

And when the front desk called to investigate, Kid 3 took charge of that one and may or may not have caused even more suspicion over our family's character.  End of story?  We went down to the basement, exited the back door into the parking lot and made our great escape without being spotted by the front desk.  

We're probably on the Mississippi Most Wanted list by now... but only if the housekeeper can identify a naked 19 year old and his boxer shorted brother.  

post script: Y'all, this week I am asking for your prayers and encouragement.  I don't do that a lot, but this time, yes.  Please.  I've had a few dark days of late.  None blog worthy, as there's not much more to it than that.  But I'm stepping out on courage to ask, and faith that it will be delivered.  

Love to you,  Kristi

it's raining men. seriously, not really.

A random continuation....  

Today my back is hurting so I sit here with an ice pack down my pants hoping the old Zumba hip heals up in time for work tomorrow.  And I continue to pray that God has a better plan for me than to be the oldest living aerobics instructor on the planet.  Though I continue to ask for a heads up, He's good at keeping secrets.  

This past couple of weeks I got a new roof on the house.  Did I need it?  Again, God only knows  - and yet another of life's mysteries... but the contractor said I did,  so I did.  Someone will probably come by and try to sell me a horse soon, too.  Or something.   

I also sat at the Social Security Office - again - this time dealing with paperwork for Kid 2 because nothing is ever easy.  So I sat in the same chair that I sat in weeks after Fireman Dave left this crazy world, and people watched.  I also randomly texted a few people for entertainment and tried not to break any Social Security Office rules because the lady security guard there is mean.  I also went to Probate Court - again, because, once more and feel free to sing along, nothing is ever easy.  And I hope this time we got the job done.  Y'all, I pay my lawyer in baked goods, and she is the world's best friend for accepting my sweet appreciation as her fee paid in full. 

I also had a friend come by and re-attach my dryer to the outside vent so that the house won't catch on fire, install a new light, and unstick the doors to Kid 2's converted living room/bedroom so that he could get out if ever his life depended on it.  

And I had a lady at work tell me simply that "life goes on."  Which isn't always true - especially for dead people who didn't expect to be dead, and the ones they left behind.  I think she told me that when I shared with her that the boys and I were invited to attend the Dallas 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb event and greet the hundreds of climbers giving of their time that day to keep the sacrifice of so many alive in us.  Sometimes I seriously wonder how I've made it in a public service field for so long.  

And I think it self explanatory that at least one day a week - maybe more, depends on certain factors - I feel the need to wear my "Not Today Satan" shirt or my "Tough as a Mother" tank.  I have yet to pull out the old "Best Day Ever" sweatshirt but maybe one day it'll show up again.   Dear Jesus, please let me wear the happy shirt again someday.  Love, your favorite sad person, Kristi.  

But for fun today, and I'm sure on so many more occasions to come... I wanted to address the men.  Not just my men readers -  I know you're out there - and honestly I can't believe you read this stuff and crazy love you for it - but the men of the world that cross my path.  Let's call this Chapter 1 of the Kristi Meets a Man book.  

First I'm going to say this:  Fireman Dave was well aware of my appreciation of the male species - from a very early age.  Aware, partly afraid, but I like to think, mostly in awe.  He also knew that I would've dropped him like a hot potato had George Strait knocked on my door with a proposal of marriage.  Only partly kidding there.  But y'all, he also knew that he wanted me to not be alone should something happen to him.  And I've shared that detail with very few people until now, as it hurts my very heart to even think he had to discuss that prospect in his own mind should it ever become a reality.  But turns out he did, and just a couple of weeks before we parted ways, and of course on our regularly scheduled Date Day Wednesday - the words came out.  I was, as always, sassing about this or that - him too - I of course, one upped him, me being the Queen of the Comeback  - and it went something like this...

me:  if anything ever happens to you, I'm puttin on my best dress and finding me a new husband.  

him:  I want you to.  

And I'm just gonna sit that right there for a minute.   As I never really thought all the million times I told him before every shift to please come home and not make me raise these 3 monsters on my own, that it would ever be so.  

And I still find myself thinking it's all just a big ol' messed up mistake.  One that never seems to get worked out and keeps making me do ridiculous things like go to the Social Security Office and Court.  But y'all!  I wore the cutest little black, knit blazer there last week and looked even somewhat professional/ please don't confuse me with the lawyer-ish.  

So on my mind a lot is the request of Fireman Dave that someday, one day,  I find my next Mr. Wonderful.  And it's gonna be a tough race, as the first one really held his Title so well.   And I honestly think that most men who talk to me don't quite know what to think about what appears to be at first, such a sweet, quiet lady  - but then surprises them with a bawdy sense of humor and my straight outta Pleasant Grove approach to life.  Like the Zumba class man who thought my praise of his merengue meant that I wanted to marry him right there on the gym floor.  Call the preacher, wipe off the stretch mats, y'all...  there's gonna be a wedding here today.  That one was weird - but you know and I know how I love a good story starter.

So here's a quick overview of my male to female interactions as of late:  Please note here, especially, that I am neither easy - that was just in college -  nor easily available for rent or purchase by anyone - especially someone online.  And that all candidates must apply and be considered for true quality - as I have been so very loved, and know what that looks and feels like.  

But I took a few notes for fun as I took a quick look on one of those frightening dating sites to see what the world on the outside looked like.  I then quickly  went right back into my sheltered hole and turned on Netflix.  Oh, and please note that Kid 2 has kindly asked that I not get murdered.  I am totally taking that to heart.   

Y'all, my first post death crush was on Kid 1's college football coach.  The single one, not the married one.  Because I've never been desperate before, and it ain't about to start now.  But he only knew how to talk football -  and though I can nod my head with the best of 'em, once my contact lenses start to dry out, I'm just done.  I still find him charming, but in a let's bring along some pre-printed conversation starter cards and go from there sort of way - just as an easy, remedial course for him to not feel any pressure.  

And there appear to be so many men out there who suddenly woke up past the age of 40 and became outdoorsmen, semi-pro athletes and world travelers.  I heard from one who is Buddhist AND great with a rifle.  His words not mine -  and the exact two things not at the top of my want list in a man.  My best clue is that these confused fellas became all of this and that while their wives sat at home folding laundry and raising kids, then promptly threw them out of the house. 

My all time fave so far is this one, and I took it word for word, as even I couldn't do this one justice:  

"Adrenaline junkie and adventurous.  Army Captain and Paratropper in my 20's. Now CEO. Graduate degree.  Love jetskiing, racing cars. Private pilot for weekend getaways. Love to travel - So far have gone on Safari in Africa, Bora Bora, Europe. Enjoy college football and hockey. Have homes in both Blank and Blank....."   -

 Y'all seriously, I was like, Can you take my kids for a weekend?  They love to travel and mama needs a break.  

A lot of them also like to take bathroom selfies.  And they're most often in a public bathroom mirror somewhere, as I doubt the guy has that many urinals in his home bath.  Or for real in his at home bath where I can totally see all. the.  truth all over the place.  Including a direct shot of the piled up towels on the floor and the toilet brush by the potty.  God bless them every one.  

And in my short time with a disguised online name - as to prevent stalkers - I received some messages worth a full chapter in my heart healing book, or even my next live storytelling event.  Stand up comedy, anyone?  I'm in.  

There are those who will chat, chat, chat but won't tell you a last name - or probably even a real name... because their real name is probably something like, Mr. Ive Got Something to Hide, III.  

And oh the sweet words - like this one which I plan to use as a teaching tool for my boys  - as an example of words never to say to a woman.  "May I take your picture so I can show Santa what I want for Christmas?"  He didn't fancy my reply. 

But the ones that get to me the most are the ones that seem so genuine, but then leave me genuinely confused. The ones who are really nice and then even more nice, but then just disappear.  I think I'll never figure that one out - maybe it's because I held life, love and death in my hands all at the same time last November, and I learned real quick that there's just no time in this world for nonsense.  If nothing else, THAT is what I am most sure of.  

But my prayer for me and my boys on this subject is this:  that God continue to provide for our family, that mysteries be solved and hidden answers revealed, and that he work behind the scenes in this world in ways that I can't even begin to imagine.  Including, but not limited to,  finding me a quality person to talk to, be nice to, and share some of this overflowing love that didn't quite get used up with my first mate.  

I think Fireman Dave would agree with my high standards. 

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