I'm wrestling with the ending

At this time last year we had our Christmas tree up and lights on it  - simply because the Boy Scouts came to clean up our yard and do some nice things - and all I know is that they left and we had a tree.  I know, however,  that we didn't decorate it because the day after Christmas - as fast as I could - when I took the tree down, it was a really quick job.

And I have no idea if we had presents last year.  I really didn't care.  I couldn't physically or emotionally care about anything more than getting my bootie out of the bed each day and praying that it would, please Dear God, if you're indeed there... be my last.  

I don't really care this year, either.  But as of today we actually have a tree, complete with a sprinkling of decorations.  And I even just made a batch of fudge - which to the boys signals the season is upon us.  At least there's that.  We may not feel joy but at least we can taste it.

I will also say that by this time last year I had just,  2 weeks prior, stood at the receiving end of a line, 600 people plus,  coming to pay their respects.  And I tried to hold myself together for the sake of just holding myself together.  I was told that I did ok as far as kind words about dead husbands go.  And with a house full of people that night and the Dallas Fire Department escorts waiting outside, I sat in my, our room, alone, and prayed for just enough strength to get through 2 hours.  And I begged again the very same thing the next morning as I had to do it all over again, but this time for the last goodbye.

And people who love me brought over Christmas cookies and other things  - hoping to make this place a little merrier for the boys - as they received things at the door because I literally couldn't get myself out of bed.  And yes, I still have days like that, in case you wondered.  Days that I just might cry right in the middle of the Target - or at work, which is really the HD version of the saddest show on earth - the general reason being that there's so much sadness inside that sometimes the dam just breaks.  And trust it - it doesn't make reservations concerning time or place.

And since I've always prided myself on complete honesty and truth on the blog, today being no different, I have to say it again - that I've never quite understood the whole Christmas thing.  The gifting and shopping and  parties and the idea of a cheer in the air that I never have in all my years, found or felt - at least past the preschool age I think.  

And y'all, despite circumstance, I understand the concept of recognizing the significance of Christ's birth and its impact on the world of believers.  Repeat:  I understand the concept.  And I've voluntarily written on the subject on several occasions, leaning toward that basic understanding, but not much more.  But I don't think I've ever written a piece based on joy that is understood or being any different than just marking off one more date on a calendar.  Maybe I never will.

But I can say that I feel even more now, the confusion over the goings on between November and December.  Because I just want to tell the world to stop running around like crazy people and actually feel - like I do - down so very deep in my gut - the knowledge that life as we know it now could all end any second.  Recently I've heard a couple of people talk about how fast their year flew by.  Words that basically slap me in the face and stop my breathing - and then I consider if I may or may not need physical restraints to hold back me and my words that want to scream how this past year for me and boys has been a nightmare that wouldn't end.  How every day of just waking and getting about what most people think is a given part of their day - owed to them somehow, by someone in control - ... well, it wasn't even close.  And how I hope to goodness that someday soon we wake up to find what ignorant people assume that we already have.  

Last year I was asked to contribute an Advent devotional - a writing that was due well before Thanksgiving and well before the World of Walters lost its mind.  And after all was said and done, I was asked permission to share the piece - though it was ultimately decided that it should only be shared via email and not social media.  I think the Walters were already crowding the airwaves enough without a little Kristi essay added to the mix.

And I found that post today.  I still agree with a whole lot of it, but I'm wrestling with the ending:

Philippians 4:4-5
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near.

By Kristi Walters
When I was tasked with the job of writing something devotionally inspiring, while at the same time sort of biblically sound for this season of Advent, my thoughts immediately went to my most identifiable character from the hit TV show Seinfeld—that being George Costanza and his tradition of celebrating, instead of Christmas, the holiday of Festivus. A holiday made up by his father when George was 9 years old and dad lost his proverbial bananas while trying to shop for a doll for his son. 

In the TV series, Jerry Seinfeld is the snarky stand-up comedian; George Costanza, the grumpy, late 30s, often unemployed man who lives at home with his parents; Elaine Benes, the serial-dating, ex-girlfriend of Jerry, and the only female balance to the men on the show, although mostly through a neurotically skewed lens; and Cosmo Kramer, Jerry’s neighbor who is able to survive mysteriously on short-term, part-time jobs that never last. Add a few here-and-there characters to the mix, and we pretty much have a full person—full of all our natural quirks, idiosyncrasies, desires and disappointments. And the fact that any of us could identify with any or all of these characters depending on the day is, all by itself, a full semester college psychology course. 

The motto for Festivus is “A Festivus for the rest of us!”—a holiday for those who have given up on the others. For Festivus, the usual Christmas tradition of a tree is contradicted with an unadorned aluminum pole, standing in direct contrast to the new normal of holiday materialism. Those attending Festivus also participate in the “Airing of Grievances,” which is an opportunity to tell others how they have disappointed you in the past year, followed by a Festivus dinner, and then completed by the “Feats of Strength” event where the head of the household must be pinned.

For George Costanza’s family, Festivus is celebrated each year on Dec. 23 and, as I learned, has caught on with many even outside the show as a stand against what Christmas has become. I mean by real, live people, who have given up hope on the most hopeful holiday of the year. I may be one of them. 

I think I’ve become more and more anti-Christmas the older I’ve gotten, and my less-than-joyful attitude is starting to spread to pretty much every other holiday, except for the happy fact that I may have the day off work. I can totally understand Fourth of July and support it fully as both a memory and a reminder of some pretty awesome history. I can even understand Thanksgiving, except for the retail portion of the holiday when stores compete over who can open the earliest. Maybe Macy’s will offer a Thanksgiving Day buffet right there in the store to give people more energy to shop. 

And truth be told, Christmas usually makes me sad. Especially Wilshire’s Christmas Eve worship service. But not the kind of sad like when your dog dies, but the kind that I can’t quite figure out so it feels even sadder because it can’t be identified. I’m basically a crier at candlelight anything and at any and all children singing. There’s some buried psychology in that one somewhere, too. Maybe I need to re-watch the entire nine years of Seinfeld with that in mind. 

I also think I haven’t figured out how to calendar the feeling of joy. How to summon it up, to call it to duty for a specific date or occasion. And add to the mystery, the frazzly expectations that the modern version of our Christmas holiday imposes on us before we can even begin to sit down to eat, or in between the million versions of Jingle Bells, and I get a little over the whole thing before it gets started. 

Now enter stage right, the biblical command/request/suggestion to rejoice in the Lord always. Not just sometimes. Not just when I feel like it. And not based upon a previously scheduled event. Just always. Like when I wake up in the morning. When I go to bed at night. When I think I may have serial killer tendencies in the long line at T.J. Maxx in December. In fact, in one translation of today’s verse, the command is to rejoice always and to let our gentleness be known to all. In another version it asks to let our kindness, even our fairness, be evident to all. Because y’all, sometimes it’s just not, and I guess Paul, the author of Philippians, already had a pretty good sense of where our world was headed. 

And I suppose however over the commercialism of the holidays we are, whether we choose to celebrate Christmas or Festivus, or sit this year out as a gap year, the lesson in it all, for me, anyway, is that the promise of Christmas isn’t about the holiday but about the days to come. That no matter how much purchased or created joy we build our traditions on, the real deal about joy is to just jump in somewhere, often and always.  

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. 

go big or go home, y'all

Y'all, this past weekend I decided to keep the hands and mind busy by painting my 3 section hallway.  And it was basically a long, drawn out torture-fest and I listened to lots of country music and played a game of Would you Rather all by myself.  ....  Would you rather be a professional house painter or a prostitute?  I actually had no quick answer for that one, and had to dig a little deeper with follow up scenarios  - would I be the kind of prositute that works off a street corner or the kind that works the daytime shift at the Hilton?  

And as far as painting goes, I'm pretty much of the school that prep work is for sissies.  And if Fireman Dave were here to see how much paint got on the hardwood floors, I feel confident that he would try to murder me in my sleep.  I'm feeling pretty good about my decision, however, and rest easy especially after inhaling 2 days worth of paint fumes.  

Y'all, my recent pattern has been to wake about 4:30 am to 5-ish, say a little whisper of a prayer that it not be so, and then get busy looking over the social media posts of the pretend happy people.  And I guess by that I mean, the people who are mostly oblivious to the real aches and pains of this life because they just haven't been put to the test yet.  Or maybe they think they have and totally need to be looking over a shoulder for what may or may not be lurking about wearing a t-shirt with their name on it.  ....  

These are the same people who tend to ask me regularly how I'm doing - most without really wanting an honest answer.  And I would dare to say, greater than 95% of them not having a clue of what my brain is really answering on the inside while I politely tell them that I'm ok.  Y'all, being ok is relative, I've come to learn... and the true answer, I suppose, would be that I'm okay for now.  Maybe for that moment in time that we spoke and I tried not to make full eye contact because it triggers  my cry reflex.  Along with lots of other stuff.    I told someone this week that we Walters are safe.  For today.  But I honestly can't commit to any further updates at this time. 

And as much as I hate to admit it, I carry a whole lot of anger toward the happy people right now.  Not exactly toward the actual people  -  because I crazy love y'all and wouldn't invite you into the dark depths of places I've been hangin' round recently for even a million dollars because it could very possibly kill you.  And y'all, I want for you, so much better.  I think I'm most angry at the actual happiness, and wonder why I didn't get the invitation to the Happy Store Grand Opening that obviously the entire world attended  - except for me. 

And I've also been asked twice in the last week, something that goes a little something like this:  What's next for Kristi?  ....

My patented response is a non-surprising, Help me Jesus, because I just don't have a clue.  As is fairly normal for me as there is, indeed, so much that Kristi Walters still to this day has to figure out -  and with multiple decades of questions and mysteries all piling up on top of it.  For fun I like to compare my current position in life to that episode of I Love Lucy - where Lucy and Ethel get jobs at the candy factory and can't keep up with the wrapping assembly line and end up just stuffing unwrapped candy into their shirts and mouths just to hide it from the mean supervisor lady.  I totally get that. Make mine dark chocolate please.  

And I have no idea if all the fight I've put into all my fights of late mean a darn thing or not.  Or if I'll end up any better than I was when the life tornado hit.  Or if I'll end up financially more stable and maybe only half as neurotic - but with the battle scars of stress and age stamped across my face like little squinty, stare marks that I've practiced and perfected into an art form with every City Council meet and greet.  


and in this portion of the blog was originally a long, drawn out explanation of what going it alone in a world full of togetherness really feels like - and it was basically a 3 page essay about sticking your favorite person in a closet and how life can be generally sucky.   And serious entertainment was to be had in the reading of my dead husband/closet hostage situation - but y'all, today turned out to be not so pretty and I decided that some things just don't need to be spoken out loud. *

But a lesson that stands out to me so clearly right now on a regular ol' Wednesday is how old friendships don't always stay the same after such a loss, because neither did I.  And I've learned that inviting new friendships also comes with some pretty dangerous waters - as a whole lot of people don't quite know what to do with a person who's already a whole lot all on her very own.  I was one lucky gal that Fireman Dave did, and that he rejoiced in my over the top meanderings and dealings with the outside world.  And that even when I was just a not quite blossomed 13 year old kid with some hit or miss qualities on the outside  - think, fairly large framed glasses and a possibly failed attempt at Charlie's Angels winged hair - that he recognized in me some untapped beauty ready to be grown into her own.  

And I guess that the most important thing that I've learned - mostly about myself  - is that my heart has hurt for about as long as I can remember - on and off over the decades.  Oh the stories I could tell and the names I could name.    But that it's been those hurts that have taught me to love on others maybe even to excess and extremes.  And as weird as that may sound, I'm thankful I came out of what I did with the ability to love at all.  So seriously, go big or go home, y'all.  

And as my faith continues to travel up and down the scale, I remind myself of the simple promise that God does indeed inhabit the praises of His people.  And on days like today when I couldn't come up with a praise or a thanks even if I tried - I have to hit it from another angle.  And that is with service.  Service of being present in the hotter than hell tennis matches and football games and late night parking lot sit and waits. And it comes with offers of help.  True, real, followed up and followed through offers of help - because somedays I can't seem to help myself, but I can bring you soup.  And I can pray for you - which I really do if I told you that I will - because even if God and I are having some broken communications these days, if I can talk to him about you, at least I'm talking to him.  

So I'm spending a lot of time of late trying to be to other people what I just can't seem to be for myself right now.  And if, while being the hands and feet of Jesus here on Earth, I happen to get his attention and the chance to discuss a few items of my own, I can work with that.  

*post script - seriously.  I was about to hit publish with the descriptive, tell all that is my trademark and I stopped and read my Bible verse for today.  1 Corinthians 4:5, Judge nothing before the appointed time, wait till the Lord comes.  He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of men's hearts.  

It made me think.  It made me wait.  It made me discuss in private, only, some of the more detailed concerns of my heart and hoping someone Biblical is telling the darn truth about God doing the lighting and exposing.....    

feel free to add music and sing along

I have to admit that I have better days than others.  And sometimes I handle it well enough.  But sometimes I don't think what I do would even come close to handling it, or anything.   And yesterday was one of those "seen better days" sort of days where I decided to help the mood with a little personal pampering/beauty treatment.  Which sounds greatly relaxing... until you move on to paragraph #2....

I chose the DIY at home bikini wax kit at Target.  Because, of course.  And basically it turned out to be a most frightful disaster.  Things that I don't even remember touching are sticky, and the waxing instructions lied about every. single. thing.  And truth be told, my right inner thigh looks like it's been in a horrifiic, one thigh accident.  I only share this with you, because you, dear readers,  are my people, and this blog is built on tragedy, truth and the Walters' uncanny ability to get into all sorts of trouble.

And since I was asked recently to quit being so depressed and get back to the business of some good Kristi style story telling, .... what better tale to tell than a true life, one woman show set in my bathroom .....

Because I am nothing if not a lady, I will spare you the exacts, but imagine if you will that you left a big package of bubble gum out in your car in the 105 degree heat of our recent days.  Now go sit on it.  Then try to figure out how to remove the gum from your undercarriage without any help.  Please know that I have never in my life used the word undercarriage until today.  

And I think that had I still been able to use my free 911 hook up and call upon Fireman Dave to assist in said situation, he would've had, very possibly the best laugh I ever gave him in his too short a life.  Though I feel all romance from that point on would've come to a screeching halt and he would've never been able to look me in the eyes ever again.  We shall never know. 

Y'all, how hot wax ended up between my toes is the mystery of the whole thing.  And add in the cost of the destroyed bath mat, two towels, and my dignity  - and lesson learned about budget cuts and beauty.  The end.  And please let's never speak of this aloud.

I also this week made my second trip to the Waxahachie, Texas DMV to return Kid 3 for a second try at passing the eye portion of his learner's permit.  And praise Jesus, he did.  Now if he could just learn to drive.

Y'all, I just finished Season 2 of the Netflix original series, Ozark - short version:  money laundering family for a drug cartel meets backwoods ne'er do well clan in Missouri.  The back woods family has a kid named Three.  Y'all, his name is Three.  And I felt an immediate bond with them as I also have a Kid 3 as well as a 1 and a 2.  Yes, I number my kids, but mostly for the blog and to shield them from the public scrutiny of having a tell-all blogger as a mom. 

And earlier in the week the Walters went on a road trip to Jackson, Mississippi and it went a little something like this:  Feel free to add music and sing along.

We took 2 vehicles - my car and Kid 1's truck  There had been some debate of late about whether to let the kid take the truck to school -  and my executive decision went with yes.  Refer back to a prior post when I mentioned one kid acting the fool.  Now look at Kid 1 and do the math.  But y'all, despite the caring input and advice I receive from various sources, it all comes down to how life changed for us 9 months ago and the fact that I no longer have go-to reinforcements at the ready.  So when a two parent, two kid family handles something one way, it's not really the same as a one woman show vs 3 kids.  I would describe my mothering of late as sort of a Man vs Wild situation on many an occasion, and when that happens, I have learned to just let nature take its course and trust that what Fireman Dave and I already invested in these kids had already crossed them over the line from primitive animals to good humans.  Is it the correct mom move?  Maybe.  Maybe not.  But we'll only actually know if and when we all make it out alive.

But anyway,  word on the Interstate is that Mom is pretty much a bad-ass Nascar driver and when Kid 3 and I were taking this fun picture in front of the Mississippi River, Kids 1 and 2 were still at a Cracker Barrel pit stop somewhere in Louisiana.  Why am I wearing camo in every picture when I'm not even a hunter?  There appears to be a consistent fashion theme.  

We all met up at the hotel where I totally budgeted the situation and only reserved one room so then all three boys fought over who had to share a bed with their mom.  It made me feel very loved and wanted rejected in a mom of three teen boys sort of way.  They also entertained me with stories of a fat, barefoot kid sitting on the toilet at a Wendy's.  Their words, not mine.  I would totally be more politically correct and refer to the child as unfortunately heavy set and then spend a lot of time wondering why he was barefoot and where was his mother. And I laughed like I haven't in a long time.  God bless them, every one.  

Oh, I almost forgot to mention that all 3 kids were sickly the entire trip and whoever stays in room 408 of the downtown Jackson Hilton better hope that the housekeepers actually disinfect.  I did get Kid 1 into an urgent care appointment the morning of dorm move in, as I could see his first week of football camp going up in flames with a feverish sinus infection.  Another crisis averted.

Football report time was 3-5 pm Monday at exactly at 2:45 pm when the truck was all loaded and headed toward campus, this happened:  

So we parked under the carport of a hotel till safe passage was available.  But it messed up my well planned hair that I had fully considered in the event I bumped into that charming, yet distant football coach.  Best laid plans and all.  Anyway, we got the kid all moved in.  The work on my part was to carry a few lighter things in from the car and then step out into the dorm hallway to watch my son take his first steps toward some real growth.  My theory being that I'm not the one living in that room, so I shouldn't be the one setting it up.  

Enter roommate and his parents - who told me how difficult it was to decide what to bring from their 5600 square foot home.  Y'all I held back my commentary on that one - as we all know that one Walters sleeps in the living room and another in the dining room of this old house.  We're not a proud people.  Just functional and hopefully on most occasions, nice.   Roomie's family chose a 50 inch TV, a fridge of his very own, an ergonomically correct desk chair, blender, Keurig coffee maker, XBox gaming system and enough food and supplies for him to live off the grid for 6 months.  Me?  I was totally like, Here's a 3-in-1 body wash, shampoo, dish soap combo.  Make it last, buddy.  

And see his desk chair that came with the room?  I'm really holding out hope that all of that is coffee stains.  But we covered it in a quilt attached with chip bag clips and made ourselves walk away.  

Kid 1 called that night about 10pm to tell me that his roommate's parents were still in the room and that he just wanted to take a shower and get settled.  My advice?  Do what you need to do, sweet angel,  then drop that towel. That'll make 'em leave.  Follow up:  the towel worked, visiting parents gone.  

And I think it all comes down to how we choose to parent our own kids.  I refuse to send a young adult  off to become a better adult then stand there and unpack his clothes for him.  I stopped changing his sheets at the beginning of the summer to get him ready for his own share of dorm chores.  He chose to sleep on the mattress pad the entire summer.  His choice and less laundry for me.  Win. Win.  

And I will share the actual words of wisdom that I gave to Kid 1 when he was crazy nervous on move in day and even before - but another time.  I think the biggest deal of it all was my other 2 boys when we got home.  I'll respect the privacy of  my conversations with those 2 darlings, but know that it is a continual healing process around here.  There is still an open wound that just seems to ache more on some days than others but God gives us the blessing of us not all losing our stuff at the same time.  

Y'all, loss tends to compound loss.  But we did it.  And we're looking forward to our next trip to see brother play football. 

It's definitely been a week.  

see if you can keep up

I actually thought about making this post into a big ol' game of Three Truths and a Lie... but sadly, none of these events are a lie... though I still lie in wait for that day. And time pretty much runs together for me anymore, so my timeline may or may not be 100% correct, but in the past days, week, weeks.... pick your favorite, the following things have occurred:

See if you can keep up:

1. One Kid acted the fool, tried his hand at dishonesty with this Mom and lost his form of transportation for approximately ever.  Plain English?  He messed up and crossed the wrong gal.  

2. My computer broke - though it likes to work fine for the computer repair place as well as the entire Geek Squad at Best Buy.  Hello new computer someday soon for me?  I say this as I sit at Kid 2's desk, using his gaming laptop and staring at a big poster of Spider Man.  

3. My dryer went crazy and may or may not have been a tremendous fire hazard for longer than it should've been.  

4. Got fired and re-hired as contract labor in the name of budget cuts.  Stupid budget cuts.  

5. Drove to an out of town DMV with Kid 3 to save time instead of waiting for 6 hours at the big city office like I did, me myself and I,  in March - only to have him fail the eye exam portion of the Learners Permit Test and now I get to get him to an eye doctor and return him to the DMV on another, hopefully better attitude day.  

6. And hooray!! I am getting a new roof.  My excitement in the prior sentence is totally fake as I actually had no idea that I even needed a new roof. Kind of like earlier in the year when I had to get an entirely new shower to keep me from falling through the decomposing floor of the existing one and into the underbelly of an old 1956 ranch style house.  I would totally rather have a vacation or a year's worth of beautiful hair highlights. 

And basically the last 8 months have shown me that not only can I not take care of the yard, the housekeeping, the laundry folding plus hold down a job and try to keep 3 teen boys fed and out of jail, I really need a person to just pop over on occasion and do a random safety check on the Walters.  I have a friend that believes that Fireman Dave can and will show himself to me in interesting ways - the smell of his cologne?  His flip flops appearing out of nowhere next to our bed this morning?  Yep - Weird.  But to that I simply say, if that man decides to make a surprise visit, he needs to stay long enough to mow the yard and fix the hot water heater that sounds like a bowling team in my hallway.

But for the Walters, this weekend is bringing a mix of emotions yet again as we take off to move Kid 1 into his college dorm in Mississippi.  And the way things have been going for said kid and I of late, I know and understand that it is truly God's plan that children grow up and fly away - so that the mom doesn't have to kill them.  But when that day comes, especially when it comes to a family that still feels the sting of loss and change, the going off to college experience gets mixed reviews.

We've done all the shopping, gotten the bedding and storage and all the things - thanks to a wonderful friend who contributed greatly to his dorm needs - you know who you are and it is not said enough how special you are to the Walters.  But what I've learned so far - as of this writing underneath my motivational Spider Man poster - y'all, I think we could prepare all the live long day, and still not be fully prepared for the the missing piece of Fireman Dave in this experience.  

I go back again and again to something a lady said to me shortly after we lost him - when she said she had no idea how I was even putting one foot in front of the other.  And I think at the time, and maybe even on occasion now, that I'm not 100% sure of that either.  But my answer to her was this - because I have 3 boys watching to see if their mom can put one foot in front of the other.  And more than anything - more than dorm supplies and any and all best laid plans that we try to make for ourselves - it all comes down to a giant leap of faith.  And today seeing that I am a bit on the tearful side of life, I am resting in what is left of mine.

And I am trusting that David and I poured into these kids enough of us to keep them within our gentle reach and out of the million other possibilities waiting for them out in the world.  And yet again, as my email sent me more years gone by Shutterfly photo memories this week, I found a few that made me remember exactly when and why I knew Fireman Dave would be the one I would spend my life with.  Take that, college boyfriend who probably became rich.  And it's old news that I already loved him - we were childhood friends, proverbial partners in crime from early on.... but I knew I loved the man he had become the day I saw him with his young niece who had gotten a little scrape, bump or bruise while playing outside.  And as I watched him kneel down to her eye level, kiss her little invisible to the eye wound, and wipe away a tear - my heart and mind knew right then what love looked like.  If you remember, I didn't have the best example of any of that set for me growing up, so when I went looking for love - and too many times to count -  and in all the wrong places ..... I didn't even understand what it was that I was looking for.  But suddenly I did.  And this week I saw some old pictures of the father that my husband was to our boys.

About a month ago at college orientation, I struggled a bit with watching the 2 parent families handling all the things together.  So I skipped out on a few of the meetings and sat in a rocking chair under a giant tree on a college campus in Mississippi and tried to pray my way out of ruining my mascara with an ugly cry.  And as I try to get through the next few days of another change, I just may need that chair and shade tree again.  And I just may need some reminders that I am strong enough to put one foot in front of the other.  I feel sure that God will provide some lessons for me on that subject.
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