Lent the good times roll

Today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent. As a Methodist, we don’t really observe it the same way Catholics do. It’s not “required”, and if we do observe it, we can choose what to give up. Once I gave up Taco Bell, another year soda, and I even tried giving up swearing. I never made it a whole day. But I did try, for each of the 40 that are in the lenten season.

This year, I’m giving up dating.

There are many reasons why. First, it just isn’t going well. 2017 was not the year of the Mr. Kristina (that’s what I like to refer to my hypothetical future partner as. Because whoever they are, them finding that as hilarious as I do is key). My one official boyfriend for the year tried to cheat on me and suffocate me with a pillow in the same evening. Then dumped me because that was easier than dealing with his alcoholism. I then got ghosted by a grown-ass man in his 40s after dating for 2 1/2 months (if you don’t know what ghosting is, you’re probably a decent human! Or just fortunate. Either way, it’s when you just disappear, with no explanation, as if you’ve become a ghost and have blown away with the wind. Or something like that. It’s acceptable, not great but kind of understandable, after a date or two. More than that, and it’s just plain cowardice). I also went out with a whole bucket of creeps, from dudes who wrote sonnets about my left eye to those who felt like decidedly not raping someone was worth bragging about. There was also The Date I Don’t Talk About. Sometimes referred to as The Real, Real Bad Date. But I’ve said too much already. There were a few good dates in there, too, but most of those ended up in just a weird state of limbo, and after a while of having no idea what was going on, we just wandered away.

Also, I’ve lost focus on my own self. Personal growth is exhausting, just like regular growth. I rest a lot. When I’m not resting (or, ya know, working and doing normal adulty mom things) I distract myself from the hard stuff by scouring dating sites and attempting to use my wit and charm to lure Mr. Kristina in via text. I haven’t taken interest in my own hobbies for quite some time. I’d like to remedy that.

I also need to figure out what type of partner I am, as well as what I want in one. Since I have the tendency to just morph into what I think the other person wants me to be, I need to do that without outside influence for a bit.

I chose to do this during Lent because my faith has also taken a hit lately. It’s something I keep to myself for the most part, but it’s an important piece of who I am. I need to regain my balance there.

When I brought this all up to my therapist yesterday (have you found a good therapist yet? I hope so!) she was intrigued by the idea. Then, she suddenly shouted (alright, spoke at a normal volume. She never shouts. She’s like a small, insightful, caring cloud.) “I’m seeing something here! You WILL be dating… you will be in a committed, monogamous relationship… with yourself!”. It was brilliant. The plan I was looking for, to get from my decision to my goal. I need plans. Things like “Trials make you stronger” and “You need to go through this to grow” make good posters and such, but I need to know exactly how. I need a map. This was it.

Now, I’m spending the next 40 days wining and dining my damn self. I’m gonna show me a real good time. Who knows what kind of adventures await myself and I! It’s kind of exciting.

So that’s where I’m at right now. No dating people that aren’t me, no online profiles involving pictures of people with fish, no sex, no stalking the Missed Connections page on Craigslist, no flirting. In the event that I learn how. None of it. Cold turkey. It sounds tough, perhaps, but I think I will be ok.

As well as getting to go out and not having to worry about something being slipped in my drink by my date (I’d never do that to me. Or anyone), there are actually other things I’m looking forward to.

First, I have a creative new excuse for turning someone down. “Can I get your number?” “Uhhhhh, I gave up dating for Lent.” *awkward exit stage left* It’s brilliant. And it’s the truth!! Even better.

Also, I don’t have to shave my legs for over a month. I should’ve done this years ago.



I was at Christmas dinner with my family, and we were talking about how my parents think my older brother claims to be a half inch shorter than our father out of respect, as they appear to be the same height. “I raised my kids to be respectful,” my dad said. For just a moment, Tiny Me brightened with the possibility that a rare and secretly longed for compliment could be coming our way. Then, nodding to me he said to his brother, “so I’m pretty sure that one is yours.”

We were, in fact, raised to be respectful. It was probably the number one thing our parents taught us. A blind respect, for anyone older than or related to us. A respect that overrode our own feelings and needs. Is the crazy aunt calling you ugly again? Well just deal with it, she’s your elder and deserves your respect. Did that old man you’ve never met demand a hug? Better give him one (and stop that crying in the meantime!) because he’s lived longer than you have. Is everyone in the family not-so-subtly calling you a slut because you’ve been divorced and have the audacity to bring a date to a family function in the hopes of not dying alone? You probably are one, and it’s their right as esteemed family members of the older generation to tell you so. Appreciate it.

My dad isn’t completely wrong, though. Not about me really being my uncle’s (though insinuating that your wife slept with your brother when he was 16, in front of her, is another sweet holiday gem for another time.) but about me being disrespectful to him. I am. I roll my eyes at his stories. I call him an idiot. I don’t make my son hug him. I even do the unthinkable and stand up for my kid when my dad makes fun of him. That’s like two of us disrespecting him at once. I’m surprised we haven’t been banished.

I just got real tired of him molesting me, really. When I was young and he used his power over me to sneak his hand into my nightgown, or to make comments on my lack of noticeable breasts while trying to open my shirt, I stayed quiet. I had to. I was terrified. But then, little by little, I started fighting back. It didn’t work right away, but at least I had a voice. A scared, tiny voice that people still ignored, but it was there. Over the years, it got louder. One day, I even called him a piece of fucking shit. To his face. Because, lets be honest, that’s what child molesters are. He tackled and beat me, but it was worth it.

I don’t talk about my dad in a lot of detail, out of respect for someone that doesn’t actually exist. I don’t have a dad that loves me, and I don’t see that I ever will. But just in case he should appear, I’d like him to see that I’ve done my best to spare his feelings. Ever trying to be the good daughter, still convinced deep down that it was my fault, because I’m too sassy and weird.

I don’t talk about it with my mom much, out of respect for her. She chose him, over and over, and what’s the point of making her feel bad about it? Will my childhood change? Nope. Will my siblings come back for holidays so its not just me, trying for an unknown reason to repair a family that won’t even admit it’s broken? Probably not. Best to just leave it in the past, right?

I don’t tell many people in my family about this, out of respect for an image they hold onto. He’s their brother that fixes the roof. He’s their uncle that tells weird jokes and farts a lot. Even if I thought they’d believe me, why ruin this man they think he is over something that happened decades ago?

But then. I remember her. This tiny girl, who loved to dance. She wanted to be a ballerina. She lived to feel the music in her tiny body, twirling and leaping until she was out of breath. She thought the world was magic, and that she could be part of its beauty. Until they told her she was wrong. She had to do what they wanted, how and when they wanted it. That what she felt didn’t matter, it was only their convenience that did. So she stopped. Now I do things out of respect for her. She’s not older, she’s not an esteemed member of society, but she’s important.

For most of my life, I’ve tried to avoid confrontation and the mere possibility of hurt feelings by going along with whatever everyone else wanted. I don’t pick places to eat, movies to see, or adventures to go on, because someone might disagree, and it would be uncomfortable. When you’re constantly afraid of being disrespectful, everything becomes that way, even when it’s not. Having an opinion isn’t rude. Wanting Taco Bell isn’t a slight against someone else’s character. (An affront to your taste buds, perhaps, but not actually a personal insult.)

Tomorrow is my birthday. It’s the one day a year I make all my own decisions, without a thought to anyone else’s feelings. I eat where I want, dress ridiculously, laugh loudly, hug strangers, and do whatever I think of in that moment that makes me happy. It’s one of my favorite days of the year.

I’ve been striving to live like every day is my birthday. Maybe not complete with dress-up karaoke every night, but more the idea that I am important enough to weigh in on discussions the other 364 days a year. Everyone deserves that respect.


Frogs, Penguins and Bears, oh my!

When my sister was a toddler, before I was on the scene at all, she would talk in different voices. My parents worried that something might be wrong with her, and thought briefly about getting her tested. But before they did, someone gave her a stuffed bear. An adorable little panda named Pammy.

Suddenly, Pammy started talking in one of the voices. Dr. Cuddly, a brown bear, started talking in another. There wasn’t anything wrong with her, (clearly I hadn’t been born yet, or I would’ve told them that) she just needed an outlet.

By the time I was old enough to talk in at least one squeaky voice of my own, I had quite the collection of stuffed animals. They all had names, and I was mother to the whole lot. They called my sister Aunt, as hers called me, and all of ours called our brother Dad (we were children. It made sense at the time). They slept on our beds, went on camping trips with us, watched movies, and occasionally became ammunition to huck at each other from behind our furniture bunkers. (They shrieked with joy the whole time, they loved flying.)

And, they were our voices.

Our animals (we hardly ever included the word “stuffed”. It seemed harsh.) said things we could not. They took risks that seemed too scary for our tiny bodies. My sister learned at a young age to steel herself from the world, to keep herself safe. Sometimes this was seen by other people as a poor attitude or general uncaring. But if you were worried about something, Pammy would always come out and cheer you up. Her pal Newberry would give you a hug. And Booberry, the third amigo, would come scare away whatever was troubling you. If that didn’t work, they’d send in Dr. Cuddly for a follow up.

My brother has been a giant most of his life. He reached 6′ before he got to middle school. And he’s the gentlest, kindest person I know. At a time when boys were told that becoming men meant being louder, meaner and tougher, he quietly disagreed. He often let people say what they wanted without arguing, because it made them happy. When I dreamed of having a big, scary brother that would threaten jerky ex-boyfriends, reality would set in and remind me that my big brother was much more likely to buy them food and ask about their family. But his gaggle of penguins, (usually Pengywinwin and Tacky) always came to check on us, pat us on the shoulder with a soft wing, and check the perimeter for threats before reminding us that we were loved, and to-bellying back to their room (it’s like tobagganing. But on your belly, because you’re a silly penguin).

My animals were brave. Goofy, like I was, but they said what they thought. They didn’t back down. And they loved everyone, boldly and without hesitation.

As we got older and moved apart, we talked to each other’s animals less and less. But we never got rid of them. When I visit my sister, three panda bears come out, shouting “Aunt Kris!!!” and give me hugs. The ringbearer in my brother’s wedding was a small penguin named Cookie. Sometimes I get texts that a lion (or a kidnapped turtle…) sends their regards. But mine don’t talk much anymore.

My favorites sat on my shelf in my room, but the other 500 or so stayed in plastic bags in my son’s room. They’d been cooped up in there for over 5 years. Part of it was that my second husband wouldn’t allow me to take them out. I refused to give them away, but they had to stay contained, and in the garage. Part of it was that I finally found my own voice.

When I realized earlier this year that these little animals had very literally saved each of us at some point, I shared this epiphany with my sister. “Sissa!” I said, “did you know that we used our animals to express the parts of us that we otherwise couldn’t have let the world see?” “Yes, of course I know”, she replied in her usual fashion. “Once, someone asked me when I was going to get rid of them, because I’m an adult. I told them never, because they are the only source of unconditional love I’ve ever known.” My heart broke right then. For the little girls we were, that were so scared. For the big brother that didn’t know how to keep us safe. And for these worn, faded, sweet wee animals who took on such an enormous job.

Last weekend I finally opened the bags and let mine out. I intended to give most of them away, but as I sorted through, I was overwhelmed by how much comfort they still give. What my sister had said came rushing back, and there was no way I could let them go. They had never let me down, I had to return the favor. I kept probably 200 of my original crew. And I talked to all of them.

I know my family is weird as shit. I know we were barely normal as kids, and just get stranger as adults. I know that now I’m the single chick who has a 3 foot tall stack of stuffed animals in the corner of her room, all looking at her, which doesn’t help the chances of finding someone to sleep in that room with me. People think it’s creepy. People still think we should get tested. And I give precisely zero fucks.

Rattles, Clodhopper and I don’t have time for judgement. We’ve got letters to write, to panda bears and penguins.


Body of lies

Once, a few years ago, a friend posed a general question about what we identify as. Who we are. Moms? Professionals? Friends? Artists? What group did we belong in?

I still haven’t come up with an answer. Even with things I KNOW I am (like a mom. I have some pretty solid evidence that’s a part of my identity) I never feel right saying it, I feel like an imposter. There are better moms, more knowledgeable professionals, friendlier friends, and I’m just not an artist in any light. While Imposter Syndrome isn’t a completely new idea, I recently made some ground in figuring out where mine comes from.

Who I am is tied into this physical body. And this body has never been mine.

I don’t remember a time when men didn’t make a comment about my body, in some way. Under the guise of harmless, crazy old men, they’d pat and pinch and I’d be told to give them hugs because they were my family. Family I didn’t really know, but someone knew them, probably, and I was taught I couldn’t say “no”. Ever.

My early childhood is now a collection of fun memories with my cousins and siblings coupled with images of being loomed over, yanked around, and screamed at. I suppose that’s normal for a lot of kids. But the standing in line at my dad’s recliner every night, waiting to receive our daily spankings, just in case we’d been bad… that’s not.

A husband of a family acquaintance told me how when I grew up, a man would stare longingly into my beautiful eyes and tell me how pretty I was, just like he was doing then. I was 11. He was in his 60s. I’d never met him before. But I had to be polite, so I didn’t tell anyone how uncomfortable it made me.

As the younger one, I got a lot of people asking me when I was going to “fill out” like my sister. We were 14 and 10. They were adults. They thought it was funny, so I laughed along with them, not understanding why this should matter to them. I still don’t, actually.

I got beat for putting the knives in the dishwasher upside down. I was also running my mouth, so it was just accepted that it was deserved. It’s still bragged about at family dinners, the time a giant man put me in my place. I was 17.

Finding out I was pregnant at 18 meant I had even less control of my own body. I was much more okay with the life inside changing the shape of it than I was the people I didn’t know feeling the need to preach to me about my choices. I didn’t say anything though, because I thought they were right. As much as I love my son, I thought I was wrong for having him, because that’s what the adults told me.

After my first divorce, I started hanging out with a bunch of friends from school, and their families. One night, all of us were standing around drinking, and I went up to hug my buddy’s dad. He put his arm around me, and then stuck his hand down the back of my pants, where it stayed for the next 10 minutes. I had danced at homecoming with his son. He was the same age as my dad. He was huge, though, and everyone loved him, so I just held very still until he wandered off.

When I was married the second time, my husband insisted that I fully belonged to him, and as well as being able to grab any part of me at any time, his advances in the bedroom were never to be rejected. I obliged, because it was easier than listening to him lecture and belittle me. He licked my fucking armpits. I hated it, but I never said a word. Criticism was not an accepted part of my wifely duties.

I went on a date with a guy last year, and he said, “I’m surprised you didn’t wear a shirt that shows a little more cleavage.” At first, I felt like I had done something wrong. Because I’m just here to be accommodating, right? Then, I realized I don’t have any shirts that show cleavage. They embarrass me, and I don’t feel right in them. Because of my dad. Not because he is protective of me, because he stares. He hugs extra when I wear them. He finds reasons to reach across the table to grab something on the other side of me. It was worse when I lived with him. But nobody believed me, because he remodels bathrooms for free and always works on our cars without complaining. So I stopped telling them.

There’s more. Too many more. They vary in severity, but they all share a common thread of men saying and doing what they want without any thought to the fact that this body is mine, and not theirs. Sometimes I said it, but they didn’t listen. Sometimes I waited, silently, until they went away. The only thing I could do to protect whatever I had left, was to detach myself.

I hate this body. It’s only pain for me. I don’t see it as strong, or attractive. It is too much and too little all at once. Too noticeable to be safe in, not good enough to not be passed over for the next one that comes along. But, being detached has kept me safe, in a way. Although I don’t really take care of it (because if I make it better, won’t that make it worse?) I won’t hurt it, either. Even on my worst day. Because it’s not really mine to hurt.

But tomorrow. Tomorrow.

I’m going to take the first step in reclaiming it. Telling my story helps, too. Neither one is going to be overruled by someone else anymore. I’m terrified. I’m sure it’s not going to go the way it should. But, either way, I know who I am. I’m a fierce and protective mom, a loyal friend, and I have a great amount of compassion for almost everyone. Also, when nobody is pissing me off and grabbing my ass without my permission, I’m kinda hilarious. And above all, I deserve respect. My own.









Side note, I will never hurt my body intentionally in any way, in case you’re worried. I hope you don’t either. But if you feel like you could, or are having other harmful thoughts, please talk to someone. Me, a friend, or the people at this number: 1-800-273-8255



The laundry is definitely not getting put away this week.

I’ve started watching a new show. I’d call it my guilty pleasure, but fuck that. I’m tired of feeling guilty about everything. I enjoy Girlfriends’ Guide to Divorce, and I don’t care who knows it. I don’t watch it for anyone else, I watch it for me.

This has brought to light, among other things, how little I do simply because I want to. Whether it’s because I don’t know how others will react, or my anxiety is too much to handle, I just don’t. Or I didn’t, I guess. I’m getting much better at it.

Anyway, this show is not overly relateable to me at first glance. I’m not a rich author, living in California, sending my kids to a progressive charter school alongside Gwyneth Paltrow’s. I have zero housekeepers, and my friends and I don’t air kiss every time we see each other at the overly hipsterish coffee shop. Which is sort of part of the appeal, really. I’m not invested enough that watching is exhausting, but I can still find them amusing, and even empathize every once in a while.

Tonight, I felt restless. This happens a lot when I’m feeling a whole host of emotions, and my usual reaction is to do nothing. Pace, perhaps. Get angry at myself for doing nothing. Tell myself all the ways I’m failing, while I eat gluten-filled cookies straight out of the bag. Which is how I started off this evening. I then decided to drown it in socialite divorcee mom drama.

The last episode I watched involved the much younger boyfriend of the main character fully realizing he didn’t deserve her lying, cowardly ways and telling her so. He calls her out for choosing to go back to suffocating (in her marriage) than risking something that was in fact real with him. This was the moment where I leapt into the show, and became a part of the story. This, I know about.

And I’m over it.

What hurt me most about this recent breakup was that I was maybe more vulnerable than I ever have been. I was ready. I was open. I loved the person he first showed me, the person I thought he could be, without holding back. And I was wrong.

But I risked it. It was beautiful, for a moment, and it was real. He was too scared, and went back to what he knew. There was a time when I would’ve done anything for him, and I don’t regret that. It’s a testament to who I am, and what happened is not what I deserve.

I wasn’t wrong to be open, to be vulnerable, or to love. I’m still ready, in a big picture type of way. I know what I want, and I’m even more sure I’m capable of handling it when I find it.

This life is mine. I’m not going to feel guilty about it, let people shame me into being who they want me to be instead, or go along with things I don’t truly want to do just to keep the peace. That’s not living, and I want to live.

Maybe sometimes that looks like sitting on my couch, watching catty women with boob jobs gossip about who is cheating on who. I’ll be having the time of my fucking life.



Gonzo is the coolest, anyway

I have had the fear that I am too much for one person to love for as long as I can remember. Even as a kid. I come from a weird ass family, but even compared to them, I was different. I was louder, more emotional, goofier, and more openly defiant. There are numerous family pictures where everyone is looking like an oil painting, and I’m doing jazz hands. I was a Gonzo in a whole room of Sam the Eagles. Eventually, it wore on people. They got annoyed, and some of them left.

Being told that I’m a lot to handle in this last breakup wasn’t shocking. I expected it, probably from the moment we got together, really. It still hurt, though.

But only for a minute.

I know who I am. I’m still loud. I’m still emotional. I’m still a big ol’ fuckin weirdo. And I love it. I’m also so much more than that. I’m a good friend, great partner, and a wonderful mom. I’m a decent cook, adequate crafter, and great singer. I have no problem dorking about to make someone laugh, and despite not being able to talk to most strangers, I don’t actually embarrass very easily. I get super into shows and movies, and I make weird faces when I watch them. Actually, I make weird faces most all the time. I get all worked up about politics, and religion, and any sort of abuse. I use a lot of pretty creative swear words when discussing these topics, but will always listen to other points of view (well, except maybe with abuse. Fuck that.) I have trouble asking questions, or admitting that I need help. I’m super jumpy, and it makes me angry. I hate being tickled. But mostly, I love like crazy. When I care about you, I show it. I tell you. And I don’t give up on you.

I’ll only get better. This setback was a reminder that I’ve still got work to do here and there. Rather than whining about it, hoping my flaws fix themselves one day and/or sabotaging relationships because I’m too afraid to change, I’m just going to jump in there and do it.

I’m not too much. I’m different, but that doesn’t make me wrong. If a person doesn’t want to be part of that, it’s perfectly okay. I’m done wasting my time on people that can’t handle me. Because as it turns out, I don’t need handled at all. Loving me would’ve been just fine.


‘Cause I don’t want to fall in love, if you don’t want to try.

The previously referenced adorable boyfriend and I parted ways.

I thought I was going to make it through the day without crying. I felt strong, I hung out with people who love me… but nope. Made it to 3pm and randomly started blubbering about a dream I had. Yesterday I cried 3 times during The Muppets (that’s really only one time more than usual, though). It’s been 5 days of this. Anywhere from silently sobbing in the privacy of my own home, to sitting in the middle of a restaurant, wearing a crown and bawling. I have zero shame.

And really, that’s fine. It’s the mourning period. So that’s what I’m doing. I’m trying to remind myself it’s all a part of the process, and I’m not crazy. Everyone cries during “The Rainbow Connection”, right?

I have to constantly be distracted, or I sit and go over every word, every gesture, wondering what I could’ve done differently. There were a few things. I didn’t trust him enough to be able to deal with all of me. So I crammed away anything that was less than supportive and agreeable, and tried to be this weird, fake thing I thought he wanted. Turns out he wanted a real person, and I’m not good at fake anyway. It was just frustrating and uncomfortable at times.

Not all the time, though. Usually, it was fun and cute. He was my friend. My go-to. My person.

But more than anything I did or didn’t do, his addiction won out. He chose it over me. And that hurts. I never tried to fix him, change him, or give him any ultimatums. I was just (genuinely) there for support. However, after coming to a point where the pain he caused meant he simply had to change for us to stay together, he chose not to.

There’s very little solace in the fact that he chose the addiction over himself, as well. I don’t want him to hurt. I don’t want him to self-destruct. I want him to be alright, to see the amazingness in himself that I saw. But it’s not up to me, and my opinion really doesn’t matter anymore.

People keep saying I dodged a bullet, I deserve better, that he was doing me a favor. At this moment, it just doesn’t feel that way. I didn’t dodge anything, I’m fucking crying over everything over here. And saying that he did me a favor ever-so-lightly implies that he was doing something other that just being a selfish coward. He doesn’t win any awards, he didn’t set me free, he chose shitty beer over a real live person who loved him, even when I saw the real, crappy parts.

I know, in the logical and rarely used part of my brain, that I deserve better. I deserve someone who fights for me the way I do for them. Who is just as supportive, and who I can be myself around without the constant fear of losing them (oh the irony). I get it. But I don’t want better, right now. I just want my fucking friend back.

Maybe tomorrow, I’ll make it. If not, that’s fine too. I’ll keep trying.