So I'm told we are going to have a few days with no/low work, and I'm bored, so I thought I'd take a moment to write an update - I just felt like writing, and thought I'd take a moment to update everyone all at once :)
So my first big-but-good news is that I have reconnected with my mom and it's going super well.
In fact, I have never seen her like this - it makes me so happy to see her doing this well!
I never thought I'd ever see her like this, it makes me cry to think about how well she's doing!
(Please, God, whatever meds she's on, may she stay on them forever, amen lol.)
She even makes jokes now!?!
My little sister and I especially have an especially absurd sense of humor, absurdity is our favorite form of humor, and although Mom used to laugh sometimes, or tell corny stories about other people telling corny stories - she never actually made jokes on her own - but she does now!
The first time she did, I thought: "Hold up - who are you and what have you done with my mother?" lol.
I think the first time I noticed, it was something like I said to her on the phone: "Okay, it's late, get thee to bed, young lady ... I'm shaking my finger at you and winking at the same time."
She quipped back, "Ignoring youuuuu ... I have too much to do still before my surgerryyy."
Oh my Lord, hold up - that was nearly a quip back - let me write this day down!
In all seriousness, I am SO proud of her, how well she is doing, it warms my heart to see her happy - and I tell her that nearly every day:)
Yeah, she's still overly focused (addicted?) to religious stuff, IMO, but what can you do? If it helps her, who am I to stop her?
(For the record, I'm a Christian, too, just not charismatic evangelical, I'm Episcopalian and I guess I just don't think Jesus works the way she does, but it's cool :)
At least she has a sense of humor about it now.
Like after finding out we were Polish in a recent DNA test, I brought her some Paczkis from Kroger Bakery before Fat Tuesday/Paczki Day.
Since we are not Catholic, and she knows nothing about Catholicism, she later said on the phone that she didn't get it, nor why they eat fish on Fridays.
Me: "Well, you probably should ask Mark, he's been Polish Catholic all his life. You and I are just newly discovered Polish (thanks to a DNA test) and neither one of us is Catholic - but as I understand it, it has something to do with eating the most decadent, rich, "sinful" stuff the day before Ash Wednesday, the start of Lent, when you have to give up your favorite things in order to relate to Christ's suffering."
"I think the fish thing started because once upon a time in Europe, meat, especially beef - anything with fat or cooked with fat - was considered luxurious and decadent, and it was super expensive, whereas fish wasn't. I mean, nobody gave up fish for Lent in Europe because it wasn't considered a luxury, the sea was always nearby and fish was abundant."
"Anyway, here in Lex, you couldn't get Paczkis, or at least they weren't called that, until like 5 years ago, so Mark is super excited they're here now, but also says they're not nearly as good as Detroit's."
"Whatever, I don't know, Mom ... just eat it, ya Pollock!"
"See, I can say that because I recently found out that I'm a Pollock too!" ;)
Mom: "Hahaha! Okay, but what is Mardi Gras about?
Me: "Pretty much the same thing - in fact, the day before Ash Wednesday is called Paczki Day in the north, but Fat Tuesday in the South, especially in New Orleans."
"Same idea, you act all sinful the night before Ash Wednesday, then you're sorry about it later or something, and then you confess it to somebody or something lol."
"So ... after you eat the Paczki, you must go dance half-naked in the streets with beads, okay? Then be really sorry about it later and confess, very important ;) lol"
Mom: "No, I ... don't believe I will lol."
Me: "You mean you won't dance or you won't confess it later?" ;)
"Hey, you don't know - maybe Jesus did a little dance sometimes, when he was happy."
"Like maybe on Palm Sunday or something, when they were still singing his praises, just before those same people crucified him, because he knew they were going to, and this was his last chance to dance lol"
Mom: "I'm pretty sure Jesus did NOT do that" (sounding amused.)
Me: "LOL! How do YOU know? You don't know, I'm sure he did dance sometimes, maybe at like weddings and stuff, like, 'Hey, some people I love just got married AND I just turned water into wine - go me! Go Jesus, Go Jesus, Go! Gonna party like it's ma birthday!'"
"Okay, not half-naked, no, but who knows, he probably danced sometimes."
Mom: "Hehehe, noooo ... silly girl."
Now, of course, I wasn't serious - I was just trying to make my mom laugh during a rough health time.
Regardless, you don't understand how monumental this is - my mom laughed at my jokes - even my religious jokes.
I'm quite sure Jesus had a sense of humor, whereas I used to think my mom had hers surgically removed, and previously, I would've had a prayer cloth thrown at me, which she bought for $19.95 from some televangelist for saying stuff like this as being "blasphemy," adding that I'm a demon or witch or something - but she actually laughed!
As for that surgery, she finally had her second knee replacement after having some complications after the first one last year.
Thus, my little sister is in town, being the primary caretaker, so I'm backing her up with support.
Unfortunately, my mom developed pneumonia, after this second one, and she was also just diagnosed with sleep apnea, which makes the balance between pain medicine and CPAP/oxygen-flow very tricky.
As a quick aside, if someone you know is the primary caretaker for someone else - erm - help them?
(AND - don't forget to thank them!)
Especially if they are trying to both work AND be a primary caretaker, during these times of an international nursing shortages!
"Help" comes in lots of forms, by the way ... if you can't give physical care yourself because of work, parenting, etc., there are other ways, including just encouragement or listening to them vent, right?
And if you don't know what you can do, just ask, "Is there anything I can do to help?"
On that note of my little sister kickin' butt with this, just in case she reads this someday - I just found the original TikTok video she was talking about by Destini Ann ...
So Ru, this is for you - just in case you forget, here's your daily reminder that ... "Bitch, you doin' a GOOD job!"
Your sister, Chrystal xo
For the record, Destini originally recorded the song just for moms, but now it's an affirmation for all women, for themselves or for others, who just need a reminder on one of those days.
The full lyrics are:
"Bitch, you doin' a good job,
Bitch, you doin' a good job.
F that laundry, F that dish
Take a break and shake that sh*t"
You will note that amount of views and people who took her up on the "duet" offer, women AND men, making their own videos and sending them to her :)
Regardless, Ru and I have our own duet going on, and we actually make a pretty good care team for Mom.
In fact, we both caught a couple of major flubs in her aftercare (that's what happens with nursing shortages) that we were able to rectify quickly.
*That is not a diss of nurses - it's a diss of the nursing shortages going on since COVID - pay them more for putting themselves in harm's way, dangit!*
Regardless, our mama didn't raise no dummies! ;)
Go Smith girls, Go Smithies! Bitch, we're doing a good job :)
I work in healthcare, so my catches were just par for the course - but the remarkable thing is, my little sis doesn't - and yet she still made the other catches - so give it up for my little sister, Ru!
(We have all often lamented that we wished Morgan Freeman was our dad, thus, this GIF of him clapping for her lol.)
As for me, I had a little health concern myself, after a one-sided sore throat and swollen glands since Christmas that would not go away after antibiotics. I'm a smoker, so I was a little concerned, but also knew there was other stuff it could be.
I had a CT scan which showed nothing but swollen glands, particularly near my right salivary gland.
Sjogren's syndrome or mixed autoimmune disease is suspected, despite the rheumatoid panel being normal (because with Sjogren's, it only shows up in 50% of people on the panel - it really takes a salivary biopsy to diagnose, but even then, that's only accurate 60% of the time and you can still have it if negative.)
Regardless, I was told to drink lots of water and suck on sour candy and the symptoms did improve - and then I had a nasolaryngoscopy yesterday, and all was clear. Since the symptoms are better, I chose to hold on further procedures (like the salivary biopsy) unless it flares again.
Anyway, good news, no throat cancer (but I'm still working on quitting smoking)!
Oh, other news since I last wrote - I surprised Mark for his birthday in February by taking him to his beloved home of Michigan!
He hadn't been home to Michigan since before the pandemic because Michigan was especially locked down, so he was over the moon!
We did a lot in four days, let me tell you.
We started in the West, a little "sea town" on Lake Michigan called "Saugatuck," which we fell in love with instantly.
Well, except for the food - it was overpriced blandness, which was so disappointing - but other than that, totally in love with this little liberal, LGBTQ-friendly "sea" town, just below Grand Rapids, Michigan, which is a particularly Republican (and Trump-Republican at that) stronghold lol.
Day 1 -Douglas-Saugatuck, MI
Our hotel was only $69 bucks a night, can you believe it? That is NOT typical for Douglas-Saugatuck, believe me. Super good deal for the price!
You will also notice that he is never, at any time, without his MSU Sparty gear on, because it was Michigan VS. Michigan State Weekend (basketball), as well as the weekend after the MSU mass shooting (more on that later).
Douglas Beach, Douglas, MI
Waterfront houses along Douglas Beach ($2 to $7 million, we checked lol) ...
Deer in the streets ...
Coming into Saugatuck from Douglas, this is Saugatuck Harbor ...
... on Lake Kalamazoo, separated by only a half-mile of land (and a channel) from Lake Michigan itself ...
Now, driving into the little cozy, cute little "seaside" town of Saugatuck, Michigan - it reminds you of the Northeastern U.S. coast, a little?
Downtown Saugatuck, Michigan
It's very LGBTQ-friendly, by the way - in fact, the majority of the businesses here are even LGBTQ-owned now.
Taken at a local tavern that we popped in for a quick bite while shopping ...
We then decided to visit Saugatuck Dunes State Park on Lake Michigan to hike, also having heard that you could sled there on the dunes in winter (but we were unable to find the area to do that).
A little hike on the way to the dunes ...
Ultimately leading to the dunes and the beach ...
Not sure how this one of Miss Brookie turned out black-and-white on my phone, but I kind of like it that way :)
Here is Mark, totally in his element ...
Yes - it WAS super windy and cold by the water, thank you - I much preferred the walk in the woods just before, but Mark being from Michigan, was not at all bothered by it :)
In fact, the next day, it turned colder again, and while visiting Oval Beach on the way out, I froze solid shortly after these pictures were taken ... ;)
But it was worth it, to see my husband's face like THIS ...
Note there is no hat or hood on, just a big smile :)
Me, on the other hand?
I was bundled up in ski pants over winter leggings, knit hat and hooded parka, looking like Nanook of the North lol
And yes, that IS Brookie eating the snow in the background - she loves snow!
Just some more pics of Oval Beach ...
Interestingly enough, we found a rock on the beach that looked just like the "mitten" shape of mainland Michigan :)
Michigan State University Campus, East Lansing, Michigan - Sunday, February 19th (6 days after the mass-shooting there).
After that, we moseyed East towards Detroit, where I had booked a suite at a hotel long before the mass shooting at Michigan State University, so though we planned to visit Mark's alma mater anyway, we took more time here to pay our respects.
Current students and alumni, young and old, in a steady stream of pilgrimage made their way there, that weekend, paying their respects, very moving.
I think this is the best picture I took of that campus visit, it shows the mood on everyone's faces, regardless of race, religion, sexual orientation, or political persuasion - they were all feeling it, at "The Rock" memorial on campus that day, the largest of several temporary memorials they had set up on campus.
Three students were killed that day, one male, two females - two were white and one was black - from very different walks of life and different socioeconomics, proving that no one is immune to gun violence.
The main memorial to Brian, Alexandra, and Arielle ...
I had my arm around my husband the whole time to support him, but we both teared up.
In fact, I have a hard time looking at that first picture myself still, though I didn't even go to MSU. These young promising little lives, cut short by more mass-shooting gun violence that our country does nothing about :(
That sign is true - everyone was so kind to each other and supportive to one another - proving that human phenomenon that sometimes when things are at their worst, we humans are at our best :)
And it's a beautiful campus, MSU, by the way ...
We definitely didn't have dorms like that, at the University of Kentucky (and still don't) lol.
On our way out of town, we stopped at Dusty's Cellar for one of the best cannolis you've ever eaten, especially in the greater-Detroit area (Detroit is famous for cannolis) ...
... and then one of the satellite stores for Grand Traverse Pie Company (main bakery in Traverse City, Michigan).
I'm not a pie person, but if I was, I'd get one - these stops were checking off birthday boxes for my husband's wish list, you see, and he has an unrivaled sweet tooth :)
Then we moved on to suburban Detroit, staying in the suburb of Rochester, for a particular reason and one reason only and that is the hotel was literally a block away from Mark's beloved Sanders Chocolates, for their famous hot fudge.
Now, during the pandemic, though previously we could get Sanders Hot Fudge at Meijer, but Sanders stopped selling it nationally due to distribution costs during the pandemic, so part of this trip was to get my husband Sanders hot fudge, like a case of it, for his birthday :)
Mission accomplished :)
My husband decided that because he felt I was a trooper for coming up to the frozen North in mid-February for him, he would pay for a night at this fancy schmantsy hotel in Rochester, called The Royal Park - famous for likes of famous people like George W. Bush, Paul McCartney, and Taylor Swift having stayed there - as my Valentine's Day gift :)
Now - at this point, you might be saying to yourself, "What does ANY of this have to do with Chris Rock in your title?"
It doesn't lol.
It's just that also in the meantime, since I last wrote, I watched Chris Rock's Netflix special, "Selective Outrage," to see what he had to say, because it had been hyped to be about him finally talking about "the slap."
I need to pre-empt this by saying also that just before that, I watched Bill Maher for the first time in like three years.
Can I just say that Chris Rock and Bill Maher, plus tack on Dave Chappelle - despite having built their careers on being brilliant liberal political satirists - appear to now be pandering to old, rich, bitter, white male conservatives, just to get a broader audience and more ticket sales?
I'm not offended by them, mind you, I just don't think they're funny anymore, they're doing a near 180 with their content, and thus now rich and powerful themselves, have become part of the system they once railed against, not to mention greedy and selfish.
All three of them sound like rich, aging, bitter, angry old white men to me now - the same men they once brilliantly skewered.
Or maybe I'm just getting old?
And then all of these talk shows, talking about how Chris finally got his say, and I'm like ....
Erm - did we watch the same special?
Because that wasn't my take on it at all.
Chris blamed Jada for Will's slap, calling her a bitch like 20 times, when as I recall it, she did nothing but make a face.
Then he went off on Meghan Markle without once mentioning Harry.
Which of course leaves both Will Smith and Harry totally responsibility-less for their own actions, because apparently, in Chris Rock's world, men are just our powerless puppets, whom we women - all women actually being powerful witches, of course - somehow telekinetically program to do our bidding for our covens?!?
Then he said he's not a victim - but it sure felt like he wanted our sympathy to me, especially when he went on for several minutes about his bromance with Will, how much he previously loved him, like his heart was broken - to the degree that I was like, "Well, then talk to him about it privately, then, not to us, that was our problem with this whole thing - whatever your beef is with each other, it doesn't belong at the Oscars. But one thing I DO know, this for damn sure is not going to facilitate that private conversation - you probably just killed any chance of a reconciliation with him now."
And throwing shade at Meghan Markle for attention-seeking and whining, despite having money (as IF money solved Diana's problems or even Chris Rock's own relationship problems)?
Okay, Chris - but do you really want to go there, throwing shade at people you believe are whining, attention-seeking, and cashing in on their victimhood despite being wealthy?
Because hellloooo, I'm pretty sure YOU qualify, yourself, by dragging us all back into this Oscar slap shit, a year later - one week before the Oscars, mind you - just so you can selfishly cash in on it, when the rest of us are trying to to rise above it and re-elevate the Oscars?
Not to mention, Chris cheated on and publicly humiliated his wife with it repeatedly, right out in front of God and everybody - most notably with Kerry Washington, for years, to the degree that his wife finally had enough and is divorcing him - but he's dogging Jada for it (despite Will and Jada admittedly having an open marriage) and blaming her for the slap?
As IF Chris was just innocently minding his own own business when Will slapped him, when he so wasn't - he has a history of repeatedly getting all up in Jada and Will's shit for years, now, and then chose to shame her publicly at the Oscars.
Again, it's not that I was offended, I wasn't - and I still laugh, if the jokes are funny - but they weren't.
Also, his own blatant hypocrisy is what kept it from even being in the ballpark of funny.
And lastly, I'm all for freedom of speech (as long as you pre-empt it as opinion or belief, rather than stating fact or "news") - but abortion jokes are NOT funny.
You just can't make abortion funny, regardless of which side you're on, anti or pro - sorry.
And what was with the Elon Musk praise?
Man, if I didn't know better, I'd think Chris Rock was a 70-year-old, wealthy, white man.
Now, I still wouldn't say that Chris deserved to be slapped - but I will say that I don't think he helped his case at all.
Chris just came across like a weird cross between a 13-year-old bully and an old, bitter misogynist (because as we know, the two groups often act similarly) - blaming the world's problems on women of color, clearly pandering to bitter old white men and kissing white-male ass like Elon Musk - ESPECIALLY when he went off about abortion being murder.
I thought at first, seeing all the talk show praise for him, "Maybe it's me, maybe I'M the one getting old and that's changed, if I think that Bill Maher, Dave Chappelle, and Chris Rock have changed and aren't funny anymore and just sound like bitter old men?"
Then, not only did I read that I wasn't alone - several Twitterites and others were saying much the same, and believe it or not, the best review article I read on it was in USA Today ..."
"For Rock, like very successful peers Dave Chappelle and Ellen DeGeneres, the more money and power he accrues, the harder it is for him to be funny. Comedy has a long tradition of speaking truth to power, of giving the little guy a microphone and highlighting the collective woes of the everyman."
"But Rock is the power now. He is so embedded in the world of the rich and famous that he spent a full two minutes actively praising Elon Musk's sperm count (there was a joke in there somewhere). Musk is the richest man in the world, and Rock made sure to stoke his ego."
I dunno ... though I previously found him funny, I began to actively dislike Chris in 2013, when Chris said "bullying is good for kids" in Jerry Seinfeld's "Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee".
Yeah, erm - pretty sure child psychologists and American Foundation of Suicide Prevention would disagree with you there, Buddy.
He doesn't deserve a slap over it, no ... nor does he deserve to be silenced/lose his freedom of speech - but everybody needs to quit trynna act like the man is ready to be canonized into sainthood, either, right?
The next time I want to hear rich, out-of-touch, old (but still immature) men verbally jerk each other off by blaming women for all their problems, attempting to cover their bitterness and inability to take responsibility with lame, mean jokes, I'll just go down to to the bar at my local Texas Roadhouse instead, thanks.
At least I'll get a semi-decent steak and beer for enduring it, at a much cheaper price than the price of a Chris Rock, Dave Chappelle, or Bill Maher ticket.
Anyway, that's about it from my small corner of the world - hope everyone is doing okay where you are, too :)