Go Pack Go!!

People who know me understand very well my obsessive love of the Pack. I have written previously about it, but today I am feeling a little extra crazy. It’s Playoffs Baby!!! I just am so very excited!! It’s ok, I am ok, I promise.

Maybe it’s the way the past year has been that is raising the crazy bar a little for me. It has been a year of tempering expectations in everything. Which sucks. It felt like every little thing you looked forward to got cancelled. Because it did. When football was getting ready to start, and the training camp schedule changed, and no preseason games, I said I will believe there will be games when they actually play them. With a lot of caution, and planning and so very much praying from me, they actually played! It felt good, even if it didn’t feel normal with no fans. I was just happy to have the season.

It has been a good season too, mostly the Pack has played well, and a quick run down of Aaron Rodgers’ stats tell you all you need to know about him. MVP much? My whole game watching dynamic changed. I got to watch every game all the way through without working. Dreams do come true. I watched them alone, mostly and at home. Zelda isn’t the fan I am, so we occasionally had to take walks at halftime, but she let me have my way most of the time. That’s a win, even when the Packers didn’t.

My superstitions have mostly been kept to a dull roar, but I did this week get to treat my new co-workers to a little of my Playoffs Crazy this week. I was pretty subtle, but I wore something Packers related every day leading up to yesterday when I just Packered it up all the way. Yes, I do have green shoes, and a suitable yellow/gold pair as well. Several pairs of Packers socks to choose from, many shirts, hats, and the more subtle yet effective green eyeliner. Usually I reserve that for game days, but it is playoff week, so green makeup is acceptable every day. I explained it this way to several people: See, the Rams (this week’s opponent) can study and prepare for the Packers. Look at game film, scout the offense and practice all they want. They are not ready, nor can they prepare, for me and the things I use to dismantle their hopes and dreams of advancing. Nothing, they are helpless against my yellow pants. I am not saying the things I do to prepare for games will guarantee a victory for the Pack, but I would hate to not put the effort in, and have them lose because I didn’t care enough to try. You’re welcome, Packers.

This is me. I have done weirdo things like this for years. I probably couldn’t stop if I wanted to, because I do want to, very much, be an active participant in the intimidation of opposing teams. I do some of it for the Brewers too, I have some impressive stuff I pull out for them too. It’s just worked better for the Pack. And I have friends that do it too. My friend Matt has a whole Voo Doo thing he does for games, and he texts the pictures to a select group of us before the game, just to be sure. He even has some more strange things than I do, but I don’t find them odd, because I know. My friend Stacy has her crystals and stones, and I know people who have all kinds of things that help get them through and help the Pack all at one time. We are holding up our end of the bargain, for sure!

One of my favorite denials in my life is pretending I am not superstitious, but I so am. It is fun working with new people this year and giving them a glimpse into my crazy. I wore Packers gear to the gym this morning, it’s game day all day baby!! It’s fun, and it makes me feel great, and even when they don’t win it is being a part of a community, even if I watch the game alone. People who don’t get sports, don’t like or watch any, are missing an opportunity for a community, and friendships that are crazy yet stable. Loving one team and hating another is an interesting way to bond, and it has brought me some fantastic relationships over the years. I know those people who aren’t sports fans have their own things, so I am not knocking them, I just like the way I get there for me. It’s fun, frustrating, great and awful. What a ride!

I am obviously hoping for a big win today. If it doesn’t go the way I hope, I will likely be ok. But should they win, the crazy goes on, and I will have another week of compliments on my sweet shoes, and I may have to dig out the yellow pants. My office is in the back of the building, most everyone is safe, I promise. My boss is a Bears fan. He may find me insufferable this week if the Pack advances. It’s his own fault, he offered me the job, he has nobody to blame but himself. Ok Friends, I have to go start getting ready, it’s only 6 hours to kickoff. Have a great weekend, and most importantly, GO PACK GO!!!!

Terms, Conditions, Blah Blah Blah.

It has been a wild week. Exhausting, really. I am not a fan of politics, overly, and I don’t do well in conversations about it because I don’t truly believe I am going to convince anyone, and they won’t change how I perceive things, so I mostly stay out of it. But people love it, and fight about it and solve nothing along the way. A lot has changed over the years, and the Twitters and Instagram and Facebooks of the world have facilitated that. People fight over the color of a dress and weird noises.

Donald Trump got banned from Twitter, his favorite medium, yesterday. Folks are either wildly happy or just ticked off about it. A lot of chatter about loss of Free Speech, how can they do that! Well… He agreed to it. What? This is America, we have Freedom of Speech! Not like that, exactly. Nobody said he can’t speak his mind, he just can’t do it there anymore, and he agreed to that. More on that to come.

When you signed up for a credit card, they gave you a pamphlet of the terms of the card. Did you read it? I know I didn’t. The small print and legal stuff means little to me. I get how it goes, I use their card, and pay them back. If I don’t pay them back at one time they can charge me extra for using their money. I agreed to it whether or not I read it. Right? So, if I don’t want to pay the interest, pay it off. Simple. I follow their rules, or I have to pay extra, and I said it’s ok. I agreed to their terms.

Similar is the way bars operate, kind of. You can go into any bar as a legal adult, and spend money and drink there. You don’t see the signs in as many places, but sometimes there is one hanging somewhere the states “We Reserve the Right to Refuse Service to Anyone for Any Reason.” You don’t have to sign or click on anything, but by walking in, you agree to their terms, it is implied and the laws are written to back the bar up on it. If you go in and behave, you can keep drinking and hanging out. But, if you start getting too drunk, or start a fight, or harass someone, they are going to kick you out. I saw it on Christmas Eve a couple of weeks ago. I know this guy from my bartending days, and he was at the same bar. He was talking to me and my brother. He is a little obnoxious, but since I know him I just tolerate it, and hope he wanders off. Well, he didn’t, and someone else told the bouncer he was bugging me. He got the boot. They came around and told him he had to go. And he did. Not his first time getting kicked out of a bar, we used to send him home quite often back in the day. But he knows that it can happen, he didn’t abide by their terms, and he had to go.

When you download an app, a Facebook, Twitter or whatever, they ask you to accept the terms and conditions before the app installs and is useable. It’s pretty standard thing. We all do it, and likely never read the long boring script that lays out all of those terms. Click accept and start reading and posting! All is right with the world, you are following people and liking posts and posting your own stuff, so much fun and entertainment! We probably all know someone who got tagged and did a stretch in the Facebook jail. I know several. All of a sudden you don’t see their stuff for a few days, and you know what happened. They posted something, someone got upset or it violated their standards and the account gets held a few days. One friend did about a month in FB Jail a while back. He came back ahead with a different profile, and that is a way around, but you get the idea. They usually know what they did. Do your time, and come on back out into the Social Media Playground.

That’s what happened to Donny yesterday. He violated their terms and conditions one too many times. They deemed that he was not playing nicely with others, and they put him in detention. Forever. Or at least until he is out of office, I am sure. But people are freaking out. He too, at one time, agreed to their terms and conditions. He agreed to it. He maybe didn’t read it, most of us don’t. They update their terms occasionally and ask you to click accept again, you don’t read anything, click and move forward. There is no exemption button for POTUS or anyone else. They gave him a pretty wide berth as president, but this week he crossed their imaginary line one too many times, so they yanked him. But it is their line. They can move it on us any time they want, and because we hit “accept” we have no recourse. It is their sandbox. You got kicked out for throwing sand. Bye.

I suggested to someone last night that there are other platforms, or start your own if you don’t like it. He didn’t like that. Pitched an online fit, and people like to jump on someone like that. The Internet is a nasty sandbox. People pee in that all the time and aren’t very nice. I wouldn’t engage any more, because I did what I wanted to do, I made him think, and he didn’t do so good with that. Did these people truly believe there wouldn’t be any fallout from all of this? I guess so, and they thought Trump would continue on unchecked, because of his office. Terms and conditions. They serve their purpose whether you read them or not. Even in the Oval Office.

I don’t know what happens next. We all see them demanding he resign, or get impeached again, or kicked out. It’s less than 2 weeks until he leaves, but if he gets kicked out, more ugly is going to come out. I think he is damaged, I have always felt that about him, but now he is really in a corner. Cornered, wounded animals are still very dangerous. That is really why they pulled his account. They don’t want him to rally his base into more actions like what happened Wednesday. It doesn’t take a lot of knowledge or wisdom to get that. It sounds like they made it so he doesn’t have the nuclear codes anymore either. I don’t know that he would have gone that way, but nobody thought a sitting president would encourage an insurrection either.

What I know is that we are all tapped out right now. The ‘Rona, the election and all the drama with it and now this event of Wednesday. I feel beaten down, tired, and I believe a lot of others feel it too. So please do what you can for self care right now. Set up your own Terms and Conditions for yourself, and make others accept them. I think we need that right now. I think we need to limit things that stress and create anxiety. Don’t engage with those who are looking for a fight. Protect yourself, and care for yourself. I am fond of saying you are your own number one asset, and I mean that. The fatigue of all of this is very real. I do think that is what is hurting Trump right now, his fatigue of being himself, and because he has been at it so long now, it is chipping away at him and making him act irrationally. I may be wrong, I am not trained in anything like that, but the edges are unraveling. If he doesn’t leave office prior to Biden getting sworn in, willingly or not, I am perfectly ok with him just golfing out the rest of the term. He needs the break, and honestly, so do the rest of us.

Faking It

I would say a lot of us are going with the “Fake it Until You Make It” thing at the moment. Not on purpose, really, but sort of as a survival thing. I kind of didn’t realize I was doing that until I had a conversation a few days ago with a nice young lady I work with. She is in her early 20s yet, and the world hasn’t really gotten to her yet. Still hopeful, full of dreams and ideals. Talking to her is always a breath of fresh air, truly. When you get to a certain adult threshold, a lot of that goes away before you really even realize what happened. She is just genuine, and wants us all happy.

The course last year took on me had me in a fog a lot of the year. Things kept changing, and I changed with it, but there is no point that I can say I have felt comfortable since February. I just kept plowing ahead, but I didn’t feel like I was a part of anything resembling my life once the doors of the restaurant closed behind me on March 17th. My guess is a lot of people have felt the same, since nobody has had a big helping of normal at any time lately.

Believe me, I know how fortunate I am that the opportunities I have had since that day have come my way. You may say I am blessed, you may say I have been lucky, and I fall somewhere in between those emotions. I am thankful that I have maintained full time employment. Not everyone has been so lucky. I was unemployed all of one day, and kind of not really, since on March 18th the official word that my Solea wouldn’t be re-opening hadn’t come to me yet. I was working by the 19th of March.

That was surreal, and it felt fake. Fake like at any moment I would get kicked out, like someone would come up and say “You don’t work here, get out.” Everyone was very welcoming, so that was all in my head. My head can be a pretty odd spot to end up some days, so that really was just me, but I think there was so much constant chaos at Costco that it took a while to really feel like I really worked there. The first paycheck helps. Haha. But as I was hired as a “seasonal” person, the gig ended.

I was again fortunate to know people, and ended up at my current job. A straight gig, 8-5 Monday-Friday. I cannot even begin to tell you how fake that seems. Even still, 7 months into it, with paid holidays and weekends off, it still feels so weird. I am more comfortable, but I got a good reminder this week again of how computer illiterate I am, which is a hoot to me, and sort of to those around me. They have no idea how I don’t know how to transfer files and things. Like what rock was I under for the last 20 years? Alcohol. I was serving alcohol and food which required little computer skill. People skills? Hell Yeah!! I got that for days and days, but every single day I feel it’s a win to get my computer turned on and find the tabs I am supposed to have available.

So I am faking it. Absolutely. Every day since June 1st at this job, especially. But it’s good, in a way. Every day when I drive in, when I hit that last round about before I head down that last stretch of road to the office, I wonder how I got here. What happened? But now I know more of the people better, and I see some of them are kind of faking it too, their backstories are varied and some of them fell into this too. It is hard to get a sense of permanence, because all of us in any situation are still navigating the pandemic. Also the never-ending election stuff doesn’t give any sense of stability either. So I will keep in a very Fake It stance until we can emerge a little bit from this.

How are you feeling through this? Do you have a sense of a stability, or are you just wandering around waiting for the all clear to sound? When the storm seems to have passed, will we know for sure that it has? It’s been about a year now, and living a year on edge it tough. We first started hearing about this plague around this time last year, not possibly knowing what would transpire. I traveled to Florida in February with my BFF Amy, and some people wore masks then, but it wasn’t prevalent. But we still cast a side eye at those that coughed or cleared their throats near us. We didn’t know what was coming, but we couldn’t be sure. 2-3 weeks after we got back the shutdowns started. And nothing has felt real since. Fake. Maybe that is what survival mode is, just faking it. And hopefully you make it. It isn’t a fun way to live, I am learning. I am still true to myself, I haven’t changed my colors, just my locations. What I hope is that it starts to feel better, more normal that this is where I am now, and I am feeling a better level of comfort, but it’s still so very strange. It’s a struggle, but I am a survivor of many strange things in this life. I hope we all are, this time around. That’s not a fake thought, it is incredibly sincere. Hang in there.

The Low Set Bar

I just read an article written by my Service Industry Hero, The Bitchy Waiter. (Darron Cardosa) I stumbled upon him a few years ago on the Facebook, and he spoke to my soul. His life is quite different from mine, but we were both career restaurant people, and while he did his stint in New York City, and me in Appleton, we had enough similar, um, complaints about humanity. I just knew he was writing to me, letting me know that our souls were not crushed, just beat up a little by the industry we loved. Not exactly an abusive relationship, but dysfunctional and fabulous at the same time. It helps to know you aren’t alone, you know?

So he got to write a couple of things recently for Food & Wine, and in this particular article he wrote about the new year, sort of. He makes the point that just because we are in a new year, that things won’t just magically go back to “normal.” And then he mentions the things that restaurants in many states have had to do to adapt to the ‘Rona. Buying and installing plexiglass partitions, spending money on propane heaters for outdoor seating, and the propane. Lots of things that aren’t typical expenses. All of the sanitation procedures that got put in place and the expense of that. It all was money that was spent, and then in a lot of states, they got shut down anyway. Carryout only in some places. Some never to reopen, unfortunately.

He made a great point. 2021 isn’t going to have to do much to improve upon what 2020 was. The bar is set pretty low, all it has to do is suck even just a little less than 2020. With the vaccine thing getting going, maybe that will help. Maybe we can start to phase out masking. Hopefully some of that plexiglass can come down. There was just so much stumbling and figuring out what we could and couldn’t do, you didn’t always know what could possibly come next. About this time last year was when we were first learning about the virus, that it might be a thing. Yeah, just might be. It feels like the only conversation available on a bad first date now.

I wasn’t really looking for a New Year, New You moment. I am looking at survival as a more necessary topic these days. Hanging on has been the jam for so many months now that I have no intention of putting too much pressure on the 2021. It doesn’t seem fair. I am totally down with the idea of keeping that bar low enough to let 2021 have a chance. If we can keep it moving forward instead of standing still we will have already won. Don’t get me wrong, I am still all about moving forward, and improving. But we can pace ourselves this time. Give it a chance.

What I would ask is that you keep supporting those businesses you love. The restaurants and small shops. They have had to adapt and spend money on resources just to stay open, that we don’t always think about when we wander out and about. People always post these memes about closing the big stores for the next shutdown, if God forbid, it came to that. Give the little guys a chance. Well, we all know that ain’t gonna happen. Choose where you spend your money, and support who you can when you can. You will still need things those big stores have that the little guys can’t get. I have wanted to spend a lot of money at places that my friends own, and when I can, I do, but my situation isn’t as liquid as it used to be, I have to budget differently. Just support who you can. A little goes a long way for these businesses. Believe me, if their door is open, they will appreciate you so much.

If you are hoping for big things this year, go for it. You can’t get there wishing for it to come to you. I have some things to work on too, 2020 was rough, but I am still here. We can’t move forward looking back and bitching at the rearview mirror. I hate how much a lot of us lost this past year. But I am fond of saying that no one year is all bad or all good. There are 365 days in most years, one extra last. You cannot possibly have had 366 bad days in a row, so look for those good moments and improve upon them. Don’t look back, you are not there anymore. Happy New Year Friends!! We will be ok, that bar is low enough to crawl over if we need to.

*Follow The Bitchy Waiter if you would like a little insight on the inside of the Service Industry, and have the ability to not take it too personally if you are not a part of that industry. He is quite funny, and a bit insightful too. I am a big fan!

Holidays

I am not really ready for the Holidays. Not that I am any other year. But this year mostly because I don’t think I have anything to get ready for this year. It seems like it isn’t really a thing this year, for me at least. I have a couple of little things bought for gifts, but it’s like not really a thing I am too stressed about.

We have a Secret Santa thing going at work. Turns out these things aren’t so secret, really. Everyone seems to know who has who, who got what and who is giving what to who, and I am lost. It’s fun, but some people are sneakier than others, some people don’t like who they got, and it is a whole thing. I like keeping these little secrets, so I try to be clever, but that only gets you so far. It is the one thing I am clinging to, however, to get this holiday spirit going. It is working in small spurts, so I hope for the best. We have our party for the holiday this coming Friday. I will report back if I get any Holiday Joy out of the thing. (I am sure I will!)

I think a lot of people are struggling with it this year, more than usual. Even my Christmas Crazy friends don’t seem so crazy this year. We haven’t exactly been having December weather so far, which makes it hard to believe it is really time for the holidays. It is snowing a little here today, I am not thrilled, but at least now I can buy into the fact that it is December.

I watched “A Christmas Story” last weekend. And of course I will catch it when it is on for 24 hours on Christmas, that is just tradition now. That usually helps my holiday spirit a little. I need to find “It’s A Wonderful Life” on somewhere, that should amp things up for me a little. When Harry Bailey toasts George at the end, I turn into a puddle. That’s the best part to me, and that’s when my Grinch Heart grows out of the little box. Yes, I am mixing my metaphors or Christmas movies, but that is what it takes for me, so just don’t worry about it.

I am worried about my restaurant friends this year. A lot. People really rely on the extra income that comes in around this time of year. I am feeling the pinch, but I have a steady enough income that I will be ok. Things aren’t ok for the service industry. Even if we aren’t “shut down” here in Wisconsin, things are slow. There are states, quite a few right now, that are locking them down, carryout only, and that is going to cripple some people financially. The employees and the restaurants they work for. If you can, get out and support them in any way you can. For the well established places, I would say buy some gift cards, but for small places, buy actual food and things now. They may not make it to a point where people can use those gift cards. If you do carryout, please tip, please. A lot of people don’t think to do that, and it doesn’t have to be a lot, but something. There is more work to putting together a carryout than you realize, and the little gratuity means a lot. Tip more if you can, but something is better than nothing. As I sit here today, I have no idea if I will ever be back working in a bar or restaurant. I miss it and my restaurant family incredibly, and I am thankful to be in a steady job working for a good company, but a lot of my “people” are still in that industry, and I want them to make it. Help them if you can.

This Christmas, or whatever holiday you celebrate, try to make it less about stuff and more about people. I think a lot of people are hurting, particularly mentally right now. A friend posted that she had a full out panic attack yesterday. My heart just broke reading it, she had been holding things together pretty well through this whole thing. She will be ok, she has good people, lots of them. But I get it. Big time. It can be such an overwhelming time right now without a pandemic. But it can really take over your soul, and break you down with all that is going on. So if you feel the struggle, or know of someone who is feeling it, reach out a hand. Encourage them, lift them up. Little gestures mean a lot, truly. More this year than any I can remember, people are just a little lost, and giving them a little of your light can probably be the North Star if they need that lift.

I am doing ok, all things considered. I keep muscling ahead and I have some good people around me. I want everyone to come out of this healthy, and that includes the mental health aspect of it. There is help out there is you don’t have a support system built in. Resources are available, and if you can read this, I want to be one for you. Reach out, I am around, and if I don’t know an answer, I will help you find one. Holidays are hard anyway, you don’t need extra weight other than what you get from the cookies. That is a thing to tackle next month, today we want to handle what might make you struggle. I hope you have a magical holiday season, and if not magical, then at least functional. We can get there, together.

Skid Marks

I went out for a belated birthday lunch with my BFF Amy yesterday. We went to the Neenah location of my dear former employer, Solea, and that means there were Margaritas. Big wonderful margaritas. I do love my day drinking. But that is just a side thing, setting the scene, if you will.

I have spoken often of losing my folks at a young age. It sucked, but it is a part of my story, and it shaped a lot of how I see things. Amy lost her mom this year, and her situation was unique in that her mom made a medical decision, and she had the opportunity to die at home, surrounded by her life loves, her family. We have talked a few times about how beautiful that was for them, and it was an experience not a lot of people get. Now, since her passing, Amy had gotten a lot of the experiences people go through- family crap. It is just a part of it, when you have a group, you have different dynamics and personalities and everyone goes through things differently. It isn’t my place to go through some of the things she is dealing with, but I have been doing what I can to listen to her when she needs to get through some of it. She did it all for me years ago, and I have never forgotten what those moments in life have meant to me. BFFs, you know? There’s a reason, and her big heart is the best reason ever.

So, through some conversations, and I will just abbreviate this- Her dad has been dating. That’s really his choice, and it wasn’t a surprise, and you see that often with older people that lose their spouse. I think it’s got more to do with companionship than anything, but that’s an adjustment for the family. Amy and I talked about that, and the things, and she said maybe some of the shine was coming off the edges in that new relationship. That “new car smell” was starting to wear off. It gave an opportunity for me to tell a story about the days when my Dad was first married to my stepmom, Darlene. I couldn’t believe I hadn’t shared this one with her before.

Adult dating is different that dating as a teenager, or even a young adult in their 20s. When you are a “grown up” people come with some baggage and some habits. That’s part of life, and the experiences that come with opening your heart to another person. Dad and Dar had baggage, plenty of it, from their marriages and kids. I truly believe they both hit the jackpot when they found each other, because they really had they love thing. They adored each other, and anyone around them could see it.

When the events happened that had us go live with Dad and Dar back in 1983, they were living in a small house, and we all jammed into that for a short time while they looked for a bigger house. Thankfully it was summertime, so we could be outside a lot. Dar loved hanging laundry on the line, and it saved a lot of hassle on the dryer, as there was a ton of laundry going on at the time. They had been married a couple of years at this time, maybe a smidgeon past that “Honeymoon” phase. I was outside with Dar, while she was hanging the laundry on the line. As she was hanging some of Dad’s boxer brief type things he wore, she kind of muttered something about, um, shit stains on his underwear. I was about 13, so old enough to get what she was talking about, but I didn’t have a lot of laundry experience. She was ticked because those stains didn’t come out very well. I now get why people buy colored underwear.

Here’s the life lesson I got that day: The eyes of love see things differently. She was positive that when they first got together, living together with her doing the laundry, that he didn’t have skid marks on his shorts. Her loving eyes saw right past those spots and everything was birds singing, daisies and hearts and flowers. All is right with the world and everyone’s underwear is spotless!! Then, life crashed in with 7 kids and 2 adults and all of their skid marked panties piling up in the hamper in a 2 bedroom house. New car smell? Gone. Ed’s underwear was no longer lily white, and for better or worse laundry stains were a reality.

I am certainly not trying to disparage the bathroom habits or hygiene of my dear old departed dad. He was a prince of a person, but he was human. The story kind of stayed with me for so many years because it really is a good dose of reality. Love is patient, love is kind, but love is also recognizing that skid marks happen. Gaze into each other’s eyes with love, but keep the presoak treatments ready. Sooner or later that spark gives way to a fire that has embers that burn steady, and being comfortable enough to put that underwear is the hamper is really a big part of what love, real love, is supposed to be. Be real with your partner, they may hate your Hanes, but they love your soul.

More Than Words

It comes around every year, the Thanksgiving, and we all rattle off the same things we are appreciative for each year. Family, friends, good health, etc. And we are grateful, because without these things, life sucks. Watching the news at night can make you feel real good about your situation most any day, but especially in these days, it’s tough to watch the struggles, to see what is really going on right in our cities and towns. I don’t know how much people consider that stuff any other time of year, but this year hasn’t been like many of the other years.

Yes, there are people that do believe this is all being overblown. Of course the media wants to portray things a certain way. So watch with some skepticism, but please don’t dismiss what is happening to your neighbors and family. Who do you know who has has the ‘Rona? I all of a sudden seem to know a whole bunch. That’s because it’s real. There are things that linger, the girls at the gym this morning said they still can’t taste or smell, and it’s been several weeks since they had it. A friend lost his mom, another lost her mom. I heard another story of a man that went to his cabin to quarantine from his family, they found him there dead less than 10 days after he tested positive. It’s real. If you had it and recovered, be thankful. Things do turn out for most, but there are some it doesn’t. Count your blessings, not just today.

How has your job been affected? Almost everyone I know has had some kind of adjustment to how they handle their business, jobs and how and where they are working. So many people are working from home. Not everyone gets to, my job doesn’t really have that option, but some I work with can. I am just happy I am working, I don’t care where it has to get done. But if you have a job that has been changed, affected or even lost due to all of this, and you are still here, I am proud of the resilience you have, because changing things up isn’t easy. I hope you find a way to be appreciative of your situation.

What really breaks my heart is the people that can’t make the ends meet right now. The prices of groceries have really gone up, and somethings are just ridiculous. I saw a package of paper towels, 2 rolls, for nearly $7.00. WHAT!!!! Food has gone up, and it won’t likely come down in price. I know there are many contributing factors to that, the supply chain, production, and more all affect price. But that doesn’t help the person who budgets $100 for their weekly groceries when it all of a sudden costs $125. Twenty five dollars won’t break a lot of people, but extend that out over a month, and throw in the other things that affect the budget, utilities, car payments, insurance and more. That stretched budget may just snap. If you are able to keep your situation fluid, you have a lot to be thankful for. It’s not that easy.

So much seems kind of hopeless coming into winter. I think we aren’t going to see the light at the end of the tunnel turn on just yet. If you have managed to stay employed, keep yourself and family healthy, and are able to pay the bills and eat, you are doing ok. Better than some. If you find yourself in a position to help out, anyone, I hope you would consider it. It wouldn’t even have to be a grand gesture, grab a couple of extra cans of soup at the store and tuck them into that Little Free Pantry you drive by each day. Help someone carry their groceries to their car. Donate a bag of kibble to an animal shelter. More than saying how thankful you are, show the universe how thankful you are by reaching your hand out to a neighbor, a stranger or a friend. When you have gratitude, and really feel it, you want to give that feeling to others. It is a tangible thing.

On this day please know how much I appreciate you if you read these words today. I realize very much this year how fortunate I am to have a circle that opened up and let me inside a little further to keep me going. I had some changes, but some quick to act friends offered me opportunities, and helped keep my outlook positive. I can’t even take the time to think about what may have happened if I didn’t have these guardian angels watching out for me, they kept my vision looking forward. I can’t look back, because I am not going in that direction. If I can give you anything today, I give you a hope for continued health, I hope you can smile and enjoy people you love today. But if you can’t, please know I give you love, and wish for you an inner peace. We travel these roads together, and you are all the best traveling companions I could ever hope for. Happy Thanksgiving.

Birds and Stuff

Another sad anniversary falls this weekend for me, two years since my Papi left this earth. But it’s like this, he is gone, but only physically. I think he is still around, in the annoying way I always knew he would haunt me. Not all ghosts are bad, you know.

I don’t know how spiritual people are. I don’t mean religious, that is something different. But like, spirits. Do you believe in them? Again, that’s not really a ghost thing. But the spirit of a person is from their soul, and it isn’t something you can see, but rather you feel it from them. I think people give off vibrations, the vibe. Some people have a very strong vibe, you get it right from the start, you feel something about them. Some don’t register the ticker at all, and those aren’t your people, that’s ok, not everyone gets into your circle of life. The people you get it from stick with you, even if you only meet them once or twice, they leave an impression on your soul.

Papi left a huge impression on my soul. I could insert several comments on his size here, but that would really just be for a couple of us in his circle to laugh about, so I am gonna leave that one for the moment. From when I first met him, 20 some years ago, his vibration rattled my existence right away. There was that connection, and you know that one, when your souls know each other from something else, another time. Although our backgrounds were very different, our souls knew each other immediately, and we were friends, just like that. He came in and out of my life several times, he always operated on some different level that made him move around a bit. We never lost touch with each other, there are hundreds of middle of the night texts and phone calls out there in the universe that kept us connected. He was a phone terrorist. I would give anything for an obnoxious 2am text telling me I suck. His family brought him back to the area for the last 10-15 years of his life, and me and my soul were happy to have him back. Friendship resumed, and we became co-workers again.

Birds. The legends say when you see a cardinal, that is someone you lost coming to visit you. I love that because there are lots of cardinals in my neighborhood I see regularly, and if that is people I know, then I am well loved and cared for. It’s comforting, truly. But I think Papi was a little bigger than a cardinal. His personality was big, his appetites were huge, and he was a force to contend with, a legend in his own mind. Well, in mine too, but I was drunk a lot with him, so my diminished brain cells were compromised.

Hawks. I have been seeing hawks all over the place. I see them in my neighborhood. I see them out where I work, and out near the mall area where my gym is. At first I was like, cool! A hawk! It was once in a great while. Recently, I have had them swoop relatively near me, and while that can freak me out, it is cool. I try to be an enlightened person, so I looked up the meaning, and there are many explanations. Things like I am being called to see things from a higher perspective, like how a hawk does, and to be called to a bigger meaning in life. It has occurred to me that while that would be cool, it’s probably just Papi keeping an eye on me. He would come back to me as a hawk. He would want to come across as menacing and strong, yet cool as hell. Well done, Papi. I figured you would come back to me more as a turkey.

I miss my friend. Very much, every day. So many things in my life came to me as a result of my friendship with him, and his soul and spirit linger near me. I know his family misses him tremendously, as well as some of his other friends, who were all family to him. He was big like that, a glue that held people together. I cannot believe it has been two years since those awful days when he slipped away from us. I was in a true stupor for that weekend, it was the weekend of Thanksgiving, and that moment his mom got the call at the restaurant I was with her to hold her as she sobbed, and I felt a strong hit to my soul, my heart, and I knew things just were not going to be the same, ever. It’s the same gaping hole that losing an immediate family member leaves, because he was my family in a very real way. It still hurts. I think it always will.

Pay attention to what happens around you, especially if you are missing someone. The universe has many ways to let you know that person, although gone physically, is very near you in a way you may not realize. I keep Papi in my heart at all times, but it makes me feel good to know that every big hawk I see just might be my friend coming by to say hi, and that I suck and I am done. I raise my glass to you, Papi, salud, forever my friend. You suck.

Catch-2020

There is a lot of irony in a pandemic, if you know where to look. I think there’s a lot of different ways people are handling things, and that includes me. I have a lot more time alone with my thoughts lately, that can be good or bad on any given day. Believe me, I am sick of thinking about it all, and then writing about it, but material is hard to come by unless I open up my own can of worms, which scares the heck out of me.

When all of this ‘Rona was still new to us, and the first shutdown thing happened, there were a lot of people that I saw that made good use of that time. I was not one of them, but my intentions were pure. I was working at Costco at the time, which is across from Menards in my town. That place was as busy as we were, people were getting after projects they had been putting off. I have an older neighbor that works there part time, it’s his Retired Guy Gig. He told me stories about how it was over there, and the word insanity came up a lot. All those folks did a lot of projects, and they should be proud of themselves. I kind of wonder as they are sitting in their newly remodeled spaces if they wish they had paced themselves. Things aren’t getting better at the moment, and once those Christmas lights are up, you are stuck with a lot of Hallmark Holiday movies.

I did not use my extra time well. I had plans. Purge the closet, and donate stuff. But nobody was taking donations at the time, so I didn’t. Organize my kitchen space, which is small and could stand to be more efficiently arranged. Not done. Probably worse than it was. I have a bunch of accumulated junk, I don’t use it, and I don’t need it. It was suggested I sell it on Marketplace or Craig’s List. Fantastic Idea!! Nope, didn’t do that either. It just seemed a little overwhelming, and I didn’t want to. Anyone else kind of screw the pooch on your “extra time” plans?

I know I am not alone in that. I mean really, nobody knows how to plan for pandemic free time. There is no handy guide to it that I am aware of, and if there is, it isn’t available on Amazon that I have seen.

It’s like this weekend off thing too. It’s now a part of my thing, something I was always so sure that I would love if I could just get there in life. Well, I am here. I have the time to enjoy my weekend. And there is nothing going on. No concerts, parties are cancelled, events aren’t happening. I am aware that places are still open like bars and restaurants, but the job change has introduced the idea of having to budget more, so I just can’t afford to spend my weekends in those venues. Straight cash all the time is no longer my jam. The disposable income is not so disposable. Go figure, I have the time to act like a real non-service industry person, and I can’t do it right now. Thanks ‘Rona.

If it weren’t for the ‘Rona, I could conceivably still be working in the restaurant business. So I wouldn’t have the time I always wanted, and now have, that I don’t do anything with, really. Zelda gets more attention, so it is all good for her. The approach of holidays especially is strange, because my family always had extra holiday time off that I just didn’t have. This year, I have it, actually. No Black Friday nightmare shift at the restaurant for me!! Yay! But we aren’t doing anything, thanks again ‘Rona. The way Christmas and the New Year fall this year get me a few more long weekends! But that is going to be more subdued with my people too. ‘Rona is ticking me off.

I believe there is always something to be thankful for, I truly do try to find the bright side whenever I can. I am incredibly thankful I have been able to maintain full time employment throughout this situation, many I know haven’t landed as well. I am beyond grateful that my current situation provides me paid time for holidays, earned time off, and the other benefits you just don’t get in the service industry. It has been a beneficial situation for me to adapt to. I am the luckiest person I know some days. So I am certainly not going to complain, but go figure, you know?

Please get through this stretch of winter, and holidays as healthy, physically and mentally, as possible. The little things do really make a difference, even if you can’t quite see the tangibles of it immediately. If you are lucky enough to be somewhere that closures are not affecting your employment, count those blessings. If you are in a position to donate to a food program or even one of those Blessing Boxes, please consider picking up a couple of items next time you grocery shop. I think a lot of people are going to be in for a hard winter. I hope that the upcoming season has blessings on top of blessings for you, but if it does not, look for something positive, and please ask for help. There is no shame in saying “I just can’t do this right now.” There are many resources, and if I can, I will help you find them. Please don’t get caught in despair, it can get better, I promise. I want to be a positive force, which is not always easy, but if I can, I will find a way to help you keep that head above water. I found earlier this year that I have more resources than I ever could have realized, and while my to do list has not gotten done in this crazy pandemic, my get it done for others list looks promising. I want us all to come out of it, together, and as safe and sound as possible. Strength comes in waves sometimes, and if your wave seems to have retreated, reach for my hand, I will help you find a way.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving, and if it isn’t what you hoped it would be, or you can’t be with who you hoped to see, it is still a time to give thanks that you are still here, and that you are surrounded by more good than you maybe realize.

Don’t Know Much About History

I have a birthday again in couple of weeks. I will have fulfilled the First 50 years, and starting the second 50 years. 51. Seems like an uneventful age. Of course, it will dictate itself, I don’t get much say in how things roll. Probably for the best, I am not a great planner. Most days I still feel like a spry young thing of 49, but this 50th year has left a few tread marks, and there are just certain things that go along that make you feel like an old clunk.

With my new employment came some new health insurance. That necessitated a change in doctors, which isn’t so bad, my old provider had just retired, and I had met the new Doctor at that clinic only one time, no emotional attachment, on my part at least, just yet. I am sure she is devastated, but she is young, she will find a new patient who needs some blood pressure meds soon enough. I had an appointment this week to meet my new doctor, and go over my fantastic medical history. Explaining family history, listing off things I have had, yeah, that makes you feel old. The kidney stone and colonoscopy conversations made me feel about 80 years old. Then I learned that a Shingles vaccine is a 2 part thing. I had a shot in June, thought that’s good, I am ready! Nope, there is a second part! So I had to get another one, and I am not a baby about shots, but it hurt! I felt like I got punched hard by someone wearing a big ring! No lollipop after, either. Boo!

This gets me to the mammogram portion of my talk. I get them annually, as I have a family history. I hadn’t scheduled one yet, because I knew my insurance would be changing. They happened to have an opening the morning I was there, so I was able to get it done Tuesday. I have had enough of them now that it isn’t an anxiety thing for me, but rather a comfort thing. Not that it is comfortable, but knowing I am taking care of that business comforts me. I had the nicest technician, she was young, but very good at her gig. Warm hands too, that is a big plus, as anyone who gets mammograms will tell you. I cannot stress enough how important it is to get these done, ladies. In the past year and a half, give or take a few months, I have known no less than 5 women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer. Young, in their 30s and 40s. Mammograms are a huge tool in being able to diagnose this early enough to be able to have success in treating the cancer. These women have fought, there have been tough days, better days, but they are seeing more days than if they hadn’t found out by being seen and getting mammograms done. I feel like it is one of the most important things a woman can do for herself, so I will always encourage doing it, and if you need someone, let me know, I will be there with you. Mine went well, and it will be a year before I go again, but I would bet money I will talk about them again here, as I believe early diagnosis saves lives.

Getting a little older gives you some history. Medical History. I have been lucky to stay relatively healthy through most of my days. Sure, take away a toe here, a spider bite there, and a boulder of a kidney stone, I have done pretty well. It took me a lot of years to take it a little more seriously, like most people I think we all believe we are invincible in our youth. Then your knee pops when you stand up to go potty for the 15th time because your old lady bladder can’t handle it anymore. I get it, believe me. But it comes to a point where you aren’t ready to trade your sports car in for a Buick, so you check the tires a little more often. I kind of think that is where I am at right now, scheduling appointments a year from now, because knowing is better than getting surprised, and the family history I spawned from is no joke, medically speaking. In these days of the ‘Rona, being healthy is something I choose to not take for granted, because not everyone wins every fight.

* I thought a lot this week, after the news about Alex Trebek dying came through, of my friends and family who have or have survived cancer. Various cancers, various treatments, lots of fighting. He fought Pancreatic cancer for a lot longer than most people make it after diagnosis. I don’t know, maybe it was the way that he continued working, speaking openly about his bad days, and trying his best to stay positive. He seemed like he could inspire a lot of people, even knowing his long term prognosis wasn’t great. The reports that he had a good last couple of days, with his people around him, made me think even more of his whole approach to it. And what I hope is that all of you who have fought, or are fighting, see the hope of his journey, not the final destination. I could see where his passing could take the wind out of your sails a little, but I sure hope not. He said that he had lived a good life, and he did that up to the end, and he went to sleep. While my wish is that nobody would get cancer anymore, I would hope even more that those who do, can look at his journey and know that there is a good life still to be had, and that hope is a good thing.