Go Sports!!

I am a sports fan, absolutely! Mostly I follow the baseball and football, but I like watching other sports too. The Olympics are going on now, and I like watching some of that too. I watched the men’s synchronized platform diving a few days ago which is so cool. I am not so much about the basketball, but even I got swept up in it a little when the Bucks won the championship last week. My brothers, sister and a few of my really good friends are big fans, have been through many of the awful 50 years since their last championship, and I was so happy for them. That was exciting stuff.

I am not going to jump on the Simone Biles things too much, but the thing I admire about her is that even on the world’s biggest stage, she was wise enough to recognize that something wasn’t right with her, and she stepped back. Our society stupidly tells people to push through pain and mental anguish to “just do it.” That mentality sometimes causes more harm than good. She chose to step away, to not risk an injury, and take care of the mental aspect of being in competition, something most of us know nothing about. For that, she is a hero, and that is my take on it, time to move on.

Back to my sports, and teams I do love. I start now with the Brewers. Today, July 31st, they are first in their division, their pitching staff is looking pretty great, and in recent games the bats have been active. If they win one more game, they hit the magic number that means even if they tank the rest of the season, they cannot lose 100 games. Long time Brewers fans know that has happened, so it is a happy day when they have 63 wins, mathematically making 100 losses impossible for a season. We are a little more than halfway through the season, and they have made some moves that indicate they are ready for a pennant race. Please make that true, baseball gods. I am so ready for a fun month of October. If you could also make something cause the Dodgers to tank a little, or a lot, I wouldn’t be too mad. Thanks for that. Stay tuned for more Brewers notes and craziness, should this all continue.

Packers. Yep, my guys. So this has been an interesting week. The whole Rodgers thing is at least temporarily resolved. This is a lesson in living for the moment, because he ain’t saying much about anything beyond this season. I can deal with that for now. He is here. He is in the building at 1265, and he got Randall Cobb back in the house too. I find that completely intriguing. We are stacked for receivers now. We weren’t in a bad spot there anyway. Things get interesting with #18 back, because even if he has lost a step, other defenses have to account for him. His chemistry with Rodgers cannot be overlooked. This has some crazy fun potential for those of us in Packerland. Some of the more delusional Bears fans I know were like giddy little school girls last week when it looked like Rodgers might check out. Then he showed up with Randall Cobb in tow, and now their tears taste delicious. Not today, Satan, not today.

The most relieved guy in Green Bay, Matt LeFleur looks like a kid who got everything on his Christmas list. David Bakhtiari is hopping around Lambeau field handing out golden shoes and pimped out golf carts like the Ambassador of Packers Football. The interviews, videos and pictures have a feel of joy, of a team that is happy to be back together and know something special is going on. I hope they are right. Randall Cobb spoke to what a special place this is, how he had tears when he learned he was coming home, and as happy as he was, his wife was even more excited. That says a lot. He had to live in Texas for a stretch. They generally have better weather than we do, but you also have to live in Texas. Things are just different there. To my fellow Packers fans, let’s just really try hard to enjoy this season. Nothing is promised now, but even less is promised after it ends, so let’s live in the moment, and give out a lot of “Go Pack Go!” cheers.

Sports in general is a distraction, an escape from our daily existence. Most of us don’t have a lot of athletic ability, or at least not enough that anyone would pay us to play any given sport. Watching a team play and investing in the outcome, well, that’s a great way to feel a part of something. Some get a little carried away, and take the losses harder than they should, and that is unfortunate. But the shared feeling those thousands of Bucks fans felt out in the Deer District had to be amazing to be a part of. Or the feeling when I was sitting in a bar in New Orleans full of Packers fans on January 26, 1997 and as a group knew we were winning our first Super Bowl in 30 years, I had never felt such a feeling of belonging to something in my life! It didn’t truly change my life, but I am here talking about it 24 years later remembering how much happiness we felt! So the sports are a great thing to bond over, winning or losing, it gives us a little something to make a connection with other humans. I get that not everyone loves sports, and watching a game or match is the last thing on their list. They hopefully find their joy and connections with other people in a way that gets them as excited as I feel when my teams win.

For now, for me, let me just say Go Brew Crew!! And of course, Go Pack Go!!!

Write It Down

During the week, I have tons of great ideas for this blog. I see something and think, yeah! I will write about that!! Or have a conversation that really inspires me, and I think I can help others too! Then Saturday or Sunday rolls around, when I actually have the time to sit down and pour my heart into an awe-inspiring experience, and I have no idea what those thoughts were all week long. It’s just gone. I do think about writing it down, but what I know about me, is that those pieces of paper with the notes would be sitting at my desk at the office, or be lost and gone forever in my pile of crap I keep on what is supposed to be my kitchen table. So a lot of days, you get what you get here from me, off the cuff.

I spend my time at work talking on the phone, mostly. The calls are supposed to be fairly cut and dry: What’s up with your roof, and where do you live and how do we contact you. It’s all put right out there for us. Keep it short, professional, and friendly without going off the rails. Yep, I go off the rails more often than not. I can’t help it. As much as I bitched about people in my restaurant days, I do truly like them and I am interested in helping them and knowing about them. My calls should be about 2 minutes, give or take, but a lot of the time I end up at 4-5 minutes, or occasionally (or daily, whatever) I will have a call that goes 10 or more minutes. Oops. I get people laughing.

I had a guy about a week or so ago call for an estimate. It starts normal, short information about his situation, and I get the information. He gives me his address, and he happens to live on Easy Street, in Green Bay. As you can imagine, that was too much for me. Off the rails. But I had him laughing, I am sure he has had the comments about living on easy street before he ever thought his roof needed our love. But none of those comments were from me. I may have heard him snort, he was chuckling so hard. I can’t even tell you much of what I actually said, but it was pure gold. Not sure if he bought a roof from us, but his life on Easy Street will never be the same.

This is what I have to do to keep this job engaging for me. I don’t know the construction industry, I know how to make drinks and serve the food, and cook it if I have to. This transition has been a real challenge. I have discussed it before. But now I am more than a year into it. I know more of my co-workers better, I am in the routine of working normal people hours, and I know my personality can be an asset to the company, as long as I keep it relatively clean. I can also speak roof-talk a little. When people call and explain, I can use the roof words a little bit. Box vents, pipe vents, valley, soffit, fascia. Yep, even know what some of them are. We won’t go into my lack of computer knowledge, but I have learned to cut and paste, and I can transfer pictures from one thing to another. Old dogs, new tricks.

It’s tough to change things, especially when it’s kind of a forced thing due to circumstances like a pandemic. I had wondered for years if I would ever find an exit strategy from the restaurant industry. The strategy found me, more or less. I was lucky beyond words that the things came along that did. I have people tell me that luck wasn’t it, that my personality and work ethic made it easy for people to want to help me out. Maybe, but timing and luck are a part of it. I am thankful, and I will continue to count my lucky stars that things have worked out.

Don’t be afraid of the changes, they are going to happen if you hang around long enough. A lot of people are in a rut, without even knowing it, and if that rut is working for you, stick it out, but don’t be afraid of the changing wind direction. While I was going through it, I marveled at myself for not freaking out more. I was so worried, but I didn’t let that get to me too much. I am glad I stuck with it long enough to have a conversation with the guy living on Easy Street. And I know I can still have an impact on people in a fun, positive way without having to ply them with tequila.

The Next Chapter

At the end of this month, I will have been writing this little blog for 2 years. That has zipped by pretty quick, I am not gonna lie. I just renewed it, so you are warned, it’s going for 2 more years. Could be cause for celebration, might be a lot more of the same. But I will try to entertain, myself at the very least, and more of you, if I can. It all kind of hinges on my mood on a day when I have time to sit down and write.

Today I am feeling a little tired and beat up from a hard week at the gym. I am going, and doing the workouts, but I have been slipping a lot on my diet, so I am not seeing the progress I want. I need to get a lot better eating, and crank up my routine a little bit. My lifestyle has changed a lot over the past few years, I have gone from the Drunk of the Month to the middle aged woman who is in bed before 10pm most nights, earlier even if I can manage. I feel so much better than I used to, but I don’t feel as good as I did a year and a half ago. I gotta find that spark again.

It’s a good lesson for me, really. I need to recognize that as I am aging, my situation and metabolism and other things are changing too. I feel like I am younger than I am, and that is a good thing, but I also have to recognize that I am the age I am. I have long believed if you let yourself get old, you will be old. I don’t feel old, just tired. More on that, at some point.

So as I have renewed this blog for 2 more years, I need to renew myself a little bit too. I need to re-commit to what it is I want, for my health and my life. I hope to get there through some of this stuff that I write here. I don’t truly know how many people I reach, but I have some regulars reading this, and I get a notification from time to time that I have a new follower. That’s cool. I hope they like it, and in a year when I check in on this particular post, I am doing better with myself again.

Changing and aging are tough, but not an insurmountable task. It takes some focus, determination and motivation. I have the tools available to me to grow, and I have some fantastic people to encourage me. But I also have Miller Lite and bread to challenge me. I will find the balance again.

Looking ahead, I have a few events coming that will not do a lot to get me to my goals, but that’s ok. You have to live the life too. So the Mile of Music is back this year, and a family wedding in Ohio are on the horizon. Those won’t be held at a health spa, so I won’t beat myself up about setbacks that may occur. I plan on doing Sober October again this year, I felt pretty great when I did that 2 years ago. Also, cutting back on sugar is going to happen too. I have been like a crazed sugar maniac lately, that’s gotta go. I will keep you posted, I promise.

As I move on to the next two years of putting it out there via this blog, I hope anyone that has a suggestion for me will put it out there. I hope you are all enjoying my thoughts and ramblings. It is just nice to get it out of my head sometimes. Thanks for that, and a place to put it down. Cheers friends!

Doggos

It is no secret to anyone who knows me, that I love the dogs. My dog, your dog, random dogs I never met. I love them all. They are weird and wonderful. Some can be jerks, it’s true, but they are just misunderstood, I am sure of it. They just haven’t met me yet. I have fairly successfully rolled the Facebook algorithm to show me more dogs than anything. Even more than things Amazon wants me to buy. That’s quite an accomplishment.

First, of course, is my girl Zelda. She is my weird and wonderful animal. She is a rescue, and a rescuer. She hates squirrels, is annoyed by bunnies and yells at kids walking to and from the elementary school around the corner. She turned 7 in April, and I hate that I see signs of her aging, but she still has spunk and a plenty of whack job in her yet. There is a small florist shop that opened nearby, and they have a doggy water dish out front. Zelda could give a crap about that, because they also have a jar they keep stocked with little Milkbones in it. It took one time. Now whenever we walk in that general part of the neighborhood, she pulls me over that way for her treat. We did see a kitty inside the shop one day, and they had a stare down for a moment, but it was truly all about the treats. As the vet told me one time, Zelda is very food motivated. My true spirit animal.

What kind of got me thinking about the dog thing this morning is my neighbor’s dog, Bailey. Bailey is a new dog to the ‘hood. Their older dog crossed the Rainbow Bridge last fall. I never really knew that dog, because they didn’t have him out that often, he was a back yard dog, and I don’t know them well enough to go stalk their yard. Plus he was pretty quiet, not a barker. So this spring, I saw them out talking to the other neighbor guy, and they had a puppy. So I went over to say hi and meet the new dog. Bailey. He is a Kane Corso, so even as a puppy a bigger baby. We’re friends now, me and Bailey. They take him for walks and stuff, so he is a little more visible. The past week or so, when I come home from the gym in the morning Bailey is sitting in their little front porch window, and he kind of gruffs at me. I love it. It isn’t a bark, or a growl, more like a “Hi” short and sweet. So I say hi back, and he runs away and comes right back. It cracks me up.

I drive to work every morning, it is about 6 miles and takes me approximately 13 minutes. I drive through a lot of neighborhoods, less on the busier streets. And since I drive the same path every day about the same time, I have gotten to know that habits of people that I see regularly. There’s an old guy that walks near City Park, and he is usually right on schedule. There’s a lady I see walking and reading a book over the College Avenue bridge. And there are the dogs. I kind of gauge my how my day will be by how many dogs I see on my commute. Anything less than 6 and I might as well pack it in for the day and just call in. I average about 10 dogs. There’s a sheep dog I see regularly, that’s always a good day. In colder weather, I see fewer doggos, and that is understandable, I just hope they all know I miss them.

We go on at work quite a bit about how we wish we could bring dogs to work. Our boss, who is an incredible guy in so many ways, isn’t having it, and that’s ok. I get it, we are there to work, not run the doggy day care. Very occasionally however, a dog shows up at the office, and we all lose it. We are like whack jobs. One day somebody’s wife had to drop off something, and she had their dog with them. So we are all running out back of the warehouse to go meet and pet the dog. Sorry about your roof, but there’s a dog here! Last week, the boss actually did bring his dog to work, because they are selling their home, and there was a scheduled showing, and he had to bring the doggy along. I made it over to his office twice to pet the dog. I told him we could watch it over in the call center, if he needed a break. That was a no go. I was bummed. But we were like a bunch of geeked out kids about a dog being there. It was a good day. Even better than when we get donuts.

Having a pet is commitment. You don’t just get to drop everything and do stuff, you have to plan. But to me, it is great, because when you have the right creature in your life, you get a lot of love, and fur. I wanted a dog for years before I got The Zelda. My situations didn’t always lend itself to having a dog be a part of my days. But things shifted, I grew up a little and being in a house made it more plausible, and she and I found each other. If you can, I highly suggest having a pet, whether it’s a dog or a cat or whatever your creature of choice is. But know it’s commitment, and you are now a caretaker for another soul. They count on us. But the light they can bring is all worth it. There are lots of rescues, and places that look for loving homes for these fur babies. Check one out if you feel ready. I will always support and champion these organizations, because without them, I don’t get rescued by my whack job girl Zelda. On that note, I better go walk her stinky butt. The aroma is rising.

But before I go, Tell Your Dog I Say Hi!!

Dependence Day

I get by with a little help from my friends. I love that song, always have, but as I get older it hits me in the feels a little more. I have been on my own for a long time. But I always have had some people standing behind me keeping me propped up, and gathered a few more good ones along the way. We need that, you know? I see people sometimes that don’t have that. I saw one the other day, on my drive to work. I drive past the Salvation Army some days, and there was a guy sleeping on the bench outside. 7 am on a Wednesday. Breaks my heart because I know what ultimately is at the root of things like that, mental illness and substance abuse that is out of hand. No friends to help them get by.

We have a lot, as a nation. Our independence declared 245 years ago gave us the ability to stand down from the monarchy and make our own way. A group of guys did it, with the help of each other. But they couldn’t know what 200+ years later would look like. And what life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness would do to some people, and how it may leave some others behind. We built our strong military, but they didn’t know that in the late 1960s and early 70s we would be in a war that would alienate a lot of our soldiers and cause a stream of PTSD and substance abuse and mental illnesses that ended up crippling a part of a generation. How could they know? They were still getting around on horses and boats and stuff. They gave us a path to grow from, but not a way to manage our growth that they couldn’t really predict. Thankfully the rise of veteran support groups help some of these folks, and now the Vietnam vets are being treated with the respect they earned, by most people. They got a little help from their friends too, so to speak.

The 4th of July brings a lot of patriotic fervor, as well it should. It’s a fun time, a long weekend and our birthday as a nation. Scrolling the Facebook can make you proud to be an American, but it can also knock you down a little when you see some of the posts people come up with that are supposed to be patriotic, but end up really being quite racist, homophobic and generally ugly. I won’t get specific, but all men created equal is just a catch phrase to some. I saw some ugly things lately, as it was just Pride Month, and it breaks my heart a lot. People just don’t seem to get that equal rights for all means equal rights for all, not just those you agree with. That’s a heavy burden, hating like that.

Other fantastic things our nation does do, however, is give people that come here from other countries an opportunity to become an American citizen. It takes some time, a lot of money, and plenty of hoops to jump through, but it can be done. I learned this week that a couple of my friends were recently naturalized. My heart was so happy! They have been working on it a long time, and now they are Americans. They got by with a little help from their friends as well. It takes a lot of support to make it through that process. I am so proud and happy for them, and they will be great at being Americans. I always tried my best to support my friends seeking citizenship, writing recommendation letters, driving them to appointments, little things. We depend on each other, and we help each other out. It feels good.

When times get tough, as they sometimes do, declaring your independence to get through it may seem like the thing to do, but you have to ask for a little help sometimes too. When you are independent, people tend to not offer the help, because you don’t seem to “need” it. It’s ok to be dependent sometimes, to ask for help. It’s the toughest thing for me, because I do get by on my own most of the time, but I have gotten better. I have seen where dependence is bad, in some relationships, and that is another thing for another day. But as we celebrate the idea of independence, remember that most of us do that together, as we are a nation of people, and people really do need people to get by in life. I thank all of you that take the time to read this stuff when I get rolling. All of you that lift me up at the gym, the job and the life. It’s good to remember that a wrong turn here or there could have made things in life much worse, for all of us, had we not had someone near us to set our course back to forward. Be independently dependent on your people, and they can do the same for you!

Enjoy your holiday weekend, eat some food, drink some beverages, shoot off some fireworks. You are free, hopefully happy, and remember to help someone out, when you can. You will always be right when you come from a place of peace and love.

Funk

I have been in a funk this week. I think the funk correlates with the impending arrival of the monthly bill, so I don’t think it’s going to last long. But the universe isn’t giving me much to grab onto this week. It’s been cloudy and rainy for a few days. There have been news events that I have been obsessing about, like the condo that just collapsed near Miami. I watch the news and cry. I just feel like I am trying to swim through mud. I have been eating crappy. Just stuff like that. It’s going to pass, maybe like a kidney stone, but it will pass.

There has been some good stuff, I promise. But it’s just a thing we all go through from time to time. You know, you worry about people and things. You stress bills and rent or mortgages, and then it rains steady for 3 days so you can’t even have any fun. I had to walk Zelda in the rain 3 times yesterday. You would be bummed too. Picking up poop while your dog kicks grass at you celebrating an awesome dump while rain drips off your head is not exactly the crowning jewel of my day. Plus wet dog is not a great aroma. She’s really really cute, or I wouldn’t put up with her crap.

I got the opportunity to go to the comedy club the other night, with my boss and a couple of co-workers. That was fun, and I did have a great time. But I stayed up late, past bar time. Then I made the brilliant decision to go to the gym at 7am the next morning. Not good. I was like a toad. Prayed for death the entire time. Death did not come for me, and I survived, but instead of getting me jacked up for the day, I was down. Napped more than I was awake for most of the day, except for those fantastic walks with Z in the rain. Now, I don’t really feel bad about napping on a rainy day, but it just added to the funk of it all.

I am trying again today, with the workout thing. There is a special Sunday Funday workout that will have bloody marys at the end of it, as a motivational way to make it through. It’s still raining. I may not have much going for me after that. I got enough sleep I think to survive, but time is going to tell that story for me. I just hope that I can make it through the day semi awake. I need the sun to come out.

I am rambling, bad. Wow. I do that, but this seems bad, even for me. If I make it through today, which I will, I hope that the week ahead will even things out. There are some more things coming up, Fourth of July is next weekend already. I see the summer activities piling up on the calendar, and I am excited about almost all of them. This is just one of those little stretches that we all get that pass in a few days. When these little funks hit it just takes a little shift to get it back to where I want to be. A little self-induced pity party is fine, as long as I don’t sit in it too long.

I hope all is well in your universe. Things can always be far worse. Like those families in Florida waiting for answers. I have much to be thankful for and to look forward to, we all do. We just need to keep our eyes and thoughts looking forward. I think this morning being around some positive folks at the gym will help me immensely. If not, I will nap.

Summer

It sounds like we get to have summer this year. The calendar is filling up with events, parties, festivals, weddings and all the things that didn’t go on last year. It’s good. We can turn the page, finally. I listened to the debates about vaccines, masks, closings and openings, crowds and isolation. I did my thing, and got through it. 2 shots and a sore arm, and I am on my way! I made it, and like a lot of us I am ready for the reward for patience and good behavior.

Except I am now 51 years old and working a straight job. I am tired. I am going to bed these days at the time we used to start our nights. I am up at the butt crack of dawn every day so I have my workout in before I go pretend to know about roofs all day. I like my life, I truly do, and I love the weekend off thing. I can do stuff now. As long as it ends at a reasonable hour. There are challenges ahead, but I can dig down deep and get it done, I think.

The One Thing I am looking forward to most is the Mile of Music, the first weekend in August. Four days of music, beer drinking, music and beer drinking. Locally. I live within walking distance and I love it. We start drinking before noon, a rule we established early on for Mile 2, and we go all day, pacing ourselves (except for Thursday) but it’s a grind. With my new schedule of life, I am going to have to do some conditioning in the weeks leading up to the festival. I may have to stay up until 10pm to practice. Wish me luck, I don’t have a lot of wiggle room for naps in my days, but in the preparation for the Mile, I will make adjustments and get back to the ability to stay awake until midnight or later for 4 whole days in a row. The things we do for love.

I am excited to get to some baseball games this year too. That’s a part of summer, and while some games aren’t that exciting, it’s the whole experience that I love. People watching, talking smack, drinking a cool refreshing beer. Actually it’s a lot like a music festival except we get to sit down more. It’s a thing I associate with summer, and I am happy we can be there live and in person this year. I really missed things like that.

People just tend to be in a better mood in the summer. More daylight, less clothing, and a sense of freedom that comes with not having to be trapped inside. I know there are those that prefer cooler weather, and love the winter sports and things. I just like being able to leave the coat at home and roam about a little more freely. Zelda and I can take longer walks, sniff more stuff and bark at more people and dogs. Squirrels are a bit more cocky, but we just chase them back up the trees and show them who really runs the show.

All of the things that summer brings can really brighten up our days. I feel for people that count the days until the kiddos go back to school, or wait for the humidity to just go away. It isn’t all sunshine and daisies for everyone. I know I could live without the seasonal allergies, but at least modern science has given me ways to alleviate the sneezes and snot that cottonwood brings. But this year it all seems worth it, just to get back out there. To hit a farmer’s market, eat corn on the cob dripping with butter at a festival, family reunions and hoping your friend with the boat can take you out for a day. Summer, in all of its beauty with late sunsets, fireworks and fun. Cheers to it, with your favorite cool beverage, I am happy to have you back, old friend!

Numbers

We are surrounded by numbers. For a math nerd that sounds awesome, but I am no math nerd. But really, numerical identification is everywhere, and numbers are constant. It’s how you measure stuff, people and space and time. It’s sort of overwhelming to consider. As important as the numbers are, sometimes they don’t mean a thing. Talk about some life lessons.

For my first example I will discuss the dreaded scale. Weight, a good measuring tool, but what does it actually tell you? I have been in a fight with the scale for years and years. We go long periods without talking, but I always have that bastard sitting in the bathroom, judging me. I have a disagreement with its tactics, but at the end of the day, I just need to know. But it can never tell me the whole story of my efforts. It is telling me how much pull I am letting gravity have with me. It doesn’t see the work I put in, how far I walk with Zelda, how many pushups, burpees and weights I lift each week. It just bitches at me for that sandwich I didn’t need, the one with all the mayo on it. So those numbers, while important, are deceptive, and even a little hurtful.

How about the number of years we tack onto our lives? I have accumulated 51 years. Not sure how, not sure when, but the count started at the tail end of 1969 and it’s ticking off days, weeks and years. I am ok with my 51 years, as we have discussed other times, because not everyone gets that many. Some people never get out of childhood, some make it into their 20s and no further. Some get to some lofty numbers, like the 80s, 90s or even 100 or so. There is a mix of good genes, good luck and maybe a little science to that, but we don’t always get to choose that. Those numbers aren’t ours to calculate, but we do what we can to add on, hopefully. That is a number that is good to see go up, unlike the number that jerk scale spits out, which most want to go down. So, some days I feel young and vibrant, and some days I am an old klunk that wants to be in bed before 9pm. It comes and goes. An 18 year old can be mature or a silly teenager, and an 80 year old will pull a prank on you that would make an 8 year old jealous. Be who you are, and don’t let that number rule your days too much.

The number in the bank account, probably the most awesome or depressing of numbers, depending how you manage that jumble of figures. On any given day you can talk to a millionaire or a guy begging for change, and the thing that keeps them separate is the number of dollars they accumulate, but they are both all of us. We all want the money, we need it to barter and exchange goods and services. It rules some people, and others only have it because they need it to eat and keep a roof over their heads. I love money, and I hate it. I love when I have it, and hate that I don’t have more. I support myself, I have always figured a way to get by, but there isn’t much extra jingling around a hidden bank account. But I am ok, I do better than some, and there will always be those that have a lot and don’t feel they have enough. Those numbers vary from one person to the next, I know some poor people who are happy, and rich people that are miserable. We know the old saying, money can’t buy happiness, and while I believe that, having it can make your misery a little more comfortable. I will probably juggle that balance all of my life, but for now, I am all good.

The number that should matter the most, is the number 1. You are the number One. One person, who is with you at all times. The One you talk to every day. The One you can count on, every single time. You may find another One that keeps you company, brings a little extra sunshine into your days, but without them you are still One, never any less. To look at yourself as less is cheating the numbers. There is no zero or negatives when you look in the mirror, there is One who looks back to you with love and hope. You are the One, and all the other numbers won’t matter, weight, age or money, as long as you are Number One. Hold your head up, and show the world your One thing, the You that matters, shines and adds up to something wonderful and gives yourself that One day at a time that gets you all those other numbers.

Cheeseburgers, All Around!

It’s Mary Jane Day. That isn’t as medicinal as it may sound. But it is for my soul a little. It’s that day we all know what’s on the menu in my family. Mom’s birthday. I don’t know exactly when I started honoring my mom’s birthday with one of her favorite food groups, The Cheeseburger, but it’s been a long time now and most of my siblings also partake, with no lettuce to be seen anywhere. There will also be a little sundae or something. Because that’s the Mary Jane way.

This summer, in the hated month of August, it will be 21 years since Mom left us. It’s still so hard to believe it, and while I believe she travels with me daily, I do almost miss the early morning phone calls. The phone was her weapon of choice, and she used it liberally. But she had to, her health limited her on travel, and she hadn’t driven a car in many years, in fact I had never in my life seen her behind the wheel. That was her way of being with us when we couldn’t be there to see her.

I wish she had lived long enough to be a part of video calls. That would have been a hoot. A lot of elderly people have learned to navigate the technology well enough to really enjoy the Zooms and stuff. I can imagine MJ almost getting it, but not quite. She lived in assisted living the last few years of her life, so someone would have been around to help her out, but it sure makes me smile to think of her on the Zooms my family has on Thursday nights.

I think of her with a cell phone too. She was landline locked and loaded, but imagine the phone terrorist capabilities she would have had with a cell phone. I like to think she would have been a flip phone type, so as to minimize butt dialing. Mom would have figured out a way, but it could have cut it down a little. She was a smart person, she could have figured out the technology enough to wake us all up early on a Saturday. Get her playing a game or two on the phone and maybe a Facebook and Instagram. Mary Jane would have been marvelous, I have no doubt.

Some of my friends have lost their moms in the past year or so. We are that age where it is more normal for life to take that path. We were young when we lost Ed, and then Mary Jane 10 years after him, I was 30 when she died. I have tried to tell my friends that while they will always miss their mom, that time does make it better, it will hurt less. There are so many stages to that grief process, and some days it feels like it follows the chart, other days it feels like you just took the phone call with the news again. Waves, like the ocean, will come and go. I am no expert, I have just been a part of it all for a really long time. I have started to encourage them to do the things I do- honor their memory by doing something they loved. For my mom, it’s a cheeseburger no lettuce, fries, a Coke and little sweet treat. It’s a whole thing now. And for that little while, it’s like sharing the meal with her again. I mean, you are still going to miss her, but this way you justify eating something you probably shouldn’t. I am forever grateful my mom was not a vegetarian.

Happy Birthday Mom, I will pop in my Mamas and Papas cd, get after that cheeseburger, no lettuce, and smile thinking of how popular you were, like Orville Redenbacher. It’s your day, not mine, and I will spend it trying not to be sad, but celebrating the good things of your life, not the other stuff that made it hard and expedited your departure from our lives. Your path was not really what it should have been, but it did bring this family into existence, and today we feast on Cheeseburgers, and leave the lettuce to the bunnies!! Cheers, with a Coca Cola!!

Crawling Back to Normal

How about that? We are getting there, the return to our lives as we knew it pre-Rona. Little steps in some places, big giant ones in others. You may notice some have been rather impatient about this, most of those folks didn’t think it was real anyways, so they tend to be the loudest in their complaints. I am happy for them that this pandemic didn’t touch them personally, that would have been a big hit to their ego.

I got vaccinated, been about a month since my last dose, and other than being super goofy the second day, I didn’t really have any issues, thankfully. I didn’t put the thing around my profile picture, or any of the other stuff, but it’s done. I didn’t hunker down during the pandemic the way some did, mostly because I couldn’t. I had to work, I had to keep moving because my whole world is just me and Zelda, and she is not overly employable. The weirdness of the whole time kind of hangs over me like a fog. It’s been an adjustment getting back to normal, because my normal is gone.

I miss the restaurant. So much. The people I worked with, the guests, the whole casual atmosphere that isn’t really casual at all, but it felt that way to me. It was comfortable, and it was my whole life. I had to adapt with the pandemic, and that transitioned me into an office. Fish out of water, but I am making it. I am thankful for the opportunity and the benefits I now have that don’t exist in the locally owned restaurant. My new normal. I think about the service industry, I think about a return, but I don’t know that I can, at least not at the moment. People have changed. I hear some pretty awful stories from my friends still in it. I know MY people haven’t changed, but a lot of people are impatient now, more than is fair. We all waited more than a year for the all clear whistle, not just you. The masks are still required some places, is isn’t that bad. But people are still throwing tantrums about it like it’s new. Grow up, that is all I want to say to that. You aren’t that special. I don’t miss those people, because if that is how they are about something small, imagine if they don’t get their lemon in their hot water. No thank you.

I mentioned this a few weeks back, but it bears repeating. Be patient with establishments right now. They are having trouble finding staff. It isn’t everyone is sitting around on unemployment milking benefits like you think. A lot of them left the industry. They had to, to survive. Unemployment benefits aren’t that great, from service industry standards. And why rush back to an industry that doesn’t offer paid time off, insurance, 401k plans, or even full time hours? Rush back for minimum wage? The fast food places too, that are only open in the drive thru? Not enough staff to open the dining areas, because they can’t keep it clean and stocked to the standard of the company. Some of these things are going to linger for a while. That’s why it’s a crawl back to normal, not a sprint. Please be patient, please.

I went to the grocery store, and didn’t wear a mask, since I am considered fully vaccinated. It was later in the evening, so there weren’t that many people around anyway. Some employees were still masking, some were not. If felt weird, good and anxious yet normal. I found myself looking at everyone, and giving out a lot of smiles, because I could. I was always smiling behind that mask, my eyes can always convey my smile anyway, so people knew. But it was good to get a smile back here and there. I would have gladly worn the mask if they were requiring it yet, because it isn’t a hardship to do so. But it was nice to have the option. We are getting there.

So much has changed, and the 15 months or so that we have been through so far has drawn some lines, changed some opinions. I think some people grew through this, and some reverted back to some very immature ways. That is life, we change, evolve, digress, lunge ahead, or fall behind. But to emerge from this is a gift, not everyone did. People got sick, some people died, lost loved ones and are forever changed by this experience. I feel lucky to have gotten through this far, in life and through the pandemic. It took forever and it went by so fast. Your perspective is yours, and I don’t take anything away from what you felt, I am just happy to be crawling with all of you. Be well, stay well, and keep looking for forward progress.