Triumphant Return

There are things we do, supposedly with some regularity, that are good for us. Doctor visits should be among them, but for a lot of people, for a lot of reasons, they are not. Fear is one thing, and a lack of insurance is another, and time moving by at warp speed is another. Sometimes you just don’t realize how long it has actually been since you had a check up. I am pretty good about getting to the doctor, annual physicals, mammograms, female things, stuff like that. Having good insurance helps that. I was on Obamacare for a number of years, but now I have a good plan through my employer, so going has been easy and a part of my routine for a long time now. The dentist? Eh… not so much.

We just changed insurance carriers at work. We are now self-insured as a company, and what we pay for rates is dictated a little by being pro-active about our health. Regular screenings for age related things, physicals, and now dental check-ups. So I am as cheap as the next person when it comes to insurance, so I went, for the first time in many, many years, to the dentist.

They asked me why it had been so long when I went in, not in a judging way, but for some knowledge and insight into what’s happening in my mouth. Truly, lack of insurance was the biggest factor. Money can be very motivating, and dental work is not cheap. I have always heard there are ways around the expense if you are willing to have students work on you, or free clinics. But if you end up with a problem, it can get expensive, fast. So that was the main factor.

Less than awesome experiences as a kid also kept me away for a long time too. I won’t say fear, but hesitance. They were always yelling at us for not brushing, flossing, etc. Our dentist was a golf buddy of our dad, and he just did not give me a good vibe at all. Conversations as we got older confirmed that he was also a bit of a groper. I didn’t really recognize it as such at the time, but he was. He is long gone, he passed away a long time ago. But it just added to the overall dislike of the dentist chair.

Time. It flies, as every cliche tells you. I turned around one day, and all of a sudden it was decades since I had been to the dentist. I have had minimal issues, according to my own diagnosis, and so I put it off, and off, and off a little longer. I finally bit the bullet, as it were, and made that appointment, to be in compliance with our insurance recommendations at work.

I went 2 weeks ago for the first appointment, x-rays and an exam. The dentist and his assistant were very nice, non-judging, and not horrified by what was going on in my cake-hole. He even said “you’re not a cavity kid” which absolutely contradicted my childhood dentist visits. I have a small one that I am going in for tomorrow. Huh, who knew? I did have a big build up of tarter, which I had an appointment for last week. So as of tomorrow, I will have been to the dentist 3 times in a month, after years of driving by not making eye contact with a dental office.

They were great, really. Kept any anxiety I may have felt at bay, and just treated me like a person who had skipped a couple of cleanings, not a lifetime avoider. I thanked them for making it easy for me. I have some things ahead, my mouth is far from perfect, but they seem optimistic about getting me back on track. So I am optimistic too. The lady that helped me schedule appointments was a hoot. She had an opening at 2:30 in the afternoon for my visit tomorrow. I said, well, I have to take that spot, it’s the perfect time for a dental visit. She was like, it is? I said yeah, Tooth Hurty, and we laughed and laughed. It was truly a sign. I found the right place.

Have you been putting off any health related visit? So many people do, and it often is the “I just don’t want to know” type of thing. Doctors and dentists are not as scary as they once were. They don’t really outright yell at you anymore. At least that has been my experience as of late, and believe me, I give them a few reasons to holler. But being pro-active about your health can have lots of benefits, and living a life of not knowing what you might need some help with can be scarier than making a plan to treat things.

Call the office, and make the appointment. Get a baseline for your health. It may not be so bad, and if you do have some things to work on, you can get a plan going. If you need a little help, encouragement or anything, reach out to me, and I can help you. If I can adult my way through this, pretty much anyone can. I just want you all to live as healthy a life as possible. You don’t have to give up everything to have a little more health and well-being on your side. Good health, and good wishes on a Sunday morning!!

Check In

How are we doing? Are things ok? After Pandemic induced life changes, I wonder how all of my people are doing. It all seems surreal now, you know. More than two years since all of it started, and so much has changed. Trying to continue towards normal, whatever that may be these days. I don’t walk around worrying about catching whatever variant is rolling around now, but since I know a few people still getting sick, it’s on my mind a little.

The time is what is messing with me the most. In general, we all lost two years of our lives. Yes and no. Like for me, I never was truly locked in or shut down. I continued to work, the short gig at Costco and now more than two years at roofing company. But all the things that weren’t going on are what I missed, the screwed up sports seasons, lack of concerts and summer festivals. Just like that, 2 years passed by and here we are. Still having different strains or variants lurking around, but getting on with things. A lot of things changed for a lot of people. I just hope you have all adapted and are doing well.

How is your “back to normal” going? Mine is ok. I miss a lot of people, seriously. I go through the Facebook, and see what a lot of my past co-workers and guests I became friend with are up to. It makes me happy to see everyone doing their things, but I miss them. My situation changed a lot, and my hours are not super conducive to the party life I once lived. I drink a lot less than I did, I go out a lot less, and I am comfortable with it. I have become one of those people that stays home, but will go out, but wants to be back home when I am out. Conversations with some people have shown me that has been the case for a lot of people I know. As much as we hated being forced to stay at home, we sure do like being there more than we thought we would. Don’t get me wrong, Mile of Music is coming, and I will be out. That is an exception to the rule.

All the things going on this particular weekend, events and festivals and stuff, gives me some hope that we are indeed getting our lives back. The EAA starts up, that is a big international deal here, and we have Packers training camp, the Mile of Music, and State Fair, all the things that make summer so much fun around here so great. The tourism money is a welcome thing, for sure. The summers we love, are thankfully back.

I still hope everyone is being safer and cautious when it comes to their health. When I went on vacation in June, it struck me how many people still wore masks in the airports and public places. I have not been wearing them, unless a place requires them. I had a sinus infection a couple of weeks ago, and had to wear one at the clinic I went to, and it struck me as how normal it seems in some places. I know the different views of people, and those that think it is a joke. I always believed that even if it only helps a little, it is worth it for me if it means someone going home to a loved one with a weak or compromised immune system feels a little better. My short term discomfort is no big deal if someone else feels better as a result. I can’t worry about other people, only my own actions. But I can adapt my actions in situations where it is needed.

In general, life is good. I am still not a millionaire, I have not found or invented anything life changing. It’s just me and Zelda, living our days with smiles on our faces and hoping more snacks find us. So that means I am good. I have come through the pandemic, mostly, healthy and a little more compassionate than I started it. We all have our things, and I hope we are all doing our best to look out for each other after the ordeal. Be well, do well and love your life, no matter how exciting or dull it seems to those around you.

Alaska

It occurs to me, that with all of the stuff happening lately that I have neglected to share anything about my Alaskan Cruise I went on last month. Shame on me! My fantastic voyage, as it were.

About last October or so, my bestie Amy asked me if I would be interested in going with her and her sister on a cruise to Alaska. Would I? Heck yeah! Seems like a no brainer, get offered a vacation, take it! So I said yes, paid a deposit somewhere along the line and a little planning, and I am going cruising! I had previously been on one cruise, to Bermuda and Grand Turk. I like the cruising, it’s fun. But to me, planning a vacation as far ahead as we did is weird. That was October, and our cruise was in June. It seems like forever to wait. It makes it seem like it isn’t real, until all of a sudden it is.

June finally came along and away we went! Amy and I flew out of Green Bay to Seattle, and Ellen, Amy’s sister, met us out there, as she lives in South Dakota. Traveling during this pandemic time adds a few extra challenges, which I appreciate, but it’s dumb too. Hoops to jump through present themselves, and I just am not a fan of jumping. And there was this whole app that we needed to go into Canada, which presented some challenges as well. For a 4-5 hour stop in Canada, it wasn’t worth it. But we got through it and got on our ship, the Norwegian Bliss. Set sail, and off on our adventure we went!

Ellen and I had both cruised before, but this was Amy’s first time. I think she had a really good time. You never know, cruises are fun but they aren’t for everyone. When you are new to it, it can be a little overwhelming too, those ships are huge and there is a lot of food, drink and things going on pretty much all the time. It is hard to know where to start sometimes. We started with mojitos. Good call. The staff on these ships are primarily from other countries, and a lot of our bartenders and service people were from the Philippines and Indonesia. They were so fantastic, and funny and alcohol-wise a little mean. (wink) We spent a lot of time in the brew house bar, and those guys really had our number down there. We had a great time with them, and my Miller Lite drinking friend Amy even expanded her horizons and drank many different weird beers. I was so proud of her! That is a huge deal for her, and she even got her name on a display board for a drinking challenge to try as many different beers as possible during the 7 day cruise.

Alright, back to the destination. I think that a lot people think about trying to visit all 50 of the United States, if they can. The two tough ones are Hawaii and Alaska. They just aren’t easy to get to, especially if you aren’t a good flight person. I can say Alaska was a hoped for destination, but I am not overly outdoorsy and it is a big destination for hikers, campers, fisherman and the like. That’s not me. And on a cruise, you aren’t going up to the big main area of Alaska, you are going on the inside passage. Still, it’s Alaska and it still counts. Our ports of call were Sitka, Juneau, Icy Straight Point, Ketchikan and then Victoria, British Columbia. You spend a few hours in each place, and back on the boat to the next place.

I would say my favorite ports were Juneau and Ketchican. I had king crab legs in Juneau that nearly brought a tear to my eye, they were soooo good. I like Ketchican because it seemed like it would be a good spot to visit again. We weren’t in port there long enough to see the things I wanted to, and a few more hours there would have been awesome. But that is the way it goes on a cruise, and if I get a chance to go again to Alaska, that is a spot I would like to visit.

We went on a whale and marine life excursion in Icy Strait Point, and that was cool. We did see quite a few whales, but just their tails, none really breached. Still, they were amazing to see! We saw some otters, sea lions and so very many eagles everywhere we went. Sitka had a lot of eagles, they were amazing. It’s a big deal to see one around here, up there they are in big groups, hanging out in trees, circling above in big groups, and just hanging out by the docks, looking for some big old salmon or something to catch and chomp on. We met a group of 3 people who has gone on an excursion in Ketchikan, and they had some amazing photos of some killer whales breaching. It was fantastic!

We also went through a glacier area, where there were icebergs fields. We couldn’t go all the way in, as ships vs icebergs don’t always end well for the ship. But it was cool, we got to go out on the front deck of the ship, which was actually just below our stateroom, and see the icebergs up close and personal. They were not huge like you think of on Titanic or something, but they were beautiful, they have this kind of bluish-turquoise color to them, and we were moving through slowly, so it was very peaceful and just a very moving experience. I won’t soon forget it.

We ate too much, drank too much, walked around a lot and had a fantastic voyage, truly. Canada was a bit underwhelming as a result of all of the beauty we had seen in Alaska. It was Friday evening when we came into port, and it was disappointing how many places were closed. There were 3 ships in at the same time, and not a lot going on, which was really weird. We walked around, but didn’t really do anything while we were there. Nobody even looked at our passports, so it didn’t get stamped so it is like we weren’t even there! For all the nonsense with downloading the Canada app and stuff, it really was the biggest waste of time on our trip. We did see a big rainbow and a lovely sunset, but as far as it goes, I could have stayed onboard and caught those on the ship.

Overall, it was a great trip. We had so much fun and saw some pretty fantastic sights. If you have a chance to travel to Alaska, take the opportunity, and a cruise is a nice way to go if that is your thing. There aren’t many states left on my list now that I have been there. Just a few. The big one I really want to go to is of course Hawaii. I think I will have to make that one more of a priority now. I feel very fortunate to have been able to go on the trips I have been on this year, Mexico and Alaska within 6 months of each other. There are many places to see in this world, and many places I would love to see. Take the time to see the places you long to go to, if you are healthy enough to travel, take the time to go. There is a lot to see, and we don’t always have a ton of time to see all of it. And if you get to Alaska, try the crab legs!

Elvis

I like Elvis Presley. I remember when he died. I remember hearing about it on the car radio when we were driving in Neenah, taking Mom to a Sweet Adelines practice. I was seven years old, but by Mom’s reaction, and Dad’s too for that matter, I knew it was a big deal. It was a sad end to an incredible story, one I wouldn’t know much about until I came to his story again later in my life. I was young enough to only know him as Vegas Elvis, jumpsuits and capes. Fat Elvis. A seven year old wouldn’t know there was so much more.

I went to the new Elvis movie on Friday night. Driving over there, I quietly wished it would be a full theater with guys dressed as Elvis. Well, I got a pretty empty theater, probably 2 dozen people, but indeed, one of them was dressed as Elvis, and he sat right in front of me. The bummer of that was he was kind of annoying. He kept turning around to talk to me. I was like, hey, Chatty Elvis, I am trying to watch this movie here. It wasn’t that bad, I just don’t care for chit chat during a movie, even if it is Elvis.

The movie was pretty good, and that Austin Butler really became Elvis. Like his voice, his movements, all of it. He just was so good as Elvis. The story is really sad when you get to the heart of it. That man had so much talent, so much of the thing that makes a man a star. But the wrong people and so many drugs just crippled him. He was 42 when he died. That is so very young. There are lots of famous people who fall into the drugs and chaos of stardom and die young. Flames that burn so bright often flicker out fast. What a waste, you know?

I had a conversation recently about Elvis Presley and his relevance today. He’s been dead for 45 years. Longer than he lived. People still idolize him. His original fanbase is elderly if they are still around at all. But his influence is still very palpable. His music still gets played, and people will debate if young Elvis or older Elvis music is better. The answer is all of it is better. Just like any artist, he evolved, and had his life not ended as tragically and sad as it did, it would have been interesting to see how he would have navigated Disco, 80s pop, and beyond. We will never know, but he is still there, people still cover his music, and fans still flock to Memphis to see Graceland.

I have a few people in my life who shrug him off. I think they only think of the man that died of an overdose, alone and his career washed up. But I tell them all the time, look at his catalog of music. Start at the early stuff. Compare it to other music that was out at the time. He was a trailblazer, and his influence was huge. The Beatles loved him. His influence on artists that followed was huge. He also had a big love of Gospel music, which is a huge surprise to a lot of people, well, because of the whole raw sexuality thing he had going on early in his career. Another thing he did was cover other’s music. If he heard a song he liked by another artist, he would ask to sing it, and most artists loved it.

The new movie really showcases what a giant d-bag Colonel Tom Parker was. What a self-centered prick he was. He never had Elvis’ better interests at heart, only what Elvis could do for him. I was so angry, really, because although I knew a lot it, to have it put right out there like that just made me hurt for Elvis. People rode him, used him, and he lost his wife, child and life because of all of it. The Colonel was at the heart of it. He was dream crusher, a soul sucking scumbag. Tom Hanks played him in the movie, and I hated Tom Hanks for nearly 3 hours because of it. I got a little wrapped up in it, even with Chatty Elvis bugging me throughout the movie.

But at the end of it all, I got in my car, turned on the Elvis channel on my satellite radio, and sang along the whole way home. The movie was good. I hope it brings some new people to Elvis. His legacy should be one of a man with tremendous talent. He was more than jumpsuits and rhinestones, more than Las Vegas and the Jungle Room. His addictions killed him, but his music is forever. The idea that you can still find so many Elvis impersonators should show what a big deal he was and still is, because Chatty Elvis in front of me was about 30 years old. Elvis had been dead 15 years by the time this kid was born. The story is sad, but the music is glorious. If you like Elvis, go see that movie. Be amazed by the young man playing him, and be prepared to break up with Tom Hanks for a couple of hours.

Female.

I am not here to convince anyone of anything. The issue runs so deep, people have their minds made one way or another, nothing I say will change their path, make them see it through my eyes anyway. But maybe they can see how I got to where I am on it. If nothing else, this will serve as a little therapy for me. At the end of the day I only answer to myself.

I was never going to get an abortion. As it turns out, for me, most likely it wouldn’t have ever have to come up as an option. I found out a few years ago that my fallopian tubes are relatively jacked up, so getting pregnant likely wouldn’t have been possible. I never wanted to have children, I haven’t ever felt that maternal urge, or need. Growing up with mental illness in the family, and some other genetic pitfall possibilities, I was good with letting it end with me. I likely was never going to have to make the inquiry about how to go about the process of ending a pregnancy. But, like I said, I only found this out a few years ago, when I had some ovarian cyst issues. I was in my 40s, so considering I had hit puberty and got my first period just before I turned 12, that’s 40 years of possible situations. That’s a long time to think about stuff.

Kids get sexually active younger and younger it seems these days. Girls get their periods at pretty young ages, and I thought 11 was young for me. So they can get pregnant that early, should a male ejaculate in or near their genital area. She wouldn’t even be done growing that young, still a few growth spurts to come, hips and such are still coming in and maturing. So a young girl gets pregnant and is at risk. It is just the way things are. Emotionally, 11 year old girls are a mess. Hormones start to kick in, and they rage. From one moment of mirth to unexplainable tears the next, you couldn’t pay me to go back to that age when everything is an ordeal, because your hormones have taken over. I hate that young girls that age sometimes end up pregnant for so many reasons, but the thing is, they are not equipped to be a parent at that age. Our nation just guaranteed that they have no choice in it. They will carry that baby to term. Or will they? Desperate people do desperate things. Will she tell her parents, or hide it? What if she tries to do something on her own, or have one of her friends help her out? What if she kills herself? Because these things still did happen with legal, safe abortions, now we will see more of it.

I was sexually assaulted, back in the 90s. I think if you ask a lot of women, you will find an awful lot of them who have been. I wasn’t raped, but it was close to that, really. I was at a party at a friend’s apartment. I was drunk and tired, so I went in a bedroom to sleep for a bit. Those were my party days, for sure. We would work until midnight, go to the bars, then to after bar parties all the time. Some creeper friend of a friend found me in there passed out, and saw an opportunity. He climbed on top of me, held me down when I started to wake up and was making his move when one of the other guys at the party came by, the door was open enough to catch what was happening. He yanked the guy off me and called a couple more people in to kick the crap out of him. I was fine, he hadn’t made it too far into his assault. I am forever thankful to the guys who stepped in, and beat his ass. But, what if dumbass had actually shut the door all the way, and he had raped me? What if I had ended up pregnant from that assault? Today, I would have had to live with it, for at least 9 months of my life. No options. Maybe he would lie and say I wanted it, he didn’t rape me. See, with this new possibility that abortion in the event of a rape not being an option, women aren’t going to be believed anymore when they report a rape. So many women already don’t report rape, because they fear no one will believe them. This is going to make it so much worse.

I don’t doubt for a minute that there have been women that have used abortion as a birth control. But making it illegal doesn’t make it stop. It just increases the risk involved for the woman. Not the man. It is never a risk for a man. Women hold the bag when it comes to pregnancy. Not every guy is a bad guy, they aren’t all rapists or sexual predators. We all know that. The majority are good guys, and most pregnancies are wanted, or at least become wanted if it is a surprise. I said above, I likely would never have had an abortion anyway. It just isn’t me, really. But I don’t know, especially when I look at a rape scenario, or an incest possibility. Until you have walked a mile in those shoes, you don’t know what you would do.

What worries me to my core, is now that this is gone, what do they come after next? There was a time not long ago when women couldn’t vote. What if they come for that? They can take everything from us, if we aren’t paying attention and careful. I am a woman in my 50s, so illegal abortion does not overly affect me. But it affects my nieces, and their friends. If affects my friend’s daughters, and all of the girls and young women who are walking behind me. There are states where access to birth control will become illegal or incredibly limited. I do not understand how we could get to this point, in a country that promotes freedom and equality, we pick at the loose strings of those freedoms until it unravels.

I have always considered myself to be Pro-Choice. I came to that at an early age, in my late teens, after I read stories about what happened to desperate women before Roe v Wade. Back alley butchers, women ending up mutilated or dead because they bled out. Stories of women who looked for help in a sad situation and ended up maimed or dead. I thought to myself, who am I to judge a woman for making that decision? The stories of the wealthy men who knocked up their mistresses, took them for abortions they may not have wanted to have, but forcing it on them, and they ended up never able to have a child because their forced abortion went so badly. There are tons of these stories when you look for them, and now there will be tons more. Safety and medical knowledge will be withheld. Abortions will still happen, they always have and always will. We have taken the option of safety and thrown it away. Control, it is and has always been about control. I am not a judge, whatever reason a woman sought an abortion is not my business. That woman will have to reconcile what she decided with herself, not me. I don’t wish anything for peace for women that make that choice, because I never had to live one minute of her life, only my own.

I am not here to convince you of anything but this: This is not over. There are many voices that will be heard, and while there is going to be some very difficult times in the near future, this does not end here. We still have voices, and women still have a vote. Listen, and then be heard.

Push Hard, It’ll Go Easy

Words of advice, from my Pops. He was full of useful little nuggets like that, and as you go through life, you find that lots of dads have their go to phrases. They are cheesy in nature, but wholesome in functionality. He was right, push hard, things will be easier. Not everything has been easy, but having you as my dad helped, Ed. Thanks for that.

It’s Father’s Day. The Day of the Daddio. Lots of grills will be fired up, lots of fun little gifts handed out, and lots of gratitude for the guy that made it happen. I know lots of dads in my life. I would say the majority of men I know who are fathers just love the job. The Facebook feed has been full of best wishes for the dads who are here, some who have left the earth, and it just makes my heart warm. My dad was the most special man I ever knew, I miss him every single day. He wasn’t perfect, but he was my dad, and that made him a legend in my mind and my heart.

Father’s Day is a little different than Mother’s Day. It should be, but I have always been interested in how they are different. On mom’s day, the restaurants are packed, nobody would dare to make mom cook on her special day. But dads everywhere will be firing up a grill today to cook their family some hot dogs and kabobs. Flower sales soar for Mother’s Day, I think it’s still golf balls and neck ties for dad. Either way, it’s all celebrating those adults who gave you life, and should the celebration get you fed and give you some memories, all the better!

My own dad has been gone for 32 years, it’s been many years since I celebrated a Father’s Day in the traditional way. He usually would go golfing, and we would cook out or something later on. He didn’t make a big deal out of the day, but you could always tell he loved being a dad. He had all of his corny dad sayings and jokes, he loved giving us the business, and we loved giving it all right back to him. I think of him every single day, in one way or another. Always my hero, that guy.

If you are a dad, enjoy your day. Take it easy and enjoy the celebration. Those of you lucky enough to still have your dad with you, get a picture of you together if you are able, it will mean the world to you someday. I know a few people who lost their dad this year. I am aware of how much this type of day can stink, but make the best of it by celebrating your dad, he was a big presence in your life, enjoy his legacy in some way.

Whether you are a dad, step dad, or a male role model for a kid who doesn’t have a dad around, it is your special day. You don’t have to be a biological father to have a great role in a young person’s life. Continue to be a bright light, so many kids need someone to look up to, and if you are filling that spot in life, you are big hero too. Thanks.

Happy Father’s Day to my brothers, Mark, Pat and Paul, and my stepbrother Mark Arthur. You guys are great dads, your hearts are huge, and you are doing a great job. Truly.

MIA

It occurs to me it’s been more than a hot minute since I have posted anything. I can’t say it’s been for any fantastic reason. Just time, ticking away. I have been busy at work, we had a big hail storm move through the area a little more than a month ago, and in the roofing industry that means an ass kicking will ensue. Us and the auto body industry. If you have friends or family in either, and you haven’t heard from them in a bit, that’s why. We are currently buried. We will dig our way back out and be with you soon.

I have had some friends in some turmoil too, experiencing some pretty big personal losses. That’s tough, you want to be supportive, but give them space enough to do their grieving too. Deaths, divorces, surgeries, and struggles. It is a part of life, we all go through them and it’s good to have people there for you when you need them. I take all those things to heart, when someone I love goes through a thing, I feel it pretty deep and that can put me in a mini depressive state. Not enough to take me out of the game, but I turn in a little to process it. I think a lot of people do that, it’s part of being human. Nobody likes to see people they love hurting, but they don’t always know how to help. I do think everyone is healing, in their own ways, but I still worry about them.

Lots of good stuff going on too, which is fun. I have been busy being a groupie for my niece, Natalie, as she is wrapping up her senior year in high school. I went to awards night for her, and her band life has had a state ensemble performance, and her last band concerts too. I made it to one soccer game, last week was prom, and this week her jazz group has a thing tomorrow night and graduation on Wednesday. She has been a busy young woman, and I have had fun following her and trying not to get my overflowing estrogen all over the place. I get a little emotional watching her go through all this growing up. It’s been fun to be around it all her life, happy to have had the opportunities.

In a little less than two weeks my friend Amy and I, along with her sister, are going on an Alaskan cruise. The three of us in international waters consuming food and booze the whole way. Can’t see where that could be anything but fun! Look out Alaska, we are on our way!! We have had this planned for awhile, and the waiting for it to get here has been slow going. But we are almost there, and I am really starting to get excited for it, it feels like a real grown-up vacation. I have been on a cruise before, so I am somewhat familiar with the dynamic, but it will be different as this is not a tropical destination. I will let you know how that all goes, in a few weeks.

We haven’t had the greatest spring around here. It wasn’t awful, it just was real reluctant to get warmer as we went along. Even this morning it is chilly sitting here with the window open. But the flowers are blooming now, and the grass has greened up nicely, and we are on our way to summer. I am looking forward to it, this year feels like we are post-pandemic enough to have some things to look forward to and enjoy them. I am going to get to a few baseball games, concerts and shows, and just remember to stop once in a while to appreciate exactly how lovely Wisconsin is when we get to this place in the trip around the sun. In the dead of winter when we ask ourselves “why do we live here?!” this is the time of year that answers it.

It feels good to sit down and pound this out, as it has been a while. I get too many words stuck inside and I can’t be responsible for what flies out of my cake hole when I talk to actual people. It’s not that the world needs to know what I have been up to for six weeks or so, but it is good to check in for a bit. We all have things to share, this is just my stuff for now. I hope everyone is good, all is well, and you are heading into each week with some hope and happiness. We are in it together, our souls are bound together in this life, so we should wish for the best for everyone we know, and hold each other up when the best is not readily available.

Life As a Song

I have been thinking a lot lately of how to make a life metaphor, for a friend of mine. It’s an effort to lift her up a little after a tremendous loss. Her young son, 15 years old, passed away after a medical emergency. When I spoke with her, she asked me to write something for our high school class Facebook page, to let everyone know she is doing ok, and what happened to her son. Because of his age, she was concerned that people may think he took his own life, or that maybe it was a drug issue. That’s a tricky thing, having to be the keeper of a person’s legacy, and she takes it very seriously, as she should as his mother.

It really got me thinking, of how do you keep a person’s spirit with you, after their physical life has ended. Especially such a young spirit. I didn’t really know him, I only met him once when he was a very small child. I can’t speak to his personality, likes, hobbies or anything. I only know what his family can tell me. They knew him, they will keep his spirit going. They are now the ones who have to sing his song.

We all have a soundtrack to our lives, whether we are musical or not. There are moments, places, and things that inspire us and make our hearts sing. Some of the songs our hearts sing are happy, some are a little sad, some are loud and some are quiet. Like music playing in the background, it is there, even if we don’t know the words to the song, we hum along whether we realize it or not.

My friend’s son had his life song cut short. But it did play in his heart for 15 years. She was there, and she may not know all the words, but she can continue to sing the parts she knows, and kind of hum along to the rest. Right now it probably is just playing softly in her heart, keeping the beat to keep her going. There are days she will sing along to it without even realizing it, I hope. And as days go on, and she has to adjust to her new reality with him singing softly to her, and he will. The people we love the most never really are completely gone, the music they gave us plays on a constant loop that we don’t always hear, but it plays softly in the background. When you do hear it, your heart will swell with love, and it will be beautiful.

I am old enough to have lost many people I love, and I have written about them before with tears in my eyes. Today my tears are for my dear friend, as today is her young man’s funeral. All the songs that I have singing in my heart are playing today as I write this, all those beautiful voices I had the joy of hearing in life are there. Today I hope more than anything, that my dear friend is surrounded by love, and she will be, and that the song she sings today is that of her boy, singing in her heart. He will also be singing to his brother and father, and all of his his family and friends who knew him, loved him, and know the words of his song, as it lives with them in their hearts for all of their days.

I F’ing Love All You Irish MF’ers!!

Three years ago, prior to all the Covid setting into our lives, my brother Mike, sister Marge and her husband Butcher and I were in lovely Chandler, Arizona for Brewers’ Spring Training on St. Patrick’s Day. On our breakfast trek that morning, we came across an extremely festive St. Pattty’s Day enthusiast who wasn’t letting the early hour keep him from spreading joy. It is best to assume he was still going from the previous night. He had what Mike refers to as “The High-Pro Glow” and glowing he was. He declared that he F’ing Loved Us Irish MF’ers!! A glorious start to a glorious day, for sure!

That was the last trip to Spring Training, and we will make it back at some point, hopefully next year. But it gets me to thinking of St. Patrick’s Days gone by, and my love for the day that makes everyone Irish, and a lot of people drunk. The day also very often falls into the March Madness NCAA Basketball Tournament, adding fuel to a drunk fire. It can be a very fun day. Even days I worked the holiday were fun. People are festive, celebrating all things Irish, like Guiness and Jameson. It’s a day for merriment. Except the one year it wasn’t.

Two years ago, on March 17th, I served food and drinks for the last time. That was the day that the State of Wisconsin did what nobody thought they would ever see: shut down the bars. Covid was starting to rage. Following the trend in neighboring states, Wisconsin locked it down. Places had to close by 5:00pm. We did at Solea, and I walked out of there with tears in my eyes because I had no idea when, or if, I would ever be back. And as it turns out, I never did go back, really. Within a short period of time, our boss decided he would close that location permanently, for lots of reasons really, and it was only a business decision, which I totally understood then, and still do now.

Two years. It’s still unreal to me. I was sure I would work in that industry forever. I had no exit plan. I know I bitched fairly regularly about things in the industry, but the truth is I loved working in a restaurant. I never worked the same day twice. I got to know hundreds of wonderful people, even if it was only for a day sometimes. I have stories and experiences that have made me the person I am now. People can be hard to deal with sometimes, but I knew how most days. I miss it, so very much.

Don’t get me wrong, I have a good gig now. I am lucky that I landed as well as I did from that dark day two years ago. That day was full of unknown, and dread. I went home not knowing what I was going to do, or how I would make money for the long term. Thankfully, all those people I have met over the years came through for me, and I landed on my feet. I get to be a little bit of myself, my bartender/server self, at my new job. I just don’t get to use as many swear words, and they won’t let me put a tip jar on my desk. It’s fine. I have inquired about setting up a margarita station at the reception desk, I don’t know how far that has gotten through committee, but I am hopeful.

Here I am, two years later, and I happen to have the day off. NCAA tournament starts today, and I know places are open selling green beer. I am thinking about it, venturing out and declaring my love for the Irish MFers of the world. We’ll see, but I would be lying if I said I didn’t put a little Bailey’s in my coffee this morning while I contemplate my agenda. I think of the March 18ths I have had, and I don’t seem to recall them as fondly. But the idea that I can, well, that makes me feel better about where I have been on St. Patrick’s days past, and where I may be in the future Irish holidays. Carry on, all you Irish MFers!! I love you!!!

Spring Forward

We changed the clocks again, at least most of them. My kitchen clock stays the same all year, and is now correct again as of 2:00am. The social media will be full for the next couple of days of people complaining, one way or another, about the whole idea being dumb. The old “Do you take the end off a blanket and put it on the other end and tell yourself you have a longer blanket?” crowd. Just shut it people, and enjoy the daylight going past your clock out time at work.

It’s an hour. You can complain for longer than that when you crank up your list of stuff you like to bitch about. You could adapt faster if you shut your trap. I am personally a fan of the extra daylight at the end. I feel like the hibernation period is over and we can all crawl back out into the world. I know I deal with that first morning of it by staying in bed longer. I did that this morning, I went back to bed for an hour. Problem solver? Why yes I am!!

What the time change really means to me is that it is really going to be Spring. We have just about crawled out of Winter. The Equinox is in a week. Yay!! I know that our friend, Mother Nature, gets the final say on when the winter junk really leaves, but as far as the tilt of the planet back towards the sun? It’s all happening! It’s time! The period of renewal and growth is coming. How are you going to spend that time?

I am excited about spending more time outside. Taking the Zelda on longer walks, getting my lunch hour walks back as the weather gets nicer. Sitting out on my little patio, watching the Summit Street world go by and sunsets. Baseball games, outdoor music events, and driving with my windows open. Doesn’t it all sound just perfect? Whatever your jam is for springtime, I hope you get all of it and more. We have earned it!

Especially this year. We have spent two years in a pandemic purgatory. It feels like we are coming out of it, like for real this time, and it feels good. Of course we don’t know what anything in the future holds, but this spring feels like it is bringing a little extra Hope along for the ride. I know the world is kind of a mess, the people of Ukraine may not feel as much hope as they deserve at the moment. The constant and inevitable bitching about gas prices is in full swing right now as well. (Side note about that, those bitching the loudest have the biggest vehicles that get 15 mpg, so I am not impressed by them.) But we are getting to Spring, and we should take time to enjoy it.

I truly believe that Spring brings us the most hope of any of the seasons. I think the extra daylight at the end of the day helps boost that feeling. If we have to chop that hour at 2 am to get a little more light at 6pm today, it is all worth it. We have endured darkness long enough for the cycle. We endure darkness in many place of our lives, a little extra light at dinner time can shift a mood and change an outlook. Enjoy all of it, and Happy Almost Spring!