Noisy

It’s too noisy right now. Everyone is talking, nobody is listening. There is so much background noise. It’s an election year, so that is normal to a point, but it’s worse right now. The pandemic has added a huge amount of noise, since the majority of us have never lived through a pandemic before, I get that it would be noisy. How can anyone make any sense of anything with so much noise happening. I have considered that it is all by design. In fact I am convinced that it is all by design. How can we turn it all down?

Duck hunting season started yesterday. Seems like an odd way to transition from that first paragraph, I know. But here is my thought on that: These hunters have turned down the volume. They go out to their wooded areas, in this case they are likely near water, and they are quiet. While they wait it out, they are quiet. Any hunting season requires a good amount of silence about it. Yes, it gets noisy when the shot gets fired, but up to that it is a peaceful moment of solitude for the hunter. I wasn’t raised in a hunting family, in fact the thought of Ed out in the woods in camo truly cracks my up. But I get the draw, the appeal of the solitude of the process.

So that is literal silence. But not everyone is cut out to be a hunter. I think about the idea of having to drag stuff back out of the woods and cleaning it, and I am out. Not my thing. But if I want to have that kind of peace they have before the target gets hit, I have to find my “forest” as it were. We all should be trying to get to a more silent spot, even if it is just for a few minutes.

Back in the restaurant days, if we wanted some quiet for a moment, you ran to the bathroom. People tend to leave you alone in there. But it had to be a quick hit it and quit it thing. Linger too long and they will come looking for you, and things can go to hell fast if you stay away from your guests too long. But for those few moments, it was kind of peaceful. Smoke breaks were never a way to get some solitude, because someone else would always want to go out with you. That’s no good, because it is always the chattiest person, and I don’t smoke, so that didn’t work for me either.

But the majority of the noise I am talking about comes from the media, social and otherwise. It’s 24/7 and getting away from it is nearly impossible. And people are obsessed without realizing that they are. I know I am, I am on Facebook far more than I should be, and I don’t realize how much time I spend there. I keep thinking how awesome it would be to walk away from it for the next month and a half, but I know I won’t. Especially since I found the video of the guys clog dancing to different songs every day. How could I leave them? I just found them!! Thankfully I have no interest in the Tik Tok or other apps out there. I would be even less productive than I am already. But it’s noisy as hell, and people just post things to start an argument. Arguments that nobody will win. Fights about things they do not truly understand but think they do. And it gets louder and louder and nobody listens. Just noise.

I am throwing someone under the noise bus right now. My brother Paul. He keeps posting political stuff. I am quite sure he thinks he is educating people. But he is having the same people jump on there to fight every single time. Nobody is learning anything, and he certainly isn’t changing the minds of any of the people that respond. They just fight, he comments with something that backs up his original point, and they fight more. Noise. Just useless noise. Maybe he thinks he can reach one of his liberal friends and they will have an epiphany. Not likely. So I took the opportunity to bag on him yesterday, by commenting not about his post, but about how he needs to step away from the noise for a minute, actually 30 minutes, and get his Coronary Attacked Ass back to the gym. You want noise? I can be the loudest person in any room. Convincing people to change their political affiliation ain’t gonna matter if you drop dead while you read National Review. This will be my new approach with him. Just like trying to get him to vote for a democrat would be an act in futility, this might be too, but at least I am trying to be productive.

But I got off on a rant there. Any opportunity to attack my brother, you know? But there is a point, at least in my mind. Once in a while, you have to step away from it. All of the noise. And do something good for yourself. Maybe you meditate. Perhaps yoga is your thing. Even a noisy gym can be an oasis as long as it takes you out of the fray of the social media/regular media for a little bit. It can not be healthy for your mental well being to be immersed in it so much. Go out in the woods, or out on a boat. Take a drive and see the beautiful countryside. But quiet all that noise.

***Here it is right now, however, Paul. I am about to get noisy as hell to get you back on track to taking care of yourself. I have people on my side on this, and at least one of them lives with you. The only path to peace and solitude will be to comply.

Life In the ‘Hood

There’s a “drug house” in my neighborhood. It’s been a problem for a while, and a couple of months ago, the cops finally busted it, and the father and son that lived there were arrested and charged with a whole list of things. A kid had OD’d and died, so that was a big problem. The thing was, that people were still showing up there all the time. This is a block away from me, so I don’t see it all the time, but the few houses right around it are definitely affected. My friend and her husband have 2 cameras they put up because they have had it. They catch a lot of things going on over there, all the coming and going of people. The neighbors over there are exhausted.

So the cops do what they can. They have lots going on, but they respond, but unless they find someone there, not a lot can be done. It’s got a notice posted, no one is supposed to be there, but it happens all the time. So a few days ago, Dad gets out of jail, his bail got reduced and he posted and got out. He is back at the house. Things had finally calmed down over there, for about 3 weeks it was little to no action. Until last night. I get a message from my friend, it just said “Overdose” and I responded “Where?” but I knew. That POS picked right up where he left off back in July. There were 4 people in a car, she saw them, and they dumped the guy ODing on the grass and they took off. Now we have about 8 or more squad cars and an ambulance over there. I think the person is ok, they gave the Narcan and went to the hospital. Cops get a warrant, go in the house but don’t find anyone. We were all out there about an hour, and I ended up going home.

I am fairly naive about drugs, but I am not, you know? When I was a kid, the school brought a young girl in to talk to us about her drug use. I am sure it was a court ordered thing, but she went into great detail about drugs she had used, things she had done to get drugs, how she prostituted herself and what a mess her life was as a result. I might have been about 10 or 11 years old. I cannot speak for any other person in that room, but I heard her, she got to me loud and clear. She scared the crap out of me, and therefore I have largely stayed clear of drugs. I smoked pot a couple of times back in the early 90s, but I had to get talked into it. So my knowledge comes from the many substance abusing friends I have as a result of restaurant work. I have seen some people ruin their lives, I have seen some people fight back and beat their addictions, and they fight every single day. And I always think of that girl. I don’t know if she ever made it, she was a mess, but if I could, I always wanted to let her know that she at least saved me from it. To thank her would be amazing, if she made it.

So that is why this drug thing is so hard. They have been pumping the anti-drug message pretty hard for 40+ years now. I get it, I know what it can do, I have extended family that fell to it, I know people that fight it. So it is just so sickening that this keeps going on a block from my house. That bastard was out of jail 3 days and people are OD’d on a Tuesday night. My neighbors are all scanning their video feeds for footage to help the police find the car that dumped the guy in the yard. We had kids running back and forth from their houses to see what is happening at 9:00 on Spring Street. They picked up John, the guy that got out a few days ago, he came walking by like he was on a casual stroll. He saw the one squad car that was still there and kept walking, but my friend recognized him and called out his name, and like a dumbass he answered so the cops arrested him. But he was out later that night. The neighbors think something more was going on, there were more cars coming and going. It goes on and on, all for some meth or heroin.

If it was just some junkie, some random person, I could probably ignore it all pretty successfully. But this is my neighborhood, my neighbors are all affected by this. They have kids. They want this crap to be over. But the cars keep stopping and leaving, strange cars drive by slow up and down Summit Street. And nobody over on that block sleeps right at night. Their Ring cameras go off, the security cameras keep recording, and the guy in the yard is gasping for breath waiting for the paramedics to come save him so he can get better to get the next hit. The talk last night was everybody turn their cameras off for a few minutes and we will have a bonfire, burn it to the ground. We laugh and say “just kidding” but I am beginning to think we aren’t.

The sun is coming up now, so it may be 12 hours until we see any more action. But I hope what I see is more squad cars patrolling, less junkies walking around, and my neighbors relaxing, just a little bit. These are good people, living in what should be a quiet little neighborhood, and they deserve more peace than 8+ squads and an ambulance on a Tuesday night.

Story Time

We all have a story. The stories we have accumulated as we travel our path. Happy ones, sad ones, triumph and tragedy. When you tell your story, and someone listens intently, it can be magical. It can be scary. It can be repetitive. But we all tell them, and we should because we really can learn a lot if we tell and listen to the stories of our lives.

I was watching “Good Will Hunting” last night. It’s such a good movie, and given how Robin Williams’ story abruptly stopped 6 years ago, it holds a little heavier weight for me these days. I can watch that movie through the eyes and ears that have seen and heard many more stories than when I first watched it 23, yes that many, years ago. I didn’t go through much that those characters, Will and Sean, went through in their lives. And I am certainly not intelligent on that level that Will was, nobody I know is, but I am smart enough to get the message.

We all have stuff. Even the most picture perfect childhoods can hold some kind of trauma that isn’t visible to the people you know. I have talked here and there about some of my stuff, my family’s stuff. I don’t like talking about some of it, and some of it flows easily to those who will listen. I certainly don’t like to project what my siblings feel out to the world, because I don’t know what is in their heart, and they may not be in a place to tell their side of the stories. It isn’t some deep dark secret stuff, most likely. Our mom was sick, our dad did and didn’t deal with it, and we grew up. We are all still here, survivors of our circumstances, and the argument of whether or not we have thrived or not remains in action, a story in progress.

Starting 2 new and very different jobs this year has put me in a spot where I am telling some of my story again to new ears and hearts. I was at the restaurant for 10 years, people knew what I told them 10 years ago, and we worked together. Language barriers made it easy to not have to tell too much. Basic stuff, I am single, my parents are gone, my family will come visit and eat and drink here, etc. Comfortable. We lived our lives together at work, went home, and told funny things that happened on the next shift. We care about each other, but keep our lives in a separate little box. Work and life sometimes overlap, which can be pretty cool.

So now I am telling the stories again. New audience, new reactions and questions. The questions can be hard. Not therapy hard, but the things like “I can’t believe you’re still single. Why?” kind of questions. I don’t know why, nobody asked me to get married, I guess. That is my pretty standard answer, it puts the onus on someone else, off of me. I tell some of the stories of how I lost my parents, who my siblings are, and old work stories which are always entertaining. So we get to know each other, and a little understanding grows, and I get a new work family. That is going fairly well, I am working in a place that cares about the people, the people care about each other, and it is a good atmosphere. But it is hard, because I have to look at myself. Make sure they see enough, but not so much that the cracks show.

We all have cracks. I guess that is the point. In the movie, Will thinks he is hiding his cracks pretty well. He is sure trying to hide them from Skylar, but Sean isn’t having that. Of course that is his job, but then he has to look at his own cracks too. You can polish that surface, the parts you put out there for public consumption, but the cracks will rise up if you don’t treat them properly. Hiding them isn’t dealing with them. It’s time to turn it around and ask and answer the questions. Tell your story. We are all supposed to be the hero of our own story, as we are told often, but what nobody tells you is that all heroes have flaws. It’s part of the plot, it’s built into the storyline. I have been telling the parts of the story here, a little bit, but I think I have to start looking at the cracks a little harder before something drops and I shatter into little pieces. I am trying to work on it, I can do better. I think a lot of us need that. It’s why people become obsessed with other subjects, like politics, working out, eating a certain way, all things that will shift that focus off your cracks and make people think you have it all together.

How is your story? Is it funny, or sad, maybe thrilling or a docudrama? It is your story, and you can make it interesting, or it can become a bedtime story. The plot may twist, it can shift at any given time. And you can be the hero, with the built in flaws, but if you are afraid nobody is interested in your story, you are wrong. As we are all telling a story. Everyone of us. And we are enjoying the plot, we are a character in the story, even if it is just as a minor co-star in the ending credits. Tell your story. I promise someone wants to hear it.

Long Week

Yeah, it has been a long week. I went from a happy little tribute to my Spaztastic Zelda to a week of headlines that you wouldn’t believe if it weren’t 2020. So much to say, no right way to say it. I don’t normally find myself for this big of a loss for words, but this week did it. Just going to hit the lowlights, I think. I want to be able to look back in a year and see if it was real.

I paid zero attention to either the DNC or the RNC the past 2 weeks. Couldn’t stomach it. I think the state of politics and the people that participate in how our country has run amuck is pathetic. Joe Biden isn’t really a solution to anything, I like Kamala Harris, don’t get me started on the Propaganda that was Donny-Fest in DC. I saw headlines, I watch the news. Nobody likes getting stroked as much as Trump does, and he stroked it hard this week. Cleanup is going to take weeks to get that sticky residue off the front lawn. It all leaves a bad taste, and the idea that neither party does anything but bad mouth the other party while we all stare in disbelief makes me so upset. Come November, whatever happens, nobody is really going to win anything, most of all regular everyday people.

Kenosha. Long considered one of the armpits of Wisconsin with Racine. Lots of attention poured onto the Wisco this week, none of it really good. I don’t know what to even say about any of it. I am flabbergasted by the events of this week down I-94. What I do know is that not a lot of people are in the right here. Blake should have acted better. The officer who fired 7 times into his back should have acted better. The 17 year old FIB who came riding up with his long gun hoping to be some kind of hero is facing murder charges. He should have acted better by keeping his underage self and his parent’s weapon south of the state line. He just ruined his life. He will never be the police officer he dreamed of being. I know a lot of people that think he is some special “patriot.” No, he illegally open carried across his state line, was out after an imposed curfew and then got in deeper than he ever was ready for. And he is probably supposed to be starting his senior year in high school. He is 17. Can’t even buy a lottery ticket, and now he is facing murder charges. He isn’t old enough to vote for his big hero, Trump. Now he might not ever get to vote, or legally own one of his dream weapons. Nobody is right when everybody is wrong.

As a result of the officer involved shooting, the NBA and MLB reacted. According to many people in my newsfeed, their spoiled rich asses don’t need to be heard from, and they should shut up and play. Sigh. While I sit back and watch people swear off sports, I think about it and I myself saw what the Bucks and Brewers did, by not playing their games, was out of respect for the community. I might be wrong. It happens. But Kenosha is literally just down I-94. Yes, they were making a statement, but what I heard was different than what many thought. I believe that athletes are a little out of touch with their fans, when you make that kind of money it happens. But it’s not that different than when rich politicians make statements. They don’t relate to us either. But we listen to them when they rant about this or that. The athletes just quietly sat out a couple of games. They didn’t rant about things, just collectively gave it a rest for the day. But as I have said before, we all have different vision. What I see and what you see might look like two very different things as we look at the same thing. But as I understand it, there may be some season tickets available for the Bucks and Brewers next season. We’ll see what happens.

Big hurricane this week. That beast Laura didn’t make many headlines in comparison to some lessor storms that have jacked up the Gulf coast. But she knocked a serious punch down in Louisiana and she kissed Texas in a rough way too. There are a lot of people that got devastated, and I don’t really know if too many people in our government paid much attention. Again, Donny was busy fondling his ego, and all of us are dazed by the Kenosha, the ‘Rona and all 2020 is heaping out on us. But take a minute, please, and consider what may be needed down there. When Katrina had her way with New Orleans, we loaded up trucks with toiletries, clothes, shoes and all kinds of things, and helped out. The Red Cross would be a good place to start, see if they have a list of needs, I am sure they do. I may have a few people down south who read this, I bet blood banks need some donating. There is something good we can do, in the middle of all this bad stuff going on right now.

Now, I may not have been personally hit by any of the things that made this week so long, and I am thankful for it. But it all hurts my soul, my heart. I see a lot of my friends fighting it out on the social media, and that is no good either. I have kept it pretty quiet this week. Watching the melee as it were. I am finding that getting in a tiff on Facebook just isn’t worth it. People throw out so much inaccurate nonsense that it makes your head spin. I am here, and I am paying attention. I care about what happens, I have just been learning when it is prudent to speak up. I would rather more people did the same, but there would be no entertainment value in that. I have a large variety of people in my life, with many different beliefs. The thing is, in my silence I am learning a lot. When you turn your own volume down, the other senses can pick up so much more. Let’s all hope that this upcoming week is a little more quiet, and not quite so long.

Whack Job!

You may think, with a headline like that, I am going to share more revelations about the service industry. Nope, still in self-therapy mode as I adjust to life out from behind the bar. This is about a whack job I love, and what I learn from her everyday. No, not my sister either. It’s Zelda!! I promised a long time ago I would include her in this, and I don’t enough. Time to fix that, as we are getting close to the 6th anniversary of our Gotcha Day!!

She’s laying on top of my feet as I write, and that will last until either a squirrel or human breaches the perimeter. There she goes! Judging from the bark, it’s a squirrel this time. I had no idea what a menace to society those critters are until Z came into my life. But now that I know, I curse them in a snarl and growl that would make my girl Zelda proud. There’s one on Mason street that didn’t make it across. I may walk Zelly over there so she can gloat. That’s what you get, squirrel!!

So her name Zelda came about thanks to my nephew Will. When we rescued each other, her name at the shelter was Arizona, which was dumb because she came from Tennessee. I wanted to change her name, and I was taking suggestions. Robin Williams had just passed away, and his daughter’s name is Zelda. Will was big fan of Williams, who wasn’t, really? So he suggested that and it seemed right. A little credit to the video game, but mostly it came from Robin Williams as a little tribute. We may have missed it though, with that name, because she very often gets called Spaz, Weirdo, Whack Job and other things of that variety, and she seems to know that I am talking to her. But on paper, it’s Zelda. I am thankful to Will always for a unique and appropriate name for my whack job.

She’s noisy, not all the time but when it’s necessary. Like most dogs, she is protective, and there is an area that it cannot be tolerated for people or animals to breach. Like in front of the house. Out on the street. In the car when we are driving. Actually in the car she is usually pretty chill. But one day at a stop light, a guy, wearing a hat, crossing the street just ticked her off. She barked at him like a nut job. The hat was kind of dumb, to be fair. But she is kind of a neighborhood terrorist. We have a couple of ways we take our walks, and she knows the houses that have dogs. When we approach, she will kind of pause, and wait to see if the dog notices her, and if not, she will bark and wait for the reaction. Get them riled up. She is obnoxious. And the disappointment when the dog isn’t home is palpable. She pouts, almost.

Zelda loves her some tennis balls. She is particularly fond of them when they are underneath furniture. That’s a whole other thing though, more therapy for me. But we get lucky most summers. We live near a high school, with tennis courts. In the summer, normally, there are tennis camps over there, with teenagers. Lots of big hitters. We can normally walk that way and score several tennis balls that make it across the street. Well, the ‘Rona has ruined that, so it’s been a lean tennis season. There are some people that use the courts, but they must not hit the long ball too often. We did get one the other day, someone went yard. She carried that thing joyfully for easily 20 blocks and through a park. And she has had it under the couch and TV stand countless times. Yay.

Zelda isn’t always good around other people, so I have to keep an eye on her. But when she loves someone, it is game on! My brothers Mike and Paul, Paul’s family, and my sister Margie are some of her favorites for sure! We have an older couple that lives on our block that she adores as well. When we walk past their house, she sticks her big nose between their hedges looking for them, and their cat Levi. She is obsessed with Levi, but scared of him. When he comes over by Zelda, she scoots away pretty quick. But she is still looking for him every single time. And she just loves Tony, the older gentleman. He took his time gaining her trust, and it’s paid big dividends for both of them. It always makes me happy to see them outside because I know Zelda will go into spaz mode and give lots of loves to them, unless that cat walks up.

We are similar creatures, me and the Z-dog. And the longer we are together, the more we are alike. We are both pretty food motivated. We like our walks, we both hate squirrels, naps are cool, and we both love the people we love, and hate things that tick us off. We protect our stuff, and we can both be pretty noisy when it’s appropriate. I love that girl, and she seems to love me, most of the time. She kind of doles out affection on her terms, but when she decides it’s time to snuggle up on the couch, and rest her head on my lap, it’s just everything I hoped for when I let her pick me out at the shelter. She has some quirks, but who doesn’t, really? We will carry on together, and I am thankful every day she picked me, because she truly did. She is a lot of work some days, but what relationship doesn’t require a lot of love, patience and treats?

A Year

Looking at the calendar and doing the math, I can see that I have been doing this bloggy thing for a year now. I have the time this weekend to go back and read all of it. I might do that, or it may be too horrifying. Also, Comedy Central runs episodes of “The Office” all day and I wouldn’t want to mess that opportunity up by a good round of narcissistic self indulgence of how I may actually have the best words, not the clown in the White House.

What has a year of rambling online taught me? That’s a good question. I learned that people are paying attention. It helped that for almost 6 months none of you had anything better to do since the ‘Rona had you on a metaphorical ankle bracelet chaining you to the house. By the way, I hear it may have just been shortened to the ‘Ro. I am a middle aged woman, I will probably stick with ‘Rona, because you need to get off my lawn!! But I have truly appreciated every one of you who stops what you are doing to read my little wordfest when I get the urge to pontificate online. Thank you. Truly.

I have learned that I can sure crab about stuff. Maybe I try to clean it up a little here and there, but boy people sure do tick you off if you let them. Since I have been out of the restaurant it has slowed down a lot. Limited access to douchebags helped a lot! Even at Costco, most people were pretty awesome, even if we were out of TP. Now I am dealing with people via phone calls. That can go either way, but most people are nice. They call me, so if things go south, they kind of asked for it. It’s fun to try to imagine what they may look like, based on our limited conversation. It keeps me entertained, and if they really make me upset, well, I have their address now. Hahaha!! (Just kidding, I don’t have the energy to stalk on that big of a scale.) I probably could still find plenty to complain about, but I am just so grateful to have a place to work that I don’t feel the need so much anymore.

A year of writing my thoughts has taught me I had more thoughts than I realized. I can think some pretty deep or random things, but I don’t always verbalize them, not everyone is ready for the inner Coco. But I do listen, and I do pay attention. If something really gets my brain rolling, you will likely get treated to it here. I keep it pretty close when it comes to politics, I don’t feel the need to beat people with that. Most of them are useless scum anyway, and not worth the effort of hitting the keyboard over it. I don’t want to entertain the ‘Rona conspiracy theories, the mask debates, the upcoming election, or how they will do the Bachelorette this year. It doesn’t interest me enough to roll with it. I worry about the kids going/not going to school, but without kids of my own I don’t have a horse in that race. I think about God and religion, but not to the extent that I want to stir that pot. Some of the best things I have written came out without much thought other than it popped into my cranium when I felt like writing.

If there is one thing I can take away from this past year of blogs is that I am happy I gave it a try. It feels like those of you reading it are happy I did too. People told me for years that I should do it, or write something for some form of reading. I appreciate that push, it got me here, and that brings us together at least a little bit. I do love the time I sit in front of the laptop doing this, it is interesting which way the squirrel runs in my mind to the keyboard. I like that if something I wrote hits someone the right way that they share it with others. That is the whole point of sharing, to make others want to share too. Learning a little about myself makes me learn a little more about others, and I feel that is a gift too. The feedback I get really boosts my inner good, and that feels amazing, like real love, you know? I appreciate you, all of you that take a minute to spend with my Coco’s Words.

Stay safe, sane and be kind to each other. Give a little more, complain a little less. We can spend another year together with my random thoughts, if you are willing to play along. I thank you, so much, for entertaining my words.

Are You Positive About That?

I have been working on myself, physically, for a few years now. Lots of ups and downs come along with that. Hills and valleys, you know? And this time it has been better, since I found my FIRE Family and a place I feel gets me and I get it. What has piggy backed along with that is a more positive attitude. I never saw it coming, it just came along for the ride before I even knew what was going on. That may have been the best way for it to go. I can still crab and complain with the best of them, but it just doesn’t seem to happen as often anymore.

I have turned into the person that shares all the positive and inspirational stuff on the Facebook. I like that, and I share the things that speak to me. I want people to feel like they deserve more. More of what? I don’t know, but I do know that a lot of people settle in life. In relationships, jobs, living in a place that isn’t “home.” That hurts my heart, especially the relationship one. All I can figure is that somewhere along the line, they just gave up, or got convinced it’s all there is. This is as good as it gets, and it’s better than nothing, so let’s spend a miserable existence together. I almost did that a few times, and thank God the guys were complete and utter morons and I got out of it with a beat up heart, but those can heal. It may take a while, but it gets better and that clears up your vision a lot too.

Inside that gym, there is so much positive energy. So much support, that you can’t help but get caught up in it. I have been there over 2 years now, and I am getting close to signing a contract for 2 more years. I want that energy, I need it now. The couple of months that the ‘Rona had everything shut down was just awful for me. I live alone, so the isolation of being away from the gym, away from my job of ten years, and not being socially active took a toll. I was working, at Costco, and there was a pretty decent socially active thing for me, it seems I know everyone that shops there, so I didn’t have it as bad as a lot of people, but it was still rough. I was able to keep a sort of positive vibe going, but it was a struggle. Talking to a lot of people, I know everyone seemed to feel it, and some still are. Just being able to be in that place, able to sweat and swear with my FIRE Family has been the tonic I needed.

How can a place mean so much? It isn’t the place, but the people you are surrounded with that lift you up. The new job is turning into a positive place for me too, now that I kind of know what I am doing. Kind of. This is a lot different than getting to know your co-workers in a restaurant. We aren’t surrounded by booze and food all day. Just the food. But in the 2 months, I am getting to know the cool kids, and that helps me feel more positive, about myself and them. So it can spread, the good vibes. Give the good feelings, get the good feelings. It is no coincidence that my job and gym are owned by some seriously positive and uplifting people. There’s a whole separate blog post about them, and I am thankful beyond words that I have them in my life now.

Something clicked, I don’t really know when it happened. But I feel better in my head and heart than I had in years, maybe ever. There is a lot of baggage I carry from my childhood, and my 20s and 30s. Everyone does that, some bags are just heavier than others. But I am learning to set them down, not drag them around everywhere I go and showing them to everyone I meet. A conversation I had with someone yesterday really cemented that. She and I have some matching luggage, so we compared notes a little, and I set it down. I felt lighter after that. She and I don’t have to carry that around when we are together any more. We can talk about it, but it isn’t weighing me down.

Positive emotions. I am craving them nowadays. Being negative all the time is just too big of a burden. So when you see me rifle off a lot of positive memes, or share something good, you can see my growth happening. I see it with some other friends, and it lifts my soul right up. I have been “snoozing” a lot of the Negative Nellies lately. The peace is amazing. I know this pandemic has people in a serious twist. Somehow some people come across so negative you can almost taste it, and it’s bitter. I can’t have that make a circle around me, or it may close in. I don’t want that for anyone else either. I try to put out the good now, the things that help you breathe a little easier. I hope you are all feeling it, seeing it, and I hope you know it is coming from somewhere that feels very real to me, for the first time. Being in a happier, healthier place is carrying me through, and I can bring you along if you can summon that positive place in your heart too.

Look for the good. Try to see a light in a dark corner. When someone else lost their smile, give them one of yours. You are strong enough that you can lift a heavy burden from someone you love. You don’t have to be sunshine and daisies every minute of the day, but set aside a little time for yourself to look at your positives in life. You have them, flip a switch in your heart, and the light will shine right on it. And if you need a lift, come find me, in person or somewhere on the interwebs… I am here for you, I promise.

Covi-Dumb

This is the weekend. This is the one where the shut downs, the cancellations, the safety precautions, all of it came crashing down on my life. It was supposed to be the Mile of Music weekend. I would be two days in towards some questionable liver damage and at least 5 pictures with Todd, or at least Fake Todds and a Giant Todd Head. This is the weekend on the calendar that hits me the hardest. But you know what? I am ok.

We have all lost out on a lot of fun, and businesses and vendors have lost a lot of income. We can sit around and complain, which happens, or we can make lemonade out of the lemons. We won’t know for a while if all of this was a good decision or if it was being overly cautious. I know people who missed big trips and vacations, cancelled or postponed weddings, and missed events that mean a lot to them each year. Like all of you, I do hope it isn’t all for nothing. But to the people who get sick, or lost a loved one, our little concerts and birthday parties are small potatoes.

I have written before about the disruption to my life, job changes, etc. I am doing ok, and it’s an adjustment, but at least I am healthy. I am here to talk about it. People try to diminish the numbers of positive tests, and deaths and that it’s all a conspiracy or liberal hoax, which is my favorite. But this is going on, and we all are affected in one way or another. We just started a 60 day mask mandate in Wisconsin. I had to work out at the gym wearing a mask, which was hard. But at least I am able to go to my gym, and I am healthy enough to work out. Things could be worse.

I try so hard to be a glass half full person, and some days that is super hard, especially right now. But as least I have a glass to fill. When I think of this mask stuff, and how some people are making it out to be the end of all of our freedoms, I just get angry. I think about how a couple of years ago when my brother-in-law had colon cancer, and went through chemo. He did great, but there were times when his immune system was so beaten down that he and Marge couldn’t come to holidays, or events with a lot of people. It could have killed him if he got sick. It’s not being overly dramatic, it could have killed him. If my sister went somewhere with people, and picked up a cold or flu bug, brought it home, it would have taken a huge toll on Butcher’s health and recovery. I wear a mask for people like him, who can’t afford the risk.

I have a friend with a son that has been through so much in his short life, liver issues and surgeries and so many hospitalizations that I can’t even guess how many times he has been to Children’s Hospital. He had a liver transplant a few years ago, and he is doing pretty good by all accounts. But he will forever have to be careful and when a bug goes around at school, he has to stay home. When he gets a cold, it is never just the cold, but what it can do to his whole immune system. He has also had to do treatments for cancer, from a skin issue. I don’t really like using this kid or his mom for an example, it kind of isn’t fair, but there are people, real people, that just need us to wear these masks right now.

I am missing my Mile of Music, hard. I haven’t enjoyed this summer as much as I would like because so much isn’t going on. But I am here. My sports teams are trying to get there, but I just saw the Brewers had to cancel another game because players from the Evil and Useless Cardinals have tested positive. The Pack is supposed to open training camp, but there are no pre-season games and I will believe the season will happen once it starts and is happening. We are all having to sacrifice things we love and we are missing out on a lot. But it’s not the end of the world, even if we are bored to tears. The wearing of a mask, or the limited hours of stores and restaurants, the cancelled events, those are all just things. Things that can get rescheduled, things that can get replaced by other things. Focus on staying healthier, and keeping others safe. Give a little now, and you will get so much later.

If you can find it in your heart to just complain a little less, and give a little more to the efforts of staying healthy, keeping others healthy, this will all end soon. Put the conspiracies aside, and ask your neighbor if they need anything from the store. Call your family that hasn’t been able to see you, check on your friends. Focus on the good things and be a decent person. None of that is much to ask, and it may just improve your whole outlook.

And one last thing about The Mile of Music. I may be very devastated to be missing it, but at least I haven’t had to see any Fake Martys wandering around downtown.

Instructions Not Included

Middle age is a barrel of laughs. Except it’s not, sometimes. I think if you can get past the anxiety of being halfway through your life, you should be able to enjoy most of it. I am trying, and it goes pretty well most of the time. The only advantage of having lost so many people I love so early in life is that I know that life is short, and if you stress too much about things, you are going to miss the good parts.

I feel like an adult teenager most of the time. Like, I know I am 50 years old, I know it. But I still feel the 15 year old Carol inside, the young soul still keeping it real in my heart. She didn’t know much about life yet, despite a few tough situations, but it was still all out there for her. And I feel that sometimes. But a couple of people reminded me recently, by way of their stories, about how much road I have covered. By listening to them, I look at how I made it this far, and I am more bewildered than ever. Nobody tells you how to get through some of the tougher spots.

Losing my parents young, well, that has been my biggest hurdle. I still feel like I got cheated, that they really got cheated. A raw deal. But I still have friends who have their folks, and they are dealing with them and the things that come with their advancing age. My best friend lost her mom a little over a month ago, and another friend’s mom had a pretty serious medical scare, and she was the person who dealt with the majority of the decisions involving her care, and what comes next. Another good friend is concerned her mom has dementia advancing pretty quickly, and that is hard on her, and her family. Nobody can really explain to you how to deal with it. What steps follow, especially as it pertains to your own heart. People with good intentions will tell you how they get through, recommend some resources they may know about, and they will listen. But they can’t tell your heart how to handle it. It’s stressful, it’s heartbreaking, and there isn’t any one right way to handle any of it. Get through it, and use the people around you for some support, that’s what I can give for advice, and that’s the best way I found my way through.

The mystical world of relationships, I hear so much about it, but don’t have a lot of practical applications of my own. I have never done too well, romantically speaking. So any advice I give out is the cumulation of what I have seen others go through. The funniest thing is, people come to me all the time for relationship advice. Can’t say for sure why, but I usually listen, and tell them they deserve better than that. Because 90% of the time, it’s true. If you are complaining about your partner, because of some way they treated you, acted or something they did that was disrespectful, you deserve better. Fights and disagreements happen, that is just normal, you cannot agree on everything. But the things that go deeper, that dig at the foundation of your soul, that’s a problem. You deserve better. There are ways you can save that relationship, by communicating and working things out together, but if one of you is unwilling to participate? You deserve better. The reason you stay in it, is that you don’t believe me or anyone who tells you that you deserve better. That is where the instruction manual is missing too. You can’t look it up and see where things malfunctioned. It must be soul crushing to realize your partner does not have your back. It has to be even more devastating to believe you don’t deserve better, that this is as good as it gets. I always hope for those individuals that nothing catastrophic happens to save them, that they awake someday just knowing that the instructions say you do not have to live a miserable life.

People like to have a plan, to have the map that gets you from point A to point B. But it isn’t always there. It’s a struggle sometimes. The good news is that usually someone else has traveled it, and can give a little guidance. It is like Google maps. If you look, there are usually two or more ways to get to the destination, you only looked at the first one that came up on the search. You have to be able to navigate things if you hit a construction zone, be a little resourceful. If you tossed the instructions and ended up with more parts than there should be, you can still get it all together. You are not the first or the last who messed it up a little. Life will be messy, there are times it will work out, and times it’s more like a dumpster fire. Keep the right people in your corner, with a fire extinguisher, and listen when they whisper “you can do it, you deserve the best” because they have usually roasted marshmallows over their own dumpster fire and enjoyed the s’mores on the other side. They want to see you assemble the best life you can, even if a couple of the parts weren’t in the little package and the instruction book is missing a page or two.

I Am Starving!!

I joke sometimes about how attention starved I am. I suppose having a blog feeds into that. I mean, how needy am I that I had to go online to cultivate more attention? Isn’t almost 1000 Facebook buddies enough? No! Never Enough!! But, the need for attention is a real thing. Not at a celebrity level, but I like people knowing I am around. I haven’t always felt that way, and sometimes I don’t want people to notice I am around. It sounds very conflicting, but it’s my prerogative to be a whack job. I do what I want, as I am fond of saying.

I was pretty shy as a kid. People don’t always believe me when I tell them that. But it is true, it pained me to be around people and to have to talk to them. I stayed pretty quiet a lot of the time, I would hang around the fringe, present but not really contributing. I kind of think I didn’t want to be a burden to anyone. It’s hard to put it into words because when I look back at little Carol, I see a lonely kid who wasn’t really ever alone. I had siblings, tons of cousins we would see often enough, and I got along with other kids. But I see myself in my memories outside of the circle. Shy.

When I made the move from Catholic grade school, where the cliques and friendship circles were well defined, I made a very conscious decision to put myself out there a little bit more. These kids in Kimberly didn’t know me, didn’t know that I felt like the odd one out most of my childhood, and I was going to change that. I didn’t have much of a plan, but I did know one girl, my friend Stacy, that would help me even if I hadn’t exactly told her of my agenda. It did work, with a lot of pep talks to myself I made it a point to talk to more people, make some actual eye contact, and make friends. I made some great friends, people I still know and love very much today. I used a sense of humor, and some genuine interest to get there, and I look back and think that I didn’t really have to try nearly as hard as I thought I would have to, because I found a way to be myself, even if I wasn’t sure who I was yet. I just knew I didn’t want to be who I used to be, outside looking in. Be a friend, you will make friends. Best advice I ever got from someone so many years ago, and it still holds.

Now, the reason I have been thinking about all of this lately is that I have been put in a position where I have had to put myself out there again. When I bartended and served, if I wanted to make money, I had to put it out there for people, be a likeable and friendly person. The Shy Girl still lives here, but she knows the persona that needs to be out there to make the cold hard cash. As a result, I made more friends. Lots of friends, some co-workers, some customers that turned into friends. It was a win-win, and I cherish so many of those friendships. I didn’t have to fight for attention, it came to me. Turn it on, turn it off. I could go home and let the Shy Girl relax at the end of the day. Because believe it or not, she is still with me. I just am better at bossing her around than I was as a kid.

I have been transitioning into a less socially exciting environment. I do not want to knock the Office Culture, at all. But that dynamic is so different. If you get along with people, the days go by well, and there are some good shenanigans going on, but it is so quiet in comparison to cooks yelling at people in a kitchen, and cussing under your breath at cheapskates. Getting attention is harder, but not impossible. But how do you want to get it? I am going with the old sense of humor standby, and by being a friend to make friends. It is going well. But I see the attention thing is harder for some people. And to attention seek while still being likeable is a fine line. I appreciate the ones that are doing it with food. Winner, every time. But it isn’t always that simple, unfortunately. My love can be bought with a chocolate filled donut, but annoying me with childish behavior and a cookie on the side won’t work so well. I am working on ignoring the childish aspect while still enjoying the cookie. I am just thankful that I am able to recognize how I want to be noticed is different, less intrusive, and appreciated. I am not so needy that I need to be the loudest, or the most graphic to get the attention and validation. I do have to be the sneakiest to get the good donuts, however.

It’s about growth and balance, really. Are you trying to grow as a person, or just get noticed? I didn’t want to be the lonely shy girl anymore, so I found a way that got me some attention, but still honored the Shy Girl, because she needs to breathe too. You want to be loved, but it’s important to be liked as well. I want some peace, but a little action now and again too. I can look backwards at that little girl outside the window and feel bad for her, or I can make her some friends at long last. Get her noticed, a little attention, without taking anything away from how she ended up outside the circle, just open that circle a little wider, that’s all. She doesn’t have to stand in the middle of that circle if she doesn’t feel comfortable, just let her hang as a part of it. She will find her way, and get the attention when she is ready for it. There are lessons inside and outside the circle. I think to be comfortable with your spot in that circle is the most important thing, and how you build that comfort will keep you from starving.