The Year You Did Not Crack.

 

This is for You. For everyone.

For those in my real social life, and those who are just as real in my social media life.

For those who may have entered my orbit yet remain unknown.

For those I do know who occasionally irk me, this one’s for you, too.

 

Turn the camera on yourself, right now. Take a selfie no one else will ever see.

 

Then, consider this:

2020 is going to go down as The Year You Did Not Crack.

 

There’ve been a lot of attitude adjustments. Mostly for the better.

But some of you have faced multiple moments of: I’m too old for this. I don’t have to put up with that. I’m done for good – and for my own good.

Even as you solidly define your new limits, I’m still hearing apologetic self-belittlement for taking a stand, narrated as shame: “I cracked.”

No. No, you did not. You did not crack.

You un-cracked.

You filled fissures that have been worn deep for years with self-saving cement; not to harden yourself, but to protect yourself.

You’ve broken down who you are and decided not to be broken, anymore. You stunted the cracks.

Bravo.

Think about that. How kind you’ve been to yourself. How you’ve decided you love yourself instead of focusing on those who don’t.

Filling your voids has made you stronger. On behalf of every soul in your universe, I thank you.

This gift of self-favor has freed you. The most precious part? Affording others your priceless presence when your strength is needed to shore them.

Smoothing over the surface doesn’t mean you are hiding anything.

It means you have layered purposeful protective boundaries. Swathed the hurt in pristine swatches of emotionally sterile gauze. Taped down so hard, the underneath can’t help but heal from the inside out.

The process never needed to be pretty, you just thought it did. Blisters heal ugly, and you probably call them so. But, knowing you the way I do, I think they’re absolutely gorgeous.

 

Choose your poison – doesn’t matter to me which way you say it. Just say it aloud.

Alone, if you are. Or, alone, if it makes you feel better.

“2020 is going down as The Year I Did Not Crack.”

“2020 is going down as The (explicatives can be empowering) Year I Did Not Crack.”

 

Turn the camera back on. Take another selfie.

Do you see the difference? Believe what you see.

No apologies needed; none accepted.

Now, show the world what you got.

 

Quote for the Week: 2020 05 12 Stop thinking soon ill be free jakorte

Song for the Week: Fall Out Boy, Save Rock And Roll.

You are what you love

Not who loves you

Stay Safe Home Mode

My Foodsaver  and my freezer are my god-sends. So much so, that I truly believe I could go another 3-4 week in Stay Safe mode.

Not quarantined, not anymore self-isolated than usual, it’s pretty much just business as usual for me, except for the shortened commute.

Working from home has taken some getting used to. I’ve always imagined that I’d love it, and I do. The thing is, I imagined it with better equipment.

Downsizing from two huge monitors at work to my tiny laptop has been a challenge. My mini mouse requires a lot more maneuvering. Although, I’m not sure why since I’m sliding over a smaller surface.

My micro set-up unfortunately lends itself to completing one task at a time. I’m more of the handle-it-right-now-if-possible type. Too many windows can be a bit too much for my 5-year oldie to handle and too many layers for me to keep track of.

HBlu’s noticed that opening and closing files to limit electronic desktop clutter requires a lot of clicking.

At least, that’s how I’m interpreting the increase in those huffy cat-sighs while he lounges in the office recliner. Honestly, though, he might be sighing in the lounger because I wouldn’t let him squeeze into that small spot reserved for my mouse and pad. I cleared off the whole other 2/3 of the desk for him. But, no. He must occupy that corner.

Anyway, the point is, still working full days.

Don’t have any more free-time than I had. My 10-minutes-on-a-slow-day roundtrip commute gives me 5 extra minutes in the morning.  Plus, another whopping 5 in late-afternoon.

Still, somehow, I’ve been managing to get up 30 minutes earlier than norm. I made in onto the treadmill 4 out of 5 days before work my first week. A trend I plan to keep up.

It doesn’t hurt that I’ve cut down on unnecessary glamour. (wink, wink.) Mascara and lipstick-free isn’t as freeing as I imagined. Being truly comfortable, however, is.

I’ve uniformed into jeans and a t-shirt; a comfy sweater and no-shoes sock-footed feet. I do wear my trusty Fitbit to remind me that good leg circulation is just as important at home as it is in the office.

My super cool two-person office desk has been used more this month than all of last year. Face it, we all sofa and laptop when we can. But, real desk work requires, well… a desk.

Sturdy good-posture invoking chairs have been inspirational. Early morning pre-work workouts admittedly encouraged by the “Gee, shouldn’t these chairs be a little wider in the thighs?” question the slightly sore sides of my legs are asking. It’s really more about the shape and style of the chair, as opposed to, you know an actual ergonomic office chair.

The most repeated online advice for home-bound, self-protective or mandated work-at-home isolation has been to stick to your normal routine.

That’s good advice. Get up, get showered, get dressed, go to work.

My personal advice? Loud music will help you ignore the 4+ hours of springtime edging and weed-whacking, whine and buzz in your neighborhood.

Lessons on Working From Home:2020 03 31 working from home lesson 1 music jakorte2020 03 31 working from home lesson 2 jakorte

ps. recessing from my year of  memories. just seems now isn’t a good time to add to the sadness.

A Jeff Day

We had an awesome visit, laughing and listening to Jeff stories; g-rated versions, revised for the one, single-digit aged member of his audience. Covering youth into adulthood, he regaled us, and our impressionable-aged nephew, with hilarious MIS and other misadventures.

Falling asleep in the bathroom for hours, being so unruly his brother and buddies stuffed him into a race tire. How his Mustang got totaled without his help, sitting on the front lawn with a for sale sign, in park.

Jeff recounted having fun jamming his buddies (all the same size and stature) into a tiny Fiesta. Driving to Ohio, for bowling and drinking and a breakfast they called, “a heart attack on a plate.”

He’d said that he’d consume a pound of bacon, a loaf of toast, and a half-dozen eggs. I’m not sure that part wasn’t a bit of an exaggeration. Although, I don’t have any doubt it was a necessarily-big, semi-sobering meal before the return drive home.

“Don’t do that.” Jeff said when he told this particular story. “Don’t drink and drive. We’re lucky we’re all still alive.”

All of these stories, I knew well. I enjoyed them, because he was enjoying himself. It was so much fun to watch others hear them for the first time.

Jeff would end each hilarious story, endearingly, with a serious advisement. “I tell you this,” he’d said to our nephew, numerous times. “I tell you this, so you know what not to do!”

Reminiscence is therapeutic. Sometimes. Sometimes, not. I found myself sadly wishing that everyone could have had a last “leave them laughing” day with Jeff like this one.

Paused, sweet revelation allows me to gift you this tear-drying truth:

This Jeff day was like any other – truly, like every other. Filled with stories and laughter; wisdom and care.

No matter who you are, no matter when that last day was, every single person who ever knew Jeff  had a last Jeff day – exactly like this one.

Quote for the Week: 2019 08 06 It’s a rare person who doesn’t leave behind jakorte

Not Napping Music, Not

The same evening, between other commercials, I addressed the schedule for our up-coming weekend plans.

We were closely booked, which would require a bit of running. Over the past few weeks, we’d canceled a few social outings.

Among those, one was an overdue family visit. One was a much anticipated ‘meet the baby’ date. We’d previously discussed rescheduling the baby outing for Saturday evening or Sunday after church. When I asked Jeff if he’d been able to arrange it, he said he’d been thinking about that.

“Maybe, Saturday at lunch time, would be better,” he hemmed.

“We can’t, tomorrow.” I answered, quickly, shortly.

Jeff’s brow furrowed.

“We’re going to Lansing, tomorrow.” I reminded him.

“Well, huh.” Jeff scrunched his lips to the side, and puffed out one cheek. “Maybe, we can reschedule that for when I’m feelin’ better?”

“We’ve already canceled, twice.” I pointed out. “We can’t to cancel, again. Besides, the store is already covered for tomorrow.”

It wasn’t always easy to find someone willing to tend shop by themselves for an entire day. We’d already cancelled our scheduled helper’s shift, once, too.

“Mmm… maybe, you can go without me, this once…?”

“Absolutely not!” I popped back. “I’m not going without you.”

I missed my cousin’s wedding in Georgia, because Jeff simply couldn’t make the trip. The advice I received from a non-family member was that he was a big-boy and he could take care of himself for a weekend. I stood my ground that time, too, and refused.

I was terrified enough; always wondering each weekday, if that day would be the day. I can’t even imagine what would have become of me, if I had left Jeff for a weekend, and Jeff had left me forever that weekend.

I badgered my continued opinion. “You can sleep in the car on the way up, and back. It’s what you’d be doing at home, anyway.”

Jeff sat there, lips pressed, two cheeks puffed out.

I’m not even sure he was trying to come up with an argument, but in case he was, I enticed and cajoled. “You can pick the music.” I stated, with unarguable finality, “even if you’re gonna sleep through it all.”

That got a smile. “AC/DC, it is!” Jeff crowed.

“You realize, that’s not really napping music.” I conveyed; fair point.

“Yeaaahhhh,” he wheezed on purpose, followed by a sinister Mutly laugh.

“Maybe, I’ll bring Kid Rock, too. I can sleep through anythin’ and one of us has gotta stay awake for the drive!”

Quote for the Week: 2019 07 23 your people will understand if you can’t make jakorte

 

Not, yet, we haven’t!

Before I made it back to the kitchen, the phone rang, again.

Jeff grabbed that call, too. Another one-sided conversation commenced.

“Oh, hi! How are you?” he greeted, warmly.

“When’s that?”

“Oh, on the 6th? Well, that’s our anniversary. Let me check…”

“Hey, they’re takin’ pictures for the church directory,” Jeff shouted out to me. “They wanna know if we can get our photo done next Friday. We don’t have anything planned, do we?”

“Not, yet, we haven’t.” I answered. “What time is the latest appointment? Probably can’t get there before 6.”

“Didja hear that?” Jeff asked the caller. “Ok. 6 o’clock, it is. What’s that?”

His voice swelled with happiness and pride; his answer booming out of a mile-wide smile. “We’ve been married 5 years!”

“Not, yet, we haven’t!” I shouted back.

“Didja hear that?” Jeff guffawed. “She said, not yet, we haven’t.”

I wonder what the other person’s impression was of my retort. To Jeff and I, it was a silly, humorous complaint and retort. A full-swing, fast-paced verbal dance, we often threw at each other. It stemmed first from frustration, and later, my fear.

Years before, Jeff had either done something I had asked him not to, or hadn’t done something I had asked him to do. Whichever it was, my ending escalated to, “You keep that up and we’re not gonna make it to our 5th anniversary!”

I continued to use it, after that. Sometimes, joking. Sometimes, not.

I used it when he’d come back from the kitchen with a bowl of ice cream, never having asked me if I wanted some. I used it when Jeff accidentally said something that could be hilariously misconstrued as a complaint, but very much wasn’t.

I used it after philosophical discussions, when we could not find a common ground. I used it when things didn’t quite go the way I wanted. I used it when he’d joke with a waitress that I needed a whole ‘nother day to look at the menu. I used it to emphasize the damaging stupidity of chewing tobacco. I used it, creatively, in countless ways.

No matter which way it went, though, Jeff’s reply followed formula, too. It always started with, “You wouldn’t be so lucky!”

It always ended with a variation of a good-natured, extended promise. “I’m gonna live ‘til I’m 80! You’ll see.” “I’m gonna live so long, you’d wish you’d gotten rid of me.” “I’m gonna be botherin’ you for a long, long time, Wort.”

I don’t doubt the person on the other side of the phone knew we were kidding. I just wonder if  our conversation ever crossed their mind, again.

Quote for the Week: 2019 07 02 Some inside jokes are easy to explain jakorte

More Brewing

More Friday, September 29, 2006.

So, back to this particular day. Over unrushed, non-churdled coffee, I asked how Jeff was feeling. He told me he must be getting better, because he felt pretty good. He was less tired than he had been for the last few weeks.

We had a quick conversation about maybe buying a cappuccino/espresso maker and a popcorn machine for the store. His targets, he’d explained, were the massage and hair salon clientele. He figured there was usually a person or two waiting, and the smells would be tempting. Plus, it’d make the whole place a little better on those extra hot summer days when the wind drifted in, confirming evidence of the adjacent farm.

“And…” he preened. “I already looked and they’re not that expensive.”

It was a creative and very cute idea. I knew it wasn’t going to be as easy as he thought; I saw issues. I brought up food licensing guidelines. Jeff immediately responded that we already had our food handler certification. I pointed out that preparing food to serve as opposed to just opening a jar of salsa and handing someone a cracker wasn’t on the same level.

I tasked Jeff with finding out if there was even piping for water available for our store. My optimist said that wouldn’t be a problem. If there wasn’t, we could just increase our water delivery for brewing. I countered; how would we clean up or clean our equipment?

“We can use the salon sink. I already talked to the owner, and she likes the idea of coffees.” Jeff offered, smiling proudly. He’d done some leg-work on this.

“With the hair dyes and bleaches?” I questioned. “I have a feeling that would be a bad idea, even if somehow it was approved by the licensers.”

Jeff tugged his ear, reasoning aloud. “Well, there’s always the bathroom sink.” I asked him to check on that, too.

I told Jeff I thought it was a great idea, but we had to see if it was workable.

Getting up to leave, I had another question for him. “Do you even know how to use one of those machines?”

“Nope.” He replied, with confidence. “But, we can always learn it at home, first.” That typical Jeff answer made me giggle.

With a quick kiss, we mutually advised each other to ‘have a good day.’ Then, I was out the door.

Quote for the Week: 2019 06 04 when asked if capable jakorte

at the wheel

Visions of a mangled Buick danced in my head.

It wasn’t that much of an extreme over-reactive leap, considering.

The previous week, Jeff had accidentally put the car into reverse instead of drive. At the gas station. He managed to crumple a bit of the hood of the vehicle behind him.

Luckily, “It was a junker and the fella didn’t care.” At least, that’s what Jeff told me. Right before he told me, “I gave him 50 bucks, and he was happy.”

“What about our car?” I wanted to know. “Nothin’’” Jeff smiled. “Not even a scratch.”

I was curious about that. How did he damage the other car without damaging ours, and where did he get the $50 from? “Well, I wasn’t going all that fast,” he chuckled. “Buick’s solid.” The money game from the store till.

Anyway, that’s why the ‘Did Jeff tell you about the car?’ question, riled me.

Split-second, internal conversing commenced. I would have noticed that, right? I couldn’t have walked right by the car and missed that, right?

“Oh, it was so funny,” she laughed.

‘Funny’ caught my attention. I rationalized. If it was funny, it couldn’t be that bad, right?

“I looked out my window and Jeff was sittin’ in the car with the door open, and one leg hanging out.”

“One leg out?” Flashback to the time he decided to hang his blood-spurting leg out of the car on our way to the hospital, conveniently located at the end of our street.

“Yep.” she continued. “I looked out again, and he was still there, and the car was still running!”

Again? How much time had passed between the two look-sees? Then my brain caught up.

“The car was … running?” I gasped.

“Yeah, but don’t worry, hon. He woke up.”

“He. Woke. Up?” My stomach dropped into a downward flip-flop. A heart skip had me clutching the phone and the counter. “He was sleeping? And, the car was running?”

“Yeah, it was just a few minutes.”

‘Don’t worry’ is one of those knee-jerk, antonym inducing commands. I was worried. “Ok.” I said, and thanked her for calling and letting me know.

Jeff wandered back into the kitchen with the last of the shopping.

“So…” I raised my eyebrows, and peered over my glasses. “Wanna tell me about falling asleep… in the driveway…:

Jeff took a deep breath.

“With the car running…

 Big-mouth bass impression.

“And one leg hanging out?”

“Oh, geez,” he protested. “I was just waitin’ for the end of the song.”

Quote for the Week: 2019 04 30 Some people assume the worst case scenario jakorte