Wednesday, June 13, 2018

The Party's Over

When I was 39, back when I was young and idealistic, I had a goal that I would get a second little part time job that would allow me to save up for my birthday trip to Greece.  I wanted something that was fun. Something that was not stressful and somewhere I wouldn't have to work on Sundays.

In Utah the options for places that are closed on Sunday are kinda hard to come by because EVERYONE  wants a job with Sundays off.

On a whim I wandered into the party store. I turned in an application and a couple of days later I got a call from the manager. I interviewed shortly thereafter... and by interview I mean, I sat down to chat with the manager and before she even asked me anything retail related she said, "you know what? You're awesome. I'm not even going to interview you. You have the job."

It was that easy. And just like that I started working at the party store! It was just as the Halloween season was kicking off. I was happy to work until Halloween got closer and the store started to look like this.

It was totally out of control. People can be such jerks when they shop. Go ahead and throw it on the floor. Sure. Sure. Go ahead, open the package and then just leave the random costume parts strewn about. That's not at all a jerk face-y thing to do. Ugh...

But I survived Halloween and asked if I could stay on as I was hired as seasonal. I never doubted that they'd keep me- I'm awesome.

Seasons came and went and I got into a good routine. I always worked with mostly teenagers but for the most part they were pretty good kids. Lazy? sure, but when they did work- they worked super hard.

We always had fun though. Which was the hole point of the job.

From my years at Freddies I have a little merchandising experience so they let me do a few things in the store. 

Corporate would have someone slap together a table and they'd send us a picture of it... the manager always gave it over to me and let me improve on it. It was a fun way to use some of the weird things they sell.

Last year for our gradation table I filled this 36 inch balloon. This is the Balloon like, seven months later. After nine months it was still floating but it was looking pretty pathetic so someone popped it. Crazy, right?

As Halloween rolled around again, the manager knew to keep me away from costumes or I'd have a nervous break down! Ha! I still hadn't recovered from the previous Halloween. But by now I had other responsibilities throughout the store so they had the newbies do the seasonal and I was in charge of candy. I filled all the bulk bins and made sure things were fresh and clean.

I actually worked on Halloween night and we had waaaay too much fun! I talked my friend Ana into working there with me and it was always fun when we got to work together. It was rare- but when we were both there- watch out!

If I never blow up another balloon, it will be too soon. There were days where I went home with raw, sore fingers from having blown up so many balloons.

Like I said, this all started when I was 39, young, bright-eyed and full of hope of going to Greece for the big ugly birthday. Well, I'm 40 now, Greece didn't happen and I'm still broke.

A few months ago- I'm not sure what happened but it stopped being quite so fun. The people that I liked to work with started quitting. And the teeny boppers that were replacing them weren't fun. They were lazy with no side of hard work- just lazy through and through. and SO fowl mouthed. Ugh. I tried to make my own fun. And I mostly kept to myself doing the candy gig.

A couple of months ago they got a new manager... things didn't change. In fact, they kinda got worse. The teenagers got lazier, the store got more chaotic and it was officially no longer fun. I never even met the new manager. She's been there two months and never cared about her employees enough to even meet them face to face? The only time I've ever even spoken with her was when I called in after my vacation to tell me I was scheduled on a wrong day. She said I had to call someone to get coverage. Umm... not my mistake there honey. So instead, I worked the shift and turned in my two weeks notice. It was supposed to be a fun evening job, something to do to get me off the couch and out of the house.

Well lately it seems that I just don't have time to do anything. I was only at the party store two nights a week but it just seemed like it took up so much time. And it was work. I already have a full time job that is work. I already supervise a department of like, 20 people. I didn't need to go to a second job, work my tail off and make the same amount of money as the kids who stood around playing on their phones. Nope.  When it's supposed to be lighthearted and carefree- but you end up spending nine hours a week fuming with anger- it's just not worth it. So I quit.

I told them my last day was going to be tomorrow- but I worked yesterday and it was such a lovely day. Everyone I worked with was working so hard there was no time for anything else. I worked with Ana and so all of it I was able to leave on a really positive note.  Tomorrow it's all the teenagers scheduled so yeah... I'm not going in. I don't think they know that yet... but I have officially given away my last damn. I have no more left to give.

 I've been trying to be good and stay off foods my doctor told me to avoid- but I figured my last day on the job warranted a celebratory shake. It was good. It better be good because I waited FORTY FIVE FREAKING MINUTES in line for the dumb thing!

Anyway, that's the story of that one time I worked at a party store. I tried to leave in a positive enough way that if I decide to in the future I can go back... I don't know how kindly they'll take to my not showing up on the last day... but... oh wait.. there it went. The last damn. NOW I'm out of them.

Auf Wiedersehen, Zurchers!

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Sometimes It's Embarrassing to be Me

Ok, Ok, that last post was a little serious.

It's been a while since I've had a good old fashioned whine-out about dating.

Go read this article and then come back.

And people ask why I don't date. Because it hurts too much! They said it's the same sensation as breaking a bone. I've never broken a bone... but I've had my heart broken more times than I can count. And after a while- you start to avoid the thing that hurts you, right? It's just human nature.

Plus- whenever I do allow myself to remove a few bricks from my protective wall, I end up feeling like such a fool. I'm 40. FORTY. That's not young! But I still behave as though I'm 12 when I'm around someone I'm attracted to.

I wont go into detail because it's just too embarrassing... but yesterday at work my favorite flirting buddy came in. I hardly ever see him now that my schedule is so early- but I've been lucky the last few weeks. Anyway, we were chatting... and he said something... within context of the conversation but my stupid head took it a different way and I started blushing and giggling- which made him blush so blushed even more... because.... oh my gosh I just don't even want to talk about it. I excused myself and hid in my office until he left.

Image result for embarrassed patrick star gif

If there was ever a poster child for awkwardness... t'would be I.

Jordan River Temple Dedication

I just wrote this long ol post with a zillion pictures and it disappeared. uuuuuuuugh! so here is the short version. I'll post the other pictures another day.

I may have mentioned in the past that my earliest living memory is of me walking hand in hand with my parents through the Jordan River Temple during the original open house in 1981. I was four years old. It clearly had an impact on me if I remember it from that early on. I have always had a special place in my heart for this temple.  A couple of years ago they closed it down for renovation and in March it opened back to the public for an open house before being being rededicated in May. 

for those of you who may not be familiar with the difference between LDS meeting houses and temples, click here.

Lately when a temple is dedicated, because they want as many who can to be involved, they stream the dedication sessions into local churches. I don't know how I got so lucky- but was invited to attend the session inside the temple. 

I went to the 3:00 session and sat in one of the ordinance rooms. Before it started, President Eyring,  Elder Cook and the Temple Presidency kind of paraded through the room. It was really fun to see them. Such sweet individuals.  I made sure to have my white hankie ready for the occasion.

This was my ticket to get in. I'll probably keep this one forever. 

The grounds were just lovely. Does anyone know what those purple puffball looking flowers are? I felt like I was walking through Whoville for a minute there.

It was a long line to get in, but they have a pretty impressive system down and got us all in and seated fairly quickly.

It was a beautiful session. I'm so grateful for the opportunity I had to go. I've said it before, I'll say it again. I'm so happy that I know Heavenly Father's Plan. I may not understand every detail about it- especially where I fit in the whole scheme of things. But it's so reassuring to know that there is so much more than this life. It's especially close to my heart after losing my dad.
(by the way... still weird)

And of course no outing would be complete without the obligatory selfies. It was such a lovely day. I'm so happy I got to be a part of it.

I love to see the temple.
I'll go inside one day.
I'll cov'nant with my Father
I'll promise to obey
For the Temple is a holy place
Where we are sealed together
As a Child of God I've learned this truth:
A Fam'ly is Forever.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

One more princess in the world

It's that time again. It's been a few years since William and Catherine  got married. But the world has been all abuzz with a new royal wedding.  Whatever your opinion of the Royal Family is, you have to be rooting for this couple. If not, you're just heartless.

Like his brother, Harry has just had a tough time. Silver spoons aren't always an indicator of a charmed life. I can't imagine what this family has to endure. The "fishbowl" as I've heard it called.

It took me a long time to get on board with Megan (because Harry is totally dependent on my opinion) (Ok, maybe Harry isn't, but the Queen definitely is) but all I hope for them is happiness.

Image result for harry and meghan

Best Wishes Harry and Megan,

Love, Your Cousin (who, yes, will be up at 2:00 am watching the entire wedding procession)

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

That one time I wrote about my Dad

Guess what? The blog is back! I have a new computer- donated by a very generous (and crazy) friend whom I love and adore to the ends of the earth and back.  I've really missed writing. I don't know if I'll try to go back and blog the last year's worth of stuff, or just start from here... but anyway, I'm back baby!

And it's not an entirely sweet return. Do you know who one of my biggest fans was? My dad. Do you know who isn't around to read my blog any more? My dad.  I've been meaning to post for quite a while now, but I haven't been able to find the words.

For my dad's obituary- which I wrote- click here

The most common question that we got from everyone was, "Was he sick?" No. No. It was totally out-of-the-blue unexpected. I mean, he had health issues, sure. But nothing more than any average day. Tuesday he mowed the front lawn, Wednesday he mowed the back lawn. Thursday he went to both choir rehearsals, did some church stuff and watched the ballgame. At 11 that night he came up from his man cave, told my mom goodnight and went to bed. The next morning my mom got up, puttered around doing mom stuff and in the late morning thought, "geez, he doesn't usually sleep this late." Dad would stay in his room and listen to the radio or play on his ipad, but usually he'd come out for breakfast. She went in to see if he was ok...

and he was gone.

Just like that.

When the responders came, they told her it was most likely a silent heart attack. If he felt anything it at all, it was maybe some mild discomfort- but he very likely felt nothing at all and just went peacefully. Everyone says, "well, if you have to go, that's the way to go."

But why did he have to go?

You know, you have conversations through life, which is better? watching someone linger and be sick, but having your chance to make peace with it and saying goodbye, or having them gone suddenly without suffering. Well. I've done both now. They both suck.

Yeah, yeah, he's with my sister. He's with his parents and his brothers... but no goodbye? No warning at all. No chance to make sure he knew I really loved him. He annoyed the hell out of me a lot of the time and often I was pretty short with him. But he was my daddy. I loved him. He tried so hard to give us a good life. And though we didn't take trips around the world or have all the trendiest things, we were well fed (obviously) and we never had to worry about having a place to live.

He was gone a lot when I was a kid. He worked as a traveling salesman and was on the road a week, home a week and had sales meetings in Utah every other weekend. But when he was home, he was there. He played ball with us, teased us and watched movies with us. My first movie memory was going to see Star Trek with Dad and Melanie. He loooooved James Bond and watched it all the time. I remember watching it with him as a kid thinking, I shouldn't be watching this! But I wanted to be with dad.

I don't know about my brothers and sisters, but when he was in town, he'd help coach my softball team. He never missed a game. At least none that I remember. All the way down to his grandkids- if he was around, he was at the game. For my little brother he even traveled the country for games. Same with my oldest niece. He heckled and teased, but he was good guy. He taught us to play ball, tennis, marbles... poker... that was fun. Playing poker with dad. The last time we played was the first time I ever beat him.

When my sister in law, Lisa called me that Friday... I was just pulling up to the order window for lunch. She told me to pull over and brace myself. Okay..? 
She asked, "Are you sitting? are you safe?"
"Heather. You're dad is gone. He's passed away."
What? My dad? It took a little bit to sink in. At first I thought she was talking about her dad.
She repeated. "He's gone. You're dad is gone."
My dad? Craige Baker?
"Yes. He's gone."  I burst into tears. I'm sitting there sobbing in the McDonald's parking lot. She made sure I was ok. I was able to ask what happened. They didn't know at that point. The first responders were still at the house. I pulled myself together and called my boss to let him know I would not be back to work and I didn't know when I would return. 

You know, work is work... but I honestly love my job. They have been so good and understanding through this whole thing. They took up a collection for me, signed a card and bought me a beautiful plant. Which I will do my darndest not to kill.

I got the phone call at about 11:15 and I was home- home home- by 2:30. That is some fast moving and driving on my part.  I was able to stay home for the week and help my mom. Well, she said I was a help. I didn't feel like I was doing much. I wrote things. That's what I can do. I wrote the death notice for the newspaper. I wrote the social media announcement and I wrote the obituary. As the week progressed and plans came together I wrote the funeral program and my sister's half of the life sketch.

People kept asking me if I was going to speak. Heck no! I wrote the program! I got to call the shots who spoke! Ha! Not me! Just kidding- we all participated. Even my little nephews each had a significant hand in the funeral. The oldest, 12,  asked if he could speak. We collected sweet memories from each grandchild and he read them at the funeral. The second grandson actually picked out my dad's casket. That first day when we went to the mortuary to see dad, we wandered around the showroom floor for a bit and my nephew found one and said, "I think grandpa would like that one." This kid is eight. He shouldn't have to think of things like that... but ultimately, it was the casket we chose.  When discussing a song for the funeral, we put it to the kids to pick one they knew. The youngest grandson, 6, picked the song Gethsemane. It was honestly the most perfect, and beautiful song they could have sung. Even my almost 4 year old niece knew the words and was able to sing out. It was so special that they were able to contribute so sweetly.

I always knew people liked my dad. He was charming and silly. Kids loved him because he could talk like Donald Duck. I'd forgotten that until people starting talking about it. At the viewing so many people commented about how much he'd helped them and how much they loved him. You know, he was my dad and I was around him a lot- so he got annoying... same jokes over and over (for which I blame him that I am the exact. same. way) but so many people loved him.

His passing came as a shock to everyone. I'm still trying to wrap my head around it. But we'd get messages like, "I just saw him the other day at a funeral!" "He was in rare form at choir last night!" just devastating to so many people.

Not many people knew that my dad was in the military- so when we had him all decked out in a flag and had military rites performed at the cemetery, it was very solemn. It was the most beautiful thing and I think my dad would have been tickled pink by it. Usually the honor guard consists of a few veterans who fold the flag, play Taps on a CD and present the flag to the family. Well, like I said, a lot of people loved my dad. There were probably 20 veterans and active duty representatives at the cemetery, saluting as my dad arrived. I already knew I was going to be a mess for this part. So I just kept to myself.

They seated my mom under the awning and made the speeches- thanking him for his service, and her for her sacrifice. My dad may never have seen active duty, but he spent a lot of years in the reserves and that's still a lot of time away from family and serving his country. I can't remember the exact order of things, but there was a gun salute, a live bugler playing Taps (a very good friend of the family- who when he heard it was going to be a recording, asked if he could play), and then the folded the flag and presented it to my mom. The gentleman who took it from the uniformed soldier and presented it to my mom, was another very good friend of my dad's. If I had not been standing directly behind mom, I would not have been able to hear his words. He was so choked up that he had difficulty presenting it to her. After him, a member of each military branch represented knelt before my mom and offered condolences. It was honestly the most beautiful thing. Such an honor to my dad, and a beautiful way to share that with my mom and my family.

When the time came to lay boutonnieres and roses on the casket, I ugly cried. I mean, I'd ugly cried before that several times- but I try not to do that in public. Even my little nephews felt it.

Now that a couple of weeks have gone, I still get teary eyed. I will for a long time. I'll never stop missing my daddy. But the times I think of my nieces and nephews- that's when the ugly cry comes out again. I was really ripped off in the grandpa department. Neither of my Grandfathers were very stellar guys- but my nieces and nephews had a fantastic grandpa. And now they'll go the rest of their lives without him. The littler ones will only vaguely remember him- if they remember him at all. My mom's dad died when I was seven and I hardly remember him. That's what breaks my heart the most. That they don't get to have their grandpa. That is what I find unfair. And there is one who will never even get to meet him...

Stop. I can't even...

So there it is. If you walk by and see me crying in the corner, just throw a tissue at me and walk on by. Don't stop to console- because I'll just feel stupid- just let me cry in peace. It's still just so weird to me that he's gone.

So weird.



But thank you thank you thank you- all of those who have expressed love, kind words and serious acts of service for my family. We didn't have to cook for a week! Thank heaven for the Mormons! We had people bring food in, and then more food... and then someone else would come in with food. I've grown up around hundreds of weddings and I've still never seen (or eaten) so much cake. Thank you for the prayers and kind wishes. They really are appreciated- even if we can't acknowledge every single one. Thank you. And thank you to those who will continue to keep track of my mom while I'm not there. I don't think she'll ever even have the chance to get lonely. I hope not.

Again, Thank you.

And daddy, I'll miss you.