In no particular order:
1. Jacklyn Brady: For six years, I wrote the Piece of Cake Mystery series using this pen name. Sadly, my publisher decided not to continue the series after the last book came out, but I had a great time writing about the worlds of cake decorating and New Orleans while it lasted.
2. Jewelry: I don’t have a lot of good, “real” jewelry, but I don’t care. I love costume jewelry, too. I don’t wear it as much as I used to because I don’t go out as much as I used to. Back in the days when I worked full-time in the federal court system, I got up, dressed up, and be-jeweled myself five days a week. Now that I’m a stay-at-home writer, I don’t. Maybe I should. Getting all dolled up and putting on some bling might make me more prolific. Then again, there’s nothing much more distracting when you’re trying to type than a bracelet banging against the keyboard.
3. Jesus: Yes, I’m a believer, but I’m not the type who’s going to shove what I believe in your face. What I love about my world is that I have friends–good friends–whose belief systems are completely different from mine, and we’re all okay with that. So you won’t find me thumping my Bible at you or getting in your face, trying to convince you that you need to think and act and believe the way I do. It’s just not gonna happen.
4. Jazz: Not the music. I can take or leave the music. Some of it I like, some of it makes me want to crawl out of my skin to get away. No, I’m talking about the Jazz. The Utah Jazz. I’m not even really talking about the current Jazz team. Since moving from Utah, I rarely get to see a Jazz game and honestly couldn’t tell you who’s on the team right now, or even who’s coaching. But back in the team’s heyday, in the days of Stockton and Malone and Hornacek, I was an avid fan. We (and by “we” I mean “we” because my breathless anticipation each time we or they went to the foul line certainly helped the actual players) almost took the NBA championship one year. I still haven’t (and probably never will) forgive the Chicago Bulls for that.
5. Jacks: Oh, how I loved to play jacks when I was a kid. My sister and I would spend hours on the kitchen floor or on the driveway, bouncing and scooping and improving our games. We got to be pretty good, if I do say so myself. Good enough that years later, when I tried to teach my too-young-to-play granddaughter how to play, I still had a little bit of skill. But just a little.
6. Joy: One of the life lessons I’ve learned along the way is that being joyful is a choice. No, it really is. I cannot always choose what happens to me. Accidents happen. Bad things happen. Failures happen. Disappointments come. But I can always choose how I’m going to react. I’m not good enough to immediately go from awful to joyful without skipping a beat, but I can almost always get myself there eventually.
7. Jump rope: Another favorite game from childhood. I was adequate at this one, which meant that I could get all the way through “Cinderella, dressed in yella…” and count about 100 doctors before I tripped on the rope, but I never did reach doubles level. Now, with my bad knees, I’m afraid that if I tried to jump, I wouldn’t walk for a month.
8. Judge: Before my life as a stay-at-home full-time writer, I spent 15 years working in the legal world. I began that career as the secretary for an attorney who was also the Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Trustee for the District of Utah — at the time, the only Chapter 13 Trustee in the district. After about 7 years, she became a federal bankruptcy judge, and asked me to move into the federal court system with her. There were a lot of things about the job I liked and, really, the only thing I didn’t was having to get up, get dressed, and be somewhere at a specific time every single day. What can I say? I was born to be my own boss.
9. Juice: I was raised by a couple of Depression Era parents. They were born in the mid-1920s and were brought up to make everything they used and to use everything they made. I was also raised in the LDS culture (Mormon) where self-sufficiency is a driving theme. Everyone I knew had a garden in their yard–and not just a garden, but a garden. My Lewis grandparents carried the garden thing to a whole ‘nother level. My dad’s garden was smaller, but still huge in my eyes. In Billings, MT, the entire yard behind the garage was vegetable garden, and he grew corn in the alley. In Bountiful, UT, an entire tier of the yard was devoted to the garden. But I digress. What does a good Mormon girl with Depression-era parents do with all that produce? She learns how to bottle and freeze everything. My favorite recipe, though, was my parents’ easy-peasy recipe for grape juice, which didn’t require much effort at all. No smashing or extracting or peeling involved. Just a cup or two of grapes, some simple syrup, and a hot-water bath in the processor. Of course, straining the juice off the grapes later was a bit tricky, but it was delicious and well worth the effort.
10. Jam: See “Juice” above for why. My favorite thing in this category? My mother’s freezer strawberry jam. Served icy cold and almost completely thawed, it’s so good it could drive grown men to their knees. I haven’t had any in years, and my mouth is watering just thinking about it as I type this.
11. Jokes: My granddaughters love to tell me jokes. Some of them are honestly funny and some make absolutely no sense at all, but the delight on their faces when they tell me the joke is enough to make me laugh out loud and, thus encouraged, they deliver even more jokes. When I was in Missouri visiting them last fall, the Pixie (then 6 years old) was fond of riddles. She would give me a number of clues and make me guess what she was describing. Almost every time, when I was completely befuddled and out of ideas, she would shriek with delight and tell me the answer was: Nothing!!! Which was true. Nothing in the world fit the clues she’d given me.
12. Jobs: I’ve had a few, starting taking inventory at a friend’s dad’s clothing story, moving up to cashiering at a friend’s nursery/floral business (that eventually became my family business when I married, and then my ex-family business when I divorced), secretary-ing for an insurance company and then at a bank, and then finally for the attorney/judge. I also had a “job” as a keyboardist/vocalist in a local band back in the day, a night gig that I did at the same time I was the ultra-professional (ha!) legal secretary/judicial assistant by day.
13. Jogging. Okay, I’ll admit this is a stretch. This one’s a part of my life only by virtue of how strenuously I’ve avoided doing it my entire life.
How about you? Anything interesting in your life that begins with “J”?