Sunday morning under the big top

 

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Today I spent the morning doing my volunteer gig under the big top.*  This was my second Sunday morning shift in a row.  The four hours went pretty fast. Both Sundays, I’ve been in a spot in the main Terminal where a lot of just-checked-in passengers walk by.

When I’m out there I’m wearing the volunteer uniform:  a nice suede vest, blue jeans, white shirt, bolo tie and snappy white Stetson hat.  (The vest, hat and bolo tie are furnished by the airport.)  I’m there to answer questions and give directions.   It’s fun to have no agenda or purpose but to help people.  Mostly the people I talk to need basic directions: to security, where’s their gate.  I’m learning a lot as I go along although after working at the airport all those years I did know some things already.

The most common questions I heard last week and today, other than a request for basic directions:   Where’s Starbucks?  (Concourse B down at the far East end by the regional jet gates.)   Where can I find a TV to watch here in the Terminal?  (Red Rocks Bar and Seattle’s Best coffee for sure; walk by the other eateries and see if any of them has TV.)  Will there be places to eat after I go through security?  (Yes.)

Today I got a new one.  Somebody asked if there’s a Dunkin’ Donuts in the airport.  There isn’t, but that’s not a silly question when you consider the crummy junk-food lineup slap in the middle of the Terminal, 6 East:  Panda Express, Domino’s Pizza, Taco Bell, and Burger King.  In an ug-lee old food court which sadly has one of the primo visible spots in the place.

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There’s a brand new spot in the Terminal: the Marketplace.  It opened the other day and has a coffee shop, a flower shop and a corner store with food and snacks.  Here are some pictures I took.  It looks fresh and new.  Lord knows the Terminal could use more of that.  (I’m not going to waste bandwith by posting any pictures of the crummy food court.)

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*Denver International Airport, aka “DIA”, airline code DEN

Year of living ambiguously

Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what’s going to happen next. Delicious ambiguity.”– Gilda Radner

A year ago I grabbed the modest retirement I’d earned by sticking to a job for 17 years and achieving the age of 55 years.  (Well, over-achieving that latter bit, if you want to be picky.)

And headed out the door into a world quite new to me:  life without a full-time job.  No pets or people to care for at home, a little bit of money dropping into my checking account each month just because I’m still breathing, a bit of money banked in the “fun and travel” account, and no fixed schedule.

I found it was relaxing, healing, scary, and sometimes I was immobilized by a sense of infinite possibilities or at least more than I could handle.  I traveled, I snoozed, I took a lot of pictures and read a lot of books and walked for miles in the parks.  I also let my inner lazy slob out to play and gained ten pounds. Ouch. I wish I could say that I embraced life and all its unknowns with verve and style, but I’d be lying.  I’ve struggled some.

It’s been an ambiguous time, that’s for sure.  Four times, on an airplane, I was handed customs and immigration forms as we headed to a foreign country.   All asked me to state my occupation.  How I answered depended on my mood.  But I think I only wrote “retired” once because it didn’t seem right.

Now I’ve been working again for four months, this time self-employed.  I’m happy about it.  That ten pounds is gone.  And I’m over communing with my inner lazy slob; she can go away forever.

I’m still a little stymied for an answer when asked “What do you do?”

Sometimes I say I’m semi-retired.  Other times that I’m working as special counsel on a short-term contract without mentioning the R word.

In a couple of weeks I’ll probably say that I’m engaged full time in housebreaking a Shih Tzu puppy.

My hope for the next 12 months:  that I can savor life’s ambiguity.

Important decisions

This morning between the first cup of coffee and leaving the office to go to lunch, I made an Important Decision.

I decided on my next puppy.  Put down the deposit.  The breeder and I will firm up the shipping arrangements soon.

Within a week or two I should be hearing the patter of little paws around the condo.

Which I have to get ready for a puppy!

I am so excited!  There will be pictures, never fear.

EDITED to add:  Click this link to see a picture.

Worst case scenario

Last night I thought I’d take my two currently checked-out Netflix DVDs from the living room to watch on the TV in the bedroom.  And couldn’t find them.

Anywhere.  Even after I went to bed, realized I was still worrying about where they could be, and got up to rummage around a couple more places.  In vain.

The good thing about living in a small-ish condo:  there aren’t all that many places to look for a lost item.  The bad thing:  once you’ve looked all over and not found it, you have to face the strong probability that it’s well and truly lost.

In the case of the DVDs, I suspect that in their mailing envelopes they got swept into a stack of newspapers on the dining room table, and then placed into the recycling box.  And duly dumped into our big recycling dumpster.

So I bravely went to Netflix to learn the worst.  I can’t get any more DVDs sent to me until I either return those two or fess up and pay for them, and I pay a flat monthly fee no matter how many – or few – DVDs I circulate in a month.   Procrastination will just waste more money.

It’s not as bad as I thought.  There’s a simple way to report that you’ve lost or damaged a DVD.  It costs you $20 (not cheap but not too outrageous – they do have to discourage people from reporting losses just to keep a DVD instead of sending it back). 

And the sweet part:  if you find it within a year, you can send it in and they will refund the $20. 

A $40 reminder that I need to be tidier around the house.  It hurts.  But I’m glad it wasn’t worse.

A day. 21 days. 21 years.

Does it take 21 days to change a habit?

How do we tell our habits from our compulsions, and our compulsions from addictions?

One way to find out is to try to change our behavior – and see what happens.

complaintfree.jpgThis week I received the book and purple bracelet I’d ordered from A Complaint Free World.  I’m wearing the bracelet.  The idea is that you move the bracelet from one wrist to the other each time you complain, criticize or gossip.  My goal is to get through a day without moving it from one wrist to the other. 

Last night at dinner I said my goal was to go 21 straight days without moving the bracelet.  This morning I realize that’s the long-term hope, but in fact the goal is to get through one day with it on the same wrist.

The one day goal is doable.  The bigger target consists of making 21 of those days in a row.

I know a little bit about one day, a string of days, an eventual enrichment of years. 

I used to drink too much, and I tried to cut back or quit on  my own.  It didn’t work.  My secret knowledge was that I could not control my drinking, but my life looked pretty good.  I wasn’t broke, unemployed, facing drunk driving charges or living out of my car.  I couldn’t be an alcoholic.

The moment I admitted to another human being that I was, and needed help to deal with it, I felt myself literally supported by strong arms, and a weight lifted from my head and shoulders.  I kept my word and went for help.  It wasn’t an incidental commitment slotted into my busy life, but a commitment that rudely interrupted my work and social life for a good month at first. 

In return, I was able to hold on to the gift of sobriety.  Went to a lot of meetings in a lot of different rooms, met a lot of new people, and learned a lot.  Including that I can do a difficult thing for a day if doing it forever sounds too long, or for ten minutes if doing it for a day sounds too long.

I haven’t had a drink since that conversation, that moment of admission which summoned something like angels’ wings to hold and comfort me.

It happened on March 9.  Twenty-one years ago today.