Wednesday’s in October suck….

Organizing my thoughts have been a challenge in the last three months.  We’ve had good and bad news, all seem to be happening in and at the same time.  I mean in and at, not at the same time.  For me time has a funny way of playing tricks on my senses, which as an event based person has me at a disadvantage.  Time, for some it moves too fast, for others it moves too slow, for me right now time is doing a whirligig of speeding up, slowing down, pausing, and then skipping ahead.

Part of me is still in May, where I found out that there was the chance that I was going to be a father, now it’s July and we’ve lost that chance, then I’m back in June where the elation of bringing a new life into the world where we get to nourish and raise is the highlight of my life, the sun is shining and the birds are chirping and I’ve got the feeling of endless possibilities.  Suddenly I’m hurtled forward to July, and I’m sitting in a waiting room with dread in my heart as my wife comes through a door and is holding back tears as we both share a look where we know something is wrong.

July 17th, I sit waiting to discover the gender and health of the poppy seed that has been growing in my wife, we’ve talked about how we want to raise Poppy, what we want to try to do better, how we can’t wait to meet them and discover who they are.  That hope vanished in a heartbeat that wasn’t there.  She walked out to me sitting there hopeful, only to be brought back to the realization that the universe has other plans.

I’m sitting there holding my wives hand as the doctor explains that he wishes he had better news, but he doesn’t.  I see my wife breaking down, the strength I love in her is still present but the grief is taking hold.  I switch into a mode that is cold and clinical, I must protect my heart and head now, for both our sake.  I shift into work mode, or as others know my event mode, where I need to be responsible for our well-being, I don’t have time to feel, I need to think and strategize, I need to know, learn, and be there to make rational decisions.  I’m sure the doctor felt as though I was being cold, I know I felt cold so they must have sensed it in me, I don’t care.  I care about the health and well-being of my wife, who is experiencing the loss of Poppy in many ways I can’t understand.

I don’t need to take notes of what the doctor is saying, I will take his words with me as I do in any situation where I need to take control and manage.  I have them memorized, they are etched in my brain, as other critical information has been, it’s a curse, a skill, a superpower, whatever you want to call it.  I go into crisis management mode and I shut my feelings down so I can function, so I can be there for others, to help them through the pain, the loss, the grief.

Flash and I’m sitting there watching my grandmother pass, she was a strong woman, a product of the great depression, and a person who influenced my life for the better.  She gave me strength in times of need, she helped reinforce the lessons my parents gave me, to work hard and enjoy the work.  She was a strong woman who had her faults, as all people do, but she gave us all a strength that I hope I can instill in the people and world around me.

In a blink, I’m sitting on a dune on the Persian Gulf in 2011 reflecting on the path I took to get to this place, I’ve traveled the world, worn out a passport and have seen the number of close friend’s ebb and flow around me.  I finally see that all the things that have happened to me has brought me to a place of peace.  I’ve let go of the worst, and decide to embrace the best.

And now here I am, sitting here after feeling for the last three days as though something was building up around me, the air was off, my sleep had been that of someone who knew something was going to happen where I would need to be awake for days at a time.  My wife and I are sitting here finding out that the people who are most important in our lives are not immortal.  The universe has a wicked sense of humor, and sometimes it’s just plain mean.  But that’s not the universes fault, it’s ours for thinking, even for a second, that we have any semblance of control over what we do.

 

 

Transition again…?

It’s happening again, a transition in my life that I was planning in having happen, but not so soon. I was informed on Thursday that my job will no longer exist at the end of this month, that the company I’ve been working for since March is restructuring and eliminating the position and replacing it with two entry level positions. Being who I am and what I’ve seen over the years I’m not surprised or even shocked about it. I fact I’m going to help them with the transition to the new structure and then bow out. I know that it could have been very different and I could be angry and feel slighted but in truth I knew the role and position was not right for me or the company. They need to do something different if they want to succeed and grow and the structure they had until Thursday was not going to allow for that. This doesn’t really seem like a revelation to me, but I’m back in the transition mode of trying to keep busy and a roof over my head.

So here I am, not really out of a job but more or less getting myself back on the track of freelancing, which to be honest makes me happy.

Exit stage left

Well I’ve started my exit procedure for the Arab games… So far I’m a little freaked, not that I’m leaving, but that they’ve taken all forms of identification that I can use to be recognized as a US citizen… I have no ID card and no passport in hand; since rule #1 when traveling internationally is no never relinquish your passport for any reason I’m a little paranoid. Also given my luck with legal system in Qatar I’m freaked even more than usual.

How do I deal with this freak out? I go to the one pub that doesn’t require a form of ID to get in and have a few pints.

My bags are replaced and mostly packed, I have a weeks worth of clothes laid out and ready, I’m planning on getting rid of some more things before I do my final pack. Right now I’m looking at to checked bags and a single carry in. I’m hopefully going to learn from my last trip to Doha and pack my gifts into my carry on so they don’t get lost at sea like they did the last time I traveled from the sandbox.

March 1st I should be home enjoying the company of good friends and a special someone at I can’t wait to see!

Brain Dump

What to say, I’ve been at a loss for words recently and I’m not quite sure why…  I’ve been busy as hell, but I just don’t have much to say I guess since its really just the same things I’ve been doing since I got back to the sandbox.

It seems I have a routine, Sunday I get up and go to work thinking “this is a new week and it   better than last week”, then by Tuesday I’ve given up that it’s a new week and I’m really just dealing with the same bullshit as I have been dealing with since I got here, only the stress level has gone up because we’re getting closer and closer to the event.

Way back during the EID holiday I discovered I have a travel ban here in Qatar, which in lay mans terms means I can’t leave the country due to legal reasons.  The simplest explanation is someone committed credit card fraud against me and now I have to pay the bill from 2007.  Something that I didn’t have a hand in, but I’m the one left holding the bill.  I’ve negotiated a settlement with the bank in question and am trying to pay it off before the end of December so I can get the f’ing hell out of this country.  I’m not going to say I’ll never come back, but I will think twice before I take a gig here again.

I was told the “good news” last week that my contract has been extended until the end of February…  I see it as a balance of news, both good and bad.  The good part is I can have two months of pay that is full pay and not being spent on paying off a credit card bill that isn’t mine.  The bad part is that’s another month I’m away from home…

I had started making plans for February and was looking forward to maybe getting some snowboarding in before the end of the season.  With all that is happening to me here, I’m not sure if I’m going to be able to get any snowboarding in this season, which is kind of depressing to think about.  It’s been a huge part of my life for the last few winters and it’s been a great way for me to get out of the house during the winter, which until 2008 has really consisted of me gaining weight and complaining about the weather.  Fuck it…  I’m going to get some snowboarding in this season by hook or by crook!  I need the outdoors and I really need to eat some snow!  I will find a way to get to the mountain, any mountain really will do as long as the runs are long and the powder is fresh!

An epic story

IMG_0557 There’s something about this season that feels a little more epic than last.  I started snowboarding last season and after an epic first season of riding at Cypress, Grouse and Whistler I hung up the board at the end of the season thinking I wasn’t going to get the time this year.  So far I’ve been twice, both times in Whistler.  Last weekend was opening day of ski season in Whistler, Mount Baker and Cypress.  I even think grouse may have opened for the weekend only, but I have a soft spot for Whistler.

Last weekend was fixing to be en epic weekend and it didn’t disappoint.  At the last minute Friday afternoon I decided to book a hotel room in Whistler for Saturday night, it seemed like a good idea since I had planned on riding all day and then going to dinner with friends, which could almost guarantee my drinking and I decided that staying in a hotel was better then being the DD for the evening.

I got up at 4:30 AM and met some friends at 5:00 AM to start the drive up to Whistler.  We got up in time to check into the hotel just a bit early, the clerk was nice enough to let me check in 7 hours early without paying for the extra day.

After checking in I got into my kit and headed for the lift lines, which looked like an hour wait just to get to the lifts…  I still had to buy my ticket and that line was about 45 minutes long, but I was ready to wait.  While I got myself situated into the line and had been waiting for a good 30 minutes, I heard a voice that was saying they had an extra ticket.  I thought it was a familiar voice so I turned and saw my friend and co-worker NC standing there.  My reaction was “Hey N, I’ll take the ticket!”  After taking another look at the lift line it was quickly decided that breakfast was going to be the better choice than waiting in the line.

After a nice breakfast with some old and new friends we hit the slopes.  A good mix of boarders and skiers were part of our group.  I’m not one to ride with others, I’m a loner on the slopes.  I plug myself into some music and go as fast as I safely can without loosing control.  Saturday was no different, except I hit all my turns, caught some air and managed to ride the entire day without hurting myself.  Well I hurt a little bit, but it had more to do with a historical injury and not anything I did during the day.

At the end of the day we all met up at the GLC and had a few beers.   By 5 o’clock it was time to go get cleaned up, which involved taking advantage of the hot tub at the hotel and a nice long shower.  After which we headed to Sushi Village, and that’s where the night started to go a bit sideways.  I’m not sure what possessed us to order the “Dumbo” size of sake (6 liters) but we did, along with quite a few pitchers of sake margaritas but we did.  With the great company, the good food and the metric ton of drinks we consumed we decided it would be a good idea to head out to the bottle shop and pick up some more drinks and head to a friends hotel room to spend the rest of the evening, all 12 of us thought this was a good idea.  To the bottle shop and then to the friends hotel room took us close to an hour.  Anyone who knows the village knows that it shouldn’t take an hour to get to any hotel from the bottle shop, but we’re a special bunch.

Getting to the room was an exercise in futility, we managed to get there, but once there we managed to break almost all the glasses in the place.  Not intentionally, it’s just we’re a bunch of klutzes when we’ve drank that much.  So after a few games, we heard a knock at the door.  Turns out someone had called hotel security on us and we were asked nicely to leave the room and if we didn’t leave the room right away the people whose room we were partying in were going to get kicked out.  So in light of that we decided to take the party on the road.  We ended up at closing the bar we went to (2 am) and then finally got back to hotel room at 4:30 AM. Between the weather (snowing) and the company it was good times!

The Car, or lack thereof

I purchased my car in June of 2005, she was meant to be a new start for me.  My wife had left me and the car I had been driving was covered in memories good and bad, basically things I didn’t want to remember.  I had traded that car in and got the first car I was truly comfortable in, a Subaru Impreza 2.5 RS.  Black exterior and black interior, she was a smooth, fast car and I loved her.

As of yesterday at 2:45 PM I no longer have a car.  She was a good ride.  I took her from corner to corner of the lower 48, she took me there in style.  I never had any serious issues with her and I was happy to have had her as long as I had her.

Selling my car is a big step for me.  It means I can’t just go where I want to when I want to anymore, I have to plan my trip a little more carefully to include public transit or a ride from a friend.

Some might ask why on earth I would sell my car, especially if I loved her so much.  Well I did love her, I just didn’t love the payments on her.  She cost me on average $600 a month, which didn’t even include gas.

Oh well, I’m just going to have to get in better shape!  More bike riding for me!

Update!

I’ve just submitted the payoff on my car!  I should have the title in hand to sign over to the new owner by next week!!!

Update Again!

The purchaser of my vehicle is coming by to pick up the title!  The last step in the transfer of the vehicle to someone else.  This is it, after today I no longer have a vehicle in my name!

Another year another event

I’ve been working on this event for the Zoo for the last 10 years.  I got involved when I was first starting out at PNTA.  Since then I’ve seen the event grow and evolve into one of the best events in Seattle, and arguably one of the best group of people I’ve ever worked with.

The first year I worked the event it was an odd theme from what I can remember, it was China / other.  I can’t really remember all that much about the event that year, but I remember the weather being alright, just a little on the cool side.  I also remember the scenic company didn’t measure the tent correctly and built the backdrop too tall to fit into the tent.

The second year was African Savannah, which I had done a false ceiling in the main tent that took all night to rig and wasn’t the greatest looking but it did the job.  Along with the tent ceiling we placed saw grass and other things all around the meadow to make it feel more like a Savannah village.  This was the first year we tried to place a fake cover on one of the tents to make it look less like a rental tent and more in theme.

The third year the theme was a little odd again, being Brazilian shanty town mixed with Dr Seuss.  Needless to say I was not all that thrilled about that year.  We managed to make some pretty fun elements, the main entrance to the live auction tent had a jungle feel, we even managed to make it rain in the entrance and have a great, but wrong, water feature in the center of the stage. 

The fourth year was one of the best I worked on, the theme being India.  We managed to recreate the feeling and the energy of an Indian market, the weather cooperated, almost like we ordered it special for the event.  It was hot and muggy, the perfect combination for the type of feel we were going for.  We had hand dyed awnings made, and bells were everywhere, including one tied to my radio that I didn’t find for hours after one of my crew put it there.  Since there were so many bells I didn’t notice that one was following me around until I took my radio off at the end of the day.  I ended up leaving it on as I liked the joke!

The fifth and final year I worked the Zoo as a contractor was Australia.  I thought it was a good theme and I think we executed an interesting and unique look for the event.  We designed the backdrop to be five animals, which were art done by the creative person who had done the rest of the art for the event.  We blew them up to 4’ x 6’ and sandwiched them between panels of plexi, we then hung them on in front of a section of lightweight white fabric, applied some color changing to the fabric and then applied some fans to the fabric to give it some movement.  The final effect looked liked the animals were alive.  The other effect we managed to pull off was a 6’ tall fire pit in the middle of the stage.  We had some leftover high velocity compact fans that we used to create a large silk fire which was very realistic in the end.  So much so that when we took it off the stage and placed it near the main entrance spectators thought the building we put it in front of was on fire!

I had so much fun working on the Zoo over those five years that I’ve been volunteering my time to them since.  I always went a little above and beyond when I was working on the event, but I felt I had to.  Besides feeling like I had to go above and beyond I liked it.  It was one of the few events that I was able to throw myself completely into and design some fun looks.  It wasn’t corporate theatre, it was actually an event that used my schooling.  I miss those days where I could sit and design for events.  Maybe someday I’ll be able to get back into that, but for now I’m happy doing what I’m doing and looking forward to getting down to business in October!

Gods and Monsters

I was having a discussion the other night about religion, not something I’m usually prone to do as I have some pretty radical views on how I think all religions should act.  One of the things that had me a little confused last night, was in my talking with someone I was told that even though they were on the same side as someone else they were arguing about religion and if someone was a heathen or not.

My opinion was along the lines of this “If you’re on the same side, tell them to get stuffed. If you don’t agree with them than ask them to respect your opinion as you respect theirs.”

It makes me laugh at religion openly when they argue amongst themselves, the “believers” who have the same book and yet they argue with each other the meaning of words that weren’t written by any deity, but by a human doing “gods” work. 

I had a revelation last night while I was trying to keep myself up as long as possible, all the “books” that are supposed to provide us with moral guidance have all been written by man.  Of course there are new interpretations of these words, people are even going back to the what constitutes the original writings, but I still see the problem that these words were not written by a god, they were written by man.  And the one thing living has taught me is that man has an agenda, one that would arguably go against the teachings of a god who is supposed to be as wise as they are compassionate.

I suppose I should clarify my views before I’m labeled as an atheist or as I was called last night a “heathen” (I’m pretty sure it was only in jest so I’m not that fussed about it), I believe in something, what I believe in is for me to have and I will not force anyone else to believe as I do.  It’s my right as a human to have my own beliefs, and to have them be my moral compass.  Some people may call that being an atheist or a heathen and it’s their right as a human to hold that belief.

I’ve been to areas on this planet that have no place of worship and yet I feel something good, I’ve been to houses of worship and have felt nothing but evil there.  I’m not convinced there is a god or gods that I should or shouldn’t be worshiping, what I am convinced of though is we as humans need to be compassionate to each other and should always remember that as we move further down the path of a global community.  With respect and compassion towards each other we can truly become a global population that can do amazing things.

Weddings… why can’t I ever just attend one?

A long time friend got married this weekend and it was a great ceremony.  The location was nice, the food was alright, the random attendees were friendly and the photographers seemed nice.

In the build up to the event we got there early enough to help put some decorations, programs and flip flops together, yes we had to assemble flip flops for the bridal party to wear after the ceremony.  Then out of left field came the shopping list: 8 bottles of the cheapest champagne we can find, a bag of burgers to snack on (since most of the people setting up hadn’t eaten anything) and something lingerie like for the bride to wear last night…  My friend who was the driver and I was the slightly buzzed passenger (as I had drank a couple of beers while tying ribbons on programs).  After being the two nicely dressed guy in an outlet shop sifting through discount women’s underwear we decided to use our combined intellect to find a naughty shop, which given the area the wedding was, is not an easy or close shop to find.  We ended up driving down the freeway 15 miles and walking into the naughty shop, the clerk was very forgiving given two guys, who are both friends of the bride in question and have both said to one an other at some point in our lives “can’t help you following the ass” as a descriptive of said bride. 

We asked the clerk for some help and I think we made it work in the end by simply asking ourselves, “what would we want to see on her?”  Of course we had to get past the strange look of why are two guys who are not part of the wedding, and are certainly not either of the people getting married asking for lingerie for the bride to be?

J and D, congratulations on the wedding and thanks again for including us all.

I think the next wedding I get invited to I’ll just arrive 5 minutes before curtain…

Ten Rules for Being Human

1. You will receive a body. You may like it or hate it, but it’s yours to keep for the entire period.

2. You will learn lessons. You are enrolled in a full-time informal school called, "life."

3. There are no mistakes, only lessons. Growth is a process of trial, error, and experimentation. The "failed" experiments are as much a part of the process as the experiments that ultimately "work."

4. Lessons are repeated until they are learned. A lesson will be presented to you in various forms until you have learned it. When you have learned it, you can go on to the next lesson.

5. Learning lessons does not end. There’s no part of life that doesn’t contain its lessons. If you’re alive, that means there are still lessons to be learned.

6. "There" is no better a place than "here." When your "there" has become a "here", you will simply obtain another "there" that will again look better than "here."

7. Other people are merely mirrors of you. You cannot love or hate something about another person unless it reflects to you something you love or hate about yourself.

8. What you make of your life is up to you. You have all the tools and resources you need. What you do with them is up to you. The choice is yours.

9. Your answers lie within you. The answers to life’s questions lie within you. All you need to do is look, listen, and trust.

10. You will forget all this.

by Dr. Cherie Carter-Scott