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Monday, December 26, 2011

Tick Tock, Tick Tock......

Tick tock tick tock.  The last remaining hours of 2011 are in front of us.  I can't believe it....but I say that every year.  Don't we all?  I spent six months of my year nearly not flying but, instead, working in Seattle at our Flight Operations Building creating and developing what is now termed Flight Path Debrief for Flight Attendants.  It's an amazingly positive and powerful program designed to make us not only better flight attendants but, more importantly, better human beings.  It's required training.  It's turned out quite well.  I am also an ongoing facilitator for the program and will be off and on throughout 2012.  It was a fantastic opportunity that I'm thankful for. 

Do you realize that it's possible we may have a President named Newt.  Or Mitt.  Seriously?  Newt or Mitt.  Sounds more like a law firm.   Anyone who tells me that they were caught off guard in an unexpected moment and were not able to gather even a scant 10,000 signatures in their very own home state has no business being President of the United States.  What?  You didn't know when the primary was?  You didn't know that you actually had to gather the signatures and turn them in?  I'm confused.  And it sounds like you are too, Newt.  Moving on.....

We're departing Wednesday evening for an all-night flight to Boston where we'll rent a car and head westward to Albany, New York, for a week.  To kick off the New Year in good style with good friends.  Last time we did this the temperature hovered a few degrees above zero, the wind blew, and the snow drifts prompted multi sessions each day of snowblowing.  I'm hoping for something just a bit better.  And did I mention that we've secured First Class seats for the Seattle-Boston flight?  Umm hum.  For sleeping purposes.  One can't find themselves driving the Mass Pike in the winter without having a proper night's sleep. 

We're enjoying the Christmas Eve dinner leftovers again tonight.  No complaints here.  We enjoyed the holiday working together.  One more Orange County turn again tomorrow morning and then I'm off for a week.  This time of year always makes me reflective.  Well not me, per se....but my thoughts.  I like to improve.  I like to consider ways of leading my life differently.  I'm just that way.  I hope you'll find a great way to carry yourself into 2012.  What's it going to be?  Cheers!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas

Chains shall he break for the slave is our brother....
And in his name all oppression shall cease....
I've said it before, and I'll say it again, I don't care about your personal religious beliefs or lack thereof.  I gather my inspiration and motivation from a wide variety of places, sources and people.  But I do try to remember that the slave is our brother.  And that in the name of peace all oppression shall cease.  
Nearly every day of my almost 50 years on this planet I am confronted with the stark shortcomings of my humanity.  I come face to face with the fact that I am not perfect and that the world we live in is a mess.  I know full well that my goals for the year 2011 have failed -- and that the goals from the past year will probably be the same for the coming year.  I'm a work in progress....it's far more a journey than a destination.  None of that can be an excuse to continue to not strive for something better, greater.  Something peaceful.  Without destruction.  Something sustainable. 
Be nice to one another.  No matter what.  There is never an excuse to be unkind. 
Merry Christmas. 

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Actually, it is.  I love this time of the year.  And only a small piece of it has anything to do with the Christmas thing.  I do love the music and food and gatherings and watching people go everywhere to see their families and friends.  But you can keep the presents and financial obligations and commercialism.  But there's something captivating about winter.  The longest day of the year.  The dark.  The cold.  The sky seems to be more clear in the winter (well, when we can actually see it....here in Portland).  The stars shine even brighter.  The wind seems to blow away bad things.  It gives the mind a chance to clear and rethink.  But I do enjoy it for the value it brings to the earth and to my life. 

I'm home this week.  With what may be Pink Eye.  I've never had it.  And the doctor isn't sure....if it's actually Pink Eye.  If it is, it's highly contagious.  If it's not, it's just puffy, red eyes with stuff in them.  One eye more red than the other.  So, I'm home.  Certainly not at work with something contagious. 

We leave one week from today for Albany, New York.  We're going to kick off the year 2012 with lots of good friends in the countryside outside of Albany.  Cold.  Snow (maybe).  Laughs.  Giggles.  Good food and drinks.  A pajama party inside while the cold winds of the night remain outside.  Actually, I've already asked LoverBoy if we can make sure to go outside on New Year's Eve.  To stand together even if just for a minute.  To enjoy the night...the sky....and all of those other things that the last few minutes of the year bring.  He has agreed.  We're flying to Boston, renting a car, and heading west back toward New York state.  I'm praying for good roads on the Mass Pike (isn't that what those fancy Northeasterners call it??).  We're going to enjoy a huge dinner with a ton of our close and extended friends on the 30th.  Many of these guys are those that we spend Bear Week in Provincetown with each July.  The rest are friends of friends who are now our friends!  It's nice.  And we can't wait. 

Portland is on track to have the driest December on record.  It is typically our wettest month of the year.  And we've had barely any rain.  It's been cold and clear with some morning fog.  So, the other day Mason was scratching at our patio door "Let me out!"  So I did.  He likes to hang out there on the east-facing patio in the mornings when the sun is shining.  He stares down three floors at the people below wandering to and from our corner coffee shop.  Now, he knows the rules for being out there:  (1) No barking (2) No throwing his toys over the edge and (3) No digging in the planter that houses a small Japanese maple tree.  But for some reason, I caught him in a compromising position that I've never seen him in before:
I said, "Mason, you get down from there" in my most low-octave, authoritative sort of quasi masculine voice.  He then glanced up to see if I actually meant business or not:

And then he did this.....perfectly, beautifully, innocently:

It was cold that morning....and I think that it was the warmest spot he could find.  I laughed and laughed.  And I grabbed my camera to capture these moments.  He's such a good boy. 

Merry Christmas everybody.  To you.  To your friends and family.  To those moments in our lives when we don't feel like saying anything "Merry."  To those things that are less than "Merry."  Who cares!  Look 'em straight in the face anyway and say "Merry Christmas" or some other happy greeting.  

Friday, December 16, 2011

The Gift That Doesn't Keep on Giving

Do you see it?  Way in the back?  Beyond the spare bedding for overnight guests....past the plastic containers that stack perfectly with our minimal household belongings.  It's the rolls of Christmas wrapping paper.  About ten of them.  And they've been right there since we moved in more than three years ago.  And, now that I'm thinking about it, they were in our basement back at our earlier house.  Untouched.  Used minimally.  Just sitting there. 

We haven't bought Christmas wrapping paper in years.  Many, many years.  Because we don't typically give gifts.  To others nor to each other.  Sometimes we do.  But not as a standard.  We stopped maybe five years ago because of the cost.  And because most people (including us) don't actually need anything.  How's that for practicality and being over analytical.  Yeah, yeah I know.....Christmas is not quite the right time for over-thinking the process. It's the season for giving and taking and exchanging and holiday cheer and blah blah blah.  And we still do Christmas parties and fun things....it's just that the gifts are no longer a part of our traditions.  Occasionally we still give each other one or two things.  We (well, I'd better just speak for myself....) decided that it makes no sense to stand in the middle of a Target store looking, staring, searching out something that we really don't need -- only to see it in the pile headed to Goodwill six months later.

We'd rather spend our money on big trips or things for the house.  And right now we're considering putting in new hardwoods or flooring of some sort.  And I'd really like a refrigerator with a freezer on the bottom instead of the space inefficient side-by-side that we have.  Plus, our anniversary is in the earlier part of December.  And we're leaving on the 28th for a week's vacation in New York state.  So the giving of gifts tends to fall lower on the priority list. 

And we do miss it sometimes.  The pile of things under the tree.  The scissors, the tape, the measuring, the bows, the name tags on the packages.  The waking up early on Christmas morning to see if Santa has been down the chimney (that we don't have) during the night.  That's all fun and games sometimes.  But honest to god, it has taken so much pressure off of the holiday season.  No financial pressure.  No time constraints.  No having to put on your thinking cap and come up with some gift idea.  So for now, the rolls of wrapping paper will stay in the back of our storage unit right where they've been for several years.  Untouched.  Unused. 

Merry Christmas. 

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Tis The Season For Sharing

My father in law used to tell this story around this time of year....Christmas. In fact, he told it over and over....like plenty of older folks do, they repeat things and stories. And he would always get big tears in his eyes and a catch in his throat when he told it. Last night in Austin, I was around the dinner table with three of my fellow crew members and somehow we got to talking about stories of goodwill, Christmas, helping others, and all of that. So, I shared this story.....and even I had to stop about halfway through because I'm a big old crybaby. The story is a keeper, to say the least. It took place around the mid 1930s.....when my father in law was around ten or so. Ohio, winter time, snow everywhere, cold....in the middle of the depression. Times were super tough for everyone. They still are. Take the time to share, to relate, to give attention to others. Share stories. Share your life, your happy times, your lessons.

Dinner was nearly ready when the coal truck pulled into the driveway with a delivery for heating the house. Dinner was soup on this particular night. While the delivery man was shoveling the coal into the coal chute at the side of the house, my father in law who was only around ten years old noticed a little boy sitting in the front seat of the delivery truck. Waiting. He looked cold. So, my FIL asked his mother if they could invite the little boy and the man into the house for a cup of soup. His mother said "Of Course," and added another cup of water to the soup to make it stretch. The man and his son came into the house and had soup with the family. A cold night, a warm kitchen, a family with the coal delivery man and his small son.

Fast forward to the following spring. A knock at the front door. "Do you remember me?," the man asked when my FIL's mother answered the door. "I was the coal delivery man who was here last winter...you invited me and my young son into your house to have soup with you. I've taken a new job now. I'm painting houses and I'd like to paint your house for free." My FIL's mother didn't understand but the man continued. "You see," he said "On the very day that I delivered your coal and you invited us in, I was at the end of my rope. We were broke and I could not provide for my family any longer. And I thought it was best if I ended my life. I was on my way to take my life on the very day that you invited me in. But I didn't.....because of you and your hospitality."

Tis the season for sharing and giving. Not receiving. Not wanting. Not being greedy. Not even football or food or shopping. But for giving. To others. For absolutely nothing in return. Make sure that those around you feel welcome and that their needs are met. For it is in giving that we receive.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

December Follies

Good god, it's December.  Of 2011.  Already.  How many times in my life have I said, "I can't believe how fast times flies...."  It just keeps on happening.  Portland is socked in under low-level fog and temperatures in the 30s.  Stagnant air.  Blue skies just above me....not more than a half-mile or so.  It's a good thing I'm not given over to that seasonal affective (or is it effective?) disorder syndrome thingy.  BUT, we've had no rain for a long, long time.  And that counts...right??
  • Our 14th Anniversary will occur this Friday December 9 (so there....take that Kim Kardashian and Newt Gingrich).  Lordy.  Lordy.  Who would have ever guessed.  I continue to learn from him.  His strengths are exactly what I need in my many weaknesses.  And, no, you can't have him.  He's mine.  We're celebrating with a condo-wide building party and neighborhood Festival of Lights.  Just the way we like to. 
  • We made a drive to Idaho for Thanksgiving to enjoy several nice days with my family.  We always love our road trips.  And we hadn't been with my family for a holiday in a long while.  Thanksgiving dinner was awesome.....even though there wasn't nearly enough dressing (or stuffing....whatever you call it).  That's my favorite.  I made cranberry/walnut brussel sprouts. And my mom made her homemade dinner rolls at my request.  Exactly how old does one have to be in order to stop making special requests of his mother for dinner??  
  • Christmas will find me working.  Just a morning turnaround...home by 1pm.  We'll enjoy leftovers from a dinner that we will have made the day before.  We're working as hard as we can this month because on December 28 we are......
  • Going to our good friend's home out in the perfectly beautiful countryside south of Albany, New York, for the New Year's holiday.  Flying to Boston, renting a car, and making our way west along the Mass Pike (that's what you MA people call it....right??).  I'm already praying for good roads and weather as we toot along in our rental car.  Our friends always treat us like kings.  Or queens.  Whatever.  And we're going to enjoy a nice dinner out with all of our many other friends in the Albany area while we're back there.   Portland and Albany are simply too far apart sometimes.  
  • I have completed six months of helping design Flight Path Debrief for Flight Attendants.  A program to encourage personal growth.  Happiness.  Self respect.  Respect for others.  The program will be conducted for all 2,800 flight attendants over the next year.  In addition to being one of the 15 designers of this amazing program, I will also be a part-time facilitator of it as well.  Four hours of fantastic videos made by our group, powerful personal stories to encourage, and trying to look at life from just a bit of a more positive slant.  
  • The gym and I have not been good friends this year.  I hate him and he hates me.  It's a system of mutual admiration.  But I keep on paying him every month to keep his mouth shut.  I know that my relationship with him needs to change.  But that's about all I know at this point.  
  • I will celebrate a birthday of some sort of milestone in the next two months.  Plans are being made.  I'm not sure about it all.  It seems weird.  Like, really super old.  In spite of the fact that I don't feel that way at all. 
I'm sending you all good wishes for peaceful days ahead of this wildly erratic (that's erratic folks...not erotic) holiday season.  There's no reason to blow your wad all at once and have nothing left for your family, friends and -- most importantly -- YOU at the end of it all.  I'm learning that lesson right along with you.  Be at peace as much as it is within your will.  Let the cold winds of this month blow away the bad things in your life.  Love and hugs to you.  

Thursday, October 27, 2011

My Plumb Line

For most of the last six months, I've been participating in efforts that I'm not typically used to being a part of.  Developing an executive management-mandated and required training project for flight attendants.  It's much larger than simply that.  It is an effort to train all nearly 10,000 employees of the airline that I work for.  Each employee participates in a four-hour morning "All Company" session....all employees will go through this session.  And the afternoon brings four-hours about smaller, individual department sessions....which is the flight attendant session I've helped develop.  It rolled out in the month of October after five months of work.  We started with probably close to 100 ideas, thoughts, considerations.  And ended up in close to, oh maybe, eight or so modules or sections.  It is high powered, energetic, and meant to prod and poke at not only one's flight attendant job and the company we work for -- but also the insides.  The person.  The human being.  My claim to fame all summer long during the development phase is that "I want to poke buttons in each person.  I want them to respond in a positive way.  I want them to leave feeling great about their lives and have something to work toward in their futures."  I don't mind asking more of each person than they are typically used to giving.  I want more.  That's the kind of guy I am. 

The session has been receiving rave reviews from a wide variety of people.  And that makes me happy.  Words like "Uplifting, life changing, and inspiring" are often on the critique forms.  And that's what I wanted to be a part of.  I refused to do the normal, the company, the corporate, the average, the expected. 

But you see, whenever you put yourself out there, push ahead, think in these sorts of ways, it always seems to come back to you.  To me.  At some point I knew the tables would be turned on me.  Toward me.  Focused on me.  My own life, my own personal challenges and where I'm at today.  At some point I knew that my own life would be would be held accountable and see if it runs parallel to the program I've helped produce.  Or if I'm off track.  And who better to bring those sorts of thoughts to light than one's partner, best friend, lover, husband.  Right?  I mean, he knows me.  He gets me.  He's had 14 years to know my ups and downs, my likes and dislikes, and....yes....my shortcomings and parts of my life that fall short. 

He asked me a while back how it felt to participate in such a wide-scale program, developing such introspective and personal pieces for others to consider.  And he asked me if I'd actually considered any of the particulars in my own life.  Had I held myself accountable for this or that.  How it felt to ask others to do something when, perhaps, I hadn't done it in my own life, for myself.  Good lord.  Is that what significant others are supposed to do?  Yes, I supposed at some point they are.  I don't begrudge him the question.  I appreciate him asking me.  That's what he's supposed to do. 

I told him this after careful consideration and thought.  I told him that I was afraid of something.  I told him that despite my hard, crusty -- sometimes arrogant and prideful -- exterior, I knew that I must keep these sorts of thoughts and projects in my life.  I needed them.  I needed them to remind me of my humanity, my shortcomings and failings.  I needed to keep on considering them, developing them, reminding others of things.  And that in reminding others of ways to improve their own life, that I then remind myself to do the same.  I told him that I was afraid I would become an old curmudgeon if I don't do this.  If I fail to keep on thinking positive that I'd end up in a place I don't want to be as I age.  I told him that I needed to keep positive thoughts and energy right in my face via projects, people, and attitude or else I'd end up like "them."  Those who are near us who we don't want to be like.  It's my reminder.  My center point.  My plumb line.  What's yours? 

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Do Ask......Do Tell.......

In all of my wildest dreams I never thought it would possibly come to this.  I'm not even sure that I could have actually crafted the way that it played out in reality.  And I'm not sure that I anticipated that I would be able to be a part, and have a front row seat, to such cutting-edge decisions.

Yesterday morning at 05:30, we met six friends in a dark parking lot at a motel near the Oregon Air National Guard Base located at our airport.  Dressed up.  Jackets.  Dresses.  Ties.  A cold fall morning.  Clearly, tensions were high.  Emotions on edge.  Wanting to laugh and be giddy but the underlying feelings of uncertainty led to deep breaths.  "Okay folks, this is how the ceremony will play out......," he began.  He was being promoted to Master Sargent.  In a formal ceremony at the Air National Guard base.  And he wanted us to all know the order, the formality, who goes in first, who sits where.  This was our good friend of a dozen years or more.  He's been in for 16 years and he loves his military duty time.  He's a great instructor, mentor, teacher....and cares deeply for those in his unit.  They have been on several deployments to the Middle East including the most recent duty in Iraq.  He tells all sorts of stories of his time in Iraq.  And our house has been his house.  Each month when he comes into Portland for his military weekend, he stays at our house.  We feel like we've been on his duty with him.  We know the names of all of his guard buddies and all of the stories about each of them.  We've been there for his ups and downs.  For the good and the bad.  And when his mind just won't allow him to sit in another crowded, noisy restaurant with children running around, we get it.  We understand it.  And we leave.  His time in war has caused his life to be different.

And the reason that things have played out in the way they have is because he is gay.  Yes sir, 100% unabashed homosexual.  Except on the Air Base.  Except when he is leading his unit in weapons instruction.  Except when he is doing his military security duties at an undisclosed base in Iraq.  Except when he is on the shooting range.  Except when he voluntarily takes himself to war for his country.  Until now.  Until September 20, 2011, when the repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell came into effect.  Not even a month ago and now his promotion to Master Sargent.  And the dark aforementioned morning in the motel parking lot.

You see, today his partner is going on the base with us.  For the very first time.  For the first time in Oregon Air National Guard history.  For the first time for every single person at Commander's Call to see and hear.  He is being promoted at a formal ceremony at 06:00 in front of military men, boys really.  In the last few days before the ceremony, he made special coming-out announcements to his Sargent and Commander.  In private before the big ceremony.  Just so that they were not caught off guard.  And we are here too.  So nervous.  Uncomfortable as we enter the building.  Everyone in fatigues.  "Yes sir" and "No sir" the phrases of the day.  We have reserved seats in the first two rows while the room fills up with about 60 or so soldiers.  Lordy, I'm sweating.  And the ceremony begins.

His mother cries.  His partner tells of "acting" and "being an actor" today and in years past.  I hear of his partner's work in advocating on behalf of all of the silent partners who have hidden their faces for years.  Lying, changing names, changing stories, not being able to post on Facebook about great experiences or ask for help in the dark days.  His partner has a rich history of fighting, wanting more, wanting better.  Stories about going to the Pentagon to meet with U.S. Military experts and higher ups.  Of passing the Joint Chiefs of Staff office.  Of being in the room when President Obama signed the repeal a few months back.  Of shaking the President's hand and thanking him on behalf of a nameless, faceless soldier.  Of the big smile on the President's face.  Man oh man, that's powerful stuff.

And now we're in the room.  And he is speaking.  He's introducing his mom.  And then, "Probably this is what you've all been wondering about, this is my husband."  Silence.  What?  What did he say?  And then his story to the group about his husband working for the good.  For the silence that has simply had to be.  And the group claps.  And claps.  And we stand to our feet out of respect.  Remember, this has never, ever happened here before.  The first time.  In history.  And the receiving line afterwards....I'm shaking hand after hand.  Saying good morning.  Saying hello.  Saying thank you.  Everyone pleasant.  Everyone energetic and polite.  And a few....the Sargent.....looking right straight into his face and speaking directly to the formerly silent partner with words to this effect:  I want you to know how much I appreciate all of the work you've done behind the scenes for this cause.  It is a pleasure to meet you.  I've told the military for a while now that we were prepared for this.  Wow.  What a day.  I told my own LoverBoy afterwards that this is definitely in our Top 10 list of great things that we've been able to experience in our time together.  Amazing.  So powerful.  History in the making.  Trend setting.

And last night about 8pm, I receive a text message from the formerly silent partner "Who would have thought that I'd ever be spending the evening eating pizza and drinking beer with a bunch of straight military guys with my partner....these are amazing days."  And they are. 

Monday, October 03, 2011

Palm Springs....

Just two more days and we're on our way to Palm Springs.  With, oh I don't know, maybe a dozen or so fellow friends.  It's birthday time again for our friend Scott....and he always celebrates by picking out a location and asking his friends to join him.  He's done this for 18 years.  LoverBoy and I actually got together at this very belonging way back in 1997 in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.  And we haven't been back since.  So, we're excited!  We have spent very little time together this entire summer.  It's time to recenter ourselves. 

We will be staying at Terrazzo...a small clothing-optional resort.  Continental breakfast and cocktail hour included....nothing to do....books to read....chats to be had ..... dinners out in the evening..... who knows what.  But as long and schedule-heavy as our summer has been, we are looking forward to ZERO... nothing.  Absolutely nothing on our schedule with no agenda and no pressure.  LoverBoy asked me if I was taking my laptop with me.  I didn't have an answer yet.  I'm sort of thinking no. 

Mason will be headed back to his (expensive) dog boarding facility just a mile from our house.  It's a great place, safe, happy, and cage-free where the dogs all roam around together.  They sleep on couches, futons, chairs and the like.  There can be anywhere from 20 to 50 dogs at a given time.  He always comes home ex-haus-ted.  Trashed.  It's clear that he plays his heart out there.  Oh, and one more thing, apparently he's fallen head-over-heels for a one of the female pooches there.  A strong affinity, shall we say.  The lady who runs the place told us that she had to pull him off of the chick dog.  And that his body parts were still erect and wouldn't go down.  So, she hosed him down.  Lordy.  After I stopped laughing it occurred to me that, even I, have never even seen his little wee-wee.  No wonder he comes home exhausted.

The project that I was working on all summer long has been just about complete.  It rolled out last Monday to a full group of 40....the first of 74 sessions.  Even I was caught off guard with how well things came together.  Super powerful, energizing, thought-provoking.  I will be one of the facilitators for the program.  So I'll be making trips to Seattle off and on for the next 18 months while this program continues.  The venue is beautiful -- ponds, streams, plants, trees, flowers and lots of typical Pacific Northwest greenery.  I'm very proud of the work we've done and the time we've invested in making our workplace, our lives, a better place to be. 

Friday, September 09, 2011

10 Years

Ten years ago today, I could come and go freely between the forward galley and the flight deck.  I could deliver meals by myself and even let the pilots out of the flight deck to use the restroom without assistance.  And the flight deck door would remain open all of the way until we reached the runway for takeoff.  The doors were not made of Kevlar.  Let's just say that things were different.  Very different. 

I've just finished listening to a whole slew of new audio tapes made available to the public over this last week.  You'll find them here via the New York Times.  I know life is very busy for all of us.  But I'd like you to spend 30 minutes listening.  These are my people.  My life.  I've spent 16 years being a flight attendant.  I love my job more than you'll ever know.  There's just nothing like that feeling of being a flight attendant.  I'd like you to pay special attention to these sections of the tapes:  (1) 8:19...Betty Ong flight attendant.  Listen to how calm she is.  She knows nothing of the magnitude of the situation.  This could be me and my voice.   (2) 9:28 Flight 93...listening to the struggle and screaming is just about more than I could handle.  I could be in that aircraft(3) 10:32 Shoot down Order Given.  Gosh, these words awake something deep inside. 

I drove my honey to the Portland airport this morning to begin his 2-day trip to Chicago.  He said to me, "I wish I wasn't going on this trip.....I'd rather be home with you right now.....I hope nothing happens while I'm gone."  The main roadway into the airport is lined with hundreds of US flags in the grass strip next to the road.  They begin a 1/2 mile from the terminal.  I wrote about my day 10 years ago in this post.  I wish my honey wasn't gone, either.  It would be a very good weekend for him to be home with me. 

Monday, September 05, 2011

Social Shallowness and the Young

The young mystify me.  The mindset keeps me awake at night sometime.  You'll remember the Young and the Restless from a while back.  The fickleness, the erratic emotions and behaviors, the wild swings in emotion.

I've been on the Design Team for a new flight attendant training program.   I've been sequestered in Seattle much of the summer months.  Planning, designing, thinking, all of that.  There are 15 of us.  A piece of our program is going to deal with a sort of generational study -- looking at the four different generations currently existing together, trying to work together, in this day and age.  It looks at the differences in thinking, working, communicating, home life, values, what's important and what isn't.  Fascinating stuff!  We've looked at the Veteran group, the Baby Boomer group, and the Gen X and Y groups.  And now that I've been dealing with it, thinking about it, and working on this program, it seems to return to my mind regularly as I go through my days.

The group that continues to have me confounded is the Gen X and Y groups.  I've got numerous friends in those groups.  And I'd never want to point fingers and accuse.  But I am wondering.  I'm wondering about commitment.  I'm wondering about long-term.  I'm wondering about balance and centering.  All of which appear to be missing.  I've heard several younger buddies say simply in passing, "I think I'll just quit and go work somewhere else...."  Umm, okay.  Really?  After five or so years of devoting yourself to a super fantastic job you'll just up and quit?  Weird.  I've heard statements such as "I've got nothing keeping me here."  To which I asked about the human element -- "Don't you have any friends or people you've met here....like ME!....that you feel any connection to?  The answer was a shrug of the shoulders and sort of a blank, noncommittal stare.  Nope, I don't mean a thing. Disposable is a word that comes to mind.

Gosh, where will that leave us as a society?  Say in ten, 20 or 50 years from now?  What will our social structure look like?  Will our work groups, church groups, neighborhoods, groups of friends, be solid?  Tight?  Together?  I hear statements on the far ends of the emotional scales -- far left, then far right -- and wonder where the middle ground is.  Wonder where the balance or center point is.  And I wonder who is around to help mentor, teach, Life Skills 101 to those who need it.  It all feels shallow to me.  Words in passing, catch phrases roll off the tongue with flippant sort of stylistic contemporary attitudes.  Sense of entitlement floats through my thoughts. 

I walked up and put my hand on the shoulder of a friend who I hadn't seen in a week.  Not a long time.  Just that we have become pretty darned good friends through the years.  I got a look, a stare, not good, not bad.  A nothing, really.  He started in on something or other about something or other.  I waited.  Waited.  Oh and, then, yeah.....finally......"How are you doing?" I finally got asked.  It just doesn't seem right to me.  And I worry for the future of this globe and its people. 

Monday, August 29, 2011

Side-by-Side Lives

Ugly live up on the inside. Ugly be a hurtful, mean person.  Is you one a them peoples?

Impact.  Powerful.  Tossed around without regard like dust in the air sometimes, those words are.  I am in the middle of reading The Help.  But somehow it happened that Saturday evening was a good time for us to go and see the movie....which I've been waiting for months to see.  This is just my kind'a story.  Personal.  Compelling.  The actual stories of people's lives.  Yours and mine.  They do have merit, you know.....the stories of our lives. 

But one of the things that occurred to me during the movie is the side-by-side lives lived by the folks portrayed in the case.  The parallel lives.  The many pieces of the lives that occurred with each individual over the years that happened in conjunction with one other.  The Help would many times stay with the same white family for years.  Many years....oh say 40 or more years.  The Help would live their own path and life during this 40 years.  And the white family that they worked for would also live their own life during this same 40 years.  Two distinct, varied, very different paths over the same length of time -- running parallel to one another.  Children would come and go, news stories would pass, times would change, political relevance would rise and fall, social interaction would lumber on.  And as individual as these paths are, they are intertwined in so many ways. 

Ever morning, until you dead in the ground, you gone have to make this decision. You gone have to ask yourself, "Am I gone believe what them fools say about me today?"

And the fact that this story took place right here under our noses in the US of A really hits home with me.  Perhaps I should say takes place, present tense.  Because it does.  No matter the laws of the land or the regulations in place the dark hearts of the people are difficult to assimilate into the new ages.  Things don't change inside of a person's soul because a political figure tells them to.  I'm ashamed to know that in my lifetime there is hatred for who people are -- not what they have necessarily done or how they've behaved...that's a whole other matter.  But for who they are.  That it takes place in the most powerful nation on earth really irritates me.  Confuses me.  On how we could have ever allowed it to happen.  Whatever it was that prompted white people to actually believe that they could catch colored diseases from the colored people.  And everyone believed it at the time.  And it continues to happen in so many ways even today.  We've got a long, long way to go.  My friend Matt said recently "I think we need to come together on social issues at their core.... Create real social solidarity not this fake wave a flag on flag day and temporary love for all other Americans during a time of crisis, but real solidarity."  He's right on.  

Another piece of this story that hit home with me is how the person who steps out of their comfort zone and stands up for others is the person that should lead this world.  The one who sees a wrong and wants to make it right.  The one who sees the underling being beaten down and berated and wants to do whatever it takes to stand with them.  Every family, every period of time in our globe's history, has one or two of those people.  The ones who refuse to accept for fact what is told to them.  What is shoved down their throat.  What is simply assumed to be reality. The person says, "No," and then goes about making it right.  Do you stand up for the underdog, the one who is treated poorly, the one who needs a comrade?  I try to. 

All I'm saying is, kindness don't have no boundaries.

The stories of our lives are powerful.  I think I said that in the opening paragraph.  And they are.  They are, after all, our stories, our lives.  No one else's.  They may not mean much to anyone else.  But they mean the world to us.  And in just the right time, the right place, and when the moment is tender and available, the stories of our lives fit perfectly into the life of someone else.  They enter someone else's heart, or mind.  They meld and blend.  You can see it on the face of the other person.  They suddenly morph from a blank look of nothingness into a land where the two get it....they know one another .... they understand one another.  The point at which the stories of two people's lives intersect is one of the most influential points during our short years on this planet. 

Thursday, August 25, 2011

And The Summer Drags On.....

Holy smokes folks....the last waning days of August are upon us.  As usual, I can't believe it.

I've been sequestered in a windowless room in Seattle for most of my summer.  Designing.  Planning.  Creating.  Crafting.  Thinking.  A lot of fun.  A ton of work.  For the first time in years, my mind is keeping me awake at nights -- something I have forgotten, a detail that needs to be done.  A program for flight attendants on Who We Are, How We Fit, and Why We Matter will roll out in October.  If I disappeared from the Design Team today, it wouldn't matter -- I've taken a backseat and my value is minimal.  I spent about 50 hours on a very nice, introspective brochure to be used in the program...called "Being the CEO Of Your Life."  It's been trashed and won't be used.  What a waste. 

I'm playing Hanging With Friends on my iPhone regularly....something I've never done in my life.  I am not a game player.  But for some reason, this has consumed me.

I've seen numerous trees around town with those hints of yellows and reds to them.  Ah oh.

My required annual flight attendant Recurrent training is coming up in a few weeks.  "Heads Down, Stay Down!"

I haven't read any blogs, commented, or even been here on my own site since May.  Lordy be.

Hubby and I are going to Palm Springs for five days in early October with a bunch of friends.  Should be a nice time.

My seniority at my very own Portland flight attendant base has dropped starting September.  I'm 20 less senior than I used to be.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Bored in Seattle

It is becoming clear to me, again, that my mind thinks in ways that other's minds do not.  I was always bored in school.  Boring.  No interest.  Could have been a straight-A student...but was more than satisfied with Bs, Cs, and even some Ds.  It meant nothing to me.  I was not challenged.

I have spent the last three months working in Seattle for several days a week.  Putting together a 4-hour flight attendant training project for my employer.  I've enjoyed it.  But it is painfully clear to me that I expect more of myself, and others, than they expect of themselves.  I want more.  I think in ways that others do not.  I am not satisfied with status quo.  I do not want another corporate training project or things that can be achieved elsewhere.  I have finished developing a piece for the program called "Becoming the CEO of Your Life."  Many, many hours of work.  And a very nice product.  Challenging.  Expecting introspection and personal work on the insides.  Expecting more.  Wanting more. Wanting participants to dig deep.

But I've been slapped on the hands.  Nope....too personal.  Can't do that.  We had something else in mind.  "Let's bring it back to boring" is what I've surmised from the comments.  So, for one more time in my life, I've been disenchanted with knowing that people simply are happy with status quo.  With medium.  With being good....not great or exceptional.  With being afraid of asking more of people or pushing buttons that may very well be uncomfortable.  So I'm back to middle ground.  Boring ground.  Nonchallenging ground.  Again, just like in school, I'm bored.

Thursday, August 04, 2011

For What Will I Use My Voice ??

"Remember that the first step is not to speak ill of others. All human beings have weaknesses and faults. They have their imperfections. Therefore, before trying to find faults in others and speaking ill of them, try to find your own weaknesses and correct those." 

I will never understand why we don't wish others well. I don't understand the lack of understanding. Is there ever a need for being unkind? Can't my voice be used for some other purpose?

As much as I may disagree with someone, as much as I may not agree with their point of view or decisions they make, is there ever a need to not wish someone well as they move on in their life?  When someone departs one difficult spot in life for another more appropriate location, is there ever a reason to not want the best for them?  Don't we want everyone to be happy and successful and peaceful in the quiet spots of their life?  I just don't see the long-term success of slinging mud at someone. 

Perhaps I'm wrong. 

Monday, July 25, 2011

A Story of Transformation

The story of transformation is powerful.  Progressing from our past into our future.  From what we used to be into what we are now....or what we can become tomorrow.  Leaving behind old things, things that are worn out and no longer need to be a part of our lives......and moving ahead into the new. 

Being open, honest, and making one’s self available to change is a moment in our lives that won’t soon be forgotten.  The very blip of time in which we signal to ourselves that it’s okay to be different....better....than yesterday.  The moment in our lives that we realize how our former attitudes sucked the life out of us and that the old way of doing business was leading us down a road that led to nowhere. 

Yes, there is something quite powerful about that split-second of time in each one of our lives when it all comes together in our heads.....and when our heads align with our hearts.  It is then....only then....that we can move forward.  Until then, we are bogged down....backwards.....even fighting a dark sort of internal battle.  And after that, we begin to feel better.  Happier.  Like a weight has been lifted.  We’ve all been there.  And we’ll probably be there again.  But looking for....actually even expecting.....those moments creates an atmosphere of possibility.  That there may actually be hope for us.  For tomorrow.  That there is at least the most remote chance that we don’t have to continue to react the same way we always have.  That we don’t have to be the same person that we’ve become quite comfortable being. 

The story of change seems to give us permission to say NO to the old and YES to the new.  It’s so easy to get complacent....and used to....having the same reactions to past troubles rather than to have fresh new responses to each day.  No, I haven’t arrived.  Nor do I honestly expect to.  But the road looks differently than it used to.  It feels better.  And I’m glad that I’m on this path, on this journey, rather than on one of the many others that I could be walking.

I can’t imagine getting to the end of this thing we call life and having made the same choices at age 80 that I made at age 18.  I think it’s time to refuse to play games that just can’t be won and to instead focus our energies on a more positive time of life.  A time of life that points back to the old days and the less-than-stellar choices -- and points ahead to living the second part of my life differently.  More honestly.  More in  balance.  Treating others better than I have in my past.  And giving myself permission to add to this world rather than take away from it. 

Sunday, July 17, 2011

The Bears Return to the Forest

Good lord.  What a week.  Bear Week 2011 in Provincetown.  Summer in Cape Cod.  From drinking as much water as I could to minimize the effects of the strong summer sun to using a whole can of sunscreen, it was quite the week.  Well, and then there are the alternative drinks -- the Poolboy, the Pineapple Paradise, the Watermelon Vodka Soda, the beer, and the shots of Cranberry Vodka.  I'm exhausted and more than happy to be home....listening to the rains of mid July in Portland fall on the rooftop this morning.  No, honestly, I'm glad to be here.  I had a delightful week with my friends.  My good buddy Don has always made sure I'm well taken care of, welcomed, and pointed in the right direction.  He is just that kind of guy.  I owe him my first born.  A few of us took in the Pam Ann show which was geared totally to the Bear audience....amazing night.  It was her first foray into Bear Week...and judging from the turnout and response, I'll bet that she'll be back.  Oh, and she brought her Trolley right out into the aisle like any good Air Hostess would do and gave my buddy George and Me each a cold weiner...or a hot dog if you prefer.  There were early mornings and late nights at 1am with pizza.  There was plenty of loud dance music and crowds so jammed together at Tea Dance every afternoon that it made it impossible to even move which proved to not be my most favorite parts of the week.  There were scantily clothed muscle bears, Santa bears, otters, cubs, dolphins, gummy bears (don't ask), honey bears, polar bears, and panda bears.  Oh My. 

We took in the Long Point lighthouse way out at the very tip of Cape Cod, ventured into the new basement digs of a leather store -- and scampered out of there like scared puppies....You Want Me to Do What???  There was one night of lighting, thunder, and torrents of rain....and there was one day of high humidity and heat that made this skinny white dolphin migrate toward shade and ice cubs (no, wait, cubes....) in cold drinks.  And there was this unpleasant part of the week which seems to rear it's head whenever you jam several thousand horny guys into small spaces.  Grindr and Scruff were at record levels according to my sources.  And as flirtatious as I am as the next guy, feelings get all wound up  easily.....and you see people doing things that you hadn't quite prepared for -- things that left me uncomfortable and unsure about.  Sometimes at the end of a long day of staring at handsome men, it's nice to chill and relax and have a change of pace and divert the conversation from the sexual hype and technology that has become our world.  It's hard to do in groups like this one. 

My flights were perfect -- but of course knowing the crews always helps.  My ride on Amtrak in the business class car was delightful and too short.  And I had the chance to meet people from around the world that I would never have been able to.  I checked out a baby seal that had beached itself one day for a rest and I was able to wear a fancy loaned D&G swimsuit from my friend Matthew.  We stopped in the many tourist shops, looked at cool sunglasses, oh and I did buy a brand new wallet -- one that is less thick as my former one so that it doesn't look quite so poofy against my skinny pale aging ass. 

But I needed to get home.  To be with my center point, the balance in my life, and the peace that knows who loves you more than anyone else in the world.  I'm here.  I'm queer -- as was clearly exhibited this week.  And I'm happy.  Too all of my favorite Bears and to my housemates at the Center Street Compound I love you all........Grrrrrrrrr.........

Monday, July 11, 2011

Tip of Cape Cod

To the Tip.  The very tip.  Of Cape Cod.  Today.  You can walk there from Provincetown.  If you don't mind walking over rocks, through marshland, in the water, and taking several hours.  Instead we're taking the Long Point Shuttle....a ten-minute ride out to the point.  There's a light house out there. And sand.  And the waters of the Atlantic.  I'm really looking forward to the quiet, the sand, a bit of reflective time. 

The Bears are out in full force this week.  Plenty of good looking, fuzzy, muscle-quality sort of things to cast one's gaze (no, not "gays"....) upon.  The last two afternoons at Tea Dance have been chucker block full.  Zero room to move or walk.  The weather has been amazing.  More friends arrive Tuesday and again on Thursday.  The house we stay in is the old Railmaster's home.....at the end of the railroad line that used to run out to Provincetown.  And no, I haven't been out until all hours.....I've been in bed at quite a respectable hour.  Gladly. 

Monday, July 04, 2011

Jaunty July Juxtapositions

(For the record, NO, I have no idea what the title means...so don't ask....the words are far and above me, I know not their meaning....nor care to.  And on that note, I pass you along to the rest of this delirious post......)

Well well, it's the 4th of July.  No, not just a date on the calendar, but the birth date.  Happy 235th birthday, US of A.  You've come a long, long way.  And you've got a long, long way to go.  Let the sparklers, watermelon, and bar-b-ques begin!  It is one of my more favorite holidays.  I love the community feel, the whole front porch and backyard gathering romanticism of the day.  The sunshine, the outdoors, the after-dark colors in the sky.  It should have been my own father's 80th birthday.  But he didn't make it past age 62.   I think he'd still be full of vim and vigor if he were alive today.

Friday will see me on my way to the Northeast Coast of the US.  Provincetown, Massachusetts, for Bear Week.  Year three.  We stay in a home that used to house the rail master.....Provincetown is at the far tip of Cape Cod....and the yard next to the house we stay in was the turnaround point for trains.  And the railmaster lived in the home we now stay in.  The town is filled with thousands of good looking men who either are bears, cubs, otters, dolphins, or some other form of animal.  Don't ask.  It is a busy week filled with all sorts of activities from morning until late at night.  A couple of things are on my list this year that I have not done in years past:  Spiritus Pizza with hundreds of guys at 1am and the boat shuttle out to the Long Point lighthouse that sits, quite literally, at the last piece of land on Cape Cod.  I can't wait.  Plus, I have tickets to see Pam Ann for a one-night-only show. 

I'm continuing to put in a ton of work hours on a special, ongoing months-long project developing training for our flight attendants.  I've really had to get my head around the thinking, plotting, planning, writing, developing piece of this whole thing.  I've been out of practice on those sorts of things for years.  Serving drinks year in and year out can lead one to a soft brain.  The piece that I'm crafting is Being the CEO Of Your Own Life.  Taking charge, being the boss, not being the middle manager of....you.  Just you.  Your choices, your decisions, your reactions.  It has been through redraft after redraft already -- and I imagine that process will continue until the mid-September rollout.

We finally have a bit of summertime temperatures here in the Pacific Northwest.  I'm telling you, there's nothing like the mornings and evenings -- with the blue skies, light breezes, and all of the amazing natural beauty that our area offers.  I did try to get out to Sauvie Island one of our two clothing-optional beaches last weekend.  The Columbia River water levels are super high right now which led me to having to wade through more than two feet of water just to reach dry ground.  The mosquitoes were something else.  But I did enjoy a few hours of sunshine.  I'm more than looking forward to more trips to the beach as the summer progresses.  Our other beach, Rooster Rock, is well under water for at least a few more weeks.  Here's a map that I developed a few years ago.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Summer Begins Today

Lordy kids, I'm so sorry.  My summer has started off in a whirlwind and I don't see it changing.  I am heavily involved in a work project that takes me out of Portland for two additional days each week for the remainder of the summer....and maybe even longer.  That is in addition to my regular flying schedule.  Combine that with the fact that I have full intention each year of getting out to one of Portland's two clothing-optional beaches, and I can see that things are not going to quite go the way I'd like them to this summer.  And summer here is always relatively short anyway.  Ugh. 

My Sister is back on her flight returning to Idaho after a nice weekend here in Portland for gay Pride.  It was her first Pride ever.  She was like a kid in a candy shop!  We enjoyed being first in the parade lineup and distributed 40,000 pair of mardi gras style beads.  It was a ton of fun.  And we helped out in our company's booth at our festival.  Rained the first day.  Cloudy but no rain the second.  And then I had a friend with the audacity to tell me that he hated Pride...always has.  That there was no good reason for it.  How horrible gay people act during Pride.  How Pride does not define our lives.  Etc etc blah blah blah.  How dare he rain on anyone else's parade.  Well, of course it doesn't define our lives or who we are as gay folk.  Duh.  I'm doing my best to be open, available, and keep an open mind.  About Pride and everything else in life.  I just didn't like him spouting off on my good fortune or feelings.  I had a great weekend and we'll leave it at that. 

I have this one day to regroup, do a million loads of laundry, pack for a business trip to Seattle the next two days, and for Hubby and I to get our home back in order.  We have left Mason alone for far too many hours the last week.  I am departing July 8 for a week in Provincetown at Bear Week with a houseful of friends from years past.  And, I'm going to see the one and only Pam Ann while I'm there.  That'll be a first for me.  And today is the first day of summer.  Who knows, we may have more than one 80 degree day this year.  Yee haw. 

Monday, June 06, 2011

And So Begins June......

Summertime......ugh, maybe, wait for it, perhaps....is it here?  Perhaps.  We had two days of 80 or more over the weekend....first time since last August.  It felt quite good, the warmth on the skin.  We ventured 100 miles east of Portland up the historic Columbia River Gorge to camp for one night with our buddies who had traveled from Idaho.  They graciously opened up their fifth wheel trailer and allowed us to stay with them.  It made camping so so so much easier.  We stayed right down on the Columbia River at Maryhill State Park on the Washington side of the river.  The river is at it's peak flow right now....super high, super fast because of snow melt and spring rains.  The cliffs above the river there are sheer rock, straight up to the farm fields up on top.  I suppose they were formed a zillion years ago during an ice age sheering off of sorts or something along those lines.  Needless to say, it is some seriously amazing country to enjoy.

I had the opportunity to sit in on one of the most exciting meetings ever at work recently.  A meeting that our airline's Maintenance and Engineering Departments holds every single morning, seven days a week, at 8am.  The room was filled with about 20 folks who are in charge of our airplanes, maintenance, broken aircraft, engines, parts, mechanical issues, etc.  In addition, there were maintenance heads from all over the country on the conference call.  It was flawless, speedy, and proceeded like a well-oiled machine as they spoke about this aircraft, that broken plane, this part, that issue, this particular heavy check, etc.  I couldn't believe how hands-on and intricate they were.  Spot on.  Didn't miss a beat.  And clearly had the airline's best interest in mind -- getting the aircraft back in the air, safety and professionally.  I'm sure my head was spinning in circles as I listened and watched them.  It was so cool.

I've pissed off some very good friends of ours.  No surprise, is it....Me pissing off people??   My strong opinions and mouth to go with it don't always bode well for others.  I'm aware of that.  I own that.  I can handle that.  But, still, pissing off one's friends isn't the best thing to be doing.  It was nothing directed at them in particular but spoke to a wider audience.  I was standing up for our most junior of flight attendants and simply brought to light some issues that we have going in our work ranks right now.  I believe that speaking up for what one thinks isn't quite right -- especially for those who need to be spoken up for -- is the right thing to do.  I'm sure that the phrase "It wasn't what you said but how you said it" could easily apply here.  Point is that we are all entitled to our own opinions, viewpoints and such.  We should make those judgments professionally with a well-rounded and balanced approach.  No one else has to agree with us.  And we should feel good about that.  So now I'm moving on to my stomping out brush fires duty.  Man oh man, I've got a lot to learn. 

Next week is Portland PrideMy sister is coming over from Idaho for it.  It will be her very first Pride ever.  And it will my very first time that my sister and I have ever marched in a Pride parade together.  Excitement mounts.  We're going to be super busy setting up our company's booth at the festival, helping organize the group marching in the parade, and all of that.  And with any luck, we won't have torrential downpours to deal with.  

Bear Week in Provincetown is coming closer, closer, closer.  I have mixed feelings about it but I am going by myself this year.  We had decided after last year's trip that we were probably not going to go -- financial, amount of time needed off, and several other reasons.  As time went on, Hubby encouraged me to feel free to go alone if I chose to.  So I am.  But I'm still wondering how it will feel to be at Bear Week all by myself without him.  I mean, I will be in a house with a bunch of our good friends .... but Hubby and I have created some great memories of our very own there.  It's just going to feel a little different than normal.  And, I have tickets to see the one and only, the world famous,  Pam Ann who will be performing at Bear Week.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Wet Morning After

The day has come and gone.  The holiday weekend is over.  Again.  We took Mason for a long walk after we returned home late from a birthday bash last night.  Our walk, and our condominium, is surrounded by a giant cemetery.  The workers began trimming a few weeks ago -- mowing, planing flowers, trimming around gravestones.  I mean, hey, it's gotta be pretty for Memorial Day....right?  A few days before the weekend, the flowers began to show up.  And Saturday through Monday was a steady stream of cars and people -- opening up the backs of their SUVs or trunks of the cars and taking out flowers, flags, bows, ribbons, decorations.  Quite a few of the graves have American flags on them.  Some flowers are straight out of people's yards while others have that tell-all sign of pretty paper wrapped around them. 

We enjoyed a rain-free day yesterday and actually quite a few sun breaks.  I only mention that because it's rare in the spring here.  It was a very nice day for folks to be out -- remembering, thinking, and contemplating.  The sun had set when we walked Mason last evening.  Along the side of the cemetery.  I always glance in.  On every walk.  I look at dates, names, the bits and bobs of wording that people choose to engrave on the stones.  And, no surprise to many, I think and wonder who these people were.  Why some graves have flowers and some do not.  What life was like for each of these people.  I'm just that way.  The cemetery was quite at 9pm last night.  The coming and going had stopped.  The extra gates and entryways all closed up for the weekend except for the main entry.  Things were quiet.   Peaceful.  A bit sad.  I saw a few flags still trying to wave in the night breeze -- the dusk casting across them hiding the red, white and blue colors. 

Wet.  This morning is wet.  Again.  The regularly scheduled cemetery workers are back.  Normal.  I guess it may be 8am-5pm sort of thing.  The flags are hanging down with the dampness of the rain.  The flowers are still pretty against the spring-green shades of the acres of grass.  Things are back to normal.  Average.  There's got to be a wet morning after. 

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Wriggle to Create Heat

Just when you think you've seen or heard it all......I was working the "C" position this morning from Portland to Orange County.  "C" position is the back galley.  On a Boeing 737-700 aircraft.  A had seen a large group in the boarding area...maybe 20 or so teenagers with obligatory adults along to tame the errant young tendencies.  So the first guy on board is wearing a green Portland Timbers t-shirt and heads to the back galley.  Seemed like a nice enough guy, friendly, chatty.  And he says to me....."Hey, my wife is going to kill me....she said for me not to come back here and ask you this but I told her I was going to do it anyway......is there any chance you'd go up and warm up my seat for me before I sit down?"  I told him to just let his wife watch this.....I marched my tender, yet silly, little early morning self up to his row, asked him which seat was his and sat down in it.  I wriggled around a little....."to create friction and heat," I told him.  His wife was looking at me like I was about as far out of my ever lovin' mind as one mildly delusional flight attendant could possibly get.  He sort of liked it.  "Yeah, like that.....okay, that's good," he says.  And I got up and left.  His wife staring.  He and I giggling.  In my 16 years....that's a first. 

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The End of May

  • Glee.....I could have done without it.  More and more throughout the season, I am less enamored with the little kiddie Glee clan.  Some of the scenes are so contrived and don't seem real with little rich, pretentious white kids performing them. 
  • My sister is coming to Portland for Pride.  It will be her first ever Pride.  She's going to help us out in our company's booth at the festival and march in the parade with us!  I'm wondering if it will be wet or dry. 
  • We're going camping for one night with some friends way out East of Portland in the Columbia River Gorge.  Out where it is sunny and dry.  (Portland averages 37.5 inches of rain per year.....The Dalles receives only 14.5 inches.....)
  • I have been able to assist in the training class of brand new flight attendants.  Our first new FAs in three years.  
  • I am finalizing plans to attend Bear Week in Provincetown in July.  
  • I have a friend who performed CPR on an 83-year-old man on one of our flights the other night.  The flight diverted to an alternate airport.  The man passed away.  
  • We have friends moving into our building today.  They have had their eye on one of the last units remaining to be sold in our condo building.  Today, it becomes theirs!
  • Clear, concise communication is hard to come by.  
  • Two gay men were beaten up while holding hands in downtown Portland.  Amazing, considering that it happened here.  Except for the fact that Portland pretty much welcomes all sorts of folks -- and this is the byproduct. 
  • We are struggling to get more than one single day of sunshine so far this season.  Keep your fingers crossed.  We did finally break 70 degrees. 
  • The cemetery next to our condo is getting all primped and trimmed for Memorial Day. 

Saturday, May 21, 2011

San Diego Zoo....Mixed Emotions

Yesterday, I visited the San Diego Zoo for the first time since 1968.  Wow.  That's been a while.  I was on a longer layover with my hubby and a good friend so we decided to really make a day of it.  Did you know that Diet Cokes actually cost $5 at the Zoo?  I thought it was for a six-pack, not a single drink.  Silly me.  But in spite of having a great sun-filled day, I left with mixed emotions.  I know that being the animal activist that I've migrate toward in my old age, I should not have paid the money to visit this zoo nor any other one.  I know that placing animals in captivity should not be supported.  I know that paying giant amounts of money for t-shirts and sodas at the zoo is just plain old not right. 

The zoo had a sign with a picture of each animals on the front of each exhibit (or listen to me...calling it an "exhibit" when it was nothing more than a cage for confinement....).  The little signs were all the same.  And they each rated the animals on whether they were endangered or not.  Many were.  In addition, I noticed heavy advertising, signs, pictures and public relations crap that were intended to tease me into thinking that the Zoo is a "green" place for animals -- that they are doing everything possible to make sure that the animals are well taken care of, tended to, needs dealt with, etc.  But, as with all of these sorts of things, I immediately questioned the Zoo's intentions.  I think that any business who is going out of their way to advertise to me what a good, green, earth-friendly, animal-caring place they are probably isn't such a place at all. 

I stood in front of the elephant exhibit watching two elephants swaying back and forth.  Each of these two were by themselves -- not with each other nor with the rest of the heard.  And swaying.  Back and forth.  Left and right, right and left....for as long as we were there.  And I said to my Zoo partners that I'll bet that the swaying is a byproduct of them being in captivity.  Yes sir, it is.  Check it out.  In addition, I didn't see a whole lot of animal caretakers around.  I did see a few.  Very few.  For the most part, "people" were absent from the scene -- unless it was to sell expensive food, treats, t-shirts, kettle corn and the like. 

Probably the highlight of the day was at the Hippopotamus pool.  Momma and 15-day-old baby!  Amazing...and right straight in front of us on the opposite side of the glass.  Apparently, they are not natural-born swimmers because momma was teaching the baby how to swim....herding the baby around the pool and nosing it up to the surface for air.  Something like this......it was really, really something else.

I know that in many cases, the animals are actually more well off in the zoo than in their natural habitat due to poaching and other unnatural happenings.  But in spite of it all, I've been thinking a lot about the fabrication of real life at the zoo.  It left me a little bittersweet.  For the lack of natural, free-roaming territory to enjoy. The captivity issue.  The children running and yelling and creating stressful situations for the animals -- there were actually signs on many of the cages warning us to not yell or not harass the animals....that it stresses them and makes them nervous.  I just felt sorry for them.  There's got to be a better way to educate our children, our world, than peddling expensive novelty items in gift shops and charging $5 for ice cream and locking up animals in cages.  It didn't feel natural at all. 

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Tax Deductions II

It will come as no surprise to most of you that I struggle with families having far too many children, using far too many of our world's resources, contributing too much to noise pollution, putting too many disposable diapers in the landfills of the world -- all while I'm paying for their Mommy and Daddy to actually receive tax deductions that I pay for.  I'm a big fan of actually charging parents to have children after a certain number in order to pay for all that those particular families remove from this earth.  And it is quite clear that those of us who are single, or have chosen to not have children for whatever reason, are left to pay for those who have more children than they need.  Enough....read this article if you want more of my obnoxious, soapbox opinions. 

Most of this nation's school systems are in big financial trouble.  They are not properly funded.  They are mediocre at best.  They are overburdened with the aforementioned "too many" children from families who are not able to financially contribute their part to keep the whole thing going.  It's a total mess.  And not a new problem.  What I get upset with is that we.....governments from national down to city.....continue to try and figure out new ways to simply gain more money......and rarely do the unthinkable....cut spending, cut poor teachers, cut cut cut.  I mean seriously, if my personal home budget isn't working, I have to cut spending or raise extra cash.    We are interested in just tossing money at projects, schools, and budget shortfalls each few years....wishing, hoping, dreaming that it will get better.  Wise up!  It won't.  The simplistic, unrealistic, thinking that money will solve problems is unwise.  And that goes for this schooling issue or any other one.  I'm all about fixing problems, the root of the problem, and moving on.  I'm about removing poor performers, dead weight, bad people and projects that require too much money.  We are always focused on money money money.  And not on education, education, education. 

A few years ago my Multnomah County voted in a "temporary" three-year property tax to "help save the schools."  $300 per year from me for three years in a row.  Remember, I do not have children.  $900 total for the temporary three-year deal.  Guess what....it didn't fix the trouble.  Two days ago, the fine folks of my city voted in another property tax hike to keep the schools going.  Averages are guessed at $400 per year per household increase in property taxes.  Remember, I do not have children.  So, simply because I'm a homeowner, I have to pay up.  Weird.  Just doesn't make sense.  Meanwhile, the procreators who have chosen to not use condoms and now have four, five, six or more children in school actually receive a deduction from their annual taxes.  Humm.  Sumthin' just doesn't add up.  We're out of balance.  I'm not happy.  Nor should I be.  It won't fix the problem.  We will be trying this again in a few years...more money more money more money.

I'm tired of tax deductions being paid for by folks like me.  I believe in those who use services, systems, or resources actually being the ones who pay for the products.  Am I asking too much?

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Springtime Favorites

Some days I think I'm an old soul.  I just took the "Old Soul Test" and scored 85%.  I love the past.  I enjoy history.  I like the in's and out's of families.  I like how things came to be.   I enjoy people's stories and ventures.  I like considering life, the world, the sky, trees, breezes, animals and how it all fits together.  Or doesn't.  For example, I see flowers and am quickly reminded of my past.  Where a particular type of flower grew, or whose garden it was in, or the smell of it, or the time of year that it bloomed.  I think of porches with pillars.  Or lemonade.  Or the heavy scent of fresh grass after a cool night.  It is at this time of year, May, when I have a long list of favorites.  Memorial Day was always a time to gather flowers from our yard, put them in a dinged-up old galvanized bucket and take them from grave to grave at Morris Hill Cemetery in Boise.  These are my Top 4 Most Favorite flowers.  I do have many others but these are my most favorite:

DOGWOOD -- We did not have these in Boise growing up but I do have them in Portland now.  They are in full bloom right now in all shades of pinks, reds, whites, creams....amazing.  I love how their trunks are so dark black and the blooms stand out nicely against the trunks. 

IRIS -- For some reason, we sometimes called these "Flags" -- I think because Memorial Day stood also for flags on the many graves at the cemetery.  These have such a gentle, sweet scent to them.  And they are so pretty and unusual. 
LILAC -- Oh boy, these always grab my attention...over and over.  The giant variety of colors.  From whites to pinks and differing shades of purple.  And so so so so sweet.  The giant bushes of lilacs remind me of grandma for some reason. 
PEONY -- Delicate and complicated.  Like me.  So heavy are the buds that they fall over sometimes from their long stems.  There's nothing like a vaseful of Peonies. 

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Hating the Haters...Am I One of Them ??

Have I become one of them?  A hater?  It has crossed my mind more than once in my life.  As I've struggled to figure out how this big, giant cold world operates.  What's what.  Who's who.  What I believe.  And what I don't.  Who is for me.  Who is against me.  Who are my honest-to-goodness friends.  And who are not.  If you don't remember, I was born and raised in the church.  Large.  Evangelical.  Praise music.  Jesus is the only way.  There is no other.  I've been a youth leader, choir director, singer, speaker, errand-running boy, the whole lot.  And I traveled off and on for twelve years with a traveling Christian singing group bringing people to Jesus via music.  A lot has changed in my life since then.  And some things have not changed.  I have spent quite a number of years now without the contact of my former church friends -- the majority of whom will have nothing to do with me because of my "lifestyle choice" as they say.  But a few have dared venture back into my life.  You see, years ago, there would be no blending of right-wing evangelical Christian church and the gays.  Nope.  Not.  Ever.  Today is a bit different, perhaps.

I have a dear, longtime friend....a beautiful Christian woman friend who is quite an amazing individual.  I've liked her since day one.  We are friends on Facebook, and I'm glad we are.  She recently posted a disturbing video about a school in Kabul who is teaching horrible lessons to their boys.  About hating the United States.  About how the US is wrong and horrible and terrible and that they should have nothing to do with us.  And that they should fight us.  It's a less-than-pleasant video to watch.  So, I commented below the video:  "...And yet once more I am reminded of how hate and prejudice is actually taught....not inborn. I'm thinking of how I was raised to not like Russians (Communists) in the Cold War era...they were scary people! And how I was taught that Mormons were to be kept at a distance. And that Catholics were not actually Christians. And how Canadians were socialist liberals and we certainly didn't want any part of that. Nor the gays....because they were just "that way." And the list goes on and on. I do my best to keep an open mind and heart...."  I wasn't excusing what they are teaching in the school.  Not at all.  I think it's horrible and 100% wrong to teach hatred and twist the hearts and minds of the young in our world.  Her response comment was:  "...Just don't hate the haters -- or you become the same thing. ♥"  

We have a beautiful young niece who we love dearly.  She is on our hearts and minds on many days.  And she loves us.  And we love her.  She accepts us for who we are.  And we accept her for who she is.  We always have a great time together.  We have chatted for all of her growing up years that one day she will discover that she has two uncles that live together and that, well, they must be more than uncles.  That day has come and gone.  Nothing has changed.  And it won't until she is taught (remember the video..the teaching) otherwise.  Until a Sunday School teacher or pastor or friend tells her otherwise.  Until someone opens up a Bible and erroneously tries to point fingers that really have no business pointing.  Thankfully, I've got a bit more belief in her tender heart than to think that she will ever turn her back on us.  In fact, I think that we'll be pretty tight with her for a very long time to come.   

Am I the same thing as the haters?  Like I said earlier, it has occurred to me that those who hate the haters are still, well, haters.  And then there is the difference between hating who people are versus what people do.  Believe me, I know all about being hated for who I am.  The tough part for me regarding the video is that these boys are actually, formally, being taught to hate.  It is not who they are to begin with.  It is who they will become because of the twisted teaching of hate.  Now, I don't hate them, or their teacher.  But I do hate what they are teaching and doing....the way they are taking tender minds and using them for bad.  And this conversation could very easily venture right on into mainstream Christianity in the United States today and how it is violently uncomfortable with what they have termed the gay agenda.  Oh, they say they don't hate me, us.  I'm all-too-familiar with phrases like "Love the sinner but hate the sin."  Hogwash.  For years now, that phrase has just made it more tolerable and palatable to enjoy the agenda of separation that the church has put in place between itself and the outside world.  The church, nearly any church, has never been good at bridging the gap in a flawless, easy path between itself and anything going on outside its four walls -- yoga, gays, unmarried couples, single mothers with children, Eastern religions, Tibetan prayer flags, meditation, smoking, drinking, those who do not believe in Christianity.  

But do I hate them?  I don't think I'd call it hate.   But now that I'm thinking about it, there are a few things that I do, perhaps, hate:  hypocrisy, focusing on issues outside the church than inside its four walls, teaching children that being Catholic or Mormon is going to take them to hell, telling children that their gay aunts or uncles are living in sin and that they are going to hell, pretending to like someone all the while having ulterior motives to change them, using fear-based videos and books to show people that the way another nation or religious system believes is wrong....those are things I hate.  Among others. 

So, I guess I am a hater after all.  So, yeah, go ahead and call me a hater.  I guess I am one. And apparently no better than them. 

Friday, May 13, 2011

The Depth of Human Interaction

Do you remember Lila from the movie Latter Days?  She was the gracious restaurant owner played by Jacqueline Bisset.  If you haven't seen the movie, you should.  But the movie isn't what I'm here to chat you up about today.  It goes beyond the actress, the role, the part she played.  It is her spirit.  The energy she exhibited.  The heart she showed.  How she opened up herself, her business, her life.  To help the boys, others, and to make people feel good.  She believed in something more, something positive, something even, perhaps, ethereal.

I think I'm drawn to that type of person because I wish I were more that way.  I try to be, believe me.  But I don't always succeed.  Occasionally, gasp, I lose my way.  I have this feeling that I will be working on it for the remainder of my life.  I'm such a hard old crusty bastard sometimes.   I don't think it's one of those things that will ever be fully achieved.  But continually focused on for reminding myself of who I am and who I am not.  It keeps me humble and god knows I could use a little of that.

My friend Rhonda is that way.  A devoted, devout positive person.  She cares for others.  Honestly, deep down, from the core of her being.  You feel good being around her.  Being a flight attendant brings about those opportunities to fly with a variety of people.  Some you get to know and fly with frequently.  Others are more flash-in-the-pan sort of folks...you fly with them once and may never again.  And some you never, ever want to fly with again.  Today, I had an unexpected surprise to meet Jan.  From our Los Angeles base.  Jan had that big smile on her face from the moment I went down the jetway and entered the airplane.  She was right on it.  No drama, no negative, no ill habits, no hating of the company, no doom and gloom.  She had shed it all for today, at least.  She opened up her arms and gave me a hug.  Now, remember, I had never seen her until that moment in time.  Even if I'd wanted to, I couldn't have a bad attitude being around Jan.  She was one of those deep souls.  Not superficial.  And I can spot surface, shallow BS a mile away.  She had clearly experienced in her life things that created her.  She had struggled and hurt and recreated her life in a way that helped make her who she is today.  We chatted about marriage, past lives, our mutual time together in Boise (we actually lived in the very same apartment complex back in Idaho in the early '90s....).  She laid out her life out for me to see.  She was diving deep.  I had to practice those skills that go deep, far beyond the borders of being nice because I'm a flight attendant.  You just never know what any particular day is going to bring you. 

I'm convinced that as much as people irritate me many times that I actually need these irritants to make me, remind me!, who I am.  Who I am not.  And who I need to be.  Life is so short.  And much of it is shallow.  But today, I got a little depth.  A little soul, and human culture.  And I'm thankful.

Monday, May 09, 2011

Poor Little Victim

Ahh, poor thing.  Sweet poor little victim.  Sniff, sniff.  

It will come as no surprise to you that I'm not a huge fan of victims nor the mentality that comes with them.  I believe that our world has ended up where it is today in part due to that precise thing....the Victim Mentality.  I mean, hey, if you're all about feeling sorry for yourself and want to be miserable, feel free.  But if you're into getting ahold of yourself, changing the way you're living, and actually have the desire to lead a different life, then I'd suggest that you check out this little list of helpful ideas.  And don't bore me with little sob stories meant to capture the moment of how you are right and the rest of the world is wrong.  I can assure you that I won't buy it. 

I flew with a guy today who sort of made me nauseated.  Nice guy for the most part.  Big giant biceps.  Nothing special, just a nice guy who was a victim.  He's got some growing up to do.  He went on an on about how "one of the customer service agents in Ontario made him get an eye infection."  He blathered on about how "the company is in such a big hurry that he wiped his hand on the girt bar and reached up to scratch his eye."  That gave him an eye infection.  He told me about how everybody is in a hurry and he didn't have time to think about it before he actually did it.  He was apparently pushed to the limit to hurry and, by god, he won't be doing it again.  Harumph! 

Well, you know me, I just couldn't let it go.  I told him that of course the girt bar is dirty.  Along with every other surface in the entire world and especially the airplane world.  I don't think that it's any more infected than, say, the bathroom doorknobs or faucet handles or tray tables.  I told him that I learned long ago to not bring my hands toward my face at any time, for any reason, period.  Hands do not belong near the eyes, mouth or nose.  My point was that it had nothing to do with the girt bar.  It had everything to do with his hands scratching his eyes.  He wouldn't buy it.  He got pretty quiet after that. 

Our world is in trouble kids.  A lot of it.  And I honestly believe that a good chunk of it is because of this line of thinking.  The mental game that we play of blaming others, finding situations that will give us reason to behave the way we do.  Pointing to parents, or churches, or organizations, or families, or alcohol, or drugs, or cigarettes, or our children, or a hospital, or or or or or or......to make us more satisfied with the victim that lives inside.  I'm sick of it.  And I hope you are too.