The Sherman Mantra

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I learned a lot from Laura Sherman.

Driveway Money, for instance, is that cash you find lying in your driveway that fell out of your pocket when you were digging around for your keys — see also, Free Money, or Desert Nachos.

ESPN Commentator and former NFL Coach John Gruden is in love with Laura, because every time he is on TV he looks right at her.

Laura Time is the actual arrival time she appears somewhere, in contrast to the scheduled time of arrival.  Laura Time could be, say, 3 hours after the start of a pub crawl, or minutes after the time you really wanted to leave for the airport when you were moving to Boston.

This past summer I had both the blessing and the curse of becoming good friends with Laura Sherman.  We learned to curl around the same time, but to suggest that she was just my curling friend is completely underrated.  We went camping, fishing (well, she did), watched football, gone to clubs I would have never thought I would ever ever go to, and even became real life hippies.  More often than not, she was a pain in my ass, but more often than not she covered my ass too.  She’s the kind of person that you can’t wait to hang out with, even though you are banging your head against the wall the whole time she was there.

One thing about Laura is that she had this way of saying things that leaving the town of normal but hadn’t reached crazy yet.  That’s the driveway money, or the John Gruden comment.  Though there was something she said to me that made some of the crazy make sense.  She said:

“I Refuse to Be Bored”

Think about it … it’s not that she hates being bored, we all do, but she refused to be bored.  What that meant is that she always had a plan for doing things.  For legal / privacy / decency  purposes, I am keeping the examples to myself .. but know that there was a lot of fun things she did.  Like what I will be doing the next couple of months, many of those things she did by herself.  For her, she wasn’t going to wait for her friends to come if they weren’t sure if they were coming.  For me, well, I’m just new here.  Watching her I realized that the beauty of all this was that she met more people then anyone I ever knew.  It was a simple concept – don’t look for friends to find things to do with, do things you like to do and you will find friends doing them.

So there was the Sherman Mantra:

“I Refuse to be Bored!”

As much as I miss that crazy woman, I must … I MUST follow the Sherman Mantra.  I owe it to myself, and I owe it to whatever fun I can find.

I REFUSE TO BE BORED!!

Now that I am approaching my first weekend of a Bostonian, I need to put that to the test.  Let me just say, it’s going to be easy to do that.

Here is the plan:

Friday
– Finish house hunting in Boston, and initiate an offer on a house.
Saturday
– Take the Ferry to Salem, MA for the last good weekend of the Haunted Happenings at the home of the Salem Witch Trials
– Check out the Halloween Costume Crawl (not specifically in a costume myself … maybe the pup will … but you know it will be terrific people watching)
Sunday
– Attend a Meet & Greet of Boston’s NaNoWriMo Chapter (more on what that is later)
– Packers Game at the official home of Packers Boston

I am still trying to figure out things to fill in time Friday Night and Sunday Morning, but that will come.  It will have to, because quite simply.  I refuse to be bored.

Gotta run … there is surely some Nachos calling my name somewhere.

Walkies

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Okay, I knew this was coming, but still … I was not ready to walk as much as I am.

Let’s set the scene here.  First of all, I don’t have a car.  My car is still up in Alaska, and won’t get released to ship south until the end of the month, and then will be 3-4 weeks until it arrives.  No Problem, I say .. I will live downtown Boston so that means I can walk to or take a cab or take the subway to whatever.  The T-Line (the Bostonian word for subway … which “The T” is the Bostonian letter for Subway) is just a couple blocks away; but that is just the entrance, and doesn’t count transfers.

Next, the pup no longer just gets a door open and he is free to run out to a yard to “do his business”.  Nope.  Now if he gets in the mood, we have to harness up, take the elevator down, go across the street.

Then of course, my full intention to drag my butt back into the world of getting into shape and moreso start losing the Alaskan Pizza & Beer diet effect.

So what’s wrong with any of this?

I just didn’t expect to have so much walking.  Seriously.  Okay maybe I haven’t had “so much” walking, but  …

Well, let’s start with the complication of the puppy.  He is my trooper, having adjusted pretty quickly to his new life, but he is not easy to walk in this new place.  He maybe 2 years old, but he maintains much of his puppy brain; most noticeable by his tiny attention span.   All you need is the slightest distraction and he is focused on something other than “his business”.  Those distractions, of course, include:  people, cars, other dogs, horse drawn carriages, buses, trucks, more people, people that sleep in the street people, more dogs, rain, wind, sidewalks, shiny objects, dull objects, in between objects, and (in case I left anything off) everything else.  So sometimes making a quick run outside has to become a long walk outside until the job is done.

Using the T too requires a fair bit of walking.  Sure you go into a sub station not far away, but then there is the stretch to the actual trains.  Then if you have connections, you have a few blocks between trains – and I am unlucky enough to be on a line that needs to connect a few times to get some places.

But to be honest, the real challenge is that I have some real work ahead of me trying to regain whatever bit of my old ‘wonderfulman’ self is still there.  My weeks of going away restaurants and sitting around waiting for the movers have left me so out of shape that lumbering around is a challenge.  My knee, still messed from ongoing curling injuries, screams after only a short time, and I’ve gone back to wearing a backpack alot to “counterbalance” my front load for my back.  It takes work, real work, to get anywhere.

That’s what’s got to change.

I want to walk everywhere, want to spend time out with my dog, want to use the T, want to see the city.  It just is going to take some changes.

But that is, of course, one of those changes you make when you make it to a new city.

Quick Like

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Faithful Bear Feeders who go way back with me remember that selling y house in Kansas was nothing short of glacial.  I spent weeks working my tail off getting that house ready for sale, and then sunk tens of thousands into it just make it listable.  Then it stayed on the market for 9 months before it actually went for basically the same price I bought it for.

Well, my house in Alaska barely made it a month on the market.  Today I signed the papers accepting an offer and putting the great wheel of real estate to work to get that place off my mortgage.  Sure, I hoped that it would have went quicker, but in retrospect it sure did go quick like.

That, actually, sums up my first week here.

I have to say, it was my “quickest” first week of work that I can remember.  I am used to that first week being the most bone dry, drag out slow process one can go thru. I remember that first week at Cessna, when my boss spent nearly all of it laid up with the flu to the point I didn’t see him except for an hour the first week, spent just hoping that the end of the clock could move faster & I can not just feel I am burning company money waiting for work.  I remember the first week at BP being hours of online training, reading corporate policies, and waiting for projects to come my way.  This week, my first at Bodycote, zipped by like nothing.  But there was pretty good reason for that.

For one — I had something to do.  Not just the numbing corporate slide shows and box checking … real tasks.  Hell, I had a request to revise the quality manual (basically the bible of my function) before I even had a computer.  I’m not kidding, a guy dropped it in my lap, while we were opening boxes from IT.

The schedule had some to do with that.  I only had 4 days scheduled this week (I have to fly out to judge marching bands tomorrow).  But I was benifited by some understanding office personnel on Monday saying “take your time coming in” then, and the time it took for me to settle into this “work from home” thing.  For instance, I needed to fill out some HR paperwork this week – which meant printing and scanning that paperwork to e-mail to someone – which needs a printer and / or scanner – which means if you don’t have one you have to find one.  A hike down to a FedEx/Kinkos, an hour trying to figure out that place, a couple retrys once things get done and redone, and boom you blew an afternoon on something that usually takes a few minutes in an office.

Also the pup became comfortable with his routine quick like as well — now that he doesn’t have a back yard to dance around on whenever his daddy is most comfortable on couch, its a real task to get him out the door to do the business.  He now realizes he has to wait to get a harness on, walk down the hall, ride the elevator, get petted a couple times by people he meets, not get distracted by the homeless people, then find just the right piece of gravel to “make his own”.  Daddy’s little trooper keeps up the good work.

More next week of the life here – once I start living it a bit more.

Well .. We’re Here

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If there ever was an opportunity to be culture shocked – this is it. Gone are the big yards and views of the mountains; replaced with more concrete in a short distance from home then there was in the whole of south central Alaska. The only thing walking distance from my house in Anchorage was a walking trail that led to … Well a path to another trail. Now In a 2 block radius I have no less than 10 restaurants including 3 Irish Pubs – and if that wasn’t enough, the subway is right around the corner. One week ago, the pup and I were riding through the Alaskan wilderness to a town so homey that a cat is their mayor. Now we live in a city with more politicians than cats. When Auggie needed to do his business back in Anchorage, I would slide open a patio door and in seconds he was relieved. Now we have to get his harness on, ride the elevator, cross the street, and that’s just if he is happy with gravel – when he feels the need for grass it’s a 10 minute walk … We are learning to hold it more.
Culture shock or not, we are here in Boston. After a stressy week and a hurry up and wait last couple of days, we left Anchorage just after midnight Alaska time and the clock struck 5pm when wheels were on the ground in Boston. I was a stinky mess – over dressed, out of shape, and without a decent shower since Thursday I was as miserable after the flight as I have been in years.
Auggie was a different story.
Ever since I made I decided to fly down I was worried about his experience. He was too big for the human cabin and with a special reservation was set to ride in a crate on the same flights I was on. He was used to a metal kennel, but the crate was more enclosed and smaller than his doggie cave. So we spent two weeks getting used to it. I gave him a vet recommended sedative just before heading to the airport and he looked like a drunk sailor on the terminal’s tiled floors. We had to show a vet certificate of good health, and after a quick inspection of the crate he was cleared at ticketing. One nice thing Alaskan Airlines does is they have tags attached to the pet information so that when he was loaded onto the plane, they tore off that tag and gave it to the flight attendant to give to me, so I knew he was loaded. Other than that tag, I had no idea how he was doing but assumed the best.
So picture baggage claim. The ‘oversized baggage’ came out a large steel garage door and down a wide metal slide. My seat partner was just asking me how I will know where he will come down from. As soon as she said it, the door opened and two people on either side of the crate were lifting him onto the slide. My first view of him – he was wide awake, in his ‘kinda unsteady’ three point linebacker stance, looking straight at me through the door of the cage. Sure he seemed happy to see me, but he also looked genuinely excited by the new surroundings and people. He didn’t seemed anxious or traumatized; just ready for what was next.
Today it’s about watching a Packer game, getting groceries, and a good night sleep. Tomorrow is day 1 on the new job.
But for now we are here .. And we are ready.

To The Last …

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So, this is it.  My last day in Alaska as an Alaskan.  It’s been two years, one month, and six days since I first put my feet on the ground in this massive state and looked with the forward vision to see what truly it had in store for me.  Nearly 10 hours from the moment I am writing these words I will be walking down a jet-bridge, onto a plane, and begin the a day’s worth of flights that will finish with the pup and I checking into our new temporary home – and importantly our new forever life.

It’s only really sunk in that this is happening the last few days, and you could argue that it still hasn’t sunk in.  Sitting here in a Starbucks with a beautiful view of the Chugach Mountains snow dusted & cloud tinted, I am not grasping the fact that this is something I likely will never do again.  Sure I plan on returning to Anchorage &/or Alaska again, but …  Sit at this Starbucks? See this View?  I had to wait out teenagers doing their homework today just to get this view – I come back to this place, and I’ll get laughed off like a tourist.

Maybe it isn’t sinking in because so much is different for this big move than compared to the past — in that it remains surreal.  It didn’t help that when I changed plans to fly rather than drive (for reasons I am not ready to blog about) I ended up with an extra two weeks to kill – which gave me ample time to just lose myself in my own head.  This job I will start next monday – it’s a big step up, it’s a lot of personal responsibility, it is critical to the company’s (and to a smaller extent, the industry’s) success, but it fits me and my personality so well that it seems like I am going back to what I am good at.  Then lump on that I will be moving to one of the biggest cities in the USA, Boston, and not just move there … my temporary home is buried deep into the concrete jungle of downtown Boston.  I’ve had this role on my mind since early summer, had this move on my mind for half that, and it always fit into that category of “too good to be true” – so for it to be true is just … I don’t know … surreal.

The tough part for me, though, becomes managing my “not quite sunk in”feeling with honest feelings for those I leave behind.  All due respect to y’all I met over my lifetime, but some of the friends I met up here are as strong and as faithful as any I have ever had.  To paraphrase from the old joke: I’ve always had friends in my life that would be willing to help me move, but there are some here willing to help me move a body.  In the short time I have known them, I have gotten to know people that were truly deep hearted, and truly caring.  While rare in many people, it was something I found in a number of friends here.  Today, it just feels like it isn’t fair that I leave them now without really returning that same level of friendship, or being the one to be here forever like a friend should.

Then I begin to think about those things I wanted to do, and either was too busy, too tired, or to much of a procrastinator.  How I wanted to drive back to Denali again, to do the triangle to Fairbanks and Glenallen, to go halibut fishing, to actually catch something dip netting, to see one more bear.

That’s really where my mind is that I enter this last few hours as an Alaskan.  I fight the negativity that tends to find my head – and this time it seems to want to be big and loud.  Two years fighting for a job that was never going to be what I hoped it to be.  Two years of letting my weight pile back on, and my aches and pains become my excuses.  Two years of wanting to do things, but not getting the right kick in the pants to do them. I feel now that I leave here with my tail between my legs, somewhat beaten by time and by the state.  It made me wonder if I thought I would have forever to work out all my challenges and overcome them in the great last frontier.

Then I saw a post from my old Band Director (Tom Cook) when talking about something else said this:
“Do be sad that it is over, Be happy that it happened.”

And that’s right!

I did see Denali … I actually saw Denali a lot … average tourists can’t even say that they saw it at all.  Sure I didn’t get to drive the big triangle, but I seemly spent every other weekend stopping off at Glenallen to somewhere last summer.  So maybe I didn’t catch anything dip netting, but I did go dip netting; and I did catch salmon from a boat; and I learned to fly fish; and I spent a few days on sea out of Seward that I will never forget.  AND I did see bears, three of them, momma and two cubs .. Right in front of me … AND NOONE can take that away from me.

In the end, in the great balance of my life, I am going to look back at these two years, one month, and six days as a unique experience full of adventure, happiness, and laughter.  All the things I never would believe I would have done, all the things that I would never have seen.  How many nights I was blown away by the beauty in this world, how many times I have been fascinated at what truly being away from the common world would be like, or how many times when I not just embraced being Alaskan meant .. but been embraced by Alaska itself.  To the last … this Great Alaskan Adventure will be a great time in my life.

So, my time here ends, and whether or not I am ready for it I am going to move … to start a new life.  Before I get on that plane, I am going to hang out with one of the best people I ever had the pleasure to meet … and chances are we are going to get nachos .. and I am going to be happy about that, right down to the end …

… to the last.

In Hibernation

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My faithful bear feeders; you have noticed that your favorite blog (unless you have read ANY other blog in the world) has gone quiet for nearly a month. By now you may know I am moving out of Alaska to Boston.  I originally intended to continue to blog right on through that transition and let the bear feed be the home for the Idiot Bear in the Big City.  Well, since the time of the start of the transition, some things changed and some issues arose.

Truth is, I have put myself in a social networking cold spell due to some specific events that took place in recent weeks.  This means the usual “Open Book” that is this blog just isn’t possible. There will likely come a time when I can share some of that what happened recently, but at this time I can’t here in the blog and may not be able to share it directly.

What I can tell you is that one major part of my plans have changed — while I initially intended to drive from Alaska to Boston, I will now be flying out on October 11th and starting my new role the week after.

In the meantime, I may choose to post here or there, I am of course still saying goodbye to a home I have loved for over two years.  Consider this the bear feed is in a hibernation similar to how I sleep — out cold but waking up like a million times a night.

Bunny Count: August 2014

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Days Late with the Bunny Count: 1 (or 2 if you read this tomorrow)

Bunnies: 0
Moose: 2
Dall’s Sheep: 4
Salmon: 0
Salmon Socks: 2
Bears: 0

Jobs Quit: 1
Job Offers Accepted: 1
Days Left Before Moving out of Alaska: 30-ish

August Rainfall: 2.52 Inches
Days with Measurable Rain: 17
Days without Measurable Rain: 13
(Get This) Rainfall BELOW August Average: 0.73″

Days in Alaska: 28
Days in Indianapolis: 3
Days Spent Blending in As a Hippie at Salmonstock: 3
Days Getting in Trouble by Mixing it up in Anchorage’s Music Scene: 1 (1 too many)
Days Spent Balled up on the couch from a pulled back and allergies: More than I needed to, so I should shut up and get off the damn couch

Times Killed by Rain, Quitting my Job, Going to Indianapolis, or Whining:  0 so far