Taking Inventory

Taking Inventory

Packing. Yep…got that. Favorite shoes – check! Passport – check! I remembered.

Unpacking – crap. I remembered that. And that. Oh, but I forgot that.
And remember the time I/we did this? And remember when….

Taking inventory. A blog of complete random thoughts.

June 7, 2017

If you were to take my current feeling of contentment, gratitude and mixed it with bit of “I’m elated.” You’d probably get a bottle of perfume named, “Surreal” that also comes with those funky, bizarre commercials. You know, those commercials that make absolutely no sense and have no “scent” but are visually beautiful?

Yeah, surreal just about sums it up.

Back in 1991, in perfect teenage loopy handwriting, I wrote my proclamation in Rochelle’s year book that one day, I – WE would “look back at our lives, be millionaires and laugh.”
In 1992, while in college…half drunk, slightly sunburnt by the beach sun and starved, we flipped to that back page of her high school year book, read my proclamation and laughed. And laughed. And laughed.

Then sobered up enough to head down to McDonalds to buy that .99 cent cheeseburger Happy Meal and split it. Millionairism – far from it.

Fast forward to 2017. I don’t know how many years later this is…I am too tired to do the math. I certainly don’t eat cheeseburgers any more, but crave them sometimes.

I am not a millionaire. Not in a monetary kinda way anways. I don’t need a million dollars because I have what I need and I want for absolutely nothing. Except for cheeseburgers, sometimes.
At the current moment, I am in between London and New York flying many miles above ground. Slightly cold, but thanks to the fancy location of my seat, I have a comfy blanket to protect me from the elements.

Not everyone gets a comfy blanket as part of their inventory. I’m not bragging, I am thankful.

My thoughts pretty much match my current altitude where not only are we high (not that kind), but at moments, there is a little turbulence. To be honest, I am writing to stay awake and half hope my creativity doesn’t drift away as my words begin to appear (or disappear) on page 2 or my own self-conscious thoughts of what a complete dork I must sound like at this moment. Bear with me while I practice a bit of randomness or as my English lit teacher would say, “stream of consciousness” thought.
It’s what I call, “taking inventory” and my brain just does it naturally sometimes.

Ump! Looky there…made it to page 2.

I spent the last 2 days at an intense DevOps (DOES Summit) conference in London where I heard stories of cultural and technical transformation. I was able to exchange thoughts, ask questions and my ideas were heard by many well-respected people in the industry. Most people don’t understand what I do for “a living”, but I read the most precise summary of what I would call an elevator pitch of what I do…

“I want to improve the lives of 1 million IT workers in the next 5 years…” – Erik – “The Phoenix Project”

Ok so maybe 1 million IT workers is a bit much, but my goal is to improve the lives of many people, not just focus on IT.
And now let me pause for a moment while I look out the window at the surreal landscape below me. I am not really sure if I am looking at the ocean or snow-capped mountains. Below, it looks like a day time sky with stars. As if the airplane did a topsy turvy and now we are flying upside down.
I’ve had a few topsy turvy moments in my life.

Took a picture and after further investigation which means I zoomed in my pic, maybe they are waves that look like ice chunks from this far above. Either way, it’s unlike any landscape I have ever seen whether water or land. Make that an “earthscape”?

Ocean or sky?

I’ve seen lots of ‘scapes in my life. And ‘scaped lots, too.

The lovely flight attendant just came by to ask if I was still working. I never work. This isn’t work.
But I do contribute my experience and knowledge and desire to always improve my craft to an airline company and in return, they take care of some bills. Maybe I can give a new meaning to the word, “aircraft”?
Or should I say, they pay me to exercise my passion every day. And yes, exercise would be the right word. Sometimes you do have days where you feel like you’re running a million miles, but aren’t quite getting anywhere. And along the marathon route, you get cheers, water and granola bars and sometimes just blank stares.

Not a picture of a comfy blanket, but a picture of not working.

Topsy turvy, ebb and flow and sometimes you just have no clue what you’re looking at. But I love it.
Surreal.

Yep, taking inventory of the moments.

Way before I could sign Rochelle’s graduation yearbook, I would spend hours in the library. I would actually skip class to spend time hunkered down in the aisle of an un-monitored row of books supported by cold, metal shelves. I always thought I would go into advertising. Actually…let me back up…I wanted to be a psychologist, but I wanted to apply that knowledge to a “business” or something lucrative. So I thought advertising could be that perfect, healthy, happy marriage between psychology and business. I would spend hours studying how the mind interprets colors and shapes and how much of that is used in advertising. What makes people tick? What stimulates people to behave in certain ways?

I learned real quick that the word “SEX” was an obviously mind jostler and would emphasize that word in the various posters I would create for student government.
“Wanted….either SEX….to join student government….” Guess which words I emphasized. Guess which words I didn’t.

This stimulates people.

(Another flight attendant just brought me a warmed-up chocolate chip cookie and commented on how much I was working. LOVE him and his ice blue eyes. I asked him to bring me another cocktail when he had the chance.)

Colors, placement…all of it evokes certain emotions in people and evidently, this is based on studies compiled over many years of practices. Fascinating shit.
I’ve always been interested in foreign languages as well. I wanted to be able to talk to as many people as possible in the event…you know… I could travel.
I never wanted to experience sameness. I wanted and craved different and if the “different’ only presented itself in National Geographic magazines or books about people’s minds… or…well…that was my “travel”. One way or another, I would experience some type of “out of body “experience that would allow me to see the world and people in a different light.
I could see it. I couldn’t smell it or touch it, but I could imagine it. Sort of like those bizarre perfume commercials.
I suppose I was planting my wish seeds many years ago. Or building inventory that later would be consumed.
July 2007, I went on my first overseas trip to Rome, Italy. I earned enough money in overtime to pay for a 6 day trip for me and my 13 year old daughter. I studied the language for a few months prior and planned almost every detail.

Amanda wanted to see Pompeii, buy replicas of name brand purses and sunglasses.

I wanted to take a shower every 2 hours because it was so hot and drink gallons of San Benedetto Ice tea.

We both were awed by all the history, tragedy and secrets that surrounded us. I loved that time with her.

In the early 80’s, my mother placed me on an airplane to visit my grandparents. Sitting up front, I was provided coloring books with crayons that were always too waxy to show real color, plastic wings to pin to my shirt (which was the badge of the “minor flying alone”) and kind smiles from the flight attendants.
No agenda planned. I flew alone on various trips to Phoenix to visit Grandma and Grandpa. I flew from Florida and Phoenix and back many times until I turned 18. From Florida, I would be catapulted to Phoenix to spend hours in the pool collecting vitamin D (and evidently, skin cancer) to return to Florida for school a couple months later. I loved every moment with my Grandmother.
December 29, 2007, my grandmother passed away.

Well. Hell.

I don’t think I ever have ever typed those words before. Just reading those words causes me to stretch. It’s better to stretch and spread those feelings of mourning to the ends of my toes and fingers than to sit still, swell up and cry like a fool.
I miss her brittle nails, little round belly and even that look of disapproval from time to time. Like the look she gave me when I decided to perm my short hair for college and I looked like a damn poodle.
My grandmother was my first passport. I came into her life when she was fairly well-stamped. She may not have had a blue book filled with faded, half-inked stamps from various countries, but she sure did have a full suitcase of wisdom. She ensured that I developed a curiosity for all things so that one day, I would have those seeds that grew into much bigger, greener things.

Certainly not greener as in a million dollars.
I didn’t need to seek out new worlds, I just needed to hold her hand and let her guide me through whatever lesson she could teach me about life.
She led me to new cultures, experiences and even politics.
Fast forward to 2017. I’ve been to handful of countries which I will never be able to share with her. Yet.
In retrospect and back to the surrealism of it all….I can retrace almost every experience of my life and how it all led up….either significantly or not…to recent events. An inventory of memories.

(The flight attendant just asked if I need anything else. My answer was, “no”. But then I raised one finger and said…maybe one more cocktail?)

The most pressing question of the past couple of days was the tattoo I have on my left wrist.
It’s a series of straight dotted lines that ends with a small little airplane. The tattoo artist (not the one in prison) suggested that I add a loop. No. No one wants to be in a plane that does a “loop”.

No “loops” allowed.

Ever. And especially not in rock fights. Like the time when my 9 year old self lived in Oxnard, California and I got into a rock fight with Fernando right on the corner of Elm Street and San Marino Street. I threw a rock and missed. It somehow “looped” back from him and hit me in the head. Blood came gushing down my face and I chased him. He cried. When I finally looked in the mirror, I could see why. I looked like “Carrie”.
I guess Karma is sort of a loop.

Back to the airplane.

This little icon of a plane was not permanently placed there after my acceptance of my position at an airline company, but was placed on the inside of my left wrist to remind me to avoid any and all corporate environments. Sort of like the “freelancer” gang symbol. But not really.
Yep. I hate the political, corporate life so much I placed a little airplane on my left wrist to remind me to always be free and to always fly. Sorta like…a mind-altering medicine that helps you cope.
After stomping my foot down and claiming that enough was enough, I quit the corporate life and went on my own. I became my own boss (that was tough – imagine, me…managing me) traveled and earned enough to afford me the same standard of living as my “corporate” job but I was also working twice as hard.

6 months later, the invitation to join an airline company slithered its way into my inbox. And just as slitherly, I accepted.

(I think we’re over Canada. 36,006 altitude.)

The very tattoo that served as a reminder to avoid a corporate world, is the very same tattoo that I look at it and think….” Oh shit. Now that’s surreal.” Or maybe serendipitous would be the correct term.

I excelled on my own, but only because I had the freedom to choose my own path for my day and long term goals. I also had to revisit my love for people. As a teenager, I wanted to explore the minds of people but as I grew older, I also formed a calloused disposition to human beings and began to detest them.
For a moment, I thought maybe I was an alien. Scratch that, I wanted to be an alien. Much easier to disassociate that associate. I still think I could be an alien because of my infatuation with Area 51 and the time I had that headache while I was in Roswell, New Mexico.

Fast forward.

I am completely in love with my job working for an airline (which is also known as a my “drug dealer” if you’re addicted to travel). And I am completely in love with the people (most, not all). I suppose I just needed a detox or in keeping theme with this blog title, I had to remove the spoiled inventory to make room for better.
Every person holds a piece of the big, giant jig saw puzzle. We are all certainly intertwined on some galactical, spiritual level.
Each story, flaw and personality trait you recognize in someone else is a reflection of a portion of ourselves. How else would you recognize it if you weren’t already intimately familiar?
Sitting a simple, rustic pizza place with Keanen and Jasmine, I was reminded of those reflections and pieces that we contribute to create the larger picture of the world. Those couple of hours were more or less, the grand finale of our time in London.

For 2 full days, we interacted with people from various backgrounds and parts of the world. London is good for that. I would consider London the “Hospital of Soul Soothing”.

Corny, I know.

We interacted with each driver who drove us to our same destination every day. From Akbar to Zaysinar, from Somalia to Afghanistan, each of them were a mosaic to be appreciated even for a moment.

Even though that last guy made me nervous when he talked about stealing a million dollars and almost ran the car into a wall while putting on his sunglasses with both hands. But still…
For these 2 days we were enhancing and experiencing our lives while some lives had ended needlessly just an “eye sight view without binoculars” away.

And on this last evening at the pizza joint, the large window parallel to our table served as a movie screen for us for a couple of hours.

People walking by.

Unrehearsed.

In conversation or simply on a mission to move trash to its final resting place.
Lovers in a small argument or tourists who had no clue where they were.
From the goth girl to the business man, to the very attractive blonde who was clearly paid to be on that arm of that guy…it was a sight to witness.
Eventually, we would poke through this movie screen and interact either with a wave or mocking their own behavior, but in a fun, nice way, of course.
Some interacted with us either by a natural glance or by sheer curiosity. Were we goofy? Sure. Did we laugh? Yes.

We’d invite people in to dine at a restaurant that wasn’t even ours…and they came in. That pizza place owed us so many free cannolis!

Just relaxing in a pizza place.

But wow, the people were beautiful. From the man who was wearing the same shade of red, that melted into the matching background to the woman peering from the café.

Planned?

The man who stopped and relentlessly pecked at his phone with intent, but yet had no evidence of distress or anger on his face.

The texting man.

The chopper gang, the girls with skirts too-short, to the woman who was in near-tears….yes, it was fascinating.

At one moment, an older gentlemen stopped and peered at us just as we were peering at him…We invited him and he insisted on giving us with 10 pounds. He wanted to buy us a drink! Why? Because we were happy which made him happy.

We used the money for cannolis.

Another reminder that the universe will indeed give you ask for no matter how subtle or silly the request.

I truly believe, in your moments of joy and distress, your heart will ask for those very things that you need. I suppose you could say that prayer is the ultimate bar code scanner that will be sure your shelves are full.

Which is why the flight attendant brought me another cocktail and I never received my million dollars.

To those families who are currently taking inventory of all things, this is dedicated to Xavier, Igancio, Alexandre, Kirsty, Chrissy, James, Sebastien & Sara.