Saturday, June 14, 2014

The Song of the Skies

During the anticipation leading up to the move from one residence to another, I have noticed that there are things I'm going to miss about living on this end of town, one of which is what I call  the Song of the Skies.

Every day, starting first thing in the morning and going on well into the evening, I am blessed by the sound of passing aircraft. I live right in the flight path of Tampa International Airport and have the pleasure of hearing the passing planes singing to me. We don't get the big boys here, like the A380 which is an enormous jet, so monstrously huge you wonder how it even gets off the ground nor do we have the wonderful 747 jumbos like you see at Kennedy or some of the larger airports.

Some people don't like living in the flight path of a major airport. I could understand if you lived in an area where it felt and sounded like the incoming planes would land on your roof. A good friend of mine is lucky enough to live in the flight path for St. Pete/Clearwater Airport which services smaller commuter airlines and private and corporate jets. The planes over there fly low enough to get some good photos of them, unfortunately my camera is never in hand when they are flying over though. One day....

I remember 9/11 vividly for reasons other than the images and media we have all seen from that day. It was the day that the Song of the Skies was silenced. That was the day where no one was flying anywhere. It felt really odd to not have at least something singing me to sleep or greeting me when I got up the next day. I didn't like it. It was unnerving because Tampa Airport was always active with a lot of landings and departures. That marked the only time that had there was no aircraft activity.

As I sit here typing this now, another roar of jet engines beckons like a siren song just outside the window. Due to the slower pace of that engine, it sounds like he was getting ready to land. One of these days, I might actually get lucky enough to get one of these big birds flying over.

In my new place of residence, I am not sure if I will be privy to the Song of the Skies. I have seen planes flying over that area but they are not as numerous as they are here. Where I work my day job, I am but a mere few miles away from St. Pete/Clearwater Airport and can see the planes coming in for landings as well as taking off. I can't see the runways but can see them in their final descent patterns.

One plane in particular is a personal favorite which flies out of the Coast Guard Station which is right next to that particular airport.

I get to see and hear this wonderful watcher of the skies and seas nearly every day. I've become accustomed to his low thrum of his four props beating the air and when I hear him flying over, I smile. I was at a picnic last weekend at a park that was not close to any airport but my antennae went up when I heard that unmistakable sound of the Coast Guard plane. I couldn't see him due to heavy cloud cover but I knew it was him just the same. Sort of like I know where a vintage VW Bug is by the sound it makes. There is nothing that sings like the Coast Guard C-130 Hercules. 

Since my new home is going to be much closer to the beach, I anticipate the music from both the Coast Guard plane and his brother, the Coast Guard helicopter. 

The CG Copter also has a distinct drone as well. When I hear the sound of a large helicopter, it's either Bayflite (which is the air ambulance transport for all the major hospitals in the area) or this handsome boy. Every time the weather gets bad, you can always count on seeing this helicopter working double time closer to the beaches and water. I live right off of Tampa Bay but am not waterfront per say so I see a lot of Coast Guard action. 

Like I said, it's not going to be the same not living in the flight path anymore but you know I will keep my eyes to the skies anyway no matter where I am. 

Saturday, June 7, 2014

The Great Undoing

The past few months have been quite the rollercoaster ride to put it bluntly. I used to be one of those people that was so afraid of change that the mere thought of it made me want to hide under the covers and stay there until I was pulled out, kicking and screaming. I am beginning to see, a little later than most people, that change is a very necessary part of life and a requirement. I've learned to become friends with it and for the most part change has treated me pretty well. If anything, it has taught me more about myself than I ever could have imagined. My only regret is being so afraid and letting what might have been great things slip out of my hands due to this fear.

Change has enabled me to get very honest about parts of my life that are no longer working and no longer suit me. I think I have changed more in the past 6 months than I have in the past ten years. Once change took hold, things began to get very different very quickly. I was able to face a lot of difficult things in my life with a clear head and maturity that would have been lacking beforehand.

One of the most significant changes is my moving from one residence to another. I have lived in the same place for the past thirty years. I was in my early twenties and thought I knew a lot about the world. As time would bear out, I didn't know a damn thing! I was told that buying property was the 'smart thing' to do as rents went up, etc etc and homeownership was the Holy Grail. It was one of the biggest check marks one would attain on the 'Life Script' and if you owned a home, that meant you had somehow 'made it.'

I did love living here at one time, probably more so in the beginning as I was truly on my own (albeit with a roommate for the first ten years) and that meant I could basically do as I liked whenever I liked and it was great. But over the years, I began to feel very disillusioned with the whole idea of homeownership and these feelings began to spike as I kept getting laid off or let go from one job or another and my income began to reflect this.

Home ownership can be very rewarding. Some people are born to it and some of those people have homes that they live in and homes that they rent out to other people. Some people really go whole hog into refurbishing their homes, upgrading frequently and making their places into showplaces. There's nothing wrong with that. All the power to those people. But it's just not for me and has not been for a very long time as my priorities have changed greatly as I've begun to develop other interests and desires. I have also become known as 'house poor' and in this economy, there are a lot of us.

People seem to think that my living here thirty years means that this place is paid off. Nothing could be further from the truth as I was bitten not once but twice by the Great Refinancing Bug of the time spanning the early 2000's to the recession. This home is no more mine than the day I signed the papers on closing date.

The thing about a paid off house is that, you still need to pay taxes as well as do a lot of upkeep. Things still break. You might need a new A/C unit or a new roof or some other things. It really never ends.

This year I made the difficult decision to give this place up and put it on the market. Once I did that, the mental shift began to occur and for the first time in so many years, I began to open my mind to new possibilities and opportunities. Once the decision was made to put it on the market, then the Great Purge began. I donated furniture to various charities and gave away unseen amounts of stuff in other directions.

It is truly amazing how much crap one can accumulate in thirty years or less in some cases. Within the process of getting rid of stuff, it is amazing how much lighter I feel. It is good to get rid of things that no longer suit us. It's also a great way to figure out which things we really cannot live without as well as the things we might need to create a new life elsewhere. For example, I am keeping my computer stuff as well as all of my art papers and such. These things turn into extra income so therefore they are coming with me.

The place I will be moving to is much smaller than where I am now. It suits me to a T as I am single with a cat. I will be a caretaker for a friend and living in the efficiency apartment behind the main house. I really could not be happier or more excited. I will have my bedroom, a private bath and a studio. Yes. the old diningroom in the main house is going to be where I am putting all of my art and computer stuff. I have already mapped out where everything is going to go.

You really have no idea what this move is doing for me emotionally. It really is going to be good for me and I feel such a lift knowing that I have the open road ahead of me now. The community where I am moving to is part of the biggest local art scene around here. It has long been a dream of mine to live in that area and now that I really am going to, just seems like a dream come true. I think that spending time in that atmosphere is going to do things for my creativity in such a way that I really cannot wait to see what unfolds. I have not been this excited about anything in a very long time!

Friday, June 6, 2014

The Company We Keep

As I've been a member of the job-changers club (not especially by choice), I have come to notice a few things. It's a well known fact that most of us who work for a living spend more time with the people we work with than our own families (if we have them) or with our outside-of-work friends. This is especially true if you log many hours at a job in the form of massive OT (been there before!). 

I am working at a place now where the woman who trained me has been working there for thirty years and will be retiring in just a few months. When asked why she has remained as long as she has, other than her immense benefit package and great financial compensation, her number one reason was that she enjoys the people. I've heard that before in many other circumstances. I've often heard the refrain "I hate the new management/direction of the company/whatever but...I love the people here so much that it would be too hard to leave!" 

I get it that in some cases, this doesn't always bear out. There are situations where your job is a means to an end and you are really only there for the financial considerations and not so much for the social aspect. Some people are steadfast in their rule that "they don't come to work to make friends." I sort of get that but unfortunately I am not wired that way. And it only gets worse if you're like me and like to become rooted somewhere because the longer I've stayed somewhere, the more entrenched I get and the closer I get to the people I'm working with. 

I have been fortunate enough to be in work situations where I was able to stay somewhere long enough to feel planted and then I bloomed. When I take a look at my social structure, it is truly amazing at the amount of contacts and good friends that I have amassed simply due to the fact that we all worked for the same company during the same time. I would also go out on a limb to say that some of my deepest friendships are with people who were initially coworkers and over the years have evolved into friends or beyond that, into a family of choice. I don't know if this is because I'm single and don't have a steady boyfriend/husband in my life or because it's just the way I am to become so close to people at work. 

I think that most work situations, even if they are the worst job ever, are made better by having people that you can hang out with and at times commiserate with that get you. You're all 'going through this together' and sometimes it makes the tough things easier to bear, if you know that you're not alone in that experience. You tend to band together. 

And then there is the experience that I'm in the midst of now where a lot of my coworkers from my last company have been scattered to the four winds when the company ceased to exist. Some of us are working, some of us are unemployed, others are retired. Thankfully due to social media such as Facebook, we are all just a tap away from each other. Facebook is a great way for all of us to stay on top of what is going on in each other's lives and even to set up times to get together. 

Having been in situations where people have been let go around the same times I was, there is also the phenomena known as the "Former Coworkers of XX Company Picnic/Happy Hour/Get Together." This is alive and well from what I've seen and experienced. I think also that it is a sign of the times where so many people have been blown out of good jobs due to layoffs, company shutdowns or casualties of the economy. I seem to see a lot more people who no longer work for XX company than present workers, sad but true. 

When I look at my Facebook feed, other than special interest groups that I subscribe to or know people from, most of my feed belongs to former coworkers, who even though we no longer work together, I still care very much what happens to all of these people. 

Beyond the friendship aspect, I've noticed that some of these relationships have entered closer, deeper bonds than I ever could have hoped for. The important people in my life are a good mix of folks I've encountered on my life's journey (due to membership in various groups) as well as a good smattering of former coworkers. Some of these fine folks have helped me tremendously in my personal life and continue to do so on a daily basis. I am truly blessed to know the people I do and proud to have such long-standing relationships with them.