The Whirlwind

Blogging through space at 160 miles per second.

I’m Staying in Seattle

August 24, 2014 Chad No comment

With the flick of the pen, I was a Seattle resident. The lease to my new apartment was signed.

Parts of me enjoyed the apartment search. Dreams of new neighborhoods and open spaces flashed with each visit of a prospective pad. Then the budget started to extend and the end of the month deadline approached. Always the same question for the realtor: “How much interest have you had in the place?” Always the same answer: “A lot.” Slowly, the situation grew stressful.

Every afternoon I checked one of three website with apartment listings, usually with the same results. Too expensive. Too far. Carpet—no way! At one point I found the one. It went online at noon. I saw it listed at 2:00pm. My viewing was scheduled for 7:00pm. By 6:30pm, it was off the market. From that point on, I had my checkbook with me at all times, ready to put down a deposit.

I started applying for places I didn’t even want. One apartment was a few bars short of a jail cell. The neighborhood was perfect. Close for the commute. And faux wood floors! But cinder block walls. Poor lighting. After submitting my application, it thought: “I don’t want to live here.” And so I didn’t.

My future home was one of these on-the-spot decisions. A viewing was scheduled just 30 minutes after mine, so I felt the clock ticking. I felt comfortable in the 500-ish square foot one and one, and really dug the the claw-foot bath tub and the door handles that harked back to the 1910 building design. That carpet though. Shiver.

The apartment manager then brought me up to the roofdeck. “Best view of Seattle” he said. He was right. After explaining where holiday fireworks could be seen, he mentioned that the pub across the street was a Sounders bar. With that, I was sold. Check signed, sealed, delivered.
I celebrated with a beer in the pub. Everything about the neighborhood reminded me of Prospect Heights. Pub, distillery, doughnut shop, deli, and pizza joint all right there on the corner. I immediately felt at home. I cozied up to the bar. The Seahawks were on TV. I cheered on my hometown team.

I Bought a Boat

August 3, 2014 Chad No comment

Chad Robertson: Boat Owner. I’ve officially arrived.

Let’s be clear. The boat is a kayak. A plastic kayak. And bought… it was a craigslist purchase. Not that any of that diminishes my standing as a boat owner. But you guys know who you’re dealing with here.

The purchase was a bit of an impulse buy. The plantar fasciitis continues to keep me from running. I had been swimming, but never found a good pool/gym in Seattle. In it’s place, I had been swimming nightly in Lake Washington. A few chilly, choppy evenings quickly dulled my enthusiasm for open water swimming. I needed a new pursuit.

A stand across the street from our office rents kayaks. The answer! Kayaking!

Lake Washington. My new playground.

Lake Washington. My new playground.

I looked in to renting one. $25/hour. Wait… what?! If I did this every evening, I’d be spending $125 per week. $500 per month!!! Ridiculous, I thought. I could buy one at that price. Ding ding ding! The bells went off in my head. I ran upstairs and found a kayak on craigslist. $250. Done.

The seller lived in a house boat in Ballard. The guy didn’t seem to have many more worries than where he would be finding his next beer. He showed me the kayak. Purple. No holes. It floated. That pretty much summed up my knowledge of kayaks. Sold!

— So you took the bus here, he asked. You’re going to try to get the kayak home on the bus?

— Nah, I’m just going to kayak from here if that’s cool. Gonna take it over to Kirkland.

— Whoa… you’re gonna kayak from here? To Kirkland? You’re a madman brah.

The guy who lives on a boat was calling me a madman.

He gave me a few bottles of water and helped me in to my boat.

— Are there any rules I need to follow?

— No wake and don’t go over seven knots.

With that, I was off. Nine miles to Kirkland, where I could store the kayak in the company parking garage. The office is right across the street from Lake Washington.

The long haul. Talk about sunburns...

The long haul. Talk about sunburns…

Through the ship canal. It quickly became obvious that I didn’t really know what I was doing. The kayak drifted to the left, then to the right. Every direction but straight. I blamed the boat. Certainly my pedestrian kayaking motions wouldn’t play a role in something as simple as direction.

Across Lake Union. Through the cut. It was a sunny day. Boats were out. The water was getting choppy. I finally entered Lake Washington. This trip was longer than anticipated. Half-way across the lake. There was a 40% chance I wasn’t going to make it. The sun kept beating down. I picked out markers in the distance. A buoy. A tree. Just keep going.

After about four hours, the kayak trip from hell was complete. I crawled up to the shore and collapsed in the grass. I was a boat owner. This is gonna be fun.

I’m not going back to Dublin

July 26, 2014 Chad No comment

I’m not going back to Dublin.

The Senior Vice President let me know of my new plans. I am wanted in the corporate headquarters: Kirkland, WA. My role will enlarge to encompass corporate marketing, instead of the silo-ed position I held in Dublin. A promotion. Grand, but, what about Dublin? There would be no compromise. I wasn’t going back.

Stunned. Shocked. I didn’t give a proper response. I couldn’t give a proper response. I hadn’t actually processed the words.

Now I get it. I’m not going back.

I felt deceived. I had always been told I would be going back. The trip to Seattle was a four to six week layover while my visa was being processed. An Irish contract was waiting to be signed upon my return. Instead I was sent on a business trip without a return ticket. I’m still not sure when the decision was made internally. I only found out about it now.

I felt angry. I was never asked about friends or plans or possessions that were still in Ireland. I haven’t yet been offered a compensation package, though have been told something is coming. I haven’t even been offered a full job description of this new role. My life was seemingly altered on someone else’s whim and I had no say in any of it.

I felt depressed. Of all of these feelings, this one remains most persistent. There were no goodbyes. No closure. Perhaps what hurts most is being robbed of my plans, goals, and dreams. I had plans to start a Project Management course in October. A Joyce Ulysses course in February. Travel plans. The next 18 months of my life were planned and now, suddenly, nothing. It leaves me feeling empty. Lost.

Yes, I know, new plans can and will be made. But with everything in such a state of flux, I’m concentrating more on the here and now than goals for the future. Let’s start with the simple: Where will I live next month?

So there it is. I’m not going back to Dublin. I still don’t think I believe it. It is though. The sooner I realize that, the better.

Movement

July 3, 2014 Chad No comment

Suddenly, it was time to leave.

After five months of living in Dublin, my visa was up. Ahead of me was a two month journey to Seattle to renew my visa. Behind me were smiles and hard work and deep, full breaths of life.

I packed up the few things I had and put the essentials into the one suitcase I’d be carrying with me. The rest would be stowed in a closet at work. With that, phase one of my Dublin experience was over.

One last look at the rooftops of Dublin

One last look at the rooftops of Dublin

It was a strange goodbye. I didn’t have much time to think about it given the madness of the World Cup summer. That and I wasn’t really “leaving;” I’d be back in weeks. There was still something “book-closing” about it. Ireland saved me. This grey island showed me light when I felt engulfed in darkness. I’ll forever be grateful for that.

Travels were easy. I passed through the airport gift shops and suddenly realized I hadn’t even thought of a present for Mom and Dad. Again, it didn’t really feel like a goodbye. I wasn’t ready to leave. It was simply a see you later.

When going through customs, the officer asked me “Where is your home?” I stammered. Stammering with customs officials will never lead to good things. “Houston” fell over my lips. Houston. I hadn’t lived there in 15 years. It was on all of my documents though. Such a difficult answer for such a simple question.

With that, I was back in Texas.

I started to sweat. I don’t remember if I ever stopped. Moving was the task at hand. A subletter had taken over my lease while I was in Dublin. Now the lease had ended and it was time to do something with all my stuff. I didn’t really want much of it, but I also didn’t have time to pick out the things that were “valuable.” Most was simply put in boxes and transferred to my parents place. I’ll do the picking-over later.

While in Austin, I managed to see the people who were important to me. True, I didn’t get along well with the city. There are some very special people living there though.

I also made a visit to the Dog & Duck only to find out that it would soon be closing. For my money, it’s the best bar in the world. The jukebox, the waitstaff, the conversations. Conversations about everything. Good ones, y’know? That place was my peak when things were good and my sanctuary when things weren’t.

The truck was packed and it was time to go. As I drove out of town, I didn’t really feel anything. I wasn’t “sentimental” or “sad” or “angry” or “happy.” Everything simply was. As I passed by the Capitol, lyrics from Dylan’s “Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright” started running through my head.

I’m walkin’ down that long, lonesome road,
Where I’m bound, I can’t tell
But goodbye’s too good a word,
So I’ll just say fare thee well
I ain’t sayin’ you treated me unkind
You could have done better but I don’t mind
You just kinda wasted my precious time
But don’t think twice, it’s all right

World Cup Homecoming in Berlin

June 25, 2014 Chad No comment

It was a homecoming of sorts. Round two of the World Cup journeys brought me back to Berlin, where the boys would be gathering once again. Hilmar, Matti, Matthias, and Muemmel. Jeff and Will would be there too. As would all the rest.

Hard to believe it had been eight years since I left. Eight years. So long ago, so much has happened in between, but it seems like just yesterday.

As we wandered the streets, I’d catch myself thinking, “Wow! This used to be home. This was once mine.” I’d worked so hard for it.

It felt good coming home.

The weekend

The weekend started as every weekend should: with a trip to Biertempel (2). The name says it all. A cornerstone to the Tempelhof experience.

The tone

We set the tone early. After a run through the Tempelhof airport, Matti and I found breakfast served with a freshly opened Becks. It was going to be a good day.

Hilmar had to run a few errands, which meant he had to abstain from the morning/mid-afternoon beverages. He didn't want to let that hamper our day though.During one of the stops, he ordered three beers from a local pub and had them brought out to the car parked outside the bar. The waitress told us to leave them on the bench when we were finished.

Hilmar had to run a few errands, which meant he had to abstain from the morning/mid-afternoon beverages. He didn’t want to let that hamper our day though.

During one of the stops, he ordered three beers from a local pub and had them brought out to the car parked outside the bar. The waitress told us to leave them on the bench when we were finished.

On to the match...

Game time! That Jack Daniel’s bottle right there — that was a gift for Jan that he snuck into the bar. Around halftime of the match, he ordered a Coke at the bar. “You only have to fill it half-way,” he said as the bartender poured his drink. “Why’s that? You didn’t sneak anything in with you, did you?” “Oh noooooo….” Jan replied. That about sums up the evening.

The bar

The bar was in the Gesundbrunnen S-Bahnhof. Quintessential Berlin. Outdoors. Big screen. Sofas. The game ended in a 2:2 tie. We still won.

"Why the hell did I think it was a good idea to tell the penis joke?"

“Why the hell did I think it was a good idea to tell the penis joke?”

We woke up the next morning with a football match of our own.

We woke up the next morning with a football match of our own. Waaayy back in 2006, we put together a football group with some kids we’d met in the neighborhood. They still all play together in the Tempelhof Airport. Really cool to see that continue. And what a cool location!

Born in the USA (sorta)! It was the Yanks turn to play in the 2:2 draw. So close... oh so close!

Born in the USA (sorta)! It was the Yanks turn to play in the 2:2 draw. So close… oh so close!

And look who I found! Will and Joanna, former colleagues from CDS. The "C-D-S" hand sign is for you Rob!

And look who I found! Will and Joanna, former colleagues from CDS. The “C-D-S” hand sign is for you Rob!

"It ain't over till it's over." One last doener the next day with Hilmar and Jeff.

“It ain’t over till it’s over.” One last doener the next day with Hilmar and Jeff.

It's true!

Something about this city. Berlin, you captivated me the first time I visited you when I was 18 years old. I studied you, your culture, your language. I obsessed over you. Thank you for another beautiful weekend with beautiful friends. Thank you.