Yesterday was my last day at NRG, the country-wide spinoff of our local power company, NSP. They were sort of an Enron wannabe, dealing in global futures and building power plants from New Jersey to South America. Accountemps placed me there in the summer of 2001 and in early September, they told me they were going to pay the buyout fee and hire me permanently. Then the Enron scandal hit, their bonds were down-graded, they instituted a hiring freeze, and they started the inexorable slide into bankruptcy. Yesterday, I couldn’t get out of there fast enough, but I had to stay an extra hour (unpaid – timesheet already signed for 5pm) to leave my mess of now obsolete (like me) files a little more manageable for the next unfortunate minion to touch them. It was also the day they had the big nation-wide conference call with the employees about the bankruptcy hanging over our heads for about a year. Not my problem anymore. I hope my few remaining comrades survive and remain in good spirits.
A warning: If run-on sentences drive you crazy, don’t click that “READ MORE” or “CONTINUED” link!
Today, I slept for an extra hour, decided to call a friend about pushing our dog walking appointment up by 2 days, spent an hour looking for her business card I saw again for the first time in a year only last Saturday while cleaning up for the party, finally gave up and wrote an email, remembered that I needed to turn in that last time sheet and drop off my updated resume at Accountemps, took the bus downtown and rode an extra 2 blocks so I could stroll from the beginning of the Nicollet Mall Thursday Farmers’ market instead of squeezing through the middle, stopped to watch a “blues-man” and drop my change into his hat, saw 2 NRGinos I never said good-bye to, and had sandwiches with said friend, all by 1 pm! Well, at least I’M impressed.
I went home, prepared a picnic for 2 (me and Bob), did a little work, and my friend can walk at 6, not later, so no eclipse for her. She likes Lake Harriet, and we keep a brisk pace for one circuit, with a surprise meeting of my niece Cara, her husband Dane and their little pipsqueak Brigetta. Bob welcomed the short rest. Then back to house to prepare for the main event – a lunar eclipse.
I take the I-book, 2 egg salad sandwiches, a soda, some strawberries from downtown, and drive over to the north parking lot at Lake Calhoun and walk a hundred yards west and set up at the perfect park bench. This is “our” lake, just 5 blocks away from the store and house, so we are truly regulars, although, we rarely sit. We are always moving. But now we sit, and I write this as the world gets dark about me. My typing has improved immensely in less than an hour. The only cloud in the sky is just in the moon’s way, but it is thin and very temporary. Bob is so perfectly well behaved it is a marvel. He wanders slowly about like a tiny cow, dragging the retractable leash behind him so I can hear, never very far, sniffing and wandering, invisible to me and unsuspecting dogs and masters passing by in front of us at a rate of several per minute.
I plan on using a camcorder to record the most dramatic several minutes of the eclipse. I take a few video shots and try to catch some “progress”. We are joined by a gentleman I’ve seen dozens of times. I ask him his name. John is probably 70+. He pets Bob and makes conversation about my computer, and we talk about the eclipse. I give a Lucy Van Pelt-like lesson about the cloud that keeps moving up to obscure the moon. Oops, the cloud has long since moved on – that’s what an eclipse looks like, dummy. In my defense, it has been passing behind a young tree for quite a while, so my vision has been obscured. By the time totality is near, all twilight is gone, and the moon is dark, and a faint reddish color. I finally figure out how to set the camera on the bench to get a good picture, but my battery runs out about a minute too soon.
John’s been walking around Lake Calhoun for over 20 years. It takes him 3 hours. He excuses himself so he can finish in a reasonable time, and leaves me to return to the keys. The moon is very dark – a mere haze would make it invisible, but it is perfectly clear. It’s about 55 degrees and I packed long pants so I can last indefinitely, though me derrier is a might sore from the wooden slats. People may have noticed us before dusk, when I sat down here almost 2 hours ago. My computer has a TV-glow from the screen, but it has the “tangerine” trim that also emits a faint glow. What are they thinking now? “What is that up there on a bench – a strange orange sliver casting an eerie glow” on my hands and hooded face, surrounded by pitch blackness on a spooky, red-mooned night.
What a great day! Why aren’t they all like this? Why do we have to spend all our time cooped up in tall buildings, all hustle and bustle, but incongruously dull, surrounded by a murmur of almost whispers? Traffic, crime, stress, disease. I feel a measure of freedom, and yet I know it must be only temporary. And I live amongst the lucky ones on this planet. What a stupid world we created. If we’re so sapien, why did we do what we have done with the world we inherited? Why has it been years since I felt free to relax? How long will this freedom last?