Hawaii Life

Here I am thoroughly drunk at sub ball in downtown Honolulu
Here I am thoroughly drunk at sub ball in downtown Honolulu

Well, after my last downer of a post, I stopped posting for a while out of anger, being out to sea, and working my ass off. As it turns out, submarine life is pretty hard, but it seems doable (some days more than others). I’ve made good progress on all of my qualifications, getting phone talker, primary valve operator, and engineering laboratory technician finished ahead of schedule. I’m just a few more days away from standing shutdown roving watch and engine room lower level, which are most of the key qualifications I’ll need to be a decent ELT. It’s hard to think that I’ve been on board since January — most of the people on-board hardly even know I’ve been around so long (I was recently told they thought I had just got on last month!). I pretty much keep to myself and my division, except when I need to interact with other divisions for maintenance, training, or check outs.

My division is full of people I enjoy that are knowledgeable and helpful, and they provide good backup when I make a mistake — which is a pretty common for a new ELT. Most of what I’ve been doing recently is trying to enjoy my weekends and free time after work; deployment is looming closer and closer. I’m sort of looking forward to the idea of going to sea and having a deployment under my belt, but also dreading leaving Carissa. If I was single, I would be so much happier at sea because I wouldn’t have my wife at home alone to worry about. It really has been tough trying to balance work and home life.

My dog plays hard...
My dog plays hard…

Since I last updated, Molly, our new puppy, has gotten much bigger and slightly smarter. We also have a cat, named Cat, which Molly absolutely dominates. I feel like they are my children and it will actually be hard to leave them behind as well. I’ll have to have Carissa send me dog and cat updates when I am able to actually get e-mails. I’ve done a few underways, which definitely makes leaving easier, but it will never be fun to leave my family for half a year (or more).

... And sleeps even harder!
… And sleeps even harder!

In other news, I’m still a third class petty officer, even after taking the test six times for advancement. Instead, a guy who just got to the boat got it. Amazingly, the other new person on my boat is Pendergrass, a guy I went to boot camp, A-school, Power School, Prototype, and almost ELT school with. It’s pretty amazing that we ended up on the same boat after 3 years of being together through the pipeline.

Right now, I consider this the calm before the storm. I’m more focused on getting things done at home and relaxing than hard charging at work. I have so much more time to do that when we leave. By the time I come home, I certainly hope everything is just as I left it (except my bank account, which I hope to be full of money!).

Qualified.

Cleaning guns and drinking beer. Pretty good stress reliefs if I say so myself.
Cleaning guns and drinking beer. Pretty good stress reliefs if I say so myself.

Well, it finally happened. After over two years of time spent in the pipeline, today I’m officially a qualified mechanical nuclear operator. This means I’m officially done with the training pipeline (well, almost), and I’m no longer the lowest on the nuclear Navy totem pole. In order to qualify, I had to pass a two hour final oral board with a Nuclear Reactors civilian and a senior enlisted mechanic. They asked so many things, things that even went back to A School, which was about two years ago. Thankfully, I was able to fumble my way through and now I’m done. The relief I’m feeling is so amazing.

Sadly, my break isn’t going to last because I’ve been selected for ELT, or Engineering Laboratory Technician. Basically, an ELT is an upgraded mechanical operator who has had lab and chemistry training, as well as on the boat training for different radiological and chemical concerns. It’s generally said to be pretty good job that most mechanics (at least at some times) wish they could be doing. I’ll still always be a mechanic, but this will be my primary duty for the rest of my time in the Navy.

It’s kind of hard to explain to my friends and family what exactly I did to get here, or what I’ll be doing, or where I’m going. Unless you’ve been in, most of this is probably just a words that have some meaning — but without some connection behind them. I guess you’d have to read all two years of my Navy-related posts and try to piece it together. It seems like a distant dream and it’s still weird to think I’m no longer just an unqualified student. That said, I’m about to get another set of qualifications to deal with so I’ll still be a student for a little while longer.

After that, I have two real options. One is that I can become a junior staff instructor and remain in Charleston, or the other is that I can go to the fleet and be an ELT on a submarine or a carrier, wherever the Navy decides to send me. I’ve listed Guam, Hawaii, Kings Bay GA, and San Diego as my top selection, but who knows what will actually happen to me. Right now, I’d much rather just go to the fleet, get qualified in the fleet, and start my career. I like Charleston, but I’m ready for the real experience.

Our new cat Peepers. Shes really nice when she's asleep.
Our new cat Peepers. Shes really nice when she’s asleep.

Anyway, weirdly, my birthday is once again coming up and hopefully I may actually have a light work load to celebrate it. It’s been weird not having any real free time for the last 7 or so months, and I’m dying for a little leave. But, after I finish ELT school, I’ll get 30 days of transfer leave, which I can’t wait to experience. In what little free time I’ve had, I’ve been going to the gun range and pondering some new purchases. But, nothing so far.

Carissa begged me to adopt a baby cat and so now we have a cat. I’m not the biggest fan of cats, and this cat is nothing but trouble. Biting, scratching, freaking out around people. Soon I feel like it’ll be an outside cat. As soon as we have the chance, we’re getting a dog of my choosing.

Until then, we’ll see how it goes.

Get Out of My Gym

Ah, West Texas. Only here would you find this on the side of the road in the middle of nowhere. What's funnier, the coyote or the fact that someone actually did this?

Well, it’s the new year — 2011, one year away from our inevitable destruction. If John Cusack survives the 2012 apocalypse, it’s still a complete loss in my eyes. So, I have been neglecting this for a while. It’s not really out of a lack of interest. I think about updating this daily but by the time I get home I usually want to work out, shower, and go to bed. Yes, my life is the pinnacle of excitement.

Anyway, I’ve always seen those commercials on TV about joining a gym after New Year’s and I didn’t realize that people actually flock to the gym like that. Today it was actually impossible to do anything. Every machine, even the old busted bikes with the giant wheels, were being used. I can’t believe how many people were there. Definitely over 100 (whereas before there were maybe 10). What’s sad is that people have to have this trigger to get to the gym. If you want to work out, just go to the gym. I ended up starting about this time last year though it was because I wanted to rather than what everyone always does. Anyway, the whole concept just seems weird. I’m wondering how long it will take for them to fizzle out. The lady behind the desk says March and it’ll be completely back to normal. Can’t come soon enough.

So besides the gym frustrations, I spent my New Year in Dallas for the Chastain family reunion. Good times, good food. I wish we had more time to go explore Dallas a little, but we’re usually in and out pretty quick. I managed to get some sort of awful sinus infection (girls dig it), and missed most of work last week. I really hate just sitting around all day doing nothing, especially for the better part of a week. I ended up just playing video games (c’mon like I would read a book?). I felt pretty awful. I’m not sure how Sam could sit around and play Battlefield from 8 AM to 8 PM at my apartment… I guess that’s considered a skill.

Pretty nice ride. Can't wait to take it off some sick jumps. (You got like 4 feet of air that time.)

One of the cooler things to happen is that my dad sold his motorcycle and bought a pretty sick Jeep. I think it’s a lot more practical than a motorcycle and I can’t wait to beast mode it at Big Bend later this year. Hopefully when it’s warmer. This cold weather stuff is for chumps.

And finally, the Navy got back to me. My commission was denied for all three fields, meaning I’ll go back to being enlisted and doing the nuclear field. Not all bad, but I can’t help feel like there was something more I could have done. Also it means I’ll be here until May. Trying to hold down the fort until then.

So in the spirit of resolutions, I was thinking about making one to go with the fad, but I just came up with a list of stuff I want to do before I die, unless I die first. And here it is:

  • Sky dive. This is my biggest fear in the entire world. It’s not natural to jump out of a perfectly good plane. Also if the chute doesn’t open you’ll have to think about how much you shouldn’t have jumped out of that plane. But, I want to do it so I can say I did it.
  • Get in a shark cage with pissed off sharks. One of our relatives works in Galveston for a nonprofit dealing with ocean life, so I will have to get her advice. I’ll probably have to do it in Mexico to make it cheap. I feel like either way, I’ll be charged an arm and a leg, one more literal than the other.
  • Run a marathon. This sounds so ridiculously impossible. By the time I hit 8 miles I’m nearly dead. How do people do that? It’s insane. It will kill me. Might as well do it.
  • Get back to Australia. Man, I love that place. I have to go back and relive some of the best experiences of my entire life. In general, I just want to travel. Maybe that’s why the Navy was so appealing?
  • This is the poster for a documentary on why we shouldn't like spiders.

    Hold a tarantula. This is right up there with skydiving. They are hell spawn abominations. I hate spiders, but I really hate the massive tarantulas. I get sick to my stomach just thinking about them. So, I better man up and hold one.

  • Have a stranger recognize me for something I’ve done. And, hopefully that’s a good something. I don’t want to be a star, but it would be pretty awesome if I was known for something awesome — like that guy who went to Mexico and jumped into a shark cage and ended up losing an appendage much to the delight of YouTube.
  • Pay off all my debt. I’m actually closer to this goal than I have been in years. I finally got my credit card completely paid off — the first time since I turned 18. At this point, I’ll try not to use it again. Now all I have are my student loans. Awesome.
  • Give more. I really would like to give more. Right now, it’s hard to give much of anything since I’m pretty constrained with the aforementioned student loans. But I feel like it’s a good thing in general to get in the practice of giving. Maybe not money at this moment, but time. I do have time off occasionally and I really should try to do something productive with it instead of sit in front of YouTube wasting my life.

 

Mice, and Navy Updates

Alice, the official mascot of some really fun times times in sophomore year of college.

I’m not really a big fan of mice, except when they’re being eaten by snakes (cool!) or in my favorite childhood cartoon, Tom and Jerry. Lately there have been a few crafty mice in the house (winter is coming and they obviously want the warmth and any crumbs we might drop). A few nights ago they woke me up. I swear that one was on my bed and crawling around me and that’s how I woke up the first time, but the second time they had knocked my stuffed rattlesnake (yes, I have a stuffed rattlesnake, really) on to the ground and started going for the neck. I think this is some kind of amazing irony that the mice are eating the snake, so I was actually more impressed than angry. But still, I don’t like mice waking me up. So the next morning I got a few different types of traps and set them out. Amazingly, they have defeated every single trap I’ve set. I have the old fashioned lethal ones and the sticky pads ones. They tripped the old fashioned one and stole the cheese, and the sticky one caught one in the act but he dragged it under something¬† and was able to get free. Lucky guys. They haven’t been back since, so I hope they learned their lesson.

Two major purchases since coming home: my 1911 and my 380. In Texas, gun is spelt fun.

Anyway, I was re-reading my last post and I pretty much sounded like the most emo, upset kid around around. I think things have been building up and it hit me pretty hard, so I decided to vent a little online. I feel like that’s a good way to do it instead of killing a drifter, as my brother often says. But, for you guys reading it, and myself, I just felt like it wasn’t accurate. I don’t hate life and I do have a lot of hope for the future. I just wish my future would start now instead of later. I guess my fear is that I will have essentially wasted an entire year of my life doing nothing. That’s kind of a daunting thing to think about it as a complete waste, and it’s not really. I am paying off my credit cards and eventually my loans. I have bought a few things for myself to keep me entertained. And I’m keeping to a really intense exercise plan. I had a good session tonight so that’s partly why I’m in a good mood.

Otherwise, the Navy finally got back to me on Monday. My Lt. informed me that two of my three applications for a commission were rejected, though they don’t give particular reasons. For most of the week I kind of felt like a massive failure as a human being. I think it’s my fault for thinking I would get something I knew was hard/impossible to get right off the bat, but I’m not the kind of person to not take on a challenge. I admit, I do feel a little helpless. There is something more I could have done to help me — I’m sure — but I have no idea what. That’s part of it though. I still have the chance to become a supply officer, and that’s not a bad gig at all. I actually really like logistics and I’ve already mentioned before I’d be comfortable with it. I don’t consider it settling for less. The supply board is December 16th, so pretty soon, but with the holidays around, I honestly expect it’ll be after the first of the year before I know. In the mean time, I’ve been readying for my alternative position that I already have in the Navy, enlisted (E3) Nuclear. This is one of the better programs in the Navy — I have nothing against it.In fact, it’s really not anything bad at all. The benefits are pretty legitimate in the long run.

The nuclear field isn't all that bad; Homer is my objective.

I guess my concern is that I would be, essentially, at the point where I would have been if I had never went to college (with some perks, I admit). I’m going to make this a career, so whatever happens happens — but I honestly feel like I am ready for the increased responsibility right now. Also, weirdly, I want to prove myself in OCS (Officer Candidate School) I’ve been training my body for a long time and I really want to see if I can do it. Like I said, I enjoy challenge. You can quote me now: I will reach my goals. They just might end up taking more time than I had originally intended. But, all I have is time right now.

26 September 2009

My humble abode

I’m back! Actually, I never left or intended to abandon this web log, but the end of Australia and the start of summer followed by moving into my own place and going to school has left me pretty distracted. All of my courses are intense and I’m stuck working on papers and projects pretty much all throughout the week, even the weekend.

Not much else in my life is particularly new or interesting, however. I have my eyes on a girl, not that I have time for a relationship, so we’ll see if anything happens. I’ve been messing around a little with a few girls but most of them are freaks I want to avoid at all costs. Oh well. Been hitting the bars (Bays and Limelight) here and there, and I’ve appreciated not paying for booze at frat parties again.

In other news, that’s about it. I managed to hit a deer with my car, which was scary, but the damage is all fixed now. I pretty much just get up and go to school and come home. Exciting stuff right there.

13 October 2005

Oh, I get it -- the streets ARE the drainage systems.

They really need to add drainage systems to Midland. It’s a tad annoying being unable to drive to work or school because the water stalls my car out.

I can’t wait for tomorrow so I can have a quiet weekend alone. Although every weekend is generally spent quietly and alone, I’m especially waiting for it this weekend. Which makes me believe that I’m really not a people person at all. They bug me, even the ones I like, I usually get sick of with only a few exceptions.

And we put Bailey to sleep on the 6th. Apparently, she had a brain tumor the size of a grapefruit or some other moderately large fruit. I miss her, just because she was a part of my life.

5 October 2005

This was definitely my favorite movie as a kid.

Nothing is really new and that explains the lack of updates. ViaMedia has moved office building recently to some building off of Big Spring farther downtown. The only other thing is Bailey, our doberman. Since I was three years old, I’ve known this dog; it’s sad to think that the same little dog that used to look like a hot dog with legs and the young puppy that used to play tug-of-war with me is about to die. She had a stroke tonight — the second that we know of. I don’t think that she will last much longer, but it’s probably better that way. Time is almost abstract when I think about our life. I feel regret for not paying her more attention over the years because she’s always been a great dog. Think of the lab from Homeward Bound where the kid (Michael, I think) is growing up and not as devoted to the dog. But reality strikes and she is just a dog after all and I suppose it’s natural. Though Bailey is a part of my family and she is one of the few things that I think of with great fondness.

In other news, my driver-side car door will not open from the outside, which is moderately annoying. Shela is nearing her second anniversary with me; November 16th — I can still remember the day we met. We’ve had our ups and downs, but Shela has been a beautiful extension of my life. I really hope that Shela will be mine forever, but I know that relationships like this aren’t meant to last.