The Family Vacation

I really look great after a good ol' fashion surgery
I really look great after a good ol’ fashion surgery

Well, I left the last post kind of dramatic about me possibly dying after my surgery… and then never updated it. Whoops. As you can tell, I’m still alive and kicking. My surgery was not much fun to have and the recovery has been slow and frustrating. I still can’t accomplish a lot of basic tasks and it’s starting to drive me insane. As I mentioned, the “good deal” getting off of the boat at work is only good on paper — I miss being me and I’d trade it all to just be normal again. I can’t run right now because the motion hurts too much, and I can’t do push-ups either. I bought an exercise bike to maintain some sort of fitness, but I wish I could just go for a jog like a regular person.

This open air helicopter was one of the coolest things I've ever done.
This open air helicopter was one of the coolest things I’ve ever done.

That said, getting every weekend off is pretty nice. I won’t complain too much about that part of the deal. It’s much better than three or four section duty, where I spend every third or forth day at work for at least 24 hours. But because of this, my future remains uncertain. It’s possible I may need even more surgery, which would definitely end my career sooner than I expected. But, I’ve been working my ass of with physical therapy so I can get back to being myself.

Jameson and Molly. Jameson was very sleepy.
Jameson and Molly. Jameson was very sleepy.

In the mean time, my family came out for a visit, and that was really, really nice. Amazingly, it’s been about two years since I’ve seen them last. It doesn’t feel that long because deployment and time out to sea blurs time like stepping in some black hole for months on end. I have a hard time even remembering it straight now.

I was happy to show them all of my favorite places to eat, and do all the things possible. Because we’ve already seen most of it, we knew where to go and where not to go, which made everything much better. I really hope they had an unforgettable trip out here.

Back in Texas

Same tree, new year.
Same tree, new year.

Well, it’s been a long time (nearly a year) since I was home, but it feels good to be back. I can’t say much is new with us besides trying to get everything figured out for Hawaii. It felt like a mountain of paperwork, chasing people around base for signatures, and a lot of close calls. Originally they had told me I wouldn’t be out for another month or two pending order changes, but I was able to get everything worked out.

So far we’ve been to Dallas for a wedding shower. It was nice to see my grandma and the rest of the family, and we took home a decent amount of cash. It’s kind of up in the air as to when we will actually get to go back to Texas after this — more than likely, people will come to visit us. It is Hawaii, after all. Still on our to-do list is San Antonio and Big Bend National Park. Both of those places are some of my favorite in Texas, so I’m excited to head back that way one last time before we go.

Besides that, all I’m doing is growing a beard. Kind of neat to have facial hair for the first time in nearly three years. But soon enough, we’ll be in Hawaii. And we both can’t wait for that.

Back to Work

Emily and I at a club in Houston. I absolutely miss the stupid fun nights we used to have!

Well, leave was fun. I pretty much had a complete blast, but now it’s been a couple of weeks and I’m right back in the thick of it until May. May cannot come soon enough. Every day I wake up and wonder “What am I doing?” At night, I actually hate going to sleep because the thought of tomorrow sounds so awful and I want to avoid it at all costs. I have progressed to a point in between apathy and just existing.  Now, I know that might sound like a desperate sign of giving up, but I mainly am just trying to coast through to the end of this. Right now, if I failed out of the program and was re-rated, I would be happy. I would, however, be more happy if I made officer. Still working on that process, but as before the Navy, it’s a complicated one.

That said, I’ve been doing pretty overall. My grades are okay and I’m still making enough effort to get by, even if I don’t really care about what I’m learning right now. I really did need that leave to give me a break from this place, and it was everything I could have imagined. I got to see Emily, Lizz, and Logen in Midland; Stephanie, Christian, Jesse, Rob, and my aunt and uncle Cathy and Dennis in San Antonio; Kayla, Brennan, and Andi in Austin; Emily, Jason, Eleina, and Dee Dee in Houston; my relatives and my grandma in Dallas. I almost saw my middle school friend Pierce in Houston as well, but his girlfriend got bit by a rabid animal. That’ll happen. I even almost made it to a New Years Eve party to see Tully and the gang, but I missed that. Heard he broke his arm being hammered. Ouch.

HIGHWAY TO THE DANGER ZONE.

This weekend has been a needed relief too. I don’t know how I will string together my sanity to get through Power School, but I’d like to personally thank MLK for having a dream, so that I could sleep in and have a dream myself. I managed to just hang out and have a good time this weekend, not working too much, and seeing a little of the Charleston sights with (my boy) Kapoi. We hit up the USS Yorktown, which I have been wanting to do for a while. Pretty badass. We had planned to see Ft. Sumter but it was way too cold to deal with that ferry ride.

Today was just sleeping in and work, but tomorrow is another fun exam over things I don’t care about. About one or two exams a week every week until I get out of here. The only good thing is that I will have a good amount of padding points wise to scrape by. I already threw the honorman out of the window, so I’ll be shooting for passing. (I’m not just good, I’m good enough.)

I’ll try to keep updating this, but man, I really don’t do anything. I feel like the weeks blur by and it’s all a game about passing time. When you sleep as little as I do now, you’re never really awake and never really asleep.

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.

 

December

Our Christmas tree, and I didn’t even have to help put it together

December for me usually just means it’s freezing cold and I’m in Midland for the holidays. Now that I’m living here for who knows how long until the Navy lets me figure out my future, I have just kind of faded into this month — there aren’t any finals or big parties to announce it at school, and now this is my life. I try not to hate on Midland too much (oh wait, no I don’t), but last Thursday I think everything finally got to me. I was having one of those days where you just think “how much more of this can I take”, and it was compounded by the frustrations of the preceding days. As well, not knowing what is going on in my life is really hard when I can barely afford my student loans, my job was supposed to be temporary, and I have to be here just in a holding pattern until I find out.

I’m a gangster, or an oil field worker sick of dust.

So, on this Thursday I managed to get H2S gassed pretty good and lost my breakfast from the stuff (it makes me really sick to my stomach, for some reason; my dad shrugged this off like I was just weak, but whatever). And then the next unit I went to had yellow jackets inside the panel, meaning as soon as I opened it they got completely pissed. I tried to go back to it to close it, but they were too angry, leading me to have to wrap up in every piece of winter clothes I could find to try to protect myself to go in for a quick run and get my ladder back and get the unit sealed up. I managed to do it, though I did get stung and was covered in them when I was scrambling to get into my truck. Just not a fan of these things. So they next unit I go to — same deal, full of yellow jackets. And this is the day that I ran out of wasp spray while I was spraying them. Not a very good situation to be in, trust me. Basically, the whole day turned out to be a complete bust and I was driving home just thinking about how I didn’t want to go home, but I didn’t want to be at work, but I had to do both things in one day.

The most exciting thing of the week: I got lost in the field and found the remains of Hobbs AFB, complete with old plane parts and grown up runways.

Somehow the day ended and things were better the next day. The wind had died down so I didn’t need a bandanna to keep from choking on the dust, and it was strangely something like 85 degrees. Some December this is turning out to be. I know because I said this we’ll have record cold temperatures now. I even spent some time at my brother’s and played some video games, which was nice for a change. Yes, this is about as close to going out as I get lately.

I’m excited for people I like coming into town for a few days. Change things up and refresh my sanity. I’m also hopeful that this coming week I will find out what the Navy will do with me so I can know for sure where I’m going, when I’m going, and what I’m doing. I need something to look forward to, and these are the two things that keep me going. I also need some structure that isn’t this structure. That is my hope on the horizon.

This Town or This Weather

This field is a good summary of my life right now.

I’m not sure which it is, to be honest. I’ve been feeling sick, kind of foggy for the last few days (weeks?) and it’s just not going away. I think partly because I do the same thing day in and day out and that it’s actually a pretty tiring routine, but I think it’s also something to do with the weather, random illness, sorcery, and living in Midland. All of this combined has left me at a blank and sometimes I feel like this blog is the only connection I have to those random stories and ideas that are in my head. I contemplated doing movie reviews of all the movies I watch — I watch a lot of them, let that be known. But, in the end, I scrapped my review of Dead Snow (it’s a movie about Nazi zombies, so basically it’s the best movie created) and wondered what the hell is this blog for? Who is reading it? Originally this way to post my day-to-day crap, but right now I’m not really emo or really happy or anything. It’s just been uneventful.

If anything, this is a good stress relief and so I think I’ll try to post my random daily thoughts even though they are just kind of average events. Maybe when I look back on this in five years I’ll have some sort of emotion towards it one way or another.

Thanksgiving is coming up and my mom is worrying about the logistics of it. I’m just thankful we don’t have turkey like everyone else. We’re doing steaks, which is the Texas way of saying we’re awesome. Usually at this time I’m at Trinity hating myself over midterms, but right now I just get to go to New Mexico and do oil field stuff. It’s a lot less stressful, though I find there are advantages to being in a warm dorm room complaining to the guys about schoolwork when you’re outside in the blowing dust and the cold. Makes you get quick at getting things done though. Today I ate some leftover Chinese food that I warmed up on my dash. I think I’m starting to get into this oil field gig, which may be good or bad, depending on how you look at it.

12 year olds scream that I suck. And I do. But at least I'm not 12, you little shits.

I haven’t been doing much new besides work. I’ve played some more Call of Duty Black Ops, which is the most infuriating game that makes me want to go strangle the 12 year old players who apparently do nothing except play video games all day long. I’ve already broken a controller. I picked up the new Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood and the new Need for Speed Hot Pursuit (Gamestop must really love the thousands of dollars I’ve pumped into them over the years). But, I’m writing this instead of playing them. Like I said, I have a video game collecting problem, not a video game playing problem. I’ll get around to them this weekend. But, at the same time, I really need to spend more time at the gym. I’ve been getting home late (or getting home early and taking naps) and that’s cut into my daily gym time. The results are pretty good still and everyone has been complimenting me on my progress, but I guess I want more. I only ran 5 miles and biked 10 miles, which is decisively less than I want to. I know that sounds like a lot, but I need to do more. There’s no goal really, I just want to push myself. I know that when I ship out I will be unprepared regardless of what I do, but having an edge physically will be helpful. Or it can’t hurt.

So, there you go. That’s me for right now.

Life in Midland

Thanks a lot, jerks.

Shortly after joining the Navy, I was told that I would have to wait until March (eventually until May) to ship and so I was faced with a unique situation: I couldn’t get a long term job, but I needed money to pay off all my college lifestyle credit card debt (both living in Australia and just going out with Sam, Christian, and the rest of the guys so often my senior year). As well, I saw the impending, looming, daunting shadow of my debt from going to school at Trinity University. I shelled out so much money to go there, it’s kind of ridiculous. In the end, however, they sent me a generous refund check… of 1 dollar. Seriously, just rub it in you jerks. Every time I get a letter in the mail asking alumni for financial contributions I curse out loud and rip the letter up. I took a class called Underwriting and Development, so I know that Trinity has staff that knows not to make requests in such a jackass way.

Either way, as a result of all this debt and the fact that my apartment contract was coming for an end, I was forced to consolidate and do something I vowed never to do again: return to Midland and get a job until I leave. At the time, I was looking at March as the latest, though I have no idea what it might be at this point. The advantage of going home was purely monetary in nature because I hate Midland, I hate the people in Midland, I didn’t know anyone there, and living back at home can be frustrating. That, and the issue is coupled with a lot of tension between them right as I was getting back, meaning I was thrust into arguments that I had thought I escaped from in 2006 when I left for San Antonio.

Probably the cutest baby I’ve ever seen

Thankfully, I’m not completely alone because I do have my brother and his new niece to visit, and that’s always a relief since we grew up with the same frustrations as a kid so I can have someone to share with. And, for the first month or two, I met a girl who I really thought I clicked with, but I must have done something or she found my character to be unsavory, because she stopped calling and texting in that way that people do when they’re too embarrassed to say “I don’t like you. Stop talking to me.” If I had to guess, it’s because I’m not particularly Christian. Church hasn’t made a lot of sense to me and the morals imposed there seem superficial and not applicable to modern society. Then again, Midland is stuck in 1965 when it comes to things like that.

Welcome to Nowhere, Texas

But, being completely alone has its perks. First, I was able to get a job with a company called Two Rivers Pipeline Construction that has me driving all over West Texas and New Mexico. It’s time away from the house, from the family, and gets my mind off the looming uncertainties of the future. Second, I spend most of my time at the gym, generally for the same reasons as work. I don’t like being at home, and I really wish I had my own place, but I have too much debt to pay off and a who-knows-when ship date that have made it impractical to do much else.

So between work and working out, the only thing I’ve done is play a few video games. Few being the key word because I really don’t have the patience for them like I used to. I want to play 15 minutes at a time and I dislike playing online because everyone is an idiot. The majority of my gaming time I spend playing Xbox 360 games with my brother, which is always a good stress relief.