Ending the Year

Well, as you can imagine, I haven’t updated this because I have absolutely no free time and I never get online. Oh wait, I actually have so much free time that I have no real excuse for not updating stuff and putting this post up. As before, I am currently in a hold status in Charleston at NPTU, Nuclear Power Training Unit because of a bunch of problems with our submarines. While technically I’m assigned to the MTS-635 (Moored Training Ship), I actually have been driving a bus since September when I first got assigned to NPTU, aka Prototype. It’s been really relaxing to do nothing, but it makes me wonder how much I’ve forgot — and how much it’ll suck to be leaving at 4:30 AM and getting home at 8 PM every night. I’ll be a zombie, I’m sure of it.

Posing for what was one of three hundred million photos for my mom. Our faces hurt from smiling!
Posing for what was one of three hundred million photos for my mom. Our faces hurt from smiling!

Anyway, the good news about being on hold is that I got to take a 13 day leave, my first in around a year. Thank God because even working a few hours a day still means that I’m stuck here in Charleston away from family. Carissa and I fly into Midland on November 30th, and the following morning we announced that we have secretly already got married. Yep, that’s it. I’m a married man. How strange is that?

To us, it just sounded logical and we knew we were right to be together. I didn’t see the point in prolonging an engagement because I have literally no clue when/if I will get out of Prototype, and how my leave schedule would be. This way we were able to get the paperwork done, get IDs updated, bank information changed, military insurance, and all that other fun stuff out of the way. Don’t worry though; we still plan on having a wedding/reception some time in the future, somewhere. The idea will be a small service in the reception area, and then have a lot of fun and party. The honeymoon is our big focus because we know only a few members of the family will ever get to be together for the wedding since her family is in Ohio and mine is, of course, in Texas. Perhaps we’ll meet in Savannah, where her mom currently lives. It is a beautiful city, so it’s possible. But, I’ll talk about this more in the future. Just writing it down because I’ve had to explain it about a hundred thousand times already!

Koreana, the best Korean food/any food that I know of. It's enough to send Dan into tears just thinking about it!
Koreana, the best Korean food/any food that I know of. It’s enough to send Dan into tears just thinking about it!

So, back to leave. We stayed in Midland for a few days, then went to San Antonio to see my relatives, Cathy and Dennis (and their big Huskies!). I’ve always loved San Antonio, and I’ve spent so much time there because of family and attending Trinity University that I knew all the cool places to go. We did the Riverwalk, ate at fancy restaurants, saw the Alamo, went to Market Square, and a few other places. Carissa definitely loved San Antonio the same way I did. The weather was in the upper 60’s the entire time, making it amazing for walking around and being devoid of tourists since it was December, after all. There’s still more to do in San Antonio, so next time I’ll make sure we get to see it all!

From there, we headed to Austin (and I gave Carissa her first kolache, the best pig in the blanket concept ever made). We were able to meet up with a couple of people, Charlotte from Wisconsin, who I studied with in Australia (random, I know), and see my buddy Scott, who I went to middle school and Trinity with. We toured the state capitol and went to some museums, but we stayed away from 6th Street, which is probably for the best (we had been getting really, really drunk in San Antonio!). After that, we drove into Dallas and saw my mamaw and a few other relatives, before meeting up with Logen and Ashley. It’s been forever since I’ve seen them and it was great to introduce them to Carissa. I miss those two so much because we’re all opinionated assholes.

Fat Ava, the laziest damn dog alive and my princess, who I love dearly. She has her own leather couch. Throne?
Fat Ava, the laziest damn dog alive and my princess, who I love dearly. She has her own leather couch. Throne?

After that, we were going to head to Houston but scheduling and finding a cheap enough hotel was an issue, so we had to miss out on seeing Faber, which sucked, but there will be plenty of opportunities in the future. We were dead tired by that point anyway. Not sure how I did it all the last time I was on leave! So, we headed back to Midland and hung out with the family. Carissa got to have her first barbeque, including some of the best brisket ever (thank you Howard!). And, we had time to see my niece, Genevieve, who is absolutely wild and in love with puppies. All in all, it was such a much needed break.

But, that was a few weeks ago and now we’re just back in Charleston, waiting for it to finally get cold. We don’t really go out much because we’re on a budget and Carissa is always working, but then again, it’s amazing to just get to hang out around the house with her. We both have an intense love for sleeping, which is where a large part of our free time goes. Thankfully, we balance it with exercise.

So other than that, Happy New Year! I hope it’s been as good of a year as it has been for me (minus six months of hell in Nuclear Power School). See you in 2013.

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.

Merry Christmas

Jimenez, Pendy, Stemps, and Me

I’ve been home on leave for a few days but I never find time to update this thing like I would have liked to. Since I’ve been here it’s been pretty non-stop trying to see everyone and balance family time as well. I’m just so glad to not be in Charleston.

I finally got to spend some good time with Lizz since we only briefly saw each other last time. As well, I got to meet up with Logen for a few minutes for the first time in such a long time.

I’ve also decided to spend the rest of leave traveling around Texas to see everyone else: Steph and Christian in San Antonio, Brennan in Austin, Emily in Houston, and family in Dallas. Probably a few other stops too. We’ll see!

White Christmas

Today it’s Christmas. I think I actually did good on the gift situation this year, so that made me feel good. I like to give books because I know I can match people’s personalities. Still haven’t done Christmas (we’re doing it later because my brother working and general family logistics). It’s actually a white Christmas, my first ever. Never seen so much snow come from the sky — I’m impressed, and a little grossed out. Cold weather is not my thing.  So happy I brought my peacoat.

Anyway, I am just trying to use my time wisely. So not looking forward to my return. I will be absent from Jan. 2nd until May 25, assuming I can survive that long.

The Last Day

This is how Texas does law enforcement

So tomorrow I leave for the Navy and I’ll be cut off from the world. I’m actually, strangely, looking forward to not having to deal with my phone or anything for a while. I’m sure I’ll miss it when I’m there. But, really, I’m so ready for this that I can’t really put it into words. I’ve wanted out of here for so long and now that it’s finally here, it hardly feels like tomorrow is the day.

Yesterday was Crude Fest, basically a gathering of people who want to get drunk in the desert. It’s pretty much the opposite of Rock the Desert, a concert where people go to listen to Christian rock. I’m sure though that the same people go to both. It was fun though, for a change, and it’s a good last hurrah. I got to see Emily, and hang out with Mike and everybody else. I can’t say it’s the most amazing event in the world, but at least it wasn’t me sitting at home watching something boring on TV. Lots of good BBQ at least!

Me and Emily at Crudefest

I’m not really clear how this happened, but Mike was talking to some couple and when I came up, the guy told me to kiss his girlfriend since I was leaving for the Navy. How random, awesome. So I made out with some hot girl in front of her boyfriend. Ha, it’s funny just thinking about it.

I got pretty drunk and then ended up hanging out with Lizz, but my brain was already shut off. Somewhere along the way I lost my driver’s license, so thank God I have a passport.

Today will be kind of boring though. Just hang out at home, let my body recover (this headache is making typing this pretty difficult). My brother is coming over to get my TV today, and I’m putting my car in storage.

Well, see you everybody! Time to go fight the terrorists!

Big Bend

The Jeep. Badass.

I had a really great time at Big Bend. It’s the kind of place where you can get away from everything. And when everything is Midland, it’s a pretty enjoyable event. My parents had bought a 2001 Jeep in December, but it’s been too cold to really go out and do anything (or other things pop up), so it’s taken this long to test it out. I’m glad I got to do it before I leave though. I stayed in a little town called Lajitas, overlooking the river and Mexico. Very quiet and peaceful, minus the roosters crowing every morning.

The waterfall in a canyon in Big Bend

Big Bend itself is pretty incredible though. It’s one of those places where pictures don’t do justice so putting them online is kind of like a blind person describing Taylor Swift — it just can’t compare to the real thing. (One day, she will be mine.) There were two main parts to the trip, one was the little bit of hiking I did and the other was the driving. The hiking itself seemed like a lot of fun but I really wasn’t set up for anything tough, so I only did the small stuff. One thing I managed to find was a waterfall in the canyon, which is so remarkable since the rest of the area is a desert. But here was green and full of life; lots of ugly mule deer around too. As well, there were some old Indian paintings on the side of the rocks, some of which nearly perfectly preserved after hundreds of years.

Me trying not to get myself killed

The other experience was the driving, which is so completely exhausting. It’s hard to describe the roads out there, but imagine being on the side of a mountain on a road that is actually just a path of loose rocks. For someone who hasn’t really driven a standard since ’05 (and that was a Porsche, not a Jeep), it’s a pretty challenging endeavor. I finally figured out more of the Jeep’s capabilities and was able to get more comfortable towards the end, but the process of learning in that kind of condition was a fun challenge. Of course, I am still here so I made it safely. By the time I was done driving, I was ready to have a beer and call it a night.

The view from Lajitas

I was only out there a couple of days, but it was a really good break. Everything is so calm and peaceful. It’s just you and nothing else. And the view is pretty much awesome at all times. I definitely will be back, and next time with the right hiking gear.

Well, besides Big Bend, my life has been pretty uneventful. I quit my job on the 15th of this month to give myself time to get into Navy shape, which isn’t to say I’m not already. But I figured I should just step it up and go all out. Also, when you have nothing to do all day, the gym becomes the reason to get up. Well, and watching my favorite 80’s movies, eating fruit snacks, and drinking diet Mountain Dews. Yeah, I can be lazy too! Just a few more weeks and I’m out and gone for a while. I’m not taking anything with me, so if you want to get in touch, you’ll have to shoot me a message on Facebook so when I finally get to a computer I can check it. I’m actually looking forward for to the break from technology for a bit. I guess you could send me letters but that just feels archaic.

I'm going to miss you blowing dust, 100 degree weather, yellow jackets, rotten egg smell, posinous gas, etc.

Anyway, I’m planning one more possible trip. Unfortunately flying is out of the question — Southwest just raised its rates so much that driving (at least across Texas) is more feasible. Oh well, I’m used to a lot of driving. Maybe I’ll hit up Austin or San Antonio, or if I’m inclined to 9 hours of driving, Houston. But then maybe I won’t do anything and just focus on beasting at the gym. We shall see.

I’ll probably make one more post before I go. It’ll read “Oh my God, what have I got myself into this time”. Sike, Charleston is going to be kick ass.

Vegas

Who needs to go to NYC when you can come here and skip all the Yankees?

So, I went to Vegas. It’s always been a goal of mine. The city of sin has such a build up that I was interested in seeing it in person and having my own adventures. Movies like “Casino” and “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” have hyped it up to be some crazy drug filled nightmare trip with seedy crime and crazy adventures. (And that sounds pretty awesome in contrast to Midland.) My trip was actually a lot more tame in comparison. I spent most of my time just wandering around the casino floor at the Luxor and losing my money slowly on slot machines, roulette, and craps — mainly craps. I did manage to see a few things, and eat at some of the famous buffets (they’re okay), but most of what I can remember was throwing dice and going up 20, then down 20, then up 20, then down 30 — rinse and repeat.

Yeah, I'm a winner, what can I say?

It was pretty enjoyable for the sheer experience, but I didn’t win big like I had hoped. Leaving, I felt like it was more of a loss than it really was. I only ended up blowing a little over a week’s pay, which is nothing important considering I do nothing except pay my loans and buy things to pass the time. Considering how expensive it could have been, I feel pretty good about it. But, I wish I would have been smart enough to cash out. (I actually cashed out and then immediately put it back on the craps table in order to double it. Yeah, that worked out well.)

This is a good dam photo.

It was good to see the guys again, Christian, Rob, and Alex. We’ve had some good nights drinking at Crabby Jacks, though I felt like everything was so expensive in Vegas we couldn’t rage as hard as we would have liked. There were things to do and experience, but they were were all cost prohibitive and we never really went with a plan. I’m thankful, however, we got to stop by the Hoover Dam, which is pretty impressive by any standards. It was the highlight of the trip for me, and it made the ridiculous drive out of Vegas a little more enjoyable.

Besides all of that fun stuff, life in Midland has been pretty standard. Just a lot of work, and lately a lot of post hole digging. I’m pretty sure that I never want to dig another hole again in my life, but I still have more to do. I try to be positive and think it’s exercise. Last week was pretty much a bust in general though — the snow moved in and it just never stopped for about three days. I couldn’t get anything done and when I tried all I did was go numb no matter how many layers I put on. I’m not sure how people say they like the snow. Really? Do they like the thought of it, or do they like the snow? Because it sucks. It makes everything difficult. Maybe you just get used to it over time. But I was happy with three days being all of it. (Though, apparently, it’ll be moving in again on Wednesday. Great.)

Yeah. F that.

And finally, I decided to buy a new TV. My old TV was pretty good and lasted me through college, but I just felt compelled to get a new one. I had been pricing them for several months and reading all the news and reviews. Eventually I just build it up to the point where I just have to buy it to stop from going insane. It’s a war of attrition when it comes to making big purchases. Either way, it’s a new Vizio 55” 3D and all that. Hard to explain a TV though. It’s good, I’ll leave it at that. Perhaps this is a stupid decision since the Navy will be shipping me off soon, but it will help me bide my time and it’s not like a good TV like this will look bad. Overkill probably, and that’s okay. What else am I doing?

This weekend, I’ll have Vegas, the TV, student loans (for this month), and other miscellaneous expenses paid off, so I’ll be booking a flight to Houston to see Emily Faber, one of my favorite Trinity people. Her adventures in law school sound impressive to say the least; can’t wait to see how exciting the town really is for myself. Should be fun! That, and I need to hurry up and plan out South by Southwest, but I haven’t figured out who all will be in town. Need to get Sam back to Texas to do a redo of Spring Break last year. Probably the best 4 days of stupid drunken adventures ever.

Oh, and I’m glad the Packers won the Super Bowl. Ben Rapistberger didn’t need another get out of rape free ring.

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.