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.

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Paying with Pennies

A bunch of coins. Yeah, I wasn't very creative with this caption.

I was a real asshole in high school. I think this was probably because I didn’t have a ton of friends and I didn’t fit in entirely well. It wasn’t that I wasn’t liked, but rather I just had a distinctive sense of humor and I really thought my accomplishments in life up to that point set me apart from everyone else in high school. In retrospect, they did, and my humor was well appreciated by those who could understand it, such as the crowd in college. I know that’s kind of arrogant and insulting to the people that went to Lee High School from 2003-2006, and yeah, well, it is. If you’re reading this now and thinking that I’m wrong, maybe I’m still just an asshole.

Regardless, the state of me being an asshole isn’t the point of this post, but rather I wanted to tell a story about what Mikey and I did sometime during one of our high school lunch breaks. I think that hanging out with Mikey, someone who felt just like I did — a very cynical, sarcastic guy, in other words — really made us feed off each other to do stupid things that stupid kids are likely to do. One such great idea was paying for lunch with of a fistful of coins. I’m not sure who came up with this genius idea, but I’m glad we did because I look back on it and still laugh, even though I know it makes me a bad person for doing so. But, this was probably nearing on eight years ago (wait, am I really getting that old? Damn!) so I feel like I’m justified in saying I’m not the same person anymore, and neither is Mikey. We’re still cynical, sarcastic jerks, but in a more endearing way, I assume.

This place is pretty good. But I don't get how it is so expensive.

So, what we ended up doing was going to the bank and getting a couple rolls of nickles and pennies and then mixing them up in a big plastic bag, and then heading to Sonic, America’s  Drive-In (apparently), and ordering a few things to eat.

When the girl came out to hand us our food, we quickly took it and we both were already trying our best to stop the laughs from just knowing what we were about to do. Then, I pulled out the bag of coins, scooped up a huge handful of them and then poured it in her hands. The girl didn’t know how to react to this and just stood there trying to cup the overflowing mountain of coins while they showered down to the pavement making so much noise that everyone at the drive-in was probably staring directly at her. When this finished, I managed to stammer out one sentence while Mikey was looking the other way and crying laughing:

“You might want to count that.”

So, the poor girl sat there, collected all the spilled coins, and then counted it all out for somewhere around five minutes. After all this, she finally had the right amount of change to give back to us. Then I told her:

“Oh, you can keep the change.”

I Googled "Heaven" and I got this back. If Heaven looks like a Lisa Frank binder, maybe I don't want in.

I’m thinking right there, at that moment, God was looking down from Heaven with a big red Sharpie and crossed my name off the guest list. (He’s probably looking at me now to see if this is an apology but I’m still laughing while I write it, so I guess I’m just screwed on this one. Sorry God!) I feel sorry for this girl, and I instantly did as I said this, but I couldn’t stop from laughing. The ridiculousness of the whole situation was incomprehensible and Mikey hadn’t stopped laughing the entire time, his face buried in his clothes as he tried to stifle the laughter.

I think what this whole situation proved is that this girl was just a bystander that we dragged down, and yet, somehow, she was able to remain calm and actually not flip out on us. I’m sorry, but Sonic does not pay enough for me, if I was in that situation, to hold back. I would have thrown the coins back in my face and tried to kill me. So I guess the whole point of this story is that, one, it’s awesome and hilarious, two, it’s sad and depressing, and three, it proves that this girl was incredible.

Nose Bleed

This is how I look the other 99% of the time

So, I’m not sure what it is about Midland and the West Texas area in general, but for whatever reason, I get nosebleeds about once every week or two weeks. Maybe it’s the dry climate, maybe it’s the dust. I’m not entirely sure. I know it’s just this part of the country though because I never got them in San Antonio or anywhere else.

Well, today I was driving in my truck to a  unit near Garden City that had stopped responding and I realized that my nose was dripping blood all over me and had apparently been for a little while because I hadn’t noticed. I quickly grabbed for something to stop the leak with, which ended up being a Sonic paper bag, and tried to at least collect the blood and make sure it didn’t get on anything I would have to pay for (thankfully, it didn’t).

While scrambling for this, my left hand had already got completely covered in blood (this was a good flow) and I’m pretty sure I looked like I had just been shot in the face. Of course, what could happen but, in the middle of a nowhere, a truck was trying to pass me. I watched him pull around me into the oncoming lane and pass, and then, he must have saw me and wondered what the hell he had just witnessed, and instead of going into the right lane to overtake me, he slowed down and matched my speed right beside me. He just looked over with this perplexed look and I gave him the “What?” look like nothing was wrong. He eventually drove on, but it took him about 15 seconds of staring at me for him to get tired of it. This was kind of weird, kind of hilarious. If it had been me in that truck I would have been pulling out my phone to take a picture, so I guess I can’t fault the guy.

Either way, it’s not something I’m likely to forget for a while.

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.

Joining the Navy

America. F Yeah.

Well, I feel like the biggest change from March, my last real post, to right now is that I joined the Navy. Shortly after graduating, I realized that I hated the jobs that I was applying for. I spent months talking with financial institutions, hospitals, and small advertising firms about finding a job I would like. I really do like the advertising industry, but I felt like all of these jobs were just awful. I don’t want to advertise for a bank. I don’t want to advertise healthcare. I don’t want to work for a 5 man advertising team in Nebraska (this was a real offer). And most of all, I didn’t want to deal with the problems of pay and long-term financial insecurity. Some of the figures I was being thrown were 22k a year with minor benefits and the possibility to work up to 30k a year. Really? I feel like I could make more working in the oil field, a job which isn’t too stressful and I can at least enjoy being outside. Actually, it was, but more on this later.

So, I walked in to the Navy recruiter office and told them to sign me up. In my mind, I felt like the following week I would be shipped out to basic and sailing the seas in a couple months. Ha, what a joke that is. There’s an absolutely huge amount of paperwork, and then you have to go to a place called MEPS, which is a poor acronym because it actually stands for hell (or Military Entrance Processing), and then after that they tell you to wait a year to ship. Yeah, really. A year. What am I supposed to do to pay my loans in that time? I actually rushed into this whole gig because I didn’t do my research. I had a passion and I wanted to follow up on this. For the astute followers of me, this should be no surprise — I’ve been talking about joining the Navy for years. However, with a college degree, I was able to build a really strong officer’s package to get a commission. But, without knowing this at the time, I enlisted first, originally as an AECF (Advanced Electronic Computer Field) and then later in the Nuclear field.

As an aside, I was told this is the hardest field to get into, but the tests they gave me were pretty much a joke. (If I recall correctly, I made a 94 on the ASVAB and I didn’t even bother to work the problems, I just guessed based on the answer choices so that I could finish and get back to a client.)I’m not particularly bright when it comes to math, but then again, these tests are made for, and I hesitate to say, high school kids. I am guessing that a lot of how the Navy communicates information to people in the DEP (Delayed Enlistment Program) is based on the fact that they are mostly very young, mostly with only a high school education, and mostly not mature enough to think about the gravity and depth of their commitments. And the Navy caters to this. (Kids ask questions about how cool the uniforms are between branches and don’t bother to ask things about military benefit packages and retirement options.) But, when it comes to the more serious questions, that really should be up to the applicant and the individual recruiter, something that is handled extremely effectively. There’s no BS when you try to find things out and it’s obvious you are looking for the straight answer. I respect this, and I understand why the messages are conveyed in the way they are. I feel like the shortcoming is more on the side of the kids who are joining with no clue what they are in for, so they don’t know what to ask. They will surely understand once they are in, and I think this is a good thing that they are given a dose of reality, something which college, on the other hand, helps avoid for several years. So I guess this aside is basically suggesting that high school kids are clueless because the Navy actually does try their best to prepare the kids. I’m sure that when I graduated high school I thought I was informed. I’m sure I think I’m informed now. I’ll look back on this and likely think that I was just as much, or more of, an idiot for suggesting what I’m suggesting.

Anyway, to continue, the enlisted side is now just considered a fallback if my officer’s package doesn’t go through. I feel like, honestly, I would be happy in whatever position in the Navy, but I’m looking to make this a career, so starting as an officer first seems more like the logical progression. November 15th is my review board which will establish my commission as either one of the following (or nothing at all!): Public Affairs Officer, Surface Warfare Officer, or Supply Officer. Obviously, I’m really trying hard to get the commission as a PAO — this is my passion. I love this stuff, and I live for doing research and planning ways to spread messages more effectively. Real nerd stuff that a communication major with lots of hands on experience gets into. I’m told, however, that this position is basically impossible to get. But basically impossible doesn’t mean impossible, so I’m still trying. Do advertising and marketing for the world’s largest Naval power? Hell yes. This whips the ass of doing something meaningless like advertising for healthcare systems. (Sorry healthcare, I know you’ve been a good source of income over the years!)

I feel like any position is fine, even Supply — that is, after all, a huge logistical nightmare to plan out and I love a challenge, but I’m hoping — no, praying — to get the PAO slot. I will do everything in my power to make the Navy’s PAO program proud. So, I guess it’s somewhat a patriotic goal, but also such a huge career goal, and it’s something I feel like I will enjoy. I get it, I’m repeating myself, but it’s honestly all I think about every day and has been since the day I joined the Navy. I won’t stop until I get this, no matter what it takes or where it takes me.

In the end though, this is just a collection of thoughts that have been mulling over in my head since the day I walked into the recruiter’s officer. I can’t wait to get a definite ship date and then to get out of Midland. Please, get me out of here.

30 January 2009

You could imagine that doing nothing in Midland would give me the time to update this more. Surprisingly, a lot of things have been happening that have taken all of my time. First off, and most importantly, I leave Texas for Australia this coming Sunday, Feb. 1. I don’t even know what to think at this point. I am really excited, and really happy to finally get to do something exciting like this. But, at the same time, I am terrified of leaving Texas. As much as I want to think I am educated, I don’t really know the ways of the world, and I’m afraid of not being accepted for who I am. I’ve already been told not to mention I am from Texas, but this is probably impossible as I obviously sound like a Texan. That, and I don’t think I will compromise who I am, even in a foreign culture.

My group is full of yankees for the most part. There are some that are from South Carolina, but even this is odd and foreign to me. I’ve talked to one from my group, an admitted vegetarian and environmentalist. I mean, you just don’t find that in Texas. I’m not saying that I disagree with her viewpoints, though I have to say my own viewpoints are much more enjoyable for me. It is my hope to eat all the native animals that I can, as food is a big part of my life. And the only environmental policy I have is “Don’t Mess With Texas”, so I don’t know if that matches up well enough. I’m mentioning this because it shocks me I am so different from yankees. These are people who are from my country. What could Australia be like? Maybe the people will think I’m ignorant and arrogant. I hope not.

My goal with this trip is to make friends and experience culture. I don’t want to compromise who I am in the process, though. But, I haven’t left, so I don’t even know what I’m getting into yet.

Otherwise, my stay in Midland has been full of work. I’ve been working full days typing entries into a big database. It’s sad and horrible, but now I am done. And, my boss gave me a big bonus for my work. I’m confident I’ll have a few dollars to blow on things I want to do, not just the bare essentials. Some of those things include the “Northwest Trip”, a ten-day camping trip throughout Northwest Australia. I am pretty excited to do that. Because of the currency difference, it’ll only be about 450 dollars. I think I can manage that.

Work was boring, of course, but it was good being back with the guys from ViaMedia. Josh, Benjamin, and Max are good guys, and I’m glad to have met them. We got together a few times and played poker. I lost twice, but I won everything on the last game we played. Poker has started to become an addictive thing. I’m playing it online all the time, albeit with fake money.

Hell. Yes. Bromance 4 Life.

I spent a weekend in San Antonio with the Trinity guys. I took a lot of photos, but it was basically a summary of my entire experience at Trinity. These guys are the friends I hope to have for the rest of my life. I’ll miss them when I graduate, and I’ll miss them when I’m in Australia. I hope all of the alcohol I bought them is proof enough of my friendship! God knows, they’ll be drunk for a semester on an amount that size.

Finally, I’ve been working out a ton before I leave. Partly because I found out I was 204 lbs. I used to be 145 lbs before I started college. Way too much beer and Jack in the Box, that’s certain. I’ve lost over twenty pounds, but I still need to do more. My goal is to really push myself in Australia, so that I can be 160 lbs of raw steel and sex appeal upon my return. We’ll see!

I guess I’ll update this next when I’m in Perth. I’ll miss Texas, but I’m ready to jump into something new!

5 May 2006

Nice hair, self from the past

One thing that I will miss deeply about Midland is the Great Wall, the best Chinese place ever. For under five dollars, I can get lo mein and soup. I mean, c’mon, what a deal. I really really like that place. Although, I wouldn’t mind a sushi place.

Today we have off. Cinco de Mayo (or a snow day, you pick). I filled out a ton of graduation annoucements; they take some time. I also deposited a check. And that’s everything of note.

Currently, I’m pretty happy. If it’s the Chinese food or the day in general, I’m not sure. Maybe it was the ten hours of sleep. I haven’t had that pleasure in a long time. I feel incredibly tired lately. I think my life is busy, although I assume that it’s not really all that action-packed. Rather, I just look at people who have more hectic lives than I do with a sort of mixed confusion as how they are still standing.

I can’t wait to graduate. That was the point of this post. I want to be done — so badly. Almost there. Just a little longer. My grades are falling, but I’ll manage. Or I don’t actually care. We’ll see.

I just want out.