Heading to Hawaii

So I bought myself a little something...
So I bought myself a little something…

Well, the day finally came, and I’m really in the Navy now. I just got orders to the USS Hawaii, a fast attack submarine out of Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. It’s really amazing to think it’s been nearly three years of school and qualifications, but now I’m done with both Mechanical Operator and Engineering Laboratory Technician qualifications.

ELT school was actually pretty rough; a lot of mistakes and a lot of frustrations. I constantly felt like I was making mistakes and not being able to figure out how to fix them — but in the end, I was able to push through and actually start to get better at chemistry and the basis behind what we do.

Anyway, I ended up splurging just a little bit and getting something to replace my Mustang. It’s a 2013 Camaro, the V6 in a standard, and I pretty much love to drive it. I make up excuses to get out of the house I think. Definitely living the American Dream now — two car loans! Woo! It’s weird being an adult, that’s for sure.

The whole task of getting all of our furniture and cars out to Hawaii seems pretty daunting at the moment. I’m really not sure how that process really goes, but I do know that we’ll be paying out of pocket to ship Carissa’s new car over there. Anywhere from 1-3 thousand dollars; it’s still cheaper to buy the car here and ship it, however. The downside is that’s just another thing on the credit card. On the plus side, the future is looking bright when it comes to money — we’ll be getting base pay, submarine pay (including around 30 months of back pay), nuclear pay, housing, subsistence, and cost of living allowance. And, I’ll probably re-enlist and get a promotion on top of it. Pretty weird to think of having all that!

She's Snow White and I'm a "sexy" cop.
She’s Snow White and I’m a “sexy” cop.

Anyway, being done has its perks — I get to pretty much do nothing at work for a couple of weeks (good for getting all of our stuff in order before we go). We went to a pretty fun Halloween party on the weekend, now that I have weekends back. And, we even had an NFL get together on Sunday. All in all, very relaxing lately!

I’ll try to keep this updated on moving to Hawaii, and all the adventures we will likely get into. Before we head out, however, we’re definitely heading back to Texas. I will eat at least one full brisket before going to island paradise!

Grad Hold

Here’s 1201-8 in our whites looking like BAMFs.

Right now, I’m in a magical place called Grad Hold, which is basically a period where I wait for a spot for Prototype to open up where I do 6-9 months of final nuclear training before I hit the fleet. Due to complications with the training reactors, there’s a pretty huge delay time, up to 6 or 7 months for machinist’s mates like myself. This is actually awesome because it gives us time to do pretty much nothing, and it’s amazing. Most of the time we get out early and we can do whatever, which is nice. Finally I’ve had more time for the gym!

So, anyway, right after graduation on the 25th, my family came up and we spent the long Memorial Day weekend on the beach at Isle of Palms, and pretty much did every touristy thing possible. I made sure to get my fill of everything free that I could! It’s nice not having to pay for all the expensive meals that I love to eat. They liked seeing the ocean and seeing Charleston, and the weather, for once, was nice. They were completely skeptical of all the places I took them until they actually got there; I’ve been doing my best to scope out Charleston and the good places to eat for about a year now — Pearlz downtown has the best tuna burger, Sesame Burger is the best place I’ve ever eaten in my life (they have a peanut butter and a banana burger!), and Huck’s Low Country on Isle of Palms is the best fried oysters on this planet, period.

Me and Dad in downtown Charleston seeing the sights

I can tell they were proud of me graduating from this school, and I myself am more proud than the four years I spent in college — mainly just because it was such an awful bitch to get through. I didn’t take leave since they came up here, but I’m certainly missing Texas and that feeling of being home though; nothing will ever replace it in my heart. And I miss the barbeque! What is up with this pulled pork mess they love so much in this part of the country?

After that, Carissa came up and I was able to show her some more of Charleston. We did one of those romantic carriage tour things (aw) and drank heavily at one of my favorite pubs, Molly Darcys. Then, that weekend, me, Burns, Wager, Kass, Werner, Wagner, Barker, and other people I’m probably forgetting headed to Myrtle Beach. I had always wanted to go, but never made it, so I’m glad I finally did. We had a big suite overlooking the ocean and did a fair bit of partying. We did a casino cruise boat tour which I wasn’t too excited about after my last big winnings, but I ended up being a craps mastermind and winning a fair bit — enough to pay for the whole trip and a little more. On top of that, we had just got our 15 grand sign on bonuses (of which we see about 4 grand up front after taxes and being split over our contract). So, all in all, a good time.

Moving sand in the rain. Much like a Navy SEAL, only the exact opposite.

Other than that, I’ve been chilling. Did a BBQ at McNaughton’s house and had homemade chicken fried steak at Buetow’s house (courtesy of his lovely wife). Good to have a little homemade food mixed into the crap I’ve otherwise been eating. For the most part, we just sweep up and clean the base for a couple hours, but we were lectured about the importance of our job (actually the Senior Chief compared it to storming the beaches of Normandy, but that’s really a poor comparison…). The result is that we’ve been doing massive amounts of time sink activities, such as moving sand from one wet pit to another wet pit. Oh well, at least it’s something.

But, all this is fine because on Wednesday we’ve been given orders to go to TAD (temporary assigned duty, I assume?) to King’s Bay, Georgia, about 4 hours south of here. It’s awesome because it’s not here and I won’t be surrounded by us for a while. As well, it’s going to pay 60 extra dollars a day. Awesome. The plan is to work there for 4 months, but now we’ve been told 2 months. Who knows. I like to think that until something is happening to me, I won’t believe anything at all. We’ll see where it goes!

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.

Hurricane Irene

Irene turns dress whites into dress browns

So Hurricane Irene is kind of a joke. At least it is here. The command had been telling us we’d have to evac to Fort Whatever and that we’d be flooded out. We got out early on Friday and it rained for a while and the power went out. But it came back on and by 1600 it had stopped raining completely. Which meant we instantly got dressed and went to Hooters and got drunk and wing fed. After that our hurricane party took us to downtown Charleston. I have no idea how much money we spent (like 100 dollars alone at Market Street Saloon) but we were a force to be reckoned with. More so than Irene at least. Actually, I think we drank a few Irene hurricanes last night…

I think we were both "that guy" last night.

Although I should be studying more, I’m studying less and less and doing fine (at least until Tuesday’s test…). I don’t really mind this place when I’m not doing 18 or 20 hour days, but it’s not the best. The weekend sounds so amazing on Wednesday and by Friday I’m so tired it’s hard for me to muster up much of an effort. That said, we did a fairly good job of getting ridiculous yesterday. Wilson got ridiculously drunk and threw up in his own car, which is awesome. I hope he’s out there cleaning it right now (it’s like 100 degrees and sunny — ouch). And I finally got some pizza that wasn’t from our galley.

Today I’m doing absolutely nothing. And it feels great. Think I should go get groceries at some point. Hrm, yeah, guess I’ll do that.

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!

Houston

Me and Emily. After this, it was all down hill!

Houston was really fun. I haven’t wrote the post about it because I’ve just been entirely too lazy, but it is definitely worth remembering. That’s kind of ironic, of course, since I really can’t remember some of the most exciting parts. Thankfully for me, seeing Emily always means one thing: photos will be taken. I haven’t appeared in any photos on Facebook in a long time, so it was nice to change it. You can see my ridiculously long hair (that I’m shaving off tomorrow). Unfortunately for you, I’ve untagged myself in a million photos where I look like a walking corpse. Houston can hit a person hard!

I’d definitely say the highlight of visiting Houston was the club experience. You can’t get that in Midland, and you can’t even find that kind of club in Austin either (though I still love 4th street when I want to be classy). It was a lot of fun to meet Emily’s friends as well — they’re a good bunch. They definitely reflect Emily’s party spirit. I think I impressed them with just how much I can handle and still remain alive; I’m definitely the classiest one of Emily’s friends for sure.

But, mainly, I feel like what I missed the most is just being in college. It was such a fun time to party and hang out. (Yes, Trinity was lame and most of the people were massive OATs [“Only At Trinity” can you find people this strange], but the people I did make friends with turned out to be entirely awesome.) I think Emily and I had a pretty good dynamic — how many times have we partied together over the years? More than I can possibly recall, I’m sure. It was great to have a group of regular people (at the time, usually Ariel, Rob, Austin, Emily, D, and myself) that would come to my apartment, watch stupid movies, and get entirely too drunk. Now it kind of feels weird when I have more than one beer. Strange times, strange times indeed.

I digress here though, so back to the story. Houston is a pretty nice city to hang out in. The food there is undeniably awesome and we got to eat a variety of places I enjoyed a lot. Sushi, fried seafood, and steak — what a good three day streak of meals! And, Emily cooked for me so I even got the home cooked experience. Because she’s a terrorist sleeper cell from Saudi, she’s not, apparently, familiar with American things. She asked me if I had ever had chicken and dumplings. I thought that is the backbone of America? Jeez, I’m sure the next ingredient you’ll be using is fissionable nuclear material to take down freedom and democracy. Your move, traitor.

We climb the rock wall. I shouldn't have attempted this after two hours of working out...

There were other things that happened, like movies, court cases, and rock wall climbing (which I completely failed at) but the point is that I had a great time. It’s less that Houston is a good city and more that Emily is a great friend.

And she’ll be a  rich lawyer one day so I have to flatter her as much as I can to get invites to VIP yacht parties…