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.

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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.

Thanksgiving

Petty Officer'ed Up

Well, this has been an interesting Thanksgiving. Yesterday, when I was getting my haircut after being yelled out by annoying third class for my hair touching my ears, the barber lady, Stephanie, invited me to her family’s Thanksgiving. It seemed a little strange, but there was no way I’d turn down a homecooked meal. My fears were put to rest as soon as I met her family — an eclectic mixture of people that were pretty awesome to hang out with. The food was fantastic and I actually enjoyed myself the whole time. Good stuff. It’s not home, and it’s not my family, but it was way better than eating frozen turkey at the galley.

Otherwise, things have been pretty good. Kicking it for the most part. I haven’t updated in large part because I’ve put in 140 hours to Skyrim, a super nerdy video game that consumed my soul since it’s release. But I burned myself out so it’s back to trying to get in shape again. The Navy is great for making you not want to work out.

Leave was good. I pretty much did nothing all day every day and it was fantastic. It was 10 days of me ignoring the world, sleeping in, and eating delicious food. (Yes, Kara, I remembered to mention you!) I have leave upcoming two weeks into Power School, meaning I’ll probably do the same, though if I am motivated enough, I’ll tour around Texas and see Emily, Mella, and a few others.

How can I be healthy when I have places that make a sandwich that looks like this?

As for now, we’re standing watches on what it called T-Track, or Transition Track, which basically means I ask if people have cell phones or often just stand there looking like I have a purpose. Lots of cleaning involved too. I’m still not really enjoying the nuclear field, even though I’m good at it. Yesterday I finally got to resubmitting my officer’s package, though it’ll take a while to get it all set up. I figure there’s no harm in trying and seeing what I can do. If I make supply officer, I’d be really happy. Then again, just as before, I’m terrified of OCS, Officer Candidate School, which is run by Marines and probably a lot tougher than bootcamp — and now I’m in pretty bad shape compared to when I first entered. Oh well, if I put my mind to something, I can make it happen. It just might suck in the mean time.

I still have a lot of dreams, and I’m committed to them, so no matter how long it takes, I’ll keep trying. But, until then, I’m just going to continue doing my thing as Third Class Petty Officer. (The phrase “Take it like a third class” is used pretty often around here.)

All in all though, I’m pretty content with things right now. I’ll probably update this before the new year, but we’ll see!

9 More Days

Class 1142A looking like gangstas

Amazingly, we’re almost done with the longest 14 weeks imaginable. In a 9 more days of actual work, we’ll be done with  A School at NNPTC, promoted to Petty Officer Third Class, and given 10 days of leave. It’s hard to think it’s been that long because when you’re working the hours that we do, time blurs together. McGowan, a friend/classmate of mine, likes to think of it in that there are only three days to a week: Monday, Tuesday-Wednesday-Thursday, and Friday. Everything runs into one really long day and by the time Friday hits, you’re pretty much ready to be done with everything and enjoy your weekend, if you don’t have duty or assignments, which we invariably do.

For me, A school hasn’t been particularly hard. I’ve managed to be the honorman throughout the school (at least, after math), and so I’ve had voluntary hours (“vols”) since nearly the second week of class. Of course, I can’t speak too soon since we still have two more machinery tests and our comp review left — and I really haven’t put much effort into preparing for any of those. Hopefully I won’t need it, but we’ll see. The only real motivation I have to do well on it is to just avoid the hassle of people yelling at me, or ordered hours, or the possibility as using it as a highlight in another officer’s package to see if I can pick up a commission.

We lost a bet with our instructor. The result was the world's creepiest man, aka, the best babysitter ever.

I really would like to switch fields completely if I make officer. It seems like Nukes are generally overworked and completely unhappy with everything. Everyone else I talk to in the Navy loves their jobs, but Nukes all seem pretty disgruntled by the whole experience. That said, I think a lot of that is just the mindset of the military in general: if there’s an outlet, you better be complaining. Right now, my focus is on just getting more money so I’m not barely getting by. Once that improves, I should be much more content. Either way, if I have the opportunity, I’d like to make Public Affairs Officer like I had originally hoped — that’s what I love to do, and that’s what I find fun. I guess it’s ironic I’m complaining at all since I’m performing the best in the class (and higher than honormen in most other classes too). But, the grass is always greener I guess.

That said, a lot of the class has been entertaining because of the dialogs with the instructors and random fleet stories. But, the most entertaining is just how insane we all start to get after being around each other for so long. We tolerate each other pretty well, but we can rage here or there. I know my humor is lost on some people in the class, and a few of us are completely annoyed by each other. But for the most part, we survive just fine. McGowan is a constant source of random stories and past life anecdotes — it’s really about the only thing that you can do to keep from falling asleep or just slamming your head into your desk over and over!

In 9 days of class (which will be the 21st of October), we’ll be completely done with everything and graduating. I can’t wait for the leave, to see my family and friends, but also to just not be here for a while. And when we come back we don’t class up until December 7th, so we have time to work out, hang out (by playing Skyrim non-stop), and explore Charleston — of course, we still have to work, but at least it doesn’t involve nuclear physics for once!

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.

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…

“Spring Break” 2011

I’m putting that in quotation marks because I no longer have a Spring Break because I have somehow turned into an adult. That said, I really needed to catch up with all the people I have been telling I would catch up with for years — and this is the perfect time to do it before I ship out on May 17th. Pretty much everything worked out time wise, so I decided to take off this past Wednesday and head into Austin for South by Southwest (or SXSW), which is basically a festival films, technology, art, music, and food. So, uh, pretty much everything I like in one place at one time!

Having a slightly inebriated converstaion with Angelo, the CEO of deviantART

So, Wednesday I headed to Austin for my first event, a Texas devMeet with a lot of the core staff (and friends!) from deviantART which was put on at the Spider House off Guadalupe. I met a lot of new folks because it drew such a crowd, which was nice, but it was also comforting to see the rest of the Texas devMeet guys from our annual meets. We’re pretty much family now. Lots and lots of history there. Interesting how bonds like that form.

I got to talk to Ryan, the creative/marketing guru for dA, and I think we talked way too long about demographics, but for us it was an enjoyable experience. And, of course, I got to see my former bosses, Heidi and Danie, who were pretty awesome. And finally, I had a few drunken rambling conversations with Angelo, the dA CEO and all around badass. During this entire time, I was working on getting completely plastered, at which I completely succeeded.

Finally, we headed to another venue to wrap up the night and I really can only say that I hope they expected me to be truly a memorable experience. I was all kinds of nuts that night for a lot of complicated reasons. In turn, if I ever get to meet them all again some day, I believe I will be “that guy”. Ha.

Thankfully, I survived the night and found a place to stay. I ended up getting some breakfast with Charlie, one of the elite SXSW photographers this year, and a Texas devMeet regular and had more random conversations about life. Good times.

Koreana, the world's best place to eat. This is not an exaggeration.

Following that, I headed into San Antonio to link up with Christian and see if he had been betting his life savings on the field. We hit up Koreana off Rittiman and had the best meal in the entire world. I forwarded this image to Dan and he instantly started crying. What a baby. After that, I linked up with KJ, Dylan, and Craig (and worked in a trip to Taco Taco with KJ the following morning before heading out). Then, we did Bays, like the classic Trinity experience where an entirely hammered Rob showed up. Of course, we managed to get to Crabby Jacks (and didn’t even get kicked out). I got to see Stephanie again, which was nice, even though she lost all of my elite CD collection.

After hanging out with Rob for a while that next day (until Ariel came in town!), I got a call from Brennan, the source of my exploits from last year’s spring break. I headed that way and met him in Austin for a SXSW feature about the future of technology in ten years. Unfortunately, the most memorable thing about it was an egg toss and a four dollar Bud Light, but after this, we were set and ready to party. Along the way, probably the funniest thing possible happened to us. But, as usual, it all went down at and around 6th Street (though there were noticeably less people than usual — I guess they were at the VIP parties).

When I woke up, I called up Scott who I went to Creekwood Middle School with in Kingwood, and ended up reuniting with in college freshman year as incoming Trinity freshmen. We ended up making margaritas and heading to meet other Kingwood friends like Matt and Aaron to swim at Barton Springs, a really beautiful natural spring with a nice park area. Then dinner at Garj Mahal, the best Indian place I’ve ever tried, and then back to the 21st St Coop, an interesting coop with a bar set up and lots of music and places to gather. We listened to some screaming music and drank, but the highlight was just getting to see all the guys again.

I wanted to make this post immediately after I got home, otherwise I would delay it and forget it like I usually do. I had a really, really great time. I think it was such an interesting Spring Break because I had four completely unique experiences: a devMeet, a Trinity-style night, a Sam/Brennan 6th Street rager (Sam was with us in spirit. 5 dollar liquor pitcher? Absolutely!), and a chill reunion with my best friends from my childhood. Seriously, what more could you ask for?

There was a possibility of staying another night, but I really had to get back because of work (and my body had become  a living alcohol sponge for days straight). Next week will be cut short too because then I’m heading to Houston to see Emily.

Spring Break, Round 2 — coming soon.