Maybe it's a sign that I have a boring life, but I needed to check where I'd left off in this journal to see how much I'd have to catch up. Oh, a solid eight months. Super. Well in March my wife and her boyfriend went...hold on...no it was February because it was Valentine's Day. Well on that day Tank, Wulf, and I went to a Brazilian steak house called Fogo de Chao. I think we wanted to go to a bar afterward, bit that didn't end up happening. Too full. Anyway, March, neither Tank or I can recall what we did for our wedding anniversary. It would have been our third since Cesear's Palace even though we've been legally married since August fifth the year eariler. The bank statement says we went to Baker's Square this year, so we're going with that.
Also in March I was approached by a technitian at work and asked if I had any background in mechanical, and when I told him I worked on helicopters in the army for the army since 2004, he told me about a job opening so that I could be hired on as a tech. He asked me about a resume and seemed pretty serious. Finally, my big break, I thought. I told Tank about it, and she helped me polish up my resume. I brought it to the tech that talked to me the next monday, and that started a big change. I had to jump through a lot of hoops, but without even asking, people were giving my future boss their thumbs up. My admin sergeant said I was a "must hire." My supervisor said I was a "Rare find." I keep thinking "Holy shit, I hope I don't let any of these folks down."
I'm nearly ready for my interview when I realize my black pants are faded and too short. I mean, you can see my socks when I'm standing it's so short. I can't mess this up, so I go to the Khol's the moment they opened and got some new black Dockers with a belt to go with it. It was kind of a risk when you realize I spent more than half a day's pay at the time with no certianty of paying off. I made it to the interview with time to spare and was shown to the interview room. I pulled out a little book from my coat which I'd placed there just for the purpose of having something to read while I wated. Nevermind the fact that it was a copy of The Prince by Machiavelli, a contraversial philosopher. Hey, it was the only book that would fit neatly into my jacket. It's not even mine; it belongs to Tank.
Anyway, there are three people interviewing me at the same time. Talk about pressure. Not only that, but none of them were my would-be boss. It was only after those three were done that they left and the person who was hiring actually met me. He's more personal than I expected, pretty human, doesn't like being called "sir." Apart from the time I joined the army with a concave chest and a criminal history, this was the most difficult interview I've ever had. Well, I must have done well because I was offered the job with a 75% pay increase. I couldn't believe it. I was to start late April. So that's what I've been doing ever since, just kind of working as a tech. The perks are more than I care to mention, but let me tell you it's a whole other world.
Between the last day at my old job and the first day at my new one I drove down to Des Moines to celebrate my mom's birthday. It was nice but the next time I go to Des Moines I'm getting a hotel room. I'm just not going to be sleeping in a filthy house again if I can help it.
Tank's birthday is in May, so a bunch of us went to a sushi restaurant, which was a pretty good time. Baka, a friend of ours brought a cake she made herself. It was delicious, which is unsurprising because she does that for a living. The decoration was by far the best part as she put a rainbow unicorn on the top with the words "Whatever, bitch" below it. It's an inside joke, I promise. Tank was very pleased.
In June my car was on its last legs. I needed to get a new one, and so my father in law got me one...yeah...just like that. It's not like the guy is wealthy either. He's just more resourceful than I am. Anyway he has the Saturn now, and I have a 2002 Olsmobile Alero. Awesome.
Tank and I took that car down to Indiana for fourth of July weekend where I got my military dress uniform fitted and Tank got some interesting pictures of the nearby graveyard with a bunch of fireflies. It was pretty cool. The way back was pretty rough. We hit a full blown traffic stop somewhere toward the last leg of Wisconson.
August was when my brother Aaron came back into town from Japan or a little break. He planned a family reunion, so I got to see my family. Even Tank was there because I threatened divorce if she didn't. Yeah she um...hates my family...like a lot. Anyway that was pretty eventful. Went to Vallyfair with Matt, Aaron, Lissy, and Lissy's husband. At the start of labor day weekend, I visited Aaron and took him to a few places. I'm sure he appreciated it since he didn't have a car. I guess he doesn't know the rule that the driver picks the music and the passenger shuts his cakehole. Later we wound up at my place where I realized there needs to be another rule. Do not face chat in my home. Me inviting you inside does not mean you're allowed to move your camera phone all over my home so that whoever you're talking to can see. Them's the rules. Also it's worth noting that ten at night is a perfectly reasonable time for a bar to start karaoke.
September drill was moved to the last week in the month, and we had to do a PT test and qualify on weapons that weekend. I thought I did spectacularly good at the PT test since I raised my score by 13 points from last year on a 300 point system. The key word there is raised. Shooting wasn't so great. I got a good zero, but I forgot to change my sights back to 8/3 + 1, so I only got thirty. That's down from my score of 38 last year. I guess I won't be wearing an expert rifle marksmanship badge this year. Other folks were saying they had problems too. I heard the range we used was pretty beat up and had big chunks missing out of the center mass of some targets. A round could pass through a hole right in the middle of the target and not be counted. That made sense as to why my score was so low, but there was still the fact that I forgot to adjust my sights from the zero range to the qualification range. Bummer.
October drill was the next weekend, and it looks like my annual performance review with the army is looking pretty good. (They call it an EER, but since I speak civilian, I'll use more sensible terms.) I was even approached by three different people about a flight slot. This is sureal because that's what I wanted when I originally joined the army. I wanted to be a helicopter crew chief and fly on the bird. I looked into it, and I realized I just couldn't commit the time. I would have to quit my civilian job. I had to decline a very tempting offer, but I was glad to see the people who asked understood my reasoning.
Speaking of job, I've been at it for six months now. Yay! There are some hard days, and some easy ones. There's overtime here and there. I'll even have overtime this weekend and next. I'm not going to lie, sometimes I feel a little insecure about my position, like there's something I'm not getting. But then there are times when I can solve a difficult problem that I'm sure someone else wouldn't have solved as well or as fast as I did. That's when I dust off my paws and say "This is why I'm here." I start to feel dumb when I work with people who are all smarter than me, but I just have to understand that I am smart and that other people know this too.
- Music:Hey Jealousy by the Gin Blossoms
Repeated expletives and the tensing of my neck and back muscles. A phantom face extrudes from my real face and is slowly eroded by the air brushing against it. A clock counts down as a fleshy stalagmite quivers and becomes limp. I notice noise and stomp my foot and say stop, but it doesn't. It demands I assign it meaning, but it just doesn't deserve it. It deserves a stunning jab to the nose, and it takes me all my strength to resist.
Then, just like that, clarity ensues, but for how long?
Last weekend was pretty chill. I got invited to celebrate a friend of mine's birthday by shooting clay pigeons with shotguns. I felt a little apprehensive using their weapons because I have so little experience with shotguns. This time would be only the second time I've fired one. The birthday boy, Phin, was pretty cool about showing me how to use them though, giving me the rundown on how to load the shells and use the safety. I'd like to say I caught on quick, since I managed to hit as many discs as I had missed. I also felt pretty awesome with how I took to firing. I've been told that the kick from a 12 gauge is pretty brutal, but I barely felt anything. Either my jacket provided enough padding or ten years in the military taught me how to rest a buttstock into the pocket of my shoulder.
That night I tried to take a nap before a party, but I wound up sleeping for about six hours. My sleep schedule got out of whack again. It just keeps happening. I don't even know if I have a sleep schedule anymore, but this week I seem to be getting enough. That is so far. I'm still working a lot of overtime. Friday's going to be nice though. Not only is it the end of my work week and the beginning of my three day weekend (thank you presidents), but it's Valentine's Day, and the three of us in this love angle have a reservation for lunch at Fogo. It's kind of an exciting time for three carnivores in love.
By the way, I just thought of the angle a 'V' makes, how it has two lines with a starting point terminating at a point of convergence. It seems to resemble the relationship between Tank, Wulf, and me.
Sunday the 26th of January, a conversation with one of my coworkers lit the fires. Connie, an Asian woman in my department, approached me while I was working with a black planner in hand and asked me to work the the night of Sunday the second of February. That's a pretty normal shift for me, but I'd taken it off because I had drill with the national guard that day and the day before and would be too beat up from that to come in to do an eight hour shift a mere six hours from being released from a long day at the aircraft hangar. I told her that, and I thought it was a good reason.
That's when she told me it was her new year and that she needed to be with her family. I didn't question it. I didn't care. What I could tell from her standing there insistently with the black scheduling book is that she really really wanted this day off and thought my resting was unimportant. While I could have just easily denied her request and not be blamed by anyone else in the company, I could foresee things going badly for me if I did. I imagined her dejected and telling her family about how she can't be with them for this event because I wouldn't give up my day off slot which I have because of my service to the military. Later down the grapevine the story might degrade to "Connie couldn't be with us because of American military." to "American military stopped Connie from being with us." (I should point out that my thought process about that had nothing to do with race and a lot to do with my experience with entitlement and confirmation bias (so basically Tumblr.))
I let her have my day off, and for the rest of the week I was working overtime to help make up the hours I lost while I was down in Texas. I do get paid by the army, so it's not like I was losing out on that. I just need to accumulate a minimum number of hours for the year since my hiring date at my civilian job to qualify for a $2k bonus. Given that, I probably would have worked that night anyway.
Weekend drill was painful. New soldiers aren't motivated to train and don't want to be there. Cooks set to the task of feeding us for lunch failed to do so for about a quarter of us on Saturday, but that quickly turned around on Sunday. That might have to do with the two very high ranking officers required to wait at least an additional half hour to be served lunch. You generally want to avoid wasting their time.
It wasn't all bad though. I heard of a lot of mission opportunities for me and another guy, and while I want to say yes to all, I have to be careful to prioritize in case these things are mutually exclusive. I'm not going to provide a lot of detail about what these opportunities might be because we're still semper gumbi, and going through the changes in the plan will be confusing and irritating. It makes people question why, and I don't have a satisfactory answer for them. Why would I be expected to know? It's not like these are questions I can answer at my rank.
Even Tank is getting tired of unstable information and unstable hope. She's not a fan of the military but she understands why things are the way they are. When you get down to it, it's an organization filled with flawed people, and it's reason for existing is global trust issues and violence, flaws of humankind. There is no ideal military because you will always gather a military from a population. If you ever find a population that is ideal, there is no need for a military, and thus none will exist. Tank knows that we're all just tired, confused, and afraid, just holding our weapons at the low ready, watching, waiting, commiserating.
Funny thing, when I showed up to work on Sunday night for the normal start of my week, I realized I was one of maybe four cars in the parking lot. Okay, maybe I'm just early, being one of the first to return from the weekend. I get into the building just fine with my badge, make it into the locker room, and all the way to the time clock ready to swipe when I look around again. The place should be just streaming with other people by now. Upon further investigation, I found out it was a shutdown day. FML MLK.
While I was making up the lost day with a couple of twelve hour days, I was also working with Tank's Dad to get my car working. It wasn't exactly easy and we're still worried it might break down soon after getting it moving last night. That's why this morning my roommate Wulf and I are heading to his place a fair distance away, Wulf in his Chevy Blazer and me in the Saturn we were working on. We're not really sure what we're going to do once we get there. It's more of a test to see if it can travel a little while without help, and if it needs help from the blazer, we'll just bring it to Tank's dad's place because it then it would be easier to work on since he has more tools. Here's hoping it doesn't come to that.
Last night Tank, Wulf, and I watched "This is the End" with Seth Rogen. We'd seen it before, but it was worth another watch. Come to find out there was a lot of foreshadowing. Wulf also managed to find a seasonal beer from the New Belgium company called "Frambozen" which Tank and I had been on the passive lookout for since winter time three years ago. It was a good drink, and having it reminded me that being beer snobs was something that brought Tank and I together. I've noticed we've kind of moved away from that, and now I'm wondering why.
I got back from training in Texas on Saturday afternoon, and I was glad to be home. I still am. I really missed the people I'd been without for two weeks. I was awarded a commander coin from the colonel at Corpus Christi Army Depot. To answer the question of what I've been doing for the last two weeks, let me sum it up the best I can. This place is basically the Mecca of army aviation maintenance. It goes far beyond the repairs at the level my unit is equipped to perform. The things that thrill me about being there is the depth of technical work we were able to do for our training. It's pretty helpful for when we go back to our unit and do our jobs then. We did several tours of hangars and work places where we picked up on not only repair but of operations management. It's all very cool.
We came back home in a C-130, landed, were dismissed and went home. I got home and pretty much hugged Tank to death. I forgot that I suggested going out just the two of us when I got home, and even though Tank was pretty unhappy with that, we still got our one-on-one time. It was a furmeet weekend, so we spent a lot of time before our date hanging around folks from the group, most of which don't know how to act in public. I'm not talking about wearing different clothing or talking about different things. I'm all about "Just be you, boo. Just don't be you at 120 decibels right in front of the entrance to a popular coffee shop."
After our date, Tank and I changed clothing and went out to one of the numerous gay bars in Minneapolis, but not much actually happened. Tonight I have to work. I'm excited to see those folks after two weeks away.
On an unrelated note, it wouldn't hurt to get some more userpics.
I arrived in Corpus Christi, Texas last week, and I'm glad to be out of the cold. I was still wearing my jacket for the first couple days, but it got sunny and warm enough for me to go without it later on. I'm doing training with the army, but I'm working with civilians mostly, working on helicopters. It really shows that no matter how good at it I think I am, I can always learn more from these guys. I'm pretty thrilled about that. The food's nice, we have breakfast and dinner in the company area provided by "Beauty and the Bistro" and subway sandwiches for lunch. Even better is I have a living space to myself. I've only really had that in the military twice before, and I am so grateful for those times. Unfortunately, there's no internet in the room. I have to take my laptop into a common area...and not look at anything provocative. That means even though I'd really love to see that new bad-dragon design I got an email about, I can't. I'd like to check my wife's tumblr, but the army doesn't exactly agree with her philosophy of...enjoying their free lives.
Anyway, there isn't much to report. Things are going alright. I went to the beach and picked up some sea shells to bring home with me. Tomorrow will be another sunny afternoon.
Sometime this week a notice was placed in my apartment door from the management saying we needed to park our cars on the street instead of in the lot so that they could plow the snow. Thursday evening, I got a call from the office reminding me that I had to park on the street the next day, saying they'll be forced to tow my car at my expense if I didn't comply. Sure thing. I planned to come home from work at six in the morning and park on the street, and I did just that, right behind Tank's jeep.
It was around ten in the morning, and since I was still awake, Tank asked me to pick up a perscription at the drug store the next town over. I wasn't thrilled about it, especially since Tank found out when she called the pharmacy that there was a problem with our insurance information. They couldn't process payment to Tricare because they claimed we have a different primary insurance plan. Sure enough, we do...or rather did. We no longer have the insurance through Tank's work because she doesn't work there anymore. It was terrible coverage for what we were paying anyway, which is why it was so nice getting on Tricare. I mean, having Tricare might mean that all of my drill pay is consumed in insurances, but at least the coverage is livable.
When I went out to my car though, I noticed there were three police cruisers parked on the opposite side of the road. I wondered if I should stay back, if I was unknowingly walking into a dangerous situation that would require there being three of them. I go ahead, assessing the situation as I can see more details, and nothing looks out of the ordinary save for paperwork posted on every window parked on the street. All of us received citations, which was outraging since we were following the directions of the apartment management. I called Tank to let her know what I found out and started walking to the office when I was addressed by a cop in his car.
"Is that your white car?"
"I advice you move it or it'll get towed."
Seriously? What was the urgency? Calm down, Grunge. I'm sure he'll understand if you just explain to him nicely what was going on. Famous last words. "Sir, they're plowing the lo-"
"I suggest you move your vehicle or it'll be towed." He interrupted, clearly not in the mood for a debate.
"Yes sir." I couldn't help but roll my eyes. Mine wasn't the only car that I needed to make sure was moved, but I couldn't just park mine in the lot and risk having that one towed while I reparked Tank's jeep. I called Tank and told her the police were about to tow cars. She asked when, and I couldn't tell her. There wasn't a timeline, just a vague imperative. I drove out of the spot on the side of the road and into the lot, stopping for a while to keep visual contact with Tank's jeep until she could get out there.
I drove up to the office, and parked in the "Future Resident's" parking lot. In retrospect, the term "Future Residents" is subject to interpretation. After all, I will still be residing there after the moment in time that I visit the office. I knew what it meant though, and I was banking on them forgiving me. I didn't really have any other viable option in mind, which was the very thing I was hoping they could give me when I walked in with my situation report. I walked in and was greeted by one of the managers who seemed to be handling herself very well until I said "I'm sorry, but we have a situation." I'm guessing from her reaction that she'd already gotten an earful from another resident who wasn't so polite and cooperative. I didn't have time to point fingers, and I made that clear.
I just wanted another option, and while I wasn't thrilled with what I had to do, I had to admit it was the best idea, one that I hadn't even considered. Park it at the grocery store two blocks away. It wasn't ideal, not something that could be put into policy, but I understand the need for pragmatism. I called Tank again and relayed the message before leaving to pick up the prescription from the drugstore. When I came back and parked at the grocery, I pulled the shovel out of my back seat and carried that, along with the meds and the citation, back to the apartment.
I dropped off the drugs before going back outside with the shovel to do what anyone with a hard-on for self empowerment would do. I started shoveling out parking spots. It had been a while since I'd done such a thing, maybe when I was half my age. It's not like my paws forgot what it was like though, and like jumping on a bicycle, I started heaving snow out of the lot and onto the ground near it.
I had cleared a row of five places before I decided I contributed enough. I even did a better job than the plow that took care of the surrounding rows. It felt good to have had accomplished that, and it helped ease the frustration of the whole situation.
I told Von all about it when I came over. He was just playing video games and chuckled about it. I just wanted to punch him in the arm and subsequently cuddle with him. Instead of that happening though, he and I went to a Himalayan restaurant, a type of food I was not very well acquainted with. We met up with Mia and Xochi. Xochi, a former marine, did most of the talking, which got pretty old, not going to lie. He went on about the army being stupid, which at this point in my career was an agreeable point. However the reasons he was thinking of were things that really didn't matter to me. For instance he said it was stupid to call a grouping of aircraft a "fleet" and not a "wing." He mentioned other things like that.
Mia didn't do very much of the talking, which I'm guessing is because it was so military heavy. Xochi and I are pretty quick to pull out or veteran status in conversation, even to a fault, while Mia rarely talks about her service, which tends to make her more personable. Von's probably on his way out of state as I write this. I feel pretty jealous. I want to go on a road trip too. I want to go with no other company than the hum of my engine.
Today while I was taking my break, sitting down in the cafeteria with a bottle of mountain dew and a ceramic mug-bowl of homemade white chili, when someone a few seats down from me at the same supertable (which is a large table made by joining smaller, younger, more naive tables together) started loudly expressing himself. Murrica. He declared that if someone were to do wrong against him and justice not served against him, whether because there is no law against the wrongdoing or because the justice system failed to find the culprit guilty, it was his "God-given right" to seek revenge against that person by murdering them. The conversation didn't stop there. It just escalated, and not even in a funny way. It was more in a "I'm technically required to report your statements to the state" way. To make it worse, another one of my coworkers wanted to continue the conversation when we all got back to the clean room after wasting an entire break arguing.
I looked at the meal plan at home, wondering what I'm going to be taking to work as leftovers. Don't get me wrong, I deeply enjoyed the privilege of eating white chili, but it's just so rich. Red pasta. I think I'm good to go. I don't think I'm going to be making risotto for Von like I suggested. I can afford the ingredients to make it, but not very well. I can make a crummy version of what the dish should be, but that would defeat the purpose of me cooking instead of him. I can impress him, I know I can, just not tomorrow. It was even kind of cute when he asked me what risotto was, and I told him to google it. He saw that it's a rice dish and told me he had a rice maker, like that was going to make it easier to make. Well...hmmm. You know, come to think about it...no! Don't do it, Grunge. It would be bad enough buying half-rate ingredients without also using a half-rate cooking style. Is it bad that I said that last sentence in Rarity's voice?
Yay weekend! I'm so glad it's here, even though memorial day left me with a four day work week, I felt like I'd had a tiring time. I'm starting to get really good at my job at the medical device manufacturing plant, but Thursday night was the pits. I couldn't get one of the machines to do what they were designed to more than 2/3 of the time. I know it's not my fault and that I'm not going to get into trouble over it especially since I let them know what it was doing early on, but it sucks that I had to complete the batch I was working on fully knowing I would be scrapping painstakingly made material.
After work though, I decided to give my friend Zed a text since I hadn't hung out with him in a while. Sure enough, the guy was up to nothing, so I drove down to his place and afterwards went to a diner in uptown Minneapolis. I don't know if I was just high on life with the sun out and visiting a friend at the beginning of a weekend or if the place we went to eat was actually great, but I felt like it was the best breakfast I've ever had at a restaurant. Simple biscuits and sausage gravy with fried eggs, but just made perfectly. I kept thinking how awesome it would be if the army could make food the way they did. After that, we went to the grocery store to because he needed to pick up a few things, but while we were there, he bought a couple tiramisu cakes for us both to enjoy while listening to soft jazz music and talking, all while sitting on his new bed I helped him pick out a few weeks ago. I left his place around three in the afternoon, grabbed a package that was delivered at the apartment office for Tank, and joined her and Wulf in some strip mining in Terraria. After about an hour and a couple of beers, I was ready to hit the hay.
It's well into Saturday now, and having stayed up all night (which is ok because I have a night job anyway.) I have to get some rest. I have a ticket to see They Might be Giants at First Ave in Minneapolis tonight, and I'm pretty stoked about that. In other news, Tank discovered my Twitter account, not that I was exactly hiding it from her. She asked me why I don't use it anymore, and it really wasn't a big decision. I just didn't take the time to update it at all. She said she liked my tweets and that they were funny, and that feels good. Anyway, time for sleep.