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All that you can’t leave behind

February 23, 2014

Issue 17.
Vol 3.

hoth1

The Maryland/Virginia area is…colder than what I have grown used to. The picture above is obviously from the Empire Strikes Back, my favorite Star Wars movie. Every snow day, when I was little, I would watch it and in particular I would focus on this battle. I would sit there, half dressed, and build snow speeders out of Legos and reenact the Battle of Hoth. It became sort of a tradition for me. This time around I am a working adult, I am in my own apartment, half a country away and I only played Mass Effect because my binder of DVDs is still in route. Growing up has its unexpected downsides.

Go…um…EAST young man

I am on the east coast. In the Maryland/Washington DC/Virginia area. There aren’t Mom-n-Pop Mexican food restaurants on every corner and the perpetual early spring that San Diego seems to be stuck in is gone also. No longer will I see palm trees and football games at 10 am. The Ocean is on the wrong side even. I have traded that lush paradise for the temperate, seasonal, “more like home” climate of Northern Virginia.

The day I landed I was already late. I should have arrived two days before. Instead all flights were canceled to Reagan International on the 22nd and I was forced to sit in the USO at the San Diego airport with a gaggle of fresh Marines staring at me, trying to figure out how to address me or whether or not to even look me in the eye. I was able to sleep on the couch of Ryan and Dominique Kilgo. Some of my best friends in San Diego. Definitely my favorite married couple.

I left on the following Thursday and in the airport I met Frank Haith in the airport and tweeted about it like a fan-boy. When I did land I was wearing my Dress Blue Uniform. A stiff wool uniform that despite its material isn’t warm at all. I stood on the sidewalk as my sponsor drove up to me in his salt crusted Mazda.

I spent the next few days sitting in a nice hotel on base, touring my new job, meeting important people at the command, finding out where I will work, moving to a shittier hotel, checking out potential apartments, signing a lease, getting my car. It has been a furious blur, moving so quick that I didn’t even have time to ask for it to slow down. Fun to say the least, but very busy. I am settled for the most part and what comes next should be interesting.

King of the Castle

Before I even hard official orders to the Hopper Information Center I mentioned to people where I was going. In no uncertain terms they told me not to live in Suitland, MD. A place, I was told during my indoctrination tot he command (Shortened to Indoc in the Navy is a process at every Navy command where they give you the basics like parking passes and other adult things), that had 1/5 more murders than the national average. Shocked I was determined to find a place to live that was safe, clean and livable. So started my adventure driving around, armed with apartment reviews and a handful of numbers to call.

When I moved into my apartment in El Cajon I was living with two friends. There was the occasional argument or accusation but for the most part it was a good time. But I am only speaking for myself. Thanks to the unforgiving operational tempo of a Cruiser I spent 50% of my time in San Diego out to sea. At least once a week I was sleeping on the ship and not to mention the two full deployments each with exercises and workups in between. That apartment was more like a place I would go after work and not so much a home. Now I am on shore duty, which is so much easier. I will never leave the states unless I want to and I will be encouraged to get all of the education and training that I want. Now I know I will have every weekend off. Now I know I will go home everyday. Now I have time, and a need to make a house (or apartment) a home.

I went looking for a place to live and I found plenty of apartments, nice enough and if I were in a pinch I would have settled for them. But none of them has washing machines in the apartment and there were children running up and down the hallways. And more than one couple directly above me trying to make those children a playmate. Dank hallways made from brown brick topped off with low hanging ceilings and the dull rustle of life all around. I felt like I was living in arefugee camp.

Home sweet home...or is it?

Home sweet home…or is it?

Turned off more and more I finally found a place called Foxchase Apartments. Picturesque, colonial style houses I was infatuated almost immediately. The rent was low also, really low. They had washer and dryers in the apartment. The leasing agent was a cute eastern European blonde that was friendly enough. Thinking I had found the place I wanted to live I went home and did some research. Comparing Foxchase to Eos-21(The leading candidate of the refugee camps) just to solidify my choice I saw that Eos had a low score of 60% on apartmentratings.com. Now it was only a formality that Foxchase would have a much higher score and I would be moving in that week. Foxchase had a whooping 12% score (now a 11%) with detailed reviews from people not recommending it, pictures of bugs and dead mice, destroyed moldings and water damage that looked like it could have been from a war torn country. The war torn country everyone moved out of to live in the first set of apartments that I went to. People weren’t just complaining either, people from as far as a year or two back, were complaining about the same handful of things. Shocked, and a little heart broken, I was glad I had not signed the lease when I did.

The next day I went out again, touring several places and before to long I was able to find Rose Hill Apartments, a cozy little spot about 20 minutes away from work. Moreover it is close to a bank, to a grocery store, several schools, a mall, a Target and everything else I could need. I told the pleasant leasing agent that I would think about it and get back to her. That was a lie. If I ran some numbers, made up a mock monthly budget and if those numbers, at the end of the month resulted in all black then I was happy with it. Knew from off the top of my head that it would all work itself out and by the time I got back to her my rent had been reduced albeit by only a few dollars.

Now I sit in my warm apartment, my bed set up, my closet is organized and my TV and Xbox appropriately set up I can relax and know that for the first time in my entire life I don’t have to share anything with anyone. Not in this house.

Operation Adam Milton

In Nuke School and on the USS Bunker Hill I gave my entire being to my work. As I gained rank and responsibility the scope of my understanding broadened, deepened. I knew on Friday what I was going to be doing on Wednesday. I was always at least that far ahead, focused on getting as much of the job done as possible. While at NNPTC I spent everyday studying and struggling, for 6 months I didn’t have a weekend. And once in the fleet for months I would go without writing or reading, save what I could find on CLI or the basics of Windows Server 2003. Anything I could do to educate myself and bridge the gap between what was expected and what I actually knew. I worked out, I did mindless things like video games and a few simple books but that was about it. Once I left CG52 I was determined to spent the few years I had left in the Navy getting as much out of it as I could. Using all of the resources of the US Navy to get IT certs (like the ones I mentioned in this blog post from way back in December). I would use tuition assistance to pay for college classes in computer science, I would take time off to go to Industry Conferences and meetup with like minded people.

The point is that for the first time in my naval career I get a real chance to do exactly what I want to do and have time to do it. There is nothing more to it really. I now have time to really focus on myself and it doesn’t feel like a betrayal of my work or any special project that I may be on. The truth is that if I seriously declare my intentions to get out now my chain of command will pretty much ignore me. They won’t recommend me for special projects or nominate me for JSOQ or anything like that. I told them that I wanted to crossrate but they already told me that the chances of that were slim to none, not that I won’t try of course. The point is two fold: 1) This is an exciting time for me. 2) This is fucking weird for me.

I’ll let you know how it goes. That’s what this blog is for. My misadventures.

Lay back and get comfortable

Gary Larson We hardly knew ye.

Gary Larson We hardly knew ye.

As I sat in Starbucks the first time when I was writing this I rewrote it twice before deleting it altogether. It didn’t fit, it seemed preachy. It was preachy. Complete with a little self-delusion and a lot of circuitous logic. Round and round it went me patting myself on the back and deriding you. As I read then reread it I could hear the wheels falling off and I knew I had to ditch it. Ejecting like a pilot over friendly water.

"AW SHIT! I LEFT MY iPOD!"

“AW SHIT! I LEFT MY iPOD!”

Huzzah.

It’s bullshit. I still believe that self-examination is WAY underrated and more people should do it but I’m not the best example of it or even a good example really. It took my years to understand some of my motivations. The worst part was that I was blind to so much of it not because I was unable to see it but because I never thought to look for it. Maybe I shouldn’t be so hard on myself. Hell if I could figure out how to not do that I think this blog would be a video game/cooking tumblr instead of the poorly spelled ramblings of your dearest barely stable functioning misanthrope.

Don't act shocked.

Don’t act shocked.

I started to think about why I use sarcasm, and then naturally I thought about why anyone does. After letting Google do any of the real hard work for me I found a pretty good explanation for sarcasm.

John Haiman, a linguist at Macalester College in St. Paul, Minn., says people who use sarcasm are rarely just kidding. The words come from an authentic place, but it’s wrapped up as a joke for protection. Essentially, sarcasm is a survival technique for the insecure

Don't worry I'm a doctor and there is nothing important in your torso.

Don’t worry I’m a doctor and there is nothing important in your torso.

Body blow by Mr. Haiman. Yeesh. I must admit that this isn’t exactly something I didn’t know, either about myself or wasn’t suggested by a friend or in something I wrote. In the very same article they mention that intelligent children use sarcasm and I did so frequently. I liked, when I was younger, to toy with words and the idea that I could say something that literally meant one thing and thanks to my inflection and cadence could mean totally something else.

Or why I like making people laugh. It would be easy and natural to say “If I can get them to laugh then they won’t laugh at me.” That’s not the truth, well not the whole truth. I enjoy the challenge of making people laugh. If I can get a crowd going in a rolling laughter then it really just makes my day. I tend not to like the people who I can’t make laugh. Its definitely a pride thing. I always maintained that if I am an artist then I am a writer but if I had to preform then I would do standup comedy. I know I have what it takes to be successful at that and I have said so in this blog at it but I won’t retread this thought.

I’m not trying to defend or justify what I do. Just trying to explain it. I also think about why I feel so uncomfortable or angry when I see valentines day films about love (ie Endless Love) and I make it a point to watch Robocop (the first or the second) on Valentines day every year. Or maybe its the troupe about Pretty White Kids with Problems that sort of makes nauseous. I always retreat to the same sort of fantasy too. I’m not just a hero I’m Frank Woods and I am in the sticky  jungle, soaking wet from the rain, the mud and my sweat, custom M-4 in my hands and my finger on the trigger. Who does that? I stopped having the fatalistic fantasies where I am injured, losing or die in the end. Now they are just brutal, painful and bloody daydreams where there is no room for softness or comfort.

I love scrubs.

I love scrubs.

Or how I don’t deal with stress poorly but I definitely don’t deal with it in a good way. I just ignore it and preform pretty well in the moment and have an ability to focus on the problem and try to solve the problem but its after a few weeks that stress manifests itself in anger and sleepless nights. Its not even apparent stress either. Like when I first returned from my second deployment I was always cruel and snapping at people. It took me a while to realize that I was processing looking for an apartment, decompressing from the month or so of 16 hours working with about 7 1/2 allowed for off time and the next deployment looming in the next few months. There were a few nights when I would wake up with a clinched jaw, my face aching in the morning. Its like I compartmentalize and just move on hoping to deal with it later.

Its easy to figure out what I love to cook. It is science that you can eat. I’m sorry that’s not honest. I hate, and have always hated, that colloquialism that cooking is science that you can eat. Its true, very true, but its a dumb thought. The teachers could never answer all of the really cool questions about cooking, they could never explain any of the science. I would ask “Why can you eat undercooked beef but not chicken?” and they would stand there dumbfounded and get annoyed and as far as I can tell if you can’t explain it then its just rote not science. I never thought much about why I liked cooking but I can say that I like the surprise on peoples faces when they find out I know what I am doing.

I guess what I am saying or asking is there anyone else who does this? I know I’m not special and maybe I do spend to much time thinking. I guess it could be worse. I could never give anything I did a second thought.

Then again…maybe not.

~ Adam J. Milton

One Comment
  1. Oh, PS. They have those little rewards cards everywhere because it’s an incentive for you to carry what amounts to a financial tracking device all the time. They track what you buy, build a profile around what kind of person you are (27/Black/Male/single/enjoys books), so they can better sell to you (and to everyone else). Insidious and smart.

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