25 January 2009

when are you gonna come down? when are you going to land?

So all the planets aligned to create a pretty good weekend. Saturday Tree had to work during the day so I just puttered around the house - cleaned a bit, organized some things in the bedroom, baked cookies - until he got home.

It'd been, like, forever since we'd been out to eat in a real restaurant, so Saturday night we both got dressed up (peeptoes and my new chic blazer) and went to Jester's out in Bordentown. So nice! There was a jazz duo there, and while we had to sit a little closer to the music than I would have liked, it was very cosmopolitan and very classy. I ordered a Flip Flop to drink. It was delicious.

Today we spent the day working through the house - would you believe that there are STILL boxes we haven't touched since we moved in? But we cleared a number of them and readied another big box to be brought back to Mass for the Salvation Army. We also hung up a few pictures (Tree had been complaining how spartan the walls were) and played with the cats for a while. I managed to get two loads of laundry done, too.

And, today, this:

Yes, that is a person on a dirtbike, riding on the fucking LAKE. True, the temperature hovered just around freezing today, but yesterday it was in the 50s. Can you see in the picture how thin and transparent the ice is? And did I mention he's on a dirtbike? ON A LAKE??

Also, just made plans for Valentine's Day:

Those things cost more than I will admit here, but I've been wanting to go see Wicked for FOREVER - so how could I say no to the 4th fucking row?? I'm superfuckingexcited to go.

So that'll be Blue Man Group for Christmas, and now Wicked for Valentines Day. Perfect perfect perfect. 


"I should have stayed on the farm
I should have listened to my old man"

- Elton John "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" -

20 January 2009

I found a dream that I could speak to

Home alone, tv is on (another House rerun), laundry in the dryer, two sleeping cats on the couch, an empty bowl of soup and a glass of apple juice.

I hate this big empty house.


Today was productive. I worked out at the Air Force gym, picked up the [redacted], redispatched the GSA, helped the LT work on my NCOER, mailed a card for her, researched MND-N for the next MRX (in February!), started rewriting scenarios. I'm excited! The NCOER reminded me that I'll be promoted in the next few months (I WILL) and gave a little wind to my sails. And rewriting the scenarios (and incorporating suggestions from past AARs) made me feel organized and efficient; I'm three weeks ahead of myself!

Staying busy staying busy staying busy...


I'm still feeling crappy about letting the PAOC deployment go, but I think it's for the best. Don't you think so too? I have this little house to take care of, two little cats to take care of, a little husband to take care of. Surely this little life would just rip apart if I were to leave, so that's why I'm staying for now... right?      Right??

"at last, my love has come along
my lonely days are over
and life is like a song"

- Etta James "At Last" -

19 January 2009

but I've made long term plans based on these mistakes

Status: mid-afternoon, just out of the shower
Alcohol units consumed: 1 2 3
Weather: snowing

So someone told me today that they have been too "grumpy" to be my friend (in response to me asking why they fell off the face of the planet for the, I dunno, umpteenth time). Yeah, seriously. If I hadn't been trying to slay this dragon of a problem for, like, years, I'd probably be hurt/surprised. Instead I'll just laugh about it here and openly mock this individual and all the reasons why he lets his life suck the way it does. Faced with a problem/challenge/whatever, you can (a) do something about it or (b) do nothing but stop whining. Kthanks.

I did send a sarcastic response to the email which I likely won't hear back to for some time. Fuckin bawwww.

In happier, more interesting news... the new episode of House is on tonight and I cannot fucking wait. I've been watching House reruns on USA to temper my appetite but they are a weak substitute. And I've pretty much given up on CSI now that Grissom left (and Sara, and Warrick), so all I have to look forward to on television is House and The Office.

Oh, and fuck: back to work tomorrow. Joy.

"you never knew
(well I never told you)
everything I know about breaking hearts
I learned from you, it's true"

- Taking Back Sunday "There's No 'I' In Team" -

18 January 2009

wear them apple bottoms, wear them apple bottoms honey

Did you know that I'm a bit of a voyeur? Not in the creepy, watch-you-through-a-window-while-I-masturbate kind of way, but in terms of obsessively observing the mundane. I spend hours, hours a day surfing through blogs of people I don't know, reading about their trips to the grocery store and their kid's birthday party. I smile at funny conversations they had at work and grimace at arguments they had with their spouse. I look at pictures of their scrapbooking projects and watch videos of their cat making faces. Do you have a blog? I probably spy on you.


Now that I've thoroughly creeped you out...

Dinner last night was excellent: tofu dogs w/veggie cheese (nondairy, but you'd never know the difference!) and sweet potato fries. Tree and I eat a lot of sweet potatoes, which is still weird to me. When I was a kid and had never tried them, I always though 'yams' were the most disgusting thing on the planet. I still don't like the word. Yams. Yams. Gross...

It's bad, though... the more time I spend online looking at horrible PETA photos, the closer I get to a vegan diet. And I don't want that; it's hard enough going out to eat or eating at other people's houses as a vegetarian. While I love what I am doing and am 100% behind the reasons for going meatless... sometimes I wish... I never did. Every single meal is a production. And I suppose this will get easier in time; I've only been here away from DFACs for 6 months, and only living with a kitchen for the last 2. So maybe once we get used to it... but I tell you, I can only eat so many veggie dogs/burgers before the sight of them make me want to puke.

I should probably go do something. It's like 4:30 and I haven't done shit today. Tree is gonna be so pissed.

"shorty don't fake, she'll put it in your face"

- Flo Rida "Elevator" -

17 January 2009

have another drink and drive yourself home

Update Medley:

Jan 8 - met with two members of the MPAD to discuss and put to bed the horrorshow of their MRX. They were both very polite, professional, and willing to listen to my perspective of the exercise. They had a few questions for me, offered some explanation for some of the things that had happened (much of it turned out to be misunderstanding/miscommunication), and gave suggestions for MRXs in the future. 

It felt good to talk face to face, in a neutral setting (vs the AAR), and get everything out. I even got a cookie and a coke out of the deal. (Thanks again!) Hopefully we can all put this behind us and meet again in peace someday.

You can read my previous posts on the aforementioned MRX here and here.

Jan 10-11 - traveled back to Massachusetts for Nibbey's birthday and Tree's drill. Nibbey's party was a hilariously great time at Sakura Tokyo (the waitstaff now hates us) with a table full of crazy, amazing people. It was the definition of what I miss about being at home. :(

My unit also had drill that weekend and even though I don't have to attend them (as I'm on Title 10 orders), I went up there to see everyone and remember what Guard life is like. It actually went pretty well; I was part of a group of 5 who went to Camp Curtis Guild for driver's training / PMCS classes. Kinda boring but ok. It was just great to catch up with V and remind the unit what my face looks like, ya know?

One small rotten spot on the day:

When we first arrived in morning, we all spent a few minutes shooting the shit in the lobby area of the armory. Signal R (you may remember him?) walked over, surprised to see me, and shook my hand with the usual "Hey how ya been?" Then he turned to the SGM and said, "Why is she here?" (Mind you, I'm not more than 4 feet away.) He launched into this whole speech about Soldiers getting confused about their chain of command [I currently have two: one in NJ and one in MA] and "playing" the leadership. He told the SGM (I'm still standing. right. there.) that if a Soldier is on Title 10, he or she should just stay put and not mess things up.

The SGM (bless him) kind of rolled his eyes and told Signal R that this tour is not unlike a tour with counterdrug or anything else: you aren't expected to come back for drill, but you are encouraged. Signal R was all "Really?" and the SGM kept on having my back. It was the weirdest thing.

Since there was a(nother) massive storm predicted for Sunday, the SGM told everyone not to come in and to instead make up the day some other time. Safety first, right?

Before I left, I stood in his office and talked about my future. I explained to him how much I'd like to go back for the PAOC mission in Baghdad, and he questioned whether that really was the best thing for my career right now. After all, he reasoned, since First Army is willing to send me to schools that would otherwise be difficult to attend, why not ride it out another year and set myself up to fast track (in promotions)?

It was a great, great conversation. I thought a lot about it as I drove back to Tree's father's house, thought about it some more on the ride back to NJ, thought about it all the following week...

Jan 12-15 - MRX for another MPAD, this one from Texas I believe. We got off on the right foot by having the entire unit and all of the training staff present for the welcome brief, which we rewrote to head off any similar problems we'd had in the past.

They gave us some great suggestions/improvements in the AAR:
- Provide graphics/music for the units to use in their newsreel. (this unit didn't have any, so finishing up the newsreel was difficult for them)
- Provide actual news stories to accompany the scenarios. (good idea; I'm going to write some this week)
- Draft new scenarios. (any officer who has attended PAOQC has already seen our scenarios as First Army had to purchase them from DINFOS, but the LT and I are going to make up some new ones for the next MRX)
- Provide opportunities for radio training (the Rs don't get this at our MRX, mostly because it is difficult to replicate here without a studio... but I'll look into it at least)

I also made note of a few more things to include in the mission brief: What specific training/help do you need from us? Does all of your equipment work? Are there any programs you are unfamiliar with?

It just seems that the unit always has a problem with something but it is never brought to our attention until the AAR, when it's too late to do anything. You only know how to edit using Avid software but your unit laptops have Adobe Premier? We can help with that. Your laptop sucks (1 Beyond is TERRIBLE) and the USB ports don't work? We can get you another laptop. You can't export to tape? Well, obviously you won't be expected to do a DVIDS transmission.

The MRX mission is secondary to getting the unit prepared to deploy. If at any time there is an issue, especially a technical one that is out of the journalist's control, we can pause the exercise and work something out. But we can't help if we don't know we're needed. It's frustrating... I hate that feeling of Trainer vs. Unit. Even though this last MRX went much smoother than the last one, there were still things that came up in the AAR that should have been addressed way sooner. Why does this happen? 

One thing is for sure: working here is no good for my self esteem.  :/

And now, time for a (stiff) drink.

"as if it happening wasn't enough
I got to go and write a song
to remind myself how bad it sucked"

- Brand New "Seventy Times 7" -

16 January 2009

I was certain that the season could be held between my arms

I did it. I told the PAOC I can't deploy with them. It's all over.

He said:

Don't apologize. I understand completely... in fact, we had already come to the realization that it would not be easy to have you join us. We do however thank you deeply for wanting to come here and join us. I will pass the message to [the commander] and the rest of the unit. Good luck... and take care of all those PA units that come through Fort Dix. We all appreciate your dedication and professionalism.

Now please, leave me alone for awhile. I need time to cry.

"hand out the window
floating on air
just a flip of the wrist and I'm waving you goodbye"

- Dashboard Confessional "So Long, So Long" -

07 January 2009

and think about the times you spent and what they meant

Today was a much, much better day. (Everyone) pretended like nothing had happened (per usual) and (everyone) was courteous and professional. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, I tell you.

I spent the day catching up on unfinished tasks from yesterday and then getting ready for the next MRX. The exercise scenarios are pretty much good to go, only a few minor changes to be made: with each PAO unit that comes through, we change the dates/locations in our scenarios to match the actual time/place the unit will be in country.

I suppose this is a good place to give a short explanation of what the MRX even is, no? It's a 96 hour exercise meant to validate a public affairs unit's ability to execute its mission in theatre. The unit runs its 24-hour operation out of the installation public affairs office, and we drop injects to mimic what they can expect once they get to Iraq. The injects let us measure their capabilities in different areas:

- fake scenarios (press releases, response to query)
- acquisition missions (46 skills, time management, product completion)
- press conferences (research, media advisories, SME prep)

And so on. Depending on whether the unit is an MPAD or a PAOC, we tailor our injects accordingly. 

So anyway, in addition to making the date/location changes to the scenarios, I was asked to draft an example press release to accompany each one - this will make the grading process for the unit's press releases more uniform, as the grader will have an example as a reference. In this last MRX it wasn't a problem, but in the Sept MRX we had some confusion caused by graders giving conflicting corrections to the unit's releases. To eliminate that, and since I spent a good deal of my tour working on press releases, we decided I'd be the best person to draft examples for the exercise.

Now that I've bored the SHIT out of you... I totally just lost interest in this post.

"do you ever want to lead a long trail of destruction
and mow down any bullshit that confronts you?"

- Green Day "Having a Blast" -

06 January 2009

get out of my way, I've got better things to do

Dear [redacted],

Thanks for reminding me why I need to get the fuck out of this place. It is exactly this kind of imitation "real Army" bullshit that I can really just do without. Just like the HHB party? Made me want to kill myself. That whole process was EXCRUCIATING. Much like today.

Clarification: your dizzying mood swings, sarcastic backhanded comments, belittling demeanor, and general seeming lack of social skills leave me fucking fuming. Why do you talk to me the way you do? No seriously, what is your problem? If I don't know the answer to a question, you look at me with this kind of incredulous "you-are-scum-of-the-earth-just-die" expression on your face that could melt - Chuck Norris. Your glare could kill Chuck Norris. And I'm afraid to ask you anything for fear of getting that expression. I'm sorry I don't know everything (or everyone, or everyone's telephone extension, or where you saved your 214, or what exactly broke in our photo laptop, or precisely where in Iraq FOB Fuckdesert is, etc.).

And I can only finish one thing at a time. You can't complain that something isn't done when (a) you only first mentioned it to me 5 minutes ago and (b) I'm trying to finish the 7 other things you demanded get done right now. Or in the middle of the teleconference, you look over and say in the bitchiest tone possible, "Wow, I really wish I had the [redacted]" when you'd asked for it not 10 minutes before that. Are you fucking kidding me?

Oh and then you look at the clock and announce, "Well, we didn't get too much accomplished today, did we?" FUCK YOU.

And when I'm visibly pissed, you can't just pretend nothing happened and that we're friends. We are not friends. You've made that abundantly clear.

So don't tell me you don't want me to deploy, that I can't leave you all alone, because quite frankly, I don't give a fuck anymore. Today, the first fucking day back from the holiday leave, was the last straw. I am so done feeling bad about escaping

Love and kisses,
Malibu Niki

(deep breath)

I am not a negative person, despite what you may have read here. I'm sarcastic and I think it's funny, but I'm not negative. This place just brings out the worst in me. And I resent being talked to like a child who doesn't know anything and ruins things out of spite. I'm a generally positive, happy person (who is occasionally sarcastic - but funny). Really. Ask anyone.

"I'm cutting you loose, I don't need this misery
your soul is toxic; you ain't no friend of mine"

- Social Distortion "Far Behind" -

03 January 2009

I'll tell you now I keep on and on

A few miscellaneous updates I've been meaning to incorporate into past entries but either couldn't or forgot about:

- The roof guys came back the other day for Act 3 of the charming musical Our New Roof. They pulled up the shingles or whatever around the skylights, then removed the skylights, then put plywood over the now gaping holes in the roof. Awesome. In fairness, they are supposed to come back and put new skylights in, but then again, when they were leaving the last time, they said they'd be back to put in said new skylights TODAY. They didn't come today.

- My nails still have not recovered from the acrylics I had on for my class reunion last month. I got this nail protein and... nah, you don't really care about this.

- MySpace wrote back, did I tell you? I'd asked why their ads continually accuse me of having a fat ass. They thanked me for my concern and assured me that my feedback was appreciated. Also:

When we add new services and features to our site, we consider the suggestions and comments we've received from MySpace Friends [that's a proper noun?] like you. So be on the lookout! Your suggestion may be the next new and popular feature or service on MySpace [I rather doubt it].

- When Tree and I last traveled back to Massachusetts, my mother gave me a few loaves of stale-ish bread to feed to the (wild) geese (and ducks) on the lake. So the other day (day before yesterday?) it was kind of slushy-snowing out and some ducks were floating by, so I though, Hey, they'd probably like a nice little treat in this storm, right? Wrong. By the time I got down to the dock they'd hurried almost clear across to the other shore and didn't have any intentions of coming back. I threw some bread out into the water and called to them in their native tongue (Get back here you fucking ducks!) and nothing. Bastards.

- No "real" update to report, but continuing to work with the PAOC to get this deployment-creature born. What's that sound they teach you in Lamaze? Hee-hee-hee-whooooooooo.

"so while you sit back and wonder why
I got this fuckin' thorn in my side"

- Beastie Boys "Sabotage" -

01 January 2009

to get my fair share of abuse

Last night, New Year's Eve, and instead of cheerfully enjoying the festivities in front of the fire, I'm alternating between the blogsphere and trying to get my husband to dance with me and/or refill my glass...

...because I'm charmingly swigging back this crappy Riesling from a DRINKING GLASS, and worse, WITH ICE. Classy. A stemmed glass? No thanks. I'd only end up knocking it over and wasting all that wine.

I did end up hoisting my ass up off the couch long enough to dance with myself (husband wasn't having any of it), attack one of the cats, and stumble, naked, into bed. I'd stayed up that late only to satisfy my morbid curiosity - will they put Dick Clark's corpse on tv again this year? I was rewarded.

Woke up this morning around 11 to an empty house. Vaguely remember Tree kissing me before he left for work, could have imagined it, I don't know.

Now it's after 2 and I think my stomach is settled enough for me to eat something. So far I've managed only a handful of Tootsie Rolls. I think there's some General Tso's Tofu left over from last night.

My life rocks.

"you can't always get what you want
but if you try sometimes, you just might find
you get what you need"

- The Rolling Stones "You Can't Always Get What You Want"-