28 March 2009

holding the lion's share

Oh wow a busy couple of days. This calls for an update!

- Made an appointment for Tuesday to speak to the peeps at the education office (walk ins, while supposedly accepted, are apparently discouraged)

- Via Tree, spoke with our property manager and found that the owners are indeed still interested in selling; set up a meeting with the property manager for Monday (my gentle and patient Tree will handle this as well... my only contact with her is to scream at/threaten her when something is wrong with the house - Good Cop/Bad Cop seems to be the only way to get her to do things)

- Bought some new fancies for the house and prettied it up during our day off together yesterday (this never happens); worked on the yard a little and made more plans for Easter

- Christened the drum set for Guitar Hero (should have just bought the whole package at once) and scolded the cats for chewing the foot pedal cord in half the day after we bought it. Tree managed to Frankenstein the wires so that it works again but it looks pretty sketchy. Luckily we're getting a free pedal for pre-ordering GH: Metallica, otherwise... I don't know. Otherwise I'd just sulk, I guess.

Something else really fucking bizarre happened to me today, but I'm not ready to post about it - I just don't know how I feel about the whole thing. It's not anything bad, so please don't worry... it's just - weird. I'm going to take a day or so to mull over it and then I'll see what you guys think. :/


Also, Googling ex-boyfriends is HILARIOUS.

"I served in the Marine Corps as an Intelligence Specialist ..." Really? Is that what they're calling Air Support Operations Operator now? Cause I'm pretty sure that's what it was called when you were doing it. Before they kicked you out.

I hope LinkedIn allows page owners to see who links to their page (guffaw) !

"no, you can't bring it down cause I'm - "

- Metallica "Better Than You" -

23 March 2009

indeed a fool am I

So - 

Recently I've begun to admit to myself that I can't keep riding along with no college degree. It's embarrassing, but here I am, 23 with nothing to show, really. And it's sad, fucking pathetic actually, because I know I have the mental capacity to do it, I just can't seem to do it, do you know what I mean? I do a little research and find a college and program I'm interested in, anxiety mounting, and then when it gets down to it, I freeze up. I have an intense, real, not-even-exaggerating phobia of paperwork. This is not an excuse for anything, it's just a fact. 

And I know it's something I have to do in order to progress any farther, but... ?

Do you want to know why I don't have a Facebook account? The truth is, I did create one. I briefly personalized my account before searching for people I know - and then realized that if people searched for me, I'd have nothing listed below my name but my location. What a subtle way to announce to everyone that I'm an alumni of the University of Nothing. I promptly took down my account.

And though I read a lot - A LOT - and yes, it's good for my vocabulary, and yes, it's enriching and all that - but I still feel wholly inarticulate as much as I do embarrassed. I've tried not once, but twice to obtain a college degree, both times ending in spectacular failure due mostly to my laziness and inability to prioritize.

Sometimes I can't even TALK to people, you know? It frustrates me to not be able to debate, to compete. Would four years of higher education make a difference in that? Who the fuck knows. Maybe I'll learn how to fake it better.

In any case, I spent much of today researching - and my stomach feels like shit and I need a fucking cigarette. I'm not lying. I hate this process. Anyway, I made an account on GoArmyEd and poked around and found a few things. I've already determined that whatever program I end up in MUST BE offered entirely online. Can't and won't do the whole "traditional college experience" again.

So here are a few programs I found (in no order):

Thomas Edison State College, BA in Journalism or BA in Communication

These two degrees are Army Career Degrees, which will take into account and credit my time as a 46Q and apply that toward a degree, based on rank and related courses I've completed. It seems I'd be much better off if I were already an E6 and had completed both phases of BNCOC, but I can't worry about that now. There is a representative from Thomas Edison on McGuire, but I will have to call him TOMORROW to find out where the actual building is so I can go talk to him. 

American Military University, BA in Marketing or BA in Middle Eastern Studies

These two I will talk to the counselors at the Education Office about. AMU doesn't offer a BA (or BS) in Communications, but Marketing would be ok, too. And I'd love to go with Middle Eastern Studies, but realistically, where would that get me? Have to ask the counselor.

Burlington County College, AS in Liberal Arts/Science

Kind of a fall back, I guess, being that its a two year program. BCC is right up the road from Dix so it'd be convenient, although the program is offered entirely online, so it doesn't really matter that it's close. Something else to talk to the counselor about.

I have to will go talk to the folks in the Education Office on Dix this week on Thursday to make sure I'm doing everything the right way.

Until Thursday and until I formally begin this next chapter of my life, I continue to gather knowledge haphazardly and accidently. Today I read two more short stories by John Cheever from the aptly titled, The Stories of John Cheever, read about gonzo journalism and Hunter S. Thompson, watched the most recent episode of The Office online, and learned what a straw man argument is.

All in all, a busy day.

"and I journey through the desert of the mind
with no hope
I follow"

- Queens of the Stone Age "No One Knows" -

22 March 2009

can't read my, can't read my

Some random things Wikipedia has recently helped me out with:

Amy Fisher - Andy Warhol - Buddy Jesus - bukkake - clove of garlic - cougar - deus ex machina - Dr. Jekyl - Eastern State Penitentiary - Edgar Allan Poe - feed - Fred Weasley - General Hospital - Graves' Disease - Harlem Globetrotters - harlequin - I Can't Believe It's Not Butter - Ione Skye - Jaws 3 - Juneteenth - Kristen Bell - Kurt Warner - lamaze - Lizzie Bordon - MC Hammer - monkey frog - New Kids on the Block - non-canon - Ohio - Oz - Power Rangers - price fixing - Queens of the Stone Age - quinoa - Rainn Wilson - Riesling - ShamWow! - spinal bifida - Tay-Sachs disease - tzatziki - underground - ulna - Veronica Mars - voyeur - WB - When Harry Met Sally- Yehe Nara - yuppie - Zodiac Killer

Thankfully Tree's MacBook saves all the form entries on Wikipedia, allowing me to be reminded of how embarrassing I am.

"check this hand, cause I'm marvelous"

- Lady GaGa "Poker Face" -

16 March 2009

if you want to be a hero, well just follow me

Easter at the Blue House
April 12, 2009

Stuffed Mushrooms
Something Else Cool

Main Course
Slaughtered Pig = :(
General Tso's Tofu = :)

Boring Mashed Potatoes For People Who Hate Colcannon
Green Bean Casserole
Roasted Sweet Potatoes
Acorn Squash
Something With Carrots
Irish Soda Bread

Janine's Famous Lady Finger Cake
Assorted Cookies / Brownies
Something Else Cool, With Chocolate

Apple Juice
Soy Milk
Diet Coke
Sam Adams Boston Lager

- John Lennon "Working Class Hero" -

14 March 2009

can't wait for tomorrow; I might not have that long

The DVIDS training for the MPAD today was a success!! Ever since That Time, I'm fucking terrified for the first half hour of meeting a new unit - Will they be receptive to the training? Will they have a positive attitude? Will they actually learn anything? What if they immediately hate me?

I talked to Tea about that early this morning while we were waiting for them to arrive, and she assured me that That Time was just a freak occurrence and I needn't worry. And it turned out she was right. I showed them an overview video in the morning, followed by a little PowerPoint (not too much - I know it can be fatal in large doses), then some example videos of what not to do. They took a short lunch, then we took the dish outside and they took turns setting it up and breaking it down. As the big finale, we hooked up their camera to the system and called DVIDS to practice coming up on the satellite. All in all a success.

An update to yesterday: my guts are literally screaming to get out, and now I'm afraid to fart. Try not to think about that one too hard.

Oh!! I didn't tell you. So at the advice of Tree's father, we are going to have Easter down here in NJ so Tree and I don't have to split our holiday three ways like we always do. So far my parents, Tree's father and brother have confirmed, my sister and her BF are a 'probably' also confirmed, and Tree's mother and BF are a 'maybe'. I look forward to having our house full of people, my favorite people. :)

Tree and I are still working out what the menu will be, but I'll let you know. I've already resigned myself to the fact that we'll have to serve a meat dish, but I'm not pleased about it.

Well, that's enough rambling for today. Hope you haven't tuned out already. I'll try to be more interesting tomorrow.

"I'll tear my heart out
before I get out"

- Smashing Pumpkins "Today" -

13 March 2009

I wake up every evening, with a big smile on my face

Tomorrow I am giving a quick DVIDS spin up for a National Guard MPAD about to go to... NTC? That's right, not Iraq, but Fort Irwin, Calif. My supposed friend in the [redacted], whom I met at the DVIDS Instructor Course, is evidently spreading the vicious rumor that I can give the course myself, and at almost no cost to the Army! (The actual course at Crawford Communications is pricey.) Just wait til he returns from theatre - he and I are going to have words...!

So I'll be at the freakin installation PAO office tomorrow while the rest of the world snoozes. Well, Tea will be there. I'm so glad she'll be the one there with me. She's my favorite person over there, endlessly patient with us Soldiers who invade her office a couple times a month, and generous beyond believable. 

In other, disgusting news: I have a relentless stomach virus (or something) that is going to leave me a dry withered skeleton if it keeps up much longer. 

Oh and my house is haunted. Whenever I'm alone, and usually in the late afternoon before it's dark, I can distinctly hear someone (something?) walking up / down the stairs that lead to the loft. And almost every time I take a shower in the bathroom off the bedroom (again, only when I'm alone and usually late afternoon), I can hear muffled talking and laughter coming from the other side of the house.

Tonight I was sitting on the loveseat, which divides the great room in half, so it doesn't sit against a wall. Sitting there, watching tv, and I felt a pressure on the top of the headrest, as if someone had leaned from the back of the couch to look over my shoulder. The cats like to sit on the top of the headrests, so I turned, expecting to see one of them up there. No cat. Was someone leaning? Watching me surf blogs online? I don't mind sharing the house as long as the, ah, visitor, as long at he/she/it is friendly. :/

Oh and - who thinks I should take a scuba diving course / certification in May when it's offered here at the installation pool? Does the fact that I can't swim affect your decision?

And I just finished watching an old episode of CSI ("Gum Drops") and it totally made me cry. :/

Hope you enjoyed those random and disjointed little paragraphs. Time to get ready for tomorrow.

"and you're probably still working a 9-to-5 pace
I wonder how bad that tastes"

- All American Rejects "Gives You Hell" -

12 March 2009

the subliminal mindfuck America

Validating what I'd long suspected... (not that I'm "very progressive," which frankly sounds a little arrogant, but that I fall on the liberal end of democrats... I'm actually off the charts! See below)

Here's to bucking the national average! Take the Progressive Quiz yourself here (don't forget to tell me how you scored).

Also, a thought that admittedly isn't original - isn't it sad we won't have such terrific anti-Bush music anymore? I kind of enjoyed screaming "well maybe I'm the faggot America!" out my car window. I know I'm an anomaly in the military - we're typically so Republican that we bleed Toby Keith. We'll put a boot in your ass, 'cause it's the American way, y'all. Guns and blood and fucking shit up and stuff. Sheep blindly following the "shepherd."

A little piece of my own hell: the LT has Ann Coulter books stacked on her desk and everyone cheers during anti-Dem pieces on FOX News - which, by the way, is always on. The LT tries to tell me all the time how Obama is fucking up so bad, how he hasn't managed to repair the economy yet (which took years to destroy, but should somehow turn around in the, what, 52 days he's been president?), how he has grand ideas but no actions (see previous). I'm all for debate; I do despise, however, blatant ignorance.

"now everybody do the propaganda
and sing along in the age of paranoia"

- Green Day "American Idiot" -

09 March 2009

my war paint is sharpie ink and I'll show you how much my shit stinks

I've been meaning to post about this, but the end of last week was hectic - Tree and I went back to Mass because this was a drill weekend - and I just didn't have the time. Anyway. Read on for the hilarity awkwardness that was last Thursday:

So recently I decided to mobilize for another year with First Army (I know, who ever saw that coming??) and thus have to get the shit squared away that I'd been lazy about since I got to Dix, namely: MedPros. This is just the system that tracks your medical readiness in a number of categories: immunizations, dental, vision, hearing, periodic heath assessment or PHA (basically a routine physical), etc. Last month I was 'amber,' or in need of an update, in 5 categories.

I took care of the immunization update first: all I needed was a flu shot, ahem, flu mist. Kind of a gross sensation but not a big deal. Then I walked over to the dental clinic, they looked at my teeth, everything seemed fine. So two categories green. Next I went over to the Air Force side of Dix (also known as McGuire AFB) and had a PHA done, they made sure I had all my toes and whatever, that was fine too. Two weeks ago I went back to McGuire and had a vision exam (getting new glasses, but a weaker prescription - odd). All green except... the dreaded 'women's health' category. I HATE gynecologists.

I don't care if this makes me a bad person, but the last time I had a pap smear (about a month before I deployed), I told the gyno I'd been assaulted when I was younger so she'd hurry the hell up. Even though in reality I have never had any sort of trauma like that, I get over-emotional every time and end up crying and/or puking. Fun, right?

[Note: I don't mean to downplay sexual assault by any means, I just really, really fucking hate the exam process and would rather sell one of my arms than have one.]

So I'd called over to McGuire to see about making an appointment (unavoidable if I want to extend my mobilization) and they were booked until, like, 2011. And since I waited so long to start updating my MedPros, I now don't have that kind of time. I had no choice but to make an appointment with a civilian doctor around Dix and eat the cost. Whatever. Except my options were a Planned Parenthood about 30 min away, or some other random clinic nearly two hours away. Not really much of a choice, so Planned Parenthood it is.

Thursday, on my way there (I left during lunchtime and had to be back after the exam to finish up work), all I can think about is the movie Juno. You must have seen it, right? She's pregnant and decides to go have an abortion, except when she gets to the clinic, there's a classmate there protesting and holding a sign with a baby on it, and she tells Juno her baby has fingernails. Juno freaks out and ends up changing her mind.

Anywayyyy, I'm not pregnant and I wasn't going there to see an abortionist (is that a word?), but fuck, what if there were people protesting in the parking lot? Did I mention that, in a colossal oversight, I'd neglected to bring a set of civilian clothes, so here I was driving to this clinic in fucking uniform. Nice one. So what do I say if there are protesters: I just want a fucking pap, people! And not even really want one, but need one! Who the hell is going to believe that?

If there are protesters there I'm turning the fucking car around.

So I get there and thankfully there is no one outside to call me a murderer or whatever. So far so good? I open the door to the clinic and walk into a teeny closet-sized room. The receptionists are on the other side of - I kid you not - bulletproof glass. I have to show ID to prove I have an appointment, then I'm buzzed through a huge heavy door into the waiting room.

There are two other girls there, watching some courtroom tv show on a smallish tv in the corner of the waiting room. I filled out the forms they needed ("choose all the kinds of birth control you use: the pill, condoms, diaphragm, IUD, Depo-Provera, ... pulling out..."). Two more girls come in, looking sullen. No one speaks. Judge So-And-So lectures on.

I finally get to the gyno - she's a tall, blonde, severe woman who doesn't smile when I lamely tell her I hope her hands aren't cold. She doesn't comment on my folded uniform on the chair next to the table, doesn't say anything at all other than, "you need to relax your muscles." I'm just cattle, another random vagina. I'd wondered why my appointment was scheduled for 1:15 and not 1:00 or 1:30... but now it was clear - she was in the room with me for all of 3 min, so she probably does at least 4 exams an hour, with time in between to smoke a butt or take a nap or whatever. And for the $58 I paid? Not too bad for Planned Parenthood, I'd say.

She left the room so I could get changed again and I stepped in a glob of lube on the floor. In my socks. Which I didn't have a spare pair of. Thought about that lube in my boot for the rest of the day.

The moral of this story? Even without protesters carrying signs featuring aborted babies, going to Planned Parenthood is quite possibly the most uncomfortable experience on the planet.

"ask you what you think
because your thoughts and words are powerful"

- Kimya Dawson "Loose Lips" -

03 March 2009

why worry when it's warm over here?

I just watched an episode of Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares by accident, thinking it was Kitchen Nightmares (same chef, different country) and not realizing the channel was BBC America and not one of the FOX channels we get (I think we get more than one? I'm no good with the tv). 

Wow, what a difference! Tree likes Gordon Ramsay, so we periodically watch Kitchen Nightmares and weekly watch Hell's Kitchen. In both of those (US) shows, Ramsay throws plates of food, mercilessly insults participants, and screams obscenities at everyone. About a quarter of what he says is masked by a beep. 

But in the UK version of Kitchen Nightmares, he's almost pleasant. He still drops an f-bomb here and there, but he's more willing to listen to and actually help his fellow chefs and restaurant owners, and he's much more forgiving with the waitstaff. He didn't call anyone a failure, didn't throw anyone out of the kitchen. In the episode I watched tonight, he circulated through the dining room, personally handing out comment cards to the patrons. In the US version and in Hell's Kitchen, he's rarely not raging in someone's face, let alone interacting with the patrons.

What does this say about US vs UK culture? Is it that (aspiring) American chefs are more dimwitted and therefore more deserving of having food thrown at them when a customer sends it back? Or is it that Ramsay has to be more over the top, more obscene, more shocking, in order to satisfy the American audience? 

After the show, World News came on BBC America and I watched a little and felt sad. It made me think of BBC International, which was shown 24 hours a day on a huge television directly in front of my desk in Baghdad. Of all the 24-hour news channels we monitored (Pentagon News Channel, FOX, CNN, Al Jazeera English, CNN International, BBC-I, and Sky News) BBC-I was my favorite. They'd do longer pieces than the others, and I enjoyed watching the features that focused more on telling the story rather than jamming as much information as possible between commercials. I miss BBC-I, among other things...

"you've got so much to say,
say what you mean
mean what you're thinking
and think anything"

- Cat Stevens "Can't Keep It In" -