30 April 2009

run around the same old town

So I started BNCOC today - actually, it was just the report day; classes formally begin tomorrow. I'm really... nervous? I don't know. I've known I'd be going to this class for probably two months now (that's about when I requested a slot), but then that was it, there it went to the back of my mind, and here I went, on with my business.

Then this morning, when I reported to the NCO Academy to sign in, the cadre was walking around addressing us collectively as "sergeants," as in, "Sergeants, once you get your linen, bring it up to your rooms and then come back, hooah?" And it was like, Ohhhh shit, it's textbook Army time.

Because HHB isn't textbook Army, it's not even close. By textbook, I mean, addressing people by rank and last name, standing at parade rest every once in awhile, marching if you're in groups larger than 3. You know, the kind of things that are technically correct but get dropped off after you've been together for awhile. At least, that has been my experience. The 65th (my home unit) is about as un-military as you can get without being a straight-up civilian. Think Bill Murray in Stripes.

Oh, and I had to dust off my husband's my beret for the class. I'm in the real Army again!

I'll keep you posted over my next two weeks of - fun?

"I've been first and last
look at how the time goes past
but I'm all alone at last
rolling home to you"

- Neil Young "Old Man" -

28 April 2009

and suddenly you're in love with everything

Weird. Fucking. Day.

Remember back when I said I was going to start volunteering at the animal shelter near my house? Remember when I still haven't done it yet?

Today a lightning bolt came out of the sky/the ceiling in my office and hit me - and then there I was, typing in the website for the shelter and saving their phone number in my cell phone.

Then, like, 15 minutes later, I was overcome by the urge to sneak a cigarette. For those who do not know me, I've been battling a nicotine addiction for approximately a million years. Lately I've been winning (unless we have a unit in training or I'm in Iraq - what is it about the Army that makes me want to smoke more?). So today, not training and not in Iraq, it was odd but overpowering, my need for a Marlboro. I walked down to S6 and hit up one of the civilians, who was happy to get away from his desk for a bit.

We walked out back and sat on the picnic table and talked about his impending divorce (that sucks) and why no one wants to live in New Jersey (true story). He smoked a second one (I didn't) and then we headed back toward the building.

"Hey, Sgt. Malibu, want to see some kittens?" I turned to see a MSG who works downstairs standing off in the grass near our parking lot. [It reads that way, but she really didn't sound so much like a pedo trying to lure me into a van as it looks here, I promise.]

"Um, ok?" I said, confused, and walked toward her. "Where are they?"

She pointed to the storm drain, hidden in the grass next to her. I peeked in, and at the bottom, about 4 feet down, three teeny kittens huddled together in the wet leaves. My heart melted.

"I called DPW [Department of Public Works] and they referred me to Pest Control - the guy is on his way here with something to scoop them out of there." She looked worried. "I don't know where the mother is, I think she may have been that cat that got hit earlier... and it's supposed to rain tonight and for the next few days. They'll drown down there, you know?" She knelt down and peered in. "But I don't know... I asked the Pest Control guy what he was going to do with them and he didn't really answer me."

Um. "What do you mean, he didn't answer you?"

"I don't know. But he's the Pest Control guy."

Lightbulb! "I can take them to a shelter that's near here. I was literally just looking up their phone number. Seriously."

She stood up, looking relieved. "Ok, want to go get a box then? I think we have some inside?"

We walked back in, got a box, sat back in the grass and waited for the Pest Control guy. He arrived a few minutes later with fucking Havahart traps (their spelling, not mine) and a long hook/pincher thing. It took a few tries, but by gingerly picking up the kittens with the pincher thing and lifting them up to the grate, he was able to place them in my hands so I could ease them through the grate.

They turned out to be smaller than I'd thought - little feet smaller than my smallest fingernail, and their eyes weren't even open. From torso to the base of their tail, they were about 4, maybe 5 inches. They mewed softly and found each other in the box and resumed huddling. Are they cold? I wondered. It's like 90 degrees out here!

"They can't be more than a few days old," said the Pest Control guy, perhaps rethinking his previous plan of murdering "disposing of" the kittens. "You'll need to get them to the shelter right away so someone can start feeding them."

I nodded and said goodbye to the MSG (and asked her to let the others in my office know where I was going) and got into my car. I plugged the shelter's address into my Garmin and drove off post, glancing into the box every couple seconds. The orphaned kittens - two gray and one orange - remained wedged into the corner of the box, their faces pressed into each other's fur. 

It occurred to me I should give the shelter a heads up that I was coming with three newborns, and it proved to be a good idea: they can't take wild animals unless they come from Animal Control (which Fort Dix does not have, evidently). The shelter gave me the number to the Animal Control for the closest country and I tried it: no answer, mailbox is full. Shit.

Called the shelter again to see what I should do now. She said the only other thing I could do was call the non-emergency number of the local police. Um, the DoD police on Fort Dix? Yeah, probably not. But I didn't know any other police stations to contact. I drove back onto Dix and parked in front of the DoD police station, carried the box in with me so the kittens wouldn't roast in my car.

The woman in the lobby (behind the bulletproof glass, that is) was surprised and very helpful, as were the police officers who came out to the main part of the lobby to peer into the box and coo at the kittens. They were able to get in touch with another county's Animal Control, who agreed to meet there at the DoD police station to pick up the kittens for transport to a shelter (probably the shelter I'd previously talked to, but oh well, I'm no stranger to slightly-ridiculous SOPs). I waited until they arrived so I could ensure the kittens wouldn't be destroyed (Animal Control promised me they wouldn't be unless they were rabid/whatever).

Drove back to work.

I know this picture is blurry, but I took it with my phone while I was driving to the DoD police station (pretty sure that's illegal or something). Anyway, here they are:

Also, and completely unrelated, I am pretty sure I broke one of my toes, possibly two. I walked around in pain all day.

"but now I'm dry of thoughts, wait for the rain
then it's replaced, sun setting..."

- Badly Drawn Boy "The Shining" -

24 April 2009

dance a little stranger

A beautiful fucking day that reminds me why the universe is so perfect right.

At lunch we had a farewell luncheon for our outgoing battery commander... going to really miss the guy. Not only is he a great commander, he's personable, approachable, funny, engaging, and most importantly, he sincerely cares about the Soldiers of HHB. I've been lucky enough to work with him on a number of projects since I've been here (and run next to him with the guidon on a number of battery runs) and can say he's one of the best officers I've served with. I hate to see him go.

Left the teary luncheon (we're all going to miss him, and you can see it on his face he's going to miss us, too) and fucked off for the rest of the day with the LT CPT (did I tell you she got promoted?). We drove over to the Air Force side and went to the thrift store to see if there was anything cool for sale. There wasn't. Then we headed to the BX/PX and I bought a $17 candle.

Got back to the office, answered some emails, then wished each other a good weekend and peaced out.

And now the sun is slanting golden sideways through the open windows. A breeze off the lake is stirring the curtains and bringing in the gentle smell of forsythia. Two (wild) ducks are floating slowly by on the grey/blue surface of the water. I feel like my heart could explode from the overwhelming beauty of my life.

"put your arms around me, baby"

- Sugar Ray "Fly" -

22 April 2009

well darlin' I'm telling you now

Thank you for reading this, because I need to tell you something.

If you ever need anyone to talk to, if you ever feel overwhelmed or scared or depressed and don't know what to do with yourself, please please please call me. I care about you deeply and I'm worried about you. I might not physically be there all the time, but I'm always there for you, at whatever hour and in any form of communication. I can't imagine this world without you, you know that? You make the day beautiful.

And that goes for all of you, whoever 'you' might be. I'm serious. I'll talk to anyone.

At any time: malibuniki@gmail.com.

"when the stars are shining in the sky
have I told you why the nights are long?"

- Rod Stewart "Have I Told You Lately" -

19 April 2009

but you tell me over and over and over again my friend

This makes me want to scream:

If you're outraged (I know I am), here's their email address: [redacted]. I already sent them a "confrontational" email to let them know what I thought of the video. Bravo guys. Seriously, way to go.

UPDATE 4/20:
I recieved this from Mr. Dennis Heitzmann, Senior Director, Center for Counseling and Psychological Services Affiliate Professor, Clinical and Counseling Psychology
Good morning [Sgt Malibu Niki]:

Thank you for the opportunity to give some background on this regrettable circumstance, and to allow us to sincerely apologize for the harm that has has been done. We have apologized to our campus vets and many others, many of whom have become supporters of our efforts to clarify and make amends.

The video you viewed was one of several that had been produced to highlight the services available to students, while addressing issues of relevance to members of the faculty (including ironically, unfair stereotyping of groups of individuals, sensitizing instructors to the unique milieu of their students, the inappropriateness of instructor-conveyed political positions in the classroom, reducing risk and mitigating anger). In the faculty workshop context, which has included veterans, the videos are used as a stimulus to discussion, and the very issues cited above, as well as others, are openly discussed in an effort to educate and support.

Unfortunately, since the posting of that single video to the cyber community, the portrayal of the student as a veteran, outside of the workshop context, unfairly stereotypes our student veterans. Whereas the producers of the video would never wish to be party to any such intention, it is understandable that this could be interpreted as such. Many weeks ago, upon realizing the unintended impact on some and the potential impact on others, we immediately removed the video from our website, and it will not be used in future workshops.

The Division of Student Affairs has enjoyed a longstanding quality relationship with the Office of Veterans Programs, and the student counseling service has helped scores of veteran students to resolve their unique challenges, as well as to facilitate their transition to the university. We would not want to jeopardize those relationships in any way, particularly in view of the many services we believe we have yet to offer this important student constituency. To that end, among other things we have been working with the Penn State University Veterans Organization to seek renewed ways to provide focused support and services.

As an infantry trainee at Fort Dix many years ago, I recall the words of Corporal
Ingram, my team leader, who reminded us that we can expect to fall time and again, but to get up, check your flanks, and keep moving till the mission's accomplished. Together with the support of the veterans, some of whom are seeing this as an important opportunity to not only right the wrong that has been done, but to advance the cause for all veterans, we feel a renewed sense of affiliation and support in our mutual efforts to provide quality services to our returning veterans --- perhaps the best way we can make amends to those who have been offended.........D.H.

P.S. If you have already forwarded your message to other veterans, I would appreciate I if you would forward my message above for their information

Dennis Heitzmann, Ph.D. Senior Director, Center for Counseling and Psychological Services Affiliate Professor, Clinical and Counseling Psychology

"ah, you may leave here for four days in space
but when you return, it's the same old place"

- Barry McGuire "Eve of Destruction" -

16 April 2009

when the pigs try to get at ya, park it like it's hot

Hey you! You're in luck! I happen to have a 1974 Plymouth Duster for sale, which is, like, exactly the project car you have been looking for!

Check it out on Craigslist:

And I probably shouldn't tell you this, but I really, really want to get rid of this car, and I will take any reasonable offer (and maybe even unreasonable ones). Not because there is something wrong with it, it's just that when I bought it (in 2007) I had some crazy idea that I'd restore the thing into a beautiful Mopar masterpiece. I don't even know how to change a tire. I'm clearly an idiot. So now the thing is just sitting there and I will in all likelihood never restore it (who was I kidding, really).

So please buy my car! If it's not something you're into, tell your friends! The mailman! Your proctologist!

"I'm a gangsta, but y'all knew that"

- Snoop Dog "Drop It Like It's Hot" -

13 April 2009

I'm a sailor peg... and I lost my leg!

Best Easter ev-ar.

1. Whole family
2. (excuse to have the house immaculately clean)
3. Fucking delicious food
4. Beautiful new orchids
5. (threw away the awful smelling 'Chocolate Shit Suede' candles)
6. Help feeding (wild) geese
7. Super Nintendo with my sister
8. 'Chocolate Cake' shots with my mom
9. Adult Easter Egg Hut
10. Didn't have to drive 6 hours back home

I remember what I miss about Massachusetts

"I'm shipping off... to find my wooden leg!"

- Dropkick Murphys "I'm Shipping Up To Boston" -

08 April 2009

I don't need a better thing

Part II

It was both the longest and the shortest drive of my life. It felt like it took a lifetime to get to Tree, but then I was right there, skirting the cops and parking my car in front of the ambulance.

The ambulance.

Oh, and the Jeep, on its side.

Parked, shut my car off, jogged up the hill.

Tree was standing on the sidewalk looking small and about to cry. As I got closer, I took stock of his body parts: Arms, two. Legs, both there. Face, not bleeding. I eased my arms around him, afraid to squeeze a broken rib or fractured arm I might have missed.

He was shaking, vibrating, and talking a mile a minute - to me, the cops, the owners of the fence he destroyed when he rolled the Jeep across their lawn. 

He kept laughing, almost mechanically, about how he managed not to get any of his freshly-bought coffee on his ACUs - but there was blood on his pants, along the opening to his pocket. His fingers had been cut in the broken glass and were bandaged, but still bleeding a lot. "Can you get more bandaids?" I asked. He vaguely shook his head. He'd refused transport to the hospital and the EMTs had driven away almost as soon as I got there.

Standing a few yards away was a dazed looking man in a navy blue sweatshirt. "Is that the guy?" I whispered to Tree. He nodded. "So what the hell happened? Did he fall asleep or what?" Tree didn't know. I gently hugged him again and looked further up the hill at the man's car, which had come to rest, on all four wheels, in front of a mail box on the other side of the street. "Are they going to cite him?" Tree shrugged and shushed me.

The man walked over to us hesitantly and apologized (though Tree later told me he had already apologized about a hundred times). He told us a friend was coming to pick him up, but that Tree should call him if he needed anything. He gave us his business card. "And, uh, I really appreciate you serving our country." Then a truck drove up and he hopped in and was gone.

"So, it's pretty clear what happened," said one of the cops, walking over. "You can see where he crossed into you lane, and where you went up onto the sidewalk to avoid him. And we did cite him, just so you are aware." Tree nodded. I nodded. The cop continued, "I should have the accident report completed by this afternoon, tomorrow morning the latest, and you can go pick it up any time." His hand-held chirped, and he walked away.

The firefighters were standing in a little cluster near the Jeep, quietly talking and waiting for the tow trucks. The first one took the man's Cadillac, because it didn't need to to be flipped over. We all waited some more. The air still smelled like fog. The elderly couple with the ruined fence went back into their house.

Tree kept talking, crazy laughing, rubbing the lump on his head, flexing his cut fingers, checking the time on his cell phone. He was late for drill. "I think they'll understand," I said. I just wanted everyone to go away and Tree to stop talking and be still. He kept squirming out of my hugs but I persisted, pressed my cheek against his chest. My eyes finally filled with tears at the realization of what could have happened.

The second tow truck finally came and helped the firefighters flip the Jeep back onto its wheels. Coffee dripped out the broken driver's window. Tree picked up the severed sidemirror and handed it to me. "Souvenir," he said and went to dig his bags out of the back of the Jeep.

We thanked the firefighters, the cops, the tow truck guy, and got into my car. "I have to get to drill," he said. He also wanted a new coffee.

"it's just another thing for me
I just have to wander through this world

- Pete Yorn "Lose You" -

07 April 2009

hold me like this is the last time

Part I

"Nik, wake up! Wake up! Tree was just in an accident and his phone died! Are you awake?"

TD was banging on the door, and groggily, I sat up.


"I don't know, he just called and said he was in an accident and then his phone went dead. I don't know what happened." He was breathless, still standing outside the closed door.

I don't remember getting out of bed or finding my phone, but then it was in my hand and I was dialing Tree, feeling numb, like that sensation right before you vomit but when you know it's coming. He answered right away, sounding panicky and far away.

"I'm- yeah. I'm ok. I rolled the Jeep. I'm ok."

He told me where he was and hung up. I threw on the jeans I'd worn the day before and a sweatshirt and went out into the living room, where TD was pacing around with a cigarette.

I found my keys and purse. "I don't know what happened, he said he's alright. He's near the clinic I guess." I jammed my feet into my shoes and added, unnecessarily, "I'm going there now." He nodded.

Down the stairs, driveway, into my car, the street. 

All I could think was fuck.

"when I wake up in the morning
and you're beside me..."

- Alicia Keys "Like You'll Never See Me Again" -

01 April 2009

I kinda always knew...

MAJOR DRAMA / CRISIS ............ AVERTED! Three cheers to kicking a terrible, waste-of-time habit and getting some self respect back (and amusing the hell out of myself in the process). And a special, no-shit-I-really-mean-it-guys thanks to Angel and my V.I.P. for talking me down off the ledge. 

I feel so much fucking better now that I've said all the things I should have a long time ago. And I'm ok being hated now that I've said my peace - better to be hated than to get a phone call out of the blue 6 months from now, or a surprise visit at work, or an errant email wondering what's up. I don't care what you've been up to. I don't want to be your friend. No, we can't go get coffee. I'm so fucking done with the stupidity and feeling bad about feeling bad about wanting to feel better.

It was really telling yesterday - the bullshit was fucking choking me and I still couldn't bring myself to rage about it. Instead it was just sad and tiring. I just don't fucking care anymore. So go on, pilot a spacecraft to the moon, start cooking meth in your house, discover the cure for lung cancer, go off and die somewhere, whatever, I literally and seriously could give a fuck.

So with the weight finally off my chest, the circle has been closed, and I can't wipe this shit-eating grin off my fucking face.

"we keep repeating mistakes for souvenirs
and we've been in between the days for years"

- No Doubt "Ex-Girlfriend" -