April 17th, 2008

Ladies and gentlemen, I've just been handed...

...three urgent and horrifying news stories, and I need all of you to stop what you're doing and read! Actually, none of these items is either urgent or horrifying, but that's beside the point.

Razzy accorded me the status of "Daily Dude I Want to Hit" today, in response to my adulatory post three days ago. She starts by relating an experience with a Sailor stationed at Naval Base Kitsap - Bangor. Once again, she provoked a recollection - this time, of the fact that the "P-N-Dub" was my first overall choice of homeport when I listed my order of preference. Bangor was at the top because I wanted to be on an Ohio-class ballistic missile submarine (think the USS Alabama from Crimson Tide); they have two crews, a more settled schedule, and better onboard conditions. That said, I listed the other SSBN homeport (Kings Bay, Georgia) fifth; after a year-plus living in South Carolina, I didn't want to return to the Southeast. As for the attack submarines (think the fictitious USS Orlando from Down Periscope), I wanted to be close to my ancestral home, so Groton was slotted at number two. The full order is at the end.

Razzy then proceeds to recount the history leading to this post, and then talks about the issue of my virginity. While I did say on March 25 that "I'd hit it if the opportunity arose", I based that judgment solely on physical appearance. At this point, I agree with her that if we met in person, it probably wouldn't be the best thing for us to drop underneath the sheets. I do fully intend on meeting up with her the next time I'm in New York City. That might be fairly soon - right now, if the schedule holds (and that's a gianormous if), I've got some time off in May that partially overlaps with Fleet Week New York 2008. If this were to happen, it might have to be somewhere in Manhattan other than her home turf; I'm more than a bit apprehensive about wearing the whites into Harlem.

I've previously stated here that one of the reasons I came to like Razzy so much is that she seems a lot like a female Tucker Max. As fortune has it, there's big news on that front. This morning before I left for work, a new entry at I Hope They Serve Beer In Hell (the blog about the movie adaptation of Tucker's bestselling book) appeared in my Google Reader, titled "Why we picked Bob Gosse." That meant one thing - the official announcement of the movie's release had dropped, exclusively at The Hollywood Reporter. I am very excited about this movie, and about the path TMax and DrunkRex are traveling to get it made. In bypassing the studios and making the movie independently, they're trying to prevent commercial Hollywood from fucking up their vision, and also from possibly ruining Tucker's hard-earned reputation. This is one that I'll be seeing on the day of its release, provided I'm not prevented from doing so by work.

And speaking of work, submariners the world over - especially those of like mind to myself - are rejoicing this week. TubeDaze Productions has released the premiere of the second season of "Hey, Shipwreck." I loved it, and it's particularly worthy this week; it will help to convey the true sense of the Navy and the Submarine Force to new readers. What you see here is the kind of thought process endemic in my workplace. Watch for yourself: Hey, Shipwreck: The Sixteenth Episode. (Embedding removed because it's totally not working right.)

The schedule is in total flux right now; it was actually surprising that when I arrived to work today, it was exactly the same as when I left on Wednesday. It's a huge pain, because I really need to minimize the time I'm paying for two apartments (especially this one); the further our availability here extends to the right, the bigger the hit to my bank account.

* The seven submarine homeports, in the order of preference I expressed when I filled out the form in early 2005: Bangor, WA; Groton, CT; San Diego, CA; Pearl Harbor, HI; Kings Bay, GA; Norfolk, VA; Guam.

How did this happen?

Everybody who reads this knows my opinion of the Navy. What you almost certainly don't know is what would cause someone attending an Ivy League school to suddenly leave and enlist in the armed services. It's not something I've ever liked to talk about. I definitely didn't talk about it on the Internet as it happened. I've been posting here, with varying frequency, since May 2001 - the end of my sophomore year at Cornell. I thus went back and looked over the archives from the end of 2002, and found that none of the eight posts I made in the last four months of that year betrayed any sign of what was really going on. I made a brief statement on my departure on January 27, 2003; while the words I wrote that day were true, they don't tell anywhere near the whole story.

I wrote it all out six months ago. Just before I left for Ithaca, I told my high school friend B-Dub the hard truth. B-Dub is the long lost friend with whom I re-established contact last June, and she's one of the few people from back in Northport who I really trust. I never heard back from her, but it's cool, because she very well might have been overseas then. I'm going to post here the unedited text of what I wrote her, because it's an accurate account of how I went from Ivy Leaguer to raising the right hand to take the oath.
Everything was fine after sophomore year; my grades had dropped a bit, but I was still above water. Nothing was amiss as semester number five began, but everything changed two and a half weeks in. I spent most of September 11 watching the horror unfold on a giant screen - I worked in the campus store, and Tuesday was my day to have a long shift. In the days and weeks that followed, I got completely wrapped up in the news coverage. I couldn't understand what could possibly drive someone to commit murder on such a scale. I still to this day don't understand it. As the rest of the semester progressed, I continued to shut down, completely blowing off all my academic commitments; and by Christmas, I was forced to take the spring semester off, since the fall courses in my major were prerequisites for the spring courses.

That spring didn't see much of a change in my habits; I continued to behave sort of like a student, doing a lot of stuff with the pep band and the campus radio station, but without taking any classes. I really didn't have any financial trouble; I'd saved plenty, and my parents had fronted the money for the rent (I lived in an off-campus house). This lethargy continued into the summer, when finally my parents forced my hand; they also came through for me, getting me a job at the laboratory where my Dad worked. By this time, I'd already been re-admitted for the fall. However, when I arrived back in Ithaca in late August 2002, I wasn't ready to go to work. The fact the my non-student status in the spring had prevented me from pre-registering for fall classes didn't help. Fall 2002 was more of the same from fall 2001 - and by about Thanksgiving, it was clear that there would be no bachelor of science from Cornell in my future.

It was about this time that my mom suggested joining the military. Seeing as I was broke, deep in debt, and with few viable options, I gave the suggestion serious consideration. I easily eliminated the Army and the Marines - I really didn't see myself as that gung-ho, and with the war in Iraq looming, the prospect of being a bullet sponge didn't really appeal to me. Since my dad served in the Air Force, I decided to go with the Navy. They pulled a Don Corleone on me - they made me an offer I couldn't refuse.

What happened in my life was all my own making, and I'd certainly do it much differently if given a do-over. None of it was Cornell's fault, and I hold no ill will toward the university. Starting Friday, I've got a week of leave (vacation time). This weekend, I'm heading back to Ithaca for the first time since I joined the Navy - it's homecoming weekend, and I'm super-excited to see all my old friends.
So that's how it all went down. As much as I despise the drudgery of my job right now, the Navy delivered on the biggest thing it promised me - financial stability. I've paid off the vast majority of my debt from the Cornell era, and have socked away over twenty thousand dollars thus far. This ensures that at the end of 2008, I won't face the same financial conditions as the end of 2002 - a condition that really helps clear the way for me to separate from the service in a year and a month.