Shift work ended the Saturday before last. Prior to going into work the previous night, I got a message from my mom stating that my my uncle Michael had died, and that the wake was Sunday. Since I had Sunday completely off, I planned on going. And after coming out of work Sunday morning, I got underway on an unexpected trip to Long Island. I saw plenty of family members who I hadn't seen in many years. I got reacquainted with one cousin who is 39 and works on Wall Street, and got acquainted with another cousin who is 15 and is still in high school. My favorite remark came from my cousin Laura - following an interesting exchange, she quipped to me "and you thought you had a chance at being normal." Though I chose not to verbalize it, the reply that came to mind was "are you kidding? You forget that in addition to all of this Monahan weirdness, I'm also a Carberry."
I left Garden City expecting an uneventful return trip...but I was wrong about that. Just after merging onto I-95 from the Merritt Parkway, my left front tire sprung a flat. I successfully got the Minivan o' War to the side of the road, and called my mom to get some guidance on how to change the tire. I was able to get the spare down and the van on the jack, but loosening the lug nuts on the flat was another story. I kept trying - on the shoulder of Interstate 95, no less - until the Connecticut State Police showed up, escorted me off the road, and called a tow truck. The tow got the tire changed; inflating the spare took a bit of time though. Though the car wobbled badly on the spare, I was able to get it successfully back to Groton - no small feat considering how exhausted I was. The next day, I brought the car in after work, and the repairs were complete by Wednesday - fortunate for me, as that was the day we got smacked with nasty weather (mostly rain, but some ice and slush as well).
I proceeded with my regularly scheduled visit to Long Island on Saturday morning. Though my boredom with my home region was a major motivating factor in my decision to hit Boston three weeks ago, I was now ready to handle the Island again. The most important aspect of the weekend came early on - something I refer to simply as final repayment. You see, the funds appropriated by my folks to fund my experiences at Cornell University were made as a loan; I was responsible for repaying every (big red) cent. As recently as six months ago, I was still on the hook for twenty-three thousand dollars. It was around that time that I made the decision to get this matter behind me. Thus, at the end of October, I sent my mom a big check. And I kept sending checks every so often; the last time I visited the parents, I had cut the debt to five thousand dollars. At that time, I began to look at whether I could handle paying it all off. And after accounting for my recent paychecks, my tax refunds, and my blackjack winnings, I came to the conclusion that I could - and thus I did. I'm not completely out to the college loan hole yet - I still owe about five grand to the government - but this is a major step forward, primarily because I can now focus my saving efforts on building a nest egg to survive the transition back to the civilian corps, though that event is still twenty-seven months in the future. The rest of the weekend can be summed up thusly: Tucker Max, Chad Vader, Peat Moss; explanations on the first two to follow. Oh, and a phone call from Evan at 1100 on Sunday inviting me to a poker game, though I was 150 miles away.
Last night, at about 0245, I was looking at our duty rotation for March, and I noticed that I had the second weekend of March free of duty. This will be the first time in nearly five months that I have an entire weekend (Friday night, and all of Saturday and Sunday) off. My first idea was to make a return trip to Boston. But then I had the following thought process:
"ECAC quarterfinal weekend...Cornell likely to be at home...haven't been to Ithaca in over four years...haven't seen the renovated Lynah Rink...why wait for Grand Bonecoming to make this roadtrip?"
There are plenty of details to work out, like permissions from the supervision, procuring tickets to the games, finding out who, if anyone, else plans to make this trip - and this is all assuming Mike Schafer's boys do what they need to this weekend. But it's definitely a shimmering light of hope in an otherwise dark, bleak hole.
Late last year, my friend Ray brought underway a book titled I Hope They Serve Beer In Hell. Its author, a man by the name of Tucker Max, has no apparent credentials other than penchants for drunken debauchery, generally salacious behavior, and scoring with more women than he has any business getting with. On my way home on Saturday, I stopped off at Borders and picked up a copy...and loved it. I put it down several times, but in most of those cases, I had picked it back up within a few minutes. The stories contained within this tome fall into the wonderful category of "stranger than fiction" - you literally can't make this stuff up. I urge you all to financially support Tucker's mayhem by buying his book. I would also like to point out that of course they serve beer in hell - Pabst Blue Ribbon, Schlitz, and Natural Light are all on tap at Satan's pad.
As for the Chad Vader phenomenon, I stumbled onto it sometime last week - I believe it was while I was watching the My Box in a Box video. I need not elucidate the hilarity of these clips here - I need only urge you to watch for yourself.
Happening on Memphis: Steve goes under the knife tomorrow to have the twins cut out, hopefully this time for good. TheMormon broke his left wrist this weekend in a freak snowboarding accident, and will be out of commission for a few weeks. I've been where he is right now (see this entry), and it's not pleasant. T-minus two weeks or so to leaving the dry dock, and underway not too long after that. Last week I found out that ship's schedule could have me celebrating 26 in an interesting location...I am enthused.