Me, Myself, and I

I have made the decision to focus on myself.  I’m not doing to well to start off, but I’m determined.  It’s been an awful 2 years and I need to become a better person.  Whether everything I have been through is 100% my fault of not, the fact of the matter is, I am still at fault.  I need to be better for me.  I’m not a person who is good at focusing on me.  I am someone who always puts others before myself.  I take on their pain in hopes that they can have some relief.  But I can’t do it anymore.  I can’t bare that weight.  I have gotten to the point where I’m not sure how much of my own weight I can bare.

I decided to get the help that I believe that I need.  I am too much of a realist thinker.  I see a situation and analyze it and (think) I know how to deal with it.  I don’t.  I can’t know the answers anymore.  Not because the situation doesn’t make sense to me (because, believe me, it makes no sense in my head), but because I’m just not equipped to deal with it.  I need help to deal with my shit.  This has been a very difficult realization to come to that I can’t fix it.

I started seeing a counselor last week and I have to say that I am very excited to go back this week.  I desperately need to feel like myself again.  The biggest problem is, I don’t know who myself is anymore.  It hasn’t just been 2 years of not feeling like myself and me being unhappy, but the last 2 years have been hell.

I do not feel very good about myself and I have really been a disappointment.  No one should go through life feeling this way; so I decided to make a change.  If nothing else, I will be happy to just figure out things about me.  We’ll see how it goes.

I Should Have Given More

God, Country, Family.

This is the code we are supposed to live by.

I served my country 4 years active duty and 2.5 years as a reservist. I wish I could have given more.

I have done a lot of things, right and wrong, but the one thing that I regret most is that I wish I could have given more.

I remember (like most people) where I was and what I was doing when those Towers were struck and fell. I remember like it was just yesterday, the emotions and feelings I felt that day. That day, I knew I was destined to join the service and protect the freedoms of this great country. I KNEW I would FIGHT for those freedoms and seek revenge on those who took the lives of great American people. That day my destiny became crystal clear.

But I should have given more.

I signed (my life away) at 17 years old with the (happy) approval of my father and (skeptical approval of my) mother. All I wanted to do was make a difference and ensure the safety of American lives.

I feel like I have failed.

I know in my heart that this isn’t true. I know I did a noble thing by joining the United States Navy. I know I did what 99% of other Americans wouldn’t or couldn’t do. I know I could have done more.

There are an enormous amount of reasons why someone joins the Armed Forces. There are very few who join to actually give their lives for the sake of their country and the people who live in it. I know this because I have encountered many of these people. Now I am not saying that their hearts didn’t change or their motives weren’t pure. I am not taking ANYTHING away from these men and women. I am just saying that not everyone joins for the same reason and that there are many incentives to become a service member.

All I can do is speak for myself and tell you that I joined to protect and serve this country in the noblest of ways. I was prepared to give my life for the people who enjoy the freedoms of the greatest country in the world.

Sometimes, it upsets me that I did not pay that price. Sometimes, I wish I could have given this country everything. Sometimes, I feel like I am a failure for not doing that.

There are a lot of reasons why I chose the Navy. There are a lot of reasons why I believe an 18 year old shouldn’t be able to make that choice. My biggest regret is that I didn’t stay. I didn’t help my shipmates and comrades. I didn’t do enough.

I left because I had a family and it was growing. Now I love my children and would do ANYTHING for them. I wouldn’t change that for the world. But I chose them over my country. I chose to be a father instead of a sailor/soldier. I don’t regret that, but I should have given more.

This may not all make sense to a lot of you. Hell, most of you might think I’m nuts. But it makes sense to me and it makes me disappointed in myself that I didn’t give more. I am a man torn in two. A family man and a man who would give his life for a piece of land that he believes is the greatest piece of land that his kids could grow up in. A man, who all he wants to do is keep them safe and protected for generations to come.

I have been torn in 2 since the day I left active duty. I thought I wanted something and was too stubborn to see that I was wrong and selfish.

I should have done more.

I should have given more.

I should have fulfilled my destiny.

Empty

I am an empty shell of my former self

An egg without its yoke

An empty bottle staring me in the face

A hollowed out tree

That won’t bear fruit when the seasons change

I’m on an eerie street

With snow falling to the ground

The moonlight is suffocated by the clouds on high

An empty vase

With nothing filling its empty space

Lost in the woods without a way to escape

I’m trapped in a hole

With no top to climb out

Enraged in a cage

With no one to hear my screams

I don’t even look strong on the outside

It’s as obvious as it seems

Honesty

Let’s try this again.

It has been a very long time since I have posted anything and there are several reasons for that.  The main reason is all I can think about is something that doesn’t need to be spread through any form of social media.  However, it has consumed my thoughts for over a year and it has worn me thin.

Honesty is something people always say they want to hear rather than a lie.  A lie will always come to fruition but there are some things that you need to keep a secret.  Some things nobody ever needs to know.  As much as that secret claws at you, you just can’t let it out.

Then it does and deciding to not lie anymore because the “truth will set you free”, right?  Wrong.  Sometimes it crashes your whole world.  Sometimes it makes it worse then letting that secret eat away at you.  Sometimes it kills every bit of your soul.

I can think of very little that hurts more than thinking you are doing the right thing by being honest and it all blows up your life into a billion, broken pieces.

I’m sorry.  I didn’t mean it.  There was nothing I could do.

I just wanted to live an honest life.

Sea Stories #2: Biggest Balls In the Navy

So this didn’t happen while I was at sea, but it is one of my favorite things that happened in the Navy.  It probably doesn’t paint a flattering picture of me, and it definitely exposes my temper, but it is one of my favorites nonetheless.

I had just checked into a new command after having surgery on my foot.  It was a shore duty command and Marc had gotten me the job.  I worked for a 2 Star Admiral in the facilities management department (Basically mopped and buffed floors and fixed any “issues” the building had.  Basically I sat in my office and didn’t do a damn thing for 8 hours a day).

The day before I checked in, I went over to the building to meet some of the people I’d be working with.  I had just found out I had made 3rd Class (E-4) and I was very excited.  Now I had broken my foot at the end of September and it was now May the following year.  I had just had surgery in April and had been useless on my feet for 7 months.  As soon as I walk in the building the day I was to check in, I was asked to get my height and weight taken.  This was someone who was trying to basically ruin my career and I only knew one person, my best friend Marc.

I know who called for the BAC and that is another story, but the person who was “buddies” with this person was the Master Chief (E-9) of the command.  Needless to say… We didn’t hit it off all that well.

Shortly after I started, CMC asked if I could get him a parking spot reserved outside of his office.  I guess when he got there, he didn’t like the office he had (mine) and moved to the other side of the building.  He already had a reserved parking spot outside of the side door that led right into my office.  Whatever.  I called the base and asked them to come out and move the space for him.  They told me that each command can only reserve a percentage of spaces and we were at the max.  I told them I was asking them to black out one space and move it somewhere else.  They basically told me that “they’d get to it” and I knew damn well that meant my work order was going to the bottom of the pile.

I kindly went to CMC’s office and told him that.  He tried to argue with me and I told HIM to call the base and get it taken care of.  He dismissed me from his office.

About a week later he came to me and asked if I could just get it done.  It didn’t have to be “official” and if the base ever said anything that he would explain to them what he wanted.  I told him I would call my old command and have a stencil drawn and I would have it done by the following week.

Turns out, my squadron was on a 3 week dept and couldn’t get it done in that time frame.  When I told Master Chief this, he was less than pleased.  He said, “We have a whole bunch of squadrons on this base!  Just go to one of them and ask for a stencil!”

That’s not how shit works in the Navy.  You have to know people.  Even if you “know people who know people” that sometimes can work too.  But I was on a different base and didn’t know ANYONE in ANY of those squadrons!  I can’t just walk up to them and demand they make something for my CMC!  They’d just laugh in my face!

I told him I couldn’t do that and he stormed out of my office like a 2 year old who just got told they aren’t the princess of the world.

The following week, some Senior Chief (E-8) who I had never even seen before, comes into my office, throws a bag of cans and a scalpel on my lap, and says, “Did CMC tell you to do something?  You fucking do it when Master Chief tells you to do it!  You have until COB.” and then he walked away.  I looked at my supervisor and said (loud enough I’m sure Senior heard me), “Who the FUCK was that?!?!?! What is this shit?”

It was a bag of 2 cans of red spay paint and one can of black.  He wanted me to go SPRAY PAINT THE FUCKING PARKING SPOT!

So, I took my scalpel, took some cardboard, and cut out a big CMC out of it.  Proceed to go outside and paint his parking space.

I fucked up my measurements and ended up painting the entire width of the spot red and put in big black letters CMC.

I was so mad that when Marc tried to come out and talk to me, I just ignored him.

When I was finished, I walked into CMC’s office and said, “There.  It’s done.”  He said “Thank you” and I went back to my office.

About a 10 minutes later, Marc comes running down to my office and said, “I see you’ve finished.”

Me: “Yeah.  Fuck him.  He’s a dick.  I’m not even gonna tell that fuck head of a Senior Chief”

Marc: “Well.  You got everyone laughing upstairs.  Someone looked out the window and said ‘Wow.  Who did that?  You know what that is?  That’s one big FUCK YOU to a Maser Chief!'”

Me:  “That is not what they said!”

Marc:  “Yup.  You have all those retired Chiefs, Senior Chiefs, and Master Chiefs, along with my Captain, thinking you have the biggest balls in the United States Navy.”

Me:  “I’m not fixing it.”

Marc:  “I know.”

It stayed there for about 3 months before I fixed it.  I litteraly had CMC BEGGING me to do it.  I finally gave in before my 2nd surgery on my feet.

It has been 7 years and it is still funny.  Whenever I’m in a shitty mood or feel trapped, this is the story I remember remind myself that “I have the biggest balls in the United States Navy.”

Quick Update

My apologies for not posting in so long.  As you know, I started a new job in May and I have been CRAZY busy!  I will hopefully make up for it with this and a post to follow.

As far as work goes, I am the IT manager at a company of about 75 people.  We are upgrading out Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system.  This basically manages everything from quotes to purchasing materials to production to shipping to receipt of payment.  It is an all in one management system for any type of production company.  It’s boring stuff.

However, I came into this right as implementation was starting.  Luckily (for me, anyways), we have pushed back our “go live” date a month to August.  I am also fortunate enough to not be extremely involved yet and am just taking care of the basic software issues that any IT person would work on.  I have a coworker who is really taking the whole ERP system head on and is doing all the boring data shit that nobody wants to do hahahaha!

I have been very busy though!  I am trying to upgrade HALF of my users to Windows 7 because they are still on XP!  This is driving me crazy!  Not just because they are 3 OSs behind, but because the PCs are 6/7/8 years old!  They are starting to fail and having issues with a lot of programs, as I’m sure many of you know.

While I put out fires and try to work with the ERP system, I am also trying to learn my network.  There is absolutely NO documentation of how things are set up and the file structure and programs are a mess!  I will eventually have to upgrade 8 of my 11 servers to newer operating systems and clean up all the old shit that we don’t need.

It’s a lot of big projects.

Other than that, the fam is good and I’m working so I can’t say I’m in too bad of shape.

I’ve been reading all of your posts though and I am very happy you all are sticking with me!  Enjoy my next one as I will be continuing my Navy series!!!

Sea Stories #1: That Fucking O-ring

Ok.  So I told you guys that I will run a series of Sea Stories from my time in the Navy and here I am now.  I have so many that I absolutely LOVE to tell.  The hard part is, I’ve found very few that think they are funny or understand what I am talking about.  They say the military is the biggest fraternity in the world, and they are right.  It doesn’t matter what branch you have been in, every story makes sense.  I guess it’s because we’ve all been there and understand the terminology.  Whatever it is, we all understand it and sometimes we feel like “civilians” don’t.  It’s not a bad thing, it just is what it is.  So a little request before I begin is if you find yourself talking to a Veteran and he/she is telling you about the time they were in the service, laugh if it’s funny, cry if it’s sad, be there for them if you notice them staring off into good or bad nostalgia.  There is honestly nothing worse than telling someone something and they look at you blankly like you’ve just started speaking in tongues.

Anyways…… I have so many stories that I have spent the last few weeks really trying to pick one to kick things off.  These stories will not be in order, but they are some of the best (and worse) memories I have.  So sit back and enjoy and I’ll try to make as much sense to you as possible!

First off, let me set the stage a little bit.  I joined the United States Navy when I was still a Senior in High School.  It was September 27th, 2004.  My parents had to sign a waiver to allow me to join because I was still 17.  I finished out my final year of school and left for boot camp June 27th, 2005.  I got married to my lovely wife on December 23rd, 2005 and left for an 8 month deployment on October 6th, 2006 (this does not include work-ups where I was gone a few weeks at a time.  This was just straight deployment.  Gone.  Couldn’t come home.  Sometimes couldn’t call or email home).  I got home on May 25th, 2007.

Some of the people I will be talking about are Marc (one of my bestest friends in the world), Johnny, Cassis, Richie, Mike, and a few others.  We all worked on FA-18 and we worked together for a long time and will never forget any of them (until I’m old and senile which I can’t wait for but not because I’ll forget them, but because I just want to say whatever the fuck I want and have people say “Oh he’s just senile.  Don’t pay attention to him”).

Marc taught me everything about working on a jet that I know today.  We worked really well together and were always able to bounce ideas off of each other to determine what could possibly be causing a problem.  We were both pretty cocky, but he was much more of a straight arrow, rule abider than I was.  He made E-5 2.5 months into deployment while I was still an E-3 (he’d also been in 3 years longer than me at this point too).

Our squadron had a habit of having a jet be double ugly (one external fuel tank underneath the aircraft and one on the wing) and wanting to make it 5 wet (a refueling pod underneath and 2 fuel tanks on on each wing) and vise versa.  This normally isn’t an issue when the jets are right next to each other even with only 2 lifts.  However,  when the 2 jets are 300 yards apart, IT FUCKING SUCKS!

Well then night in question had this set up and we were down 2 guys due to an engine swap that night as well.  Marc says to me, “Come on man.  We got this shit.  I can do this shit really fast and you’re getting pretty good at it too.  We shouldn’t have a problem.”  I should have smacked the shit out of him right then and there.

But I didn’t and we proceeded to get the first jet to double ugly with minimum difficulty.  As long as you count one of my 2 dollies breaking as minimal….  We powered through though and moved on to the next.

Right off the bat things were going swimmingly.  I dropped the nut of the first drop tank into a pad eye.  Except I was on an El.  And that pad eye went straight into the fucking ocean….  This is when the screaming began and I had to hunt down another nut while Marc attempted to install the next drop tank by himself.  Now these aren’t small systems.  They hold about 6,000 lbs. of fuel, so they’re rather large.  I come back with the new nut (that I had to borrow from another squadron) to find Marc yelling and swearing at this drop tank.  I could see through the darkness of the night his face was red with rage.  I asked him what was wrong and he mumbled some profanities under his breath and kept working.  We got that tank in and only had 2 more to do.

We start getting the last one on and things have calmed down quite a bit.  We were back to talking shit to each other and laughing.  When suddenly, he goes there…

Marc: Well at least I didn’t drop the fucking nut into the fucking ocean.

Me: Are you fucking kidding me!  You just about broke our last O-ring on that last one cuz you couldn’t wait for me to find another nut that you never ordered after we lost the last one.

Marc: Hey!  I’ve been doing this for almost 6 years and I’ve NEVER, not ONCE broke a fucking O-ring.

(yes.  This is the exact conversation.  And I should have smacked the shit out of him again.)

Me:  That’s impressive.  All good things come to an end, you know.

Marc: Not tonight moth…….

*SNAP* *fuel spills everywhere creating a massive puddle at our feet*

Me:  You were saying?

Marc: FUCKIN SHIT FUCK FUCK FUCK GOD DAMMIT YOU MOTHER FUCKIN PIECE OF FUCKING SHIT

(This is almost word for word but I would run out of space to write if I finished what he said over the next 15 minutes)

I just walked away and went to get another O-ring.  Guess what?  Yup.  We were out of those too.

Now in the military, it is much like prison in a lot of ways.  One being the barter and trade system.  Out on the ship, money is virtually useless.  We do have a store but they are very limited on what they have.  Favors and trades are the best way to get anything that you want…. or need.  Luckily I knew a lot of people and lived fairly well on the ship considering but that’s for another post.

The only other people that had the same drop tanks as we did was the other squadron I had to borrow the nut from.  Naturally, when I walked in they already knew I was coming to ask for something else and started giving me hell.  I ended up having to give them a case of my Starbucks Frappuccino that comes in the glass bottles that I had “found” a few days earlier.  I go back up to the roof and Marc is still givin it to this fuckin tank.  I had been gone for a solid half hour and by now his voice was all horse and he was sweating pretty back.  We replace the O-ring and the last one goes on fine.  He turns the jets and was able to transfer fuel without any leaks.  We went down to have a smoke and before the night was over we were laughing about the whole thing.

This is the night that Marc and I really became damn good friends.  It is a night I will NEVER stop giving him shit for and will also never forget.  It is one of my fondest memories of the time I spent in the service.

I know this one was long, but I hope you all enjoyed reading this post as much as I enjoyed writing it!