Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Seeking a Friend for the End of the World

I have never felt this before, this feeling of dread and finality. Of fear. And Hope. Regret.

Merry Christmas.

"Seeking a Friend" did exactly what it meant to do: it made me confront the end and examine the now. I felt the dread of the oncoming apocalypse. I yearned for the meaning that everyone was searching for. I felt the loneliness and togetherness of singlehood and family. I laughed at the weird things humans do, and shook my head in disappointment at the despicable ones. I  felt, in those final moments, so many emotions that I'm having a hard time seperating one from the other. I will never forget, I think, the final frame of that movie.

And it wasn't even that great of a movie, but it made me think. Hard.

Firstly it proved that in the end, timing is everything.

Secondly it made me wonder what I would do if I knew I was going to die in a month. Who would I track down? Who would I apologize to? Who would I want to be with? What would I do with my time? What pursuits would I continue and which would I discard?

And then finally I wondered what it would be like if I thought I was going to die, and then turned out I wasn't going to. There is a fundamental shift in follow-through between those two philosophies. Truly living like today is your last day... Almost impossible, I think. Unless you wouldn't change anything from how you currently live. I guess what almost matters more than the WHAT you would do is the WHY.

Well the first movie of the day is down and it's only five in the morning. Bring on Les Mis, s'il vous plaƮt.

Friday, December 21, 2012

The Last Laugh

It's not about money. It's about winning.

And in the end, I just took all that face cream back and returned it all. Ha! Turns out, I got a great deal, actually; the manager had to approve returning items that were sold at lower than invoice.

Tiger blood, yo.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012


So I've just been swindled by a beautiful Israeli girl and I don't really seem to mind.

I knew that this winter would be one to remember. Things just keep getting crazier and crazier. Due to a series of (un)fortunate events, I will be working in the S3 shop (operations) as opposed to being an XO for another company. A glorified scheduler, really. Much more my style at the moment.

Unfortunately, this change means that I will have to rescind my nomination for the part of Jesus in Jesus Christ Superstar. When I was told that we would be doing a field problem during the week of the show, and subsequently informed that there was no way I would be able to get out of it, I felt sick. Almost threw up in fact. I didn't even realize how badly I wanted to do it until that moment.

And then Hawaii. Ahhh Hawaii. I cannot wait to live in a place like Hawaii. whether it's California or Florida or anywhere else in the world where it's warm and sunny ALL the time doesn't matter - just the fact that I can walk outside barefoot during winter is good enough for me.

I feel like there's a lot of opportunity here, too... As we drove through Honolulu for the first time, I kept thinking of all the business opportunities here. I kept imagining myself working here somewhere... Then I saw that Wicked was playing here. A theater troupe in Hawaii? Sounds like a dream come true to me.

We've only been here two days, but already Fate's hand has moved me like its pawn. Destiny led us to the mall, where we took a round about way of ending up exactly where we started - which put us in the perfect position to be ambushed by an Israeli provocatrix selling skin creams. Let's just say, Mom and Sister are getting hooked up for Christmas this year.

Ben said to me the other day, "I don't get blogs. I mean, who really cares that much about what one person thinks?" Welp, I care about how I think. That's all this is. A voyage into my inner psychie. A chance for me to explore what's going on inside my head via a media that I can review at a later date, that I can quantify and compare. A way to look back and try to figure out how exactly I spent that much money on mud for your face, and why I didn't really mind. Thusly some of these posts will be for you (my imaginary audience) and most of them will be for me. You can tell the difference because I seem to be writing in code when I write to myself, and I write somewhat expository when it is for someone else's benefit. But really it's all for me. One day I'll publish it for posterity. It's my journal. A travel log of the trip through the inner recessess of a strange and unorthodox mind. Or maybe it's a pretty standard mind, I couldn't say. And you're along for the ride.

Tangent(s) complete. I love the beach.

Sky vs The Arctic

I'm back...

...from the worst experience of my life. I cannot convey in words the amount of suck involved with the 12-day long Cold Weather Leader's Course. And I'm not just being a wuss (although there's that too) - I've tried to explain to people that my body does not respond to cold like the average human's. In fact, my entire life has been one big foreshadowing of my time in the arctic. Let me count the ways:

First, I told my recruit that I would fight and die anywhere the Army sends me. Jungle, desert, woodland, plains, mountains - ANYWHERE. Except please don't send me to the Arctic.

Despite the promises I made to myself, I ended up going to a college where Winter lasts 3/4's of the year.

Then in ROTC, while everyone else was offered Airborne School and Air Assault School, I was offered Northern Warfare School. I politely declined.

Then when selecting my preferred assignment just before graduating, I put Hawaii as number one. Knowing that there was a very slight chance I would get that assignment, I thought long and hard on what I would put for number two. Something inside me just kept pushing me towards Alaska. I thought, "Yeah I know people who have been stationed in Richardson and loved it. It's OCONUS but also CONUS (kinda). Let's do it."

I didn't know that there were TWO Army bases in Alaska. Richardson is at the southern end of Alaska, where it's still a temperate climate. WAINWRIGHT, however, is sub-Arctic and in the middle of nowhere. So naturally that's the base I was assigned.

Then of course, I end up in CWLC anyway, despite my best attempts (over the years) to stay away from it.

Why this aversion to the cold?

I've thought about this one long and hard as well. I've come up with a few possible explanations.

Firstly, my body just doesn't react well to the cold. I don't know why or when it began, but my body just rejects the cold like bad milk. In fact, the FIRST day I was at CWLC I got "Frost Nip," as the medic called it, which is apparently the step just below frostbite. The ends of my fingers were turning black, and the rest of my hand was paper white. My fingers were on fire.

Secondly, I think the thing I fear most in life is the cold. Maybe the one thing I fear physically in life. I mean, I've been in combat. The first time I went on patrol I was anxious and excited. That was what I had been training for for four years. This was the moment to find out what I was made of. I was ready. When the bullets started flying, it was a huge adrenaline rush, a wild experience. I was afraid yes, but it was a controlled fear that was tempered by years of preparation.

Spending a week in the Arctic scared me like combat never did. I realized that I was seriously afraid of the cold and tried to figure out why.

Firstly, my body. See above.

Second, I didn't understand how to survive in it. My inexperience with severe cold left me ignorant, and I think that ignorance scared me more than anything. That plus my sensitivity to cold left me anxious about serious injury.

Lastly, cold represents emptiness. A lacking. Loneliness. It is the absence of warmth. The absence of light. The absence of energy. It is an absence. I don't know how much that contributed, but it's a psychological factor that I think I was uncomfortable with.

In the end, I think that's why I chose to be stationed in Alaska. I had to face it. I had to face the Arctic. It's the one thing in the world I never wanted to do, so naturally I set myself up to do it. And that's why the capstone of my victory over the Arctic will be Polar Bear Diving in the Arctic Ocean this summer. Once I've been baptized by ice and snow and glacier, then - and only then - will the transformation be complete. Only then will I have faced my fear and stared it down. Only then will I be free from Arctic's hold on me.