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Sunday, December 30, 2007

Lazy Day At Home

I have decided to just hang around here for the weekend. I'm pretty much a home-body, or just lazy. I got some things done yesterday and I'm set to make more progress today. If I get antsy I will head out and do some hiking somewhere.

Lloyd, over at http://lloydkahn-ongoing.blogspot.com/ has decided to do shorter and more frequent postings. I may try that. Or not. We'll see.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas

I have decided to stay home today. There are things that I will feel better if I tidy up around here. I will go out and play next weekend over New Years, although I haven't decided where yet. I'm thinking someplace solitary, but that is subject to change.

I slept on the waterbed last night. So did the cat. For the first time in a year we both had room to stretch out. The cat seems as content as I am about the decision to set the bed up. As I take posession of this house, it is really in preparation to say goodbye to it. A nice paradox that, but it works for me. As my future gets closer I feel more free to enjoy what is now. My countdown timer says 790 days, and 13 minutes until my hike. In one perspective it seems a long ways away. When I think of what has to happen before then, I feel the time rushing by. It's time to let go of more and more of my past in the form of clothes, dishes, books, just plain stuff. Time to look back and cherish who I was as I make room for who I am becomming.

I wrote in my new paper journal last night. The first page has now been sullied, or claimed depending on my perspective at the time. I also read a few parts of the book that Nancye gave me. It is a book of essays gathered from the writings of nature writers, meant to be read on the trails. It was Frank's book before he died. Nancye knew that I would appreciate that fact as much or more as I do reading the book itself. It reminds me that I ended up with some of his science fiction paperbacks that I need to see if her son Stephen wants now. Frank would like that, I think, us passing he books around. I wonder who else in his group of friends felt a need to save his multitudes of books piled around at the yard sale of his things so many years ago.

Went to my parent's yesterday. Mom actually cooked a nice meal. My Dad is in no real shape to go out to eat, so it was nice to gather at the table, something we had gotten out of the habit of doing. She liked the bird feeders I got her, and the pictures Nancye took of me and printed off. She gave me some rubber jar openers, which I use as sink stoppers in hotel sinks while doing hand laundry. Also some binoculars, a keychain, and money. I kinda feel badly about the money part, but decided that graciousness was called for. Mom had vetoed the can of nuts for Dad, so her gift to him of 2 fleece shirts was from both of us. Dad couldn't keep straight if we'd opened our gifts yet or not while we ate, kept asking Mom if I liked what she'd gotten me. At one point he said something about a big bird in the room. I acted as if he had just misunderstood what I'd just said and went on. Mom is going to try to get the doctor to cut down his medications in hopes that this is what his main mental issue is.

Today will be the start of my year-end gathering and sorting and figuring out if I made any financial progress this year and looking ahead to the next year to see what I need to do. I have 4 days off again next weekend, and then the next Monday I'm off out of town for another 3 weeks.

Monday, December 24, 2007

When I am old I shall wear purple...

When I am old, I shall wear purple. And a red hat that doesn't go...

Yesterday was my birthday. I am not yet again to one of the big milestone birthdays, so I decided to just enjoy this one. I am normally very uncomfortable about my chronological age. I feel so much different that that age would imply. So, since this isn't one that everyone would know I just enjoyed it. I usually wear purple anyway, so actually wearing it wasn't a real issue. I did wear a cotton broomstick skirt over tights and let my hair hang down. I said I was letting my freak flag fly. I even wore sandals with the tights. I would have worn my birkenstocks but couldn't find them.

My present to myself is to put up my waterbed. It was taken down at the old house over a year ago and has been in storage. My housemate helped bring it up to the house and set up the frame for me. I will put the liner/heater/mattress in today and start filling it up. I must be getting my confidence back, 'cause I'm starting to think that I might actually want to bring someone home and it would be nice to have something other than a leaky air mattress to offer.

I put the spiced wine in the slow cooker in the morning with the bag of spices I got while in Salisbury at the winery. After several hours I transferred the wine into my large thermos and headed to Nancye's house for the Holiday/birthday gathering, wearing my skirt as I said. It was fun. There was crackers and many cheeses and some sliced meats and sweets. Patricia, Cathy, Melanie and Nancye's husband Bill were there and we had a nice afternoon talking and catching up. Their son Stephen came in for Christmas from eastern KY later and gave us all hugs hello. He has made that step from young man to adult somewhere in the past couple of years while I wasn't looking. I saw him at his sisters wedding in October, but hadn't really noticed it then. Nancye took some pictures of me sitting at the table and printed some out for my parents as Christmas gifts. She will email them to me, and one will become my picture here.

I have also decided that I will look into getting paid accounts here on my journals. I want to start posting pictures and maybe branch out a bit. I am growing and I'm feeling the need for room. The women gave me a hardback journal as a gift. Patricia made colorful drawings on the inside covers and they wrote quotes scattered throughout the book. I said that the randomness of the placing of the quotes was pushing me out of my techie, linear thinking about it. I wanted to say, but somehow couldn't, that it took the 'new' off so that I feel more free to actually write in it now. Nancye knows me, and that may in fact have been a very intentional thing.

So, today is Christmas Eve. I kinda want to go shopping. I have Mom's gift already and I want to go get Dad a can of nuts. The rest of the shopping is for me. I'll go to Mom and Dad's later. Then decide if I'm going to get up early and head to the Smokies and go for a day hike. The main thing I want to accomplish is filling the waterbed, though, so I'm playing it by ear.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Now, Where Was I Again?

Home again. The nice, sunny 80's degree weather we had for the past couple of weeks while on the fielding has given way to a chilly steady rain here at home. I'm looking around at the familiar surroundings, still feeling a bit of the distance. Laundry is started, some cleaning already done around the house. The truck really didn't want to start this morning. Once it started it was rough, and the suspension is telling me it needs some work when I drive. A couple of weeks of driving new rentals, and I can now tell my truck needs some more major work. With 311K miles on it, that is part of it's life cycle.

When I walked in the house yesterday I expected to be smothered by the clutter after 3 weeks in a motel room. Instead I was a bit startled by the lack of stuff. Not that there isn't more than there should be, but there was less than I remembered. I guess my work the few weeks before leaving really did make some difference. However, I am now spoiled by having lived someplace that someone else came in every day and cleaned for me. I have wiped down the bathroom already, and am working on the dining room and kitchen.

It is time to swap my summer clothes out and finish bringing out my winter ones. I took mostly short sleeved tops on the fielding, and that worked out because the weather there was nice. It really is the middle of December, though. Time to sort and purge and swap out. Maybe somewhere in all the cleaning and swapping I'll at least put up the small aluminum tree and color wheel light that will be my Christmas decorations.

It seemed strange not to have to coordinate with anyone after I got out of bed this morning, not having to figure out my schedule based on a few other's needs for the transportation. Funny, it was kind of a let down. I got up around 6 am and didn't have to meet or talk to anyone.

This traveling is sure a mixed bag of emotions.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Almost the End

We go home tomorrow. On this third week, it is somewhat obvious that people's thoughts have turned towards going home. Some reference has been made to 'it's the time of the year' and I assume that the family guys, which is most of them, are hearing in the phone calls from home about preparations for Christmas and the general Holidays and are missing being there for all of it. I do think that the guys I've spent enough time around to talk to much do start really missing their families by this third week anyway. The first 2 are busy, and it's still just part of the job to be away. Now, the job is winding down, and being off alone is getting old.

On the flip side, there seems to be less need for them to pick at each other and me now. Everything calmed down. The job got done, and all is well. It's just cleanup of details now, organizing paperwork. There is a team dinner tonight. Early breakfast, then get on the road to the airport at 0'dark-thirty. Arrive at the home airport mid-morning, and life goes back to normal again.

I am changed. Not sure of all of it. Not sure how much will translate back home. I do now know that I can do this job. Whether my boss agrees or not. I don't know what I'll be walking in to back at the home office. But, I myself know that I can do it.

This has been a different world for me. I don't have words to bring it all together. I'll always be a visitor in this military world, but at least I don't see it as quite so alien anymore. It makes some things I've watched go on with friends who were in the military before make some sense.

I'm babbling. Time to get back on the detail cleanup. I can sit and ponder more once I'm back in my world again.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Reassured

I just got back from walking in the local city park. It has been a stressful week. Not from the actual job, but the dynamics of having the rest of the guys here. More on that later.

Yesterday I needed to get in touch with what is 'me' apart from this job. This is really difficult when there are only 3 cars for 11 of us. So, I got the keys yesterday afternoon and found the park. Just getting behind the wheel of the Jeep, alone in the car, going someplace that only I wanted to go, I felt my entire body language changing, my whole sense of myself stepping back out from wherever it went for the previous 2 weeks. It was good to get out where there are trees and sunshine. And solitude. I walked for awhile, then I laid back on a bench in the sun and soaked up the energy. I walked some more. And I reconnected with what this whole thing is about. The job is a temporary thing. No matter how long 'temporary' ends up being, a few weeks, months, years, even decades, it is temporary. It is not the main event.

This morning I got up early. I had gotten the keys again last night. After breakfast at the hotel I went back to the park. It was a bit foggy and cool, and it felt great to be outside again. I walked for about an hour, round the trail 2 or 3 times, just lost in thought. Those thoughts were about hiking, not about this job. It was good to get away.

I'm reassured that I am a hiker. Not because I have hiked a small city park 2 days in a row. Because when I needed to get back to myself, it was walking in a woods that I reached for. Everything else will work itself out. It really is the woods and the hike that I want and need. I headed there, not the mall for more gear, when I was stressed. It is good to know that. This is something that no one else's judgment of my abilities can take away. I may not be 'cool' or fit in anywhere else with other people, but the woods is mine.

As for the week on the job... It went ok. But, the other guys don't like me. Which is ok with me. One of them, unfortunately the social leader, makes non-stop 'jokes' that are insulting and demeaning to everyone and everything around him. He laughs that 'I think we hurt George's feeling when we (whatever)' hahahaha. When I wasn't laughing at breakfast at his insults of all the team members who weren't there, he actually laughed and said 'if you can't laugh at this, you are a flaming homo', hahaha, which kinda shows the level of his humor. I have pissed him off. He doesn't like me. So, since he wants to consolidate his followers to show his influence, I've been cut off socially. This is actually ok with me. Doug, the IT guy, plays the part of Switzerland, and I'm good with that. I have no reason to force any issue with the other guy. I figure the ones who are usually the brunt of this guys insulting 'jokes' are getting a chance to be part of the gang this time, so it's all good. Every government knows that hatred and prejudice are strong binding emotions that are easily exploited. In my own small way I'm creating team unity. :)

I'm understanding why a lot of the IT guys don't hang out with the teams but instead just play WOW or find other things to do in their rooms in the evenings. This is what I'll do for whatever fieldings I end up doing. I need to bring my trappings of what and who I am to sustain me for 3 weeks outside my usual world. Stepping outside of the normal ruts is good, but I've found that I need at least a bit of a tether to keep myself reminded just what my reality is.

This journal works for me in ways that aren't obvious. As I'm walking I'm writing journal entries. When I step outside at work and bum a cigarette (which I do when I'm stressed, and yes, I've been smoking this fielding), while I smoke I'm writing a journal entry in my head. The vast majority of these never see these pages. Just having someplace to 'talk' to in my head (besides the usual voice there) helps me organize myself. Those of you who leave comments (/me waves at Dave...) help me have a sense of friends hanging around me while I'm pacing, smoking, and composing the mental journals. Thank you. And, those who read but don't comment, thank you, too.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Cleanliness is...

Cleanliness is apparently not easily attained. I am sitting in a lobby at the hotel. We tried to go do laundry this morning. We've only been using one of the rental vans all week because with the 4 of us that's all we've needed. When Doug tried to start the other van to take to the laundry, the battery was dead. The rental company is replacing the van, with an estimated time of 'a couple of hours, and what did you say the nearest large city was to you again?'. Doug wants to go play golf with one of the guys coming in for the fielding today, and the other van is going back to the airport to pick them up. Soooo, not a lot of happy here in fielding land. I'm outside of my room waiting on housekeeping to clean my room. I wanted to take a nap, but kept thinking that housekeeping was getting close and I'd have to get up anyway. So, my one day off so far is less fun than working has been. Ah, well.

We all went out for a steak dinner last night. Since I'm such a loner most of the time, this whole thing of traveling with a group of guys is kinda fun. I enjoyed dinner. I had earlier talked to Nancye, who suggested I should get some hummus and pita to eat for lunch since my other items didn't turn out so well. I asked if the Team Lead would stop at Walmart on the way back to the hotel so I could get some. Well, these, ahem, guys had never heard of it, or maybe just saw an excuse to give me an even harder time. I haven't heard the last of the hummus jokes. It's amazing what they can come up with. In reality, I haven't laughed as much as I have this week in a very long time. I'm not sure how the dynamics will change once others start arriving. With only 4 of us we tend to hang together. I guess I'll see soon.