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The last wedding I went to was in Charlotte last July, when my good friend [livejournal.com profile] capt_hornblower was tying the knot with his lovely bride Julie. The Ex and I had flown out for the weekend, as I've already missed way too many weddings and other events in the lives of my friends while I've been on the wrong coast.

As the happy couple walked back down the aisle at the end of the ceremony, Gerin caught my eye, pointed at me emphatically, and with a wicked grin on his face, mouthed the words, "you're next!"

Funny the difference a few months makes, huh? Over the last eight months I've done a pretty good job avoiding most gatherings of happy couples in love. Or I've done a really damn good job keeping my mouth shut. Well, aside from that one time. It was early December, and my old neighbor Kristin was in town from the Bay Area to celebrate her birthday PB style (read: get ridiculously hammered drunk). I don't have any recollection of this, but apparently on the drunken stumble home we passed a wedding at the Zlac Rowing club on the bay, and I managed to shout out a couple of things about how horrible weddings are, how much love sucks, etc before anybody dragged me away.

Whoops. Obviously still a little bit sore about all of that. As if I'd needed another reminder. So needless to say, I've been quite gun-shy about those sorts of things since then, which I know is having a huge effect on my social life, or almost complete lack thereof. There's no guide or benchmark that I've found for "being better" and it's been an ongoing process. I'm doing better than I was even two months ago, but at the same time, I don't want to put myself into scenarios that will test just how "ok" I really am.

Fast forward to three weeks ago. An old friend of mine from the Reagan, Victoria or Vicki, called me and asked if I'd be her date for a wedding she had to go to. Great. Even better? The wedding was at the Admiral Kidd Club. This was a potential problem for several reasons:

1) Naval Recruiting District San Diego's headquarters is literally right around the corner- I was less than 200 yards from my old job.
2) The Ex and I had looked at having our ceremony and reception at the AKC.
3) The catering company that runs and provides the food for AKC is the same one that does for the OceanView Room, where we'd planned to have our ceremony.
4) Did I mention that I basically got left at the altar just a few months ago?

Vicki knew my history, and made me swear up and down that I wouldn't drink to excess, that I wouldn't go ruining the day for anybody else, and that I would be on my best behavior. As if that wasn't enough, several other of my friends, as soon as they found out I was going to a wedding, made me promise the same thing. Nice to know folks were looking out for me. So Vicki came down from LA Friday morning, and away we went to the Admiral Kidd Club for her friend's wedding.

I'd like to say the wedding was super easy to get through and I didn't feel a damn thing except happy for the bride and groom, but that would be a lie. The weather was perfect- sunny, warm without being too hot, and just enough breeze kicked up to keep the air moving without causing too much havoc. The kind of weather we'd hoped and prayed we'd have for our own wedding. Although, in a deliciously ironic twist of fate, October 18, 2009 was gray, cloudy, and decidedly cold. But I digress...

It was a beautiful ceremony- my first Jewish wedding- but for me it was just surreal. When the wireless audio for the Rabbi started cutting out, I sort of smiled to myself; our DJ had told us that he used wired mics on the military bases on Point Loma specifically because that sort of thing happens regularly. I saw the photographer walking around taking pictures, and I could JUST imagine it was Gabrielle Fox, our photographer, running around getting pictures. And wondering who was the better photographer. There ceremony was very nice, short, and fairly easy to understand- the same I would have liked my dad to do- but probably not quite like ours would have been. After all, it's no secret where I get my big mouth from. :) Seeing the happy couple, so obviously and completely in love with each other, share their first kiss was the hardest part- I had to swallow hard a few times to keep from welling up. For just the tiniest fraction of a second, I remembered what that felt like.

After surviving the ceremony, the reception was something else altogether. I thought that Roman Catholic Italians knew how to party, but I'd honestly have to say that all the Petruzzelli family gatherings I'd attended (which granted didn't include any weddings) had nothing on being at a Jewish wedding. I stuck to my promise, and aside from a taste of some rather vile Margarita punch (which we'd opted not to go for), and the obligatory glass of Champagne for the toasts, I didn't touch any more of the drinks. As an added bonus, one of my old former deppers from my time in Orange County was also at the wedding- she'd been friends with the bride for a couple of years, apparently.- so we had a good time catching up, even though I refused to talk about my breakup until after the wedding and we were back out here at the beach.

All in all it was pretty much a success- until I started drinking. Some of us at the wedding had talked about going out afterwards (including a couple of the single bridesmaids that were there), but nothing really came of it, and I ended up going out with the neighbors while Vicki and Veronica passed out here at the house, tired from the early morning drives down from LA and OC, respectively. I vaguely remember getting hit on by a trio of attractive married 40 year olds (again- I think this was the 3rd or 4th time that's happened in the last 6 months), and forgetting some girl's name that  I was talking to. And unsteadily walking back home, only to fall in bed alone, again, and sleep like the dead until I had to be up this morning to go to Balboa Park for the Golden Pyramid Award ceremony. Yep, nice to know I've still got it.
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Fortuna Favet Fortibus- translated directly from Latin, litterally means "fortune favors the bold."

Through my father and grandfather's families, I'm descended from Gallic French stock. The name "Spencer" traveled to England with William the Conqueror in his conquest of the British crown in 1066, an audacious act that embodies the meaning of the phrase above. For the Romans who coined the phrase, it was a motto that summed up the Republic and the Empire both.

I used to live those words in a much more meaningful sense, but somewhere along they way they became just that- words. It's time for me to start living my life in a purposeful, audacious manner. I know that I'm not going to be handed all the things I want on a silver platter, so it's time to get back into the frame of mind to get out there, and chase them down.
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Back in 2001 when I first checked on to the Reagan, I found that a lot of our abundant free time between watches and shipyard tests were filled with trading stories. My first attempt at spinning a yarn of my adventures was an utter failure, and after much (not so subtle) encouragement from my friends and coworkers, I strove to correct that deficiency. That wasn't really a problem, as the misadventures and shenanigans of the next three years provided a plethora of material to perfect my craft. Nowadays I'd like to think that my skills as a raconteur have greatly improved.

The adventures continued once we got here to San Diego, as is often retold here, but that came to an almost complete standstill when I started recruiting. Between settling down with the ex and working 80-90 hours a week, there wasn't much time or interest in getting into much trouble. After the breakup and subsequent move back out here to Pacific Beach, school and the need to finish healing emotionally kept any other adventures I took part in were still barely blips on the the radar of partying, especially  in relation to the old days. This was partially me not wanting to go out, but also because the landscape of my friends has changed so much in the last couple of years. Most of my old party buddies are now engaged, married, or now have or are expecting kids. Meanwhile, the majority of my classmates aren't exactly what I would call my peers. Don't get me wrong, I'm making friendships that I know I'll value years from now, but most of the folks I hang out with at school are either married and/ or parents, or are 20 years old and don't exactly have my same... experience level. Needless to say, I've been aching to find folks to hang out and party with for a few months now. Call it a side-effect of springtime burgeoning around me here, but I've been itching to try and get back into the single game.

I'd been interested in a girl in my Chemistry class, Roxy, for pretty much the entire semester, and to my surprise, she finally took notice and (at least academic) interest in me over the last month or so. We made plans last week to hang out this weekend. With that in mind, I started jumping back in to my old role of party organizer- calling up old friends to see who would be able to come out, and hoping that I'd have a decent-sized group with me in case Roxy didn't show up (she'd cancelled last minute the previous evening for Happy Hour at South Beach), or worse, brought along a boyfriend that I didn't know about, since previous experience has shown that any girl I'm interested in dating from school is already seeing somebody. I'd spent most of the day hanging out with [livejournal.com profile] bkmichele , who'd even gone so far as to blow off the date she was supposed to have last night in favor of hanging out with me, and we made plans to go to OB to try and run amok in a way we hadn't done in many years. 

As she was getting ready to head over, I started getting MANY drunken phone calls from Zeke, whom though married and expecting his first son to be born this coming week, was nonetheless free of God, Wife, and Navy for the weekend and obviously back up to no good. Our friend Ben (the gay/ bi version of me), whom I'd previously tried to help join the Navy last year, was also present, and an old friend of mine from the Reagan, Victoria, drove down from Pasadena to partake in the festivities.

And a good night was had by all. Sunshine Company was a lot quieter than previous times I'd been there back in the day, and we were quickly able to commandeer one of the pool tables, where Zeke kept us in stitches as he tried time and again to beat the guys who were running the table. It took him the better part of two hours, and probably close to ten dollars worth of quarters, but he finally succeeded in wresting the table from their grasp- then proceeded to drunkenly shoot the cue ball off the table half a dozen times, to the amusement of the folks at the table next to us.

Between making fun of the hoochies throwing themselves at guys at the table next to us, the man with the epic mullet that Michele and Vic posed for pictures with, the gorgeous black girl that walked up to Michele and basically gave her a lap dance, and me practicing my newfound ability to be attracted to and attempt to hit on only the girls that were with or meeting up with their boyfriends, it was definitely a night full of stories that will be retold later. With pictures to provide evidence of the goings-on.

The craziness didn't stop when we left the bar. A couple of Zeke's new buddies from the Vinson had come out to meet up with us, and lacking a ride, they had to wait for one of their girlfriends to come from Coronado to pick them up so we could head out for the obligatory 2am burrito. As we were waiting, a man walking his cat (yes, on a leash) got stopped and ticketed by a pair of police officers (one of them being a smoking hot petite blond) for having an open container, then stopping to pet the cat afterwards. Meanwhile, Ben and Michele snapped photos and immediately put them on Facebook and Twitter. The ride for our new friends finally arrived, and we made our way back to PB, ending up at Taco Motion for our post-drinking burrito fix. After everything that had happened, I'd thought that all of the hilarity was done for the night.


As we were waiting to order our food, some incredibly drunk guy walked in to the taco shop, ready to start a fight with Ben, because Ben had apparently rolled his eyes at the guy.

Ben had been wearing sunglasses since we'd gotten back in Michele's car for the ride back to PB.

A friend of his finally came to collect the his friend obviously endowed with x-ray vision, and we ate our burritos in relative quiet (aside from making fun of how drink Zeke was) before everybody called it a night.

So a good time was had by all. I've been thinking all morning about how much I've missed partaking in crazy adventures like this, and I doubt this is going to be a regular occurrence again, but it's just proof that even as I'm aging, I still have some party left in me. And Roxy, the hot girl from my Chem class that had been the whole reason for throwing together our ragtag ensemble? Never showed, and I never heard a peep from her all night as to where she was or if she still wanted to hang out. Oh well- we can't win 'em all, I guess.
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To say that this past weekend was incredible for me would be a vast understatement. I'll write about Friday and Saturday later, but for now I want to focus on what happened Sunday.

A few months back, a friend of mine from school wrangled me in to volunteering as a session aide for the American Association for the Advancement of Science Annual Meeting here in San Diego. At the time, I thought it'd look good on my resume and transfer application, but i didn't really give it much more thought until the orientation meeting this past Thursday. It was then, seeing how far some of the other session aides had traveled, that I began to realize just how big of a deal it was really going to be- especially when I found out which sessions I would be working. The first one was Sunday morning, a symposium on Energy Return on Energy Invested, and the second on the future of Nuclear Power. I was especially excited about the latter symposium, but being interested on renewable energy, I was looking forward to the EROI session as well.

As I've reflected on the points discussed in both sessions, I've come away with a few profound (at least for me anyway) thoughts. The biggest thing I came away with was that both groups, the renewable energy proponents, and the nuclear power proponents are both of the mindset that, "my way is the only way to go," especially considering the impending collapse of oil that is fast approaching us. While I can understand this way of thinking, it's not necessarily true. The future of energy production lies along several different simultaneous paths. While it would be nice to think that the world's energy demands will be met by the sources provided naturally by the Earth, be it solar, tidal, or biomass, that's simply not a realistic scenario. The limits of the current technology, and the rate of growth simply won't pan out any time soon. While renewable energy will be an important source of the world's future energy needs, particularly for the liquid fuels we need to provide transportation and heating for a modern civilization, there's no way that it's going to be able to meet the need for electricity generating.

Nuclear, on the other hand, while great for generating electricity, will never be feasible for the above mentioned transportation needs, and to a certain extent, heating needs either. The future is going to depend on a diverse range of energy sources, not just one or even a handful of individual sources. And while the technology for advanced fission plants and even some fusion designs is quickly advancing, political and economic factors are still going to be barriers to overcome in the near term.

As I was listening to Dr. Thomas Isaacs, a nuclear physicist and specialist on policy talk about the political problems facing the future of nuclear power, I was immediately reminded of a book I'd recently read, "The Making of the Atomic Bomb" by Richard Rhodes. The book follows the story of the development of nuclear physics, from Rutherford and Bohr developing the atomic model, through the discovery of fission, and the frantic race that was the Manhattan Project and the subsequent creation of the Fat Man and Little Boy bombs that were dropped on Japan to end World War II. I'm not going to talk about the political ramifications of that right now. In the book, however, there was clearly a theme about the importance of the leadership and guidance provided by a few key individuals who led the world into the Nuclear Age.

When the first nuclear fission of a Uranium atom was observed in 1938, there were still a multitude of insurmountable obstacles that stood in the way of it being more than an interesting laboratory experiment for at least several more decades, according to contemporary sources. Still, it was less than seven years later that not one, but two effective types of weapons were created, and shortly thereafter that nuclear power was able to be utilized for power generation. This was because of a herculean effort on the part of hundreds of scientists, engineers, and politicians all with a common goal. When uncertainties arose about how to separate fissile U-235 from naturally occurring U-238, instead of just trying one method, several different approaches were tried simultaneously to see which one would be most effective. The same thing with the specific design for a nuclear weapon- would a Uranium bomb work better, or should the more technically challenging but potentially more powerful Plutonium weapon be attempted as well? Again, both were studied and developed simultaneously.

My question is, is this happening now? From what I observed over my brief exposure to the professional scientific community at the AAAS meeting, I got a sense that the answer was no. And my bigger question is this: why? All of the talented, brilliant, dedicated scientists I listened to were convinced that their ideas and theories were going to save the world. This is true, but only from a combination of multiple ideas and technologies being developed simultaneously, not only from focusing on nuclear power or renewable energy sources. How can this be achieved, and is anybody working to get everybody at the same table?

And even more importantly, is the scientific community waiting for another Robert Oppenheimer or Ernest Lawrence to step up and take charge, to get everybody working together? Who knows, but it's an interesting question to think about.
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I'm not sure if it's my Porphyria acting up because I haven't eaten anything yet today, but it's definitely been one of those days.

I've got buttloads of homework I've been very slowly meandering through, but I just can't seem to focus for more than a few minutes at a time. I'm not really hungry, but knowing I need to get some carbs into my system, I have food on the way here. Maybe after I eat something I'll feel a little bit better, and my mind won't wander nearly as much.

The truth is, I miss her. I never thought I'd think that at this point, let alone say it, but I do. Perhaps it was the conversation I had earlier today with [livejournal.com profile] redeemed_143 , maybe it's the conversation I had with my roommate earlier today about the fact that I'm spending a lot of time by myself; easy to understand, what with classes getting back in and the lack of a car, but I know she and her boyfriend need some time to themselves as well. The main catalyst for my realization, though, just came about an hour or so ago when I was writing a pre-lab for Chemistry and Nickodemus popped up on my Pandora station. I immediately recognized the track without having to look, and memories started flooding back just as quickly.

It was just over two years ago, and I was in the middle of my tour in hell as a recruiter. Tana and I hadn't yet moved in together, and the proposal was still eleven months away. However, our relationship had gotten very serious, and of course our shared love of good music had been the basis for many fun nights and adventures, as much as my schedule would allow. I remember the look of excitement on her face when she told me about one of her favorite artists, New York-based Nickodemus, who was scheduled to play a show soon at the Kava Lounge here in San Diego, and how she'd already taken the liberty of getting tickets for us. Thankfully, I was able to make it home at a decent hour on the night of January 18th, 2008 for us to be able to make it to the show with plenty of time to spare.

The Kava Lounge is located on Kettner Street- probably just over a mile where we would soon be making a home together- perched precariously on the hill overlooking the airport. The club had been the first location of The Casbah, and Tana told me about her first experiences going to shows there with that gleam in her eye that always showed itself when she was especially excited about something. I immediately liked the location, the local artwork hanging on the walls, and the delicious all-organic drinks they served at the bar, and we talked about how we should hang out there more often, once we had the time. More of those plans we started making that were doomed to never reach fruition.

The show itself was amazing- Nickodemus had live musicians backing him, guest vocalists, and even a couple of local DJ's also sharing the stage with him. We danced, in our own little world of rhythm and music, entranced by the beats and each other, and completely oblivious to the rest of the world around us.

As I continue listening to music from the same artists and other similar to him, I can't help but find myself wondering about what's been said and done, and what might have been. Part of my procrastinating on my homework today has involved re-reading old posts on her blog page, and I can't help but ask myself if she really meant it when she said we were never meant to be, and that she could never see herself as a wife. I couldn't help but picture how today would have been different if things had gone differently- I'd be sitting at the dining room table working on Calculus and Chemistry while she'd be puttering around, probably watching a bit of Food Network and trying so hard to simultaneously be non-intrusive to my efforts, but wanting to flirtatiously steal my attention away from my studies as often as I'd let her. Instead of getting Chinese food delivered here, one of us would be cooking something organic and mostly vegetarian, and we'd probably both have glasses of wine in hand- maybe either one of the bottles we'd picked up in Temecula  or one that had been a wedding present. And when it was time for bed, we'd be cuddled up together in the bed that we bought together, and in the morning she'd be up, sipping her first cup of coffee, and probably making sure I had a lunch packed by the time I dragged myself out of the bedroom. Such was our routine for most of our year in Little Italy.

I had a talk with a friend recently about things that I still have a hard time doing, or can't even bring myself to do at all any more. Taking the trolley to school had been an adventure- my heart starts beating furiously in my chest when the train approaches the Little Italy stop, and if I happen to look over at the County Center building across Pacific Highway, where we'd applied and paid for our marriage license a scant two weeks before the breakup, I can feel a great sense of sadness wash over me. The same thing happens as the trolley crosses Union Street as it continues it's trip downtown; every time, I glance down Union Street to where I once lived, and as I see the top of the high-rise tower of the La Vita complex poking above the surrounding buildings, the same fleeting wave of melancholy hits me again. Strangely enough, I can't seem to look away- like a grisly train wreck or something, I can't seem to NOT look away when the train passes my old street. I don't know if it's my subconscious saying, "hey asshole, you're supposed to be living there," or what. Maybe. I still can't bring myself to go back through Balboa Park, I'm thankful that we don't have a TV here (that way I don't have Jeopardy and and Food Network constantly reminding me of things), and as I look through internships and part-time job opportunities, I find myself purposely avoiding anything having to do with Sempra or SDG&E, and there are still several restaurants around town that I can't even think about eating at. And Lord help the girl that wants to go out downtown with me.

Memory serves a purpose, and emotion is a big part of that. I'm feeling too lazy and hungry right now to look up any wise or witty quotes about that, but I know they're out there. Anyway, I keep telling myself that everything happens for a reason, that there's something else down the road that's going to make all of this seem like it was a fleeting rough patch in my life. However, if nothing else, memory serves the purpose of reminding us where we've been, which is important to know where we're going. Take physics, for example. A vector has to have both a starting point and an endpoint, otherwise it would be impossible to determine anything in between. So, as I figure out what my direction and magnitude are, a little bit of looking over the shoulder has to be expected, right?
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I figure I'll add to this at time goes on, but I want to start getting this down.

-Earn a Bachelor's Degree, followed up by a Ph.D. I'm not sure exactly what in yet, but that'll come with time. I'm almost certainly convinced I want to go for Renewable Electrical Engineering, but the more I think about it, the more I'm finding myself drawn back to the raw potential and great mysteries that come with the pure science fields of Chemistry and Physics. Engineers are the ones who write the sonnets within the general constraints of their framework; Scientists are the ones who define and create that framework.

-Change the world. I'd like to be one of the great minds that you read about who revolutionize the world as we know it- minds like Bohr, Newton, Rutherford, Fermi, the Curies, and Darwin. Not because I want to have my name plastered across history (ok, well maybe partially that), but because I know I have the ability, the talent, and maybe to a certain extent the responsibility to. Is that naive or a bit arrogant? Probably.

-Travel the world. There's so much more out there beyond the U.S. and I want a chance to experience it all. As such, I want to get back to fluency in French, and learn another language as well. Someday I'll be able to say that I've set foot on all seven continents.
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So Halloween is typically one of my favorite times of year. Coming up with new, creative ideas for costumes and decorations, and making the circuit of parties that my friends are throwing. Not so much this year.

So I was invited to a party in PB, the neighborhood I used to live in, and am moving back to this week, and I figured since I didn't have any other plans, why not? So I put together my Dolemite costume and headed out to PB for a night of drunkeness and watching all the young bimbos dressed up in their sluttiest outfits. I got out to PB around 9, and already started taking note of the overwhelming number of police cars on the prowl on my way in. Before too much longer, I'd found my way to the party and met up with my friends, grabbed a beer, and hung out.

But I realized after I'd been there about 10 minutes that I really wasn't feeling it. First off, not a single person at the party had ever heard of Dolemite, or even had the slightest clue who/ what I was supposed to be for Halloween. Yeah, not exactly what I was looking for. You know that feeling of being in a huge crowd, yet feeling totally and completely alone? That kicked in around the same time. I finished my beer by 9:30, and hung out for a bit longer, but I hadn't felt so lonely in a crowd in a very long time. I bailed about 10, taking a walk around the neighborhood for a little while to clear my head and let myself get that one beer out of my system; it might have only been one drink, but I didn't want to take any chances. I left PB about 11, and headed back here to the condo. As I turned on to my street, I saw the roaming crowds of merry costumed folks and revelers on their ways to parties, clubs, bars, and who knows what else. I was just ready for the night to be over. I came upstairs, took off my costume, and plopped down on the couch to watch George Romero movies on AMC. I finally went to bed around 2, (the second one), and tossed and turned until about 3:30 before I finally drifted off to sleep.

I'm having a hard time getting motivated to think about homework or school right now, so I'm forcing myself to start working on packing and cleaning. So far, so good, but I still have lots more to do. Going through Tana-related and wedding- related stuff has been hard; it seems like every box I open has a card, love note, or something that she gave me while we were together. I've gotten to the point where I'll see her handwriting and stuff it into a box. I can't bring myself to throw any of that stuff away, and who knows maybe I'll want it to look back on in future years. We'll see, I guess. I'm just really looking forward to being out of here- too many memories, too many reminders, too much heartache and loneliness.

And even more, I can't wait to get back to North Carolina. San Diego is nice, but it's not my home, and it's really not my kind of folks.

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I know this is going to be a day I'm going to remember as long as I live. As Tana and I were talking about it earlier today, I compared it to how our parents must have felt when they found out that Elvis had died. Shock, disbelief, as if the world had irrevocably changed.

As long as I can remember, I've always associated certain memories with music. For me, Michael Jackson will always remind me of my mother. One of my first memories is watching the video for "Thriller" with her on MTV. The fact that it was the first video played by a black artist on MTV ever I think is important to note as well, especially since it was first aired two years after the network first went on the air.

Her favorite album when I was a kid was "Bad". I'll always remember her playing that tape over and over, and as a result David and I did as well. In particular, the song "The Way You Make Me Feel" will always remind me of mom- it was her favorite song on that album. I don't have a lot of memories of my mother, but music is the most tangible for me.

I had only been home for a little while when Tana texted me to tell me about Michael Jackson- I'd seen something a couple of hours beforehand about him having a heart attack, and as soon as I got the text, I quickly flipped the TV to CNN, and was stunned. It was almost as if a bit of my childhood had died too.
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Does it make me a bad person that the main reason I'm still a member of the Sextips community is because of the occasional amusement I get from posts such as this? After all, it's mostly become the "OMG, WTF do you think, I know I like totally read the memories, but my hair is BROWN, not blonde, ROFL LOL!"

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It seems hard to me sometime to believe that it was only three weeks ago that I was handed my DD214, turned in my military ID card, and took off my Navy uniform for the last time. On the one hand, it seems like it was just yesterday since it all happened; after all, three weeks is next to nothing compared to nine years. But on the other hand, so much has happened in the last three weeks that it makes it all seem so much farther away than it really is.

One of the things that recruiters love to tell prospective nukes is that the qualifications and training speak for themselves, and will almost certainly guarantee you a job on the outside once you leave the Navy, particularly if you're looking at working in the civilian nuclear industry. I'm getting a chance to put that theory into practice right now. A few weeks ago, while I was still on terminal leave, I put in an application with Southern California Edison for a job as an apprentice Nuclear Plant Equipment Operator at San Onofre, the local nuclear power plant. Last Tuesday I received an email scheduling me for an aptitude test yesterday for the prospective position- as well as links to online study guides to help prepare for the test.

Nine study guides, to be exact, covering basic math, physics, thermodynamics, and fluid flow. Basically, the first half of Nuclear Power School eight years ago. Except that we studied all of that over a period of about six months, not six days. Needless to say, as soon as I'd downloaded the study guides and seen how thick and extensive they were, a frantic week of studying, cramming, and cleaning out the cobwebs around my Total Power and Entropy equations ensued. I don't know how Tana put up with me- aside from my daily workout, I let everything else slide- cooking, laundry, cleaning, everything. Last week, it was me, the computer, and my pen and paper as I worked practice problem after practice problem. Yesterday morning, after rising extra early to beat the traffic up to San Onofre, it was time for the test.

The drive up wasn't too bad- not having to cross into Orange County like I used to was a nice breath of fresh air, and the weather was warm. Once I got on site, it was a bit different; the directions had me going to one building, but once I got there, they directed me towards another building instead for the test. I made it in the nick of time before I thought I would be late for the check in for the test. I was surprised to walk into the testing room and find there were five other people that were also testing- I was thinking I was going to be the only one testing, but apparently the job listing is going out all over the area far and wide. There was one other nuke there with me, a former ELT off the Stennis who works at the plant on Hartwell in South Carolina, but was looking to move back out to Southern California. The first bit of the testing wasn't so bad- more aptitude tests; math, reading comprehension, mechanical knowledge, and graph and table reading. I'd been trolling the forums at Nukeworker, so I had a pretty good idea of what to expect from that part. The next part of the test, however was wide open about anything and everything I'd been trying to cram back into my brain for the previous week. Since it was all done on a computer and was (gasp!) multiple choice, I'd know as soon as I was done whether or not I had passed. There was no telling you what your score was- after you hit that 'submit' button, it was either 'congratulations!' on the next screen, or 'unfortunately'. I managed to actually take my time, held my breath, and hit that 'submit' key.

The screen came back with a "congratulations!" on it. I don't really remember what else it said, but the test proctor said that they'd be in contact with me within about five days to set up an interview. The drive back down to San Diego was much brighter and happier than the drive up. Within an hour of getting home, I'd gotten a call from SCE's HR people scheduling me for an interview this afternoon. Back up to San Onofre this afternoon for the interview.

This was only the second job interview I've ever sat through in my life (as the one being asked the questions, anyway), so I'm still having a hard time figuring out exactly what to expect. My first one was for Sear's as a repair tech a couple of weeks ago, and I still haven't heard anything back from them, even though they're advertising for people to fill that job on Craigslist. Hmmm. Anyway, the interview itself was I guess what I've expected job interviews to be like- they ask me questions to fit a specific scenario, and I answer with an example based on my personal experience or things that I've actually encountered. After they finished asking me the questions, they went over the way the training pipeline works: the first ten weeks of class, starting June 1st, are the fundamentals- I think all the basics of the mechanical systems- followed by six months spent studying and qualifying on the auxiliary systems, and up to 7 or 8 years before getting into a class to start the reactor- side of things, and possibly up to ten years before starting to work on an NRC license as a senior reactor operator. Talk about a long- term commitment, huh? I asked a couple of other questions, about how the classes work, the training, and the working conditions, but I really didn't get a warm fuzzy about how the interview went- I couldn't really get a read on my interviewers, and I know I was the last person of the day that they were interviewing, and they've been doing interviews for the last two weeks straight, but I can't help but be a bit nervous about it. They said I'd be getting a phone call or letter from SCE by the middle of May to let me know if I'd be moving on to the next phase of the hiring process, so in the meantime, I guess it's back to the job hunt.
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 So, apparently No Doubt and Blink 182 are both planning on reunions.

So I'm wondering: Will we maybe hopefully seeing a Jump Little Children show sometime in the nearish future? I'm thinking that Dock Street for New Years 2010 would be AWESOME.

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Terminal Leave: Final leave before discharge from military service. (From thefreedictionary.com)

After spending the last month or so running around like a chicken with my head cut off, getting poked and prodded, and signing form after form that bore my name, I've finally come to the point where my records are all turned in, and I'm getting a little bit of time off before my last official day in the Navy on March 24th. Today was my final hail and farewell with the few remaining friends I've made in recruiting; a gathering of peers and warriors to send off one of their own after a very long and hard- fought 3 years. It was a good time, particularly since most of the company with me was fellow nukes, and a handful had been on the Reagan with me- reminiscing about old times, trading horror stories about recruits or bosses gone horribly awry, and, as any good sailor does, complaining about our bosses. I can't say that I'm going to miss recruiting- not by a long shot of the imagination. As another recent recruiting survivor put it,
"It was a good tour, I'm glad I did it, but I will never, EVER, EVER do it again."

Truer words were never spoken.

I've spent literally all of my adult life in uniform; that all is going to change in less than two months time.

Time for me to figure out what I want to do when I grow up.
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The serious countdown to freedom is really starting to sink in. This past week, I spent the majority of the time cleaning out my desk, starting the turnover with my replacement, and beginning to get everything else closed out that needs to get done. Ran to my doctor's office in Tustin to tie up some loose ends with my medical files to transfer to San Diego for my terminal physical and dental exam (which will be scheduled for next week). The rest of next week is going to be tied up with running around getting things signed off on my checkout sheet; turn in my computer and cell phone (better known as my ball and chain) at district, schedule my checkout interviews with the CO and XO, and generally finish everything up. My terminal leave is scheduled to start 21 January after working hours (at least, that's what the chit said. We had to re-submit AGAIN after it apparently got lost!)

On March 24, 2009 I will reach the end of my active obligation in the United States Navy and will once again be a civilian, after 9 years, 3 months, and 25 days spent in uniform in the service of this country.

Am I nervous about getting out? A bit. The news this morning kept re-iterating over and over again (I think Tana and I counted 6 times total in the brief period of time we were watching) how high the unemployment rate is, as well as how many people lost their jobs in 2008. I am a little bit nervous about making the same kind of money I do now (as much as I hate to admit it, the money really isn't bad at all, for a 27 year old guy in San Diego), but since I don't plan on having to commute 176 miles each day, I'll save a LOT of money that was being spent on gas. Besides, I know that my skill sets are in high demand- both the sales ones and the technical ones, and I'm sure I'll be able to find a job for at least the meantime. Long- term, I don't plan on working in the nuclear power, or even necessarily in the energy sector at all; with the new GI Bill that was passed last year and the other educational benefits that should be coming my way from the VA, I'm planning on going back to school, studying journalism, political science, maybe something along the lines of Public Policy or International Relations. Regardless, the sky's the limit, and I'm looking forward to it as a new adventure.
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As I write this, I'm sitting on the couch of the condo, enjoying my last weekend of vacation before I head back to work- for about 3 weeks. Then it's totally out of the Navy, and trying to figure out what I want to do when I grow up. Am I excited? Hell yes. Nervous? Without a doubt. But, at the same time, I know that I'll be ok, regardless of what happens right off the bat. My wonderful (Civilian) doctor finally got me tested for Sleep Apnea, and lo and behold, it hasn't just been a bad case of snoring all these years. Although we're still wrestling with Tricare for the necessary prescription to treat said sleep apnea, as it stands right now I'm looking at getting some compensation from the VA as a result. After the last 3 years, it really seems to me the least that they can do.

It's hard to believe that I'm almost at the end of my recruiting tour. Looking back, it's felt like an eternity. Still I have to say that I did learn a few things, as much as I hate to admit it. Granted, most of the things I learned were really not the sort of thing I wanted to know, about how the Navy works, and also about what I'm truly capable of in the name of self- preservation and watching out for Number One. I've recently starting re- reading Heart of Darkness, and it's slightly frightening how easy it is to make parallels to some parts of the novel with some parts of my life and work experiences the last 3 years. "The horror! The horror!" indeed. I've been compiling my notes and I'm looking forward to writing QUITE a story about my experiences. Not to mention the fact that I've actually started writing the speech of what I'm going to say to the commanding officer when it comes time for my check- out interview.

Lots more I could talk about, but it's really time for me to get some sleep- I know Tana is probably half- wondering where I am, and this is the 3rd time I've started writing this entry; I think it's good enough for right now.
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As I write this, I'm looking across the table at my beautiful FIANCEE Tana, aka Miss [livejournal.com profile] mepeachykeen619 as she makes playlists for our New Year's Eve party tonight, the light from her monitor making her face glow softly in the muted lighting we usually keep in the condo. A year ago, we were in Charlotte, hanging out with my old high school friends Andre and Gerin (aka [livejournal.com profile] capt_hornblower) at some overcrowded, overpriced irish pub place in downtown Charlotte, watching in amused fascination as some ridiculously drunk UNCC student (an oxymoron, I know) prattled on and on about why she was a political science major. Had somebody told me then where I would be in my life right now, I think I'd have had a hard time believing it.

The biggest news of the year, without a doubt, is that Tana and I are now engaged. That just happened a little under two weeks ago- December 19th, to be exact, at the base of the fountain at Balboa park after taking her out to dinner at The Prado, one of the best restaurants in San Diego. I've been fortunate to hook a girl like her, and I know it's not the kind of thing that happens every day to a guy. I've been through so much this year, put her through so much, and she's never wavered, never swayed at all in her devotion to me, to us. I know I'll never be able to thank her enough or show how grateful I am, but I'm happy to spend the rest of my life trying to. We just reserved the place for the wedding along with the date- October 18th, 2009 we'll say our vows at the Ocean View Room at the Point Loma Submarine Base. I don't have the foggiest idea about anything having to do with weddings, but I know that Tana, her mom, her sister, and the rest of her family will help there. Just tell me where to show up, and make sure there's beer there and I'll be happy. In my opinion, we could be running off to Vegas and just have it done with- the important thing in my opinion is that I just want to be able to spend the rest of my life with Tana. And I know she feels the same way too. ;)

On another note, I'm less than 3 months from finishing this 3- year tour in hell that has been Recruiting. This last year has been the hardest all around- getting moved and promoted to running an office, getting cursed out, fired, and moved back to Orange County, and having a crosshair securely on my back for most of the first part of the year took its toll on me- one day at the beginning of July spent at Balboa Naval Hospital following a nervous breakdown and lots of anti- depressants later, I'm doing much better. Lord only knows where I'd be right now if it wasn't for Tana once again being by my side. I'm looking forward to spending most of the beginning of January starting my check- out process and getting ready for 60 days of paid vacation on the Navy's dime. Then, it's a simple matter of figuring out what I want to do when I grow up. Easy, right?

Christmas was a different affair than usual this year as well; Tana came back to New York and Charlotte with me last year, but we both knew beforehand that she wouldn't be able to do it again this year- she's got her own family out here as well, and I knew that I didn't want to be away from her for the holidays. So, in probably one of the hardest calls I've ever had to make to my family's house, I told them I wouldn't be home for Christmas this year. In reality I kinda knew it was coming- I'm 27 years old, and it's really time for me to start doing my own thing when it comes to the holidays anyway. Spending it with Tana in our own place was a very nice plus- and this time next year we'll be married anyway, so it's been good practice.

We'll be married this time next year.

Wow. Yeah, I really just said that. Strangely enough, it feels good.

2008 has ended really well- I couldn't have asked for a better way to end it, and I'm looking forward to 2009 as a blank slate, a truly fresh start, and another year of truly momentous changes. Here's to love, luck, success to everybody else as well!
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So how is it that the local Fox affiliate, who has ownership of HALF of the NFL when it comes to televising games, is showing ARMAGEDDON tomorrow instead of the Raiders- Panthers game?!?! Especially considering:

- There are LOTs or Raiders fans in San Diego (just drive up the 5 on a Saturday afternoon)
- The Chargers have a long- standing grudge against the Raiders, and the Panthers were the team that kicked off this not- so- hot season for San Diego
- It's 1 in the P. Fucking M. out here and the only thing we can watch is a really bad Bruckheimer movie??!!?!?!?!?!?!

I miss my Directv sometimes.
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- Sitting in the living room enjoying a cup of coffee at 9 in the morning while Tana is sitting in "her" chair cross- legged, working on paperwork for her Practicum clients. 

- Knowing that she'll be leaving for work before I will, and knowing that she'll still be awake when I get home from work.

- Looking forward to spending a weekend together, even if we just spend it doing little things like going to the Mercato here in Little Italy, or unpacking even more of the junk I have scattered around the spare bedroom.

- Coming home every night to the woman of my dreams, to our own place, without having to share it with anybody else.

- Only half- joking about running off to Vegas to get married.
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Elsewhere, people got home from work today more than 15 minutes ago.

Elsewhere, sailors are going out with friends and looking forward to a full weekend, instead of dreading have to be up for work in 9 hours.

Elsewhere, people don't wish every day that their place of employment would get hit by a well- aimed meteor.

Elsewhere, men can make plans with their girlfriends on days of the week other than Sunday. And sometimes, not even then.

Elsewhere, sailors aren't lied to by their chain of command so their bosses don't look as incompetent as they really are.

Elsewhere, sailors don't have their tuition assistance chits disapproved because "You're only writing one contract a month."

Elsewhere, good, skilled, hard-working senior sailors aren't treated like dirtbags because they don't write more than one contract a month.

Elsewhere, sailors are actually allowed the 90 minutes 3 times a week to work out that was decreed by the Navy's top admiral, instead of being told to get back to work and fake their workouts on their planners.

Elsewhere, 80% of an office isn't on one form or another of anti- depressants because of the constant stress and abuse they recieve on a daily basis.

Elsewhere, sailors don't routinely have leave chits and other important paperwork "lost" or "misplaced" by their direct supervisors.

Elsewhere, men and women in uniform are respected and praised, not cursed out, treated like second- class citizens, threatened, and harassed by snobby, coddled, lazy, shallow, little snot- nosed asshole kids and their narrow- minded, racist, materialistic, wannabe high society nouveau riche  parents- they very people they've sworn to protect and defend.

Elsewhere, sailors with millions of dollars worth of experience and training aren't being turned into babysitters for what should be full- grown men and women.

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Yes, I know it's been forever since I posted, but I PROMISE I'm working on a buttload of big entries that will all be backdated in the near future- probably during the cruise Tana and I are taking in a couple of weeks. :)

So I was just hopping around on my LJ, catching up on entries that I haven't read in well over a week, and all of a sudden it hit me, halfway between Michelle and Bonnie's journals.

When the FUCK did the wonderful, mature, informative, serious community that was Sextips become a "OMG, so I kinda like this guy but IDK if he lieks me so what should I do and btw I checked the memories and I just saw Juno and OMG ROFLMAO that was the best moovie Ive ever seen <3 so thanks yah"  forum for the same kinds of mindless, ignorant Gen Y brats that I have to deal with on a daily basis? I remember being their age and actually being a MODERATOR once upon a time (granted, it was very briefly,  but only because I didn't have enough time to devote to the community.) I would've been tossing entries left and RIGHT!

Or maybe I'm just losing it, and am starting to turn into one of those cranky old guys that complains about "those damned kids".

But GOD, I hope not.


And on that note, I'm going to bed and wishing that applications and IQ tests were administered prior to allowing any Americans to procreate.

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  1. I'm sitting in the USO at Charlotte- Douglas International with [Bad username or unknown identity: mepeachykeen as we wait for our flight back to the West Coast. Thought I'd kill some time. Stolen from Megan, because I'm not that creative when I'm hung over. ;) 1. What did you do in 2007 that you'd never done before? Brought a girl home to meet my crazy family and friends.  2. Did you keep your new year's resolutions, and will you make more for next year? I don't think I bothered to make any resolutions last year- but I most definitely did for this year. And hopefully folks will help keep me in check on those.  3. Did anyone close to you give birth? Kelly, and Lori (shudders). 4. Did anyone close to you die? Not this year, that I can think of... 5. What countries did you visit? Stayed right here in the U.S. and A. the whole year- recruiting sucks away any attempts at having a life outside of work.  6. What would you like to have in 2008 that you lacked in 2007? Time off from work, less stress, more fun. In other words, a life outside of work.  7.What date from 2007 will remain etched upon your memory?  March 3, 2007. First date with Tana. We went to Aussie Pub and talked for a long, long time over pitchers.  8. What was your biggest achievement of the year? Not going crazy or killing somebody as a result of my job.  9. What was your biggest failure? Screwing up certain plans that certain people made for birthdays and such.  Not doing more to ensure I was getting to use the time off that I'm supposed to be entitled to. 10. Did you suffer illness or injury?  I caught a couple of crazy nasty flu bugs in March and September, probably brought on by an immune system weakened from too much stress, too much work, and not enough sleep.  11. What was the best thing you bought? A 4-day cruise with Tana for this coming April. :) 12. Whose behavior merited celebration? Michelle and Tana for being so forgiving, and everybody else who helped me stay sane over the last year.  13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed? My stupid vengeful bitch of an ex- girlfriend 14. Where did most of your money go? Gas, uniforms, food. Recruiting- related expenses. 15. What did you get really, really, really excited about? Flying home for the holidays with Tana.  16. What songs will always remind you of 2007? good question.  17. Compared to this time last year, are you  i. happier or sadder? Happier, in most ways...  ii. thinner or fatter? Fatter. And not happy about it in the least.  iii. richer or poorer? Richer. And not just in monetary means  18. What do you wish you'd done more of? Working out, spending time with friends, just living and appreciating where I am.  19. What do you wish you'd done less of? Working. 'Nuff said. I hate my job.  20. How will you be spending Christmas? SPENT Christmas with the family and Tana in New York. Had a blast while we were there. :) 21. Did you fall in love in 2007? Most definitely! :D  22. How many one night stands? Um..... that really depends on how you look at it. But more than I'd really like to admit to.  23. What was your favorite TV program? Lost! The only one that was on late enough for me to be able to watch when I got home from work.  24. Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year? The list is long, but distinguished.  26. What was the best book you read? The Game: Penetrating the Secret Society of Pickup Artists. Brilliant read.  27. What was your greatest musical discovery? Federicko Aubele  28. What did you want and get? A wonderful lady in my life ( who I promise I'll write more about soon...)  29. What did you want and not get? Out of recruiting. :(  30. What was your favorite film of this year? Transformers! Made me feel like I was 6 years old again!  31. What did you do on your birthday? We had one hell of a busy weekend- went out, went to brunch at the Wave House, drank all day, and played beer pong until well after midnight.  32. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying? Not being in recruiting.  33. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2007? 98% of my waking hours were spent in uniform. You figure it out. 34. What kept you sane? Tana, Michelle, Jason, Colin, Billy, Zeke, Mike Jenkins, Beer, Vodka, Rum, and karaoke.   35. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most? EIther Edwards or Obama  36. What political issue stirred you the most? Either Immigration or the handling of veterans returning from Iraq (or lack thereof).  37. Who did you miss? Everybody back east.  38. Who were the best new people you met? Tana, her friends, and re-connecting with Mikey Jenkins again.  39. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2007: Karma will always come back around and get you.  ]


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