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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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I was looking around on YouTube just now, and happened to stumble upon the following video, shot during the ship's last deployment. As strange as it sounds, it reminded me how much I miss being out to sea, and the friendship and cameraderie that existed on the ship. I've been thinking about these sorts of things for a while now, and it's seriously making me consider whether or not I'm going to be ready to get out when I finish this tour in recruiting. Anyway, without further ado, here's this great video- I especially love the shout-out they give to the lovely ladies of Reactor Department. Matter of fact, I used to work with several of them back in my day. Ugh, I'd better stop before I start looking at re-enlistment bonuses.





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So I was sitting in traffic on the 405 yesterday during Rush Hour (I know, big mistake), when I recieved a call from one of my guys who'd joined the navy out of my office a few months back. He shipped to Boot Camp back in February, and had just gotten to Charleston about a week ago to start the lovely mental marathon known as Naval Nuclear Power School. 

Before he shipped to Great Lakes, I'd told him to call me when he arrived in Charleston, and I'd give him the low-down on all the best places to hang out (after all, he's going to be there for the next 2 years- might as well enjoy the time spent there, right?). As I started listing off the various bars, clubs, dives, restaurants, and other hangouts, it brought back a flood of memories from those days, well over 6 years ago now. (Wow, we're getting old, aren't we, Mandy?) After I hung up the phone, I started remembering incidents, encounters, and drama that I'd long forgotten about- and was reminded of what a profound effect those 20 months had on me in the following years. I learned a lot in that time, and I'm not just talking about electron interactions and neutron absorption ratios. 

When I initially joined the navy and left home for the first time, I was a bright- eyed, wet- behind- the- ears idealist who viewed the world through rose- colored glasses. I was incredibly naive in the ways of the world, and hadn't the foggiest idea about much of anything. 

Contrary to what I believed, of course.

With that in mind, I've decided that I want to rewind the clock to my early, formative days back in Charleston- circa 2000- 2001. Mostly focusing on the crazy, drama- filled year that was 2001- my first apartment, my first roommate, my first 'real' birthday party, and my serious heartbreak. It was a long, interesting journey, and I'm glad we all made it out without getting arrested, kicked out, or worse. Anyway, I'll start with those soon.

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Tiger In A Cage

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