Monday, December 28, 2009

Breathing Room

I hope everyone had an excellent Christmas and is getting some quality time in to start the New Year off right!

I did make it to my parents house safely Wednesday night, after getting horribly delayed in New Mexico on Monday. (Something about a propane truck and a car getting friendly on the interstate, which then shut down said interstate for the next TEN HOURS and diverted ALL of that traffic onto little mountain roads that should never have that much traffic on it. But I digress.) Teddie was actually pretty good about the whole traveling thing. He's decided he prefers the back seat to the front, though, and he likes hotel rooms with king sized beds ("Aw, Mom! This is perfect! Where are you gonna sleep, though??"). He's been spending a lot of time under the bed here, though. It's not the extra three cats and the large Labrador that seem to bother him, it's the people. He's never been what anyone would call a sociable cat in the first place, so having a minimum of two extra people around almost constantly seems to drive him a little batty. However, we do know that he comes out at night, when no one is home, and, apparently, when I'm the only one home, as he's currently laying on my arms, which is making typing this uncomfortable.

My car, however, is in a state of shock. It's never even HEARD of this cold white wet stuff that falls from the sky and is pretty much buried out in the drive way. All you can see is the California license plate. Poor car! I'm going to dust it off in a bit and see how it handles on the roads (which aren't too bad as long as you aren't stupid), so I can go into the local YMCA and finally get a decent workout in. I'm pretty sure all I've done for the past week has been eat either holiday goodies or fast food on the road while driving, so I definitely need the workout!

I brought my New Angle afghan out with me to work on (I ended up NOT having to make slippers, yay!), and there's a pretty decent LYS in a town just south of here that I'm planning on hitting up. (She is generally my source for the Mountain Colors Twizzle, so I like her.) I also, for the first time, have the opportunity to actually bring my own loom back to California. Yes, a weaving loom. Some of us started weaving many many moons ago (like, maybe twenty years or so? When I was younger and long before the recent craze for it started anyway). My grandparents had big looms and wove rag rugs and things with them, and my grandfather built a tabletop loom for me one year for Christmas. Unfortunately, we never had enough room in my parents' house to store/use it, and I certainly didn't have the money to ship it to California when I moved out there, so it's stayed in my grandparents' basement all these years. But this year, I have my trusty car with me, with a lot of room in the back, so it will finally get to come home where it belongs. Now I want to go searching for inspiration for that craft, too!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Great American Road Trip

So the big plan was to get on the road by 0730 this morning. Unfortunately, Teddie is not packed (he claims he doesn't have a thing to wear, and doesn't believe me when I tell him he will - for once - NOT be overdressed in his long fur coat. Males!), my laptop cable has gone missing along with (as far as I can tell) a whole laundry load of dark clothes (including my FIGHT gear and some favorite pjs, that I haven't seen since I got back), and my garage door is broken. The laptop is irritating me the worst right now - I still need to get caught up on Fringe and White Collar and I'd love to re-watch Leverage, too. Mrph.

Going to try to make it to Albuqurque/Kirtland AFB today. We'll see.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Knitting!

Because this IS a knitting blog (in theory, anyway), I thought I might pass on the fact that I did finally finish the Diagonal Lace Scarf last night. It's made of my absolute favorite yarn (Mountain Colors Twizzle), and pics will be up in the near future (maybe). It wasn't really made with any particular purpose in mind, but now I'm thinking I'll ship it off to a friend in Alaska. She makes me little craftsy things when the mood strikes, and somehow, I can see her with this. So once the ends get woven in (and a pic taken), this wooly silky purply goodness will probably be headed far far north. (While I can't say that I would NEVER go to Alaska, because I do hear it's beautiful, I can say it's not on my top ten vacation spot ideas. Unlike, oh, the warm Carribbean. There IS a reason I live in California, y'know. I do enjoy my 70-degrees-and-sunny December days.)

Off to make yet another pair of felted slippers. Because SOMEONE lost hers. Ahem. (Actually, I think I have to make another pair of those for my brother, too. Or did I do that last year? It kind of all blurs together.) I wonder if I have any more leather soles...

On a positive note, I think my Christmas shopping is done. (I have to see if I can find one more thing, and if I can, then I'm going to return one of the things I already bought, but if not, well, that person is stuck.) It's kind of nice to not have to ship things and pray they'll get there in time this year! (I'm packing the gifts and the cat and maybe a couple warm changes of clothes and driving out to the Midwest this year for the holidays. Various friends throughout the country are already putting dibs on my drive back West, from Louisville to Seattle. That drive should be interesting, at any rate!)

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

A1C Trummel

I don't even know how to start this post. Obviously, I'm back from Basic Training. I graduated (as an honor grad, as my mother will happily tell you) on 11 December and got home to Santa Maria Monday morning. I'm kind of still in a fog, though. I'm jet-lagged, trying to get back onto West Coast time, and trying to get caught up with everyone and everything I've missed and get back into the swing of "real" life, but also trying to work in the discipline that got drilled into me over the past two months and still being so darn TIRED that nothing is really working right. I did go to classes at the dojahng Monday night, and they felt good. I am about half-decided on just writing the rest of this week off, though. I'm leaving this weekend to drive out to Illinois for the holidays, and I'm thinking that taking one week completely off of life in between won't kill me. But then I think I'm not being disciplined and feel guilty again. We'll see. (I'm also having a crazy urge to knit another Rogue, how weird is that?) I did get to spend the weekend with my parents and my brother, who all flew down to San Antonio and braved the absolutely freezing weather most of the time to watch all the ceremonies and hoopla and take pictures. (Y'all will have to wait until I get the pics from them, sorry.)

Like I said, I'm not really even sure what I want to say here. It's not like you can explain Basic Military Training to someone who hasn't done it. It's such a unique experience. People tend to either go "omg, that's horrible, why would anyone ever put themselves through that?!" or they think they understand and that it's no big deal and anyone can do it. Less than 7% of Americans ages 18-30 actually qualify for any military service. Less than 2% actually ever do it. Of those 2%, there are only 47 other people in the nation who went through the same things I did with the same people I did, and all 48 of us have our own unique viewpoints on it. How do you explain the sheer exhaustion and confusion of Zero Week, the smugness of getting your nametapes sewn onto your uniforms during Fourth Week after overcoming the obstacle course and the gas chamber, the constant awareness and weight of BEAST (Sixth Week), the studying and tutoring to help one of our girls who barely spoke English with the final written test in Seventh Week (and the tears when the whole flight cheered and mobbed her when she passed it), the sheer pride at hearing your TI call you his airmen after Retreat in Eighth Week? It really can't be explained, just experienced.

There are three things you always are at Basic. You're always hungry, you're always tired, and you're always in trouble. Basic Training is both really hard and really easy at the same time. My instructor team was very tough on us, but also very fair. Although it's part of their job to stress us to the max, they also never set us up for failure. Things were always explained, and usually you even got one chance to fix a mistake. (Heaven help you if you weren't paying attention or didn't fix it the first time, though!) As long as you maintained your military bearing, treated them with the respect and etiquette they taught you, and weren't being stupid, the TIs were mostly easy to deal with. If you just listened and did what you were told, the actual training part of BMT is easy. The hard part of BMT is living with your flight for two months. 50 females together in one room NEVER SHUT UP while they're awake (some of them don't shut up when they're asleep, either!). Someone ALWAYS has an opinion that absolutely must be shared, which usually led to arguments, which turned into screaming and cursing matches. That, for me, at least, was the hardest part of BMT - far more difficult to deal with than TIs, PT, BEAST, lack of sleep and medical mishaps combined. (Note that "lack of food" didn't make that list. After Zero Week, where it felt like you had a total of thirty seconds to eat for the whole week, you get to actually taste your food and realize that while it's not 5-star surf-n-turf, it's a heck of a lot better than regular cafeteria food, there's usually quite a variety, and portion sizes are relatively large. We burn a LOT of calories while in Basic, so you're still always hungry, but I can't think of any time where I didn't have enough to eat.)

I wrote letters to my parents explaining things as they happened, and I'm hoping they saved them, because posting them here would explain things a lot better than I could now. The hardest week for me personally was Fifth Week, not because of anything we did that week as a flight, but because that's when I was really dealing with a seriously major infection in my hand, so I was tired and sick and a little scared and really fed up with the girls arguing and that was the one time that I really thought "I can't do this anymore. I have to give up, I have to go home. I just can't do this." Of course, that passes. Life passes too quickly, and they keep you too busy, to really get bogged down in those kinds of thoughts. You just don't have time for self-pity there. It's both the longest and shortest two months of your life. There are lots of tears, but also lots of laughs. There is bitter disappointment and shining pride. I'd never do it again unless my life or a wingman's depended on it. But it's worth it.


This was one of the songs that they played every Sunday before chapel. It's John Michael Montgomery's "Letters From Home" and pretty much guaranteed to make you cry if there's ever been anyone you cared about in the military (not even males are immune). The first couple weeks, you cry because it makes you homesick, the rest of the time, you cry because you know how true it is. (It doesn't sound quite right without an Air Force "hooah!" after every time he says "letters from home", though!)


John Michael Montgomery - Letters From Home

~Sh@wn~ | MySpace Video


"My dearest son it's almost June
I hope this letter catches up with you, and finds you well.
It's been dry but they're calling for rain,
and everything's the same old same in Johnsonville.
Your stubborn old daddy ain't said too much
but I'm sure you know he sends his love."
And she goes on, in a letter from home.

I hold it up and show my buddies
like we ain't scared and our boots ain't muddy,
and they all laugh like there's something funny 'bout the way I talk
when I say "Mama sends her best y'all."
I fold it up and put it in my shirt,
pick up my gun and get back to work,
and it keeps me drivin' on,
waitin' on letters from home.

My dearest love it's almost dawn.
I been lying here all night long
wonderin' where you might be.
I saw your mama and I showed her the ring.
Man on the television said some things, so I couldn't sleep,
but I'll be alright, I'm just missin' you,
and this is me kissing you.
X's and O's, in a letter from home.

I hold it up and show my buddies
like we ain't scared and our boots ain't muddy,
and they all laugh cause she calls me "honey"
but they take it hard, cause I don't read the good parts.
I fold it up and put it in my shirt,
pick up my gun and get back to work,
and it keeps me drivin' on,
waitin on letters from home.

Dear son, I know I ain't written
and sitting here tonight alone in the kitchen it occurs to me
I might not have said it so I'll say it now.
Son, you make me proud.

I hold it up and show my buddies
like we ain't scared and our boots ain't muddy
but no one laughs, cause there ain't nothing funny when a soldier cries,
and I just wipe my eyes.
I fold it up and put it in my shirt,
pick up my gun and get back to work,
and it keeps me drivin' on,
waitin on letters from home.



Thank you

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Crossing Into the Blue

See you in nine weeks!

Prayers, thoughts, and letters are all greatly appreciated. Talk to my mom if you'd like my address while I'm gone.

Thanks for all the support and encouragement! I will miss you all until I get back!!

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Good News/Bad News

Good News:
My orders are supposed to be in by noon tomorrow and I am definitely, 100% going to Basic next week. ("You're bought and paid for, kiddo. Have fun!") I got lots of "helpful" advice over the weekend and even continuing into the week of how to best survive Basic. Frankly, I just want to get it over with. Anticipation is the worst, it's always better to just do it. Dive into the deep end and go!

Bad News:
I am sick. But I don't know what I have, other than a lot of coughing and a fever that comes and goes. I do have a slight headache, but that could also be due to either caffeine withdrawal or the fact that I just started my period, too, so I can't count that as a symptom. No upset stomach or achiness or fatigue (other than general results of Long Weekend Going Straight Into A Longer Week Syndrome and a PT test). Apparently most of the full-timers at the unit are sick - Recruiter went home early yesterday and when I stopped in to check on my orders today (I didn't actually go to work today, because of the fever, but I had a few things that had to be taken care of), the girls said both of them and the Chief were all sick, too. Yay. I don't FEEL sick most of the time, just when I'm coughing, but I also don't feel well either. All I gotta say is that it had better Go Away Fast! (My brother has already threatened me within an inch of my life if I don't graduate on time, something about vacation days burned. As much as I enjoy irritating my baby brother, I'm on his side about this one!)

Good News:
I passed the DO's test on space and JSpOC basics this weekend without studying. (Okay, I should have studied the JSpOC stuff more, because I should have gotten the highest score and didn't, much to the delight of the intel flight captain.)

Bad News:
I was one of only three people out of 18 who passed it. The student flight did an 8-hour crash course on Saturday (mostly just to see what we could handle). I lucked out in that I'd had most of it before, thanks to ERAU, but even my brain was about to explode by the end of the day and we didn't even get through all the material. Then the test was on Sunday morning. (I took it after everyone else, because I also had a PT test that morning. It's always a great morning when you get to walk into the DO's office and get "How was the test?" "I passed, Sir." "Good, pass this one.") We were kind of being guinea pigs, though, and some of the guys who just came back from tech school took it and didn't pass either. So we don't feel too bad about it. I think it was frustrating for some of them, though.

Good News:
I passed my PT test with scores good enough to not only get into, but graduate from Basic already. This is good because it means my scores will only get better during the 9 weeks I'm gone. (I missed getting a certificate by 1.25 points, sigh!) Also, my elbow didn't hurt. I mean, it wasn't thrilled, but frankly, my arms could be stronger, and it wasn't nearly the pain I used to have in it. More along the lines of "hey, wait, I'm working and I don't like work. Please stop? Well, okay, if you insist" instead of the "OMG STOP NOW OR I'LL MAKE YOU REGRET IT FOR THE NEXT THREE DAYS!" that it would have been even six months ago. Maybe Basic will be survivable (and the delay in going was a good thing).

Bad News:
I still have to drop two minutes off my 1.5 mile run and learn how to do a pullup (not part of the standard PT, but used at Basic) if I want to even have a chance at being an Honor Graduate (they get an extra day pass into town with family and an extra ribbon). That seems like a lot. The extra pushups and situps I'll need I'm sure will come from the daily PT, but that's a lot of time to take off a run. Hm. Also bad is that my coughing started after doing the run outdoors. We weren't allowed to run outside on base (the air quality from the fire last week still sucked), so we drove out to a high school in Santa Maria. Frankly, I'm wondering if that's why I'm still coughing.

Good News:
I was able to take care of a few things that need to be dealt with before I leave today, despite trying to avoid the public as much as possible.

Bad News:
There is still a LOT to be done (not really, but it seems like it) before I leave, the least of which is cleaning the apartment. Sigh!

Now food and a hockey game if I can find one.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Wow!!!!!

Completely stolen from Amie, but definitely worth the watch!!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

California is burning again...

Only this time, it's right near where I work:


This was taken from my building near the Lompoc Gate exit when it was still "small" (only 150 acres, I believe, at the time). I guess it started around 11:30a. We had INSANELY strong winds today, and apparently either a power line got downed or a transformer exploded (I've heard both, not sure which is true) right near the middle school which happens to be right across from the Main Gate (the area around has been under road construction ALREADY for a month now) and the highway that connects the base to Santa Maria. Most parts of the base lost power around the same time that it started (because, of course, that was the day that I was going to stay on base and eat, so NATURALLY the power is out everywhere there is food for me or gas for the car). My building lost power around 1:00p (only four of us had gotten back from lunch at that point) and the DO and Chief came back and sent us home around 1:30p. The problem, of course, being that THE HIGHWAY TO SANTA MARIA IS CLOSED so I end up either having to drive all the way to Buellton on the nice safe highway and then take the 101 up or take the Harris Grade road which is closer and more direct, but has NASTY hairpin curves. As in the "you misjudge this by the slightest speck and suddenly have an enormously good chance of going flying off a cliff" type curves. And everybody and their brother from base or base housing or trying to get to their kids is on both roads. So needless to say, it was slow going.

The news media says it's 50% contained already, so I'm hoping I can at least get in to work tomorrow morning. I just really hope my building doesn't burn - we JUST finished painting it over the weekend!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Almost Adopted Again

While doing laundry last night, I was met quite deliberately at the bottom of the stairs by a small light grey feline. We (unfortunately) have several stray cats around the neighborhood, so I didn't really think anything of it and expected it to run as soon as it realized I was present. Instead, it followed me all the way to the laundry room AND back, rubbing against my legs and purring and demanding to be petted. Clearly not a usual stray. When we got up to the landing by my door, I could see that she (had some calico to her, so 99% sure about the sex) was older than "kitten" but not quite full-grown. I'd guess less than 9 months old, but that could depend on how long she'd been out on the street. I sat and petted her for a bit, and then (of course, because I'm a sucker) got a small bowl of cat food and one of the ratty old towels that pass for kitty blankets around here and set them outside for her. She tried to follow me directly into the apartment (which was NOT met kindly, judging by Teddie's sudden transformation into a three-foot round, hissing, spitting, growling furball - who knew he had it in him?!) but I was able to get her back outside again. (Teddie spent the rest of the night guarding the front door.)

I was in a hurry this morning and didn't think about the dish or blanket outside until I got two voicemails from my landlady, whom I had asked to drop off some paperwork. (I don't get phone reception in my work building, they just show up as voicemail.) The first was "Hey, I dropped off your paperwork like you asked. I noticed you have food and a blanket outside your door, did you lose your cat? Let us know - we don't really want food out to encourage all the strays around here, but we'd be happy to help you find your kitty."

The second was "I just called you five seconds ago, but wanted to let you know your kitty came home. I saw her earlier today and didn't realize she was yours, but she was sitting outside your door and crying, so I went ahead and let her in."

Um. Problem. Oh dear.

Luckily, it was already about 3:30p and Recruiter and I were just getting to the "we might just sit around and twiddle our thumbs because it's 3:30p on a Monday" point, so I raced home with visions of everything from carpets covered in fur and cat urine to (optimistically) a pair of cuddled up kitties to (pragmatically) two fight-injured felines and an expensive trip to the vet. I walk in the door and immediately start calling Teddie. I can hear him grumbling under the bed from the living room. I then notice a light grey blob on the couch. She was curled up, comfy as you please, right on top of my couch. She woke up when I came over to her, stretched as if she owned the place, and then came straight over to me like "Oh good! You're finally home! You may pet me now!" She's clearly fine, so I continued on my quest to find MY cat. He has evaporated into a pair of glowing green eyes in the farthest corner he can get to under the bed and is still grumbling and hissing any time she gets anywhere near, and of course, she's doing the "Oo, what are we looking at?!" routine.

I finally got her corralled into the old cat carrier and drag Teddie out from under the bed and check him over. He seems to be fine, although I think his pride is a bit wounded from getting caught hiding from a girl. He streaks back into another of his hideyholes the second I let him go, so now what to do with her? She's clearly used to being fussed over, and living indoors, ergo she probably has an owner. I am in NO position to form any kind of attachment, seeing as I leave two weeks from tomorrow and am having trouble finding someone to take care of the cat I already have. I don't have the space or time right now to properly introduce two cats to each other, not to mention the fact that I have no idea what the true health of the female actually is, so I didn't really want her around Teddie. (Even if she only had fleas, that would drive me nuts!)

I ended up taking her to the SB County Animal Shelter over on Foster Road. I hated to do it, but I needed to make sure she was both taken care of and healthy without paying vet bills, and I was really really hoping her owner had microchipped her and could be found and contacted. She is a sweet, sweet kitty, very beautiful (very light grey with flecks of orange throughout her coat and white mittens), and clearly intelligent enough to sniff out a sucker for cats. I'm going to put up fliers in the laundry room and mail areas of both apartment complexes and hope that her owner sees them. I explained my situation to the personnel at the shelter, and if she is unclaimed by the time I get back from Basic, I said I would be willing to adopt her.

We'll see.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Stripes

I'm trying to take advantage of what should be my last free weekend before I leave. (I have drill next weekend and my ASCI 601 final the next weekend and I should be leaving the Tuesday after that. I'm also helping with the women's self-defense seminar at the dojahng in a few hours today, too.) There's so much to get done on top of all my regular weekend chores. Setting up finances for while I'm gone is going to be my primary goal. The nice thing is that I don't have to pack anything up, just make sure things are neat and clean and paid for. Still not completely sure what I'm going to do with Teddie - one of my PCPA friends had said she would take him, but this is their off-week between the end of the summer season and the start of the fall, so she's been out of town. I'm going to try to talk to her this coming week. I would really really prefer someone stay at the apartment with him rather than having him go through the stress of moving back and forth, but it is what it is, I guess.

To answer what a lot of people have asked me - Yes. Of course I'm a little scared. It's Basic Training, not summer camp. I'm a loner and I'm going to be forced to live with 50 other girls and no privacy for two months straight. I get frustrated when I don't know everything going into a class (yeah yeah), and now I'll have people yelling at me on top of that. I'm going to be older than probably 97% of my training flight. I want to reflect well on all the training I've had so far, both the informal military training I've gotten just from working with the units on base and the physical training and mental discipline I've gotten from martial arts. I definitely want the 216th to know I was worth it and will be worth it.

However, on the flip side of that, I also know that thousands of people before me have survived BMT just fine. I'm in pretty good shape and I already know what it feels like to be pushed past my limits. I have an extremely flexible comfort zone, it's not my first time living away from friends and family (in fact, some aspects of that should be easier, like no cooking!), I'm smart, and despite realizing that everyone's experiences there are different, I have a pretty good idea of what to expect. And, frankly, having met a lot of people who have been through BMT...well, if they can do it, I know I can, too. I'm not looking forward to it, by any means. I know it will be hard, maybe the hardest two months of my life, but eyes on the prize.

I want to earn the rank I've been claiming since January. I want to earn my stripes.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Whirlwind

Really quickly, because I'm getting ready to head to FIGHT but I wanted to update y'all.

As of about 12:15p today, I am officially in the 216 Operational Support Squadron (still as an A1C, and still with several people scratching their heads about it, but we have a plan, it's all good). Before the ink was even dry (and I'm not sure that it all is quite now, there's a lot of signing and sending), they had me scheduled for Basic.

I leave three weeks from today.

My apartment's good (although if someone needs a place for the time I'm gone, I'm totally willing to negotiate), I'm getting a housing allowance that will more than cover my rent while I'm gone, but...anyone want to cuddle a kitty for me for two months?

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Almost there

1. Arm still hurts. It got jacked up again in class on Tuesday (the untrained are ALWAYS the most dangerous), hurt bad enough that I didn't go to class at all on Wednesday, and I only did kickboxing tonight. Blargh. (If Sir had been there tonight, I would have stayed, because it would have meant more grappling - which might have finally clicked for me - and less disarming and stretching of the arm, but he's gone for a few days and while normally I would not have any problems at all with Mr. R, the arm really couldn't have handled more PT tonight.)

2. Going hiking with some people from the 148th up near SLO tomorrow night. Should be interesting.

3. Have to talk to the commander tomorrow. New rumours say that all officer slots are filled with fully qualified people, but he'll still let me come to the 216th as enlisted (they are more than willing to get me trained ASAP and don't have a million schools dragging them down). Gotta find out what's going on with that. I wonder if they have any traditional officer slots available, if everyone is moving to full-time. I'd still be in training, and therefore gainfully employed in view of lots of civilian contractors for several months. Either way, I can't really lose. I can't really say that the 216th is a step up, because it's not better, it just has a different mission, and neither unit is better than the other, but I'm really much more interested in the JSpOC than the MILSTARs. And I'm going to (respectfully, for rank and because I like the guy) make it clear that I AM going to be an officer, if not now, then eventually, so I hope he likes seeing my name come across his desk.

4. Fringe and Bones are both awesome.

5. Knitting is starting to become fun again. About the only thing I've really been working on with any degree of progress has been the Twizzle scarf, and it's about 85% done. I just picked the afghan back up the other day, though. And found a pattern that I was trying to make up last year. I'm really glad other people are smarter than me.

6. Shower and bed time. One more day of getting up early (15 days in a row, I'd like to point out), and then the weekend. Recruiter is off tomorrow, so I think I'll [s]see how much trouble I can get into[/s] finish up a project for the Lt and maybe not work nine hours again like I did today (starting the project for the Lt). Anyone know Excel REALLY REALLY well?

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Quick Explanation

There are a lot of reasons why cell phones are annoying, mostly dealing with when other people are using them or people complaining about how "tied" to them we are. Valid points, of course. But I gotta say, being able to spend three hours watching the game with your parents from 2500 miles away without it adding a cent more to my regular phone bill - that's pretty cool. (I am still disappointed about both Ohio State and Purdue losing VERY close games to Pac-10 teams, though.)

So, the possible new job. (Keep in mind, this is just past the "this is what everyone would LIKE to see happen" stage and nowhere near "this is actually happening" stage. We're more in the "okay, we all agree this is what we want, now how can we make it happen?" stage right now.) I told y'all that I applied for a full-time job with the 216 that happens to include a commission. Well, I got pulled aside on Wednesday by the DO (the director of operations, the unit's second in command) to get told that he'd been looking, and Human Resources would not forward my resume/application to them because they did not feel that I met the qualifications. Fair enough, and pretty much what I was expecting to hear anyway. However, he asked me to check in with him later in the week to "brainstorm some options" because he wasn't sure that the enlisted job I've been planning on going into was really what would be best for me or either of the units.

I didn't get a chance to talk to him on Thursday, but I got a call from Recruiter after work giving me a heads up that the DO REALLY wanted to talk to me again. Sure enough, Friday morning, I had an email from him asking me to drop by his office. What it pretty much boils down to is that no, I am not qualified for the position I had applied for, they can't make me fit into that position, and it would be bad form to steal an enlisted member from one unit to do the same job at another unit at the same base. BUT, they like me, they really feel like I SHOULD be an officer, they know me and have seen me working and learning, and they feel it wouldn't be stealing an enlisted so much as offering someone an advancement opportunity if I could come to the 216 as an officer.

To fix this, they're trying to create a different full-time officer slot for me at the 216th. They've all but talked the commander into it; we're just waiting for his blessing on however they rework the positions, which should be this week. Major (of the field trip post) strongly hinted yesterday that I had better get my application package for commission ready ASAP because "you never know when a slot will open up and you'd really want to be ready if the commander just happens to find one." Recruiter and I started gathering everything up this weekend and are going to finish getting things together this week. I'm a little concerned with my AFOQT scores and would really like to re-take it, but I have to get some more feedback on that first.

So for right now, as far as anyone is officially concerned, I am still enlisted in the 148th and still slotted for Basic in February. And, if this doesn't work out, that won't change, so it's not like I'm losing anything. The 148th had their family picnic day today at drill, and we had a lot of fun. They're good people, with a good mission. But I can't really turn down an opportunity to try for a commission, or a really cool job that puts me directly in lines of view of LOTS of contractors.

Friday, September 11, 2009

What We Do



That is seriously what the 216 OSS/614 AOC (our active duty sister unit) actually does. In fact, if the cards fall the way everyone is hoping, that will actually BE part of MY job! Of course, it's rarely that dramatic or holographic. I seriously doubt the JSpOC has background theme music, too. Of course, knowing some of the guys who work on the floor, well, let's just say it wouldn't surprise me. Details on the possible new job if/when it becomes official.

Btw, I actually think these "It isn't science fiction, it's what we do every day" commercials are kinda cool. I've only seen this one and the one with the Reaper (and, just FYI, the Guard flies those, too, out of Nellis), but they'd make me go "Wow, that's cool! Where do I sign up for that?!"

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Her Package Arrived!

My pal Mesanges over on Ravelry got her swap package today, so I feel comfortable in revealing some of my handiwork over the past couple weeks. Actually, it isn't much and didn't take very long, but I still like them. (Her pics on the thread are much better than mine, too!)

The poor girl's a Canadiens fan, so she got herself a new project bag:

that was filled with all sorts of small hockey/squirrel/swedish fish-related items (I'd never heard of Swedish Fish candy before this swap and now I see it everywhere!). Now you know why the teaser pic was from the top down into the bag - the stripe would have given it away! Btw, trying to find a Canadiens patch (which is what I really wanted to include) in this area of the world is a PAIN in the you know what (even sports memorabilia store owners looked at me like I'd sprouted a second head when I asked about hockey stuff, much less Habs). I knew my intarsia skills weren't good enough to try charting out the logo, and it would take too long to cross-stitch, so I was wracking my brain trying to think of what else I could do. I was wandering aimlessly in Michaels, trying to get some kind if inspiration, and landed in an aisle with those small plastic canvases of different shapes that kids use for needlepoint. Two packs of those and some stash yarn resulted in these:


Simple, fun, useable. (They're the sleeve stripes of the three teams she listed as her favorites. And a puck.) And now that I've remembered how to do needlepoint, I'm thinking I need some in old gold and black. And black, red, and white. And red, white, and blue. Hey, I could do a set for all of my teams. Hmm...

Anyway, I really had a lot of fun with this swap and I can't wait until the next one! (Although now I have to think of something NEW!)

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Weekend Update

I got my package finished for my hockey swap buddy! Well, I'm actually still waiting on one piece, but I whipped up some things to make up for it yesterday so I could get it over to the post office today anyway. (The final piece will get mailed along once it finally arrives!) Here's a sneak peek:

I also got MY package from my buddy (the lovely MadameX on Ravelry) Wednesday. I think it's pretty obvious how friggin' amazing it is:


Two skeins of a yummy purple mohair/wool blend called Kokopelli, a box of chocolate caramels (I don't ask questions, I just enjoy!), a Chinese jade trinket (for luck), a bunch of handmade Blackhawks-colored stitch markers, a really pretty green notepad, some Villainess body cream and soap (which smells amazing!) and this:

A 121-year-old ghost story from Boston, complete with illustrations! The story is copied out of the May 9, 1888 New York Times and those are all hand-drawn (and mounted) pictures! How cool is that?! I got thoroughly spoiled and have really enjoyed doing the spoiling, as well! (More pics of what I am sending - because I'm pretty proud of the handmade items - will be up after I confirm that spoilee has received it. I don't want to ruin the whole surprise!)

Got a four-day weekend going because of the holiday. I was going to go down to LA, but after the way I reacted to the fire smoke up here, I don't really want to subject myself to that again. So I'm just putzing around the house watching college football instead (Minnesota's getting creamed by Syracuse and sadly, the Ohio State/Navy game is more interesting. I can't get the Purdue game, of course), maybe hanging out with some friends later tonight. I did invite that guy to lunch, but our schedules don't mesh for it (South Base is a bit of a drive from Main Base). We're meeting up after work on Friday instead.

Classes this week were kind of hard - we did a full class of aikido on Wednesday night instead of tkd, which made my elbow seriously cranky with all the joint locks, and then grappling in FIGHT on Thursday. I hate grappling. I understand the importance of it, I really do (being on the ground in a fight is the WORST place to be), but I am seriously not built to work on the ground, other bodies literally on top of me make me uncomfortable (I have a rather large personal space bubble, even though Sir almost always pairs up Ma'am and I for groundwork so we don't have to work with the guys) and it makes me feel like an awkward turtle. Which, of course, is why I need to work on it, but doesn't make me enjoy it any more. At least we got to knife spar both Tuesday AND Thursday this week, though!

Alright, gotta run to the grocery store, get a litter tray for the kitty, and mail off my swap package. Have a good and safe weekend!

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Quick Questions (mostly rhetorical)

1.) Why is it that if people know you have a black belt, they automatically either think you're invincible/tough (and/or want you to "prove it") or at the very least should not be afraid of anything? I'm not bullet-proof or uninjurable, for heaven's sake.

2.) There's a guy in FIGHT I kind of like. I have his number, and we both work on base. I don't know if he's single or not, though. Invite him to lunch anyway? (Just as friends, of course - he works for a company that does launches and I'd be interested in just picking his brain even if he wasn't cute. Sadly, I've known him for a couple years now, so I can't play the complete idiot.)

3.) Why can't the postal service go faster? I'm still waiting on the last piece for my swap package that is supposed to go out by the end of the week.

4.) Why can't everyone just do their jobs the way they're supposed to? It would have saved us a trip down to Channel Islands on Monday if people would just do their friggin' paperwork and send it to the right people. I mean, I do realize it's the military and therefore any situation involving paperwork is going to get fubar'd quickly, but when even the military is complaining about it, ya gots youself a problem.

5.) Why can't Sept go a bit faster? Bones, NCIS, and Fringe all premiere in less than three weeks now!

6.) Why can't all midterms (and classes, for that matter) be as cool as the one I had this weekend? For that matter, why can't all jobs involve units that take "morale days" to go do their sworn duty to protect the golf courses on base, giving me a paid afternoon off?

and finally

7.) Why can't the cat friggin' earn his keep and at least pick up his own fur off the floor and furniture??

"Are you scared of the dark?
Are you afraid they'll break your heart?
Are you afraid you'll lose yourself?
Are you afraid of your own health?
Are you scared to lose?
Are you afraid to choose?
Are you afraid you'll win?
Are you scared of your own sin?
Are you scared to forgive?
Are you afraid to live?
Are you afraid to die?
Do you think you told a lie?

To live when you think you're dying?
To laugh when you feel like crying?
To stand when you think you're gonna fall?
It's just fear after all.
It's only fear after all.

Are you afraid you'll be alone?
Are you scared to pick up the phone?
Are you scared of the past?
Do you think that you might crash?
Do you think you're in too deep?
Are you afraid to sleep?
Are you scared there's no stability?
Are you afraid of your own fragility?

To live when you think you're dying?
To laugh when you feel like crying?
To stand when you think you're gonna fall?
It's just fear after all.
It's only fear after all.

To mend when you think you're breaking?
The strength when you know you're shaking?
To pray when your back's against the wall?
It's only fear after all
Are you scared of the end?
Are you scared to begin?
Are you scared of the start?
Do you think they'll break your heart?
Do you think they'll break your heart?

To live when you think you're dying?
To laugh when you feel like crying?
To stand when you think you're gonna fall?
It's just fear after all.
It's only fear after all.

It's only fear
The only fear is fear itself
The only fear is fear itself
The only fear is fear itself
It's only fear..."
-"Fear", Pauley Perrette/Stop Making Friends, NCIS Official Soundtrack

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Back to 100%

Woke up Monday morning and actually felt GOOD. I could breathe just fine without sniffling, I could sing along with the radio on the way to work, I wasn't worn out halfway through one class. It's soooo nice to be back to normal.

We started a new schedule at the dojahng this week. Two classes on Monday, one Tuesday, two Wednesday, two Thursday, one Friday now. The only problem I have with it is that it combines the adults and younger teens (12-15 year olds) again on Wednesdays and Fridays. Tonight was our first combined class and it was so crowded. It felt like there was barely room to move, and I'm not particularly excited about standing in lines to do drills instead of just hitting partners with pads. That might have been just a today thing, though. I understand the instructors wanting to get done a little earlier at night and making sure class sizes are decent, but it was soooo nice to not have to worry about kids in the class. They're just so breakable.

Got almost my whole package put together for my swap buddy. Just waiting on one more thing to get here and then I can send it off. Still working on the Twizzle scarf (almost done) and the afghan (almost have the second strip done). Haven't had a whole lot of motivation to knit lately, though.

Oh, and there seem to be a good chance that my temporary civ job at the 216th might turn into a semi-permanent one, at least until I go to whatever training I end up going to. Not sure yet, but at least Recruiter's back and I don't have to pretend to know anything anymore. Apparently I didn't let too many things go wrong while he was gone, though, which is nice to know. I also finally got all my finances organized (yay for paychecks that come on a regular basis!), I think, which is a huge relief.

Anyway, out for the night. Class this weekend, yay! (Although not looking forward to being on base at 9:00a or earlier for two weeks straight, but oh well.)

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Thrown into the deep end, but still breathing

Which is still kind of hard, but easier than even a few days ago (although I'm constantly starving and thirsty, which sucks). I only did four classes this week, and didn't make it to haganah at all, which is really sad. (Although, in all fairness, I will point out that I got partnered up with Sir for kickboxing on Thursday AND did the outside run in the smoke, which didn't help.) I did, however, end up floor conducting the belt test on Friday. I wasn't supposed to - I had told Sir earlier in the week that I'd help out with the test because I knew one of my classmates was testing for his third degree and they would need board holders and adult sparring partners - but the kid who was supposed to floor conduct had something come up at the last minute. I found out I was doing it when Sir introduced me to the testers. Nothing like surprises. I'd assisted Mr. R with it before, but never done it on my own. Sir told me afterwards that I'd done a good job, and he didn't think until halfway through that I had never done it before and he hadn't had to teach me like the kids who usually do it. All in all, it was fun, though.

Work was okay this week. Recruiter was gone almost all week, so I got a crash course in how to deal with (or, more commonly, find) a bunch of different kinds of files. I also found out that the 148th won't let me go to the November tech school (and therefore Basic next month) because of the followup tech school we have to go to. The February Basic date means that I will have to get separated (honorably) and then re-enlist because it will be more than a year since my date of enlistment. I can't get any of my benefits (enlistment bonus or GI Bill for school) until I've completed the initial training, and if I have to re-enlist, there is a chance that the bonus won't be available again.So I'm kind of ticked at them right now. Yay for more paperwork and more time wasted. And, my application for the commission got kicked back because I'm not ALREADY an officer (gotta love website applications), so I'm going to talk to the recruiter and maybe some of the officers at the 216th this week and find out what some options are. There might not be any - like I said, I know they're really wanting someone they don't really have to spend much time training - but it would be good to know that I've done everything I can to get it. Between that and the 148th right now....well, if the squeaky wheel gets the grease, I'm gonna be squeaking pretty loudly. What are they going to do? Kick me out? Oh wait, they're going to have to do that ANYWAY!

In knitting news, I'm in a hockey/knitting swap with some other members of the Puck This! group on Ravelry. My swappee is a Canadiens fan, which of course, is almost impossible to find stuff for around here. It's been challenging to hunt for stuff and come up with ideas. I think I have about half the package done now. I'm waiting/trying to find a few more things, and then I'll get it sent out.

New ERAU class next weekend with the general again. Can't wait!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Weekend update

I am REALLY over these fires. The smoke is creating havoc with my allergies and the whole breathing thing - you know, sort of important - is honestly quite painful right now. My nose is stopped up, so I have to breathe through my mouth, but I've been coughing so much that my throat hurts and so air down my throat isn't fun either. I would kill for a full night of easy-breathing sleep right now! Halls cough drops are a livesaver right now, but unfortunately, not smart to sleep with.

I finished most of the presentations I was working on last week. I don't know if they're any good or not - the only other person who has seen them that I know of is the recruiter, although I've asked a few others who know about the project to look them over if they get the time. I'm pretty pleased with two of them, on the fence about a third, and not really sure what else I can do with the fourth. I also got stuck doing a fifth one now, which the recruiter had told me not to worry about because he thinks it would be too difficult for me, but a couple other people have asked me to start and given me some ideas. It's not that it's difficult, it's just another of those "I'm not really sure what information they're looking for" situations, so I'm just going through all of the questions I had on that topic and trying to answer them. We'll see, I guess. It's not like they can kick me out for bad work - they technically aren't even my unit!

On that note, I'm also getting a LOT of "face time" with the unit command. Granted, it's a relatively small group, and with so few full-timers, it's hard to not see them, but it seems like any time the recruiter has any reason to talk to anyone, he drags me along. The DO (director of operations, the major who would be considered second in command, I guess. He's the one who actually took my Oath of Enlistment, so I knew he knew me by face but didn't realize he actually remembered my name) asked why I wasn't working up at the 148th yet. I explained what was going on with the temp job and training, and he wanted to know if I wanted to stay with the 216th after the temp job was over. I said I'd love to, but knew that the 216th doesn't take non-prior service 1C6s, so it sounded like I was stuck with the 148th for the time being. I did mention that I'd applied for the officer slot, even though I felt I was only barely qualified, but he said that working with the unit for a couple months would help that out a lot. (I'm idly wondering if that's also one of the reasons that I'm getting stuck doing all these briefings - the 216th IS a ultimately a training unit, after all) Now he's been telling people that "she's with the 148th, but we're going to steal her."

I'm REALLY trying not to get my hopes up for the commission - I KNOW the odds of getting it are not good, since they would really like to get someone they don't have to train so much - but it would be awfully nice. They're also still working on trying to get the ANG Space 100 class going for November, and it sounds like it might actually be a real possibility, which would send me to Basic really soon and therefore pretty much cut the odds of getting the commission for at least a year or two. Either way, it will be nice to get at least SOME training in so people would quit asking me why I'm not in uniform =P

On the other hand, for a "it'll just be answering phones and filing some papers" job, it's been kind of a steep learning curve. Nothing major, and it's not like I've been super busy or stressed, but it IS a little frustrating because the recruiter is gone a LOT and I don't really feel like I know enough to be able to really deal with things when he isn't there yet. Mostly, it's the fact that I don't know where to find a lot of the information that people are calling and asking for yet, or who to direct them to, so I take a lot of messages and cross my fingers that he'll be in soon enough not to frustrate them. I'm afraid to go too far because I'm NOT the recruiter and I don't have any authority (or clearance or contacts) to ask for certain things, but I don't like leaving people hanging either. He'll be gone most of next week, though, so I'm going to have to figure something out.



Anyway, in real life, I really like the new stuff in kickboxing and have learned that I am scared of tackles. It's the idea of falling, I think. And I landed wrong on my knee the other night - didn't hurt the knee itself, but landed right on the nerve and my whole leg sang for the next hour or so, and it's all sorts of bruised now. Helping out with testing next weekend, but just holding boards, I think.

Oh, and go see Music Man in Solvang!! I saw it last night and it is SO MUCH FUN!! Definitely worth the drive. They close next weekend, though, so hurry!!

Off to run errands. Have a good weekend!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Fast note

Getting up at 7:00a, working from 8:30a-4:30p (with a lot of flexibility, I'm really done when the recruiter gets bored for the day, which varies a lot), driving back to Santa Maria, changing clothes, and doing two martial arts classes that are at least 45m long each (we're the last class of the night, so our end time gets a little, um, flexible sometimes) will really wear you out. I am more exhausted, and oddly, hungrier at the weirdest times. I'm eating breakfast, then am starving by lunch, which is usually around 11:00a, but sometimes not until 1:00p, usually have a small snack like a baggie of trail mix or a granola bar around 2:30p or 3:00p, am starving again by 5:00p, so I grab a small meal (pb&j, string cheese, fruit cup, usually), then hit class. On Mondays and Wednesdays, I'll also grab something small in between classes, but either way, I'm very rarely actually hungry when I get home afterwards. Not like I used to be. I'm thinking about maybe even eating a real dinner around 5ish on Tuesdays/Thursdays, but not sure how well that will sit in my stomach with class starting at 6:30p. I'll try it and see.

On top of the new work schedule, there's a new kickboxing workout with a lot of MMA-style floor work, we sparred in tkd last night, worked tackles in FIGHT and did pretty close to 100 lunges in various angles, and worked kicks tonight in tkd. It's so odd to say it, but it's 11:00p and I'm tired (and walking tomorrow should be interesting)!

Friday, August 07, 2009

Anything But Ordinary

If you look, you will see
That this world is a beautiful accident
Turbulent, succulent, opulent, permanent, no way
I wanna taste it
Don't wanna waste it away
...
Is it enough to love?
Is it enough to breathe?
Somebody rip my heart out
And leave me here to bleed.
Is it enough to die?
Somebody save my life!
I'd rather be anything but ordinary, please!
-Avril Lavigne, "Anything But Ordinary"

One of my friends: So...you're a magic ninja who works with top-secret space stuff?! You know that makes you sound like a Bond girl or something out of a bad action script, right?

The end of the week was nice. You forget how nice it is to occasionally share actual real meals with people. Yesterday, I had lunch with MSgt. P who was working days down on main base while she took some class or other for her master stripe (she doesn't read this, but belated congrats anyway!). Then today was the major I met at my first drill's birthday, and Chief invited me along to lunch with them. It ended up being about seven of us total at this burger place in Lompoc, and it was fun to get to know some of the girls a little better. Another girl and I rode with Chief and Major on the way back and we got talking about how Major used to work the range (launches) and VAFB was intended to be an alternate launch site for the shuttle and he ended up taking us on an impromtu tour of some interesting places on the base. For instance, a canyon road where the rock sides actually got cut down and all of the road signs are seriously short so the shuttles' wings could fit as it was transported to SLC (space launch complex, pronounced "slick") 6 on South Base and another place on North Base where a Titan II missile had exploded in its silo back in the 60's (the damage is still pretty impressive!). I thought it was pretty cool, anyway (one of my friends just told me it sounds like it was a "nice nerd moment". It was!). I even got to prove I knew at least something about space when he was explaining something about the dynamic pressure affecting the rockets and I could speak almost intelligently about q-limits and knew what max-q was. Major was really encouraging about the fact that I'd applied for the officer slot, which made me feel slightly less stupid for even considering it much less doing it. Chief just groaned and muttered something about how the commander at the 148th was going to have his head on pike. I didn't quite catch all of it ;-)

The recruiter was actually out all day yesterday and most of the day today, so I got stuck with starting to create some briefings for the student flight (does it bother anyone else that I am IN the student flight??). I have absolutely NO idea what kind of information they want on some of them or even what format they want, though, so I'm just doing "information shells", making them look readable and at least somewhat interesting to look at, and letting the higher-ups fill in the blanks. Apparently there are advantages to having to do presentations constantly in ERAU classes - creating BS presentations is a breeze, assuming you can find the info, of course =P (Recruiter threatened to have me give the briefings, too, but I'm 99% sure he was joking. He'd better be, anyway...)

Went to kickboxing but skipped FIGHT last night. I was just too bloody tired and my arm started bugging me again. I did get to see F before I left, though, and got a hug from him. He hasn't been in class for a while. This weekend is going to be about cleaning, though. I cleaned the bathroom and most of the kitchen this evening, so I'm proud of myself. I also hit the halfway mark with the final strawberry recipe today:
the strawberry vodka. The (really quite scary looking - apparently vodka leeches color) berry/vodka mixture got squished within an inch of its life, resulting in this (much tastier looking) liquid which then got mixed with about a cup of a thin sugar syrup. The whole thing fit quite nicely into the original (clean!) vodka bottle - although I don't have a narrow-spout funnel. I have a turkey baster, though, and it worked, albeit more slowly. (WHY I have a turkey baster is beyond me, as I've never prepared or cooked any whole fowl in my life, and I'm always looking for a funnel. Weird.) Anyway, it has three more weeks of sitting there looking pretty and then it's "done." I don't know if it will get stronger or weaker with the sitting, but I'm hoping weaker, because right now one shot could knock out an elephant, and just the fumes would probably at least get one pulled over for a DUI.

Tomorrow is vacuuming and laundry, even though my dresser has decided it no longer wants to hold its drawers, so I'm not quite sure what to do about that or what to do with the laundry once it's clean. Hrm. After that, I'm planning on a Leverage mini-marathon and either some cross-stitch or (I hope!) some knitting!!

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Honest Hours

Sorry, no pics or anything fun this week. I've been slowly readjusting to working days again. Getting up hasn't really been too bad, but going to sleep at a reasonable hour has been. I'm just hardwired to be sleepy around 2:00a, which doesn't work out so well when you have to get up at 7:00a. (Okay, so I usually don't get out of bed until 7:15a or 7:20a, because I take my showers at night after class. That way all I have to do in the morning is wash the face, brush the teeth, put on makeup, get dressed, and eat breakfast. The hair mostly sort of complies.) The work itself has been interesting. I'm learning far more about enlistment and retention paperwork than I ever really wanted to know, frankly, but it's always cool to be able to help out and feel useful again.

It's also been nice to get to work more with the full-timers down at the 216th. They're going to TRY to get a special Space 100 class (my first tech school) set up that is entirely ANG members (both 216th and 148th). IF they can get it set up for November, like they really want to, the 216th is going put as much pressure as they can on the 148th to ship us two non-priors to Basic around the end of this month. On top of THAT, being in the know with the recruiter means that I found out that there was an officer slot that opened up in the 216th and I was encouraged (and did) apply for it. I don't have any real hope of getting it (although the recruiter really wants me to, and a couple of the officers have already asked if I can stay at the 216th), but I know the two officers that, should I get that far, I would interview with, which is nice.

And I really thought this was amusing. Recruiter is out of the office tomorrow and so we made up a to-do list of things that I could handle while he was gone. One of the big things? Creating briefings for the student flight for drill weekends. I'm creating the presentations that I'm going to be sitting through!

Not a lot of knitting this week - just haven't been home or awake long enough! On base for nine hours, either come home and change or go straight to the dojahng, double classes, light dinner, and then trying to relax enough to crash (which I should be doing now). I now understand weekends a little more, ha!

Friday, July 31, 2009

Ink and Field Trip!!

To get it out of the way and quell any raging curiosity, despite a bit of nerves but lots of support and great advice from friends like Gil, Inky, Crystal, and the Tattooed Knitters' Group on Ravelry, I did actually go through with the tattoo this afternoon (much to the surprise of a couple friends).
I absolutely LOVE it! We (the artist, Chrissy at Copper Coffin, and I) decided on all black because of the fine lines rather than trying to work color in and potentially ruining it. I really love the simplicity of it - her initial design was really gorgeous (you can see the remains of the stencil of it a little in the pic - I was THAT close to getting that one!), but a lot more complicated and curvy and in the end, I just couldn't do it. We had to go back to the drawing board for about an hour before we settled on this one (based on an image we found online) but once we hit on it, I was totally ready. And, before anyone asks, I won't say it was the most pleasant experience of my life, but it didn't really hurt, either. On a scale of 1-10, with 1 being a "what was that?" and 10 being a "omg, please kill me now!", it was about a 2.5. It got slightly higher than that only once or twice, but never for more than a second or two, but Gil's suggestion of "ceremony" helped. I'm super happy with it and can't wait to show it off! Several of my friends have teased me that tattoos are addictive, but it took a year of pondering and almost another full year to be absolutely sure of what I wanted, so while I'll never say never, I'm not forseeing another tattoo in near future. I love this one, it's exactly what I wanted, and another image is going to have to stay in my head for at least that long again to make me want it.

In my quest to amuse myself when not on base, and also because I've been researching some of the local history (the local library has some really good books), I took myself on a low-cost ($5) field trip on Tuesday. Inspired by some pretty pictures of the place from a book on local ghost stories (one of the main reasons I'm looking into local history), I decided to head south and see Mission Santa Barbara up close and personal:
Mass is still held there certain days of the week, and you can tour the cemetery with its super old grave markers in both English and Spanish (which, of course, is something I had never really thought about before), but most of it is now a museum and really interesting. I learned, for example, that the girl that the story "Island of the Blue Dolphins" (which I sort of vaguely remember reading in early grade school, but am more familiar with it because it was one of our Outreach shows last year) was real and was taken from San Nicolas island to the mission to be cared for after she was "rescued". (Considering she died from an illness seven weeks after her rescue, and she had survived something like seventeen years on the island by herself, not sure if it actually did her any good, unfortunately.)

The gardens were small, but I saw this plaque and thought Mom would like it:

"He even said that the brother gardener ought to reserve a place in a corner for a beautiful small garden where he put all kinds of aromatic herbs & flowering plants so that they, in their season, might invite all men who looked at them to praise God. For every creature says & proclaims "God has created me for you, O man!" - St. Francis of Assisi

And despite the ghost stories, I found it a very peaceful place to spend a lovely sunny afternoon. I took tons of pictures, but one in particular has something interesting. This is a picture of the original central altar of the mission. It has been restored, but it is kept off to the side of the main chapel (which is quite lovely, btw) in a small alcove for preservation reasons. It is the only thing in the room and takes up about 85% of the space. There is no glass around it - visitors are kept back by a simple velvet rope across the doorway. Flash photography is not allowed. I took three pictures of the altar from the same angle, but only one had this white splotch on the right side.

Not being any kind of photography expert (if it's more complicated than point and click, it's not mine), it's got to be some lighting thing, I'm sure. But I did think it was interesting that it didn't happen in any of the others.

No real knitting news. I'm working on the third square of the second strip, and Baby S saw me working on the Twizzle scarf with TKD Grandma between classes on Monday and decided that he "want to knit!" He climbed up next to me and I'd wrap the yarn around the needle and let him pull the new stitch off the old needle. It was pretty cute - he was in one of those rare cuddly but still happy moods that are so sweet to be around. My knuckles were hurting a little this week, though, so I put down the knitting and picked up the Noah's Ark cross-stitch for a few days. I almost have the current page of the chart finished!! Only, um, seven more pages to go...yes, it's HUGE, for a cross-stitch project!

Picked up a couple new pairs of slacks that actually fit and have all the paperwork ready to start working on base on Monday. We're going to get my computer access taken care of during drill this weekend (hopefully, anyway), and the guys at the unit seem pretty happy to hear that I'll be there more frequently. It sounds like I'll be splitting time between the building the 216th is in and 11777 (Eleven Triple Seven), which is the main operations building on base. It will be nice to have a real schedule, a real (if temporary, but they're working on that) job, and be around some new people!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Honesty is the best policy...

I am quite aware of the fact that certain family members read this blog and also have an online presence (or can persuade some of my rl friends into talking) and will eventually find this out anyway. In the interest of total honesty (and in the safety of being free, American, over 21, and 2200 miles away), I will be the first to say this.

I am getting a tattoo.

I have been wanting one for several years now, but could never think of any particular image that I felt really suited me. Then, ever since this day back in October, one image has stayed with me. A phoenix. Rising from the ashes. A fresh start. A reminder that getting burned isn't the end, and that something beautiful and strong can come from it. Maybe it's a little grandiose, but it's really how I feel. I'm really truly rebuilding my life and I want that reminder for me now and in the future.

I decided that I would set aside only up to $5 a week for it, figuring that it would take about 8 months to save up enough for what I'd heard was a reasonable charge for one, and if I still wanted the tattoo enough to not have spent the money at that point, it wasn't just a fleeting whim. It took a little longer than I had wanted, but that gave me more time to think and be certain.

I'd also been spending the intervening months researching images to find one I liked, or liked enough to be able to work from. I'm actually not a huge fan of birds as a rule, so I knew pretty early on that it would be more of a stylized symbol (which I am a huge fan of) than an actual picture. Something a little "earthy" but still graceful. And something small and easily covered when necessary, but that could also be shown off appropriately (without dropping any clothing, for example). I've often admired Mrs. S's tattoos (she has some really pretty ones), so I asked her for a suggestion of where to go and who to talk to. She recommended the people at Copper Coffin, which, as it turns out, is just down the street.

I checked the place out today (not that I don't trust Mrs. S, but you know). It's extremely clean and bright and surrounded by other clean, bright businesses. The people who work there were very friendly, listened to what I wanted, and were very helpful. One of the ladies is going to do some drawings for me, and I'm really excited to go back on Thursday to see what she's come up with.

So, basically, this post is just to let everyone who might care know that I'm not trying to hide anything, and this is something that I've thought about carefully and for quite a while now. I'm actually really excited about it, and will post a pic of it when I can!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Change of Plans

Basic got pushed back (right now) to February 22. It seems the higher-ups at Channel Island won't approve the split training option and are saying that I have to do Basic, Space 100 and MILSTAR all consecutively. Since the ONLY Space 100 class is in April, that kind of defines when I go to Basic. And since the MSgt who has been dealing with all my paperwork is on leave until next week, and the TSgt who has been trying to handle things in her absence is really being very helpful but doesn't have quite the pull she does, who knows what's really going on. Right now, Channel Island is saying that as soon as this paperwork is submitted, the February date is all but set in stone. I'll believe that when I see it.

I'm discouraged, but looking on the bright side of things. Sir cackled madly when I told him he'd be stuck with me until February, which has me a bit worried. (Okay, he sympathized with my frustration and claims I'll be "15 steps above everyone else" once I finally get there. Class was a little goofy tonight - just me, Sir, and two of the guys. We even did a little bit of grappling - although that definitely seems to be more of a guy thing. I was partnered with Sir, though, and he had to keep an eye on the guys, so that could be it, too.) I can finish out at least one more full semester at Embry-Riddle and get that much closer to my degree. I don't have to worry about what leaving, coming back, leaving, and coming back again will do to the TeddieCat. Starting Monday, I have a job that will last me at least through September. Life could most definitely be a lot worse.

On the other hand, I do have to go shopping for at least a couple pairs of slacks and some tops for work. Yay =P

ETA: So, the new job won't start until Aug. 3 now because the paperwork didn't get to the East Coast guy (no idea why it has to go there, but it does, apparently) until today. Grr!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Just Pile It On!

Me: So, should I keep working on the Songham form or focus on learning the new form? What should I focus on?

Sir: Well, the one is muscle memory. You already know it. Keep working on that one.

Me: But we're going to be working on the new one in class?

Sir: Yup. You know what? The midterms will depend on how much of it I know, so I'll let you know. Work on both of them.

Me: *mental facepalm* Cool!

Sigh. I'd been hoping to be able to test for my second degree before I left for Basic. I have one more midterm before my rank test. Not only have I been working on a new weapon form, but I have a new open-hand form to learn now, too! Doesn't look like I'll be midterming or testing again any time soon. Although, in all fairness, I think I have 95% of the form already. We've gone through about 3/4 of it in class already, and I know the next sequence is just the reverse and repeat of one of the earlier ones. There's just one sequence at the very end that Mr. R showed me tonight while I was waiting to talk to Sir after class that I hadn't seen at all. It includes what I would call a "ground windmill", which looked really hard, but then he showed me how to do it and it was super easy. That's the kind of stuff I like about these forms, though. They're pretty easy to pick up and they feel very natural. And, like I said, they look pretty cool. I'm totally willing and excited to learn (and possibly midterm/test) with either or both of the open-hand forms, so I'm making sure that I write the new one down as I learn it, in case I don't get to test before I leave. I want to be able to remember it!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

It never rains, but it pours...

14 October 2009. The date I ship out for Basic. Yay! I don't have the actual orders themselves yet, so this isn't a firm, set-in-stone date, but that's what they're putting me in for. It's good to at least have that much! I can't get into a tech school until April, though, but I think that will work out for the best. I'll go to Basic, come back for about four months (I should be able to go home for Christmas even!), then go to Vandenberg from April until probably September or October. The time frames work out so that they cover major busy seasons for PCPA, so I'm hoping that I'll be able to sublet my apartment out to a guest artist or two. But I have dates for Basic! Yay!!!

AND, on top of that, I got a job on base!! My recruiter's admin assistant is on orders for August and September, and he asked me to fill in for her! Yay! A regular 8:30-4:30, M-F job that pays almost well enough to live on!! I am SOO excited!! Well, okay, maybe "excited" isn't the right word. "Relieved" and "eager" are probably both better.

Knitting-wise, I have the first strip of the afghan completely done and seamed and am working on the second square of the next one. I gotta say, this is one of the instances where sites like Ravelry shine. It's REALLY cool to be working on this with the actual designer a post away to discuss things like the color combinations and get her input on techniques. And she's in the UK! Anyway, it's pretty cool. I'm still working on the scarf, too, and still love it. I'll finish a square for the afghan, block it, and while it's drying I'll work on the scarf. It's a system that works.

Sir's started teaching the current black belts the Ki Nung recommended black belt form (he said he doesn't quite have all of the actual black belt form yet, but he wants us to start getting a feel for the new style). It's really kind of fun - axe kicks and circle blocks and leg sweeps - and really does have a nice flow to it. I like it a lot, but there's a double round kick (the same kick that is in my regular form) that for some reason is REALLY hurting my hip and I've lost the ability to do a round kick higher than someone's knee with my right leg this week. Really irritating. Going to work on it tomorrow. I'm also going to make sure that I work on my Songham forms tomorrow. We've been working on the Ki Nung forms so much that I haven't gone through my regular form in class for a couple weeks now. I worked on my ssahng jeol bahng form a few times between tkd and FIGHT tonight, but I ended up spending most of that time helping Ma'am and Mr. M with the new form.

Anyway, I'm celebrating with an ice cream sundae. It's been a good day!

Monday, July 20, 2009

One Small Step...


"You can't tell me the sky is the limit. There are footprints on the moon!" - Anonymous

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Strawberries

Okay, I like strawberries, which is good considering the region I live in. However, one of my friends heard that I occasionally make strawberry jam and decided to bring me some berries, which was really sweet of her. TWO FLATS of strawberries! So now, since Sunday, I have been desperately finding ways to use up strawberries before they go bad (other than the obvious smoothies, milkshakes, and straight-up sugared options). So far, I've come up with these (links will take you to recipes or approximations thereof):
Strawberries & Cream bread. I'm not a big fan of fruity breads as a general rule, but MAN, is this stuff good!! Strawberries and walnuts, yummy!! I made two loaves and took one to the theater to feed the animals (they're in tech for Music Man atm, so I figured people could use the sustenance), cut one in half to bring into the dojahng tonight and kept the falling-apart-bits for myself, because, well, I just couldn't bring myself to get rid of all of it. (The trick to this one is make sure you have FRESH berries - frozen ones will make it soggy.)
The refrigerator's stash so far - two Strawberry Cheesecake Trifles (which are also quite yummy and also got sent to the theater), a pitcher of strawberry lemonade (I guessed and just used my standard lemonade concoction plus a cup of strawberries mostly crushed. I haven't tried it yet.), a Strawberry Strawberry Pie sans Cool Whip (I was going to send this to the theater, but it looks too good to give up. Sorry! I'm going to add the Cool Whip as I eat it, because I don't want to waste it), and a gallon-sized bag of whole berries that are going to Mrs. S tonight, because she was silly and said that she'd take some.
The pantry's strawberry stash - a dozen jars of jam (a couple will go to said friend) and the start of a strawberry liquour (which seems to end up being a sweet strawberry vodka, but it takes about six weeks, so we'll see). And the sad part? All of those recipes only used up ONE FLAT! I still have these to freeze and use later:
Three full quart bags, half a dozen "snack" bags, and the gallon bag that's going to the dojahng today. I had to clean out my freezer to make room, which was probably a good thing, but still. I'm really really sick of strawberries right now. They don't even sound good anymore. Where's the chocolate??

And, in knitting news, I have almost an entire strip done on the afghan:
It actually photographs a lot better than it looks irl, I think. You see more of the optical illusion in the pictures anyway. I think having the next strip, with the dark purple framing the squares from underneath, will help it more. I do like, it though. There's one more square to go in this strip (now that I'm done with strawberries, maybe I'll finally get a chance to knit again!) and then four more strips after this one, all with the grey squares growing slightly in size. I think this will be pretty cool when it's done.

Also, here's the start of the new Twizzle scarf:
It's a Diagonal Lace Scarf (Mountain Colors' pattern), super super simple lace, and shows off the yarn REALLY well. Unfortunately, the camera doesn't - the yarn is actually much much more royal purple than shows in the picture. I love love love this color! I haven't worked on the scarf since the flight back to Cali (again, stupid strawberries), but I'm looking forward to putting a little love into it this weekend.

I finally got a chance to ask Sir about my midterm the other night. He told me that my open-hand form was easily a "full grade up" this time compared to last time. He said that I looked much more confident with it and he was really pleased with it. I said that I'd been nervous because it had felt super-exceedingly slow (I finished my form dead last out of my group, and I was grouped with two second degrees whose forms are slightly longer), but he said that it timed out right where it should have. So now I have to work on keeping that up and not getting nervous and speeding up. I've also learned my entire ssahng jeol bahng form (Mr. R taught me the first half before I left for Illinois and I taught myself most of the second half - it's the same moves just left-handed - before coming back to tkd class on Monday) and Sir's had me working on that almost exclusively so far this week. It's a...different...weapon to get used to. You definitely have to be smooth with it, and, well, that's hard for me to say the least. He's given me a couple drills to work on besides the techniques in the form, though, and it's easy to work on at home (as long as you keep it in your hands and it doesn't go flying...ahem...). It also gets a LOT of outside attention from people walking by the school, which is unnerving but I'm trying to make myself get used to it for when I midterm. I still kind of like the bahng mahng ee form better, but I have a while before I have to decide which one I want to use to test.

Also, things haven't seemed quite so "they're all picking on me!" lately (although I did get Mrs. S on my case last night with both distance from the bags and then not holding the medicine ball correctly during floor work) but then, like I said, I've also been pretty exclusively working with a new weapon which deems lots of mistakes rather necessary. It's been really nice having just adults in the regular tkd class - we actually have ROOM now!! Sir, Mrs. S and Mr. R also went to a huge convention last week and brought back what sounds like a lot of cool ideas (Mrs. S said something about a Cardio Fight program, which she said was kickboxing, jujitsu and something else, that she's looking into for the kickboxing class and we've had some new drills in the other classes). Sir told us last night that there's a very strong possibility that we're going to be gradually shifting away from the Songham style to a style called Ki Nung (I think, I can't get the website to come up right now), because he feels their form techniques flow better into sparring and self-defense, but he's still doing some research on it. He showed us the white/orange/yellow belt form last night, and I gotta say, it looks a lot cooler and more fun than the Songham one. (Because the coolness factor clearly decides everything in martial arts! ;-) ) Anyway, that should be interesting in the coming weeks.

Speaking of class, gotta jet to make kickboxing!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Catching up

Oy! I am alive, I promise. I've been busy, but not a lot to actually talk about. In knitting news, I have about 5.5 squares of the afghan done. The original design is a 5x5 pattern, but that's only about 40"x40". My favorite cuddle-up blanket is approximately 40"x60", so I'm thinking about a 5x7 layout. The seaming isn't insane if you do it as soon as a square is finished, and I can tell that I've actually gotten better at seaming, particularly since the first time I did a modular afghan. (Although, honestly, I think the difference in yarns helps - smoother yarns are SO much easier to seam with.) I also picked up another skein of the delectable Mountain Colors Twizzle at a LYS near my parents' house earlier this week and started another scarf. Not that I really need yet another scarf - I count six handmade and three store-bought scarves plus my Lady Eleanor hanging in my closet right now - but I swear this yarn actually glows. I love working with it!

I spent the Fourth with my parents. It was great spending time with everyone back in Illinois, despite my dad having an almost-very-scary-but-at-least-I-come-by-my-stubbornness-honestly accident (he's okay), and even the weather cooperated for once. I got to spend time with my family and even got to meet Miss Gretchen Danielle, the recipient of the latest baby blanket, when she was just over a week old! (She didn't seem too impressed with the blanket, but it's hard work being a week old! You forget how tiny they are at that age, though.) I did indeed get to sit with Friend and Mrs. Friend on the way back to Vegas and it was fun to catch up with him face to face.

I came back in time to pull another graveyard shift with Sgt. P up at the 148th and meet my new NCOIC, who seems to be very helpful. Everyone up there, actually, has been really great. The 216th is also continuing to help me out, too. I walked in yesterday after class (more on that in a minute) and a SMSgt. randomly had me start one of the programs I need for my computer access. About the only thing I haven't been able to get is a date for Basic yet. EVERYONE seems to be asking me about it at this point. It seems to be held up by two things right now - lack of slots until October (they can start applying for those slots in August, though, so hopefully I will know something next drill), and the fact that my SMOD physical (which I need to get into tech school and took back in March) still hasn't gotten processed from Channel Islands and the MSgt at the 148th won't send me to Basic until she can guarantee that I can get into Tech School. However, by the time I actually GET to Basic, I should have my security clearance, my access badge, computer access, and enough time in rank that I can get promoted to Senior Airman after graduation, which my NCOIC is looking forward to =P

Like I said, I had class this weekend. Nothing like having a general tell you that he expects you personally to get 100% on his midterm. No pressure. I ended up with a 98% on the midterm and a 99% on the final. The presentation this term seemed a little easier - maybe I am actually getting a little more comfortable with them. Mine was on the SR-71 Blackbird, so I think the subject matter helped. The general's teaching again next term, which is cool.

At any rate, I've had a rather long week, with only two martial arts classes in twelve days to take off the edge (although both Ma'am and Mel helped me out with my new weapon form between classes Thursday and I think I might have the whole thing at least in theory now), so I'm going to take myself off to bed. Big plans for tomorrow include seaming the next square, doing laundry, cleaning the apartment, exploiting some potential job links, kickboxing, tkd (with my new weapon), and making a bunch of strawberry jam. Damn fruit stand sales...

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Traveling

Two airports down, two to go! I love flying into Las Vegas at night - it's so fun! (Sadly, my pic of the view of the Strip from the runway was too blurry to show anyone. And the beam on the Luxor wasn't lit. Sad panda!) Unfortunately, McCarran airport is the one place in Vegas that actually sleeps at night. There are a couple guys my age or maybe my brother's who brought blankets with them, and a family behind me snoring loudly. Knowing myself rather well, I'm not going to deal with the terrible maybe two hours of sleep I'd actually get if I tried. I'll push through and either fall asleep on the plane (not very likely, unless it's as empty as the previous two flights have been) or just be up for 30+ hours and maybe go to bed at an almost-reasonable Midwest time. Of course, this is assuming that the flight into Atlanta isn't late (we all know how MY luck runs with those kinds of things) and I actually make the connection to Bloomington. The good news is that I didn't have to check any bags (even with my new ssahng jeol bahng in one, shhh!), so if the luggage doesn't make it this time, it's my own fault. Also, my Atlantean friend who lives in Atlanta (as he prefers to have it formatted) assures me that the Atlanta airport is very easy to get around in. I'm fully counting on the mathematical certainty that the distance from your landing gate to your connecting gate is inversely proportional to the amount of time you have to cover that distance, so I'm planning for about a mile and a half sprint. On the other hand, good knitting time is happening - I've finished the third square and am working on the second part of the fourth. And it's been interesting looking at planes and thinking about what we talked about in ASCI 603 last month. (Most commuter jets seem to be dihedral with high aspect ratios, in case anyone was wondering.) United is still my favorite airline, btw. The planes are always clean, shiny, the people treat me decently, there are still complimentary drinks and movies, and my absolute favorite thing - being able to listen to the flight deck communications. Yes, I'm a nerd, but I love it =)