As we gear up for our mission to Omicron Persei 8, the weekends seem like they’re getting longer and more jam-packed. Definitely more exhausting, but also more entertaining as well. I guess this is the time to separate the men from the boys. In a bizarre way, I am looking forward to all of this, but then at the same time, I’m not. Whoever said location was everything, they’re wrong. Timing is everything. I have other things going on in my life right now I’d rather focus than going to Omicron, but since I raised my right hand, there’s just no other way around it. Why could this not have been last year some time when I was bored senseless and on the verge of dying? Practioners of my faith believe that fate is already written in the sands. Not so much as predestination, but more like, you’re always going where you’re supposed to go. Perhaps there is something out there that I need to see right now, rather than last year or some other year. Maybe there is something out there I need to do, right now, not last week, not next week or some other time. I don’t want to turn this into a philosophical musing, so I guess I’ll hold that thought for some other blog.
I always hate three day weekends because they cramp my style from doing what I need to do. I can’t get to the market. I can’t go out (not unless I want to be a zombie the next day). Then turn around it’s Monday already and I have to put up with everything for a whole ‘nother week. Then February and March drill were almost back to back. No sooner had I got rid of the images of my fellow soldiers was I back in their face again the week afterwards. And we’re going to be stuck together on another planet for an entire year. The notion boggles the mind.
Friday, we started out with an endless round of Powerpoint presentation. The military is so … watch a Powerpoint and you’ll know everything … There’s not much interaction in these things and you’re basically being talked at for half the day and then expected to retain to the information. I don’t know what kind learner everyone else is, but I have a tendency to just blank out. I always make sure I’m staring straight ahead, because I don’t want to look like I’m not paying attention or falling asleep, but for the most part I am not paying attention. This is why I did not do well in traditional college. I can’t sit there while some blabbering idiot is reading bullets off a slide. Since these particular tasks don’t involve running through the woods armed to the teeth, I guess the Army figures we are incapable of learning in any other fashion. I am not even sure what we talked about. There’s a few briefings that stick out in my mind, but the rest… who even knows. I remember one, not for the content, but because the speaker is simply ineloquent. Half the time I didn’t even know what he was saying. I hope he wasn’t telling me something important.
I think I discovered on Friday why it is I like to hang out by myself and why I have very limited friends. Partly, I am a rude bitch to everyone I meet until I get to know them, but more importantly, I am seeing that oftentimes friendship requires more patience, time and sanity than I am willing to give. I like people. I’m actually quite social, but in the end, I like to go home by myself, curl up on my couch by myself and wander around steeped in my own thoughts by myself. Other people can be draining, even the most well-meaning persons. And in this day and age, so many of the social graces are lacking, particularly in people my age and younger. I’m at the cusp, where I can either be an old person or a young person. Older people come with a whole bag of problems that mostly involve their marital affairs, that I don’t want to be involved with, but younger people… they are socially inept. Everyone these days is so opinionated and not that there’s anything wrong in that, it’s just that people tend to take their beliefs and opinions to the ultimate level. I admire passion when passion is required, but not everything is a fire. When it becomes difficult for two people to go out and “have a beer” just because they don’t see eye to eye on something, something so trivial, especially, it’s a nuisance. Younger people like to recite this mantra, “It’s my life and if I want to do it [or not do it]. I can do what I want. What’s it to you?”
That is such a lame argument to me because it doesn’t have any real meaning, it doesn’t say anything. Yes, of course, it is your life. But in case you didn’t realise, you don’t live on the planet alone. These are the same people (and not just young people, EVERYBODY is guilty of this) who do off the wall things because “they can and they want to” but then become irritated when someone passes judgement on them. If it’s your life and you want to do whatever it is you want, you wouldn’t even acknowledge the fact that someone has “thought” something about you. You would simply continue to do whatever it is, or not do whatever it is, without thought or regard to anyone else. You wouldn’t take up such a defensive posture with the tired tag line, “It’s my life.” I guess some people think they can easily go through life doing whatever they want without consequence or effect on someone else. These people are sadly mistaken. They don’t realise the errors of their ways until some future date (not necessarily when they get older, to use a lame old people line), but when the moment comes, simply. Other times, these people never see the truth.
On the other side of the coin, is the person who thinks they can change the world by simply having an opinion. In case you didn’t get the memo, opinions really are like assholes; everyone has them. There’s no way around it. But simply because you think doesn’t mean everyone else thinks and just because they don’t think doesn’t make them beneath you or deserving of your judgement and vengeful criticism. And then when these people express their opinion so beautifully, so eloquently, fired by the very passions of the soul, they become enraged when someone dares have a thought opposite them. They declare, “It is impossible to talk to you,” or “You don’t know what you’re talking about.” That’s a good line. “You don’t know what you’re talking about.” If it is such an irritant to have someone gainsay you, then maybe you should not have volunteered your thoughts in the first place. That is the way of the world. If you think, someone will think against you and you must be prepared for it. Not flop into a fit and rattle off, “Well, that’s just my opinion.”
That’s just as bad as, “It’s my life.”
There is beauty in a well-worded argument. These days everyone takes everything so personally, and they attack on the most basic level without really offering the evidence for their argument. They become huffy and incensed, and then storm off or fly into a rant about the other person when the actual subject is the opinion, the thing, not the person. I cannot imagine that anybody ever says anything in the hopes that no one will respond. That’s actually worse than a naysayer, not having a thought against your thought, making what you believe absolutely meaningless.
Not that I’m saying I’m anymore righteous than the next person. I get irritated when people do not do what I want them to do. I complain a lot. I’m unbelievably lazy. I also condescend to people I think are less intelligent than I. Sometimes I try to work on these flaws and other times I let them loose. I notice that when we are at drill, all the irritations about our personalities come to a head. Perhaps it is because we are in a situation we don’t want to be in. Sometimes I think it’s the way in which we deal with stress. Most of the time, I think it’s because we were not properly schooled in the ways of polite socialisation. Just something for thought, because I’ve already rambled on enough as it is.
Friday night, the female half of the Mafia decided that we should go to Silver Spring to see a fellow soldier and her new baby. We randomly started this thing where we should hang out one night after drill, have some dinner, have a few drinks, laugh it up and work off the annoyances of the day. Even that was a debate in itself. I didn’t want to drive halfway cross the country to eat dinner, and everyone was annoyed with me because in the end I didn’t want to go because I have this thing about driving halfway round the world just to eat or visit somebody. Then they wanted to go to Wal-Mart first, which I try to avoid (and not because I don’t like black people) but because they have horrible business practises, the place smells and is always dirty and poorly stocked, not to mention there are other undesirables I’d rather avoid (THANK YOU VERY MUCH!). I guess that’s the snob in me. I saw that it would take forever to visit (because you don’t just drop in on a woman who just had a baby, throw some flowers at her and leave. There’s at least an hour of admiring the baby and talking about the whole birthing experience) and then drive out to Bethesda for dinner on a Friday night. At that rate we wouldn’t eat until about 8PM. I was only a little bit off; we sat down to dine at 730. SF wanted to wear her civilian clothes, much to the annoyance of me and everybody else. In the end she wound up not coming, and in that respect only, I was glad she didn’t come along because I had no desire to wear regular clothes, especially as her reasons for wanting to do so were absurd and suited only her. I did want her to come out with us because I think she’s a likeable person (if quirky and off occasionally) and other people are so quick to jump on her for so many reasons that they dare not look to deeply at for fear of the truth slapping them in the face.
It was quite an adventure just getting to Silver Spring. We drove around town for an hour and ended up in DC. Then we decided to block traffick so Waders could get cussed at by a fireman. We did get there eventually and saw the kid, but only after some confusion about a room change and then sitting around in an abandoned lobby area. Now you already know I am not interested in seeing anybody’s kid. I don’t think newborn babies are cute. Mothers and fathers are always so proud of what they have created but I just cannot share in their joy. Nothing is worse than a dreary rain cloud hovering over your moment, so in general I avoid new mothers and their infants until the newness has worn off. I always feel so awkward because I never have anything nice to say but I don’t really want to be insulting. I only went because I wanted to hang out afterwards.
After that, we ended up in downtown Silver Spring, which proved to be an amusing adventure, including being serenaded by bums and becoming a financial spokesperson for the entire army. I’m sorry that we cannot appear to hang out as a group; I think larger parties are always more entertaining because of all the personalities in the mix, but once again, this is what happens when people lack social graces.
Saturday and Sunday was more of the same: an endless round of forgettable briefings.
By the end of the weekend I had learned several lessons:
Lesson 7 (a lesson I’ve learned before): People who say they are your friend may not hold you in the same esteem as you hold them. Most of the time relationships are unequal, with one putting out more than they are receiving. Perception is also everything. On the other hand, where you think you don’t have a friend, that person might actually be your strongest champion. Oftentimes it is our unwillingness to look at the bigger picture that we fail to see what is really going on around us.
Lesson 141: Keep your enemy within your sights at all times. Don’t be mislead by a decoy. While you’re focused on the bait, you never see the shot that kills you.
Lesson 142: Don’t let anybody use you as a launching pad. Don’t be the trigger, when you can be the gun.
Lesson 24 (another lesson I learned before): Maintain your cool. Don’t let anybody take you outside yourself. Keep a level head and review each situation objectively. Take it like you’re on the outside looking in. If you separate yourself from the situation, you’ll be able to make much better decisions. Don’t react on the fly. You almost always come to the wrong conclusion and take the wrong action.
And that was my weekend in the trenches.