Sunday, December 26, 2004

If you don't have anything nice to say...say it anyway

I've been terrible about keeping the site updated. I have no privacy whatsoever, I have a young Private seated right next to me, and anytime I get on the internet for more than five minutes, I get nasty looks from the higher-ups. And I just don't have much by the way of pleasantries to plink in here.

Christmas was truly dreadful. It rained all day and we're in a heightened uniform posture. Which means slogging around in ankle-deep mud in about thirty pounds of gear. We were ordered not to even go to the bathroom at night without full camo (no sleeping in sweats, I suppose) uniform, all the gear, and about five pounds of mud on the boots. Tough to feel any kind of holiday cheer under the circumstances. Could it be worse? Of course, things can always be worse. At least we have great comraderie in the ranks--I don't know what any of us would do if we didn't get along so well.

We're past the halfway mark, six months to go. I keep having dreams about riding my Harley, about how it will feel to have all the garbage I've accumulated this year lifted away. And I have to make my decision about whether to stay in the Army or leave. Once I decline my continued commission, I cannot take it back. I don't have solid confirmation a job will be waiting for me out there, and the worst case scenario is that I don't find something challenging that pays well and end up financially falling flat on my face. Been there, done that, not interested.

So I have big ugliness on my mind right now. The job's getting more managable, I'm much more in control than I was a month ago, but I can't write some cheery little blog entry until I'm on more solid ground in all the other aspects of my life.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Jingle Kitty

A dear friend sent me a package filled with Christmas knick-knacks and Scooby snacks. Among the loot was an ostentatiously adorable little stuffed kitten, wearing a Santa hat canted to one side and a red ribbon around its neck. When you squeeze its little belly, it spews a rendition of Jingle Bells that someone worked very hard to make it so "sickeningly sweet it makes my ass pucker," in the words of LTC O'Connor, our irascible Executive Officer.

So now I'm driving everyone nuts with this damn thing. I set it on LTC O'Connor's desk and he reached for his knife. The Staff Sergeant who sits next to me in the office will stare at his laptop in barely concealed fury every time I trip the switch, "Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle awl de way..." It is truly obnoxious.

Someone broke it at one point. Then last night, Ron, a civilian who works with us and is also obnoxious, fixed it. "Oh look, it works!" He beamed and held up the kitty, the tinny little jingle squeaking from its belly.

CPT Spears walked over, snatched the kitty from Ron, and smashed it on my desk several times in quick succession until the mewling stopped.

"Not anymore." He walked back over to his desk and sat down.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Holliday Rollercoaster

Holidays have always been a bit rough for me. Thanksgiving ended up hitting me pretty hard; I found myself missing my mother's oyster dressing and frozen cranberry salad. She died two years ago, just as I was leaving for Officer Candidate School, and my life's been so packed since, I don't think I've ever properly grieved the loss. I certainly don't have the time to think much on the subject here, but it still sneaks in, as unresolved little nastinesses will.

Holidays in my household were always fraught with tension--my father had an explosive temper, and we were always waiting for the sleeping dragon to awaken. My brothers and I always hung around as long as it took to satisfy my mother, who loved holidays and always ended up in tears when The Ogre got ugly. Then Robert, my younger brother, died suddenly when he was fourteen and I was fifteen, and holidays became a true ordeal, something to be gotten through, populated with painfully uncomfortable silences because Robert became The Subject You Did NOT Mention. Ever.

Surprisingly, though, I'm enjoying this early phase of the Christmas season. I like the people around me here (unlike LAST year, see Blog Entries Past), all my friends and family have sent these amazingly thoughtful packages, and I'm enjoying it just fine. It's horribly cold in New York. I have much to look forward to when it's all over.

The time passes more quickly and a little more easily all the time.