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9th February 2014

12:45pm: Fay
It's been about a year since the Army told me to move to Fort Bragg. I was not happy about those orders. Throughout my time in uniform I have been told countless stories about "Fayettenam" and life in the no-man's land outside of the gate. Despite my misgivings, someone at Human Resources Command thought it'd be great to send me down here. So, with great dread, I went looking for my next domicile. I found a good spot. Or at least what I thought I could live with for a while.

A year later I'm actually pretty satisfied with Fayetteville. I do miss large cities. Nothing will change that. But there's a small charm to life here once you find your way around. The downtown area is literally three and a half blocks. And there's a correctional facility within walking distance. So you get peddlers and such hanging around more often than not (fear not: D.C. has prepared us). Then there's areas of real neglect and the strip mall havens all around town. Every brand you can think of begs you to eat and shop and spend. Bragg Boulevard and Yadkin Road are a gamble. It's always a surprise or a terror.

What makes me happy is that there are gems and young, struggling businesses that are trying. The Blue Moon Cafe is a perfect example. It belongs in downtown Charlotte or something. But something basically teleported a small portion of a hipster enclave and put it in Fay. Don't ask me, but judging by the business it gets, people really appreciate it. There's a push to change the tone of this little town and hopefully the money goes to the right places to keep something interesting around here.

Late spring and summer is also a beautiful time around here. There are tons of parades, festivals, and outings. Fay is one of those places that can go from a ghost town to jam-packed by the day. The Dogwood Festival is a prime example. This place gets packed. And it's street vendors, musicians, a carnival, food trucks, whatever. It's awesome to wake up and just see it outside your balcony. And it has that authenticity you can only get when it's the only thing that is really going on. I am counting the days.

I will still miss Tacoma. I will still miss College Park. Hell, I'll even miss Chester. But I won't regret my time down here. Not by a long shot. Fay isn't perfect, but it's got a lot more going on than people give it credit for. I'm fine with calling it home; I just won't be getting North Carolina plates anytime soon.
Current Mood: satisfied

26th January 2014

5:20pm: Loud trains and curious cats
It's been a very, very long time since I've done anything remotely like write in a journal, digital or otherwise. I guess it's way easier to do when you are in more exotic locales doing crazy things. Absurd things. Amazing things. Exploding things. It's just about as easy right before you get married, because all the thoughts are there. You've got all these ideas about the rest of your life, decisions, morality, and people in general.

Then life happens. A whole year of marriage, non-deployment, and a completed Master's degree. Not a single word written that wasn't to pay a bill, complete a task, finish an essay or discussion for school, or to accomplish anything in general. Task-driven processes. And here we are on this 26th day of January, 2014. The thought that I can't sit down and write something for the hell of it slightly depresses me.

So, my commitment for the year (resolution sounds a little trite) is to write at least monthly. Hopefully more, but once a month I need a record of this. I find myself forgetting things all the time. I don't want to look back and not even now what I missed. The issue is this: what do I write about? What do I want to share? And does anyone particularly care? Why would I post this publicly as opposed to keeping it in pen in a journal under my bed?

I have no clue. I don't have a topic, a grand idea, a theory, or a single passion that drives me to write. I just feel that I need to, and I want to. Some of this writing will be horrible, grammatically incorrect, and even boring. But if I can get a string of words together that mean anything, and have it there for for posterity, then that's winning enough. And so let's begin with where we are to date.

We (Racquel and I) are here in the land of loud, constant trains. Fayetteville is simple, comfortable living. Except when the trains come. Then it's all needless, repeated, and over the top patterns of horn blowing. The guy that built the area we live in told us that he didn't really soundproof the way he should have; he discounted the trains. Add a cat to that, and you have a sonorous battle between the organic and the synthetic. That, above all things, stands out as something I feel I have to share.

I experience other things, and do other activities, etc. etc. But that's all you need to know for now. Because I will be back with other paragraphs to expound on the rest. It's good to write I hope to bring back something interesting for the gang.
Current Mood: curious

26th May 2013

9:13am: It’s been a long time

It’s been almost half a year since I’ve written anything for the sake of writing it.  Now that I have nothing “due” per se, and I am just sitting on a train with some Wi-Fi, the conditions are met for some simple blogging.  I want to get back into the habit.

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Updates.  I’m a married man and it’s a pretty sweet deal.  It’s been a smooth and wonderful transition, but not really a transition at all.  It’s just coming natural to us.  It is working out handsomely.  After the wedding, some more training, and the honeymoon, we moved to the Fort Bragg, North Carolina area for life after some mandatory schooling down at Fort Lee, Virginia.  It wasn’t what I asked for, but it seems to be what I needed.

Getting to Fort Bragg and heading to the 82nd Airborne Division means going through the Basic Airborne Course.  My first go around was in 2006.  Some of you may remember, but I jumped out of an aircraft and bruised my tailbone badly on my third jump.  No parachutist badge or silver wings upon my chest  And I thought that was the end of my airborne career.  I’ve always held that against myself, like it or not, and both relished and dreaded the thought of going back.

When I got the assignment to an airborne unit, I got very serious about the whole deal.  No way I was going back a second time and breaking something.  And after a two week honeymoon (I still need to post about that too, all my notes are written out on various pieces of paper) in Australia I was ready to go.

Coming back seven years later was easier.  It was (dare I say) fun.  It was one of those benchmark experiences where I got to find out how much I’ve changed and how much I haven’t.  Now I’m down here jumping out of aircraft all the time.  I enjoy it now, even though I’m still not particularly any good at it.  I just follow directions a little better than my early 20s.

-------------------

I wonder now where everything is going.  Since college and commissioning, life has been a cycle of deployments and preparation for deployments.  For the first time in my adult life I may have the option of staying put for a while.  Nothing is certain, but some stability could be in store (cross your fingers).  When I was younger I didn’t think I needed that.  Now that I’m thinking more and more about a family I am definitely delighting in the prospect.  A little silence, peace, quiet, and time for reflection are sorely needed.

28th August 2012

12:25pm: Newlyweds, where would you like to reside? Suspense: 24 hours.
Tomorrow I have a fifteen minute meeting with an assignments officer. We trade some paperwork and we talk about where I'm going to go in December. It surely will be a joy.

Besides my records and what I think is my plan, I made a little wish list. Unfortunately, some of the places I wanted to go weren't listed, but my top ten (plus one) locations are:

#0 Fort Lee, VA. The nuclear option. Not offered for my class. We'll see.
#1 Fort Eustis, VA. It's an hour away. And they are close to the beach.
#2 Aberdeen Proving Ground, MD. Close to family, not much else to it though.
#3 Germany. Anywhere in Germany. Because if I'm not going to be close to family, I might as well go to some place cool.
#4 Italy. See #3.
#5 Fort Bragg, NC. Don't particularly want to go, but it's the only place where I can reasonably get to family and have a lot of professional development. Parachuting is a plus.
#6. Fort Drum, NY. It's going to be cold, and I'd need to buy a truck. That being said, I've actually heard some good things. And weekends could be fun. Not an outdoors guy though.
#7 Fort Bliss, TX. Only because multiple people have enjoyed and told me so.
#8 Fort Irwin, CA. I actually really like the desert. But the jobs are killer, and civilization is particularly far away. Barstow, CA? Really?
#9 Fort Hood, TX. We can get to Austin. But, you know, stuff happens there.
#10 Fort Carson, CO. I like, but no consensus due to altitude and temperatures.

Places I'd like to go not offered (besides Fort Lee): Fort Campbell, Fort Knox, Fort Story, Fort Meade, Fort Belvoir, Fort Lewis.

Places not offered I don't want to go to: Fort Benning, Fort Stewart, Fort Polk, Fort Richardson (AK)

Places offered that did not make the cut. Japan, Korea, Fort Richardson (AK). Some other places I forgot.

Overall, this should be a confusing enough process. Now excuse me, there is a slot that needs to be filled.

20th August 2012

9:29pm: The Day
Wow. Wow. Wow.

Rarely does a day go so right. This is as close to perfect as days get. It was a great day to be wed. I've got that ring on my finger, and I have a stunning and gracious wife. That's right. Mr. and Mrs. Fortuna. Say WHAT?!

All the practice, all the details, finances, synchronization. All the heartache. The deployment! So many ups and downs. Even this white uniform had me running around in circles. And on top of all that, finding out if I was even going to get the day after off from work. Of the million and a half variables that could have gotten things out of hand, everything worked out.

The ceremony. The ceremony was the most anxious, emotional, and joyous moment of my life. You think that you won't get emotional, that you're going to go in there, look her in the eye, and smartly pivot this way or that. Doesn't work that way. Not when you are in love. And there I was crying and saying my vows. And then, rings and candles and prayers. Surreal enough.

Then the reception. We sat, we stood, we talked, we danced, we ate, we posed and photographed. I mean, everyone was there. And it looked great. Every guest, groom, bridesmaid, family-member, down to the photo booth attendant, was just having a party. And by party, we aren't talking about the who-wants-to-dance-first 21 questions party. I'm talking right when that merengue hit, BAM. Everyone there, feet and hands a blur. If only there was more time, a way to slow it down. We did what we could, and got our moments in with everyone, but it was too little time for how ridiculously great things were going.

The music was right. Cameras were flashing. And Racquel was all glam. We left in a sea of sparklers. And we had some post-reception drinks down at the pub. Cooled at the fountain. And then we had the bridal suite. Which was "awesome."

A little bit of brunch, and a lot of storytelling. Now we are back at home, just figuring things out. The rest of our lives.

Thank you everyone. We love you. It couldn't have been any better, and we truly mean that. Photos will be posted as we receive them (feel free to post your own!). And videos will be up as the edits are made. We are going through the gifts and cards. Thank you cards will be enroute as we chug through them. They didn't fit in the car!

Racquel, I love you. It's good to be a team. I'm the luckiest guy in the world, and we started off this journey with a bang. Now all we have to do is keep rolling with it!

Wow. Wow. Wow.
Current Mood: happy

19th August 2012

11:13am: Milestones
Most of the milestones in my life were isolated events. Many were recognized as such after the fact. Some even had a dramatic effect on my life. Commissioning into the military, graduating college, deploying into a combat theater. All of these made my life turn in one direction or another.

Today is a different milestone. This milestone doesn't change where I'm going. It changes how or why I even move. For all the jaded, modern thoughts on the subject, on how fleeting love can be, I still am a romantic to the bone, through and through. And I believe that the vows I take today to be sacred in a very personal way.

Not many things you do in life are forever. Read again: FOREVER. Ever since the engagement, I have thought about the implications, on how I act, how I think, who I am. And I'm ready. I couldn't be more ready for this in heart and soul. I'm ready to be selfless so that I can be in love.

I am walking into a moment. I love her. Today is that day. Let's roll.
Current Mood: anxious

8th August 2012

1:06pm: Small complaints
Not terribly impressed with this course. But if this is my biggest complaint, I guess things aren't too bad. Still, not impressed.

By the way, if you can't write a memorandum at this point in your career, there needs to be another venue for that. How are we all in this room, and we are questioning spacing on a memorandum? It says how to do it. AR 25-50 tells you the answers. All you do is write your memorandum, check it with the regulations next to you, and you win. You get 100%. If you really feel bad, have a buddy check it out.

Also, how do people get away with not answering a question? Moreso, how do they get credit for doing so? For example:

Instructor: "How would you prepare your company before a change of command inventory?"

Student: "Change of command inventories are important. They usually involve people. These people sometimes wear uniforms. Case in point."

Instructor: "Exactly, good job my budding Captain!"

Answer the question. This is intellectual babysitting if you don't correct he-who-beateth-around-the-bush-successfully.

Yeah, it's all little nerves being rubbed this way and that. Annoying, and nothing more than that. And I'm grateful for this time more than anything else. But still, I can't believe we are the material that greatness is built from. Because there's some rough material there, and a lot of work that needs to be put in to make us shine bright. At least the Army is a bit more patient than I am.

3rd August 2012

8:14am: Days
A little bit more than two weeks before the wedding. The wedding. The wedding. The wedding.

I am completely and utterly excited for this day to come. But the process leading up to this day, (the wedding, the wedding, the wedding) is draining. And that's just for me, the beautiful bride has to do so much more.

In fact, I can't think of a better trial for a couple to truly come together than planning a wedding. Time, stress, money, finding that balance between working at work, working at home, working on the way and to family, and finding time to truly not do anything. At least in a war you can concentrate on a few things. Priorities. But everything is important, everything is due yesterday, and there are more things to do than you wrote down.

That being said, it's going to be gorgeous. At the end of this thing I'll have a band on my hand and a smile on my face. And that's the rest of my life. And that's awesome.

I can't wait to see everyone, at the wedding or after. We are working on getting the apartment in tip-top shape after the vows and all. Hopefully we can start doing some planning for the 2nd most important day this year. Halloween. It's coming up folks. Maybe your wedding attire can double for your costume, as long as you paint your skin gray and get some yellow teeth or something. Ideas are free, people.

26th July 2012

11:56am: Transcript of a 2-Mile Run: Head Movies 260635LJUL12
"Man, I don't want to do this.

This starts in how many minutes?

Oh man, he said 'ready'. Alright, here we go.

Sh$#@ what is wrong with my legs? I feel like sh$#@.

Get out of the way. I can't sit here and do a 20:00 mile pace.

Why are there so many people in my f#@$@ way!

Why is there an ambulance here?

Ok, ok, I'm doing alright. I probably need to start running faster.

It seems like I'm accelerating very slowly.

I can't be slower than THIS guy?! Really? Oh man.

Ok, here's my second wind.

Oh my f$#@ I hate this s@#$@ and I'm going to fail. Wait, wait, wait, I passed this when I was bigger and slower, so I shouldn't be failing this now.

Oh man, seven minutes at the turn around point? Nice.

Downhill my a$$.

Ow ow ow ow.

Stomach's tightening up. I probably should've drank water.

I drank way too much water. Too humid out here.

I think that's the quarter mile point. Time to go faster.

This isn't really faster.

I should probably sprint this now. I think I'm sprinting.

Ow ow ow ow ow.

I passed this guy, f$@# yeah!

Oh, fourteen minutes? At least it's not fifteen.

I'm done! Ow ow ow ow ow.

This water is definitely warm."
Current Mood: content

25th July 2012

8:43am: Garrison coffee

Coffee is still a great thing.  But in garrison it doesn't have that emotional quality it does in theater.  This can be replicated in training with a little sleep deprivation, but only true suck can really cause that deep, caffeinated need.  My battle captain time in Iraq was one such period.

 

I say this because I am drinking coffee and thinking that, well, I could make it without.  Not like it without.  Not be happy. But I could.  It's not like, some weird tether to my sanity.  The whole routine of coming into a place that you abhor and knowing that there is a full pot, that everything is alright, is super important.

 

Well, class starts. Coffee in hand.  I have a pen and college ruled notebook.  College without the credit.  But hey, I can get used to this. Easily.

10th July 2012

9:17am: Patches

Off goes the shield, star, and Indian head on the left shoulder Velcro field. I still got it on the right side, but the left is replaced. As of today I get this torch thing.  It looks like the logistics Olympics here.  Time to be a student at the Army Logistics University, where all dreams are at least given a chance to come to fruition.

 

First order of business is always the same.  Say hello, and sit.  Forever.  At the appointed time, get up and give and/or sign a packet of paperwork.  Receive abbreviated instructions and eat a lunch.  Go on a minor shopping spree for minor military necessities.

 

On another note my hub cap is missing.  How annoying.  I thought these things stayed on.  Add another to the list.

Current Mood: sleepy

5th July 2012

8:15pm: Goodies

I received my box of comic books from my mother.  They were sent for safekeeping before the deployment, and now I am in full possession of it.  Most were a donation to me by my good friend Matt, but I’ve grown the collection a little.  Nothing valuable as far as collector’s items or whatever, just a lot of comics to read.

I’m picking up Excalibur to read for a little.  Don’t really know what it’s about, but hey, time to get more knowledgeable.  Man, I’m glad everything is there and nothing is broken.  This will definitely be something to give to my kids in the future.  Grow them to be dorks from a young age.

Lots more to see, do, and read.  But wedding planning takes priority.  At least I have some stuff to browse through while I help Racquel out a little.  That mostly consists of me getting out of the way and carrying things.  All for the cause.

27th June 2012

5:52pm: Tailoring

Visit to the tailor today in Alexandria.  In need of two white mohair or cotton braids, half an inch.  Joy.  Otherwise good visit.

 

Tomorrow OPERATION MILLINER begins.  There is one in DC.  Pretty sure I will confuse the living hell out of them.  My wedding has come down to a confusing military fashion show.

26th June 2012

10:03pm: Why you need a wedding planner

-----------------------------------------------

mil·li·ner (ml-nr)

n. One that makes, trims, designs, or sells hats.

-----------------------------------------------

I have a headgear problem for the wedding I am trying to fix.  Julie referred me to a millinery.  I asked what a millinery was.  She said it was a place that does custom hats.  The place of employ for a milliner. I didn’t know this.  You didn’t know this.  The wedding planner knew this.  Now I know where the money went.

20th June 2012

9:44pm: Washington

I’m out.  It’s been fun.  We’ve been on and off since 2006, but I’m really leaving this time.

Please don’t cry.  I loved you.  Still do.  But it’s time for me to move on.

I’ve found someone else.  She’s an eastern Commonwealth, and yes, she will tax me.  But she will also keep me warm.

Until later.  I wish you the best.  If it’s meant to be, I will return.  <3

12th June 2012

5:55pm: Ouch

I usually don’t post about workouts or anything here.  But today’s workout of the day on Crossfit was particularly brutal.  Read: today’s workout was great.  I’m sure it’ll help me out or something in the future.  Here’s the workout.

For time:

  • Run a mile.
  • 150 double-unders.
  • 50 burpees.
  • Run a half mile.
  • 100 double-unders.
  • 35 burpees.
  • Run a quarter mile.
  • 50 double-unders.
  • 20 burpees.

My heavily tired self did it in about 38 minutes.  I tried to keep the momentum up, but that feeling in the stomach started creeping up.  Also, not good with the double-unders, so I kept it to singles.  Still knocked the wind out of me.  Lots of work to do on this end.  Give it a shot if you want and let me know how you do.  If you feel really motivated, go ahead and put a hoodie on and do the Rocky thing at the top of some stairs after.

9th June 2012

2:36am: Snow White Co-Starring Thor

Spoiler Alert?  I'll try not to, but just in case, I put this in bold.

You know what?  I watched it, and enjoyed it.  Yeah, there’s the whole Kristen-Stewart-Face-Hating show to attend, but honestly, I like anything where people ride horses and have swords, and isn’t terrible or anything.  I’m very easy to please.  And the dwarves were there.  You can’t get mad at dwarves often.

I wonder what other movies with horses and swords will come out in the future.  Magic and staves are cool too.  Yeah, I’m like 13 years old when it comes to my entertainment.  And it’s fine with me.

Also, it’s been brought to my attention that I look homeless.  I kindly remind everyone that I AM homeless.  I live in random places, and do not have a home.  My life is complete, less a home.  Home.  Less.  Yes.  So, you know, if your last name contains West, I hope you you know that I am deeply hurt by your pointing out of completely true facts.

7th June 2012

5:45pm: Uniforms, Hats and Sizes

The wedding preparation is in full force.  Many odds and ends must be attended to.  My fight is with with the whole groomsmen look, and my own uniform.  I’m going for the whole Army white mess uniform.  Little know, and never needed, but it’s my wedding day.  I want to look sharp.  I’ll put some medals on so nobody thinks I am a waiter, and we’ll be good to go.

I got sized, and I ordered everything.  Next thing is to receive and get it tailored.  Then the awards rack and all that.  But there is an issue.  I want an Army white service cap.  It looks like the blue one for officers.  And it’s still authorized for wear with the Army white mess uniform.  Except, well, you don’t need to wear headgear with evening wear.  And you’d only wear this thing to evening events, or super formal things, or weddings.  So I’ve been searching desperately for this item.

I will find it.  Or have it custom made.  It’s a white peak cap, black visor, gold braid, and the gold United States Army officer’s cap insignia.  My head is 22.75 inches big.  If you happen to have one in your closet, give me a call.  Otherwise, I will be searching the world for a peak cap manufacturer.  Or someone that is looking to make a healthy profit from a man hoping to make an impression.

Oh, and thank you, Men’s Warehouse, for letting me know how big my hips really are.  Guess that explains all my pants.

3rd June 2012

10:54pm: To Do

I need to get new glasses, fix the old ones.  Definitely need a phone.  Need to find my things.  Distribute new mailing address information.  Out process.  I need more than one pair of pants that fit me.  Turn in stuff at the issuing facility.

Plenty of running around to keep me occupies for the next two weeks.  Should be sufficiently boring but necessary in every way.  Wish me coffee.

11:39am: Avengers

It was great.

2nd June 2012

3:39am: 174-175: Scene

I held my breath as I took off from Kuwait.  More than any other flight, that flight back really closed things out for me.  And when we started going up, I felt the pressure go down.  A couple of day-long naps later, and I’m drinking Dunkin’ Donuts coffee and looking up hotel rates.  See the smooth transition?  Me neither.  But it’s alright.  It’s more than alright.  I’m back home.

I’m happy.   I just hope I don’t have to add numbers to these blog posts anymore.  The next post will be nothing but letters.  No count.  No colon.  Just some words pointing to a normality of sorts.

Sleep is in order.  Then there’s movement.  For certain, life never really stops.   But the work ahead of me is enjoyable.  I’ve got a lot of catching up to do, for sure.  Lots of people to see.  Calls to make.  Hell, I need a phone in the first place.  And a spot to live.  And my car back.  But those are all accomplishable.  And isn’t that a change for the better?

Racquel and I have a date tomorrow.  We’re going to see the Avengers.  And then we’re going to do some of that color selection for the wedding that I didn’t get to while in Afghanistan.  Life starts again for the better.

31st May 2012

1:44pm: 174: 99%
The horoscope said something about being patient. Nice sentiment. Not happening. I am antsy as hell. I got all my tools ready to distract myself. It won't help too much.

On another note, my water consumption is at an all-time high. And it's only oneoheighttotheF over here. It only gets hotter. More water. More water.

I want to close these series of posts. I will close these series of posts. Maybe one more and I can take those numbers off the titles.

30th May 2012

4:18am: 173: When to sit down

Randomly went to check in for some flights and stuff.  Little did I know the last three days of my life were a lie.  Apparently the other guy forgot to mention some random paperwork I needed to fill. And a book I needed to sign.  And a desk to check in to.  And another desk to schedule a follow-on.  Luckily, it has no impact on my timeline as of yet.  If it was tomorrow, I would’ve been set back.  Still.  Why wouldn’t dude numero uno tell me, you know, anything?  He’s just like “You don’t fly today, you may want to call somebody.”

I don’t get it.  This is not a time for rationality, leadership, or anything distinguished.  This is a time to harass, follow-up, and sit down.

29th May 2012

3:37am: 172: Hot

It’s hot.  So hot that the water coming out of the “cold” setting on the washer is hot.  So hot that my chap stick is disappearing intermittently on me.  The gym tent has ten AC units on it, and it is still hot in there.  I can see the ice melt on the drinks.  Live.

I love it.  Compared to the opposite, experienced this winter in Ghazni, where I had icepicks and was slipping everywhere.  You always know where you stand in the heat.  Much rather Texas than Alaska.  Also, I’m pretty sure caloric burn isn’t too shabby walking around in an oven.  It’s the weather telling you “Go do some exercise, it’ll get better buddy.” 

Kind of want to put a cowboy hat on or something.  Not authorized, and not available.  This patrol cap will have to do.

28th May 2012

10:23am: 171: Bad Books

Last time I was in Kuwait, there were some good books interspersed around the place.  Now there are absolutely none.  Everything is horrible.  Magazines, sure, you can get a somewhat current magazine.  But no dice on the books.  It’s like a mad librarian came over and stole all the worthwhile reading.

I remember sitting in the Green Bean in 2010 reading a collection of boxing short stories.  I had an iced coffee.  Life was good.

I remember reading Lost City of Z in the tent waiting for the flight out.

I remember Tuesdays with Morrie buried in-between some harlequin mess at the MWR.

Someone with a cruel sense of humor cleaned this place out.  There are even shelves without any books on them.  This is like when animals flee before a storm, and all the humans are just sitting there.  Maybe this is a truer sign of a U.S. pullout in Afghanistan than anything else.  When the literature leaves, I guess the Soldiers are leaving at some point too.  How many library-rejected volumes can a sensible man read?

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