Gainesville Ramblings

This is a blog, and thus it barely qualifies as writing, let alone formal writing, so I'd not let it bother you.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Meeting Happy Matthews

An event I forgot in my blog post before took place walking down Broadway in Newport on Sunday morning. I'm adding this now, because it was something really want to remember.

I spent alot of Sunday wandering around Newport, looking for various items, or seeking things I had been craving. One of my first stops, of course, was the local comic shop. The shop didn't have a whole lot going for it, but I was able to order 5 through 8 of the Y: The Last Man trade paperbacks (should be here by Thursday. Sweet.) And then, having been craving a good burrito for months, I went looking for a place a had found online.

On my way back to my car, I noticed there were cops on just about every corner. And when I finally got to the side street where my car was parked, I found it blocked off by a barricade. I asked the officer at the intersection what was going on. He responded: "There's a parade. Aren't you in it?"

This is probably a good time for me to mention that I was in my liberty uniform: summer whites, with short sleeves, shoulder boards, and combination cover. And Newport, from what I've gathered is a weird town, in that half the people here know about OCS, so when they see people wandering around the area in uniform on a weekend, they know its Officer Candidates on liberty. The other half just think its cocky Navy guys who want free food and beer, hence why they never take off their uniform.

Since my car was stuck in its current parking space, I decided to walk to the burrito place. Nothing, not even a police parade, was going to stop me from getting a roll of Mexican goodness. And plus, the walk was great. I got to see real life happening for the first time in months. There were little kids running under foot, yelling. Couples set up chairs outside their houses and cuddled in the cool, damp New England weather. A few people were having parties in their front porches, enjoying beer and the company of friends as they waited for the parade to pass.

I smiled as I walked along Broadway, enjoying the weather, enjoying the people, enjoying the feeling of being a part of the world again. And then, as I'm about to cross a street, so close to the burrito shop that I could see its sign, I heard someone call out, "How's the school treating you?"

I turned to find an elderly man in a 'Rhode Island State Police' hat sitting in a folding chair, looking at me. At first, I was slightly annoyed. I mean, burrito. But then I remembered that one of the reasons (OK, it was a very minor reason, but a reason none the less) I joined the Navy was to have exactly these conversations. The random ones with strangers who want to talk about the Navy and the military, or a veteran who wants to reminisce.

So I walk up, shake hands with the man, who turns out to have the awesome name of Happy Matthews, and we start talking. He actually reminded me a little of my grandfather, in that he just wanted to tell stories about his life. He said he had served as a torpedoman in the Navy during World War II in the Pacific. He told me of his battle stories, how the Escort Carrier he served on avoided being sunk by inches. He told me about his twenty years as a officer and a detective with the Rhode Island State Police. He told me his thoughts on taxes (too high), government (he actually was a fan of Obama), racial profiling (you had to do it, and its not nearly prevenlent enough to worry about), and just about everything else there is to talk about.

I stood there, talking to this 84-year-old for nearly half an hour. And honestly, it was probably one of the most enjoyable conversations of my life. It may have been just that I haven't had the chance to do something like this for a while. It certainly helped that Happy is a much better conversationalist than I am, and had no problem picking up the slack when I was unable to. And it helped that it was a beautiful day out, just cool enough that wearing a jacket felt good, but not too cold that other layers were needed.

After a while, my stomach started making its presence known, and I had to shake Mr. Matthews' hand and wish him a good day and a good life. It isn't till just now as I'm typing this that I realize what a mistake that was. My stomach could have waited. The buritto wasn't going anywhere. But I will probably never talk to Happy Matthews again. And that is my loss.


Sunday, May 04, 2008

Think of Me at Lunch on Thursday...

...For I shall be eating with a fork. Yes, that is right my friends. A fork. And I'll be able to sit back in my chair and talk as I eat. And choose what I put in my fat, disgusting mouth. It'll be awesome!

As for how life is going here at Officer Candidate School, for the first time, I can say its going...good. And it feels really weird to be writing that. But don't start thinking that I'm liking this place. I don't, and probably never will. But I can now say that this is not the most miserable time or place that I've experienced. Its only like the 5 or 6th now.

So what has made things so good? Quite simply, its free time. I suddenly find myself at many times with nothing to do. So I read books or go surf the net, or get work done that doesn't need to be done for weeks yet.

The free time came about due to a change in status. After Monday morning's Out-PFA, we were done with everything we are required to do to graduate. There are other things to do, but no more graded evolutions. No more morning PT. No more classes. No more defined chow times. We were left to out own devices, to sink or swim on our own. And then, on Tuesday, we found out our 'billets,' or jobs that we would be doing for the next three or four weeks. I'm Regimental Med Body, which means my job is to take care of sick and injured people who pile up in OCS.

This may sound tough, but really, its not. I spend about 2 hours every morning making sure everyone who needs to go to sick call makes it there and gets taken care of. And then I need about 30 minutes at night to put the paperwork together for the next day. And other than that...I'm done. I'm finished. I'm complete. So I have books to read, slideshows to make, presentations to put together. And naps to take. Wonderful, wonderful naps.

Its actually really confusing, because for the last 8 weeks, I've been required to be busy. I wasn't given another choice. But then this week, I'm sitting around. I felt guilty. Heck, I still feel guilty. Some people are working really hard, and others ( are not. I offer to help, but theres really not a whole lot for me to do. So I sit in my room, close the door, and try not to be noticed.

Other than that, not a whole lot to report. I'm heading back to base in about an hour, gotta put in a few hours of work, and then sleep. Precious, precious sleep. I'm sitting in Panera right now, and looking around. This is apparently the place all the local college girls go to study and eat on Sundays, and I'm enjoying myself immensely with this fact. I'm not used to girls having hair and trendy and good looking clothes anymore. Its strange. I was supposed to go out last night and enjoy this fact, but since I fell asleep at 8pm (I'm sorry, 2000), I missed out. I'm not complaining actually. Females will always be there. Sleep is needed now.

Also, I now have my cell phone on me at all times (perks of the job), so if you want to get a hold of me, or just find yourself bored, feel free to give me a call. I can't always guarantee that I can talk, but most of the time, I can.

Looking forward to seeing you all,

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Drill Comp Video

You can't see me, as I'm all the way in the back, but here is Honor Class 12-08's Drill Comp Video. We scored a 104.1, but probably should have gotten higher.