Wednesday, June 29, 2005

The Longest Day

June 29th, 1985.  Twenty years ago, at 0630, I walked into the
Halsey Field House at the US Naval Academy. It was
Indoctrination Day, or I-Day, for the Class of 1989. There were
hundreds of us, over 1400 hundred I would find out later. We
were the best and brightest from the United States. We came
in all shapes, sizes, colors, and genders. We were the future of
the Navy and we were all excited.

As we walked into Halsey Field House in our civilian clothes,
we were warmly greeted by the upperclassman. “Welcome
to the Naval Academy” they said with smiles on their faces
as they pointed us to our respective registration/check in
tables. I remember the smiles. It seemed a strange
juxtaposition to the banner hung on the edge of the Lejuene Hall
which read: “Welcome Class of 89: Attrition is our mission.
Class of 1987.”

I-Day was the longest day of my life. The check-in process was
insane. Uniform issue: whiteworks, summer whites, khakis, blacks,
rain coats, t-shirts, underwear, socks, PT gear (down to standard
issue sneakers, and jock straps), linens, towels, and of course a sea
bag to put it all in. We met other members of our Plebe Company
as we were taught to stand at attention, march, salute, etc. We
were marched into Bancroft Hall, the world’s largest dormitory,
and assigned rooms, and roommates. Dumping the sea bags, it
was time to go get the mandatory haircut. My hair was never
very long, but it got a lot shorter that day. You walked into the
barber an individual, and you walked out a plebe. We had changed
into whiteworks at this point, and after the haircut the
transformation was complete. You were a plebe, one of hundreds,
all dressed in whiteworks and dixie cup hats.

We ate lunch at some point. I remember a big hall, King Hall,
and the food being okay, but we didn’t have much time there. Then
it was time to get poked and prodded at medical. Everyone had
to have a physical to get in, but that didn’t prevent them from
sticking almost everyone with atleast one shot. The Naval Academy
isn’t large, but it was quite confusing that day. We were in and out
of buildings, in and out of Bancroft Hall, using different entrances
and exits, marching from one end of the Yard to the other. I think
at one point I thought I saw my Dad sitting on a bench watching me
as we marched by. I say I think I saw him, but I’m not sure, my
eyes were in the boat. I had learned that already. I think we also
got issued a rifle at this point. A very heavy and completely
nonfunctioning rifle that I would learn to hate over my four years
at the Naval Academy. At some point in the afternoon, we lined
up in formation at Tecumpseh Court and marched to the
Indoctrination Ceremony.

Around 4 PM on a hot sunny day, standing in a field of white
uniforms, we raised our right hands, and the over 1400 plebes
of the Class of 1989 were formally sworn in to the Naval Academy.
After the ceremony, we had a few minutes with our families. Dad
and I talked a bit and then he left to go back to the hotel. Along
with several of the other plebes, I made my way back to the
Bancroft Hall. Even standing outside Bancroft Hall, we knew
something had changed. The yelling and screaming had begun.

We braced ourselves and made our way up the 7th wing stair
well, chopping (a sort of high knee jog/run) and squaring
smartly at each corner as we yelled, “Go Navy, Beat Army.”
When we entered the 7-0 deck, the upperclass were waiting
for us. Their smiles were gone. Long gone. From the exit of the
stairwell to my room was approximately forty yards. That evening
it took me almost an hour to go forty yards. “Plebe HALT” still
echoes in my head as I think back to that evening. I made it back
to my room, and my roommates, and barely had time to catch
our breathe before it was time for evening meal formation.

I don’t remember dinner. I don’t remember much of the rest
of the evening. I know I heard “Plebe Halt” about a million
times that night. I know we were braced up (don’t ask). I know
we were yelled at a lot. And I remember trying to stencil
“Rxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx" on ever piece of clothing I had and cursing
my long last name. When I finally slept that night, on that hot,
humid, June evening twenty years ago, my last thoughts
were: “So this is how it begins.”

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Career Fears

From Dangling Conversation:

"I am so afraid of ending up in a career I am unhappy in just for lack of initiative to find something else."

I understand that completely. I stayed in the Navy probably a little longer than I should have. Would I be where I am now if I got out earlier? Would I be happier if I had come out earlier? Those two questions are kind of intertwined for me, so it's hard to answer.

I always told myself (and maybe it was that kind of quiet lie you tell yourself in the dark since you know no one will call you on it) that I wasn't going to stay some place where I was unhappy all of the time. Be it the Navy or anyplace else. Now that I'm out in the civilian world there are lots of opportunities. But picking the right one is the problem. How will I know it's the right job? Will it really be better? Will I be trading one bad job for another (with a company with worse benefits)?

Better the Devil You Know?

Sometimes I'm not so sure.

Monday, June 27, 2005

National HIV Testing Day!

Do you know your status?

Are you black, white, red, yellow,straight, gay, male, female, bicurious, young, old, African American, Native American, any type of American, any type of anything. Are you breathing?

Then you need to know your status. Period.

I went down to the Whitman Walker Clinic and got tested. So I'm good for another 6 months.

One of the good things about my Navy days was all of the STD and AIDS Awareness training we had. And we were forced to get tested every year. Since I'm sexually active (shh, don't tell anyone) I get tested twice a year. It's just a smart thing to do.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

The Romance of a Roadtrip

Roadtrip. It just brings up certain thoughts. You and your buddies on the road to the beach for a weekend of fun. Or you and your special someone driving up to the mountains for a romantic little weekend get away. Or maybe it's just you, and the open road, going some place different. It all sounds so fun, romantic, intriguing doesn't it?

Let me introduce you to the reality of a roadtrip. It's long, it's boring, and the traffic sucks.

Okay, I was invited to a pool party in northern NJ by this couple I know. And for some reason, I thought a roadtrip would be fun. Just me in the car, the sun roof open, and some good music to keep me company. It sounds good, doesn't it?

I'm not quite sure when was the last time I drove north on I-95, but it's horrible. When you head south from DC on I-95, there is some traffic, but you really don't hit a big city until Miami. Sure I worry about hitting traffic in Richmond, but come on, it's Richmond?!? Heading up on Friday I left Rosslyn and went around the beltway. Stop and go traffic at 1PM on a Friday afternoon. Please explain that to me. Then I hit the whole toll plaza mess at the tunnel in Baltimore. North of Baltimore, I came to a complete stop THREE times traffic was so bad. Then you get into DE and it's all about the tolls. I don't mind paying a fee, but is there some way to charge it all up front and not have to deal with the mile long backups at the multiple toll plazas? Then it was the NJ turnpike. More tolls, more back ups. It took me 5.5 hours on Friday to drive up. It took me 4.5 hours to come back.

Next time, I either fly or take the train.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Better Living Through Chemistry

Apparently my customer started taking his meds again:

"Trey, you are right. I need to start reviewing the SOWs in more detail."

So I've won this round? Or have I just postponed the battle for another day?

Speaking of getting beaten, today I sat through a 120 page power point brief about our Supplier Agreement Management process.

Just shoot me now. Please.

Friday, June 17, 2005

Reasoning with the Unreasonable!

First of all, thanks to Silent Cacaphony for the title of this blog entry. It has been the most frustrating week and this title pretty much sums it up.

I've spent the week arguing with my government customer about something I did, several months ago, based on his direction. He now denies he told me to do it. He never provides direction via email or in writing, so I have nothing to go back to him with. And it's something I've reported to him in various meetings, reports, briefings so I'm not sure why this is such a big surprise to him now. The real issue is that he wants me to do something that I can't do now since we used what funding we had for the earlier effort. Look, I want to do what he wants. But there's this small issue of funding. But that's not the real issue. The real issue is a simple word.


That's the problem. He can't stand it when someone tells him no. My 6 year old nephew is better at taking "no" for an answer than my customer. If he doesn't like what he hears, he will brow beat the person, accusing them of doing something illegal, or without proper authority.

Yesterday at a luncheon this issue came up and the question was, "Well who told us to send the piece of equipment to the site." And the government rep in charge of the fielding turned about and said, "He did." Then the government folks who worked under him were like, "Do you have that in writing?" So it's nice to hear that he treats his own people so bad that they are scrambling for some shred of cover to avoid his wrath.

At the Naval Academy, they told us to make sure that we weren't "yes men." Don't become some slobbering sycophant because that's not what leadership is about. Now as a government contractor, you've never supposed to say no. "Of course I can solve world hunger." And you can if you get the funding. But being the PM I understand what the tasks are, what we've been funded to do, what we need to deliver, and what funding we have to support drive by taskings. So at times you need to say no.

Thanks for letting me rant. I feel a little bit better. I'm going to walk to the circle. Sit in the sun and just not think about this crap for awhile.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

What Have You Done Today To Make You Feel Proud?

Well Pride Weekend is over, well atleast for me. I'm sure the partying will go late into the night, but not for me. I need to get some stuff done at home and get ready for work like the responsible gay man that I am.

Yesterday I went to the Pride Parade. It was great, but long. I sat with one of my friends and his children and we watched the Parade. Mr. DC Eagle, Scott Jones, was on the Eagle float in a HOT leather jock. Yummy. It was great to see the politicians out, as well as the drag queens. My church, St. Thomas, had a car in the parade as well with our Rector riding in it. Today at church she quipped that it was the first time she had worn a tiara! There were lots of great floats and a lot of different groups represented. But it was over two hours long. After the parade, I went home and just chilled out. Yes I should have gone out, but I didn't. I was tired and I just thought I would stay home. And I'm okay with that.

The Pride festival was great this afternoon. Lots of hot guys with no shirts on. Lots of different types of people. It was fun. Deborah Cox just W*O*R*K*E*D that stage. She sang a great medly of 3 or 4 of her songs, then sang Nobody's Supposed To Be Here, Easy As Life, and then for the encore, Absolutly Not. She was awesome. But it was just insanely hot, so after a bit, I returned to my nice AC'd little condo.

So what I have I done to day to myself feel proud? I ran. I went to church. I supported some great organizations at the Pride Festival: HRC and the Whitman Walker Clinic. Overall I have to put today as a big check in the win column.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Pride Weekend

I'll be going to the Pride Parade this afternoon. It will be my fifth Pride Parade here in DC. It's okay, not great, but nice. The parade I say in Sydney at the Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras was just so over the top fabulous (and I don't use the F word lightly!). But I like DC's. It's got your Dykes on Bikes, the drag queens, the gym boys on the ReSluts (I mean Results) float, the leather men, DC Bears, politicians, PFLAG, you name it. None of those individual groups really represent me, but when you take them in total, and what they stand for, it does. It really does.

I'm not a marching type (probably that conservative, Episcopalian upbringing). But I really respect those who do. I think the Pride parade is sort of a modern day non-violent Stonewall like protest. You may not like drag queens, but they have every right to walk down the street and strut their stuffs. You may not like the leather men, but they too have their right to do what they want. The media will no doubt focus on the extremes of the parades, the Dykes on Bikes and the Leathermen wearing assless chaps, and miss the rest. The groups like PFLAG, the Gay Science Fiction Reading Club, Brother Help Thyself, or the HIV/AIDS awareness groups. No there isn't a group of suburban gay families who march, but you wouldn't see them on the front page of the newspaper. It wouldn't sell copy. But that's okay, the Parade is a celebration of the whole GLBT community and I'm okay with the Dykes on Bikes, Drag Queens, and Leathermen taking the lead. They did it years ago at Stonewall. And if they hadn't then, we wouldn't be where we are today.

So I'll go out an cheer for the Parade and stand proud with the rest of my community.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Absolutely Not!

"Do I measure me by what you think? Absolutely not, absolutely not"

Deborah Cox RULES!!!!

"Absolutely Not" was the first song I heard from her. Dancing at Ptown, summer 2001. Sooo much fun. So much energy. I just loved this song. And then I started checking out her other songs:

"Nobody's Supposed To Be Here"
"Something Happened On the Way to Heaved"
"Same Script, Different Cast" (with crack baby Whitney Houston!!!)
"Things Just Ain't the Same"

I loved them all.

It seems like every year at Ptown I had my favorite Deborah Cox song.
2003: "Play Your Part":

"Can you pretend to be the man I should have been with
Can we fake the life you know I should have had
Can we do a better job of pretending that you really care
Or I'll have to give the part to someone else"

Hello. LOVE IT!!!

2004: "Easy As Life" from her performance on B-way in Aida. The dance remix of course.

All I have to do, Is forget how much I love him
All I have to do, Is put my longing to one side
Tell myself that love’s an ever changing situation
Passion would have cooled, and all the magic would have died
It’s easy as life

I try to forget how much I want him here, Then my dreams slowly disappear
I cannot forget that my emotions die, Oh I don’t even want to try
Nothing in life is ever easy, Nothing in love will ever run true
My heart will never stop believing, I still believe in what love can d

So awesome.

And she's coming to DC!! For the Pride Festival. I am SO psyched.
This is going to be a GREAT weekend!!!

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Reunions: It's *NOT* all about me.

But I don't think it's all about you either. But maybe I'm judging you (and find you lacking) merely because you are in fact reading my blog. ; )

So the second night of the reunion was similar to the first, except with less alcohol. Which allowed me to be a bit more observant and introspective.

Okay, there were over 400 people in my graduating class, but only 80 showed up for the 20th reunion. So who are those 80 people? As I walked around and nodded to some, chatted with some, and ignored the rest (intentionally and unintentionally), I realized that reunions aren't for people like me.

Reunions are for the in-crowd, the jocks, the cheerleaders, etc. After dinner, we had a slide show/video presentation. What did we see? Pictures of football players, basketball players, wrestlers, cheerleaders, the homecoming court. Basically your A list crowd. Even the non-school pictures showed the same people. A group of people chugging beer at some party. A group of people cutting class and smoking in their van. If there were 400 people in my class, we saw maybe 100 pictures of the same 20 people. It was all about them.

Where were the band fags, the drama queens, the geeks (though I think we called them nerds then)? First of all notice the perjorative terms that we had back then, that still carry forward to this day. Second of all, why aren't their pictures of them in the slide show? Were there any pictures of them from 20 years ago, or did the group who put the slide show up just not have any? And thirdly, where were these people at the reunion? For the most part, they didn't show up. Oh some did, a couple of band types, a couple from the smart clique. But for the most part, I'd say 80% of the people who showed up for the reunion were from the A list crowd.

Now I'm not bitter. Seriously. I got to meet some of my friends from high school. I spent some time with my parents. It was a good trip overall. But I think I'm more interested in trying to get my group of friends together when we can, as opposed to a scheduled reunion which isn't about us anyways.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Do I know you?

She said as she squinted at my name tag. She had to look twice. I'm not sure if it was because my handwriting was so bad, or if she was so drunk.

"Do I know you?" She asked again with a slight slur to her voice. "Or do you know me?"

I looked at her closely. Short brown hair with bad highlights, too much make up, a very small top that wasn't exactly demure. I did look at her name tag, conveniently placed to allow one to look inside the top if one was so inclined. I didn't recognize the name.

"No, I don't think I know you. I don't think we had any classes together." I replied.

"Fine, then get out of my way, I want to find people I know." She said as she bumped into me slightly as she worked her way to the next group of people.

Ah yes reunions. Aren't they a blast?

My 2oth high school reunion. It kind of came up on my without me thinking about it. 20 years since I graduated from Wasson High School in Colorado Springs. I don't think about it much. Being an army brat, I moved around alot and I came to Wasson at the beginning of my junior year in high school. High school wasn't overly bad for me. I wasn't out, but I was decidely different. Never a good thing. I was the new guy, smart, fat, funny. Those were just some of the descriptions of me in high school. I had a small group of friends but somehow we lost touch over the years. I would run into them randomly when I came home to visit my parents, but we never kept in touch.

Now I'm not so sure what I would have in common with them. Some of my friends we're like "Dan and I went to school with each other since 1st grade." Yeah, that's not me. My friendships are few and spurious. Being in the Navy didn't help. Get to a new place, make friends, and then move again and slowly loose touch with them. Do you see a pattern? And will I be able to have better, deeper friendships now that I'm staying in one place long enough?

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Final Jeopardy: The Answer Is the USA and Turkey

The question is: "What two NATO countries still ban gays and lesbians from serving in their military?"


Quite by accident I stumbled upon a Servicemember's Legal Defense Fund cocktail party at Halo. (Melon Martini: bad; Mango Martini: good) Anyways, they were hosting some Swedish gay sailors. All officers by the way. The one guy was okay, but not dream date material. Think about it, a hot swedish naval officer. Hmm, tell me that's not what dreams are made of.

Okay, back to the subject. Isn't it sad that out of all of NATO, it's only the USA and Turkey (a predominantly Muslim country in case you didn't know) that still ban gays and lesbians from serving in the military.

And now I just read that the soldier who was awarded a purple heart and WANTS to go back to Iraq and serve in the military is being kicked out under DADT. When he first came out, the right wing-nuts have already made it clear that just because you get wounded and get a purple heart that you aren't a hero. After all, he is gay.

And that's when I just wanted to puke. Listen you homophobic f&^kwads: All of our soldiers, sailors, marines, and airmen who are serving over in Iraq and Afghanistan and all of the other places across the globe are heroes. They are putting it on the line every day. And while I have a big problem with some of the senior military & civilian leadership that got us into Iraq, I still have the utmost respect for those who go into harms way. So shut the f&%k up.