written February 18, 2006
It’s been one of those days.
This might make you think it was terrible, or at least rough. Not so. It’s simply been one of “those” days, another in a long line of nameless days that came and will soon go, and will not be remembered:
I awoke this morning, as most often do, my head filled with a myriad of dreams. Reveille had sounded a few minutes before, and it was now ten after six. Beyond my drawn curtains the berthing was still dark and silent, filled with men that would wait until the last moment. I shaved, I brushed my teeth. There wasn’t a line, only one person, who like all the rest kept the water rushing from the spigot the entire time. It’s a boot camp thing, I suppose, when we had so little time in the mornings all the faucets would be running. I used mine sparingly, looked at my tired face in the mirror, and headed for breakfast.
Going to meals have become a blur, that when reaching for a tan plastic tray you feel like you must have just eaten five minutes ago. The usual was offered: hardened French toast sticks, hard-boiled eggs, hash browns, bacon, and eggs to order. I asked the sleepy cook behind the grill for scrambled with everything- that is, all four items available (onions, tomatoes, mushrooms, ham), with the omnipresent cheese. The person ahead of me ordered scrambled eggs plans, and I thought of Candace. In a place like this she will only pop up unannounced at odd occasions when I do not summon her to my thoughts myself.
I eat in less than ten minutes as The Last Samurai played on flat screens around the half-filled mess decks. They are the eternal, the ones coming off of watch and those about to go on. It was quiet for the most part, with the exception of a few over-caffeinated individuals. I take my tray and silver wear to the scullery and place them through the steaming window.
Feeling for a pen I went to sign a log book that I must write in three times a day, all as part of verification that certain tasks are being carried out. As it approached seven I turned for the DC shop, where I have worked for over the last five months. More than ten people make up the division but the compartment is nearly deserted as I arrived. I expected to be one of the first. The credits to The Last Samurai scroll on a TV in the corner, and a new movie soon took its place. The ship has three channels of movies playing constantly for those who are awake.
I sat down on a tool chest and pulled my CD player from my left hip pocket. Today I listened to Before the Fall, one my latest burned discs I made in January. The music of the Roots and Diamond Nights among others kept my head occupied as the room slowly fills with stragglers that made it at the last moment for Quarters, the brief morning meeting when we’re told what will be happening throughout the day; the plan is merely a guide of possibilities for anything to be thrown our way.
The clock showed nearly seven-thirty as I grabbed a foxtail (duster) and a dustpan and went a space we are responsible to clean for half an hour. That is the next thing that always happens. We clean a certain place for a certain amount of time, if it needs it or not. I wasn’t hungry but took a few pistachios from the dwindling bag in my other pocket all the same. People constantly passed through the passageway, but the interruptions barely registered as I moved to the side to allow them to pass. I glanced at my watch. 7:35.
Another drill took up all of the morning. I’d tell you the number of times we’ve run it, but I want you to take me seriously. We must keep doing it for all of the new people who are constantly cycling in- I will keep with this theory, as it makes some sense. I manned the phones as I usually do, with long dull periods in-between the seconds I am needed. Clifford came down to the space and for the most part took a nap on a gray wool blanket on the floor. I only stood watch with the rest of sonar that one day, the fourteenth, yet they have continued they’re revolving duties. I let Cliff sleep while he could. The ship bobbed up and down, side to side, and time went on. Soon the drill was over, and it has transpired exactly according to script. I put my phones away and headed to the galley- it was already lunch time.
The meatball subs were adequate, but I took an extra helping of provolone. Only until it is too late did I think to take the French bread alone. I am reminded of her again. The mess decks were much louder now, loaded with men already tired from the morning, some upset at how the drill was conducted, others red because the scenario had taken away from the work they were trying to accomplish. Bobby Faulkner sat down next to me and said jokingly he had bought season tickets for the Kansas City Royals. He is getting out in April, and he knows he is blessed. Normally the lunch hour is the best chance in which to relax, so many will eat quickly and then use the time remaining to pass out in the always-dark berthing lounge, a movie keeping the room dimly lit. We are expected back at 12:30.
There was a meeting being conducted in the Damage Control shop I am out to, from my sonar division, and were asked to come back in forty-five minutes. I went to my bed and selected Hero’s, Gods and Monsters of Greek Mythology, popping a one of last Riccollas in my mouth. I reacquainted myself with the gods of Olympus, taking special note of words that have been derived from the tales, such as Panic, named after a rage thrown by the man-fawn Pan. The time went all too quickly and I went once again to the shop.
Cole, another temporarily assigned like I am, and myself were told to needle-gun old paint off some equipment in the engine room, so that is what we did, after a hang-ups and delays. Finally we got to work, essentially the first step forward taken today, at around three in the afternoon. Within an hour and a half it was nearing dinnertime, and we packed our tools up to continue on tomorrow.
I took a moment to get some fresh air. It was not the same scene as a few days ago. The waters are darker, now with hints of browns and greens. The sky was cloudier and slightly cooler, yet not chilled. As I stood, looking out over the seas, I remembered my imaginings of how I would react to being hundreds of miles from anything, solely water in every direction. It isn’t that big a deal.
Before eating I had to take a shower. It does not take long before you want to keep yourself at arms-length from everyone else, just because of how grimy you feel. The sensation after a shower is so refreshing you feel like you’ve shed your old skin. Only then could I eat. My tan plastic tray this evening featured roasted pork, mashed potatoes, and squash.
Tonight I spent the evening writing, yet it is time to head to bed, and draw my curtains closed for another night. Like I said, just one of those days, soon to fade as if it had never happened.