Happy Birthday, Dad

October 15, 2006

Well, the big 6-3… I guess we have to wait one more year until we can play the Beatles song “When I’m 64.”  First, I am sorry I have to miss it, and that I can’t spend part of the day with you.  It would be a lot of fun.  I have so far not been able to watch any of the Chicago Bears games this season, but I have followed them all on the Internet, which sends the play-by-play and stats.  Like everyone else I have been extremely impressed, and I will actually get to watch my first televised game this Monday, because it will be shown on Monday Night Football.  The only hitch is that I have to see it live… at about 1:30 in the morning, but I don’t mind at all.  Of course my prediction is that we will beat Arizona, by a score of let’s say… 27-10.  Anymore the defense is so good I am pretty upset when the other team even scores!  Good problem to have.

The big thing right now is counting down the days until I am home, which right now stands at little less than a month.  The truth is I’ve been waiting since the moment we left in May, and it has been a very long trip.  Okay, let’s get the bad over quickly, so I can try to scrape together some good, for having been gone for so long.  Perhaps the worst is the overall environment and atmosphere–very negative.  It’s just hard to be around everyone here, It’s too much like high school, for what I remember of it.  I also don’t understand what we have been doing this entire time, and what purpose it has served.  Honestly, it just seems like a big waste of taxpayer’s money, if just for all the diesel fuel we’ve consumed.  I’m just saying most people would find the cost surprising, regardless of purpose of value I’ll leave other to decide.  After five months on patrol in this ship that has so many malfunctions we keep a list, like a dangerous game of bingo, for what we call fun, I know I’m biased.

Alright, now some bright things:  I have, if not really seen whatever country I have visited, I can say I have stepped foot in them.  For a full list it is probably best to ask Mom, but I’m sure you’ve been following along as well.  I registered for college classes in September, which was exciting for the reminder of this cruise, that my new, future life is coming soon, but it still feels–even now–too far away to be too happy about just yet.  I know you would have loved a lot of this, being on the water, which has been such a draw for you your entire life.  I can only laugh that you would also say, “Well, I guess I’ve seen all there is to see–can we head home,” by the first afternoon.  Don’t feel bad, that sentiment for land is infectious.

Speaking of maladies, my department, Combat Systems, strangely, wants to become qualified on a new few watches and jobs here, even though I am about to leave.  So when your employer is treating you like you’re not about to go, you can’t act like you are.  It’s strange, but that is the military.  I can’t even wrap my mind around the idea that I will soon be just a person with freedom to go where I want when I want.  Really, if I was offered thousands of dollars and even an officer’s commission I would still decline.  Because it is just not worth it, but officers are here just the same as us, get the same amount of sleep, eat the same food, and haven’t seen their families for just as long.

But this entire time I can at least say, with a good deal of humility, that at least I’m not in Iraq.  I can’t believe some are having to go for their third year-long tour, and every short-cut is being tried by the government to get new recruits, even getting foreigners and then telling them they can be citizens the day they put on the uniform.  Whatever, I guess.  This just hasn’t turned out the way I thought it would, the world I mean.  It just goes to show that you can’t put your life in others’ hands, and expect them to know what’s best for you.  I just can’t wait to take this uniform off for the last time, put them all in storage, and begin to adjust to my title as a veteran (which just sounds weird, because those are only supposed to be old men, right?).

But before I know it I will be driving West, like we did together from South Carolina, a rental car packed with all my things, and I will be home for Christmas.  Being done will be the best present ever, and then two weeks later, on January 8th, I will be begin college.  And I will have saving nearly $20,000, which I hope to not even use but continue to save and grow, as long as I can live on my GI Bill money (about $1,300 a month).  I dream about it all the time, and cannot wait.  I cannot promise that our football team will be as good as Western’s, but you will have to come down to Edwardsville (about 25 minutes northeast of St. Louis) and check them out with me.

Marley and I are doing well.  She spent June and July working as an intern in DC in the office of a senator from her home state, New Mexico.  August she spent at her mom’s place at Ft. Meade, Maryland, which I have visited on occasion.  And since the beginning of September she has returned to Hampton, Virginia to finish her last semester of college before graduating as a registered nurse.  We write all the time, and she has often sent as many packages to me as Mom has, which was the best part of not only pulling into ports, but the deployment as a whole.

I also write to Sonya, and she is keeping me up on her sophomore year at my old college haunts of Western Illinois.  We hope to take road trips in the spring to each others’ schools on the weekend, which will be a lot of fun.

Well, have a great day, I hope Mom was able to get to school and print this off today, and I will be calling home in only a few weeks!  Stay busy, learn a few new hobbies and great job on the house; I can’t wait to see it for myself, the old place looks completely new.  Happy birthday again, and looking forward to seeing you again.

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