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We did one hike today. It was called the Lakes trail and was recommended to us by a ranger after we asked for a nice lake to hike to. The first one we would come to was Heather Lake after four miles, then it was another mile or so to Emerald Lake. We really wanted to make it there for nostalgia's sake. What we didn't take into account was that it was four miles straight up. Not too bad for a regular hiker, but we hadn't done this in a long time. At least we made it to Heather Lake.
The drive back from Sequoia was long but beautiful. It took us over an hour just to get out of the park and down into the valley. We stopped in Visalia for smoothies, then headed south on 99 through the orange orchards and vineyards. Turned east at Bakersfield and headed home. Near Tehachapi we drove through countless windmills on the hillsides. About that time Colette pulled over to let me drive, and she slept the rest of the way to Barstow. We happily crashed in the apartment the rest of the day with the A/C up and the lights off.
The irony. I'm still reading Grapes of Wrath. I came to a part today where the characters are driving around California looking for work. Somebody's giving directions and says "get on 99 and go 12-14 miles then turn west on Weedpatch." I distinctly remember passing Weedpatch off of 99 yesterday. A little while ago I also read a complete list of the towns we drove through on the way out here. I guess things haven't changed much in the past 70 years. I've never been a history buff, but it is kind of interesting to feel it all around me.
I was surprised when I walked into the cubicle this morning to find a caged lovebird on the desk. There was a brief note from Russ explaining that he had picked it up from a soldier who claimed it had flown into his backyard. Most likely it's a pet that somebody got tired of caring for. That seems to happen a lot around here. So now he's the Animal Control mascot, at least temporarily. Russ clipped his wings, which I don't really agree with, but then we disagree on a lot of things. Colette named him "Perkins." Now he's ours.
I love holidays - getting paid for not working. And I'm particularly glad that Colette is here and I actually have someone to celebrate with. I do miss the get-togethers we used to have in the summer, although they haven't been as common in recent years as my nostalgia would like to believe. Yes, the real holiday was yesterday and no, Independence Day isn't something I would usually celebrate for it's own sake. But since I've been given the day off I'll take the excuse to have some fun. Besides, I'd like to make vacation last as long as possible.
Rough day at the salt mines. I think my job is making up for all my vacation time. I picked up about 15 dead animals today… so many that I had to have the landfill dig a special hole so I could dispose of them all. I also found out that the pelican I caught Sunday and unhopefully released into the treatment ponds was an endangered species. It's dead now. Then I got a call about a neglected dog. I ended up confiscating it, and it was not happy about it. Shit's going to hit the fan tomorrow, I'm sure.
Shit did indeed hit the fan. Supposedly that dog was being cared for by somebody (though not very well) and they came to pick it up at the vet all pissed off. So I was feeling even more like a screw-up when I got another call from the MPs about another neglected dog. It was a questionable case, so I made sure I got the full backing of the MPs and the vet and confiscated it. We'll have to see how that turns out. One more stray and it's been quiet for the past hour. Can't wait to go home.
I hate saying goodbye to friends. I was a little concerned that after two weeks of being together practically 24/7 Colette and I would be severely on each other's nerves. But no, we enjoyed every minute of it. Of course that's mostly good, but it made it that much harder when she left. We had talked about being roommates for years, but it never quite happened. Then we got to try it out for a few weeks and it was awesome. Look at what we missed out on. Now I don't know when I'll see her – or anyone – again. Damn.
I saw a commercial for a new reality TV show the other day. I don't remember what it was called, but I remember being thoroughly disgusted. It's bad enough that there are enough sick minds in the TV business to come up with these ideas, but what really scares me is that people sign up for them.
Ooh! Ooh! Pick me! I want to be humiliated, stripped of my privacy, and laughed at by people all over the country!
Can people really be that desperate for a few minutes in the spotlight? I'm so ashamed of my country's so-called culture.
This is not good. I've been working here just over a month and already it's starting to make me sick. The stupidly long commute, computers that never work right, sharing a cube and a job title with messy, arrogant, undisciplined Russ, invasions of privacy, contract (employment) uncertainty, the cumbersome chain of command, our jackass military client, working around fucking military training and UXOs that they never bother to clean up properly; I could go on. And being stuck out here in the middle of BFE with all the creepy people is not to be underestimated. This is no longer exciting.
As Rudyard Kipling said, "words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind." Here are a few of my favorite elixirs:
Ominous, primal, luminescence, ephemeral, ethereal, amalgam, transient, emanate, illuminate, agony, scrumptious, emaciated, inscrutable, deleterious, exhortation, zealous, incredulous, obliterate, wondrous, immolate, incinerate, enigmatic, demagogue, pedagogue, hypnotic, miasma, factitious, apocryphal, adroit, inept, infelicitous, malapropos, gauche, contrived, frenetic, intuitive, trivial, infinitesimal, incomprehensible, oscillate, undulate, magnetic, catastrophic, lunar, optical, ocular, fervor, antiquity, chaos, vehemence, pulsating, consternation, loquacious, revolution, furrowed, complacent, conflagration, fundamental, inherent, implicit, bequeath, arbitrary, proliferation, vestige, deteriorate, comprehend, curiosity, febrile, conspire, desperado, insolent, fecundity, desolate, exhilaration, ecstasy, incarnation, apocalypse.
Today is my best friend's birthday. Best friend in the sense that I've known her longer than anyone else I currently have contact with (relatives excluded) and we were very close for a long time. Honestly though, if I had to exclude all history and pick someone who I'm closest to right now, it wouldn't be her. Even though we've been in school together, I've hardly talked to her, let alone done anything with her, in over a year. We've actually grown apart significantly since high school. Best friends on principle only? It makes me wonder what makes up best-friendship.
I finally got around to booking my flight home. When I first moved out here I was annoyed that I would have to come back so soon for the wedding. Now, though, I'm really looking forward to it. The wedding itself won't be much fun, I'm sure, but it does give me an excuse to go back and visit everyone. I'll have a whole 2 ½ vacation days to work with by then, so it'll be hectic, but it's worth it. I can't wait to see my friends, the NN staff… even my old co-workers. Something to look forward to.
I'm starting to realize how much more dangerous life gets with each new phase. As a child, I was protected from nearly everything. Up through high school, I learned about dangerous things, but never worked closely enough with them to possibly get hurt. In college, my lab classes and my internship suddenly exposed me to chemical and biological hazards that had previously existed only in theory. Now I have a job where I am expected, on a daily basis, to face remote areas, extreme heat, lack of water, ordnance, and, naturally, animals that have all been known to kill people.
I learned a new word from Mark recently: imbroglio.
A confusing, messy, or complicated situation, especially one that involves disagreement or intrigue.
The word is frighteningly appropriate for the way things are run around here. Probably everywhere, but definitely here. Russ and I had a meeting with Garrison Command today about exactly what we have authority to do and what we don't, and how to be officially proper about doing what we can. As it turns out, nobody knows. There is so much red tape that if we follow the rules, we will never, ever get anything done. Damn bureaucracy.
I have the worst luck with apartment maintenance. After all the bullshit I went through to get everything fixed when I moved in, then the debacle with them kicking me out to renovate the plumbing, my toilet is now broken. Actually it's been broken since they renovated, but what with Colette coming to visit and me being sick of maintenance, I ignored it. It was a small leak. Well true to form the leak has grown, so Wednesday I requested to have it fixed. I don't know if they came and "fixed" it or not, but now it actually howls.
Weekends are usually when I talk to people, but today I got all kinds of rejected. I called mom first, but she was busy. Later my phone rang and "anonymous" came up, which is how Colette's number displays. So I was all happy until I answered and it was Russ. I checked the mail and got something from "your friends" in Toledo, so I was all happy again until I saw that it was stuff for Ann. So I called to tell her, but she was busy at a family thing. I tried Andy too, but no answer. Maybe tomorrow.
I've spent a good part of the day researching gear for our Long's Peak expedition. Most of the things I've been using are hand-me-downs from my parents and they've just about reached the end of their life. I can't risk faulty gear on a trip like this. Although honestly, I have serious doubts about whether it will even happen – at least when we plan on it happening. I'll have to save up vacation days for an entire year to make it worthwhile, and who knows what Colette will be doing by then? But it sure is fun to think about.
I've been looking back at my words from the last two months, and I've noticed a definite decline in quality over the last few weeks. My first reaction was to wonder why. Maybe I've simply run out of interesting things to write about, so what I do end up writing I don't care to write well. Of course, that speaks more of a lack of creativity on my part than my life situation. Or maybe my brain is becoming less acrobatic now that I'm out of school for good. Like most things in life; nothing a little discipline won't fix.
I remember when I was an honorary officer for S.E.B.S. We would have officers' meetings and we would talk about things and make decisions and actually get something accomplished. We listened to each other and respected each others' suggestions. Everyone actually worked together. So when I got a meeting scheduled with all the "animal people" on base for today I was looking forward to it. I thought we could solve some problems. Ha. Only a few people showed up at all, and most of them spent the whole time arguing and mocking anyone who disagreed with them. I miss college.
It's hot. Of course it's hot; it's July in the desert. And it'll be hotter next month. Then, maybe, it'll cool down a little. In an ironic twist of events, I can't wait for winter. As it is, I go to work and spend the rest of the time holed up in my apartment because it's just too damn hot to do anything. I talked to mom last night and she said it was really hot there yesterday: upper 80s. I used to think that too. Now I know better; any temperature with less than three digits is beautiful weather.
I had to get my fingerprints taken this morning. Just so I can get a stupid computer account. The fingerprints were only a back-up; the main security points were the 15-page questionnaire I had to fill out and the background check I had to authorize. I really don't even want this account, but I moved all the way out here for this job, and I can't do it without computer access. I don't think my boss would continue to share his account if I refused to get my own. I have nothing to hide, but it's insulting all the same.
I finally made it to Victorville. I've been meaning to get down there for months, but never wanted to make the drive. It was actually kind of comforting: very Toledo-like. I did a bunch of shopping and got my ears pierced. The things I do for this wedding. I had lunch at Wendy's, which – strangely enough – I hadn't seen since I left Ohio. I considered going to the theatres to see Harry Potter, but just couldn't bring myself to go alone. Unfortunately this doesn't seem to be a place where I can make friends. But I'll be leaving soon enough.
I really need to ride my bike. I just got it a few months ago and now it's sitting idle in my living room. Owing to hot temperatures and my lack of a driveway or garage, I haven't even cleaned it since my last ride. The drive train could definitely use a good scrubbing, the frame needs to be wiped down, and the cables and derailleurs need to be lubed. Even the wheels could stand to have the dust and sand cleaned off. And meanwhile, I'm getting more and more out of shape. I can't wait until it cools down.
This is definitely going to be one of those days. After my 45-minute drive, I arrived at work and realized that my key is still sitting on my dresser. Sure, the one day out of the week that I'm the only one here I forget my key. So I had to go beg the MPs to let me in. They agreed on the condition that I keep the door locked so they don't have to come back at the end of the day to lock up. So I'm pretty much stuck here all day. Hope I don't get any calls.
Yet more rumors about losing our contract. They used to bother me, but not so much anymore. For one thing, I'm not sure they're particularly credible. For another, I wouldn't be too upset if I were to lose this job. At least I'd have an excuse to get the hell out of here. Granted, it would mean that the last two months were a big waste of time and a bigger waste of money, but I'm getting to the point where I don't care. I want to go home. But then, as they say, you really can't go home again.
I am alone. I have become what I always joked about being but hoped never to realize: a hermit. Physically separated from everyone I hold dear, my mind and my heart have been forced into solitude. No one hears my thoughts except Hobbes and this blip in cyberspace that we call "100 Words." I doubt if anyone reads those I have written, buried as they are among the words of countless others. And if they do, what am I to them but a name? We exist only as we are known by others. I fear I will soon fade away.
I had a revelation today. It was not a pleasant one. As I was standing at the landfill, once again scraping raven parts off the pavement into a plastic bag, I was forcibly struck by the absurdity of my situation. What the hell am I doing here, doing brainless work? I studied biology for four years, learned the inner workings of life, for this? I left behind my friends and family to be nothing more than a glorified dog-catcher and road-cleaner? No, I did not. This is not what I signed on to do. Something, somewhere, has gone terribly wrong.
I'm getting a cat today! Well, another cat. I've always felt bad leaving Hobbes alone in the apartment so much, so I finally went and asked the manager just how strict that one-pet policy is. Not very, apparently. And it just so happens there's a cat at the shelter that I've taken a liking to. So I'm going to take him home for the weekend and hope that they get along. I will feel much better going out of town for five days if they can keep each other company. I only hope they don't get into a territory-marking contest…
These words are my catharsis. I can write whatever I want to… exactly how I feel and what I think of people and situations. I can get things off my chest, so to speak, without worrying about what any readers think because I probably don't know them. Recently, though, I made the mistake of telling a few of my friends about this project and my participation in it. Now I'm afraid they'll misunderstand or be offended. I feel like I need to censor myself. But I can't – won't – do that. Read if you like, but please don't take it personally.
I think I'm having a mid-life crisis. Sure, I'm only 22, but I've always said I probably won't live past 50 anyway. I've done everything right up to this point in my life: breezed through school, played some sports, got a scholarship to college, did some extra-curricular activities and volunteer work, held down a job, got my degree in four years, and landed a "real" job two weeks after graduation. So now what? This is where my planning had stopped. But I can't be done yet; I'm still not happy. And I have no idea what to do about it.
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