"They come here each year for a week of fun and freedom, even though some of these Navy men will have to work doing community service and other sorts of public outreachy things. Remember: This is just a big publicity stunt to make people love our armed forces, and if it’s love they want, damn it, it’s love they’ll get…"
The sailor boy has perennially been a figure of myth and song and porn parodies. Having been attached to the Navy since I was 10 (my dad was in the Navy before I joined), it’s interesting to see things from both inside and outside perspectives.
Now, I’ve never been to Fleet Week myself, and perhaps I should have at one time or another during the 2.5 years I was living in DC. But the situation is pretty predictable, and sailors just as Moylan describes them in the link:
"For the single sailor who has been out at sea without a real live woman to look at for months, it’s going to be like a starving man at an all-you-can-eat buffet. Basically all you have to do is show up with the right parts and you should be good…"
With my one-year-till-i-get-out-of-the-navy timer counting down, I’m beginning to evaluate the things that make me what I am and what I’m about to lose. I definitely don’t fit the stereotypical image of a sailor that’s been ingrained into pop culture. I often pride myself in this, that I’m atypical, that I am somewhat “more” (though not “better”) than the norm. But the facts don’t lie. I am paid to wear the uniform, to respect the authority of ranks, to use terms like “eval” and “DRB” and “PRT” and “chits” and “dress whites” and whatever else in my daily vocabulary. I am a sailor, whether I look the part or not (and dare I say, I look quite dashing in my NWU’s).
Will I miss this lifestyle? Damn right, I will. Right now, I’ve probably got the cushy-est job in the Navy. I’m a respiratory therapist in a tiny clinic that barely sees any patients in a small hospital that’s really a glorified clinic in sunny southern muthaf’in Spain, and my apartment is right on the beach. My god, am I lucky.
But I’m not saying this to gloat, rather just state my thankfulness, because I know this will not last. In a little over a year, I’ll be practically homeless, with no steady paycheck. All my books, cameras, films, clothes, little knicknacks in storage. I will very likely never ever own or live in a house that overlooks the beach.
Nevertheless, now is now, and I have now to smile about. And the ladies and lads of New York have Fleet Week as well.
"…The obesity gap between Whole Foods and Albertson’s may be indicative of another divide — many Americans who have the luxury of shopping at places like Whole Foods may not actually see very many obese people in daily life, or at least may not interact with them in meaningful ways. …It’s all too easy to associate obesity with otherness — another race, another socioeconomic station, even another grocery store…"
I’ve been living in Spain for over two years now, working at a hospital in a military base on the southern coast. How do you sum up two years of culture shock, of travel, of integration and separation, of all that?
My friend Stephen just got out of the Navy, a year ahead of me. Now he’s back with his friends and family, but he says he feels like a tourist in his own country. Having lived in Europe for two years now, with another to go, I can definitely see myself feeling that way as well when the time comes.
So, I’m setting up this blog to focus on these things I will miss, little things that I’d want to remember about my time here. Anecdotes and snapshots of an experience I am so fortunate to embark upon.
My official date to separate from the US Navy is June 8, 2011. Most people separate from their last command (duty station) about a month ahead. It is currently mid-May, 2010. So with one year left in Spain, I’d like to highlight plans, post them up here for myself to see, to remind me of what I’m working towards. I’ve always been very goal-oriented, and like my dear friend Annie, have an obsessive tendency to make lists. Sometimes, mine even come with little check boxes.
The current trajectory of my future plans, by month:
2011 March: go to Valencia for Las Fallas festival April: one last European trip, don’t quite know where to yet. May: pack up all my stuff and leave Spain. Fly to VA for out-processing June: place all my stuff in storage. Then, go with my sister on a North-American Road trip, traveling up and down the US, to Canada, down to Mexico, through little towns and cities we’ve only heard of or seen on TV. Couchsurf, hike, eat, meet people, see America for myself. July: Spend time with family, old friends, hang out and bum around. August: Find a WWOOF (Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms) site in CA to volunteer at for the month (hopefully an ashram or a vineyard - I’ve always wanted to learn about wine). September: Fly to India. Go to a Yoga Teacher Training Course residency, hopefully for 6 weeks. October: Southern Idia for a deeper practice of Ashtanga Yoga from the source, K. Patthabi Jois. November: Another two weeks at a different ashram, meditating, learning about Ayurvedic diet, reading Krishnamurti etc. December: Travel around India. Go back home.
2012 Move to Washingto DC. Finish BA in Humanities with University of Maryland (if I didn’t already before separation). Continuing Education studio art classes at the Corcoran. Prepare package for grad school. Complete pre-reqs for Masters Program in Art Therapy.
So that’s what I’ve got planned ahead right now. It always excites me to think of the future, and work towards it. It’s worked well for me in the past.
Of course, plans can change any time. So. We shall see. But this at least gives me an outline to work towards. Also, a good distraction to snap me forward and back to the present.
“Whether we call ourselves communists or capitalists, Hindus or Buddhists, Moslems or Christians, whether we are blind, lame, or well and happy, this earth is ours. Do you understand? It is our earth, it does not belong exclusively to the powerful rulers, to the nobles of the land, but it is our earth, yours and mine. We are nobodies, yet we also live on tis earth, and we all have to live together. It is the world of the poor as well as of the rich, of the unlettered as well as the learned; it is our world…”—Krishnamurti