….Maybe I shouldn’t have said anything just yet. Considering how many people I’ve received the question “when do you leave” from. I’m not signed up yet. And it isn’t a sure thing. Am I serious about it? Yes. Is everyday pushing me a little closer into the decision? Without doubt. Am I going to give it thorough consideration? It’s out of character for me since I tend to do most things in the name of spontaneity, but yes I am. Will I explain my thought process some and explain why? ….Shall I start with the pros or the cons? How about where I am in life at present?
I’ve got nothin’. I don’t mean that in a bad way necessarily. It just is what it is. Life hands me lemonade and I make… no, wait. What can I say about my life? One thing’s for certain, it has definitely NOT been “uneventful.”
I’ve come to cope with the little twists and turns on the path I walk. But the last few year’s worth of turns have left me with— well, I like to use the term for my current state of affairs as “un-tethered.” I have good friends, yes. But No family. Few possessions. No money. No real love prospects. And no career.
There was once upon a time that I thought, if I worked hard. If I struggled, and scrimped. If I was kind, and generous. All that I had worked for, would actually come to me. A home. Security. A family. And time to make a career of my writing. Maybe do some traveling. Maybe do a lot of things. And sure, a twinge of pain twists somewhere in me that it didn’t happen. The details as to the whys are insignificant, not the point besides. I’d rather focus on the positive side.
So, what is the positive side of having nothing? Freedom. I can go anywhere, and do anything. I won’t be leaving many behind. No children, or pets… I don’t have to worry about selling a house, or abandoning a job that I care about. I can load up my car and pick a random direction, and have few regrets.
But really is the Navy the “right” direction?
Let me recap the last decade or so of my life. There have been days that I starved for lack of food. There are days that I sat huddled under a pile of blankets, for lack of warmth. There are days that I worked until on the brink of passing out, sometimes 3 jobs at once. Stressing over money, transportation, meals…. There were definitely a few of my, not best days ever, thrown into that mix. And I’m tired. I’m SO tired of it. I need things to go right for once. I need stability. I need to rest and not worry how I’m going to make it to that next bill or payment.
True, at the moment I do have a warm bed to sleep in, and friends that are so insanely generous to keep me afloat. But I hate feeling as though I’m taking advantage of their kindness. Despite the fact that they tell me I’m not. What can I say, I like to work for what I have and feel I have earned it. As well as, I want to feel I have made a difference in this world. So what’s the appeal of the Navy? It’s not like many of the military branches. You don’t sign up and get told, “This is your job, whether you like it or not, have fun peeling potatoes.” You pick an area you have interest in, and you apply. And in my case? That would be language.
It’s a five year commitment for this specific job. The first year, is spent getting paid, approximately 3000 a month to go to school. Let me say that again. To go to school, to learn a language, something I’ve always wanted to do, I don’t have to pay to attend lessons, the government is going to pay ME. AND they’re going to give me a place to live, AND food to eat…. AND a 12,000 dollar sign on bonus??? And, I will be living on the warm shores of California??? (ok, Cali is a debatable positive vs negative, but at least it’s frakkin WARM!) Let’s continue to the next 4 years, shall we?
I’ve always wanted to travel. See different places. Take in new experiences. Maybe it was getting moved around so much as a child that did it. I hate moving, but can’t seem to sit still. I need to explore. I need new sites. The next four years will likely be spent on shore duty, (if all goes as planned) somewhere in Asia.
I need to score a 140 on the DLAB. A test to ensure you qualify for the Linguist program. Scoring a 100 gets me in, but scoring a 140 gets me a choice of either Chinese or Korean. I will live in a place I have always wanted to. (well, technically I want to live in Japan, but it’s one step closer anyhow.) I will be doing a job that will be doing GOOD. Translating. Diplomacy. Maintaining PEACE.
And while I’m in service I will be able to see Doctors, and Dentists, and… Okay wait. Because I can already hear some of your arguments in my head. “The health care is sub par.” “It’s all a lie.” “It isn’t free.” Um, yes it is. The part I’M talking about anyway. Now, I know that veterans’ hospital have low reputations. To this I say two things. Ever been to Lakeland? I can share a myriad of horror stories to have come from that place. Or really with ANY hospital. But I still digress to the fact that I have not had an annual physical in 5 years, because I COULDN’T AFFORD IT!” I pay through the nose for minimal medical care coverage, and by time I’m finished with those bills I can’t afford the doctor visit. I’m not expecting the military to support my medical costs for the rest of my life. But for the next five years? It will be peace of mind.
These are the benefits I’m looking at. Having a “career” instead of a “job.” Meeting new people and faces, when opposed to not feeling I really “fit in” here anymore. (Don’t take it personally. There are just some circles I belong to in which the politics and exaggerated stories are getting to be too much. I’m probably not talking about you but more things going on at work and with family.) Having money. Enough to build up a savings account even! Having TIME! I can’t sit here always scrapping for a minute here or there to jot down a paragraph at a time of my novel. Writing doesn’t work that way. I need a relaxed mind. A job with structured hours. Routine. The Navy may not provide an abundance of time to write. But, it will provide me with more time than I currently have. An education. (money for school NOT counting) They are teaching me a second language. The career opportunities I will have once out will be endless in field of language.
So, what’s there to think about? Why haven’t I signed up?
Well, let’s go back to the “writing” thing for starters, shall we? The job I will be doing is security sensitive. I will be trusted with a great many pieces of our national intelligence. Which means, everything I do and say will be closely watched. I have to pass a VERY thorough background check to even apply. (Thank god I’ve never even had so much as a speeding ticket.) …But manuscripts, and short stories, may be a little difficult to get out without question. Not unforgivable however. I will work on my novels. Store them up. And submit to multiple publishers when I get out if I have to. But it will be putting things on hold for 5 years.
This is not the only thing I will be putting “on hold.” I’m 29 going on 30. My former plans in life involved having a family. I have a couple of boxes of baby clothes to prove it. I’m not saying I want a baby right now. HELL NO. …but I don’t see myself starting a family while enlisted either, do you? So, doing the math… I’ll be 35 when out. Let’s say I’m lucky enough to meet someone right away. Okay, we date a couple of years…. 37… Nine month pregnancy… 38? I barely have any energy left at 29! How am I going to raise a child starting at 38?
I’m a bit of a romantic at heart. Everyone is. It’s true, I want love. Isn’t that what all the television and story books have beat into our heads since the day we could comprehend language? But like so many other things in my life, it doesn’t mean it’s in the cards. So, do I take a chance and wait around? Or do I move on and make the best of a bad situation? …guess which one I’m leaning toward. A marriage to the government is better than no marriage at all I suppose, huh?
And save the comments of, “maybe you’ll meet someone in the Navy.” …What, an 18 year old fresh out of high school? Ppffffffttttttt! Sorry, not looking to housetrain a young pup. Besides, all hopes aside. The military is not a dating service.
Onto a couple of questions.
Q: What about your back?
A: Well… what about it? I threw it out this summer. Yes. True. Do you know why? Because I work a job where I lift, push, pull, and haul metric tons worth of product every day. I did not throw it out AT work. But felt like something was wrong while at work the day before. How I threw it out? I bent over to pick up a sock. Yup. That’s all it took. So, by that theory? Am I going to never do laundry again? Ha, I wish. Do I need to get out of a job that will continue to do damage? Absolutely. Do I need to stay mildly active? Without a doubt. Can I handle 9 little weeks of basic training when compared to YEARS of carrying 50 lb crates and sacks of potatoes in order to do that? Sign me up.
I do not have a history of back problems. Sure, this summer sucked. But it is the first time I’ve had back trouble in years upon years. And the ONLY time it actually caused me to miss work or be on bed rest. I’m fine. (Well, relatively speaking.)
Q: What about your issues with authority?
This… is a tough one. I don’t like being told what to do. …when to do it. …how to do it… um… Yeah, I’m pretty bullheaded. Stubborn to a fault. Such to a point that I went from being in advanced reading groups to flat out refusing to read and failing English in school, because they started telling us WHAT books to read. (I didn’t like that.)
I understand that the military is going to tell me to do things, how, when, and never a why. These things are not always going to make sense. In fact, I will be told to do things that seem downright inefficient and moronic, be someone with far fewer years of life experience than I. My argument to this one is… Do you KNOW how the company I work for is run?
Sure, it’s hard. Sure, chances are I may end up in the brig for hitting a superior asshole. (<-that’s a BSG reference for those of you in the dark. Good show, look it up.) But all in all…. I’m up to the challenge. ……especially when I get to learn a second language, doctors, and 3x the pay to compensate for the inconvenience.
Q: What about war? We want you safe.
Statistically speaking? I’m more at risk of being hit by a drunk driver, dying of cancer, or getting raped in some Wisconsin back alley, than of perishing in combat. (With the position I’m specializing in anyway.) Sure, there are risks. There are risks EVERYWHERE. That’s the point. I’m not going to stop living because of them.
AND IN CONCLUSION.
Q: When are you leaving?
I’m not enlisted just yet. So far things are looking to be leaning that way. But as evident by this novel of a blog, I have a great deal to consider. So far, things look good. I should pass the physical without issue. My records are clean. My pretests scored very high. It will provide me with the security I’m looking for.
But that isn’t to say I’m not anxious about the other aspects.
5 years is still a long time. Truthfully, I would rather go back to school, earn a degree, and do things on my own, my own way. But again, that may not be possible. I don’t have money for school. Hell, I barely have money for food. Time, is another factor.
SO. I’m hoping this cleared some stuff up for you all with your questions. Feel free to leave comments. Pro or Con. I’m looking at all angles here. If you can think of something I overlooked, please enlighten me.