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Monthly Archives: March 2010

The Dictionary Distraction

     After posting the last part of Plan A I could not face Plan B.  I don’t want to depress myself and I sure don’t want to depress you,  this is supposed to be an upbeat blog…  c’est la vie, I’ll tell you more about my failures later.

    So, last night while JJ fixed the brakes on the Wilderness (1978 bunk house trailer) I went to pick up pizza at Domino’s.  I was engrossed in the descriptions on the side of the box, one of which stated that their sauce was “a tasty trifecta of herbs, red pepper and tomato sauce”.

     JJ was not finished when I got back, and so, to distract me from my rumbly tummy, I picked up my new Mirriam-Webster to look up ‘trifecta’.   It wasn’t there.

     ‘Tri-‘ I understand is three, but what the heck is ‘fecta’? I scanned the ‘F’ section and of course, no ‘fecta’.  I did come across an interesting word I don’t believe I have ever heard before.

Fecund: adj. Fruitful, Prolific

The surrounding words set my imagination spinning in a rather wicked direction.

Fecundate:  vb .  

  1. to make fecund (no spinning from this one) 
  2. Impregnate

Feces: n.   Bodily waste discharged from the intestine

Feckless: adj. 

  1. Weak, ineffective
  2. Worthless, Irresponsible

Federal: adj.   Formed by a compact between political units that surrender individual authority but retain certain limited powers.

Now, I am not making a political statement or implying criticism in any way (dang, another black mark in my FBI I file) I simply find the combined imagery amusing.   There! ….. You see it too, don’t you?  Isn’t that naughty?

     I love Dictionaries, they are right up there with Psychology Encyclopedias – now that is some entertaining stuff.

p.s.  I will have the third episode of Generations up soon, I am having a sequencing debate with myself.

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Posted by on March 31, 2010 in Confessions

 

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The End of Plan A

Part Four

                Wearing a uniform of the armed forces was very different in 2002 than it had been in 2001.  Each morning when I put it on I was overwhelmed with fear that I would fall short, that I would prove unworthy of the uniform.  In a strange twist of fate, my new orders were for the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology (dead people, dead people parts) in Washington, DC.

 Humbled… no, torn down… I wondered how I could have ever believed I had anything to offer.  Regardless of what I had learned, it became obvious that  I was still just a dumb kid holding to theories that still had not been tested, theories about myself and what I stood for.

                In my own special circle of hell, I grasped for any aspect of ‘Me’ that I could trust with certainty.  My tether came from my acting training.  In a strange way it makes perfect sense.  When I am given a script, I know very little about the character I am playing.  By deconstructing dialogue and action, studying responses to obstacles, the character becomes a person.  With this as my guide, I began to analyze my words, my actions and my reactions.

                AFIP proved to be a fitting location for my ‘play’.  Dramatic setting – the institute is housed in a retired presidential bomb shelter.  The functions performed by the staff (Anthrax testing, DNA Identification, Biohazard research, etc.) never allowed for a dull moment.  Factor in the radio broadcasts of the bombing in Afghanistan, a maniac shooting random folk on the street, media buzz words creating fear, hate crimes, racial profiling, a Gestapo –like agency and their ‘Patriot Act’… did I mention a war with Iraq and grumblings in Iran and North Korea? … Can you say DRAMATIC TENSION???             

                In the middle of all this, my character deployed to Dover Port Mortuary in Delaware with the Armed Forces Medical Examiner’s Office.          

                I am not sure how much of this I should tell you… I don’t know …  Anyway,  I deployed to Dover in March, 2003 and signed my discharge papers in November ’03.  I wanted nothing to do with politics

 
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Posted by on March 30, 2010 in Coffee Shop Whore?

 

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More of Plan A

Part Three of Four
     In November of 2000, at the age of 21, I was selected to participate in a trial of first term, E-4 recruiters. Previously, the minimum rank requirement was E-5 and candidates had served in at least two different commands. I became the youngest recruiter in Naval Recruiting District (NRD) New York. I had always wanted to see the Big Apple, but I always assumed it would be acting that got me there. So much for assumptions.
     I wish I could say that my enjoyment of life continued in this transfer, but that would be a lie. Classified as Independent Duty, recruiting was more like Isolation Duty. I adored my recruiter, he was honest with me, told me the good and the bad. He did not try to push me into anything I did not want and he did not rush me into signing anything. He was a decent human being, and it was his example that I followed. Who could have guessed that it would get me in trouble? In recruiting, quota is king. People must be viewed as numbers – some people have higher number values (minority males); some have lower number values (females, regardless of race); some are bread and butter (white males) .  Understanding the number’s and how to use them in your favor, that is the key to succeed in recruiting.
     Now, I can’t say if it was due to idealism or whether I was just too fresh from the fleet, I did not feel comfortable putting a psychopath in my navy, and when ordered to do so, I refused. Disobeying a direct order from a superior officer is still one of the cardinal sins for military folk. But as a Chaplain I once knew said, “Sir, you may hold a higher rank than I do, but unless you are Christ or the God Almighty Himself, you are not superior.” I had enough wisdom not to repeat this when I was standing in front of my commanding officer. I was quietly hidden away at NRD Headquarters in Long Island while I awaited new orders.
     One Tuesday morning, I watched a plane fly into a building.  That’s enough about that.

 
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Posted by on March 30, 2010 in Coffee Shop Whore?

 

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Plan A cont.

                Plan A died in August of 2003, but it did not die in vain.  Like most people under twenty, my knowledge base was limited acquired primarily through books, movies or second hand account.  I knew that I was naïve, but I also knew that the Navy would broaden my perspective…  I just could not have predicted how.

Part Two of Four

My first cruise showed me how magnificently beautiful the world could be, yet it also revealed the ugliness of that world – the destruction and devastation of the world.  In early 1999 the Frank Cable was fortunate enough to assist the UN in a humanitarian mission in East Timor.  Revolution had ended an Indonesian occupation, but it had also left behind a lot of rubble.  Essentially a floating repair shop, the Cable and its personnel were able to purify drinking water, provide medical and dental exams, repair damaged utilities and manufacture furnishings for offices and schools and more in just a few short weeks.   In return, East Timor gave me a true sense of how precious Freedom is; also how steep a price is paid for that freedom.

The isolation of the ocean taught me self-reliance; after all, calling 911 in an emergency won’t help when the closest land is hundreds of miles away.  As a result I experienced the awesome weight of being responsible for the life of another.  At the same time, I felt comforted because I knew my life was in good hands, I was not alone.

I discovered that it is, in fact, possible to know thirteen hundred people – not just their names, but their personalities and idiosyncrasies.  It is even possible to view them all as family … and that the loss of one member could bring that family to its knees.  I discovered one individual can also comfort the many and help them heal.

I learned that a great leader does not demand to be followed.  They drop back and carry those who can no longer carry themselves, and that ability, confidence and flexibility are qualities not defined by rank.

 
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Posted by on March 30, 2010 in Coffee Shop Whore?

 

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Plan A

     In my experience, the first plan a person makes for their life is detailed, scheduled and well thought out – subsequent plan’s provide for a margin of error and flexibility.  I have also noticed the tendency for plan A’s to haunt those who have thrown in the towel (the shoulda, coulda, woulda cycle).       

     Both of these generalizations are accurate for me. Whether out of pain or denial or both, prior to this blog I have not written these events out in a linear fashion.  I have chosen not to censor my emotional reactions too much, ‘toning down’  made me stop writing biographies in the first place – too condensed and one dimensional to be of interest.    

    Plan A spans from 1997 – 2004,but in my memory these years break into four distinct ‘chapters’, so that is how I shall present them to you.       

Part One of Four       

     As a teenager I had two loves:  Acting and America.  I moved from Scotland to the USA when I was 11 and immediately fell in love with the uniqueness of my new home.  I did not discover my true love of acting until 15, thus my first love took precedence.  Throughout high school I discovered that I viewed the world a little differently than those around me.  I thought that I could put this perspective  to use in a life of public service.  Plan A was a career in politics – not as the front man – no, I wished to remain anonymously free of political games, yet still hold a position to improve the lives of Americans.  I was an extremely naïve idealist with a flair for creative problem solving.       

     As with any visible career field, the political world can be cruel to outsiders.  With no convenient nepotism in sight,  I designed a plan to maneuver around forseeable obstacles.  Sadly, the first hurdle I had to face was my gender.  (brief digression to express irritation)  

{[It is pointless to deny that men still have more opportunity than women.  Not because man is woman’s enemy – but because we focus on the differences rather than the commonalities.  Our society still cannot accept that equality is a simple concept.   Procedures designed to simplify result only in further complication.  Everyone is unique, special and insignificant.  Deal with it.]}  

    Attempts to force equal treatment through the legal system have opened doors to women, but they have also opened the door to criticism that women and minorities receive preference regardless of ability.  This criticism is not far from the truth, such preferential treatment is insulting.  I did not want my gender to overshadow my ability – or inability.  I wanted (and still want) to earn and deserve my life, good or bad.     

    I decided the most effective way to overcome this hurdle would be to pursue politics in the tradition ‘man’ way:  military service.  Five months after my eighteenth birthday I entered basic training for the U.S. Navy.  Big ships, big oceans, what’s not to love?  

     I finished my training (in a field I would grow to hate) I was given orders to the American Embassy in Portugal.  At first glance, these orders seem to fit perfectly with my long-term plans – and if it was power and prestige I sought, they would be perfect – I wanted more.  I wanted to go overseas, but I wanted to do it over seas.  I didn’t join the Navy to be on land.  I wanted to be a true sailor.  Plus, sea duty would pre-empt the “she wasn’t really in the Navy” criticism.       

     I requested a change of orders and got exactly what I wanted.  With only a slight delay – five months waiting  for a female billet to open up – I finally made my home on the USS Frank Cable.       

        

The Fighting Frank

 
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Posted by on March 29, 2010 in Coffee Shop Whore?

 

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Backtrack to the Beginning

     I told you the story behind the title; I failed to tell you the story behind the blog.  I haven’t told you why I chose this medium to publish Generations.  The answer may surprise you.

     I am notorious for supplying biographical information that has very little biography.  There are a few reasons for this: 1) How is it possible to sum up who you are and why you do what you do in 140 characters or less?  2) My life reads like an On Demand menu for B movies and 3) As it is my life, I prefer to think of what my experiences have taught me rather than relive those experiences.  However, I believe that a little more information about me might be beneficial in understanding my blog.

     The bio attached to my Gravatar reads as follows:

I am an overeducated underachiever. There was a time I had a Plan A, and then a Plan B, then Plan C and yes, even Plan D. Welcome to Plan E.

For clarity sake, I will use this as an outline for a more extensive biography.  I will try to keep this “me, me, me” narrative as brief as  possible… part of me wants to leave it as it is… but another part of me believes that if I don’t acknowledge the problems of past Plans, I doom the current  Plan to failure.  If I allow the thought of a Plan F to enter into my mind, I think I’ll go ahead and have myself committed.  So… next post: Plan A

 
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Posted by on March 28, 2010 in Confessions

 

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Paused to Finish Packing

     I apologize that posts have been sporadic and without theme.  Tomorrow we hit the road and there is much to do before then.  The adventure is about to begin and I do so hope that you will join me on it.  My next post probably will not be added until Sunday and it will be written in a brand  new coffee shop.

     Thank you to those who have visited, I hope to hear from you… if I am in your neighborhood, come and have a cup of joe with me.

Fionna

 
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Posted by on March 26, 2010 in Confessions