October 14th, 2013


Getting Back in the Saddle

Well, Internet, it’s been a long time. Time enough for me to come out of hiding. And boy, it has been an eventful two years. I’ve not written anything substantial in all the time I’ve been under the radar, so I’m a bit apprehensive as to how this is going to turn out. If you notice deficiencies in my writing style – I guess that’s just the effect of long-term verbal atrophy.

As far as updates go, well I’m not really sure where to start. I could talk about my emotional divorce from the Army, my rather pathetic attempts at stumbling into romantic relationships, my triumphs at work, or even the muddling mess that has been my medical history. I suppose the real treat would be writing about LDS singles wards, an incomprehensible labyrinth of social subterfuge, where everyone is desperately trying to get each other married off, in the most (in)conspicuous manner possible. When everyone lives, works, and worships in such tight quarters, news travels fast, and privacy is an illusion.

This is challenging for a man whose preferred state of being is a relatively anonymous one. Of course, my tech and military background combine to make me professionally paranoid, so the fact that I have little control over my own information frustrates me to no end. But first things first: the updates.

The docs have taken MS off the table, due to no growth in the ten-or-so lesions already present in my brain. Hey, no change is a good thing at this point. I still have bizarre symptoms, but they’re manageable, and (for the moment) not getting any worse. In the meantime, I’m off the immunomodulator medications until further notice. The official diagnosis is “demyelinating disease not otherwise specified” or something like that; at least until the Army docs decide to change their mind. But for the time being, I’m still a retired Lieutenant, and that means I get TRICARE instead of dealing with the debacle that is modern American Health Care. Other than that, no comment – I am profoundly apolitical, and I intend to stay that way.

About the Army – after hearing the medical reversal, I’d been contemplating the idea of getting back in. To that end, I travelled back up to the Academy back in May, to meet with some colleagues and figure out some options. After arriving, I discovered a growing knowledge building in my mind – a “knowing” if you will – that as much as it had been a part of my life, I had to let it go. And while watching the cadets bustle around the main Post area, I understood (perhaps for the very first time) that I didn’t want it anymore. I didn’t want to go back there, I wasn’t even really a part of it, and that all those accumulated memories would forever stay that way, as just memories. I have my own life to build now, and the Academy is no longer a part of it.

Most importantly, in a way I can’t fully explain, I knew that God didn’t want me there, either. And as I was driving back home, I felt the words come into my heart:

“Let it go.”

And so I did. Besides, there are new challenges that await me. For example:

I’ve taken up Rock Climbing in the meantime, in a serious way. In response to the mind-numbing boredom that was 2009 – 2011, I figure that cheating death two or three times a week will make up for it. There is something surreal about hanging by your fingertips, forty feet off the ground, knowing that if you let go, you’re going to travel twenty feet through the air before the rope finally arrests your momentum. And when conscious thought has a moment to catch up with the “holy-@#$%-I’m-still-alive” feeling racing through every nerve fiber, all you can think about is how amazing that life is.

Contradictory, I know - yet addicting.

With that comes a new goal of sorts – climb El Capitain, at least once in my lifetime.

Also, I’ve started taking voice lessons. After singing in choirs for a number of years, including the Glee Club for a while, I took the advice of one of my friends here – herself a semi-professional jazz singer – and started getting Classical Opera voice training. It’s been a very physical experience, as I’ve never felt so worn out after an hour of doing scales over and over again. According to my teacher, himself a vocal teacher at one of the local universities (and an accomplished tenor), I have the natural ability to produce good vocal tone. (He was pretty giddy at the end of the first lesson.)

So, as a newly christened bass-baritone, with a range somewhere from low-C to G-above-middle-C, there are a multitude of possible roles coming up in the near future. I’ll be starting some local performances with my teacher’s opera company, mostly community productions for now, but if I get the chance to do some bigger stuff, I’ll take it. Although – realistically – it could be a few years before I get really good. After all, I’m only doing this for fun.

I suppose that it’s about time I started learning Italian and German, or at least how to pronounce such.

In the meantime, my personal life has been chaotic. All those years in social isolation made my arrival in the local LDS singles ward more stressful than I previously imagined. It’s still too much at times, I still get overwhelmed by the number of people (over 200) and the rules of engagement mystify me. I was never one for subtlety, but my peers seem to have mastered the art.

All in all, I’ve had several attempts at dating and one success at landing a girlfriend. The one success didn’t end well, when she told me she loved me after only two weeks, then made a soft marriage proposal. Needless to say, I felt it was just a bit too rushed and told her that I wasn’t going to take things quite so quickly. We are no longer dating.

The twist was that she was a (young) Army psychiatrist. I should have realized that it wasn’t going to go well, especially since I already knew that I wasn’t going back in to the military. But this was the first time that someone ever really came on strong to me, and I responded in kind, before figuring out way too late that it was a bad idea.

I guess my naiveté shows. Oh well, a very hard lesson learned. Still a dork at heart, I suppose.

There’s more to all of this, of course. When I have the time to really sit down and chronicle it all out, I’ll certainly do so. Nevertheless, I’m happy to report that, for the first time in two years, I’m at peace with my life, my past, and about where the future is heading. Things may not have always been easy, but they’re going in the right direction. I code, climb, sing, and couldn’t complain any.