Monday, August 31, 2009

All Smiles

Me & Jess
Originally uploaded by currtdawg
Last week, Jess had to head back to the States. Monday night, we threw her a thrashing going-away party at Cheyenne's place. There were tons of people I'd never met before and some of the best hors d'oeuvres I've ever tasted.
Luckily, Jess won't be too far away. After a few days in the States, she'll be returning to Europe, this time to attend grad school in Madrid. Cheyenne and I are already hashing out plans to visit her. Whenever we get there, it won't be soon enough.

Friday, August 28, 2009

A Little Further South

Today is a "family day," which for me, just means a day off work. I don't know who decides which random days we get off or what they're called, but I sure appreciate them.
So, Dan, Nate, Ryan, and I are heading down to Rimini, a beach town on the Adriatic coast. We're staying in a hostel right on the beach, and have no plans except to relax for a couple days. San Marino is nearby, so we'll probably hit that up, as well. We won't be back until Sunday night, but I'll do my best to post stories and pictures as soon as possible. Hope everyone has a great weekend.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

A Drinking Club With A Running Problem

Last week, Johnny came across an advertisement for a runners group called the Hash House Harriers. He asked me if I knew anything about it, which I didn't, so we both did a little research and decided to try it out.
We showed up on this random trail Saturday afternoon and met a couple who welcomed us and gave us a brief overview of hashing while the others arrived. Luckily, we weren't the only new people. The events that followed seemed kind of absurd, but ended up being so much fun.
Basically, we followed a trail into the woods, up and down the mountain, and eventually, to the apartment of one of the hashers. We ran for about an hour, and due to the terrain and altitude changes, we were about exhausted. Fortunately, when we arrived at our destination, there was plenty of beer and food for us. We ended up drinking quite a bit and socialising for hours.
Apparently, there are hashing groups all over the world. Neither Johnny nor I had ever heard of them before, but it's something we're definitely interested in doing again. The group here has been dormant for a while, and they're trying to gather new interest. They have at least two new guys who are willing to give it a go.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Bogeys and Birdies (but mostly bogeys)

Diaz & Johnny
Originally uploaded by currtdawg
As it turns out, helping deliver babies isn't the only activity in which I engaged for the first time on Friday. The other is golfing.
For some reason, the Air Force loves golfers. I could ask for an afternoon off to play softball or go hiking, and I'd probably get denied. However, if there's a golf tournament going on, the whole base shows up. I've never golfed where it doesn't involve little windmills or loops, so usually, during these tournaments, I'm the guy left in the shop to take care of jobs.
Anyway, the fire fighters sponsored a golf tournament Friday afternoon. Johnny, Rick, and Diaz needed a fourth person for their team, and I figured it's about time I decided to learn this crazy game. Johnny and Diaz haven't been playing long at all, but Rick is borderline pro. Luckily, the rules were best ball, so he pretty much carried our team.

Originally uploaded by currtdawg
I've never been good at learning new things, but it wasn't as bad as I'd feared. They gave me plenty of pointers, and once I got the hang of it, I was making contact with the ball every time.
Also, I didn't realise 18 holes would take so long. We even had carts, and we were on the course for nearly four hours. It was insane hot, and we were all drinking plenty of water, but still, after we finished, all I wanted to do was go home and sleep (which I did a little too well, causing me to miss two very important phone calls).
Unfortunately, we didn't place in the top three, but I won a jersey in the raffle, so I didn't go home completely empty-handed. As for future endeavours on the links, I'll probably limit myself to tournaments, as the social aspect of the day far outweighed the sport. I wasn't exactly Jack Nicklaus out there, except for a few expletives I may have hurled. Maybe a few evenings at the driving range will help me out.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

New Kid on the Block

Friday evening, I got home, exhausted, and fell asleep on my couch. I woke up around 9, and noticed missed calls from Deana and Dan. I was wondering why Dan would call me from work when I got a text from Deana that read "Joann is in labor!!!"
I headed straight to the hospital, but by the time I got there, everything had calmed down considerably. Joann had already had the epidural, and was resting comfortably, chatting with Deana. Her water broke around 6 PM, and Deana took her to the hospital. There was plenty of chaos and cursing, and I wish I could have been there to help.
Joann asked if I could take care of a few things at her house, and by the time I got back to the hospital, around 11:30, Joann was at 9 cm. Dan said it was the fastest progressing first pregnancy he's ever seen.
We've all seen people have babies in the movies, and I never really expected the real thing to be like that. And it wasn't. Once the doctor came in the room, Joann started pushing, with Deana holding one leg and me holding the other. It wasn't loud or chaotic, but it was very intense. When the baby's head started coming out, I got on the phone with Jake and was giving him the play-by-play.
Before things really got crazy, Dan asked if I was sure I wanted to be a part of it. He said a lot of guys really can't handle witnessing a live birth. It made me a little nervous, but I was confident. I'm glad I stayed. Watching that tiny little baby take his first breath. Seeing the expression on Joann's face when they set him on her chest. Hearing the joy in Jake's voice as I told him he had a healthy baby boy. Those are things I'll never forget.

Brayden - 8 Hours
Originally uploaded by currtdawg
And so, it's my pleasure to introduce Brayden. He's unbelievably adorable. He and Joann are both doing wonderfully. Joann has tons of friends ready to help her out with whatever she needs; plus, her Mom is flying in tomorrow afternoon for a couple weeks.
Joann now refers to me as "Uncle Sutton," which, I have to admit, makes my heart skip a beat. I love that kid, and I'm looking forward to the remaining months he and Joann have here in Italy.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Proud To Announce...

Brayden Kyler Messina
Born 22 August at 1:58 AM
7 lbs., 2.8 oz.
19 1/2 inches

The full story will come later. It's something I'll never forget.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Laying Low

We started an exercise on base today, which, normally, would be a huge pain in the butt. But this is Aviano, so things are just a little strange, compared to normal bases. Fortunately for my shop, it works to our advantage. We still have to haul our gear around with us, but there are areas of the base off-limits to the exercise, so those are the areas in which we've been hovering. I made the brilliant suggestion last week that we schedule all our jobs in no-play areas for this week--something the bosses totally agreed with. Also, our shop is in a non-play area, and I have quite a bit of office work to finish, which also works to my advantage.
The whole exercise is only three days long, so even if we were more involved, it wouldn't be that bad. Regardless, it's still gonna make for a long week. I'm just glad I don't work directly on the flighline, as those guys have it pretty rough.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Decisions, Decisions

There's a lot going on this weekend--keggers, birthday parties, hikes, going-away parties, mini-road trips, etc. I've been invited to everything, but haven't made any real commitments yet, and I'm not sure what to do. Do I hang out with the people I've known the longest? Do I gather with co-workers? Do I venture toward the option that has the most alcohol present? Or do I just lay on my couch, which, after a long day at work, sounds about like the best idea I've had in a while?

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

A Fire Inside

So, I WAS having a great birthday weekend, all up until yesterday morning when I woke up and went to the bathroom. And just so you can't say I didn't warn you, this post is about to get kinda nasty, so continue reading at your own risk. Anyway, so there I was in the bathroom, and I started peeing, and it came out all red. Before I had a chance to freak out, I about fell over from the pain. And then I thought, "Dang! It's been at least a month since I met that Romanian whore!" (Just kidding, Mom.)
I crawled to my phone and called the hospital. Surprisingly, they were able to fit me in yesterday afternoon. They took a urine sample, and then made me suffer for two hours before telling me it's just a urinary tract infection. They're uncommon in guys, but not unheard of. I got some antibiotics, and I already feel much better.
So, that's that. No need to bring this up in the future, especially in the presence of any potential significant others. Thanks.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Personal Bubble

Turns out, the rest of my long birthday weekend was as nice as the first night. I ran a few errands on Friday, but mostly relaxed all day. That evening, I drove down to Vicenza to hang out with my friend Dominic. I'd never been to Vicenza before, but it was a really neat town, much bigger than anything around here. We hit some random bars, and I got to meet a few of his friends. I crashed at his place, and on Saturday morning, we went shopping, strolled through the streets, and checkout out the Teatro Olimpico, the oldest surviving enclosed theatre in the world (dating back to 1580). It was kind of a spontaneous trip, and unfortunately, I didn't have my camera with me. Luckily, Cheyenne used to live in Vicenza, so I've informed her of her duty to take us on a more thorough tour in the near future.

Jenni & Me
Originally uploaded by currtdawg
The rest of my weekend was full of friends, food, and "Drag Me To Hell" (the scariest / funnest movie I've seen in a long time). And since Jenni and I have the same birthday, she and Johnny hosted a big cook-out all day Sunday.
Today was my last day off, and even though part of me wishes I had the whole week off, the rest of me is well-rested and ready to go back to work tomorrow. Everyone should get a four-day weekend for their birthday.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Looking for the Crest of the New Wave

Originally uploaded by currtdawg
Over the past few years, I've tried to look back on the events in my life with a more analytical point of view. The good things that happen--what did I do to cause them? The bad things--what can I do to avoid them in the future? What's beyond my control? Which risks should I take and which should I avoid? It's all a big learning experience, and even though I feel like I'm getting smarter about my choices, I'm also getting more laid back with them. Less stress over my mistakes and greater joy for my victories.
The past year has been one of unimaginable joy. I'm feeling more at home in Italy, enjoying work, and branching out socially. I'm taking advantage of things that come my way, and becoming less hesitant about what lies beyond my scope of vision. And even in the areas in which I need some work, I've been able to catch myself before things go too far. Well, most of them, anyway.
Still, in many ways, I'm a huge mystery to myself. How can I keep myself from wanting what I can't have? Why do I keep myself so guarded and emotionally unavailable? In what areas do I need more discipline? I may never be able to fully answer these questions, but I'm going to have fun trying.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Kicking Off a Long Weekend

I somehow finagled and schemed my way into a four day weekend, and I don't feel the least bit guilty about it. I lived in a tent for ten days, plus, my birthday is this weekend. I think I deserve a little extra time off, and I'm determined to enjoy it.

Originally uploaded by currtdawg
The first part of this enjoyment was last night. Chelsea leaves to go back to Colorado today, so we all went to dinner at this great place up in some canyon in the mountains. It's a good thing I didn't drive because I drank way too much verduzzo, but I couldn't help myself because it went so nicely with the risotto Jess and I shared. After dinner, we came back to my house for a cappuccino/white chocolate swirl cheesecake--definitely one of my better creations.

Philbert McGillicuddy
Originally uploaded by currtdawg
For my birthday, the girls got me a super cool t-shirt from a vintage shop in Sacile. Plus, this adorable little cactus, which we named Philbert McGillicuddy.

I tried to start an impromptu dance party by putting the new Madonna song on repeat, but for some reason, it didn't take. I blame it on the fact everyone else had to get up early this morning to go to work or catch a plane or some shit. They obviously don't know how to work the system like I do. We still had a great time, and I look forward to seeing what else this weekend has in store.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

The Opposite of Flying Colours

Our entire shop got a four-month extension for completing our CDCs, meaning we must all pass our final test by 25 October. It's almost funny how nobody's really taking it seriously, despite the potential for career-damaging repercussions.
When I got back from Germany, I decided to hunker down and start studying. This afternoon, I took the test over the first volume, and was totally blown away. I'm going to continue studying this weekend, and try again on Tuesday.
There are a total of five volumes, and we have to test over each one individually before moving on to the next. Then, at the end, there's a comprehensive test covering the entire course. Time is running out quickly, and I'm a little nervous.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Pulling an All-Nighter

Cheyenne, Chelsea, & Jess
Originally uploaded by currtdawg
The night before I left for Germany, Cheyenne, Chelsea, and Jess took Nate and I out dancing. At first, I was a little hesitant; but then I figured I'd be spending the next day on a bus and would have plenty of time to catch up on sleep.
The last time we went, it was just Cheyenne, Nate, and I. The addition of Chelsea and Jess compounded the fun and laughs.

Jess, Me, & Nate
Originally uploaded by currtdawg
They started out playing pretty good music, but for some reason, it got crappier as the night got later. It wasn't much of a problem, though, because we couldn't stay too late anyway. I had to get back in time to catch the early bus up to Ramstein.
On the way home, we sang cheesy pop songs at the top of our lungs with the windows down. Despite how we look in this picture, none of us were the slightest bit drunk. Promise.
Nights like this one make me thankful I didn't play it safe and get a good night's sleep.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Heavy Arms

ABUs & Stripe
Originally uploaded by currtdawg
Technically, I sewed my stripe on Saturday, during which we were in the field training exercise up in Germany. Today was my first day back at work here in Aviano, and not only did I have my stripe on, but it was also my first day wearing the Airman Battle Uniform (ABU).
As for the ABUs, there are a lot of good qualities and a lot of bad. They're virtually impossible to wrinkle, but the material is also heavier and warmer. There are about a billion places to put pens, and it's nice to have a uniform unique to the Air Force. It's pretty comfortable, but this is only my first day, so we'll see how it works out.
As for the stripe, I'm trying not to think about it too much. I don't want to be the guy who looks to see what someone has on their sleeve before talking to them. Lots of co-workers are making a big deal about it, but I just blush and try to change the subject.
With Tech, it's implied that I'll sit behind a desk and tell people what to do, but that's not really my style. I was doing jobs today, and when I went to check on some tanks in the Ammo area, they looked at me like I was crazy. I'm not good at asking others to do what I know I could do myself, but I guess it's something I'm going to have to learn.
Sometimes I feel like I don't really deserve the stripe. But then I think of all the idiots and assholes that still outrank me, and it makes me want to work even harder for the next one.

Monday, August 03, 2009

Force Beddown

Originally uploaded by currtdawg
I just returned for ten days at a training site near Ramstein, Germany. I can't say it was a thrill ride exactly, but it could have been worse. We took a bus from Aviano, which left early the morning of the 25th; and after 14 hours, we arrived at our destination. The actual training didn't start until Sunday, so we got the chance to go downtown Saturday night and have a few drinks with the locals.

Rick & Johnny
Originally uploaded by currtdawg
We lived in tents and slept on cots all week, which wasn't too bad, mostly because I shared a tent with Rick, Johnny, and MSgt Hammes. The rest of our tent was filled with fire fighters, who were also pretty cool. We spent each day in class, learning how to set up our contingency assets, followed by hands-on training.

Originally uploaded by currtdawg
Our class only had seven students: four from Aviano and three from Ramstein. Everyone was cool and laid-back, so we had plenty of fun mixed in with our training, which included decorating Johnny's hat with daisies and dandelions...

Originally uploaded by currtdawg
...and daring Amalia to lick the water storage bladder, for which she received ten bucks.

Lopez & Street
Originally uploaded by currtdawg
Everything culminated in a short, two-day exercise, wherein we put to work everything we learned over the course of the week. To be honest, I didn't really learn much about how to do our basic job, as I've been doing it for a while, now. But I was in charge of our entire crew, so it ended up being great experience in management skills.
We became pretty good friends with our Ramstein counterparts, and since it's a relatively small career field, I'm sure we'll cross paths again. I'm just thankful they made Silver Flag into a three-year requirement, meaning we won't have to endure long days in battle gear without showers for a long, long time.