Friday, December 19, 2014


 The hiring process for this apprenticeship has been a pattern of escalating anxiety and long waits culminating in a sigh of relief, followed by another long anxious wait.

 Even starting back when I wasn't sure I wanted the job, the wage grade aptitude test was on my mind. The practice test the website referred me to was called the Accuplacer, and it was not easy for me. It had a lot of algebra on it that I hadn't seen in more than a decade. So, I took some lessons at Khan Academy to prepare, but for the month leading up to the test I was kind of worried. While I was confident that I can score higher than most anyone on a general knowledge or IQ test, what if my score was not as high as the Navy wanted?

 Of course, I scored very high and was placed in the best most qualified category, and was one of the first people called in for interview. I think this little victory gave me a sense of security that was maybe a little unwarranted. It wasn't until I received a job offer for a lower level trade that I realized how lucky I was to get a congratulations letter at all.

 Because of that, the security clearance and the medical exam has caused me way more worry than it should. I know full well that I am a smart, strong, healthy individual with nothing in my past to be ashamed of. The forms are just intimidating, perhaps deliberately so, when they ask for so much detail about your past.

 The medical paperwork asks you to list every doctor you've ever seen with the reason for each visit knowing that failure to secure medical clearance will cost you this great job. I was nervous to put down so much as a headache for fear that it would count against me. The in-person exam was impressively thorough, as well. It involved tests of lung strength and capacity, EKG, urinalysis, blood tests, chest x-rays, vision screening, hearing screening, and a short exam by a navy doctor in uniform.

 I know I'm healthy and capable, but I'm not indestructible. Pericarditis, two sprained ankles, I wear glasses, and often have to ask Amanda to repeat herself. Hell, I was at an Electric Six concert a couple days before, and my ears were still ringing a bit. I was delighted to be told that my hearing is excellent, my eyes are sufficient, and the rest of my body is will do.

 That was seven weeks ago, and I've not heard a word from them. I assumed they were investigating my life going back 10 years, and judging that some members of my family made me a security risk. Both my parents have FBI files and a few arrests. Bob's kids, while I've barely met them, I'm sure are no strangers to the department of corrections. I've always been harmless and responsible! It's not fair to deny me this opportunity because of family members I hardly talk to!

 Even though they told me No News Is Good News, I called them the other day to check on the status of my security clearance. A nice woman named JoEllen explained to me "you already have interim security clearance, you're just waiting for HR to give you your start date. We don't even start the investigation until you start working here."

 What a relief! I have the job, I was worried over nothing. Then again, this means even more waiting in the future. After waiting for my application to be processed, waiting to take my test, waiting for the test results, waiting for my interview, waiting for my job offer, and waiting for my medical clearance, I still have to wait for my start date, wait for security clearance, wait a year before I could change trades... And all that is in addition to all the other waiting I'm doing. Waiting for my last day at Staples, waiting to move back to New Hampshire, waiting to get into our apartment, waiting for our wedding.

 It feels like my entire life is waiting right now, but I'm waiting for the right things. I'm waiting for progress to really build my life. That's what makes it so hard though. These are big changes for the improvement of my life. I've been using the phrase "I can't wait" a lot when talking about the future. Unfortunately, I have to. There's not way to get around it. But if waiting for these wonderful things to happen in my life is the hardest part of achieving them, then things are going pretty great.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Crunch Time

 I made a gamble a couple months ago, and this week is when I find out if it paid off.

 Every piece of paper the shipyard has sent me has said "Do not give notice to your present employer. We will give you time to give notice when you receive an official job offer." However, the Staples hiring process moves at a snail's pace (Compared to the Navy's hiring process, which I would describe as glacial.). It takes longer than a couple weeks to transition accounts over to a new person, and it takes years to learn the computer program we use. A couple months back, my boss said a couple cryptic things about me leaving the company that made me think that she knew something was up. So, to preserve that relationship and reference, I told her that I would be leaving the company in 12 weeks.

 I think that was a good decision, even though that declaration was premature. At the time, there was still a medical exam, security clearance, and suitability assessment. I was very confident that they would not be a problem, but it was not certain that I had the job.

 Well, I passed the medical exam, and I sent in my security clearance paperwork. At my visit to the shipyard for my medical exam, I was given an estimated starting date of January 12th, which would be confirmed mid-December after my security clearance came back and until then, no news is good news.

 So, I've had no news since then. I guess I should consider that good, but I'm super nervous. I've told my landlord I'm leaving, I've quit my job, my fiancee's parents are expecting me to start... I have everything riding on this career, and waiting to get the official word is torture. The future I have envisioned for myself is dependant on news that I expect to receive any day now. Every step of the process has squeezed my patience a little more. From the application and resume vetting process, to the standardized test, to the interview, medical exam, security... and now we're here, 8 months after applying.

 Obviously, in my mind I'm already at the yard. Otherwise, I would not have started severing important ties here in New Jersey. Amanda is much more hesitant. When we started looking at apartments in New Hampshire, she first made me say that I would move back to New Hampshire regardless of whether or not I got the job.

 In my head, it has been a sure thing from the beginning, which I realized several months ago was incredibly arrogant of me. Thousands of people applied for this apprenticeship, and only 125 or so were accepted. I was accepted, but only with a lower level trade. The idea that I could get this close and not sign on as a permanent employee would be very, very depressing for all of us.

 It's not like there is another vetting step involved. I was given a preliminary job offer, and so it's just a matter of paperwork before I start. My fear is that I've somehow screwed up the security clearance forms, that somehow the e-forms did not submit. That would mean I forfeited this wonderful opportunity due to a single scatterbrained moment back in October. These are the things that wake me in the middle of the night.

 I'd like to think that if my security clearance was not received, I would have heard something about it by now. Also, I remember submitting it, and printing out my signature forms, and stuff like that. I'm certain I did it correctly, but when I expected to hear by now and I haven't, the anxiety that maybe something is wrong is back.

 I need to know this week. If they don't call me within a couple days, I will call them. I won't be able to sleep until I hear from them. And of course this is moments away from the holidays, so it's a roll of the dice if anyone will be there.

 No word yet on what will happen first - word from PNSY or all my hair falling out.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Adventures in federal employment

I applied for a civilian job with the US Navy in April of 2014. Shortly after that, I applied to an office job at Staples. I had three interviews with Staples with some delays in the middle. I gave my notice at Rite Aid, moved to New Jersey, started working there just after memorial day. The weekend I moved down, I received notice that my application had advanced to the next step, which was the wage grade aptitude something or other exam. It's a standardized scantron exam proctored by Naval workers at a community college.
In every piece of communication from the navy about the job included a line in bold font, "This is NOT a job offer - do not quit your present job and do not give any type of notice to your present employer. If you are selected for a position, you will be given time to provide a notice to your present employer before starting work at the shipyard." That is on every single e-mail and letter they send you. Clearly, they've had problems in the past with this sort of thing.
I was given my test date, several weeks later. I drove up from New Jersey to New Hampshire to take a test in Maine to see if I was qualified for a job at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard which is not even in the same state as Portsmouth, NH. I was prepared. I looked up a practice exam and studied for that. It was kind of tough, that practice exam. It was called the Accuplacer, and it was focused on math and reading comprehension- two of my strong suits. Although some of the more complex algebra, I hadn't done since high school, and really struggled with.
Fortunately, the actual exam was absolutely NOTHING like the actual exam.
Before each section, we had a 10 minute warm-up which has sample questions, but were not scored. The first section was not about math or reading comprehension. It was fill in as many bubbles as you can in 10 minutes readysetgo!" No questions, just fill in bubbles. It was a list of numbers corresponding to spots on the answer sheet, all jumbled up, with a letter next to it. So the question book was "12. E, 79. A, 7. C, 52. B..." and you had to fill in as many as possible, you were not expected to complete the entire section, blank ones didn't count against you, but incorrect bubbles did.
After the practice section, it was time for the real one. I was already mumbling to myself, "This is so stupid..." I worked quickly, and presumably did pretty well. I noticed the fellow next to me filled in a few, and then spent the rest of the time staring at his answer sheet. After it was pencils down, the dude puts his hands behind his head and chuckles, "blank ones don't count against you." Like he just gamed the system by not answering the "questions."
And this is why they require the test.
So, that was in June, two months after I had applied. The tests would be sent to Florida for grading, then the scored would be sent to naval officials in August. Based on those scores, a round of interviews was to be held. Those who scored 90 or higher on the test were marked as "Best qualified" and interviewed first, then those who scored in the 80s, 70's, and 60's. Below that, you were no longer considered eligible.
In September, I received an e-mail saying that I had been scheduled for an interview, and they would be mailing me information. However, in the five months since I applied for the job, I had moved a couple times, used 5 different mailing addresses... I called them right away, but there was no way that packet was going to make it to me.
I called them on Friday, a nice woman told me my interview was scheduled for Monday morning. After a brief period of panic, I managed to get the day off from work, drove to new hampshire, and was able to make it to my interview in Maine no problem.
In the packet, there was a list of interview questions. Basically, you can just google the top 23 job interview questions, and you'd come up with the list. At the top of the page was the disclaimer "The questions listed are only a SAMPLE of questions that you 'could' be asked during the interview process."
I prepared for the spirit of the questions, rather than the exact wording. I wanted to be candid, comfortable, and confident. I didn't think they would be asking me those exact questions.
But this is the navy, and they do things by the book.
I faced a panel of 5, but only one was interviewing me. He held the same sheet that was e-mailed to me, and he read the questions verbatim.
Everything went well, but as I was shaking the panelists hands, I knocked a cup of water into someone's lap. I really hope they still offer me a job.
I will be notified of a job offer in four weeks with an expected start date of January or February - up to 10 months after I applied.
I've enjoyed the comedy of the snail's pace this process had taken, but I'm ready for it to be over. If I'm going to take the job, I want to take it now before I start getting really lazy at Staples. It's like senioritis, except in this case, I would actually be going back to school.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

From 12-27-09 in a world without internets

So, blog, I think we got off on the wrong foot. I’ve neglected you, I’ll admit, but back when you and I were steadies (not you, per se, but this personal narrative intra-self-indulgent writing) I spent more time cataloguing my world than I did enjoying it. I’m 23 years old, and I have to live my life.

It tends to be the same thing that drives me back into your arms, and I say the same things every time. “Blah blah blah heartbreak. Some girl lied to me, and I don’t like it. I’m done with women. I quit.” However, most of these stories lie in a two-volume set on my closet shelf, which is not accessible online. I’m by no means a brilliant writer, but I can try to doctor up this old story so it’s at least worth the read.

Courtney’s engaged, and I’m super mad about it. They started dating while she and I were still seeing each other, three months or so later, they get engaged, and I’m the last to know. Now, there are a lot of reasons for me to be angry, the least of which being the fact that she said I don’t care about anything but myself, and then implied that I am a rapist. I’m mad at her because after I devoted so much of myself to her, did everything in the world I could for her, she throws all that away, all my love, and find it so easy to meet a guy who is not as good as me, hop into his bed, and get hitched. She says she loves me, but everything she has done has said the opposite. She’s made it impossible for us to talk, or be friends, so I’m done. I don’t need her in my life, clearly she has no use for me, so I’ll lick my wounds, and move on with my life.

It’s really tempting to make a scene. Write mean letters, crash the reception, do something with those private pictures every couple has. I don’t have it in me, though. I don’t like being angry, and this is the angriest I’ve been in years. Basically, since Petra left a breaky-uppy message on my phone while I was slogging through the Green Mountains trying to accomplish the greatest thing in my life up to that point. Also, she was cheating on me. Again. Whatever.

So, she’s sleeping with her fiancĂ©, who she’s known for 4 or 5 months now, which is fine, except she last shared my bed (saying how she wanted me to be her husband, how sometimes she already felt like my wife) days before they started dating. That seems a bit weird to me, especially considering the nature of our physical relationship, and everything around it. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mean to sound like it was all about sex, because of course, it wasn’t. Frankly, I have very limited interest in sex. One of the things she and I had in common was a very grand interpretation of what sex meant to us. I’ve never felt that kind of connection to anyone the same summer as I have with someone else. I need time to recover, time to prepare, time to feel. She needs orgasms, apparently.

Clearly I’m bitter about it. Sorry. I think you can forgive me for now. I still think I’m better in about every way to her new guy. I’m sure I’m smarter, faster, funnier, more attractive, better in bed, more ambitious, more interesting… The one thing I’m not is Christian. He is, so he gets to marry her and spend their honeymoon on a nude island in Jamaica.

At the family Christmas, two people asked me about her. I’d been doing so well not thinking about her, and enjoying myself, and I couldn’t avoid it. Actually, in the room I’m staying in, There’s a picture of the two of us at the finish line of RTL. It’s rough. Oh well.

It couldn’t have come at a worse time, too. I’m struggling to get back into school, to make ends meet, get my life together, and I get hit with this, and it knocks me back off course. So, instead of filling out loan applications, job applications, and looking at grad schools, I was watching High Fidelity again, then He’s Just Not That Into You, then Love Actually, then Music & Lyrics…. I know, it’s bad. Fortunately, I’m getting it together. New Years is the perfect chance to move on and move up. Here is a preliminary list of my resolutions.

1. Stop thinking about this nonsense
2. Finish 3 stories; submit for publication
3. Finish 2 philosophy essays; submit for comferences
4. Put 500 miles on the new unicycle

That last one is going to be great fun. I’m doing the Trek Across Maine, 180 miles in 3 days. We’re also having our 3rd annual DeMilner / Team Unicycle Max adventure somewhere in the country, probably out west. Also, I’ll be even more motivated to ride with my brand new 2009 Nimbus 36” touring unicycle with a superwide ISIS hub, KH moment crank arms drilled at 125mm and 110mm and a cranberry finish on the frame and handlebars. I’m going to put a computer on it to really keep track of the mileage. I’m estimating The Captain has around 3000 miles on him at least. I want to know how far and how fast I can get with this baby.

Speaking of which, I need to name her. She’s definitely female. I thought about playing up on the rank thing, like this one could be Lieutenant something or other. One name that popped into my head was Queen Christina. She ruled Sweden and killed Rene Descartes. However, I’ve grown accustomed to calling Captain Pasquale simply The Captain, I’m not sure how I feel about calling her The Queen. In this case, I would call her by name, Christina, but I’ve known too many Christinas. It’s a lovely melodic name, though. The only other name I’ve come up with apart from the Queen motif is Ruby. I like the name, the frame is cranberry, it seems to fit.

Oh yeah, there was one more resolution I had.

5. Make love to my blog with greater frequency than ever.

Talk to you soon, kids.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Oldie but a goodie

I turn 23 in about two hours, and I want to get one more post in while I'm still young.

My dreams have been out of control lately. I kind of which I had musical talent so I could write rap songs about them. Seriously, every one from the past week, I've woken up with one eyebrow raised skeptically.

First off, I had a dream my good friend Brandon moved in with me. It was great, I love the man! Then, one day, I came home from work and found him in the hallway, having sex with Feldman, a fellow I barely know, but seems like a nice enough fellow.

Then, I dreamt that Cambodian Chad, a friend I haven't seen since we performed "The Award Show," had beed sentenced to death. So, as we were walking into Hannaford together, where his sentence was to be carried out, he handed me a video. "Promise me you'll get this out to the people" he said in ernest. I promised. He was hanged in the freezer section, after which, they showed the video he gave me. It was a dating video.

"Chad is an active, athletic artist looking for someone special. He loves to dance, and spend some time out on the town, but can have a great time curled up on the couch watching movies, too. If you're interested in Chad, please call...."

There was another, that had to do with bugs, and hookers, and Rite Aid being a pirate ship. I don't know. I watch too many movies when I go to bed.

Uni, unicyclin'...

Like I said, it's been raining all June, save for two nice days. On the first, Wednesday two weeks ago, I planned a nice long unicycle ride to sort of stretch my legs, an dget them ready for this summer. I didn't do the Whiteface race this year, though I'm still itching to redeem myself. No, I need to get in shape for a leisurly ride with my dad and brother in August. It looks like we'll be riding Skyline Drive through Blue Ridge National Park. It's 105 miles through some great natural scenery. Also, the speed limit is a modest 35 mph, so hopefully the motorists will give us a break. It is in the area with the densest population of black bear in the country, so... there's that. This is according to Kyle, at least; I couldn't find a source on it. But still, that national park is bear country, and we're going to be camping in it. Also, we'll be sweaty and stinky and probably pretty tasty. I'm just saying, is all...

So, I was going for a ride. I'd planned about 20 miles to do, becaue I didn't know when I'd get another chance. I was going to hop on the rail trail, and relax.

And on my way to the rail trail, I got hit by a car. I'm fine, obviously, but it just ruined my day. I was on the sidewalk, going through an intersection, and a car made a right turn into me. I usderstand that sometimes people aren't paying attention, and... it happens. Okay. No one was hurt, nothing was damaged, but an apology would be nice. Nope, he decided to try and blame it on me, because he had a green light. "You hit a pedestrian on a sidewalk, what are you thinking?"

For the record, motorists are required to yield to pedestrians without exception. Bicycles are prohibited from riding on sidewalks. Unicycles sort of fall into a grey area; in some places it's considered a bike, in others, a skateboard, and sometimes sort of like a wheelchair. The attitude among drivers in Farmington (and most other places in the US) is sort of like a bully. "My vehicle could beat up your vehicle, so make way." That's exactly why I was enroute to the rail trail, where cars are forbidden.

man, I wish there were more places like that. Okay, motorists, you've just made the list!


Family Guy
Carlos Mencia
Rite Aid
The Wealthy
Ann Coulter
My neighbors
Ron Paul
Alarm Clocks

Okay, now that I've worked myself up about it, I need some food. Check back, because eventually this blog will have readers, and you don't want to be left behind when I hit it big! Cheers.

Fresh Air!

I'm tryingto catch up on my blog, so, bear with me...

I’ve recently moved, and am now in a one-room efficiency on the 3rd-and-a-half floor (or is that three-and-a-halfth?) of 166 High St. Despite the drawbacks that have developed over the past couple weeks, I’m enjoying it. I’m cooking more, I’m showering more frequently, my teeth are whiter, I’m showing up early for work, I’m stronger, I’m reading more, and with this blog entry, I am accomplishing one of my many summer writing projects.
 What could have happened? Why am I suddenly investing so much in my body and mind? Well, because Farmington is a lonely, isolated place in the summertime, as I suspect it will be over the next year. Almost all my friends graduated, Courtney left me, and now I live alone. I’ve already tested the limits of my welcome with Matt and Kayne, and somehow caused a horrible rift between Renee and her roommate, so I feel compelled to hermit myself lest I do more damage.
 Okay, that’s a little dramatic. But my life had dramatically changed in a short time. The Courtney thing has been playing tricks with my mind. Courtney hasn’t been playing tricks, mind you. Just… I’ve never been in this sort of situation before, and I don’t know how to handle it. We respected each other, we did what we could to make each other happy, we talked to each other, we didn’t cheat on each other, we didn’t play mind games, we had a truly rare relationship. And yet we broke up. It stings a bit. I’m not the bitter gargoyle I thought I would be, or was when my relationship with Petra ended. How am I supposed to react to a break up when neither of the two parties really have any interest in being broken up?
 It’s been a struggle to find people with whom to talk about it (see the remarks above about pushing the limits of a couple friends of mine), so basically, I’m stumped. I don’t know what to do. I want to struggle against it, but for what purpose? Reconciliation is not an option. If staying together were an option, we wouldn’t have broken up.
 So, I guess it is what it is, and we have to live with it. The only trouble is there are very few things that I accept that I need to live with. Everything else, I’ll strive to remedy. I don’t like having to live with things.
 Typically, I use writing as a means of organizing my thoughts to draw them to their honest and necessary climax. It seems that, for now at least, I’m unable to flesh out my thoughts on Courtney. Perhaps another time.
 So hey! How about hockey!
 Red Wings lost in game seven by one goal. Kronwal’s 3rd period shot off the crossbar was heartbreaking, but we lost. That’s okay. There’s a reason it’s so rare that a team wins back to back championships- It’s really, really hard. Just to make it to the finals two years in a row is practically unheard of. That really speaks to the strength of the Penguins and the Redwings these years. The Wings were pretty badly injured, and in the midst of uncharacteristic scoring droughts from most of their big guns. It’s probably better for the NHL that the Pens won anyway.
 Here’s why I’m optimistic. The Wings are stacked for next year. Not only do we have Lidstrom, Datsyuk, Zetterberg, and Franzen signed for life, but some youngsters that proved to be valuable weapons on both offense and defense. So I say to all you Penguins fans out there: Same time next year?

 I’ve been reading The Seducer’s Diary, by Kierkegaard lately, and it is wonderful. It’s a slightly fictionalized story of his love affair with a woman named Regine Olsen. Love has never been so finely crafted with paper and ink, and heartbreak explosive and fierce. Kierkegaard never recovered from their break up, and it isn’t possible to fully understand his philosophy without understanding her role in his life. This needs to be made into a movie.

So, all this is old news. I haven't been able to post, because I only get reliable internets on my balcony (fire escape), and I can only bring the laptop out there when it's not raining, which is has been for the past 26 days.

So, more to come, check back often.