Wednesday, January 6, 2010

For Auld Lange Syne!

Inspired heavily by JP's touching new year's note, I've decided to follow suit in a way. I’ll be giving shout outs to the people who have helped make 2009 one of the most memorable years of my life and tacking on a sort of resolutions—something I’ve never really taken seriously, but we’ll see how it turns out. As noted by JP, this’ll probably be a bit rambly and you may just want to CTRL F to your spot to ignore other parts. For people tagged in this, I apologize if I lump you in with a group of people instead of giving you an individual paragraph, I mean no offense by it; it’s just bad luck that my train of thought missed your station.

At the very least, 2009 has been an eventful year. I’ve gone farther away from home for longer than ever before. I’ve added South Korea and Russia to countries I’ve visited and I’m extremely pleased to add Kazakhstan to “places I have lived.” I’ve finally started to get myself into a decent physical fitness shape, break out a bit of my shell and attend a few parties this semester (for better or worse), completed two more of my reenacting impressions, start a club, become a Cadet Liaison Officer (somehow?), essentially get and break up with my first girlfriend, and get contracted with the United States Army.

To all the people that I have met on these trips and made the trips memorable, but especially to you who have helped me out in my time abroad, I am forever in your debt and grateful to have met people like you. So thanks Masha, Ivan, Juliana, Kate, Irina, Yun jin, Cho Hee, Swan, Yuri, Moonki, Yeonju, Elly and all her friends, Soojin, Vicky, Layla, Damy, Alyona, Simbat, Aliya, Nazym, Zhanara, Valentina, Zarina, Dias, Dauren, Nursaltan, all the Medinas, all the Asels, Dilbar, Max, Rabiga, Nastya, and all my students from Kazakhstan. The year wouldn’t have been the same without you guys. It’s a pity most of my friends in Kazakhstan won’t read this and the email addresses don’t work. Such is life I guess.

Keeping on the subject of trips, two more big shout outs: Jake and Elly.

Jake, thanks for coming with me on our little expedition to Asia. The trip wouldn’t have been the same without you. It was really good to have some company to blare Gogol Bordello or some melancholy music on a Friday or Saturday night and then get the evil eyes from the old ladies who sat outside our flat, or aid in our attempts to keep ourselves fed this summer. The fried cookies recipe has kind of caught on with at least one of my friends. Sorry mate if I was short with you at all this summer. It was no picnic teaching out there sometimes, but you know that as well as I.

Elly—this is going to have to break a bit away from the travel log I’ve got going here. Firstly, I want to apologize for my rudeness in the immediate aftermath (and a bit longer) of our break up. What happened between us is bygone and was no excuse for my behavior afterwards. I’m really glad we’ve been able to remain friends though. Being with you has definitely helped me mature in a lot of ways, especially in how I deal with girls and emotional things. I appreciate you being there for me when I had a rough time of it last winter. The biggest thing I want to do is thank you for opening up your home and family to me and Jake. Without the hospitality and your friends, we wouldn’t have been able to stick around in Korea any longer and I may have never had a chance to see the U.N. Cemetery in Busan. Please pass on your thanks to your family, your friends who put up with us, and especially your sister for translating (almost) everything for us. Apologize to them for me about any problems I might have caused and if I made myself look like a stupid drunk.

All right, now that we’ve gotten those two big ones out of the way, I really want to thank everyone in ROTC who worked with me and encouraged me to keep working out and trying. I can’t believe that I’ve come this far, PT wise; for those of you who remember me from high school, you know how tough a road I’ve had getting here. I really want to give a shout out to Dillow for those excellent ranger challenge PTs. Baier, I also want to thank you for pacing me for that PT test after ranger challenge. You didn’t have to do it man, but you helped make sure I kept a passing speed. It really helped me out mates. Without all you guys’s support, I don’t know if I would have been able to push on and contract with the army. Be patient with me guys, I still have a long way to go, to get ready for LDAC, I’ll do my best to work on all those things from that evaluation.

Speaking of ROTC, Brinkman, I want to thank you for making sure I got home safely after that beginning of the year ROTC party. Thank you very much for talking with me about some of the concerns I had about continuing with ROTC and joining the army. You’re a good guy; I hope we’ll still be able to wargame with Dustin before you leave to do your service, Sah!

My fellow Royal Banana Republicans—it was a good year for all of us, wouldn’t you say? Bezzek, you had a wonderful experience abroad and actually landed that model girlfriend you were always predicting about. Hit me up when you’ve made sure that absinthe you are brewing won’t make someone blind! JP—that Robin Sage thing sounds like a dream come true for you and I’m also very glad that you fixed your video game addiction. It’s really a pity you couldn’t have come back to K-stan again; our trip there was a blast this year. We’re more in common than you know now; somehow I’ve offended Naila, so I’m persona non-grata in Semey :(. Ah, well. I guess you can’t win ‘em all.

Nate! It’s been a long time since we were hanging out after school in 8th grade playing Age of Empires II through lan or something. I’m really glad we still keep in touch. We have to make sure we’ll continue to do so man. Sorry I haven’t been online lately. I’m sort of getting out of multiplayer shooters sadly…

A new year brings new friends and so I have to thank you Newbanks. To be honest, I’m not completely sure how we got to hanging out. Somehow we both realized we liked Hearts of Iron and the rest is history I guess. Anyway, it’s been a blast hanging out with you and conquering the world and it’s been especially nice to have you around because you make me look like a rational, open-minded person, instead of a national chauvinist. Appreciate it bud; just try to stop getting so angry at society and people. Also, don’t be a nazi pedophile. Is bad.

All right this is getting really long, so I’ll try to wrap it up:

Johannes—mate thanks for coming to Pittsburg. ROTC was a lot of fun with you there and thanks for helping out our poor ranger challenge team. What’ll we do without you? Seriously though, it was great having you here in the U.S. and I had a blast hanging out with you and Heini the last week or so. Sorry if I bugged you or made off color jokes about WWII—that little bit I did about the sack of Berlin got me unfriended by my boss from Kazakhstan…

To everyone who came to my “surprise” party this year, thank you so much guys. I’ve never actually had a party with friends on my birthday because it’s so inconvenient for everyone. You guys taking the time do that really helped me out and so I didn’t get into the normal black mood I have around my birthday.

So in the end; I want to say thanks for putting up with me another year guys. Sorry if I pissed you guys off (cough: Yuri, Elly, Johannes, Alena—note here, I’m apologizing for being a jerk at the party, but not apologizing for what I said! Dammit, I still maintain that that Dima misheard me, but might I recommend you read Robert Conquest’s “Stalin: Breaker of Nations?”). Thanks for making 2009 one of the best years of my life all!

Now for resolutions—I’m not usually a fan of this, but I’ll give it a go, because I hope it’ll help keep me straight and working on this. You don’t really have to read this, it’s more for me to remember what my goals are this year.
1. I’ve gotten farther along than I ever thought possible PT wise, but I have to keep pushing myself. I need to keep working on the run and strength, but I’d think it’s important for me to cut back on how much I eat and watch what I eat—steps to do this: one plate at the d-hall and cut sweets. More salads with less dressing.
2. Confidence…that was the big thing I got docked for from my peer evaluations…so I should work on this, I guess.
3. LDAC prep and general armyness: just got to buckledown and start taking this more serious. More OPORD, More PT, more military bearing, and dammit more studying the book.
4. Russian language: actually attend classes this semester and work on Rosetta stone.
5. Stop getting so worried about everything. Just take it a day at a time and not worry about things I change—US politics, problems facing Americans, problems with the interpretation of history…
6. Stop having to win arguments. Yeah, I get told I’m pigheaded and I don’t drop things. So I’m resolving to learn to live with other people being wrong :P. Meaning, even if I know I’m right in an argument, at least once in a while just dropping it—without having to get the last word in or causing problems.

Happy New Year Folks!