Friday, November 20, 2009

Plebe Summer - Redux

It is November 20, and I haven't made a posting since September 5. I have had lots to write about, but haven't had the time or energy to do so. I was detailed to a temporary job Downtown, and my pants havebeen on fire since. Simply put, I have adrenalin in my veins and the wind in my face. A project I have been endlessly working on since I arrived seven weeks ago was delivered today, so maybe there will be a break in the pace - at least for the weekend. I have heard that there are times at the Naval Academy when Plebes are deliberately loaded up with more things than they could ever get done in the time allotted, just so they can learn to prioritize under pressure. I guess I am living my middle-aged second young adulthood - my own Plebe Summer.

It is great to have the opportunity to contribute to something much bigger than I ever would have expected to do. Each day it is a half-of-an-hour drive to the New Carrollton Metro Station, and then another 30 minutes to the Smithsonian stop on the Mall. Each morning it is the Washington Monument a distance down Jefferson Street while I walk to the Whitten Building entrance, past the USDA Peoples Garden. The legs of the commute on Metro aren't so bad because on the way into work, I get to prepare my notes for my daily morning brief with my boss, and on the way home, I get caught up with my emails on my Blackberry(1).

At times these past weeks, things come so fast that I sit in front of my computer screen staring straight ahead trying to think which of five tasks that have to be done now I should do first - all the while the emails with parts of the project keep coming in, someone comes in asking for the testimony responses, staff meetings to attend, phone calls to answer, visitors wanting to meet.....other random drive-by distractions.....and then this past Wednesday, just when I am ready to leave early at 4:00 PM.... knowing what I am working on isn't due until Friday.... an email request from the Secretary's office, "send what you have revised by 5:00." Instead of my wife and me catching a quick dinner at home, we rendezvoused in the driveway of the house we were meeting with some friends at 7:00.... and she brought me a couple of tacos wrapped in foil for dinner.

The project had to be "done" today by 10:00 AM, so when I went to bed last night, I knew I had to get up early or there was no way to get it done. The alarm was set for 5:00 AM, but when I woke up at 2:00 the adrenalin release in me (sans any wind) brought me completely to attention: the modified outline clear in my head, the strategy for re-organizing the pieces that took a month to write in place. By 3:00 I was sitting at my laptop and telling myself I knew what I had to do first,.... second,.... third.... assuring myself it will get done. About 5:30 things were in control, I headed to the shower, dressed, and was commuting, with an arrival at the office by 7:00.

Tonight we served eight Midshipmen dinner: three Firsties, two Youngsters, and three Plebes. The Firsties will all be Naval Aviators(2). The Plebes - dressed alike in their navy-colored Navy sport shirts and khaki slacks - well, the adrenalin runs fast in their veins, and I hope the wind always blows at their backs as they sail on fair seas into their futures. As for me, I get to quietly sit back and watch and listen to their tales - relaxing, trying to slow down for the weekend and get some sleep - they and me in the middle of our Plebe experiences.

(1) Early this past week I was so engrossed in an email I was composing, that when we got to the end of the Orange Line, I didn't get off and didn't notice until I realized the train was heading "backwards" to D.C. The damage wouldn't have been more than 10 minutes lost, other than one of the secretaries from work emailed me the next morning asking what happened....I didn't figure on a witness.

(2) I received an email this past week from someone at work congratulating me about our son being selected Naval Aviation, along with a request that I pass on to him that "those decks don't stay in the same place all the time." I replied thanks, and wrote that he knows, with a recommendation for the movie "Speed and Angels" found at: It is the kind of movie that motivates pilots-to-be, and gives mothers of pilots-to-be one more thing to worry about. Go Navy.