Sunday, May 4, 2008

It Begins with an Ending...and a Smash

To being my deployment I needed to end something first.

Last week was my last week at work and last Friday, I spent my last "official" day at the Cornell Army ROTC office in Barton Hall. I say "official" because I am actually on "vacation", and I say "vacation" because I am going to work at my Reserve unit starting tomorrow. I am on vacation with ROTC until mid-May and then paid by my unit for the remainder of the summer.

I had a great bunch of freshmen this year. They were young and smart and shared their classroom with about 7 "civilian" students who were taking my class as an elective. I see a lot of potential in this class, a solid core of about six or seven Cadets who will hit their stride in the program in the next two years and be phenomenal seniors and superb officers. There is always something exciting about watching a class bond, mature, and grow into leaders. My good-bye on Tuesday was less melodramatic than it could have been. I threatened them that if they didn't have a good sophomore year that I'd teach them again in their junior year - and beat them.

Thursday night I said good-bye to a bunch of great students from the MILR program where I have been taking a class here and there for the last three years. As a fellow student they absolutely welcomed me into their fold - even in uniform. I went to a couple of graduate student happy hours where I was a bit of a novelty. "What do you think about [something about the war]" would go the questions. And, no, I didn't mind at all. Being able to stretch my brain with people who were smarter than me is a good thing and I wish I could have shared more classes with them.

Friday, May 2nd, was Slope Day at Cornell; the last official day of classes and an organized, university sanctioned, drinking event. Cornell hires campus security guards from all over the state, puts up fencing all over the Libe slope, and sets up beer tents while up-and-coming bands play on a stage. Students, among the smartest in the nation, skip classes and start drinking as early as 9:00 am. (I know this because one of my students was in my office at 10:00 and already been drinking "jungle juice" for breakfast.)

I did not go to Slope Day. It's not that I'm a prude, its just that I have been to Slope Day when it was less regulated. And let's just say that drinking those days are past me and if I was going to go to Slope Day I was going to enjoy myself. Of course the other reason that I didn't go to Slope Day was that my wife was one of the Cornell staff overseeing the event - and that was a recipe for disaster.

My last day email was full of final exams and end term papers. Lots of reading. Lots of reading that I did not get to and will require me going back to work in the evenings to read and grade them. My last day I also ran into several students on their way to the Libe slope; a couple of my civilians who thanked me for a great class and wished me luck in the next year.

The office closed early and Byran Miller and I went golfing for nine holes. Again, no melodramatic good-byes because I'll see these people again before I go away. My desk and office were cleared of my pictures. I changed the pass word on the computer so that my replacement can get on. All in all, it was an anti-climatic but necessary step to focus on the tasks ahead. I love this job and look forward to coming back to it.

Playing golf was a joke because we both Bryan and I suck, and I mean s-u-c-k, but we had fun. After the course we stopped for some food before going separate ways. Bryan is a good officer who is going to miss having someone around to bust balls on in the office. For the most past I could take far more crap from him than he could from me. I could taunt him about his golf game and taking more swings at the ball than he actually took to hit it, but that would be mean.

Finally, on my way home I drove down a side street, not a mile from the house when I got hit by a truck who went through a stop sign. I saw him with just enough time to think, "oh, shit, he's a lot bigger than me," when the entire front of my car caved in. I stood on the brakes with just enough time to keep him from coming through my drivers side door. Yea, it was close. I got out of the car and immediately sat back down because I had hit my head on the door. It was just enough to get my bell rung and I wasn't sure if I was really hurt or not. Fortunately for me, the assistant fire chief lived on the corner and saw the accident. Within minutes ambulances, firetrucks and police were on the scene. a trip to the hospital, a CAT scan, some pain pills, and two hours later I was home with a slight concussion and a totaled car.

Great way to end the week.

Tomorrow I start at the Reserve Center. More to follow.

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