Sunday, November 26, 2006

catching up, part one

you guys know how it is when you have a lot to write about.... no time to write. that's my excuse for being such a slacker lately. oh, but trust me, this christmas break, when i'm home all the time and the most exciting part of my life will be finding secret presents for other people that i will not discuss in detail, i will right all the time. about being at home. and finding secret presents for other people.

anyway... despite my lack of posts, this has been an incredibly eventful few weeks, or perhaps even months. it is now my lofty goal to quit slacking and catch up.

several weeks ago: the tau beta pi initiation
for those who don't know, tau beta pi is an engineering fraternity that is very old and exclusive and secretive. you join by invitation only, and only the top fifth or eighth of each engineering class is invited. you need an extremely good GPA and something they call a "character of integrity," which they decide for themselve and actually vote on. snobby, right?

well, congratulate me, because apparently i have a very high GPA and integrity to spare, because they finally wanted me this semester. i was pretty excited that i qualified, but a little bit hesitant. did i really want to be such a snob? i figured, what the heck, and found myself at a very cerimonial, um.... cerimony to like swear me in or whatever.

it was weird. it really felt like i was selling my soul to my alma mater or joining an academics cult. i thought that tau beta pi was about good grades and service projects, but really there's a lot more to it. they basically want you to promise that you're going to work your absolute hardest for the rest of your life-- which apparently includes looking attractive and being great friends with everyone else in tau beta pi-- not for the advancement of your own career, but to bring honor to your school and the fraternity. call me crazy, but i do a lot of things for the sole purpose of advancing my career.

there was so much emphasis on being selfless, they sort of beat you over the head with that point, when really the only reason i wanted to join was because it would make an extra-impressive line on my resume and i might get a higher-paying job because of it one day. and also, to be perfectly candid, because they give you these wicked awesome ribbons to wear over your gown at graduation that just proclaim to everyone that you're better because you're smarter, and i really, really wanted those ribbons, even if only to make a certain stupid ex-boyfriend feel inferior because of his lack of exclusive honor badges.

see? hardly selfless.

well, anyway, i take promises very seriously. i didn't want to make a promise that i didn't intend to keep. i didn't want to make a promise that i hadn't thought through very carefully. I didn't want to make a promise when there was even a shadow of a doubt in my mind that it was really what I want to do.

i fully intend on working hard and being an honest engineer for the rest of my life, and i already take part in service projects and i'm all for making friends and dressing nice, okay, but i'm not sure it's something i want to bind to myself with a promise, and i really didn't have time to think about it while they were reading off the attributes of a good TBPer. plus the whole thing was so bizarre and other-worldy that i was a little freaked out, and my thinking was not at top clarity, and i was not about to make a promise under those conditions. so, when the time came, and i was supposed to step forward and say, "i do," like i was supposed to, like everybody wanted and expected me to, i said instead, "i'm sorry, i don't," and was like, dishonorably discharged and escorted from the room.

i was completely distraught while i was walking back to my car, hours earlier than i'd planned, with the fat salary and awesome ribbons permanently out of reach, but i kept telling myself, however unconvincingly, "good girl! way to say no to weird peer pressure! you did the right thing!" i knew i was right, but i could still feel the disdain, real or imagined, from the people in the room i had just left. i'm sure someone in there thought the initiation was a failure because of me.

i called my dad and cried for a while, and he told me he was glad I didn't just give in and do something i didn't want to do. i love my dad. i know i made the right decision... i'm just sorry i had to back out at the VERY LAST SECOND and make a spectacle of myself. from what i can tell, i'm the only person that's done that in this chapter.

the worst part is when people don't understand. they say, "but everyone joins because of their resume, " "but they all know you don't really have to be great friends," "but they all just do it for the ribbons." (i made that last one up. i don't actually tell many people about the ribbons part. you have no idea how much i wanted those stupid ribbons!) then when i told my grandad what happened, he said he was dissappionted in me. that sucked.

but my mind is made up-- i'm glad i did what i did.

two weeks ago: seaaaaaaaaaaaattle, baby!
puget sound flew me to seattle for a site visit, put me up in this swanky hotel, gave me "food money" every day (like fifty bucks a day, which is like a week of food for a college student, which they may or may not know), and rented me a fancy car. it totally rocked. i keep hearing about how traffic in washington in general and seattle in specific is supposed to be horrible, worst traffic ever, but driving from the airport around part of the bay and over the tacoma-narrows bridge to bremerton was such a nice drive! i mean sure, it's busier than las cruces, or albuquerque, but it's no worse than virginia beach, and i think it's way better than new orleans and san antonio (worst highway design ever). maybe i got lucky and missed the bad traffic. or maybe i just love driving.

i met up with my friends josh and kat, who just got engaged (HOORAY!) and hung out. on sunday, josh and i took the ferry to seattle to go apartment hunting.

dude, guys, i LOVE seattle. i love it there. the weather was horrible and we were outside almost the whole day and it was miserable, but i was still all smiley because i was in seattle and i love it there and i really want to live there even if everyone who works in bremerton and half my family thinks i'm crazy. and they do. poor josh went with me because, as he says, he was "being supportive" and on the way back to bremerton he told me that he thinks it's a bad idea. i think he really expected me to get off the ferry and look around and say, "oh... so this is seattle. maybe i don't want to live here after all." well, that didn't happen. i was stoked.

and he also thought i was going to get lost without him, which is so not true. i actually know my way around much better than he does, except he has this mutant power that tells him which direction the sound is. this was usful when we got disoriented inside buildings.

"which direction are we facing?"

"north."

"okay, how do you know that?"

"because the sound is over there." i look "over there" and see absolutly nothing that tells me the sound is that direction.

"josh... how do you know the sound is over there?"

"it's like the mountains in albuquerque... you always know where you are because of the mountains."

"yeah, but in albuquerque you can see the mountains. how do you know where the sound is?"

"because... that's where it is. just trust me."

see what i mean? weird. anyway, we used josh's homing beacon for large bodies of water to find our way around belltown, where we looked at apartment buildings. i was expecting them to be sort of ghetto, like all the places i've ever lived, but they were so nice! all the rooms we saw looked brand new. of course i couldn't actually choose a place so far in advance (i won't be moving out there until august), but i felt better knowing that i will be able to find an apartment when i need to.

the next day was the site visit. i went on an aircraft carrier. they are huge. i never felt like i was not on solid ground. the weather was even worse than the day before, it was so freezing and so windy and occasionally raining. even the people that lived there thought the weather was unusually crappy.

i was in the "nuc" group with one other girl. she was so negative and selfish about everything! i hope she doesn't take the job, because i don't want to work with her. every question she asked had a theme of, "how much money can i get out of you people?" meh.

aside from her, the base seems like a great place to work. it's true, i probably wouldn't have even considered it unless it was both a) close to seattle and b) already employing two of my close friends, but being a shift test engineer for the navy seems to be an enviable first job. and the people there were very honest. they understand that happy people work better than frustrated people, so they don't only show you the cool stuff to trick you into accepting the job. if you're not going to like it, they don't want you to come. in fact, it's so much trouble to hire someone and get a security clearence that, if you do become unhappy where you're working, they encourage you to move within the base to another job. and (this sounds VERY cool to me) a lot of the shift test engineers get to spend months at a time in san diego, hawaii, and japan, and you get paid even more for that. sweet.

in fact, josh and kat are going to san diego for about three months early next year. and speaking of them... josh asked me to be his best man at the wedding! WOO HOO! i'm so jazzed. of course, he's all weird about calling me the best man and he says that i'm the "best person" and that i still have to wear a dress, but whatever. i'm the best man, and i am extremely honored.

i'm not a good man, i'm the best man. uh.

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