A Turbulent Week

My room mate’s house is a gilded cage that is filled with chaos and disharmony.  I know why, now.  I don’t want to say much, as I respect her privacy, but I will say I was livid at what one of her parents said to her.  I witnessed the events, and later heard her masculine baritone cracking as she wiped tears away, telling me what happened.

We have worked out a plan to get her out of this house and somewhere more secure.  This means my time helping her directly will come to a close in the next three months, but I will always be a phone call away.

She has enough contacts in town who are unrelated to what is going on — she will be able to use those contacts to secure a place to stay while she gets back on her feet and stabilizes.  I cannot encourage her to stay here without feeling sadistic.

She has a meeting, tonight, and I have a grief group, and we’re going to meet up afterward and watch a movie.

What really kills me on the inside is when I left for a quick trip to the store (she let me use her car), I had a feeling she was wanting me to leave her alone, and when I came back, she was drunker than ever.  I counted 3 40 oz beer bottles in the floor.  She didn’t know up from down but she was sure having a cry with the music going.

She was also doing laundry (finished 4 loads in 2 hours), cleaned the kitchen, and also finished the mess in the living room on her own.  She took the trash out, cleaned up her bedroom, and cleaned both bathrooms.

And she was drunk and crying.  I helped her get to bed and she cried about how she picked up a 2 year chip the night before.  So tonight, she’s getting a new chip.  But I have the car, and she will be around friends she can trust.

I wish I could be there for her all the time, but I can’t.  I’m just a soldier, I am human.  We grieved the loss of clean time, and I encouraged her to move on.

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The (wo)Man With a Plan

My apologies for not writing daily, which was my original intention.  We’ve been busy cleaning this house and yard and helping my roommate find a job.  After a LOT of discussion, we’ve found a possible reason as to why she can’t keep one…and why it’s not her fault.  Before 2012, she had a career job for almost ten years. Between then and now, she’s had eight jobs that were hard to keep, and she has always blamed herself until I pointed out with GlassDoor that her reasons for leaving were the same as many other people — and the places she picked had very high turnover rates.

With that in mind, she wrote down things she enjoyed about her past eight jobs and we looked at places that had similar interests or activities with low turnover.  She found one and starts tomorrow.  The pay is significantly higher than the ones she held previously.  I’m not making fun of low wage jobs, but when you were previously making more than $20 an hour, and you try jobs that are at the minimum wage range, you’re not going to stick around. There is very little respect shared at these places, nobody cares or has a reason to, and as soon as employees find something better, they usually fly. This job isn’t paying her a Jackson an hour, but it’s an average of four bucks an hour more than her previous places.  Her favorite room in the house matches her work area, too.  I AM SO EXCITED for her. Plus there is a possibility of free food.  FREE FOOD.  Hey, I can dream, right?

To spice things up and offer more motivation, I’ve offered to be her gym buddy — I’ll buy a membership to any gym she wants to go to, as long as she buys her own membership.  I’m already in great shape.  Because of our walking, she’s starting to make a come back, as well.  I believe she said she’s lost five pounds in the last week because of it.

And I’m going to let her buy the groceries, since she has so much cooking experience, haha.    I also saved her datapad and omnitool from hock hell.  She insisted I didn’t bail them out completely, so I compromised and bought her another month before she has to get them out.

We’re also talking about building a new computer, but let’s get some checks in, first.

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This Girl Has More Bad Luck

We spent the day going through old paperwork on her desk, and her monitor fell off the back and completely blacked out.  Stripes and everything.  She almost cried, but looked at me, first.

Since there is nothing I can do about it, I quickly redirected her focus to what was necessary:  securing the foundation I’ve talked about, and also securing financial income.  

We then went to different places, and found a couple of spots who are hiring if one can breathe, and I vigorously encouraged her to go for it and not look back.  Even if it is mundane, it is something.  Just go for it. 

She filled out the two applications, and I am going to make sure she takes them in first thing in the morning.  

She is fearful.  Of what, I don’t know, but I do know that fear is a lie.  A horrible lie.  

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Making Plans

I’ve always been a fan and enabler of policy deployment.  When properly executed, a leader in the top of their field can empower their direct subordinates to in turn empower those below them, so on and so forth.  The trickle down effect of granting this kind of power, when done correctly, will make every member of the team rise to the top with you.  This kind of method requires the top brass to share their power, in a way, which also creates an environment of shared responsibility and accountability, and thus, the stress or burden is lifted.

Of course, when things go awry, the one at the top must answer for the fallacies.  Regardless, I feel that the effort of sharing the deployment, what we in the Alliance refer to as “dissemenation of duty,” is worth the risk when all are willing to put in the effort.

When the Normandy was sent to Eden Prime for its first shakedown, the basic policy was to go, inspect the ship, show it off, and carry on as usual.  However, we had a Spectre on board, a turian named Nihlus.  His presence alone created an atmosphere of uncertainty and perhaps a bit of mistrust as to the official reason for the visit. I had the choice, as the commanding officer, to remain tight-lipped (though I didn’t actually know why the Spectre was aboard, myself), or keep an open line of communication between myself, our Chief Navigational Officer), Helmsman, Chief Engineer, and the leader of our ground team. Above me was the ship’s captain, who had nothing to say about Nihlus’ reason for being there, so never brought it up, which is his MO.  Without guessing or giving opinions about Nihlus’ presence, I maintained that I would dissemenate the information and duties as I found out.

When I was finally debriefed on the situation, I was unable to run back and tell the team.  The helmsman learned about the time I did, and thus, he was able to inform the CNO and CE, respectively, in my absence.  Since I split time between XO and ground team and was dropping with said team, I was able to brief them in greater detail when we made landfall.

In this situation, sharing the responsibility of policy deployment with my CNO, CE, and Helmsman was paramount to the mission’s success or setback, depending on how those who know about the Eden Prime Incident view it. I viewed it as a massive setback, as Nihlus was killed, along with one of my younger soldiers, and the prothean beacon we were sent to pick up was destroyed, thanks to something causing me to involuntarily interact with it.  To top it off, we were shocked and overwhelmed by the massive and aggressive geth presence, and were lucky to make it off the planet in one piece.

Thanks to keeping the open line of communication between myself and those immediately below me, and thanks to them keeping lines open with their respective subordinates, when I was knocked out from the beacon bursting into pieces, everyone else was able to quickly fall into place and pick us up.

The open lines of communication, sharing the dissemination of policy, duty, and information, and everyone rising up to the top is what kept us from losing any other assets or people.

Thus, when it comes to making plans, be sure to include everyone below you, and remind them to include everyone below them.

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The First Full Day

So…it’s 2am.  I am a little in awe of myself — when I’m not on missions, I like to run a tight ship, but I think I’ve earned some relaxation.  So has my gracious host.  But today has not gone without a bit of progress.  I am going to share pictures, as well, to show what we are tackling as well as what we’ve accomplished.

We ended up staying up until around 3am drinking hot tea talking — she has several tea options (right up my alley, by the way — she even had my favorite Asari Raspberry/Sage/untranslatable High Thessian word for what looks and smells like honey tea).  It was the extended-introductory “how are you, who are you,” et cetera, only in more detail.  She’s a smoker — big frown for me, but I think I may have stymied that with a little encouragement.

Like I wrote yesterday, her house is very evident that it is home to a depressed individual, but much to my happiness, she keeps fresh sheets on her bed and both bathrooms spotless.  Her couch was perfect for my 5’5″ frame, and she had plenty of extra comforters, throws, pillows, and sheets for me to choose from.

This morning, around 11:30am to be exact, I cautiously entered the kitchen (which is a mess), but discovered her microwave is impeccably clean.  I started noticing a trend.  What she uses, she keeps completely clean.  What she doesn’t use becomes a host to things she’s lost control over.  Thus, the home is a path of spotless that has a treeline of debris and discarded opportunities (what she refers to as failures — I refuse to use that word).

I took the easy route to breakfast, making us oatmeal while she brewed coffee.  I had a few packs of apple cider powder and cinnamon in my extended meal kit, so I flavored the oatmeal with that.  We ate in her office, the one place that seems to defy her trend of keeping things clean, but her desk is expansive enough to hold a 32″ monitor, two cups of coffee, and two bowls of oatmeal, with plenty of elbow room to spare.  We read the news, together, which was mostly about the continued relief efforts here in Earth, and recovery elsewhere.  I got a message from Jeff, who was just checking in.  I  told him a little about my new friend, but I kept the majority out of the reply.  He doesn’t need to know.

I took note of her laundry, which we only had one load to do, and noticed something going on there, as well.  I’m not saying she dresses poorly, but there is evidence that she once had a fit figure, and now people are “gifting” her extremely feminine clothes.  Her depression has kept her out of a job for so long, and the obvious anhedonia that comes with that has garnered her a 120 pound surplus, physically.  The fact that whoever gives her these things most likely knows she completely dismisses feminine things makes me wonder:  were they just being nice, or was this a subliminal attempt to get her to wear girly things? My gut instinct says the latter.

I was impressed, however, with how excited she was to go for a walk around the park with me, this afternoon.  While we were out, I offered to exchange Omnitool information with her, so we could keep in contact when we’re displaced, and she admitted that both that and her datapad are in hawk somewhere in town.  She’ll lose the datapad on the 8th, and the Omnitool on the 15th, so I have to figure out if I’m going to help her with that, or if I’m going to help her earn it.  I’m hoping for the latter, but I won’t let them go if I see an effort.

While on our second lap around the park, which we weren’t jogging, just strolling, I caught evidence of a strip mall in the distance, and we headed that direction.  While there, I brought up how her guest bathroom is bare as can be.  She explained that she never had money to spruce it up.  I mean, there is NOTHING in this bathroom.  Except there is a gold mine of personal grooming products in the drawers, but that doesn’t count.  She didn’t even have a shower curtain!  So…at the off-price store, we got some towels and a sheer for a curtain.  I told her “I hereby declare this bathroom as my personal bathroom,” to which she completely agreed to let me use it.

I HAVE MY OWN BATHROOM!!! With a shower that I can almost lay flat in!  But you should see her shower!  It’s like a sit-down ancient Greek bath thing!  Well…or a Salarian spa shower.  Whatever — it is amazing!  And…we’re going to tackle hers in the future — it has no color whatsoever.

Here is a small idea of what we are dealing with, as her house goes:

Like I said, that couch looks very small, but it’s big enough for me to sleep on comfortably.  The living room is huge.  Her dining room looked bad, too.  The kitchen was a depressed mess, and it was just mind boggling how anyone could handle the clutter.  The irony of it all is that she desires order, but chaos has obviously taken over — I’m going to guess, again, that maybe a lack of love or human interaction has something to do with it also.  Note the cat sitting in front of the glass door.

We got home from the walk and the quick shopping trip, and I almost freaked her out when I opened the windows and the doors.  The place is in desperate need of light and fresh air, and I’ll be honest — she needs it, too.  But after a few minutes, she began to enjoy it.  It made me smile.

We started deep cleaning in the kitchen, and by that, I mean we organized her cabinets.  She had spices in her dish cabinet, dishes in her spice cabinet, and her refrigerator is saved for another day — I wouldn’t store anything in there, right now.  Well, maybe bottled water.  Her eating habits are ramen, alcohol, and way too much soda.  Granted, she is without income, but that’s ridiculous.  I encouraged her to drink water, instead, and I don’t know if it was me saying it, or if she was being amiable, but she drank water all day.

We ended up going on another trip, but this time we drove.  We went to the supplement shop and she picked out what she wanted to get (we’re sharing).  We got a multi-vitamin, a sleep aid, a focus/calm pill pack, protein, and nicotine gum to help her stop smoking.  Today, she didn’t smoke at all, and I like to think that maybe  the nicotine gum I bought her helps, because she was feeling super anxious by the time we got home from our trip.

For dinner, I found some rice, beans, and corn meal in her cabinet, and I also uncovered a rustic “crock pot” dutch oven thing.  I saved the rice for a later date, and started the pot of red beans.  No butter, milk, or oil in the house, so I hoped her “non stick” iron skillet would hold true to its word — it did.  While I cooked, she cleaned the dining room to an impeccable lemon-scented glow, and set the table.  We sat down and served ourselves, and I said “get up, let me take a picture!”  So I did…

I have to admit, the cornbread came out great, despite having no milk or butter.  It reminded me of camping cornbread, cooked over a flame.  We really enjoyed dinner, and afterward, cleaned up our mess (I have to get her into this routine), made coffee, and played Galaxy of Fantasy all night.

I love that game, Galaxy of Fantasy.  We did co-operational all night with different characters,  her from her desktop and I with my Omnitool, and there was a guy named ReegarMaster who doesn’t know how to actually use the Reegar Combine.  Ugh, he can probably use it in real life, but in the game, he…he sucks.  I taught her how to run during the retrieval missions (it’s not that hard, but it does take practice), and we were hammering out gold missions as a pair in no time. She’s like me — loves to use the sniper rifle.  We’d stake out in flank across from each other and snipe the enemies one by one.  She died more than I did, though.

We ended up looking at her wardrobe, which we’re going through together, and ended up in a fit of laughter on her bed, and it looks like I’m staying here for the night.  I must have fallen asleep, and she covered up on her own.  I don’t think there’ll be a problem, we’re already getting along quite well, and neither of us mind getting in each other’s personal space.  Glad the keypad on my Omnitool has a silent mode.  Good night, everyone.   Sleep well.

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Introductory Post

It’s twenty three minutes after midnight, which means it’s a new day.  I just arrived at my new location (my new place of residence, if you will), and I am definitely sensing a challenge here.  Allow me to explain.

I was mortally wounded a little over a year ago while ending what is now known as The Reaper War.  My injuries were exhaustive:  I had what they call “flail chest” with one of the broken ribs puncturing my left lung, the pistol grip on my carnifex melted to my hand, and I had second-degree burns all along the left side of my body.  My facial injuries included a “naso-maxillary” fracture (my mandible was completely broken in two under my nose), several lost teeth along the top, and a broken orbital — also on the left side. I was intubated orally and nasally for four days, and what little I recall of my first two weeks in the hospital was spent almost completely sedated.  I was also flashblind and partially deaf for the first two weeks, but thankfully, that receded with time, and I can see and hear just fine.

I left in a month, and again, thankfully, the physical recovery took very little time.  Physical therapy wasn’t necessary for a facial fracture (which, by the way, is completely fine, and the only reminder of that is a series of scars inside my mouth).  My biggest scar is an outline of the tissue regrowth on my hand.  Even my prints are back.  I have a  line on my nose from a gash…but all things considered, even though I was five feet away from the explosion, I came away relatively scot-free.

What has hindered me the most was the emotional scars of the three years leading up to that, two of which were spent being rebuilt after getting spaced.  That wasn’t an emotional hindrance.  Seeing so much death and destruction, and filing it away as I focused on my mission was what took its toll as I found myself idle for the first time in years.

I was born in Valencia, California in 2154.  At five, I fell in love with the piano, and began spending most of my free time learning to play.  At thirteen, my mother and father received a contract to move to Mindoir:  my mother was a teacher, and my father was a civil engineer.  The colony needed both.  When I was sixteen, my family and friend were killed during a pirate attack at our pavilion.  From there, I spent two years on the Royal Damascus, the main ship and civilian cruise vessel that heads the Royal Damascus Alliance Mining Fleet.  My great aunt Hannah suggested I look into joining the Alliance.  If nothing more, it’s a good way to get collegiate education, and it is also a good career option, since there are so many opportunities.  I leapt at the chance, signing on with the Advanced Training Academy at seventeen, and enlisting on my eighteenth birthday.

Since I’d already shown great leadership and technological skill, I was selected to bypass basic training, given my first official rank as Second Lieutenant, and sent to Interplanetary Combatives Training School in Rio de Janeiro. From there, I took part in the infamous Wasteland Trials, the Skyllian Blitz, the Theshaca Raids, and countless other missions.  I am known galaxy-wide for being the lone survivor of a thresher maw attack on Akuze (may my team continue to find rest among the stars)  In 2183, I was promoted to Staff Commander and given my first ship and crew, a Turian-Human collaborative project frigate called the Normandy SR-1.  She was beautiful.  I have my opinions about how I got the ship, but I will keep those thoughts to myself.

In late spring of 2183, a week before I was to turn 29, the Normandy was destroyed enroute to the Perseus Veil to take advantage of intel we’d discovered, and I was left adrift in space.  I might have survived, but there was a hole in my main oxygen intake valve (I was thrown into debris from my ship when it exploded), and I lost all pressure, air, and all that I remember was that it got very cold very quickly.  I don’t think I even had time to pass out from the lack of oxygen.  I just froze.  The next thing I know, I’m waking up on an operating table, and finding out it’s two years later. So…does that make me 33 or 31, now?  😉

Anyway, in that short time between coming back to life (I guess?) and waking up in the hospital after The Reaper War ended, I’d seen so much destruction and death and gore that I’d put away, that the instant I was forced to be idle, I had no defense against the pain and grief that hit.  It was so severe that, by the time I was physically cleared to return to active duty, I was in no way mentally capable of rejoining my squad.  After a year of trying different forms of therapy and counseling just short of taking medications for all of it (because I refuse anything mind-altering), Admiral Hackett decided to return me to conditional duty — as a recovery unit.  This is the unspoken price that a “hero” pays for earning such a title.  I’m not a hero, I am just a soldier.  Maybe I went above and beyond the call of duty, but I was just doing my job to the best of my abilities.

He paired me with someone who shares similar struggles, but isn’t in the military.  My mission is to work together with this person to help them recover as I recover from my own situation.  They…she…is helping me write this, and has agreed to let me share demographics, but not specifics.

She’s 38.  She is trans-masculine, but unsure if she wants to progress to complete trans-male status.  She’s 120lb overweight.  She is severely depressed, and there’s evidence of that all over the house, which is beautiful, by the way.  She is unemployed, and up to her neck in debt.  She fears everything she has no control over.  Her teeth are a mess due to lack of self-care, and her family is present but negligent.  There is no familial bond.  This is almost like an answer to my internal question of whether it’s better to have an unsupportive family or no family at all, like me.  I’m going to say the latter is better.  At least there are no continuously failed expectations.  No let-downs.

On the positives:  like me, she’s very much into women — we’ll go “scouting” together, soon.  She is single and has a cat.  She’s super intelligent and has a great sense of humor, and she loves coffee, grime, jazz, and EDM music, and going outside when she feels safe.  She likes to compete, and “used to always be up for a challenge.”  She lives across the street from a huge park with a 1.5 mile track.  She says she feels like if she was able to run, she’d do it every day (so there’s a goal).  I love to go for a run when I’m feeling stressed or clouded.  OH — she has a PIANO!!!!!  LOVE!!!

I know my first order of business is to help her regain her foundation — I am without my own, at the moment, but she has agreed to let me live with her per Admiral Hackett’s request, so I can reestablish here with her.  The foundation is where you go to when you’re done with the flights of the day.  For me, that was the Normandy or whichever ship or planetside outpost I was stationed in.  An unstable foundation can shake every other aspect of your life, so the first order of business is to clean the depression out of the house.

After that, I’m going to help her establish a financial foundation (aka a job) — and I think the best thing for her would be one in which she has full control.  Most likely a turking position from home.  And she’s a hell of a writer.  I think I can help her find the confidence to write whatever someone wants and take a paycheck for it.

And after that, I think I will encourage her to take me for walks around the park at least once a day.  Maybe walks around town — I’ve never been to this place.

In return, she’s asked me to write about my last three years — good and bad — which I will share here.  She believes that writing is therapeutic, so I will make this a two way street.

And we’ll keep this blog updated, hopefully daily, with her progress, my progress, and whatever else tickles our fancy.

Shepard out.

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