Planes, Trains, and Flying Beetles

Filed under: — lana @ 12:08 pm

After a quick 12+ hours on planes and in airports and milling around waiting for someone who looks like they know where I am supposed to be to share the secret with me, I arrived safe and sound in the land of umlauts and spelling everything with at least one “k”. After a brief two days in Hanau, because they weren’t taking anyone at the inprocessing facility in Darmstadt which is where I was supposed to report on that day, I made it to said destination.

Well, I made it to what is now referred to as Destination One.

As it turned out, after handing in my medical records and beginning the inprocessing work, my unit hemmed and hawed and decided that I would best serve my country (while in another country) from the seclusion of the eastern portion of the country. Which, I add, is not where I currently sat. This decision, of course, only resulted in more hemming and hawing and a great deal of grumbling on both our parts as they tried to figure out how to get me to the general vicinity of where I ought be. Enter Destination Two, for which I have yet to leave at present. Also enter process of regaining my medical records and figuring out what I needed to inprocess here and what needed to wait until I was across the country.

The reason I have yet to leave for Destination Two after sitting at Destination One for a week and a half is because the entire unit save a very small skeleton crew appears to be on a live fire exercise, conveniently in the eastern half, and there is no one to come and pick me up from The Great West and transport me to The Rural (Though Undoubtedly Quaint) East. And so I wait. From Destination Two I get to sit there for two weeks and do things Destination One probably could have accomplished such as German lessons and getting me a local driving license, but refused to do because as far as they were concerned I became Destination Two’s problem as soon as my unit cut those orders. I doubt Destination Three even knows that I’m coming…

While I wait, I plan trips around and about the “easy to get around” continent. I went walking the several miles into and around the city of Darmstadt, where the people were friendly and we puzzled out the menu in German with enough clarity to find something edible, and a no-nonsense one day trip to Brugges in Belgium is on tap for this weekend, but then comes the ever popular four-day weekend of Memorial Day. By that point I will be at Destination Two, which I have failed to mention is in the middle of the Bavarian wilderness, and within very closer proximity to the engaging Absolutely Nothing. So I tried to figure out how to leave that area for the weekend, preferably by train since I have no auto transport (see above). I read a few pamphlets. I asked around. I looked it up on the internet. And I came to a very strong and definitive conclusion:

The Eurail system operates on principles only slightly more complicated than quantum physics.

Luckily, I remember some quantum from college, so I could dust that off to help me, but I still struggle. I could get a 15 day flexpass for half my life savings, or a two month unlimited pass for the price of a small home, or even sell my organs and get just a simple train ride from Ansbach to Heidelberg (though it would take at least the other kidney to get back). Nothing is sold as round trip, it seems, and there are about 10,500 possible tickets to get. For once, not an exaggeration.

To take a break, I departed the library which closes at between 1800 and 2000 like everything else on post and most things in town (and is closed on Mondays, though everything else is closed all weekend every weekend) and headed to my temporary barracks room, where I found a large and very loud beetle hanging out with my still packed belongings. My room was supposed to be a single living area, so I attempted first to evict the company, then further measures needed to be taken as it buzzed about angrily. I dropped one of my bags on it. I removed the bag. The thing buzzed at me. I dropped my bag back on it. I sat on the bag. I removed the bag. The thing buzzed at me. Moderately disturbed by the resiliance of the German Bug, I placed a plastic bag over it, stepped on it, and promptly swept it under the nightstand.

Another continent, more bugs. I can’t win, but I can fight back.

Off to find out where they want to send me this time…


On The Town

Filed under: — lana @ 10:13 pm

So I was able to clear Fort Bragg in my four days, though they are “required” to give you ten, and have officially stamped my way out. Not without difficulties such as systems being down, my entire brigade being on a live fire exercise and thus unable to sign my paperwork, and memos that I didn’t have that no one knew needed to be written. Many adventures and not-quite-under-the-breath comments later, I am free of the glories of Dragon Corps and on to things in Europe.

Things that I hope will be not all that similar to my experiences this evening.

My husband and I decided that we would attempt to find fun at the Fort Bragg fair this evening. A few dollars, like twelve, and free rides and live music. Not a bad deal, so we gave it a shot for my last chance at good old fashioned American fun before I head to the land of Mozart and art nouveau.

Good thing we were wearing our neutral gang colors, because the place was packed to the fences with sideways hats, pants that I was amazed were staying up until I noticed the cowboy swagger of the fine youth, and unintelligable language such as people axe-ing other people questions. Tight, low-cut tank tops on twelve-year-old girls and what appeared to be a large silver (platinum? the world may never know) medallion of Cartman from South Park at belly button level, weighing down the wearer until he had a hunchback. Apparently Fayetteville is the secret ghetto of the south, because these kids certainly found themselves tough.

What I want to know is when exactly this happened, and exactly why I would want to put a hat on so it only provided shade for one eye. I have heard the excuse that it is culture, but having been to Africa, I can tell you that I saw them with their pants pulled up and bandanas worn to protect their necks from the sun. I do recall my own youth of multi-colored hair, large pantlegs, chains attaching my wallet and keys to my waist, and an affinity towards loud music that tended towards the anarchist side of the political fence. The hair was fun, the pants were comfortable, and the chains provided security particularly at shows with a large amount of being tossed around. I failed to find such a practical excuse for the gentleman wearing sunglasses. At 1030 in the evening. With a ballcap covering one eye. And a hood. And an attitude problem to match.

I was intrigued, moderately amused, and quickly bored. Mozart, beers and lagers, and full museums await. No time to figure out this culture, only time to prepare to defend such culture from overseas.

I think I need a drink…


Clearin’ On Out

Filed under: — lana @ 1:49 pm

Today I was allowed to go and pick up my clearing papers, officially beginning the departure process from the delights and wonders of my current station and preparing for the adventures of the station to come.

But before celebrations can ensue, first I had to allow transportation to come and get my belongings, get the appointment to obtain said clearing papers, and then start clearing post.

To begin, we backtrack about two weeks ago when I went to transportation to schedule a day when my belongings could be packaged up and begin their journey overseas. I went to the briefing and with a happy-go-lucky and everything-is-super smile the nice man giving the briefing informed me that the earliest date for them to arrive would be about three weeks from then, coincidentally on the exact day I am to report to my new unit in Germany. Seeing this as somewhat of a problem, I chatted with the nice man until he agreed to call the company and see if I couldn’t get something a touch sooner. Best they could offer was ten days before my report date. Then they informed me that it takes almost a month and a half for anything shipped from here to get to there. Mental note recorded to pack enough clothes and uniforms to last.

Immediately following this I wandered over to the desk to get information about shipping my car to the land of five dollar a gallon gasoline. The nice lady informed me that in addition to finding a way to get my car to Charleston, I should then not expect to see my car for approximately two to three months while it took the boat. I held my tongue instead of asking if they were expecting to take the circumnavigational route. Furthermore, confusion ensued when I informed them that I may not in fact be assigned to the base on my current orders because my unit was Europe-wide. After a brief pause and a blank stare, they told me I would be better off getting someone else to ship my car for me after I had my final orders, in case I end up in Italy and my car in northern Germany. I expect to see my car sometime around August.

Finally I could go and set my clearing appointment, so with leave papers and orders in tow I wandered into the office for what I expected to be a quick and painless briefing and to walk out with papers in hand. Alas, this was not to be the case, as the kind lady behind the desk ignored my appointment schedule as well as any other information I could provide and scheduled my appointment for today: the same day transportation would arrive as well as giving me about four days to clear post. She said most people only take two days to clear. Most of the people I know took at least six. Some dusty notice somewhere says all soldiers are to be allocated ten days to complete the process. I will take what I can get, and went to the briefing to get the papers.

Delightfully, three places to clear are near the briefing site, so I went back to transportation to clear and pick up my flight itinerary, then down to the provost marshal and post security with the silly thought that they would be nice and streamlined, having people coming through in and out processing every day. I suppose it wasn’t that nasty of a shock; after all, logic and the Army have never worked all that closely. A major, myself, and two other sergeants waded through a complex number system and patiently waited while a blind man received a post decal for his car before we could sit for our thirty seconds while the nice lady signed our papers. My trip to the dental clinic was much easier by comparison, and the dental clinic has never even figured out my name change after two and a half years of marriage and half of my files are somehow missing.

And so it goes, with four real days left before new adventures are to be had. If there is adventure here, there must be adventure everywhere…

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