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July 14, 1998

Bootcamp Memories

Grey day today, rainy, drippy, soft and wet. The droplets falling onto the skylight like tears, running quietly down the panes, drumming softly against the roof. Like a sheet of depression flowing softly over everything, between me and the world outside. Softening all the colors, dimming all the light, turning me inwards to the dry, familiar comfort of the house.

I went out, instead. Took Fezzik outside into the rain so that he could do what he needed to. Basked in the cold droplets, letting the rain fall on my face, running softly down my skin, cooling, touching, connecting me with the green, green growing world. Fezzik plowed through the grass like a black steamer through green waves, the grass so tall now it nearly comes to his shoulders. He wandered back and forth and back and forth, panting and nosing and snuffling in great whuffs of breath. He's so cool to watch, so fine to get into his head and just be concerned with what is here and now, what he can touch, see, smell and hear.

That was good.

Odd day at work. Just mostly useless. I'm so burnt out I should probably be nothing but crumbling char. I did a few things, attended a meeting where our VP of Engineering fell asleep in the corner, on the floor. I felt like him. Wanted nothing more than to finally rest a while. I'll get to this coming weekend, but in some ways it seems so far away.

At lunch and after hours, I played in Genevieve's In Nomine game, a scene that isn't up yet, but it was between Mazpatiel and Sephar and Zebina, when Sephar and Zebina bring some Hellscript papers to Pat to look over and see. The stuff on the papers was bad, and Pat has Zebina talk with someone else over what happened to her with the Impudite, and then Mazpatiel and Sephar got to sit down and talk a while.

I finally know now why I roleplay. Sephar's sense of loss and death all around him and grief over not being able to do anything about the loss of his Host and the near loss of Pat all swirled in together with all my other sense of loss of having so many things just go away and not come back. Knowing Mazpatiel was in Heaven, and safe there, eventhough he was still badly hurt, he had the stability and safety in which to heal. Truly heal.

There's a lot of religious crap in In Nomine that I disagree with completely. Luckily, Genevieve and the others don't play with most of the stuff I have real problems with. Okay, there's a lot of religious stuff in general that I have problems with, especially the general stuff. But the simple comfort Sephar, and I through him, got simply by sitting down and talking with Mazpatiel seemed to do something to stablize all of me. Including the real me that seems to have needed some comfort about loss.

A quiet touch, through pretenses and masks, turning real. What I loved of The Trumen Show working itself out in real life. So odd.

So it was with some measure of peace that I got home, did exercises and then read a while as John was at a meeting for church.

Kathy had given me a bunch of books by an author who knew her stuff about Navy SEAL's and had written at least three, possibly four books about four of the eight men who had been in a SEAL unit. One had had a leg blown up in action, and was mustered out, but nearly three-quarters of the team had done BUDS together, and gone through Hell Week together. Hell Week isn't a graduation exercise, it's about at the end of the first third of training. After exercising, I read the one about the Southern boy that goes home to see his step-brother and ex-girlfriend get married and he gets framed for his brother's murder and the policewoman that knew him in high school and is put on his case falls for him and vice versa.

What surprised me the most and made me think the most was that those SEAL folks reminded me all to hell of the folks I graduated from Caltech with. Not in physical deadliness, but that whole bonding thing where you really had to connect with the people you were with in order to survive through to graduation. Not just in an emotional sense, but also in a work sense. Everyone was good at some things, no one was good at everything, so everyone did what they were good at and helped folks out with what they weren't good at.

It was also the elite things that bonded folks. The fact that all 200 of every entering class was likely the top student in math and science when they got there only to find that they were no longer the best. That very first physics test where only one person got over 17% on the test. Everyone but Eric failed the test. He got a 90%, so it just proved to the rest of us poor kids that we weren't good enough. We were, in very real and very dear and close terms, not the best any more. I have deep respect for anyone that even got in, not just those that lasted the whole distance, as they were the best, too. At freshman camp, on Catalina Island they had us do the look to the right, look to the left, one of you is not going to graduate with your class. Both of the people I looked at didn't.

Neither John nor I really thought of ourselves as brilliant when we got in. That first test wasn't nearly the shock to me as it was to a lot of the other kids. I had a few boys just crying on me that evening, and I held and listened and talked with 'em. I've never been the very best in any class, but I always worked hard, and I wanted it. Wanted the degree, wanted to get through the classes, wanted to do it right enough that I kept plowing through even when it meant all-night homework sessions, and days and nights in a row in labs. I remember now thinking that it'd be nice to have a job, someday, as then I'd only have to work eight hours a day. <laughter>

And now that we're in the real world, and under the real technical battlelines, I can laugh quietly again. I mean, nearly all the technical folks I know work insane hours, do heroic deeds and kill themselves for their companies and products. Some learn, but most drive themselves as relentlessly, or even more relentlessly than we were driven in college. Likely the same drive. There isn't the same level of danger, not even nearly, of the SEALs, but we, the curious, do seem to do a lot more interesting, sometimes even dangerous things. Like Tetsuo trying to climb every major peak in the world, or Dan, who dove into the sky. And I'd like nothing more than to know that someone with as broad and as thorough a training as I had was beside me in the fight to create anew.

Talked with a few Techers about it and reached the conclusion that that bonding really does happen, and that even after undergraduate school we stay bonded, stay in touch, stay in remembrance. So we know when accidents happen, know and tell each other about those that are lost. It's not that we die young, simply that we know and care when one of us dies.

So I read and cried and wondered and realized that a lot of why I have built a life with John is because he and I went through technical bootcamp together. That we do think alike, approach problems with the same curiosity and the same type of intensity as well as the allowance for each others' ways of doing things. Attacking a problem from the angles that we know, and we each know that the other will cover our backs, cover the other problems we don't think about. It's why we make an awesome design team. And why, when we do anything new together, we tackle it side by side and there's no one else here I'd want to do that with.

Dinner was way late, because of my reading. John didn't mind, though, as he was playing with the Bandicoot. So we didn't get to sleep until fairly late.

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