Career Change Two was a flop. I was particularly good at sales, but at some point I had a problem taking money from retirees in the middle of the country just because I talked pretty. I had a small medical procedure done that put me out of commission for a couple weeks, then that spiraled into an Oxycontin-fueled depression. Turns out that a combination of job dissatisfaction, depressive tendencies, and narcotics isn’t a good mix. Who coulda guessed that, though?!
I moved myself to Southern California for the requisite “Return to Your Parents’ House” that’s so popular among people in my generation. It allowed me the chance to do some regrouping. I took the opportunity to get some degree of sober so as to allow myself some clarity, and I started going to counseling again. That clarity reminded me that I had an interest in the Navy, so I renewed my efforts to join it.
Well… I actually spent a fair amount of time pursuing a career in firefighting while I was in SoCal. My thought was, I’d like to be putting my life in danger in some capacity to save the lives of others. That was my main motivator for going into the military – I think I’m particularly well-suited for dealing with the stresses of being in mortal peril on a regular basis, so I might as well put that to good use. Also, the fire department would have allowed me to start a life with the lady I still consider the love of my life. For some obvious reasons, she took issue with me being away for 6-12 months at a time. That relationship fell through, though, so it was back to the Navy again!
I spent the better part of a year pursuing the Navy thing in earnest, but there were some obvious hurdles. First, I had a few legal infractions in my early twenties (for details, please refer to the yet-to-be-published book). I drove up and down the state of California collecting court documents, then I did it again when they told me they didn’t get everything they needed in the first attempt. Second, I have a sordid past when it comes to substance use and mental health issues. Honestly, I don’t have a huge problem lying about that sort of stuff, but if anybody really did their due diligence, they could find records for those issues. My solution to that was to just apply to jobs that wouldn’t subject me to a Top Secret Security check.
After a year of collecting and filling out paperwork, taking written tests (I got the highest score possible – just sayin’), taking physical tests, driving all over on errands, and dealing with the ABSOLUTE ineptitude of the bureaucrats at the regional recruiting center, I was told that my legal infractions disqualified me. I feel like they could’ve taken less than a year and a half to tell me that, but I guess not. The fine folks in my local recruiting office did everything they could to help me achieve my lifelong dream of being in the military, but at some point we all had to cut our losses.
It’s not easy parting with a lifelong goal. It feels very similar to the loss of a loved one. For me, joining the military was a right of passage; a way of proving that I was more than what everyone thought I was – a loser, a failure, an addict. It’s hard to accept the finality of the “no” I received in that go-round. Instead of really sitting with it, I changed tacks immediately, and moved to Chicago to pursue my other lifelong dreams – writing and comedy. Moving quickly and with conviction is my go-to (a trait that likely would have served me well in the service of my country), but it doesn’t allow for a lot of time to process anything.
Luckily this writing thing really helps with processing, but I’m still looking for an outlet for my badassery. Please let me know if you think of any fun ways to risk my life (ideally for the betterment of society, but I’ll take what I can get), and I will take them into consideration.