Moving to Brooklyn
My wife and I came back from Marfa, TX and found our living situation unbearable so we are moving to Brooklyn - Ft. Green to be more specific. No need to go into the details but our living situation here on Orchard St. has been bad on several levels. We found a brownstone across the street from Ft. Green Park and we will be renting the parlor floor and two bedrooms on the second floor.
My favorite thing about the move is that we are an easy walk from the Fire Lotus Temple. My Zen practise has been almost non-existent since the beginning of the year. I find that meditating on my own doesn't have the same power that meditating in the temple. I also want to more fully plug into the sangha.
Lately, I have been wrapped up in my duties as a reserve officer in the US Army. I joined 6.5 years ago to be a Mandarin Chinese linguist. I got a direct commission from civilian life and, viola, I was in the Army. I had absolutely no military background and very little exposure to the military before joining. No one in my family had been in the service except for a crazy great aunt who was an Air Force nurse. She never married and lived in a house out in the woods in Skagit Valley, WA with her dogs and piles of newspapers. So, when I suddenly decided to join the Army my family and friends didn't get it. In fact, I'm not even sure whether my parents were aware of my commissioning ceremony.
After the ceremony, I had a unit in Hawaii that I was ordered to report to. When I first tried on my BDU's, I had the pant legs on the outside of the boots and had no clue about saluting, standing at attention, etc. I felt like I was in some stupid comedy about someone who got drunk, signed up for the Army, and then when he came to was being screamed at by a drill sergeant. In fact, I felt exactly like Berger in the ending of Hair when Bukowski's unit is being mobilized for Vietnam.
Actually, Hawaii was a perfect place and a linguist unit was just right for an incoming direct commission. Most of the unit were very nice Filipino guys and they were extremely helpful and welcoming. It would have really sucked to be thrown into a more "hoo-ah" mainland unit. My Hawaii unit paid attention to Drill and Ceremony but they weren't too uptight about it.
I was quickly sent to my Officer Basic Course where I was an anomaly to say the least. Luckily, my classmates were fantastic and helped me learn the basics of being in the Army as well as our MOS.
Soon after that, I moved to Washington D.C. where I joined a reserve unit that allowed me to basically do the same thing as I did as a civilian. I thoroughly enjoyed my time with that unit. We were all mobilized in 2003 like everyone in the Reserves was but we were sent to the Pentagon. A few of us went to Iraq but the majority of us spent that year in the D.C. area.
Then my wife and I moved up here to New York last July and I had to find a new unit. I eventually did and now I run my own company.
I have tons of opinions about the military and I will get to them. I know that very basic to being a Buddhist is right living and not harming or killing. When I joined the Army Reserves, I was thinking that I could help the military deal with China by providing my Mandarin language skills. I wanted to serve the US by working for peace and understanding between China and America. I know that sounds naive but I made the 8-year commitment based on that mission.