Well, another short week and catching up after my trip to Florida. I’ve been hectically busy what with the travel and ceremonies and stuff, so I really didn’t spend any time thinking about what to write for my blog this week, which means this one will be a rambling series of “stream of consciousness” thoughts just to catch everyone up from my last post.
As I mentioned last week, I headed off to Florida to be a part of my oldest son Brian’s pinning ceremony as a chief in the US Navy. For those of you who don’t know, making chief in our navy is a pretty big deal. The US Navy is the only service that makes an enormous distinction within the enlisted ranks between an E-6 (First Class Petty Officer) and E-7 (Chief Petty Officer. When you are advanced to Chief, everything about your military career changes dramatically; your uniform changes (completely), your level of responsibility and authority increases dramatically and even you living/working accommodations improve greatly. I tell people it’s like becoming an “adult” in the eyes of the Navy.
Interesting and fun facts…
As I may have mentioned in an earlier post, I retired from the Navy as a Chief Petty Officer way back in 1999. For my time in the Navy it took a very long time, compared to my peers, for me to get selected for promotion to Chief. So long in fact, that I at one time considered leaving the Navy to seek civilian employment. While most of my peers were making Chief at around the 9-10-year mark, I wasn’t selected until year 14 of my career. I may have had a bit of a “discipline problem” along the way.
Anyway, the point is I made Chief when I had 14 years of service, and for my pinning my (then) wife and two oldest sons pinned my anchors on at the pinning ceremony.
Brian made chief at the 14-year mark as well, although these days that is really aligned with his peers. For his ceremony, his wife and I pinned his anchors on. I brought my anchors along, with the idea that I would pin him with the same anchors he pinned me with 27 years ago. That didn’t work out as either I kept the wrong anchors, or the anchors have changed…but no matter, I got to return the favor of pinning him! It was an emotional and humbling experience for me to be a part of this milestone for him, to hear him (and his fellow selectees) sing Anchors Away and to hear the MC read the Chief Petty Officers Creed again. He’s done an amazing job, and I couldn’t possibly be more proud of him. Below are a couple pictures at his promotion ceremony. The Khakis look pretty good on him.
You may notice…
You may notice a slight deformity and some bruising on Brian’s face in this picture. Funny story.
What you probably don’t know is that when a person makes Chief, there is a period (usually 6 weeks, but in this case, with COVID, it was 8 weeks) of pretty intense “initiation” that is completed. It’s not mandatory, but for those who refuse to go through initiation (which is now called “The Season”) there is a bit of stigma attached. You see, within the ranks of Chief Petty Officer you are either considered a Chief or an E-7. Basically, failing to participate, or complete the initiation successfully, means you are not “accepted” and are somewhat ostracized. Needless to say, Brian DID participate AND complete it successfully. The first rule of Chief’s initiation is that we don’t talk about Chief’s initiation so I won’t go into what happens to the selectees during this eight week period, but know that it is designed to test you, teach you to be calm under pressure and to be able to make good, sound decisions even under a ton of stress. I mean, on a warship that could be a real thing someday.
Anyway, on the final night of intense, stressful “training” Brian had a bit of a problem. So, this final night, as they call it, Brian started the day at about 5AM, and around 11PM he got a little light headed and passed out, pitching forward to (literally) face plant on the desk. He’s fine of course, but his face looks like he went 13 rounds with Joe Frazier. As you can see in the picture, it didn’t lessen his joy. I’m pretty proud of that kid (he’s 41, so not REALLY a kid anymore I suppose).
Anyway, congratulations Brian, it is AWESOME to have another Chief Mason in the family, and welcome to the mess!
After the ceremony we also got to spend a day with some other friends of Karen’s who live nearby in Jacksonville which was also pretty awesome. An opportunity to make some new friends who I hope to see again sometime soon! We made a short trip into St. Augustine and got some pretty phenomenal new hot sauce at a place called “The Pepper Palace” …I highly recommend it if you are ever there.
Anyway, came home on an early flight Monday and got right to work finishing that audio book I mentioned in my last blog. Yes, I did get the first 15 minutes finished and submitted before we left (I actually got the entire book recorded before we left) and spent the last two days editing and mastering it. This is my weak excuse for writing and posting this blog a day late again this week. Finished it up late yesterday afternoon and got it submitted, then woke up this morning to approved audio from the publisher. Pretty stoked to have gotten that finished a full two weeks (and then some) ahead of the deadline. WOOT!
And on top of that I also had a great meeting with my talent/branding manager and website designer yesterday after I finished. I’m happy to announce that there will be some changes coming soon and I will no longer be “Audiomatic Voice” but instead “Gary Mason: Outlaws and Angels Voice Over. Soft Heart, Rough Around the Edges”. We’ll be launching a new website at https://www.gary-mason.com (which is live now, but points to this site) and introducing some new branding material in the next couple months. Of course, I’ll keep you all posted as things progress, but I am excited about this move.
And, of course, a lesson…
After 41 years of working for other people, and now becoming a small business owner, it feels like I am re-learning life all over again. You see, previously, when I left to go on vacation somewhere like this, I worked hard to “clear my desk” before leaving and then the work just piled up while I was gone. When I got back and I had a week or so of “catching up” to do. These days, the only person assigning me any tasks is, well, me. And in order to assign myself some tasks, I have to go out and GET some work, which means marketing and auditioning to line up future work. Now, here it is Wednesday and my desk is clear. The lesson here is while I am working hard to clear my desk, I have to keep ALSO working hard to have some work when I return. There is no work unless I find it, so marketing is a full time job on TOP of actually doing the work.
Maybe I am just looking for an excuse to buy a travel setup? I don’t know, but that sounds like fun AND a topic for another blog. At any rate, it looks like it’s time to get busy finding work. Thanks for reading, and see you next week!