Another Weekend in the Trenches #8

Since it was the December drill there isn’t really much to complain about.  December drill is usually easy:  full of briefings, the dreaded holiday party and lots of standing around pretending to be busy.  You can add cleaning weapons that are already clean and that’s pretty much how the weekend went.

I was really not looking forward to the holiday party.  Last year’s party was so terrible that I decided that I would rather go on a ruck march than to suffer another one.  Last year, there was about an inch of ice on the ground and the food was ghastly.  We had to hang out for an interminable length of time, staring round the table at people that you don’t hang out with that often.  Yeah, we’re all comrade in arms and we like each other okay, but if we had a choice we’d be with our own friends somewhere else.

I am pleased to announce that the food was edible this year, thanks to Boston Market.  Whoever had that idea, thank you.  From what I understand Lunkhead had a large hand in planning this event.  When I heard that, I was kind of worried.  I had been to his parties before and to be quite honest, they left much to be desired.  I figure it wouldn’t be too horrible because with the presence of children and wives and that sort of thing it might be slightly elevated, but then there’s no knowing anything.

Well, you know me, I give credit where credit is due.  Mr. Lunkhead’s entertainment was excellent.  The comedian was FUCKING HILARIOUS.  At first, I felt kind of forced to stay but after he started up with the military jokes, I realised that it was a pleasant surprise.  It was funny because he was saying things that we all think but never say out loud.  Every little scenario he had there was someone in the unit that matched up exactly.  Then he went into the religious jokes, and I love religious jokes so that was hilarious.  I thought it was a great way to end the evening.

The DJ could have been better, but I’m going to cut him some slack.  I think it’s because we had such a mixed crowd.  He had to play a little of everything to please everyone.  I can’t expect the man to start up with goth’s top ten.  But the sad “I’m in my room, writing in my diary, contemplating suicide” music he was playing at the first was kind of like… uhm…. is this a party or a crybaby event?  Then with the Phil Collins.  Yeah, I love Phil Collins but I listen to him when I’m like depressed.  But whatever.  At least it was background noise.

The only reason I like the holiday party and the family events is because I like to see what people look like in their civilian clothes. I also like to see their wives/husbands, see what they go home to at night.  It’s always interesting because sometimes people don’t look like what you expect them to look like.  Sometimes they surprise you and sometimes you’re just right on point.

Anyway, on Sunday something became very clear to me.

I only have four more drills left in the army.  FOUR.

This means I have done five and a half years of my six year contract.  You know I always say that I love the Army and the Army loves me.  I really believe that but sometimes you got to face reality.  Nothing ever really works out the way you plan.  I know what the army is.  It isn’t all fun and games.  It isn’t like how you see in the movies.  It’s a lot of bullshit.  It’s a lot of disrespect.  It’s a lot of waste of my time.  But then there’s the other hand.  Look what it did for my civilian career.  Look what it did for me as a person.  Look what it can still do for me.

Two years ago I said with strength that I was staying in the army forever and ever.  Now, I say that I am staying but there’s got to be some serious contemplation.  I am not going to arbitrarily go up there and raise my right hand again.  I’ve got to think about things.  I have other interests in my personal life that I’d like to pursue, but then I am still dreaming of a glorious military career.  Then there’s the general depression and low morale of my unit.  Do I want to stay in this unit?  Do I want to stay in the national guard?  Do I want to go the reserves?  I do want to change MOS?  What do I want to do?

In the next couple of weeks, I need to sit down and really think about things.  I’m going to write it all down, every choice I can make and all the pros and cons of each decision, see where it stacks up with what I want to do and where I want to go.  I’m too old to be making fly-by-night decisions.  I don’t plan on dying tomorrow but if I do I don’t want what I have right now to be wasted.  That’s just the worst.  At any rate, my mind just kind of boggled that I really only have four months left.

It seems like yesterday that I went to basic training and experienced the worst two months of my life.  Those two months ended up being life changing for me.  Dramatic, sure, but it’s the truth.  Everybody goes through things differently.  Depends on where you came from and where you’re going.  Five years ago I met a great friend at AIT.  Five years ago I decided who I was as a soldier, a Muslim and an American.  Five years ago I had a lot of hopes and dreams.

In the past five years I didn’t deploy, and not for lack of trying.  I’ve only participated in one mission.  I only earned one award.  I just came to drill every month, year after year and did the best I could.  Sometimes your best is not enough though.  No matter how I feel about something, I always try to do my best because if I should ever have to leave I don’t want anybody to remember in a way that is unsavoury.  I don’t care if I’m remembered as unlikeable or bitchy or moody.  That is irrelevant and subjective.  I might be unlikeable but I’m a hard-worker, honest, trustworthy, loyal and dependable.  That is what I hope I leave behind if I should decide to go.  That is what I hope a person will think of if I should decide to stay.

It’s all very complicated, of course.  I don’t want another six years of just coming to drill.  I don’t want another six years of the poor attitudes and negative vibes that we’ve been suffering of late.  I don’t want another six years surrounded by other soldiers, junior and senior, who don’t give a damn and don’t want to be there.  I don’t want another year of wasting my time.  I did say I wanted to be sergeant-major of the universe.  Can’t get there if I don’t get promoted.  Like I just said, I can only do my best but sometimes my best just ain’t enough.  There’s no guarantee of anything.

Anyway, that’s what I left thinking about last night.  Who knows what the future holds.

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