Another Weekend in the Trenches #11

I really thought this weekend was going to be shitty, but it turned out to be quite the opposite.  Of course, I would have much preferred to be home in my bed but we can’t always get what we want.

I actually don’t even have anything to complain about.  It was neither too not nor too cold.  The day was neither too busy nor too lazy.  I did not have any crappy assignments.  I didn’t even have to eat any low quality food.  It is amazing.  And strangely enough, the place had actually been upgraded.

Gone were the piss-stained death beds.  In their place were newer beds, not Sealy Posturpedic but something you might find in a prison.  I won’t complain because they don’t smell and they haven’t started to sag in the middle quite yet.  There was new lighting, actual real doors on the showers and toilets.  For a moment I thought we had been suddenly transported to the Hilton.  Okay, no, I’m being overboard but really, it was surprising that someone finally listened to the AAR comments made 15 years ago.

The weekend went by really fast.  I think it always does when we go to A.P. Hill.  The first day is movement to the place and getting situated.  The next day is all the actual work and the last day is movement back home.  Of course, it’s worse when we are there for two whole weeks but I won’t start complaining about that yet.

So, I do have something to complain about.  It isn’t about the military or drill or anything; it’s about people.  How come people smile in your face, laugh and joke with you but then secretly throw you under the bus?  And for no good reason.  I understand that I am not always a well-liked person.  I have learned to deal with it and I have gotten over it.  There are people that just don’t deal with me at all.  From these people, I expect certain actions, but the crazy thing was it wasn’t any of these people I had to think about.

This person, I barely know.  We never work together, but we are always cordial to one another.  Whenever we see each other, we always stop and speak.  To my knowledge there has never been anything between us.  Why this person would say such things about me is quite beyond my capacity.  I didn’t think we knew each other well enough for this person to even make an assumption about me, which leads me to the conclusion that this person is operating based on rumour and hearsay.  That is quite disappointing, of course, but I was truly floored at what was said.  This is a lesson I have learned before, but often fail to remember it:  trust no one.

And it isn’t like I trusted nor mistrusted this person.  Like I said, we really don’t know each other.  I have no idea of this person’s qualities.  I have never told this person anything in confidence.  Our conversations have always been blase and impersonal.  I do not know this person’s character at all, and now I see it for what it is:  a person that I can never trust.

I do not know why it has bothered me.  I am almost never fazed by what people say about me behind my back.  As long as I am not perceived as dishonest or disloyal or some such, I could care less about what flaws someone thinks about my personality.  We all have flaws, so you should just get over it.  I don’t want anyone to question my character though.  That’s unnerving.  I might be annoying or bitchy or talk too much, but I don’t like for people to say that I am untrustworthy or evil or any other major character flaws.

Which is why I am confused this person would say something when we don’t even know each other.

Okay, I promise I’m over it.  No, I’m not.  I’m going to let it bother me for a minutes more and then I’ll be over it.  Whenever I see this person again, I will walk past like the day before we met.

Other than that, it was a pretty good weekend.  Do you know that if I had not re-enlisted this would have been my last drill?  *sighs*  Although I complain all the time I wasn’t getting out.  Anyway, I don’t have to drill in May because I asked for permission to skip it a long time ago.  I’ll be back in June with more antics.

Advertisements

Another Weekend in the Trenches #10

Drill weekend went by kinda fast, but then kinda not.  It was weird, in a way.  I was disappointed to have drill in the first place because as usual, there is always something exciting going on during the weekend I have drill.  There are four or five weekends in a month, and three of them I will be sitting at home, doing nothing and then suddenly it’s drill weekend and everybody is having a party.  There was a food and wine festival in DC that I wanted to go to but no…. I had drill.  Then my dad wanted me to go to Atlanta with him for my uncle’s birthday, but no…. I had drill.

Saturday I started work in my new position, where I am basically a gofer girl.  It sounds like the perfect thing for me to complain about but actually, I am glad of it for several reasons.  One, it gives me something to do other than watching the clock.  Yes, I’d rather be goofing off with everyone else but goofing off does not make the time go by faster.  Most of the morning I was in the office learning how to work some of the systems that will become my responsibility in future.  Then I was running out passing messages between sergeants and whatnot.  Like a toddler, I was kept occupied and before too long it was time for lunch.  Afterward, we had the usual round of briefings and whatnot, but then the day started to drag.  I was annoyed to find that it was almost 6PM before they let us go home.  Yeah, yeah, I know that mantra about “training to standard and not to time,” but the last hour we weren’t doing anything.  We were given no instructions, so therefore, we are not training… and we should go home.

That threw off my evening plans a little bit.  I had told Debonair to come over after 6PM.  He texted me at 545 to say he was around the corner.  Too bad I was still at the armoury.  Luckily, I do not live very far away.  He came over to share with me this dangerous double chocolate super fudge cake he brought for Valentine’s Day.  We ended up at the buffet around the corner and then we destroyed that cake.  It was a sad state of being.  We hung out until after 1AM, which is such a no go for me.  I just do not like to be tired when I am working and the next morning when it was time to get up I wanted to cry.

Sunday was more learning about the systems and other things.  Sitting in the office gave me an interesting picture of what goes on behind the scenes.  It’s a good thing and a bad thing.  I am truly nosy as hell but there are some things I just don’t want to know because they will only depress me.  That’s all I’m going to say about that.  I will say that I’m glad I was able to make the move because there were certain announcements made that had me cringing.  Leadership is changing in the unit.  Like everything, some of it is good and some of it is bad.  The army is really all about coping with things.  It’s not an amusement park and if you’re looking for the perfect life than the army is not for you.  When things I don’t like come down, I just learn how to adjust so that I am not stressed out.  Like I told someone who asked, I’m just making sure that I am set up for success and if making a move is the only thing to get my mind right, then that is what I need to do.  Some of the changes that came down really disappointed me but there’s nothing I can do about it but deal with it and move on.

The rest of the day went by in a bit of a blur.  I had to work on those usual training classes we do every year and then we sat in the computer room, goofing like old times.  Then it was time to leave.  I was glad because I was truly dragging by the end.  The sad part was that I couldn’t immediately go home because I had to get my dad from the airport.

On another note, I ended up not re-enlisting, not because I don’t want to.  I do.  I’ve already made that decision.  It was just for the length of time that I was quibbling over.  I am reclassing to another MOS and because of that I have to have a certain amount of time left over after I get out of school.  But then there is no guarantee that I will go to the school in the first place, so I’d be re-enlisting for a lengthy period of time and not really getting anything for it.  I was enrolled in the school but I need to wait for state approval.  Once I get state approval, then I should re-enlist.  If I don’t hear anything from the state by May, then I will only re-enlist one year at a time.  This was some solid advice and I took it.  Yes, I love the army but I am not about to do this shit for God and country.  That’s a big no.

I told another soldier that this is really a good time for us because so many of the older enlisted are rolling out.  If we’re going to make some moves, the time is now.  Strike while the iron is hot, as they say.  Also it is looking good for a promotion maybe by the end of this year.  There are only three ahead of me and one of them is out of the running for the time being.  That means I only have to kidnap the other two.

I never lied about my ambition, so don’t like it’s all new to you.

At any rate, I think it was a pretty good weekend.  Very low-stress.  No drama.  And that is the way I like it.  We’ll see what happens next month when we get to the fuck around with that damn tent again.  I wonder what would happen if I just set fire to the whole damn thing?  Maybe somebody will put me in for an award.  Okay, maybe not, but I can dream.

Another Weekend in the Trenches #9

It was a very easy weekend, no stress, no drama, nothing to make me wish I wasn’t in the army.  Except for the fact that an already difficult decision has become even more difficult, I don’t really have a lot to complain about.  That’s a first.

Saturday, we hung around the armoury to finish up some required briefings.  We had the annual suicide prevention thing.  I know it’s required and the army really thinks it’s doing something by forcing us to sit and watch the same dry powerpoint presentation year after year, but like I said to someone nothing really changes.  The army still has a high suicide rate.  Why is that?  Because nothing ever changes.  The army can go around saying, “Hey, look, we’re doing everything we can,” but the culture of the army is still a culture of “suck it up.”  It’s like an abusive spouse who goes to the anger management meetings and then comes home to beat up his wife.

You can tell that nobody cares because of how we make jokes when we watch SPC Norton go through the same dramatic crap with his girlfriend back home who ends up pregnant with another man’s baby and then wipes out his bank account.  Everybody thinks it’s hilarious but we all know what we’d really do in a situation like that, and it ain’t shoot ourselves in the head.  It’s more like whoop somebody’s ass.  What about homicide prevention?  Wasn’t there a series of murders a few years back with guys coming home to shoot up their wives and kids?

At any rate, we sat through that and then I had a long talk with my sergeant about re-enlisting.  I’m still teetering on the edge of yes, no, maybe so.  I just don’t know what to do.  Then she gave me another option and that only seemed to make things even more complicated.  I also had a very long talk with another specialist who has the same feeling as mine.  She said she was confused.  We both agreed that for some reason it seems like the decision to re-enlist is life-changing.  Yes, of course, it’s life changing because we could end up deployed.  Something could happen to me over there.  Lots of things.  But that’s not necessarily what I mean.  This one decision seems like it’s going to affect everything in my whole life and I don’t know why that is.

She gave me this counseling thing and one of the questions was “are there any outside events in your life that may be affecting your military decision?”  The answer to that is no.  My parents like the fact I’m in the military.  All of my friends are in the military.  My job is military related.  My whole life, childhood and adulthood, has been military.  So why do I feel like it’s such a big deal?  I have lots of plans for my life and I don’t see how staying in the military would be detrimental.  I guess I just can’t shake that feeling.

I heard the reserves is giving out bonuses to prior service so I’m going to talk to the reserve guys this week to see what that’s about.  I have to make sure there are no strings attached like a lengthy contract, an automatic deployment or something else lame.  A couple thousand dollars is great but in all actuality I do not need a couple thousand dollars.  I want it, yes, of course, but wants and needs are two different things.

I guess the bottom line comes down to is that I will re-enlist for at least one year.  I think I just don’t know if it’s going to be the National Guard again or the Reserves.  It is going to be my same MOS, the same unit?  I don’t know.  I’m bored with my MOS.  Even if we did MOS-related training I would probably still be bored with it.  I’m tired of the negativity in our unit.  I am tired of working with people who do not care about anything.  I am tired of people who have crappy attitudes, because I fall in line right with them no matter how hard I try to stay focused.

I was given an opportunity and I think I’m going to take it.  Not because I’m totally psyched about it but because it will be something different, something new.  Sometimes all it takes is a little shake up in your life.  At least, that’s what I am going to tell myself.  Another soldier gave me some information about a potential and very interesting deployment opportunity.  Five years ago I would have been all over it, but now I’m older. My life is very comfortable.  Everything I’ve been working for is coming to a culmination.  Why would I want to screw that up by gallivanting to some war-torn country with all of its bag of tricks and miseries?

I guess a soldier ain’t supposed to think like that but I’m human first and a realist second.

I was asked when we were all going to get together again and hang out like we used to.  Since I have fired myself as the event coordinator, I don’t know when this is going to happen.  It’s not like I don’t want it to happen but it has to be on much different terms.  Things are not the same as they used to be and we should all realise that it’s very difficult to close the door once it’s been opened.  You can never really go back to the way things were.  That’s a shame, but it’s part of life and it’s better to just move on from that and not dwell on the past.

It may not be a direct result of this, but somehow, indirectly, this is why we have zero morale in the unit.  I don’t think very many of us feel like a team.  We are very cliquey and never the twain shall meet.  If we all had to be deployed together, I think we would all be very mistrusting of each other, even more so than we are now.  It’s difficult to work together in that fashion.

So yes, maybe something needs to be done, but I am not sure that I need to be the one to do it.  It needs to be a concerted effort.

At any rate…….. I don’t know how to end this so it’s just over.

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.

Another Weekend in the Trenches #7

I was seriously in the trenches this drill weekend.  What a roller coaster.  I can’t precisely say how I feel about this weekend; my feelings seem to be all over the place.  I started off dreading its approach because I found myself less and less in the mood to deal with bullshit.  The week before, I was thinking of ways I could get out of it but I was unsuccessful at coming up with a plausible excuse.  I was even more dejected when I found out my platoon sergeant wasn’t coming and then further slapped in the face when another comrade suddenly couldn’t go.  But I guess some things really do happen for a reason.

I was supposed to be assisting with a task but I found myself completely in charge of that task, only it did not work as well as I intended, or maybe it did.  I don’t know.  See how confusing this all is?

The whole weekend was a convergence of fuck ups, mishaps and misunderstandings, splattered over top power struggles, incompetence and sheer stupidity.  It is like with each passing drill weekend, leadership just gets more and more stupid. They make nonsensical plans that are wasteful and time consuming so that nothing real ever gets accomplished.  It’s left morale among the junior troops at an all time low.  I think if we had an option to get out right now at this very moment there would only be like two of us left, and I’m being very generous.

Last night when I was contemplating in my mind what I wanted to write for this log entry, I had a grand design of cussing everybody out, but now I see there is little point in doing so.  All the fire fueling my anger seems to have gone out.  I guess because the way I look at it, I only have 14 more days in the National Guard.  I refuse to let these experiences ruin the plans I’ve set for myself but I admit that it is hard to stay motivated.

We are no longer a team.  Forget about all that Army of One crap that was our motto a few years back.  This is the Army of You Over There and Me Over Here.  The Army of I Don’t Really Give a Shit.  And more and more, I really don’t give a shit, and I don’t want to give into that.  I’m made of sterner stuff.  After my ghastly experience at basic training, I told myself there isn’t anything I can’t get through.  So when I look at it in that light I have to say that this is not as bad as all that.  It’s not even close.

So what if I had to sleep in the arms room for reasons unknown.  It was just kind of bizarre, and for all the complaining that I did (and you know I complain about EVERYTHING, good and bad) it wasn’t even that horrible.  In fact, it was better and exactly what I’d wished for.  I came into the weekend hoping that I would be overly tasked so that I could stay perpetually busy.  I got what I asked for… in spades.  It was quiet and warm.  I wasn’t subject to the ghetto black trash with their loud R&B music and empty conversations.  I didn’t have to deal with anything that I didn’t want to deal with.  I even got my own bathroom.  What more can I ask for?  Except maybe a proper bed.  That was the only downfall.

I guess it’s irrational of me to expect leadership to have fully thought their plans through.  If they wanted a soldier to sleep in the arms room, they might have at least provided a cot.  Instead, I got one of those things that they use to carry injured patients around.  I was about an inch off the ground, but I’ll say that it was better than the sail boat bed I was gonna sleep on in the barracks.  That thing would have hurt my back. It was the stumbling around in the dark that hurt my back.  I was trying to sit down so I could put socks on and I completely missed the chair and fell down hard on on some pole thing.  Luckily no one was around to see me.

At least the weather was better for the range.  When we came out to the range in August I thought I was going to do die but this time around I was more comfortable.  It took me a second to zero because the safety who was assisting me didn’t really know what he was doing.  I think he adjusted my sights in the wrong direction the first couple of times but we did manage to get it right and I was able to zero without losing my mind.  The qualification range was one of the easiest I’ve been on.  I qualified as sharpshooter and I feel redeemed for that fiasco at Fort Pickett at which I could only knock down eight targets at a time.  I’ve been shooting all my life and never have I turned in such a dismal record.  I guess it really is the weather.  When I shoot indoors I do well.  When I shoot in the cold I do well.  When it’s hot, I just fuck up. I no longer hate the M4.

I heard that a number of people didn’t qualify but I think it’s mainly because they only got one chance at the range.  Once again, leadership failed.  Since we are national guard, we don’t get to hit the range as often as active duty.  Not everybody shoots for recreation.  Not everybody has been deployed.  Shooting is a perishable skill.  If you don’t do it often you will not be good at it and you will become lax in the fundamentals.  You have to give these people some time to accomplish the task, but I guess I’m just making too much sense.

After all, I am only an E4, and therefore completely incompetent.

And speaking of incompetence, whose super genius idea was it to conduct a PT test in the early morning hours on a cold, windy day?  That’s setting your troops up for success.  And weighing people after a long weekend of eating MREs and junk food.  Yup, that’s a real winner there.  And they wonder why morale is in the toilet and the suicide rate is high.  The army just doesn’t know how to manage its time and resources well.  I know everybody’s all into the “old school” and the way things have always been done but this is an entirely different generation; an army made up of people who don’t even remember the Vietnam War so why would you continue to preach outmoded and antiquated ideals?  But again… I’m sorry, I’m trying to see the logic.

As far as all army concerns went this weekend, it was a clusterfuck, but I have stopped stressing about things like that.  I complain about it because I like to complain about everything but if I really thought it was that serious I wouldn’t try to excel the way I do.  I still believe in the institution of the army, even if I don’t believe in the methods.  One day, it will be a new army.  I may not live to see it, but it won’t be long before the baby boomers all die off and change can really happen.

That’s enough about that.

As far as other things are concerned, well, it was interesting.  I had a few people come up and talk to me about certain things and I had to tell them that I didn’t have much to say on the subject.  During one of those lame ass briefings we had, one of the sergeants brought up something I had quite forgotten.  What is the opposite of love?  It isn’t hate, like you might think, but apathy.  When you love something you’re putting in time and energy to cultivate that love.  It’s the same with hatred.  You have to actively hate something.  You have to put force into it, effort, thought.  Hate, like love, can be consuming.  But if you’re completely apathetic, indifferent to a situation or someone or something, you don’t really give a damn at all.  You have no thought for it, no energy, no time, no nothing.  It’s just a blank space in your mind.  A void.  When he mentioned that in his brief, I realised that’s how I felt:  completely apathetic.  I feel that way about a lot of things.  I just don’t care.  It can be one way or another and either way my life would still keep moving in the same direction.

I told another friend that we are who our friends are.  We don’t like to admit it and somehow we like to think that we are different, but it’s not true.  You tend to become the people you hang around.  If you’re lucky, the people with whom you chose to spend time will be positive and uplifting.  If you’re really lucky, you’ll be the driving force and they will imitate you (that is, if you have good qualities), but most of us become clones of our friends.  If your friends are pieces of trash you yourself will become a piece of trash.  It will be difficult to distinguish you from the other, and forever more you will be likened to the crap you hang around with.

It’s not like I’m above this.  I’m human like any other, and I notice that I was picking up the same qualities that I’ve always abhorred in others.  When I look in the mirror I want be okay with myself.  I don’t need justification from other people; I need justification from myself, and if I don’t like myself or what I’m becoming there’s a problem and a change needs to be made.  I explained this and I was surprised that there was such agreement in my statement.  It is what it is and I’m okay with that.  I think it’s unfortunate that many people do not themselves realise this.  I also think it’s sad when you indeed do see the problem but you fail to correct it because you are concerned of what others might think.  In the end, you’re only important to yourself.  You are the one who takes care of yourself.  Yes, we have good friends that will be there when we need them but when it all comes down to it, you have to be able to take care of yourself.

I’m okay with that.  Later on, someone else came up to talk to me about cohesion and stability but I had nothing to add to that conversation.  I agreed that something needs to be done, but I don’t think I’m the one that needs to do it.  There’s being the bigger person and then there’s being a punching bag.  I’m not smart enough to be the former and I’m too smart to be the latter.

I just think that ….. well, who really cares what I think?

After drill, SF and I went to McCormick and Schmick’s Seafood Restaurant in DC.  They did their Veteran’s Day special where you get a free meal for serving in the military.  Applebee’s and Subway are doing the same thing on Veteran’s Day, but Applebee’s is common people food and I wouldn’t eat at Subway even if Jesus commanded it.  We invited Maq but she had the kids and wouldn’t come out.  It was nice to hang out after drill to wash away the stresses of the military with several glasses of wine and a mimosa.  Surprisingly, I wasn’t even tired like I usually am after a long drill.  After dinner, I ended up coming home to a Star Trek marathon and a long walk on my treadmill.

I ended the evening with a thought:  he who dies with the most toys still dies.

Another Weekend in the Trenches #6

What a thoroughly depressing weekend.

I go through these love/hate cycles with the army.  I’ve said before the army is my abusive boyfriend that I’m scared to get rid of.  He beats me up but then tells me he loves me, and I won’t leave him because I think next time is going to be different.

Friday after work I had unusual energy but since the PT test was Saturday morning, I did not want to do anything that would jeopardise my results.  Instead, I spent the evening cleaning my house and watching Lupin III. I did a nice power walk and a couple of sessions of yoga so that I would be at peak operating capacity.

Saturday morning, I got to the track early so I could walk and warm my muscles up.  For some reason I felt nervous, like I wasn’t going to do well, which is absurd, but I couldn’t shake the feeling.  I imagined that I would fall and break a leg or my stomach would cramp up, or something.  I’m always so spastic.

I ended up doing quite well on the PT test.  In fact, it was one of my better tests.  I did 40 push ups, 60 sit ups and did the two mile run in 17:42, or something to that effect.  I scored 248.  I’m pleased with those results.  Naturally, I failed the weight.  I was disappointed about that, but I kind of expected it.  It seems I’m going in two different directions.  I get more physically fit but I get fatter.  How does that work?  I don’t know.  So I have another month of starving myself so I can attempt to make weight so I won’t be sent to Fat Camp in January.

The good thing about the PT test is that it takes up most of the day, but leadership is on this new thing now that we will stay the entire training day because there is a lot of stuff to do.  They say this all the time and I would like to know what all the stuff is that we have to do.  Don’t be vague. I’m going to complain about everything but I will complain less and be less vocal if I knew that there was some actual stuff to be completed and not just you posturing.

We sat in briefings all afternoon and when the briefings were completed, we went outside to PMCS the vehicles, like we always do every month.  Their claim is that we PMCS the vehicles today and we won’t have to do it next month before we go to AP Hill.  It is highly unlikely that we will not PMCS the vehicles again, but there’s nothing that can be done about.  There will be no way to solve world peace and there will be no way to never again PMCS the vehicles.

It was like 1758 when we were released.  I was starving, thoroughly and irritated.  SF came over to cheer me up though.  I’m so glad she’s back.  We got into one of our rounds of talking forever and ever until she had to leave to celebrate her brother’s birthday.  I had originally planned to go out but I got a little bit sleepy.  Getting out so late, I don’t have time to take a nap in the evening before going out.  I wish I would have, then I would not have been in such a shitty mood on Sunday.

I woke up on the wrong side of the bed on Sunday because my neighbours decided they wanted to do laundry at 11PM.  I was already in bed when they came to the door.  The boyfriend was like, “I need to wash something for work tomorrow.”  Lack of planning on your part does not mean an emergency on mine.  You know when you have to work.  You know you need that shirt.  I left the house at 6AM that morning and I was gone until 630PM.  You had 12. 5 hours to come down and do your damn laundry.  Even on top of that, I let them come down until around 9.  I ask that they start their last load at 8 so they can finish drying by 9, so I can have some peace and quiet and walk around naked if I want to.

At 11PM, I am on my own personal time.  I told him that he was welcome to come back at 6AM to wash his shirt.  I would be awake, making breakfast at that hour and he would not be disturbing me from my sleep.  He got all huffy and slammed the door.  Did h come back at 6aM?  No he did not.  I guess that shirt wasn’t that serious.

Sunday saw us in more briefings.  Every year it’s the same stuff and I was sitting there regretting that I hadn’t gone out the night before.  I could almost hear the club music reverberating through space beckoning me.  Oh well.  There’s always next weekend.  I spent some time getting to know some of the newer soldiers in our unit.  We’ve gotten a sudden influx of soldiers and they kind of just mill around looking hopeless.

I’m not generally a friendly person, but it was something to do.

I noticed that I am slipping back into old behaviours.  When I worked at TSA, I was quite guilty of allowing other people to dictate my emotions.  I used to let myself get sucked in to whatever was going on in other people’s lives, much to my detriment.  My old friend Crystal told me something very important that made me see the error of my ways.  She said, “You are who your friends are.”  When she first said this to me, I didn’t want to believe it, but I’m a person who spends a lot of time in contemplation.  All at once I saw that she was right.  When I was at TSA, I had to go through a very difficult time cutting people out of my life because they were bringing me down with their attitudes.

I didn’t want to do it because I didn’t want to be without friends, but no friends is better than those type of friends.  It took me a long time to realise this, and I see that I’m doing it to myself again.  When will I learn that I am better off by myself?  When will I learn that I do not need people in my life that will drag me down the same slippery slope of despair they are on?  I have my own problems, I can fuck up my own life.  I don’t need someone else to do it for me.  The fault is all mine, but thankfully I am seeing this sooner rather than later.  This is not going to be a TSA experience where I don’t realise the truth until it’s too late.

I got an award–well, certificate of appreciation, for something I did last year.  If I hadn’t been so upset I might have enjoyed receiving the award, and then on top of that, the award said SERGEANT, something I feel like I’m never going to be.  So on top of being slapped in the face, I also got punched and kicked.  When I got home, I just threw it behind a stack of books because it’s a little bit worthless.  But thanks for asking.

And just to let you know how my abusive boyfriend treats me.  He gives me flowers before beating me up.  After receiving the award, I had to go see my sergeant so I can get my counseling statement for being a big fat pig beast.  Whatever.  I will allow myself to be depressed about this only for the rest of the day.

I was talking to SPC L., one of the new guys in the unit, and I told him that I was trying hard not to get sucked into everybody’s depression and malcontent.  I am unhappy with the unit.  Morale is low.  But I don’t want this to ruin my army experience.  I don’t want to get out of the army and have nothing good to say about the whole thing.  I don’t want all of these things to make up what the army meant to me.  When I look back, I don’t want to have to say, “I joined the army and it was the worst thing ever.”  A friend of mine feels that way about his Marine Corps career.  It’s like a waste of your life.  Everybody is so down.  Nobody has bee promoted.  No matter how good you do, nobody seems to care.  They only harp on the bad things.  They are quick to counsel you for everything negative, but nobody is ever like, “Hey, that was a good job.”

But there’s so much stuff to do.

As a result, most of the soldiers have contracted bad attitudes.  Some are worse than others and it’s contagious.  It’s a cancer that is slowly spreading and infecting all the good tissue.  Once it becomes this bad, the only thing to do is cut off all the bad parts, but the sad thing about the army is that you can’t get rid of the shit so easily.  So you have to carry around the malignant waste and let it destroy everything it touches.

I’m trying hard not to let it touch me.

I let myself fall into a bit of depression this weekend, but I vow that it will go no further.  Next weekend, I will endeavour to inoculate myself against infection, even if it means quarantine.  I have eight months left before I can make a major move.  I didn’t do this shit for nothing.  I still have goals to achieve and miles to go before I sleep.  I don’t need dead weight dragging me down.

Anyway, what’s done is done and thankfully, nobody can control time.  I don’t have to go back to those moments.  I get to keep moving forward.  I get to make new decisions.  I get to choose what to do with the time that is given to me.

That’s a saving grace.  I’ll let myself continue to be depressed about this until tonight.  Tomorrow I will wake up with all of this behind me.  In November I will return with renewed vigour and a sense of direction (oh yeah, and like 10 pounds thinner) so I can accomplish what I set out to do.

I got miles to go before I sleep.
Miles to go before I sleep.

Oh yeah, I forgot to add this.  Hahahahah.  You lunk, you did all that talking but yet once again, you failed to deliver.  I am disappointed in you!  We worked so hard all summer.  You’re supposed to be someone that sets an example for the rest of us.  You’re supposed to be someone that we look up to, but yet, it’s nothing but excuses.  You need to start putting your money where your mouth is.  Your game is weak.  Talk, talk, talk, but never any results.

I will see you at the finish line.

Another Weekend in the Trenches #5

This weekend I was reminded why I both love and hate the Army as it both loves and hates me.  The Army is a boyfriend who treats me like shit but yet I love him anyway.  He makes false promises and I cling to his every word, waiting for the day that he’ll make good.  I should leave his sorry ass, but I don’t have the strength to.  I think about the good old days, when it was just me and him and how he used to do right by me.  I pretend not to notice how fickle he is and how cruel he can be. Whenever I try to leave him, the Army pulls me back and reminds me why I’m with him in the first place.  He says, “Bitch, you can’t leave me.  We’re in this together forever.”

What can I say?  I love the Army and the Army loves me.

It was just one of those weekends where you really can’t win for losing.  Enter the dreaded MUTA-6, three long agonising days of bullcrap.  Get up Friday morning and fight morning rush hour traffic.  On a normal day, I would have been at work two hours already by the time I arrived at drill.  I had to come early so I can set up the breakfast thing.  This weekend, I felt like saying fuck it.  I offered to do it because I know the supply sergeant has her hands full with other things.  The previous specialist who was in charge of it was a moron and basically wasted all the money we earned.  I hate listening to people complain about how expensive everything is.  There is a simple solution for that:  don’t buy shit.  Or bring your own shit from home.  Get up early and take your ass to 7/11 and pay whatever they charge.  The thing is, do you start bitching at the clerk behind the counter about how expensive the sticky buns are?

I hate the accusing looks I get when people think I’m overcharging so I can pocket the money.  Trust me, the things I want in life cost far more than the forty-seven cents profit I make off a bottle of too sugary juice.  If I could buy a Benz from selling cinnamon buns, maybe you’d have cause for complaint.  I couldn’t even pay my cell phone bill with the pennies we get.  I set the price based on what I would need to buy more.  This isn’t a business and I am not financially or emotionally vested.  The previous specialist used to get suckered by everyone with their cry baby games about the food prices, so she ended up paying for stuff herself.  Sorry, not this chick.  But then, if I miss one day setting up all that crap someone sends me a nasty text message or makes a snide comment, “Hey, where’s the breakfast.”  Some asshole even said to me, “You know, drill weekend is the only time I eat a real breakfast.  You weren’t even here, so I missed breakfast.  Thanks a lot.”

*eyetwitch*

I got rope-a-doped into going to some training that I was not interested in.  Some days I get so pissed at the Army.  I went through the worst experience of my life at basic training, and I didn’t do all of that just so I could drive a truck or fuck around with some electricity.  I know we need soldiers to do that shit, but not me.  Because then you get stuck on that crap and that’s all your known for:  the girl who fixes generators.  Yeah, I don’t think so.

But true to my usual form, I have a way of doing whatever the hell I want to do.  I was feeling rebellious too because I said, “You know what, everybody has been bitched once or twice in their military life, it ain’t gonna kill me to get yelled at.”  I was that prepared.  I didn’t even care and I’m not usually like that.  I might whine and complain, but I usually do what I’m told like a good little slave girl.

It was just too fucking hot to be bothered with all that so I went the way of the wind and ended up having to work on my NCOER.  Here’s another reason why I’m in the Fuck the Army mode.  I never want to hear the acronym NCOER ever again, and yet sadly, I know I cannot escape it.

In things that I’m interested in, I’m truly ambitious.  I want to be the best.  I sit and think of ways of how to get on top.  I motivate myself to do whatever needs to be done so I can come out a winner.  I don’t know where I got that from, but that’s just a central part of me.  With the Army I feel like I’m wasting my time.  I’m here stopping on dimes for nothing.  Balancing shit on my head while juggling live cats in a hat box and nobody is paying attention.  The National Guard and its convoluted promotion system is depressing me.  Here is a place where you may not get promoted based on your merits because there is no place to promote you.

But if you act like an asshole piece of shit, they won’t hesitate to come down on you like a ton of bricks.  So it’s like you get all the punishment but none of the reward. You’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t and that’s a tough pill to swallow.  I told one of my battles at lunch that I was going to stop giving a damn and she said it would be impossible for me because I’m a natural go-getter and I have that bossy tendency that I can never deny.

So sad.  So true.

On Saturday it was more of the same.  Oppressive heat and mindless wandering around the drill floor, desperate to stay out of the line of fire.  You honestly don’t have anything to do, and you would be at your task if you had one, but they want you to get lost and look busy.  I wonder about the senior enlisted.  Do they even have a clue what is happening.  Yes, they are all busy because they are E6s and E7s.  They have paperwork and other shit to do, and so when they see some E4 just moseying around they get pissed, and rightfully so, but this is their game.  They made the rule that if you’re not a certain rank you can’t do anything.  So task me with something or shut the fuck up.  I spent most of Saturday pretending to be busy, walking around like I was on some mission just so nobody would say, “Hey soldier, you’re not doing shit, why don’t you go alphabetise all the street signs in America.”

I hate that we’re often treated like infants.  Perhaps this applies to some of us, but certainly not all of us.

What made me so mad about Saturday is that we were literally doing nothing.  There were some people doing the driver’s training that was postponed from Friday, but the rest of us were sitting around with our thumbs up our asses scared we would get tasked with some bullshit because they couldn’t think of anything better for us to do.

So with us doing absolutely nothing on Saturday, on Sunday we were exceptionally busy.  On Friday when they realised that driver’s training would not go as planned, they should have bumped up Sunday’s tasks to Friday afternoon, especially since those tasks were not time sensitive.  Our unit poorly manages times and that gets on my nerves to no end.

We did have something important to do Sunday morning and I understand that cannot be put off because it’s based on when certain resources are available, but Sunday afternoon?  Moving shit off trucks and putting other shit on trucks, that can be done any time, so on Friday and Saturday when we were just hanging out, that could have been accomplished.  So that way on Sunday night when it’s time to go home, you don’t have to hold up the whole fucking formation so you can give three people a safety briefing.  Yeah, it was more than three people and I’m exaggerating but these are basic suggestions for a simple win.

But I am just a specialist and therefore mildly retarded and incapable of a sentient thought.

I don’t expect to be released early every time I come to drill.  I don’t expect to be catered to (although I want to be).  I don’t expect everything to magically go right, but it is like more and more as time goes on, this unit seems to slowly fall apart.  I’m sure some sergeant will come up with a good reason as to why things did not progress as planned, but everything has a good reason.

There’s a good reason why I’m bitchy today.  There’s a good reason why the sky is blue.  There’s a good reason why your mom is ugly.

So what?

The only thing that makes the drill weekend bearable is my peers.  I have a good time with these guys.  As long as we can sit around, crack jokes, cry on each other’s shoulders and bitch and rant together, I can get through it.  If these guys weren’t around, I probably would have run screaming from the armoury already.  That’s what I’m going to hang on to when I go to AT this year.

I’m dreading it like a trip to the gyno.  We will be stuck for two miserable, hot, humid weeks in Ft. Pickett, VA.  I’ve never been down there but I ain’t never been to an army base that looks like the Breakers Resort.  I’m sure the beds will be two pieces of toilet paper strung together on a bit of rope.  The bathroom will look like the death scene from Carrie 2:  The Rage.  The food will have me either clogged up for a month or shitting for two weeks straight.  Take your pick.  They both suck.

One of the sergeants basically told me how it’s going to be.  We’re going to get down there, set everything up, have a few training classes, go to the range and then kind of like… nothing.  If we don’t have a mission then we’re basically useless.

Le sigh.

But I swear I really do love this shit and I don’t know why.  I am a battered wife.  The more I get knocked around the more I want to go back.  I put on my uniform and I feel all special and important.  I can’t imagine not wearing it.  I have ten more months left on my contract and it hasn’t even really crossed my mind not to renew.  I’m looking at other options, of course.  But you know what battered women usually do?

They go from one abuser to the next without blinking an eye,  because they don’t know no better.