8 exams down, 1 to go…so far I’m keeping my head above water but sometimes it feels like just barely! Tomorrow morning we take the National Registry written exam. No PT though, so an extra hour of sleep (or study, for the either very desperate or very thorough).
It’s 1:30 a.m., I still haven’t been to sleep, and I have to be up at 5:15. Perfect. I knew I shouldn’t have had that coffee when we went to get pizza. Oh well. I reviewed for the test, talked to my love, and read some of a new book. And at least it’s 5:15, not the normal 4:15, and we don’t have PT (which makes the entire day feel like a day off, to me). Not a good way to start off this very long week, with the final exam tomorrow, skills testing the next 3 days, and then the national board exam on Friday.
I’m reading Becoming Odyssa, by Jennifer Pharr Davis. I love books about journeys, real or imagined, but as I’ve grown older the real ones call much louder. The Appalachian Trail has fascinated me since I was just a little girl, as my grandparents lived “over the hill and through the holler” from where it lies on Peter’s Mountain in West Virginia. I’m only on the 3rd chapter of the book, but I already feel like I can relate to Odyssa in this journey of my own.
Which reminds me – Carolyn from Taking One Stitch At a Time nominated me for the Versatile Blogger Award! Thank you very much Carolyn, it’s very sweet of you. I’ll fulfill the rest of the list for the award later, but I wanted to say thanks before too much time went by. 🙂
Now if only I could get some sleep…
Well, I learned something else about the army this week. Something I probably should have already known, but some of us have thicker skulls than others. 😛 Basically, the bottom line is: don’t attempt to plan ANYTHING remotely similar to a normal life while you’re at the beck and call of Uncle Sam. Times change, places change, and to the people making all the changes you really are just a number. I can’t even really fault them for that, because with so many people and places how else could it be done and still be even halfway efficient?
So yeah. I got my orders. To the very last – and I mean bottom of the barrel out of all the dozens of places I could go, dead last – place I would ever want to go or live.
I’m still kind of in shock. Of course you suck it up, deal with it, and go on. I’m far from being the first or the only person to be unhappy with their orders. I just feel like my life has been on hold for a year and now it’ll essentially be on hold for another two. Nothing I can really do about it though.
Keep calm and carry on.
That’s what I keep telling myself. Every morning, when I drag myself out of bed at 0400 to go kill myself running, or with squats or some other form of physical torture.
The army is obsessed with PT. Especially running. Apparently I’m the only person that was unaware of this, but I got a hell of a rude awakening when I got to Basic last January. Even before the knee injury I struggled with PT. The only thing I was even halfway good at was situps. When I got to Basic, there was no flipping way I could’ve passed the PT test, even as low as the standards are for Basic and for women my age.
I’ve never been very physically active. At least not by army standards. Sure I like to hike and bike, stuff like that, but run? No, thank you, move along. I despise running. Still. And now especially because afterwards my knee hurts like hell for the rest of the day. By the end of the week, just the thought of running is almost enough to put me in tears. But I’ve learned a few things about PT, and about myself.
- Just because my best isn’t as good as someone else’s best doesn’t de-value my best. I watch guys fly by me like I’m moving backwards every run, and they’re not even breathing hard. Meanwhile I’m dying, gasping for breath, feeling dizzy and heaving by the time the run is over. Sure, it’s embarrassing. But guess what? I gave my all, my 110%. Some of them weren’t even giving 75%.
- Not quitting will get you further than you can imagine. I want to quit every single time. I want to stop when it starts to burn, when I feel like either my lungs or my knee are going to give out. But I keep pushing. It’s only an hour, I always tell myself. It sucks, but it can only suck for a certain amount of time, because we have too much other stuff to do today for the sergeants to keep us out here any longer. I keep going, even when I’m barely moving and my muscles are giving out. And surprise, surprise…I’ve gotten stronger.
- You do get stronger. Sometimes, like when I compare myself to the 300+ PT scorers, I feel like I will never get any better and that a 300 is out of my reach. But then I have to remind myself of where I was in the beginning. And that I’ve already passed the PT test. Improvement is always something to strive for, but right now I have to be content with the last score and just keep pushing.
It doesn’t get easier, you just get STRONGER.
Right after we started classes, we had a “mandatory fun” day of visiting the Army Medicine Museum here on Ft. Sam. There was of course much whining and complaining (and unfortunately, the very well-informed gentleman that gave us our tour sort of epitomized the reason people hate museums with his looooong drawn out explanations), but it was actually pretty cool to see. I took a bunch of pictures, and I’m excited to have some to share since usually I can’t post pics of anything here. Sorry for all the glare on some of the pics, all I have is my iPhone! I’m having some trouble with the editor here, so sadly you’ll have to do without captions. Most of them are pretty self explanatory though, I think.
Have we really only been back for two and a half weeks? It feels like forever ago already. Like I’ve already said, they keep us super busy.
The Monday after we got back, we had the mass drug test everyone was waiting for. Hello, 3:00 a.m. wakeup. Then we sat around for hours waiting for all 300 of us to go pee. Which, if you were like me and decided NOT to go when you first got up, meant you were in agony by the time 9:00 a.m. rolled around and it still wasn’t your turn. Lesson learned. Haha.
Then we jumped right back into EMT classes and have been going strong ever since. This is speed learning at it’s finest. We’re halfway through the standard, civilian EMT class, which means that we also certified in CPR (that was last week). I’ve been certified for about the past 6 years, but I swear every time I go through the class they’ve changed something. So that was good, and it was really nice to have a couple days of information that was pretty much all review for me. Time to breathe!
Also, unknown to most of us, this course has one of the highest wash-out rates in the army (aside from all the special forces/ranger/that kind of stuff). They give you more than one chance to make it through, but at this point it looks like about a quarter of my original company will be academically recycled. That’s a pretty sobering reality. I think a lot of people didn’t realize just how serious they were about it until our last test, which was yesterday. And suddenly it was very, very real. For those with a GPA high enough – 65-70% – they will just be put into the next company to start 68W training. For anyone with a GPA below 65% – they’ll be kissing 68W goodbye and praying the army has another job for them.
A lot of the people leaving us are good soldiers, they just struggle academically. I’m sorry to see them go but I’m glad a lot of them are getting a second chance. My roomie is one of them and I’m going to miss her a lot! We’ll still live in the same building but it’s not the same.
We have a 3-day weekend this weekend, and for everyone that passed the PT test, is doing well in class, and doesn’t have any negative counselings (i.e., you haven’t been late for formation, brought your cell phone to class, left your room unsecured, stuff like that), we get an on-post pass. Which is awesome, except I swear there’s only like 50 people out of the whole company who aren’t disqualified by one of those 3 standards. Somehow I made the cut, so I’m gonna go find me a new pair of boots this weekend! These standard-issue ones have killed my feet every since I first got them (a year ago now, holy crap). So it’s about time!
There will be a few times in your life when all your instincts will tell you to do something, something that defies logic, upsets your plans, and may seem crazy to others. When that happens, you do it. Listen to your instincts and ignore everything else. Ignore logic, ignore the odds. Ignore the complications and just go for it. ~ Judith McNaught
This quote was written in Sharpie on the back wall of a locker I used for a little while at Ft. Sill. Written above a beautiful stylized drawing of a tree (nevermind that it was, if very pretty, destruction/defacing of government property and all that…it was much better than the 6-foot long penis we found drawn on the underside of a bunk one time), I first saw it at a time I really needed to be reminded that I was in the right place, no matter how hard things were. I scribbled the quote down in my notebook and forgot about it until I was cleaning out a bag of random stuff a few days ago. I’d also never heard of Judith McNaught. Turns out she’s a modern romance author. Not the first person I’d go to for quotes, but that was very inspiring. There are still many days when I have to remind myself that I followed my heart here. It’s a struggle, it’s difficult, and sometimes still I want to just throw in the towel – but this is where I’m supposed to be.
Take a minute and read this.
I can only imagine how that felt, especially on a deployment.
I have one thing to say about AIT: they keep you so busy you don’t have time to think about much else! Besides Basic, I’ve never had so little free time. It’s not stressful in the same way Basic was, but the run-run-run pace of every day and the huge information dump is a whole new brand of stress. We’ve had a few people wash out already, and after our next (4th) test, more will be academically recycled if their GPA isn’t high enough by then.
We have to be in formation at 0435 for accountabiity, and PT starts at about 0500. We go straight to breakfast from PT (marching past the Air Force and Navy barracks that are just maybe-kinda-sorta thinking about waking up), all nasty and sweaty. Then at about 0700 we get back to our barracks for a shower and uniform change before forming up to march to class at 0750. Class is from about 0815 to 1715 every day. Then we march to dinner, and FINALLY get back to our barracks around 1900, if we’re lucky. Final formation at 2000 (the purpose of which I have yet to understand since we JUST HAD end of day formation an hour or less before…but whatever). Then we have our own time, however long we can stay awake to study in our rooms. I’m usually in bed by 2200, since I’m one of those people that just. can’t. function. on much less than 6 hours of sleep. I don’t know how some of these people are doing it, staying up till midnight or later. Personally I think it’s counterproductive. You might be studying, but your brain doesn’t work as well and at that point you’re no longer raising your GPA. My theory seems to be right, at least in part, because I see a lot of our night owls failing exams. Of course there are other factors in that, but you better believe I’m getting my 6 hours of sleep every night I can.
In case you’re wondering, I only had time to write this because today’s class was CPR, which I’ve had about 6 times since high school. Kinda nice to have a night “off.”
Trying to get my head back in the game. It sucks. 😛 But I’m trying. I think coming back from leave is one of the hardest things ever to do. I miss my family so much. 😦