Tag Archives: 68w

Almost There

Just a few more weeks and we’ll be finished, and I’ll be going home for a few days and then on my way to my new duty station!

Things started moving very quickly the past couple weeks, and I’ve had a lot to do…lots of things to finish here (passed all my exams, yaaaay) and lots of things to try to plan for on the homefront. More posts later, probably AFTER our time in the field.

Oh yeah, the field. Whoohoo. Last hurdle to graduation though! I’ll be so glad when this is all over.

The Struggle

Is real.

It’s compounding physical on top of mental now. Which is supposed to happen. I just feel this constant looming dread of going to my duty station and being so far away from my family. No, it’s not a deployment. But by the timeย  I finally get back to them, it will have been over 2 years since we’ve lived together as a family.

I don’t know how to describe the way I feel except dark. Just dark. I’ll graduate, I’ll make it. But for what? I don’t give 2 cents about experiencing another country if I can’t do it with the people I love. I guess that’s the wrong attitude but I really just don’t. Someone asked me the other day what I’m going to do while I’m there if I don’t go out and party and have fun. I told themย  I’d probably work as much as I can and just stay in my barracks room the rest of the time. I guess I need to pull my head out of my fourth point of contact but at this point I don’t even know how.

My paratrooper other half says you have to learn to turn the feelings off. That you have to know that you miss the ones you love, without feeling it. I guess I can see the wisdom in that, but I don’t know how to not feel something. It hurts. I miss him, I miss all of them. I don’t understand why things fell out this way and I desperately want to change it but there’s not a damn thing I can do.

Getting Through

7 more weeks. Just 7.

Excuse me a little moping right now. Because frankly, I’m tired of everyone (with the exception of a handful of people I can tolerate) here. The immaturity level is through the roof. I swear it’s like being back in high school. Even the few people I do go places with – oh the woes of the necessary “battle buddy” for everything except taking a shower – are at least 6-8 years my junior, and it shows. Not to insult them in any way. It’s ok to be 18, 19, 20 and going through that part of life. I’m just over it. So even the mature 20 year olds…have a perspective so far removed from mine that a lot of times I end up just shaking my head and listening to them. I miss being around people that I can relate to. There are a few of us “older” folks here (which, by the way, means 25-30), but most of them are a lot like me – nose to the grindstone through the week, to hell with any chance of getting disqualified or recycled. Free time spent on the phone with family, trying to make sure nothing falls apart. Even then, they’re not on my team so we see each other in passing. Kind of hard to get to know two or three people out of 90. Yep, my platoon has – or had – almost 90 people.

We were “phased up” recently, which means on the weekend we’re pretty much on our own except for first and last formations. Yay for civilian clothes. Yay for free time. And…no one to hang out. No one I really feel comfortable with. A couple girls on my team I go eat with, even went out into San Antonio with…but in the end, I felt tired. Trying too hard. Wearing too much of a mask. I don’t pretend to be someone I’m not. But the gap – dare I say generation gap? – is almost too big to breach.

Another kind of gap I keep seeing is the difference in mentality between those of us that are active duty, and the National Guard or Reserve (no disrespect meant to them). Because, like it or not, they’re weekend warriors and a lot of them enlisted because their recruiters sold them on that idea. Over half of my company is Guard or Reserve. They want to train and go back home to party. Go back to school. Go back to their lives. This army stuff doesn’t mean jack to some of them. It’s an extra paycheck. Something to get through for a few extra thousand a year. Ok, that’s fine. But most of them – especially the younger ones – give no thought at all to what it means to dedicate the next few years of your life to the military. Most of them don’t care if they get in trouble here, because their units at home will never see those papers or if they do, won’t care much.

Maybe if I didn’t have a family too, it wouldn’t be such a big deal. Maybe if my focus wasn’t on getting back with them and making a home for us again, wherever it is.

Maybe I’m just old. ๐Ÿ˜›

And the Verdict Is…

I survived!!! Not only survived but I’m still standing and am now NREMT qualified.

That’s about all my poor, depleted, exhausted brain can come up with right now. I have NOTHING to study for this weekend, so I plan to sleep for most of it. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Thanks to everyone for all the good wishes and positive thoughts…I know I couldn’t have made it through this week without them!

Short Night Long Week

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. ๐Ÿ™‚

Now if only I could get some sleep…

Keep Calm

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. ๐Ÿ˜› 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.

No One Ever Drowned in Sweat

GodoPT

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.

Army Strong.

Army Medicine Museum

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.

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Just Keep Swimming…

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!