Military Memories

So much for sleeping tonight.  I went to bed and lay there for a few hours with my eyes closed.  Even my cat didn’t buy it.  She started walking on me, then licking my arm.  I thought only dogs did that.  It’s not a pleasant sensation.  It made me start laughing, and then there was no point in staying in bed.  It’s warming up and the wind died.  -6 F with no wind is no big deal.  We don’t get the wet cold like on the east coast.  The gym opens in about an hour.  I can feel the Depression Monster riding my back, telling me it’s too cold to walk over to the gym.  I won’t be cold for long.  When I finish running and walk back to my building, it’ll cool me off.  I’m hot blooded anyway.

The debate was fun to live tweet.  I have followers who support candidates other than Senator Sanders, so I read lots of opinions.  I love that people got so passionate about what they believe and what’s important to them.  Also, I refuse to write a person off as someone I can’t relate to based solely on different political views.  Most of the Trump supporters I read on Twitter are decent people who think he’d make a good president.  I disagree, but don’t find that a valid reason to hate someone.  I shed my blood, sweat, and tears for all the people of my nation, regardless of the fact that I was duped into serving in the first place.  It was a life experience that paid for itself in wisdom gained.  I don’t regret it in the least.  I went in an incredibly sheltered, and naive teenager.  I got out with a chronic mental illness (PTSD), a newfound confidence in my abilities, a world view, and a strong sense of personal accountability.  It was worth it.

I also learned how to make any activity fun.  I had a rough time adjusting to the military at first, because I asked too many questions, and made unsolicited suggestions.  I thought, “because we’ve always done it this way” was not a sufficient reason.  I got in trouble for thinking a lot too.  Whenever you get called out, and your reason is, “I thought it would be more efficient to do it this way”, or anything else that starts with, “I thought” or “I think”.  At first, I felt picked on, and unfairly treated when I’d get extra duty for these behaviors.  My childhood proclamation, “It’s not fair!” was pathetic in the Army.  It just made whoever I said it to laugh.  Which would make me angrier, rinse and repeat.  Finally, I decided I was going to act like I loved doing extra duty, thinking I was using reverse psychology on them, and they’d see me having fun, and not give me extra duty again.  Yes.  I am embarrassed to admit this.

So pretending to have fun somehow became actually having fun.  The acoustics in a military latrine are awesome.  When I had 14 days of extra duty once, there were 3 of us that got in trouble at that time.  We got caught racing vehicles in the back of the motor pool.  They were M113’s and it was a training unit, so it’s not like we were speeding.  It was an ironic race that began spontaneously as we were lining up vehicles.  And I have to say, it was so worth 14 days of extra duty.  I loved driving tracked vehicles.  So we started singing while we cleaned the latrine, and making up new words for songs that were currently popular.  We ended up laughing really hard, and having a good time.  We continued doing this for the whole 14 days, and were good friends by the time we finished.

We had a 1st SGT who had a thing about making sure whatever you did on extra duty was menial and a waste of time.  The latrine we scrubbed for 2 weeks was in barracks that were closed for destruction.  Other times, I had to dig deep square holes for the first week, and fill it back in for the second.  I guess the pointlessness was part of the punishment.  Eventually I got tired of being teased by my peers over getting in trouble, so I learned how to shut up and do it the traditional way, even if it was stupid.  I stopped making suggestions, and stopped playing with military equipment where I could be observed.  Instead, I started to volunteer for everything, and in doing so got to do a lot of really cool stuff.  I remember volunteering to go with the advance party to set up for a field problem in Fort Bliss.  We used a scoop loader to dig the bunker, which was super fun.  We also spent most of a day trying to disprove the theory that a Hum V can’t flip.  It totally can if you really set your mind to it.

We had to do some sand construction to make it happen, but we made it happen.  I also learned how intense manual labor can be incredibly satisfying.  When you work so hard that your legs shake, and you can’t lift your arms over your head, it feels awesome.