Monday, July 31, 2006

Eh....

Yeah, so I'm pretty much healthy now, save for the headache that still hasn't left me, and the surprise I woke to. When brushing my teeth this morning (while everyone else was doing PT HAHAHAHAH) I noticed blood in my eye. As in when one breaks a blood vessel in their eye and it turns all red and freaks little kids out, yeah like that. So uh...ship shape.

I'm still on quarters for the rest of the day, and everyone else just left for the training exercise. And I'm uh.....you know....sitting here. I've got time to pass. And with this time, I've made an important discovery.

I hate traditional bloggers.

You know the type, right? The ones whose text consists almost entirely of links? More than half of those links being links to previous posts of their own? The type of people who have nothing interesting going on in their lives but still seem to harbor the intense desire to write? And complain about two guys who pulled a prank on some Fox News woman or something? Basically, what I am becoming right now. THAT's what I don't like.

I can just picture these people sipping starbucks and sharing their informed opinions that they borrowed from actors with an over-inflated sense of self importance. GOD I'M A HYPOCRITE AND I WANT TO GO BACK TO WORK. Catch you guys later, I'm watching Spongebob or something.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Update For An Illness

I finished vomiting my guts out and feeling completely pitiful, ate some soup and popped another antibiotic and two aspirin, then wrapped up in a blanket and watched "Lost In Translation" while sweating my ass off. When the movie was over, I DID feel better, feels like the fever has broken, but I've still got a massive headache and my whole head feels incredibly congested. Like its in a vise, and its hard to see further away, but who cares, I'm in my room.

I took a look at my tonsils in the mirror, as well as I could see anyway, and yeah, they've got a nice healthy amount of pus oozing out of them like phlegmy white rivers of disease. Hell with it, I'll burn the infection out with overheated Cup O Noodles. With any luck, I'll be good to go tomorrow. We'll see.

Oh, and apparently some dude got a DUI last night. Sucks for him. Its funny, cuz the other day when I was mopping, I was joking with him saying, "Don't drink underage, this could be you." He laughed, being that he's in his mid twenties and said, "Not gonna happen." Writers call this "foreshadowing."

Misery

i am so rificulously sick right now its not even funn. the clowns at the aid station look at my tonsils, exclaimed GODDAMN and then gave me aspirin and sent me on my way. After extra duty last night, i tried to go to bed and couldnt sleep for the life of me and neded up going to the emergency room. They gave me slightly better meds, but no pain killers, which would be nice so I could eat and sleep with no problem.

you're supposed to take the antibiotics with food, but my throat hurts so damn bad and I have so little energy that I cant hardly get up to move around. Well go figure, my empty somach filled up with acid and i threw up for a good solid three minutes, nothing but bile, hating life with alll my being.vMy roommate is going to grab me some Cup o Noodles nd stuff like that so that hopefully i can get some food i n me, break this damn fever, and get better. I'm on quarters (dont have to work, just stay in your room) for 72 hours and right now i cant even calulate how long that is. i have to go back to the aid station on monday, and the PA is still going to be gone, so I'm sure I wont get any decent treatment there, again. i'm going back to sleep.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

The Verdict

After work today, I was called into the CO's office and received my Article 15. I didn't opt for court martial, because that would just be stupid, and would draw this out even longer, and I'm guilty anyway.

The CO asked my section sgt and the 1st Sergeant about my character as a soldier and the recommended punishment. My section sergeant stated that I was an outstanding soldier (exaggeration is an incredibly ally, and yes, this statement is tongue in cheek) and made a stupid choice and am now paying for it. He recommended maximum restriction and extra duty (14 days) and the suspension of one rank and the suspension of the loss of pay. The 1st Sergeant agreed with him, noted that he'd seen me perform and that I wasn't a bad soldier, I just screwed up (stated in a very random and colorful way, as that man comes up with the most off the wall things to say, and it always catches us by surprise. I bit my tongue so as not to laugh).

The CO decided that he agreed with all of that, and reminded me that while the rank and pay reduction were suspended, should I mess up during the 90 day period, I'll lose all of that, and can possibly be demoted all the way to E1.

I grabbed some dinner and then signed in for my first night of extra duty. It isn't hard, and I had to laugh at myself a little as some of my friends periodically came out to point and laugh. I told them I hope their next urinalysis gets swapped with a urine sample from Keith Richards. And yes, you get plenty of time to think about how dumb you are. I was mainly thinking about walking on eggshells for 90 days, and also about how horrible I felt physically.

This is absolutely perfect timing. I woke up feeling like a bag of dog excrement left in the sun on the hot asphalt for a week. I figured it was because I'd started working out at the gym, and the past two sessions tore my girlish little boy figure up. But after a while, I noticed that not only were my muscles sore, but my nerves feel like razor blades, my eyes hurt, along with other sphere shaped organs that come in pairs, my joints, pretty much my whole body, and my head is pounding. The kicker, most likely my tonsils, the throat hurts and I'm pretty sure I've got pus on my tonsils. I've got flu symptoms. So odds are, I've got tonsilitis again.

I'm considering going to the aid station after PT tomorrow morning. The next few weeks are going to be pretty faced pace, and I don't want to clear houses feeling like this. If I can, I might just get the tonsils out. The thing is, that would get me put on quarters, where I would basically stay in my room and recover. Seeing as I've started extra duty, the days must run consecutively, even if I can't work. I don't really want people to think that I'm just trying to get out of it, but there's no way I'm going to keep working like this.

Besides, my alcohol counselor told me I should get them taken out last time I talked to her, and that was only a couple weeks ago. Along with a wisdom tooth. We'll see. For now, I feel pretty lame, and plan on curling into the fetal position and wallowing in misery like the little baby I am.

Extra duty tasks for today:

sweep, mop, and clean each floor and common areas.

attempt to locate weed eater, fail.

Mow grass.

Water grass.

Take trashes out.

And I think that's all we really had to do. Like I said, none of this is hard, or even anything to complain about. A friend of mine even came out with a camera to take pictures of me and one of my friends who is also on extra duty.

I didn't lose rank. Thanks, Cathy, for praying for me. Mom probably did too, she's quirky like that.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

And Then Nothing

Yeah, I did the JAG thing and turned my packet back in. So I figured I'd finally get started right? No. Maybe tomorrow. The army needs an enema.

Al....most......there...!

I showed up at JAG an hour early. This is what I was supposed to do on Monday:

Wait. File into a room with a TV and chairs. Sit through an ancient short movie with actors that make low budget TV infomercial thesbians shine with Tom Hanks glory. Sweat in the hot room while half the audience sleeps and the other half text messages on their phones. We're more or less advised of our rights, and that's it.

Give me the goddamn mop already. Cut the foreplay and lets get this taken care of and out of the way. I'm sick of writing about it. I'm sorry, but tedious bureaucratic nonsense isn't quite as interesting as explosions and male bonding.

I'm considering shaving and bic-ing my head for a Mr. Clean look.

Monday, July 24, 2006

JAG

This afternoon, I was to go to JAG, because apparently you do that before you get your Article 15. I don't even know what I was supposed to do while there, but ok. After lunch, I had to wait a little bit for the papers I needed so that my team leader and I could head out. When I got there, I was informed by a sign that you're supposed to be signed in by 1250. It was 1310.

I filled out some little card and sat in wait, half reading some NCO magazine. Lt Watada, the officer facing the shitstorm for refusing to deploy with 3rd Brigade (independent research he did led him to believe that the war in Iraq is illegal, and thus he refused to be part of it) was sitting in the small reception room as well. I said hello as I stood up to grab the magazine, and noticed his nametape when I sat back down. It took a second to register. Then I realized that I was waiting in line along with "the most unpopular person on Fort Lewis" as was quoted in an article. And no, I didn't bother him with questions, comments, criticism, or anything for that matter. I went back to my magazine. That guy has enough on his plate as it is. Besides, I'm pretty sure I managed to piss off an officer a few minutes later, but I'll get to that.

I hadn't waited too long when what appeared to be a Colonel (he looked young to be a Colonel, but I really didn't get a good look at his rank. Just enough to know that he is Sir and I am Joe) asked for any Article 15s waiting in line. I stood at attention and said that I was awaiting Article 15 but wasn't able to sign in yet because I was late.

"No problem. We'll see you Wednesday."

Shit. Pretty sure Wednesday is supposed to be the day I go under the gun, but ok. Who was I to argue? I left the building, preparing to call my team leader. As I stepped outside, haphazardly putting my beret on, a Captain walked up, carrying a heavy load of duffel bags and gear. So no salute necessary, but it would still be a good idea to greet.

"Good afternoon, ma'am........sir."

I then got the hell out of there. Moments like these are the reason this site has its title. I'm going to put my helmet on now, before I somehow manage to hurt myself. Apparently I need every last brain cell I can scrounge up.

Friday, July 21, 2006

No Surprises

It was just a reading. Punishment: unknown. Nothing is final, nothing is decided. I have two business days to talk to JAG, as if that's even necessary. I'll find out next week. The reading went just fine.

Knock knock knock.

"Enter."

Open the door. Walk in. Stand in front of the desk. Salute. "PFC TheUsualSuspect reporting as ordered, sir."

The paperwork is read. I'm asked if I have any questions. Of course I do. But none that can be answered, and I don't want to complicate things. I just want to do this.

Salute. About face. Exit. To be continued...

The Defendant

The guys who fell out of this morning's run all have to go on a nice long afternoon run, and its pretty hot outside, so that really sucks. They're getting it pretty harsh today.

As for me, I'm waiting to be read my Article 15. Its finally come through, and to my understanding, the actual sentencing happens next week, and this is the initial reading. Is this like when OJ Simpson's preliminary hearing went on for what, a year? My punishment won't be too bad I don't think, but still...this sucks. No matter though, I'm still going to go into that office with my dignity, take the heat I earned, and drive on. I'll let you all know all about it, when I'm dragging that ball and chain on my ankle. I'm almost positive I'll be getting 14 days restriction and 14 days of extra duty, simultaneous, and probably half a month's pay. Its the rank that I'm worried about. Definitely don't want to lose what I've earned. It isn't about the money. I earned every bit of that rank. I came in as an E1. An E3 I know got his rank by drinking with his recruiter. He's one of those dudes that can slack and sham and bullshit, and things always work out for him. Good for him though, no point getting jealous.

Next February is when I should be coming up for E4, Specialist. God I don't want that date pushed back. The thing is, since I've gotten into this trouble, I've kept my shit straight. I don't drink at all anymore. I go to my ASAP classes. I keep a positive attitude and I maintain respect for my leadership. Give me my mop and start counting the days, I'm ready for it.

And I Ran, I Ran So Far Away

Woke up at 5 AM today and we prepared for a battalion run. That consists of four to five companies, possibly more in some cases unless I'm mistaken. Each company is usually about 150 or so guys. Maybe more. So you're looking at hundreds of guys running in formation. Each company runs together.

We stretched and waited for the other companies to show up, while speakers that were set up blasted "Disposable Heroes" by Metallica, a song that's about as old as I am. Once things kicked off, it was the same old run it usually is. Someone's calling cadence (those songs you hear when military types run around, popular in the movies), you're running, someone smells like ass, you better run.

We hadn't been on a serious run for a while, because we'd been so busy, then everyone went on leave. So this one kicked my ass a bit. The first half of a run like this, I tend to sound off a little louder and more fierce (my attempt at it I mean) than I should, and it makes me a little light headed. So I decided screw returning cadence, I was just going to run til I got my breath back (running to catch your breath...isn't that like bombing for peace?).

One of our NCOs, who calls some pretty good cadence I must say, ran his bit for a while, then called me out. I really didn't feel like doing it, but who am I to disappoint, right? So I veer out of the formation to the side of it and start warming the guys up to my particular brand of making loud noises for no apparent reason. After a minute or two, as worn out as I already was, I went ahead and broke out my signature cadence, which was stolen from one of my drill sergeants, but I'm shameless. Only the third verse is all that new anyway.

When I get to Heaven
St Peter's gonna say
"How'd you earn your livin, boy?
How'd you earn your pay?"
I reply with a whole lotta anger
"Earned my livin as an Airborne Ranger" (even though most of us don't have airborne wings OR a Ranger tab)

When I get to Hell
Satan's gonna say
"How'd you earn your livin boy?
How'd you earn your pay?"
I reply with a boot to his chest
"Earned my livin layin souls to rest!"

When I get to prison (this is where its new to the guys)
Cellmate's gonna say
"How'd you earn your livin boy?
How'd you earn your pay?"
I reply with a SHANK to his gut
"You ain't gettin this Infantry butt!!!"

After calling that cadence, it doesn't matter how bad I suck. They love that one. But as I was saying, I was pretty freaking smoked, especially on the last stretch. We even passed another company's formation, which probably didn't do much to help the rivalry we have with them (they work harder, longer hours, more bullshit, and we're still better. Ha).

We stretched, I wanted to yak all over the place, painting the sidewalk in lovely shades and tones of Hot Pocket and Powerade. When we were released, I went upstairs and took a 15 minute long COLD shower, and man was it worth it. Normally, when you get in the shower, and its cold, your reaction is more of an "Ah! Dammit!" But after a bastardly run, its just "Ahhh" instead.

Now its off to work again.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Ethics

We had ourselves a little class on ethics, morality, and right and wrong. Subjects that came up included Abu Ghraib prison, where those incredibly ingenius MPs abused and embarassed detainees. Things that sound like common sense to most people, but when one is actually in the situation, odds are its a lot more complicated.

We talked about the massacre of a Vietnamese village, Mi Lai (or some similar name). That was where soldiers had lost a man and pretty much wanted vengeance. They were briefed that their next mission would be against a 'crack battalion' of VC. Long story short, the platoon leader ended up ordering everyone in the village killed, an order that may or may not have been suggested to him from the company commander, who later claimed he had no idea what was going on. In that case, he would be guilty of ATLEAST derilection of duty, because he should know what's going down on a mission with his men.

Another example was a recent event in Iraq where the marines lost a Lance Corporal to an IED I believe, and responded with an asston of force. Supposedly there's an investigation going on now to determine if non-combatants were killed. Ugly business.

We then watched a scene from "Platoon" when the men lose a guy to the VC, and hit a village for revenge. Sound familiar? We were told to take notes and write down any immoral actions we saw, and they weren't too hard to pick out naturally. We discussed all of that, and then went outside for a few practical exercises.

One Staff Sergeant was playing the part of an individual-not-of-the-U.S.-military (since we don't know for sure who the 'bad guy' is). He ended up grabbing one of our guys from behind in a chokehold. Pop quiz, what do you do? Quite a few of us instantly remembered the first ten minutes of "Speed" and were quoting, "Shoot the hostage!!!" We ran through a few exercises and then decided it was time for lunch.

This stuff seems like common sense on paper, but we're not always thinking the way we should be. That's why these classes are there to reinforce that. Because of Abu Ghraib and now the killings at Haditha, a lot of work that's been done by the guys who've been over so far has been set back quite a bit. Kill a man's family, and he's not going to tell you what you need to know. Instead, he's going to turn around and start believing what the other guys are saying. And now that guy is easy as hell to recruit. Along with everyone inside his sphere of influence. This operation is always ringing with the catch phrase "hearts and minds". The following three days after the Haditha episode were extremely bloody. Imagine trying to rectify this whole situation, with how insanely sensitive it all is.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Ye Olde Flashback

I was sitting here in my very posh barracks room when for no reason I can seem to identify, I recalled a time when I was really really young, and some bastard of a bee stung me on the arm. In my youth, I was very unhappy about being accosted by such an evil beeing, and my grandmother gave me an icepack and told me, "Its ok. You're a tough little soldier."

Little things like that are always a slight head trip these days. In a movie, we would call that "foreshadowing" I believe.

Shifting Gears

Everyone's back from leave now, and we're creaking back toward our previous pace. We're mainly taking care of equipment and weapons, cleaning them (again) and making sure all the equipment works right and has all of its components, little things like that. Killing time. Today was mainly just M4s for my squad, and we also moved some personal effects of a dude who went AWOL down to the supply room to have it locked up so it can be shipped to his home address. Plenty of new privates, as I said before. We don't mess with them too bad.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Barracks Rats

The barracks. The army version of college dorms. Possibly more pitiful. I've heard rumor that ours were condemned before we moved in. That they ranked in the top 5 worst barracks in the American military.

Two floors of rooms. Two guys to a room. Not a living area like the air force dudes get, A ROOM. Singular. One open room in which furniture and personal effects are placed. Two latrines per floor. Sharing the same toilets and showers with fifty guys day in and day out. You wear flip flops in the shower. You bring your own toilet paper. You have your own empty fridge to share with your roommate. Your own unused microwave. Some guys bunk their beds. Saves space. Some don't. Either way, when living in the barracks, you have to have that tolerance for bullshit that the army has managed to instill in most members. Some guys hurry and get married just so they can move out.

In my cluttered half of the room, I keep this laptop on most of the time, even when I'm not on it. The TV (rarely used) and Xbox sit nearby. The clothes and clutter and gear, it adds up. All your worldly posessions forced to find a spot in one room. We've all lived in something like this, in one place or another.

When off duty, you're free to do whatever. Change into civilian clothes, and do your thing until the next day. Some guys disappear immediately to hang out with their girlfriends. Some chill and watch movies, play video games, lord knows what else. You find some way to stay occupied. The hours are going to disappear even if you don't.

You can eat at the chow hall, or you can catch a ride with someone who's going out to eat, or you can order a pizza. There's a Rec Center that no one goes to. Everything that place has, I have in my room. You can take a walk out of sheer boredom. If you can find something to do off post, congratulations. For me, its usually a weak attempt at killing time, and otherwise fruitless. All we're really doing is waiting. Existing. The exception being the guys who have families. Army life is really mundane.

I'd rant more if there was more to it, but its seriously that cut and dry.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

CLS...Again

A handful of us back in the rear were sent to Combat LifeSaver class. Which I've already been certified in. Apparently something's different now and we have to redo it. Maybe my enrollment in the alcohol program thing will be a good enough excuse to get me out of it. My life is wildly interesting right now. I sound like an old retired man who is conversing with someone (more to himself actually) about how he should trim the hedges. Such a great concern.

When you have little to nothing to do, your sense of perspective is skewed quite a bit. I'm getting lazy. Last week I actually got around to cleaning my room to the point where it actually looked good. I've already screwed it up again. And now I'm struggling for something worth writing about, to prove to anyone reading that I'm still breathing.

Its amazing how long these four day weekends last when you aren't annihilated. I'm still not doing anything productive, but also not doing anything destructive either. I'm in limbo.

Sitting in the class today, struggling to stay awake. The classroom atmosphere lulls your once alert senses into near slumber, and you begin to see two booklets instead of one. Your fifty ton eyelids drag themselves down over the irises that are crossing and rolling into your head. Nonsense gibberish in fuzzy image and distant sound quality replace your surroundings, and the subconscious babble sneaks its way into what little you still perceive from the classroom.

I force my eyes open and shift in my chair and attempt to hide a yawn. How the hell am I going to do college? The guy behind me sips from a Red Bull. I vow to smoke a fat bag of crack next time.

Despite a headache and tonsils that are becoming sore again (I hope they get bad so I can have the damn things ripped out), a friend and I ventured into the less often visited civilian world. To a mall. A poor excuse for a social gathering where people are terrified of eye contact. The new age bazaar selling nothing under the pretense of Something For Everyone. Kids with tight pants, eye makeup, and long shaggy hair in their faces. And pink boxer shorts hanging out of their jeans. A feeble and not entirely conscious attempt at counter-culture. Who needs moments of introspection when you've got all this free People-Watching right in front of you?

Maybe I need goals. I could always buy a car. And then what? I'd have the sincere and grown-up position of being a responsible bill-payer (paying for cable over the phone just doesn't do it for me). But wait, this is the army. You just set up an allotment, and your car payment is taken out of your paycheck before you even see any of the money, so you don't miss a payment. I'd have a vehicle to pay for, and nowhere to drive it. I think this upcoming rant warrants its own post...

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Rear D

We spent all day cleaning SAWs and 240s. Eventful, let me tell ya. There's a handful of new guys here now, and like me when I got here, they aren't taking block leave because they used their leave after basic. Another guy and I taught them how to take 240Bravos apart and clean them. Pretty strange that someone as clueless as I am is passing on knowledge.

While waiting for formation: "What the hell? Why are you guys all clusterfucked? Stand in formation unless you want to get jacked up." (IE- "smoked" by an NCO)

"Don't take the buttstock [off of the 240] while the weapon is charged, pull the handle back, squeeze down the trigger, and ride the bolt forward, otherwise that spring is going to shoot out [causing who knows what kind of injury]."

"No, man. Hold the barrel up to the light, you can see the specks of carbon in there. Rod it a few more times and it should be good."

"See right there? All that dirt still caked on? Take a Q-tip and wipe as much of that as you can so we can turn these in."

Give them a month, and they'll know everything I know about the 11Bravo world. Two months, and half of them will know more. But I'll still have that minute amount of 11 Charlie knowledge over them. Plus, these guys are fun to mock-yell at. They get the humor in it, an added bonus.

Almost everyone is on leave. Our company as of now is about the size of a platoon. Right now, the barracks are empty, except for one new guy who's walking around sipping Budweiser, and maybe a couple other quiet souls. I'm just watching movies for now. Absolutely nothing to do. The civilians that I knew from the area around here are all home on summer break.

Tomorrow I might find something to do. I always say I'm going to go to Tacoma and find some way to entertain myself, but so far, I've only managed the first part. For now, anyway, I'll stick with these same familiar four walls. I think I'll check Julie Anna's page and see what's going on in her neck of the woods.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

July 4, 2006

The ceremony wasn't too bad. Wore Class A's, the sun wasn't too vicious thankfully. We waited around way too long, as it always is, comes as no surprise. But just to make sure I'm painting an accurate picture of army life, I'll be sure to let you know how often we wait.

Members of the crowd would cheer for their state when each state was called for the roll call. The biggest reactions were for New York, Texas, and California. Hmm, wonder why. Cannons would fire for each state. After all the states were introduced and America as a whole was mentioned, the crowd of people went apeshit, and that was cool.

Afterwards a few of us went to Hooters. I went because I really didn't feel like ordering pizza yet again, and I hadn't eaten yet. Ask me why I ever bother going to that place, and you'll get nothing but an exasperated shrug from me. For the articles, I guess.

Not sure exactly when it was, shortly after we sat down I think, that I slowly became pissed off. Could be that its cuz I've spent yet another 4th of July without seeing my family. Last year wasn't so bad because I had just been home on leave. The barracks are pretty empty. Oh, save for two dipshits who got drunk (underage) after the ceremony and were lighting fireworks in the parking lot. CQ from another company caught them, and gasp, they have to sleep in one of the rooms on the first floor, cuz they are in trouble. Gee, little harsh don't you think? Maybe I should have done something more extreme when I was drinking underage. I would have gladly slept in an office, but hey I guess the Article 15 should work just fine. Still no clue if I'm going to lose rank over something this stupid, but who knows.

I'll have one of those dudes cover my CQ shift in the morning and afternoon while I go to my alcohol classes/meetings/whatever. Fucking ironic, huh?