Sunday, October 26, 2008

Epiphany

I walked past a few new guys that I didn't recognize, know, or care to. Can't wait til more of them filter in. It brings the NCOs to Larger Than Life again. They scream and fuck with the new guys, just like they did with us, when there was a hundred and fifty of us, all new and stupid.

Well, I walked on past those new guys and down the stairs. It was almost six in the morning, 0600 is what they call it I do believe. I was wearing shorts. I stepped outside, and I could see my breath. My balls rescinded so far up into my body that I think I maybe could have tasted them in my throat. You know it, the kind of cold where your fingers and lips don't operate with normal dexterity.

We stood in formation, and I had a moment of clarity.

"You know," I said to no one in particular, "...this isn't normal. Normal people don't do this. Normal jobs? Yeah, they don't include shit like this. Even IF your job requires you to be outside at this hour, in this temperature, you still atleast get to choose what you wear. If it's fucking cold, you get to dress like it's fucking cold."

Couple of chuckles a la 'here goes Suspect again, one of his rants'.

Every time we'd been out in the cold, sucking, or in the rain, or whatever shitty circumstance or condition, it never flashed across my screen that it wasn't normal. In the Army, you get used to some weird shit. You don't bother to question it, you just accept it, and joke and bitch about how stupid it is, but you don't really ponder it.

Standing there, shivering me timbers off, I pondered it. Then I added some sprinkles to my rant.

"You see this? This right here. This is exactly why they can't get me to re-enlist. It baffles me that it isn't already painfully obvious. It's fucking freezing but I can't wear pants? Yeah, pretty sure it's time to write a resume or something."

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

My American Dream

My American Dream does not include any more tours to foreign countries.

In my American dream, I have more options, choices that I make for myself.

Someday, I will have my own washer and dryer; I will not share them with fifty people. I will have more than one small room to keep all of my personal effects. I will have a kitchen. To me, a studio apartment is an incredible palace. I will have a home of my own.

I won't have all of this immediately. I will likely face a somewhat mirrored situation in college. However, I will be free. I will be normal.

I want the education and the experience that comes with it, to soak up the twentysomethings while I still have them. I want to land the kind of job that I race to, not for fear of being late, but because I don't want to spend another second not doing it. This is my pipe dream.

I want to make money like everyone else, hopefully good money. I want to get my own place, furnish it with the necessities, establish myself. I want a normal life.

For the most part, it's all pretty simple. Picket fence? I don't care about that. I want to walk down the sidewalk to the mailbox and pull out bills. I want to walk back into the house or apartment and set them down on the counter top or table, and sit down and work out a budget.

Everything else that comes with it? Sure. I'd like that too. I'd like this order TO GO, please. I don't want to stay here anymore.

I want all the trappings and trimmings. I want my dog. I want to turn on the TV and roll my eyes at the news, channel surf until I land on the Food Network. Then I'll hit up the internet as my ultimate How-To guide for life. I'll learn to cook with Martha Stewart forums.

I'll watch NBC on the evenings. I'll vacuum. I won't have to stand guard on the washing machine while I do laundry.

I'm not demanding that I have life on MY terms (though really, I should be!). I just want to have life on normal terms. Do you see? It probably doesn't even make sense, but the mundane and trivial, oh my god it sounds amaaaaazing. I'm excited about that. Eat balogna for a year and then finally have a steak. Same thing.

This is going to be good....

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

My Own Exorcist

The smart thing to do is to start scheduling briefings, appointments, classes, anything and everything that ties up your time and removes you from the unit. Everything that helps you get away, everything that reminds your unit that you are very very VERY fucking temporary, that you are leaving soon, that you are vanishing.

The guys before you that got out? Yeah, slowly they were around less and less, as more appointments piled up, as their duties took them elsewhere. It was like they were fading away, disappearing, becoming ghosts of Deployment Fuckin' Past. When they were gone, you didn't even know. They were Kaizer Soze. You didn't even NOTICE that they weren't around because it was so gradual, and then one day it hits you, holy shit, Johnson isn't around anymore, he is gone for GOOD, gone but fuckin' GONE, GOOOOOOOOONE, waaaaaaay past upper-deck. It was like he was never even there in the first place. Shit, maybe you just made him up. No telling now.

And that's how you have to be. You don't brag or gloat or laugh too loud about it, you just start taking advantage of every opportunity they give you, every class, every job fair, every seminar about resume building, you take it like the greedy mosquito bastard that you are and you fucking suck it DRY and you thirst for MORE.

You let the entire IDEA of your re-enlistment become a joke, something for people to laugh at in a wicked sense of irony. But most importantly, you remain subtle, you remain respectful, you remain tactful, you do what is expected of you, you have your appointment slips ready, and you use the system that's put in place for you, and you never never EVER bite the hand that is feeding you because by now, you have only the SLIGHTEST inkling of how hard the Army can fuck you if you get cheeky.

You play by the rules and you utilize everything you can, and every day, you become more and more translucent, like a dead Jedi, until the unit is so weened off of you that no one notices you're gone until your hair is already past your ears and you've got the first goatee of your life.




Shhhhhhhhhhh.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

The Range

We pile on our gear, familiar as all hell except everything around us is too safe and too green, and we're boarding a school bus. Vile, raunchy conversation spews out of our mouths as Fort Lewis drags past the windows. I see one of the Strykers for the newest unit here and this time around, I'm the experienced vet and they're the new dicks. Just a few months to go, life is great.

The range isn't the usual pop-up target range. It's all on paper targets, fro 25 meters away or something. The size of the silhouette is scaled to the distance or some shit like that. So now, one has to shoot 38 out of 40 o qualify Expert. The plan is to hit that mark as soon a possible and get the hell out.

We grab two 20 round magazines from the ammo shack after our pre-range brief. Set up sandbags. Wait for the command. Slap in a mag. Wait. Flip the switch to semi.

"Fire."

I dot each target twice, nonchalantly. You can't do this shit when you stress about it. Put the red dot on the center of the silhouette and squeeze, let the rifle buck, repeat. On to the next silhouette.

We bring our targets up. My friend hit 40/40 first time. Me? 37.

"Are you fucking KIDDING ME? 37 should be expert, no doubt about it. This is bullshit. Goddammit..."

Two new magazines in my hand, I wait to fire the next iteration. Waiting for the go-ahead.

I squeeze the trigger forty times and when I bring the paper up for grading, its a 38. Awesome. Expert, so I can go now, observe that my weapon is clear and I'll just be on my wa-- Where the fuck is the bus?

My friend caught the bus back to the company area to enjoy some shamming, while I repeatedly qualified expert because we had a metric fuckton of rounds to burn off. Thanks man.

It got to the point where we buddied up in teams, one guy on a knee, the other standing, shooting at one target, going for best team out of 80 rounds. My buddy ol' pal and I won each time with a simple system. The guy on a knee shoots the smaller targets, the guy standing takes the bigger ones, and after the first magazine, we switch. All three times, we win.

When you get the command to fire, all you can really do is get slightly lost in the insanity of gunsmoke and the smell of carbon and the crack and little kick, the dirt kicked up behind the targets, the knowledge that you're spitting lead and death at a fuckload of feet per second. It's ridiculous. It should defy explanation. Good GOD, what the hell are we doing out here? Shooting shadows to prove our competency! LUNACY! HIGH FIVE!!!

We're shooting and spewing profanity and talking about each other's moms. We are demon-spawn wrapped in neo-samurai armor with Oakleys.




Oh, right, the contest. What did we win?

Well, ah...jack shit. A filthy M4 to clean I guess. Fuck it though, another day off my calendar.

Staring At The Clock

Drooling down the chin, eyes glazed, catatonic facial expression. Fierce debates on the tube that for some reason I just can't bring myself to take an interest in. Ridiculous!

Food poisoned or some other strange cosmic ailment that left me out of the picture for two days, sleeping, sweating, shivering, aching, and groaning, with the constant bizarre fever dreams, the ones that aren't quite real but are more than just a dream. I wait for appointments and briefings and any and all reason to skip out, make my absence regular, ween the Army off of me.

Not today, rifle range again. They want as many of us as possible to score Expert. I get it, makes sense. Makes the company and the battalion and so on look good. That's the idea, raise a kickass unit, I fully understand. I'm under the impression that we're to stay there until we qualify expert or until the range is shut down.

Out of nowhere, I get this weird thought of adding extra rounds to my magazines, all covert-like. But no, that would be cheating, and I don't want to put my balls on the table. Never been much of a gambler. Bet low, sit at the table all day cuz All In is a motherfucker when you lose.




Jet flew overhead and I vaguely thought of the rockets pounding the FOB. But no, these were jets. The normal behavior of a jet does not include blowing us up. Then I think about how I'm getting behind on my online classes, all two of them. And I make up the excuse that I'd be doing way better if I was a full-time student. Or if I wasn't going to bed at 7 PM to make the weeks go by faster.




I started this rag with the intent of giving a grunt's-eye-view of an entire enlistment in the Army. Maybe I'll try to get back to the details again.