Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Where to Begin?

So mid-February.  That's the last time I posted, huh?  Dang.  I've had more to say since then, for sure.  This might get rambly.

Fort Gordon continues to be...well...Fort Gordon.  It's still "Better Than Basic!(tm)" but that only carries a place so far after nearly 12 weeks.  I still haven't passed the run portion of a PT test.  I've had a couple of weeks of no running not helping due to really bad shin splint in my right leg.  That following a week of no PT thanks to my wisdom teeth finally being removed.  It adds up to most of the last month being a no run time.  That has...not...helped my run time.  But them's the breaks.  I took a diag test last week and I know I can crank out the pushups and situps to a passing (or better) standard no problem.  But the run.  Oy the run.  the more things change, the more they stay the same.

I continue to crush my classes.  And I continue to do so with one of the highest grade averages in my graduating class.  We're currently about a week away from the toughest block of instruction here.  And the schoolhouse threw my classroom-class a bit of a curve ball.  My classroom-class (really, there should be less cumbersome means of distinguishing between the soldiers currently in my graduating class and those that share the same classroom) was always kinda small.  And we've shaved off a soldier with each block of instruction so far.  But with this new block, they split us up and shunted us into the other two classes in my graduating class.  We are none too happy about the arrangement.  We had a sort of system running, a level of camaraderie, that kept us up and motivated.  It's not helping that the new block is back in the older schoolhouse with the barely-running AC.  With 19 of us crammed into the room instead of 10.  It makes a difference.  But I'll pass.  With high marks.  Ever on and on.

The PT is an effort and a hurdle, but it's quantifiable and counterable.  I'm slow on my run.  So I need to run more, and push harder when I run.  So I do.  I've started running on weekends now.  Not, y'know, really fast, but a couple of miles or an hour of interval running.  Something.  It'll get there.  The real hurdles are motivation and socialization.  And they're one and the same, really.  Time passes and I miss home.  And I haven't really made a lot of connections here with people.  Shallow circles at best, really.  And due to the nature of TRADOC (soldiers in training, the rules that govern them) I can't go, say, hang out with people I'm better connected to, like Hyde, without a willing battle buddy AND synchronized schedules.  It's a logistical nightmare on a good day.  I'm 29.  I'm responsible.  I want to do nothing to endanger my chances of getting Distinguished Honor Grad.  I just want to go hit the gym or another company's break area for a few hours and be back.  Nope.  And because I'm still struggling with PT, I'm stuck at Phase IV, so I have to do morning details on weekends, when I'd really much rather sleep.  And we have two hour time limits on on-post passes.  Sigh.  Whine.  Etc.  There are things I like.  And I'll count AIT as an enjoyable experience, overall.  Whereas Basic was...not.  But still, it's hard to keep the motivation to excel and exceed.  There are too many examples and opportunities to put for the minimum and lazy my way through.  And I could do it, too.  The system is easily worked, and I've more or less seen and/or figured out exactly how much effort to put forth to look just right and succeed by failing.  It's a temptation.  But I won't give in.  I just miss all you guys and independence.  Game night, the Salty Caper, St. James and Vintage21.  I miss drink and smokes.  I miss waking up on my own without an alarm or disturbance.  I know these things, and more, wait for me to get out of here.  I just gotta get there.

I try not to worry about the mild malaise that's kinda settled in of late.  Worrying overmuch will be a distraction I don't need.  But the mix is just right at the moment for a slip into something like depression.  And really, who needs that?  Not me, not here.  But I see warning signs.  So I work through and around the problems.  Facebook, the tool that lets me stay in touch with everyone back home, and by extension keep me motivated, is a two-edged sword by way of people I still stay in touch with that are friends (or family) with people I...don't want to.  Too much time for introspection and memory here sometimes, I guess.  But I still find myself up at 4AM.  I still push myself.  Sometimes I don't know why, like waking up in the middle of a run and asking myself "When the hell did this happen?  Why on EARTH am I running?  Where is the sun?!"  But the days end and there's mail-call.  Oh right.  That's why I do this.  I wake up to messages from far away left for me on my phone.  Yes.  This.  This makes my day before I even start.  These are my reasons.  You.  Your support.  I can't do this on my own, and I haven't had to.  You've been there with me the whole way.  From day one at Ft. Benning until graduation this June.  Your pictures are taped up in my locker, so every day I see you and I remind myself of why I'm here.  So please, keep on keeping me going.  I'm strong, but I am stronger because of you than I could have ever been by myself or for myself.  The letters and the messages and texts lift me up and keep me smiling.

Thank you.

I'm going to go listen to a lot of Led Zeppelin now.

if the sun refused to shine

Monday, February 13, 2012

It Defies Titles

Man. It's been a crazy 6 weeks (give or take) since my last entry. I graduated out of BCT (no matter how near a thing it was) and have moved on to Ft. Gordon for my AIT. As you can see, we get internets here, though I don't have continuous access. But some is more than none, yes?

I've been here for a couple of weeks and we're just about finished with our first class, an A+ course. It's...not so challenging for me. But then, I've been doing A+ type stuff for the better part of the last 13 years. It's an interesting environment here. It's loads more relaxed and independent here than BCT (especially compared to Ft. Benning), but there's still some walls that my head butts up against from time-to-time. But not hard enough that any of the Cadre or instructors here have noticed or found reason to take me to task for it.

The food here in the dining facilities isn't quite as good as the food at Benning. And the availability of junk (like Domino's) makes this an easy place to get kinda fat in. But I've been watching my intake of junk and I make a habit of lots of fruit and a salad or two with every meal. PT is tougher, but better. And we do get some free time in the evenings, so I can get some gym time in while I'm here to improve my run. Which I NEED like WHOA. I'll make it, but it's just a matter of how fast. I can't phase up to more privileges until I pass my PT, and the run is killing me there. But then, running has ever been my bane. I'll figure it out.

I am excited, though, that I could very well be the Distinguished Honor Graduate here (unlike at Benning, where PT counted a whole lot more). If I keep my nose clean and I pass my End of Course PT test on the first attempt. The only other requirement is having the highest academic average (bwahaha). I really hate feeling like an arrogant dutch-bag about it, but I am one of (if not the) smartest person in my graduating class. Now, time will tell if my bad study habits will rear up again, or if I'll buckle down and get it right. I have an affinity for technology, but unlike the A+ course, I'll actually be learning a whole lot of new stuff with the rest of my coursework while I'm here. But the classes will translate into education enough to get a few certifications and 18-36 credit hours of college credit (that I could easily turn into nearly an AS in Information Technology at the right school.) and that will be awesome. The rest of the plan is in place, just waiting on me to finish all this up in mid-late June.

A slog, this will be before it's all said and done. I miss home and the people that live there. And the ones currently wandering out and abroad, I miss also and especially.

Tomorrow. Tomorrow might actually pass by with little to note it. And that will (sadly) be a delightful first. I'm used to having generally bad days on the 14th of February. Singles Awareness Day, indeed. But when I have not been single, they have often involved arguments or similar unpleasantness. But this time around, I'll be busy in class or concurrent training or working out. I will not, however, turn down any pleasant messages left on Facebook or email or text, from any of you, my dear friends and family. And please, please write. It's easy to feel disconnected here. I have a phone, but during the day it stays locked up and I'm running about most of the evening trying to fit in a life of sorts. We get mail-call far more often, and I'm not getting drowned in letters like I was at Benning. Sadness!

So here's me:
PFC Johnson, Justin
B Co 447 Bn 15 Sig Bde
Ft. Gordon, GA 30905

And to you, especially, I hope your day is fantastic in every ordinary and awesome way. We'll talk/chat/write soon enough.

live, laugh, dare to love

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Work in Progress, Shows Promise


It's been a good break. And I'd be lying if I said I was looking forward to going back to Ft. Benning. It's not as though it's over-hard. Basic has been challenging, for sure, but never at a level that I have found myself incapable of completing the task at hand. But while there have been enjoyable moments (such as making Sharpshooter, by hitting 32 of 40 targets, on my first try), BCT is not what I could call enjoyable as a whole. I'm looking forward to the end of it. But there's only 21 days left, starting on the 5th. So down to bidness.

PFC Johnson, Justin
D Co. 3-47 In 3rd Plt
Bld 3210
Ft. Benning, GA 31905

That's my mailing address for those of you who don't have it. It's still going to be a good address to write to until about the 13th-16th of January. It's only a short time, but I love getting letters. So write!

Second: I graduate from BCT on the 26th of January at Ft. Benning in Sand Hill. All of you. Come and see me walk around in my Army blue monkey suit! Crowd the bleachers with my people!

Christmas this year was, delightfully, low key. For me it was so great just to be home and see everyone, friends and family alike. And oh man. So much food. So much GOOD and TERRIBLE food. After months of Army nutritious food, getting a little Cheerwine and BBQ was divine. Army food was, surprisingly, tasty most of the time. It was a little plain, but healthy. And it's surprisingly easy to eat healthy at BCT, given the selections. But nothing fried. No pizza. Water forever, too much Powerade, and one glass of milk and OJ on any given day. So no Cheerwine.

It's interesting being who I am and how old I am being in BCT. It's a lot easier for me to just go along and play the game than it seems to be for the 18-20 year olds. But while I can just do what I'm told and say "Yes, Drill Sergeant," I don't really make a permanent change to Army (Hooah!) Mode. It's a switch I can flip (and did), but then I can come home and turn it off. There are some changes, internal discipline, stability, confidence, that are permanent, but most of it is just a hat I put on and take off. I didn't come home and roll my laundry (unless I was packing a bag, but I did that anyway), or make my bed with hospital corners. I don't wake up at 4AM every day and do PT (though I did do some). So there's good things being done in my general direction thanks to the Army and Basic Training. Mostly it's the 25lbs. I left back on the sandy PT field.

There's still some things I doubt I'll ever get used to. Like when I was waiting to go home. I was in line getting my boarding pass. And people came up and thanked me for my service, shook my hand. I get home and find my inbox is full, not the least of which was friends thanking me on Facebook on Veteran's Day. That choked me up just a bit.

Segue: the amount of support I have received from my friends and family has been...overwhelming. I mean, I never expected that I wouldn't get absolutely 100% support from everyone. But the way you have all gotten behind me on this, and the amount of thought and love. It's humbling and at the same time it fills me with strength, confidence. All the more reason for you all to be there on the 26th. You've all been there behind me this whole time, and I want you all to see me bring this to fruition.

I was able to ring in the New Year amongst good friends around a hookah. I had drink and food and fellowship. I'm looking forward to what 2012 will bring me. Graduate from BCT, go on to AIT, making some decent money along the way. Get in shape. Find work through my National Guard unit or go to school full time. Take SOME classes in either case. CRF 2012.

And tonight was just an excellent cap to it all. Thank you.

i know it ain't easy