It’s amazing what you don’t realize that you take for granted until it’s actually taken away from you. For some reason, the military decides to place their bases on the outskirts any state they are in. They put them in places where cell phone towers are scarce, so having a semi-decent signal in some places is about as common as a having a football-bat (unless you have Verizon-ugh!). Where I ended up staying was very weird; in the buildings where we slept my signal was very scarce. I could only make a phone call if I walked across the street-if I could even do that. Other times I would have to walk around until I found a strong enough signal to send a text message and my 3G was almost non-existent, but if I went to the other side of the post-about two miles away- I had perfect signal. That was extremely frustrating because I went on the other side of the post about 3 times.
This was the first time I had been to an annual training event with my company since 2008. I’d forgotten all the things that it entails: a little drama, some BS, arguing, forgiveness, fun, embarrassing pictures, good stories, and bonding. This training event wasn’t the worst I’ve been too, and I will admit that I had fun. They scheduled a few “opportunity training’ events for the soldiers- events that they normally wouldn’t have the chance to do during a regular drill weekend- like an obstacle or “confidence” course, gas chamber, virtual convoy OPS and things like that, and this was in addition to our individual platoon training. We ended up getting a surprise mission at the last minute… and actually pulled it off. That was a stressful day. I would have to say that the obstacle course was the most memorable, and the most challenging. I remember when I used to do them when I was in basic training…in my early 20’s, when they didn’t seem so hard and I had the energy to get through them. I’m going to admit that it was rough—I’m not as young and as strong as I used to be. I thought I was in pretty good shape until I completed some of those obstacles. There was one point where I was hanging from a wall making a sad attempt to climb over it and I had to begin to reevaluate my entire life. I realized that I am older than I feel and that I can’t just do a menial work out and consider myself strong. I really have to work on my upper body strength.
Other than the obstacle course the rest of the days seemed to float by. The food was terrible. My friend Maggie and I decided to purchase as much healthy food as we could- things that wouldn’t go bad without refrigeration like tuna, almonds, walnuts, oatmeal packets, decaffeinated green tea, Boost vitamin shakes, and we even got a few avocados and waited for them to get ripe and had them for lunch. I know that doesn’t sound like much but in all honesty it was waaaaaaay better than the options we had at the dining facility—I ate a salad every single day—I’d never eaten salad so consistently in my life. Then they issued us MRE’s for lunch. For those that don’t know, an MRE or Meal Ready to Eat are these freeze dried, air tight packages of “food” that they hand out when hot meals aren’t available. For those that are familiar with them, you know that they are absolutely, 100% completely unhealthy for you. One MRE package has more than enough calories, sodium, and cholesterol to fill a person for an entire day, or more. I don’t think they are meant to be eaten as one meal- unless you are out in the field and can’t get to any other source food. Either way I think they’re gross and will definitely choose anything else to eat if given the option.
All in all, I am happy to be home. I can hold Lorenzo close, sleep on bed that won’t slide on the floor, cook my own food- the right way- go get my hair done and just relax. Being a senior NCO in a unit is way different from being a junior enlisted. When you’re a junior, you just sort of get to sit around and wait for your squad leader or platoon sergeant to tell you what’s going on the next day, but when you’re a senior- you are the one doing all the planning. You plan the training, do the training, try not to over work your people, wait for one meeting to finish, have another meeting and redo all of your original training plans because someone got a visit from the ‘Good Idea Fairy’ and decided to make changes to the schedule. It’s exhausting—but rewarding.
I think I’m going to use this time I have at home to continue to look for work and consider going back to school. I don’t think I should waste any more time and just do it. I planned on going back to school after I got home from Iraq a few years ago, but my situation at home didn’t allow for it. So I know what my focus is going to be for the next few weeks, I know that Lorenzo will be on board- he’s all about the improvement of me- especially if the end result will help us out financially in the future. I know that having a Master’s Degree will definitely benefit me, so I can’t wait to get started.