Jason's BLOG pages



Jason Grose's BLOG

December 1997




What's a blog, you ask? It stands for "weblog" and it's basically an online journal of daily thought. We'll see how long I can keep this up (as though I don't have enough to do!)

If you must have a title, I'll go with: The daily thoughts/rants of a Marine Officer, father, scholar, husband, marathon runner, Flash cartoonist, computer nerd.

Tuesday, December 30, 1997

Quote of the Day:
- Unknown

Felt a little better but still a little sick
Watched TV
Micki and Kevin came over for dinner
Watched Major Payne

Free Advice for Today:
Travel. See new places, but remember to take along an open mind.
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.


Monday, December 29, 1997

Quote of the Day:
- Unknown

Sick all day

Free Advice for Today:
Never ignore evil.
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

Sunday, December 28, 1997

Quote of the Day:
- Unknown

Got up and got ready but felt a bit sick
Went to the University
Went to IMA but Steve was out to lunch
Toured the campus
Went to NROTC, name on plaque
Went back to IMA and talked to Steve
Went to University Village
Went to Lyle and Sharon’s
Went to dinner at Madarian Palace with Schramms and Scott/Kristine
Went to Scott and Kristine’s to help clean apartment
Came home and went to bed

Free Advice for Today:
Never leave a youngster in the car without taking the car keys.
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

Saturday, December 27, 1997

Quote of the Day:
- Unknown

Woke up feeling better
Set up the game for the kids on the computer
Carrie made breakfast and we got ready for lunch
Went to Edmonds and met friends for lunch

Trent and Alison Gibson
Matt and Jen Patmon
LTCOL and Mrs. Becker
Col Perry
Captain Stromberg
Gunny Buckley

Free Advice for Today:
Judge your success by what you had to give up in order to get it.
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

Friday, December 26, 1997

Quote of the Day:
- Unknown

Woke up and just relaxed around the house
Went shopping
Barnes and Noble
CompUSA: 32 meg memory but none for laptop
Game for kids
Got home and installed memory: a little frustrating, yelled at Carrie
Went to bar to watch game with Chris
Played some pool and had a little beer
Did not want to be there
Kelly showed and a couple of friends
Left at halftime and went home
Felt sick, layed on couch with Carrie and then to bed

Free Advice for Today:
Never be ashamed of honest tears.
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

Thursday, December 25, 1997

Quote of the Day:
- Unknown

Felt sick and slept all morning
Chris came over but I was in bed
Chris brought gifts for the kids and two books for me
We got ready and went to Schramms for turkey
I ate a serving but felt sick and spent three hours on the couch sleeping
Watched Aloha Bowl and some of the Mariners game
Went home and went to sleep, still not feeling good

Free Advice for Today:
Always try to house dressing.
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

Wednesday, December 24, 1997

Quote of the Day:
- Unknown

Went to Schramms
Went to singing Christmas tree
Ate Flesh Keithla
Kids opened presents and I felt sick
Shared and stayed late

Free Advice for Today:
Never sell yourself short.
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

Tuesday, December 23, 1997

Quote of the Day:
- Unknown

Woke up real early and got up with Alex
Taught him about eyes, ears, noses, and electricity
Went and got donuts and milk
Came back and woke up Carrie
Played with the kids
Carrie cut my hair and I got ready
Went shopping and had a good time

Free Advice for Today:
Fool someone on April 1st.
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

Monday, December 22, 1997

Quote of the Day:
- Unknown

Woke up early with Alex again and played games, made waffles
Called the Major and tried to get ahold of friends
Talked to Micki
Straightened out towel fee fiasco
Made pizza
Went over to Lyle and Sharon's to drop off kids
Went to Amistad
Came back and picked up kids, Lyle fixed car
Came home and put kids to bed
I crashed once again

Free Advice for Today:
Go to rodeos.
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

Sunday, December 21, 1997

Quote of the Day:
- Unknown

Slept in
Picked up diploma
Went to Jeff and Kate's
Went to La Fuente with Scott and Kristine
Went to the Singing Christmas Tree
Came home and I crashed again

Free Advice for Today:
Remember that half the joy of achievement is in the anticipation.
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

Friday, December 19, 1997

Quote of the Day:
- Unknown

This week sucked. You can candy-coat it but what it all comes down to is that it was an exercise in misery and suffering. I learned a lot of things about myself and others but it boils down to this was the most difficult and physically discomforting thing that I have ever done.

The evolution started with a convoy to practice how to do it. The other things incorporated were making a night ambush, a night patrol, and a defense. Depending on what section you were in, you would do one of these per night on a round-robin basis. Tuesday night we did the ambush, Wednesday we did the night patrol, and Thursday we were in the defense. The days were spent on working parties or setting up for the night exercise.

The concept was that we as a company were defending the battalion CP. We would go to an initial staging area and then we would do a leader’s recon to layout how we would set up our defense. Then on Tuesday we would move to the site and set it up.

All this sounds well and good but in all actually, it did not transfer well from paper. Confusion and inept leadership were the norm and as the week stretched out, interest level fell and tempers flared. Living in the elements for a straight week brings out all kinds of ugliness in all people. Throw in no sleep and bad food and you have the makings for a taste of Hell.

I hate the field. I was so cold and so tired that I really, really, really did not care one bit about what was going on. I had to pretend like I did but in my heart, I knew that I was not into this exercise in the least little bit. I cannot operate on two hours of cold sleep and then wake up and be more cold and be expected to operate. Maybe some can and I applaud them. But I do not feel less of a person for it. That is just the way I was made and I recognize the fact.

I was squad leader during this entire evolution. I was “in charge” of three fireteams of four, of which I rarely had more than 50%. If anything went wrong, I was to blame and everything went wrong. It was the worst thing to be in charge of people who did not want to be led and to be blamed for situation out of your control. Why were fighting positions not dug armpit deep? Because one half to three quarters of my squad was tasked out to working parties. Did they take this into consideration? No. My fault. Period.

Not only did the lieutenants not want to be led, I did not want to lead them. I tried but it was no use. I finally just gave up and went with the flow. If I stood up for my squad, I was a complainer. If I complied, I was not looking out for my people. No-win situation. Pretty soon it turned to I was slacking in the eyes of the leadership for not getting things done fast enough and then hated by the people who had to do the work I was tasked with getting completed. It was like a vice and by Thursday, I snapped when my flight home was threatened. If they wanted a way to break me, that would be it but only a few saw the results. My misery was deeper than anyone could possibly imagine.

The cold. Acu described it as the Ice World that invades at night. When the sun went down, the temperature dropped like a rock. Withing five minutes, the temperature would change from bearable to shivvering. It reminded me of the dread that accompanied the nights in Saudi. When it came, slow but unstopable, you knew that there was suffering in the near future. Sunset is a bad time in the field. You must say goodbye to the sun and its warmth and steady yourself for the long night.

The only way to battle the night was to be on the move. You actually wanted to do things to stay warm but by the end, you were so drop-dead tired, it was the lesser f two evils. You could either be cold and exhausted or warm and exhausted

Free Advice for Today:
Never swap your integrity for money, power, or fame.
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

Monday, December 15, 1997

Quote of the Day:
- Unknown

Like most nights before major evolutions, I slept restlessly. I tried to get to bed early but there was just too much to do and I had squandered my time on the weekend. This morning was the day of reckoning.

The first thing that was on the schedule was convoy operations. Basically, we would load 5-ton trucks with all of our battle gear and then have to dismount when attacked. But before we could get to this, we had to start the morning off in LZ 7 practicing for the operation. We were the first section to do it so we had to be out there early while everyone else was sucking up warmth in the barracks. Not a good way to start off a week in the elements.

The practices, like all of the practices we do, were worthless. Everyone was confused and thankful that they were not in any billet. It was cold and the mood was apprehensive for the week to come. We simulated loading and unloading trucks and reaction drills, of which no one paid any attention to at all. It is hard to care when you are that cold and uninterested in the material. It was 0900 and I was already too cold to be near comfort.

The trucks were late so we had, what else, more practice time. It was hideous and representative of days to come. Finally, we loaded up and got going. We were all bunched together with all of our gear in the back of the big truck. We looked like a bunch of turtles on our backs and there was not a comfortable position to be found. Basically, they would simulate an attack and we would all rather clumsily dismount and run into the woods. Actually we were supposed to deploy tactically and set up a defense but in all actually, we went running haphazardly into the woods. Then we would load up, a feat in itself, and go again. It was pretty cheesy and by the end, we were tired and drenched in sweat. A great start to a great week.

Once we got on the hardball, we knew the attacks were over. Up to then, we had been on a dirt trail but jumping out with weapons on a main road probably would not sit well with the locals. The drive was cold and we were wet. The main topic of the day were the good weather forecasts all week. It was supposed to be clear and sunny all week. Our prayers to this end was constant.

It semed to have taken forever to get there but this was OK. For one thing, we were not humping our heavy packs all the way. Another was that no one was messing with us and we could not screw up anything along the way. When we pulled into the main command post area, moods were solomn. This is where we would suffer for the next five days and four nights.

We had to get off the trucks and then hump our packs to our area. This took about 20 minutes and it was disheartening how heavy the packs were already and how tired it made us. But the day was sunny and we were not cold anymore. That was something positive which is hard to find in a week of this kind of training.

We set up a temporary site, as we found out, for the first day. Some had to go on the leader’s recon all day so the rest of us help set up camp. So far, so good. When the sun went down, the cold came in quickly. We were put at 25% alert for the night (one person per fireteam of four awake and on the SAW gun.)

Free Advice for Today:
When camping or hiking, never leave evidence that you were there.
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

Friday, December 12, 1997

Quote of the Day:
- Unknown

My phone rang at about 0600 this morning and all I wanted to do was let it ring. But I was on duty and I knew that it would be Hadsall. I figured my night’s sleep was over but over seven hours was not bad. I answered the phone and it was indeed Hadsall and he said that they had woken him up early and he asked if I could come in before 0800 like I said I would because he had the endurance course this morning. I asked him if 0700 would be good enough and he said that would be fine. At least I could leisurely get ready before I had to go.

I went and relieved him but I had no idea when I was going to be relieved. The first class was at 0900 which meant that I was supposed to be relieved by 0830. I hate being the duty because you have to wear the duty belt and your cover so that any officer who walked in, you had to pop to attention and salute. It is a pain in the ass. I tried to pass the time by reading over the order for the STEX we had but it was no use. There were just too many interruptions. Pretty soon T the Asshole came in and I had to ignore him even though we were in a small room together. Luckily, the oncoming duty was on time and we waited outside the captain's door to do the turnover. There was already someone in the office so we had to wait. Then an SPC jumped the line and walked right in. It was about 0840 and I had to get to class. We finally got in there and I did the reporting procedure correctly and was dismissed. I had to rush to class to get there on time.

We have had three STEXs this and every time, they have been rotating the SPCs so we have someone different each day. I was once again unprepared and I was not too happy to see that we had Captain S as our AI this morning. I asked A if we had to do anything for the STEX this morning and he said we were supposed to have everything done for it. I told him that it would have been nice to know before a few minutes prior to having it due. All he said that it was in the advance sheets and I told him that was a bullshit answer. I cannot wait until they change squad leaders because he sucks in the position.

I then found out that we had the completely wrong worksheet and I felt a rush of relief. Now we could not have been expected to have it done and we all got a reprieve. When we got to the sandtable, S started off by reading the correct order off to us. It was so close to the other one that I just made the little changes on the old order itself. It made it easier because taking an order is a long tedious affair and it takes a lot of really fast writing. After he was done with that, he went over what he wanted us to do. It was a series of nine questions and they were really involved. He spent about 30 minutes reading them off and it was humorously overwhelming. There was no way we could copy it down fast enough much less figure it all out. The final comical point was that after he was done, with a straight face, he said we had 30 minutes to get it done. It was all I could do not to laugh. Luckily, we broke up into groups and more luckily, Barney was in our group.

Somehow, Barney had gotten the correct order and more amazingly, took the time to write out all of the questions. She was well-prepared and was good at the tactics side of the house. We got into our groups and let her brief us on what she came up with. To feel somewhat useful, I shot questions at her concerning the questions S had given us. I asked about this and that and almost felt like I was doing some good. At least I was not sitting there like a bump on a log like some of my contemporaries. We got the general gist of what was going on and then went back in.

I was a little sore from the endurance course yesterday. My inside thighs were a little sore from the rope on the way down, like they always are. I was a little stiff and my lower back hurt a little. It was not as bad as I thought it would be but standing there for a couple of hours around the sand table was quite uncomfortable. Like everyone else, I just wanted it to be over.

S was not as bad as I expected. I asked if he had played football for Notre Dame because I had heard he had. He said he went there but did not play football. I asked him a few other questions because I wanted to see if he knew Mike Gann. He had not but I think the conversation put him in a little better mood. We needed all the help we could get.

The three teams briefed him on the plan and he picked them apart but offered suggestions on the best course of action. It is so hard to concentrate on this stuff because I am not going to be a grunt. I can understand the drive the SPCs have to teach us the material because this is the grunt’s bread and butter. But the importance is lost on me because I do not see myself doing this even thought they keep telling us that no matter what MOS we do, we need to know how to do this. I would never remember half of this without practice so the need to desperately get this into my head is not very strong to me.

We finished in normal fashion, with no definite format of presentation and a splattering of key terms. There is safety in numbers and I realized I had made it through another one. We were kept a little late and they started calling us for the D week brief in another classroom. We shuffled over there and then waited until all the confusion stopped, which was awhile.

Captain Buddahas is pretty much the man in charge next week and he gave the brief. He basically just wanted to give us a heads up on what to expect (that it will really suck) and to warn us to take it seriously. He went over the general things we were supposed to know, most of which the majority of people did not have a clue on, including myself. I am starting to realize that even though I feel lost most of the time, so does everyone else. I keep thinking I am the only ping pong ball floating down the TBS rapids but then I talk to others and I am not alone. It is a good feeling because I always feel inadequate.

I was called out early to go turn in my rifle and help with the armory. I will be issued a 203 grenade launcher for the exercise and so to speed things up, they arranged for those of us who were not going to take out our rifle, to turn it in for the holidays thus saving time on Friday when we are trying to get out of here. It felt good to get that done.

Going to the armory was an interesting experience. We were let into the body of the armory and it is like a fortress. It has the biggest collection of weapons on the entire east coast. Of course we were treated pretty much like an intruder and I could feel my bars melt away. At least they had to call me Sir which I found amusing.

Half way through the turn in process, I was called out because I had to go to a practice exercise. I am 1st platoon’s 1st squad leader for next week. I was told to come out but when I did, no one was there that knew what was going on. It was the first in a long line of confusing events that defined the rest of the day. I got half-ass guesses that I was supposed to go to LZ 7 for the practice and that I needed my LBV. At this point, I did not care because it was practically the weekend. I went to the barracks, got my LBV, and went to the landing zone where they were all waiting. We did a walk through of a few formations we would have to perform and then went into the woods to do it there. It was simple but very helpful.

Afterwards, I went back to the room and hung out. There were dozens of people coming and going with confusing and conflicting agendas. I had to just sit back and laugh. Pretty soon, we all had to go out and do the same exercise but this time with everyone, not just the leaders. It went off smoothly and I got a look at my squad. I got a chance to let them know what I knew and tried to set up an understanding of what I expected and how I liked to operate.

After that was done, we went back to the room and waited to be secured. It took a little while while all the Chicken Littles screamed about the sky falling. We tried to get things ready but I just hung out since I did not want to crawl all over everyone to try to get things done. I knew I would have the entire room the entire weekend to spread out and do it right.

We finally got secured and I was glad to see everyone go. Leon came down and we decided to hit the chowhall before it closed. We went there with Sloan and met a guy that was in M company that Leon knew. We had a good dinner sitting there and talking. Afterwards, I told Leon that I would take my truck to his house. He was going to have a party but was not going to start for a few hours. I told him I would like to come over, hang out, and maybe watch my video. I went to my room and did a few things before I left. I wanted to read the last few emails from Carrie because I was missing her. They put a smile on my face. When I could not stand it anymore, I got on the road and enjoyed driving my truck for the first time since Tuesday night.

When I got to Leon’s place, no one was there. I could not believe it but thought that he might have run up to the store. So I rushed back to my truck and started it up to get the heat going. It was a cold night and I was not about to start my cold-weather suffering any earlier than possible. I waited in the truck listening to music, trying not to get irritated and thought about next week. I thought that there will be a point very soon that I wished I could sit in a warm truck even if there was nothing to do. I thought about how I would soon be busy trying to keep myself sane while sitting in the dark with nothing to do and no one to talk to for hours on end, waiting in the bitter cold for morning.

It took about 1/2 hour and I was starting to get irritated. I was only going to wait another 10 minutes and then I was going to leave. They pulled up and I went inside. Leon went right to his room and started cleaning it. I turned on the TV and when Acu came out, I told him that it was bullshit and that is not the way friends treat other friends. He said I would have to talk to Leon because he did not even know I was coming over. When Leon came out, I repeated to him what I had said to Acu and he made up a lot of excuses of how he did not think I would be coming right away (even though I had told him that was exactly what I was going to do) and how he was sorry. I just kept watching TV because after all, what could I do?

We sat around watching TV until people started showing up. Leon was going to have a section party so all of his friends were showing up. I just kept watching TV and enjoying myself just to let my worries float away. They had rented Predator with Arnold Schwartanegger and so we watched it. It was funny because it has a lot of the tactics that we use in the Marine Corps and they use clips from it at the beginning of a lot of our classes just to fill the “attention gainer” prerequisite of teaching a Marine Corps class. We all found it ironic that on our time off, we would watch a show that is so closely linked to what we do all week. But it was a good show and I had not seen it in years.

More and more people showed up and I just stayed in front of the TV. Leon had a lot of alcohol handy and everyone proceeded to get pretty drunk. I could not hear the TV at all but was content just to sit there and flip. Most of the people probably thought that I was being a wet blanket but even through all of the noise, I was happy just to sit there and flip. I had no interest in talking to anyone and no interest in getting drunk. Leon and Acu are good friends in that I think they know me and understood. They did not harass or embarrass me, just let me enjoy my time with myself and the TV. I am thankful for the few people who can understand me on a deeper level.

Pretty soon, they all decided to go out and take their drunkenness out to the bars. I made sure there were sober drivers among them and they all left. I had the place to myself and was happy. I ran up to the local 7-11 and got some snacks. It was about midnight by the time I got settled and started watching the video. I watched Friends, Seinfeld, and ER. By that time I was really tired and could not stay up for SNL. I had a good time watching the shows but knew I had to get home. It was almost 0200 and I did not want to sleep the entire day away tomorrow. So I got ready and went home to sleep in my own warm bed. I got ready and crashed, happy to be in my own domain alone. Tomorrow would be a day of prep and relaxation.

Free Advice for Today:
Hang up if someone puts you on hold to take a 'call waiting.'
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

Thursday, December 11, 1997

Quote of the Day:
- Unknown

I forgot to turn my alarm on last night but I woke up in time. The only irritating thing about it was that I did not get my “snooze” time. But I was in my game day mode and took it in stride. I wanted to get up and get into the shower so that I could start to get the muscles warmed up. Much to my dismay, the water was not too hot but I had bigger things to worry about on this important day.

I got ready and drank plenty of water. I woke up three times last night just to go to the bathroom because I wanted to be good and hydrated for the E course. I did not sleep that well but almost got 7 hours so that was good. I did not make any coffee and it was hard to go without it. I read Carrie’s email and it raised my spirtits. At least one of us had confidence in my abilities. I had to face that I was not in the shape that I wanted to be in. Add to the fact that Captain Whiteside never made us run the course so I had never run it. Other sections run it once a week!!

After I was ready, it was 1/2 hour before on-deck time so I laid down and tried to relax. Pretty soon the others came in but I had a good 20 minutes of extra rest. I got up and stretched some more and kept drinking water. I realized that I had no ailments and my body was not hurt. If I had to run this course, I was in the best physical shape, as far as not being hurt, that I could hope for. The only factor now was if I had the endurance.

I have duty today so I had to report in. I had to be in the training office at the same time that I was supposed to be outside. I went to the office and Captain Finley, the XO, was not in. I waited and then Sloan came down and said that the section was leaving. This worried me because I did not know how to get to the beginning of the course and I did not exactly want to advertise this. Luckily, Captain Buddahas was there and I asked him what to do and he said to go. That was all that I needed and I was off. I grabbed my stuff and caught up with the section, with help from Sloan.

The endurance course consists of a a trip over the obstacle course, a three mile run, and then the stamina course. So when we got to the obstacle course, I dropped my pack and weapon since we run that part just in cammies. They organized us into sticks of four and each stick was three minutes apart. This is to spread out the poeple so we do not get backed up at the obstacles. I was in the 7th stick so I started off 21 minutes into it and they would subtract it at the end. It was quite cold and wating 21 minutes to start was not only chilly but nerve-racking. Everyone was talking and the more they talked, the better I felt. Everyone was worried about it and said they were in awful shape. I thought I was the only one. They kept saying how difficult this is going to be for them and they were worried about passing.

I was worried that I would get lost. I had never run the course before and was unsure where to go. The route was marked with arrows but there were some confusing parts to it that they tried to explain. I decided that the best course of action was to run with someone. The faster runners were supposed to be up front but they based it on PFT run. I ran a 17:50, my fluke time, but I was in no shape to be up front. I talked to Arnone and agreed to run with him who was also running with Lefringhouse. The fourth guy in our stick I did not know.

As our turn came up, I was getting nervous. The o-course only takes a couple of minutes but it is rather tiring. I had not done one since OCS and I was a bit scared. When they called go, I hopped over the first obstacle which was a log and went onto the next one which was a high bar. I was feeling good, like a spring that was finally able to spring. I jumped up and grabbed the high bar, throwing my legs under and then over the top, instead of chicken-winging it and crawling over. It is called the “college boy roll” and I was not sure I could still do it but it came off without a hitch. I was the first one over and continued but I heard someone scream and I looked over to see that Lefty had hurt his foot. I felt so bad because it was the first obstacle and he had to stop. The irony did not escape me that it could have just as easily been me because the drop was almost ten feet. I thanked the Lord and went on.

I got through the obstacles without a problem. The rope was a little hard to complete but I have always had trouble with it. It felt so weird because I had not used many of the muscles I was using for a long time. I hoped my body would hold out.

After we finished the O-course, with the clock still running, we ran to our gear and got our helmet, LBV, and pack on. The pack was about 25 lbs and was a pain. We also had our rifles. Now onto the 3 mile run.

Arnone and I left together but I soon left him behind. I was running on nervous energy and did not want to slow down. I did not know if I was going to die later so I thought I had better cover as much ground as possible while I had strength and I would just have to be careful to watch for the signs. The trails were muddy, slick, and covered with leaves. It was an ankle nightmare. The hills went up and down and one of the worst things about it was that I had never run it before and did not know where the end was. That is a bad feeling when you are running.

I got through that part of the course and finally made it to the stamina course. I was so tired and weak but I had not even come close to hurting myself. My time was pretty good and my ankles were in tact. But I always lose time on the obstacles.

The first set was the windows again. This was the part of the course we ran Monday so things were a little more familiar. I do not know what I would have done if we did not go there on Monday. I got through the windows and then a couple others. The hard part was the ropes and I could not breath as I finished them. There were more than I had thought and they were wearing me out. The cliffs were sheer mudslides and it was hard to get a foothold on them. When I was done with the last one, the hardest, I thought my lungs were going to burst.

One scary part came on the wood pole ladders. I got to the third and last log at the top and threw my leg over. But when I threw my upper body over, I swung too much and to add to it, my slung rifle unexpectedly went over too, pulling my body with it. The combined result was me off balance and almost falling. I grabbed onto the log with my hands and feet and some how hung on as I rotated around. At the bottom of my swing, I thought for sure that I would fall, hitting the other two logs on the way down the 20 foot drop, right onto my back. There was a moment there where I was sure it would happen. Even though my hands were wet and muddy and the log was wet and slick, I did not fall and I hung there suspended upside down holding on only by my hands and feet. I was a bit disoriented and a lot confused. God once again must have helped me because I should have fallen. The log was wet and slick not to mention thick so it was hard to hold onto in the first place. What kept my tired body with all the gear suspended there was more than my tired, weak hands on a slippery log.

The only other eventful thing that happened was going over another obstacle. Boushelle was there and I had to wait until he got over. It was kind of a tall wall with slits to put your feet into to get up. Once he was on the other side, I ran up and lifted my knee to put my foot in one of the slits. Instantly, my calf muscle cramped into a tight ball, sending pain up my body and I let out a yell. Boushelle looked at me confused and I told him I had cramped and he said he had been cramping too. I really did not care and it hurt on the way up and down. I was too close to the end to let this stop me but I was worried about some later obstacles that required me to waddle through. I thought that my legs would cramp for sure then.

I thought I was almost done at about the hour mark. I had 1 hour and 20 minutes before I failed and I was getting excited that I was almost done. But it kept going and going. I hit another couple of obstacles and I thought the final one, some low barb wire you had to crawl under, would be just around the corner. I kept going and going and all of the sudden I only had ten minutes. I came out onto a road and to my dismay, it stretched out far. I thought I was going to fail and I could not understand what had happened. I was scared and thought that if I just kicked it in, I could make it. I found yet another couple of obstacles and thought they had to be the last. I was getting upset and then I finally saw the final obstacle and the finish line. I bolted for it and got through with no problem. Then there was a short sprint up a hill and that was it. I ran across the line and my final time was 1 hour, 13 minutes, 48 seconds. I had passed AND I was not hurt. Those were my two main goals. But I was ready to barf at the end.

I was worried because I had not seen Arnone since the start. I would feel real bad if he did not pass and I waited and prayed. Finally I saw him and yelled at him to get his ass up to the finish line. He passed with only 45 seconds to spare. We were both happy.

I went back to my room a tired but happy Marine. All I wanted to do was get the wet, dirty gear off of my body and hop into the shower. Sloan beat me to it but by the time I got my clothes off, Sloan was out and I enjoyed a long, hot shower. Life was good. It was just past 0900 and we did not have class until 1200.

We all sat around and cleaned our weapons until 1100 when the chowhall opened. Aliniz came to my room and wanted me to help build the sandtable for the STEX this afternoon but I told him that I had already build two of them and that I had been on deck until 1930 last night. I was not about to go and do another one when there were people who had not even done one yet. He seemed a little pissed and asked if I was saying no. I told him that he was my squad leader and that if he ordered me to be there, I would be there. He said that was OK and I left it at that. A few minutes later, Chiow came to the door and said that it was alright and they did not need me. To this moment, I do not know if he was being fecicious or not but I really did not and do not care. I went to chow with Sloan.

I enjoyed my lunch. I treated myself with a piece of chocolate whip pie. I was so stuffed afterwards that I questioned why I do that to myself. We came back to the room and after a few minutes, all four of us were sleeping. I was in my rack, Sloan was in the other, and Acu and Souliere were on the floor. We had about 45 minutes because class got pushed back to 1230. We all slept well and it felt more than good.

The class was about night attacks and was boring. We were tired and full so it was hard to pay attention. Captain McDougnna and Stoddard taught it so we had to keep on our toes. They are two of the less forgiving SPCs. Good thing I was paying attention because McDounna called on me. I am always getting picked because I always take a row seat near the front. By now, everyone has their place and that is mine.

After the class, we had a STEX and of course, no one was prepared. Stoddard was our AI and we got lucky because the way he lead the exercise enabled us to bullshit our way through. We were so tired and uninterested but we gave it a try. We got through it and were the first ones done. I had to get back to the barracks to assume duty.

Everyone was running around trying to get things done. I was out of the loop because I had duty and the others had to field day the room. I stayed in the training office in an uncomfortable silence since T the Asshole was there and we do not like each other. Finally the XO showed up and I told him my situation about not being able to properly assume duty in the morning. The only thing he asked is what I should have done. After some initial confusion, I guessed what he wanted to hear. I hate being “tested” like that. It irritates me. I said I should have got with him yesterday and told him I had the E course in the morning. He left it at that and I was thankful that the XO has bigger fish to fry. I assumed duty and the Asshole (T) left. I had told Hadsall, my assistant that I would take the 1700-2000 shift and he could have the 2000-2300 shift afterwhich it turns into a sleeping post. He does not live in the barracks so I asked him if he would mind sleeping in the training office so I could rack out in my room. He did not mind so it worked out.

Not much happened on duty. I tried to read a few things but it was no use. I was too tired and kept getting interrupted. I had Hadsell come down and assume duty while I went to eat chow. When I came back, he said he would be back in 50 minutes to assume duty. He was going to try to get some sleep. But he came back about 1/2 hour later because his roommates were cleaning the room and he could not get any sleep. He offered to take over and I was OK with that. I had a lot of stuff to do so I told him to call me if anything happened and I would relieve him at 0800. I went to my room happy that the day was pretty much over.

I half-assed packed my pack just to satisfy Sloan who wanted them all packed by tomorrow. The real packing will be done this weekend when I can plan out what I need. I finished that and then wanted to get this journal entry done so I could sleep. I will wake up in the morning and try to get some things done. I am too tired tonight to do much good. A good night’s rest will do wonders for me. Tomorrow will be a good day and a great day after it is over. The only thing scheduled is the STEX and then D week prep. But I have become wary of seemingly easy days. They sometimes turn out to be bears but we will see.

Free Advice for Today:
Be cautious telling people how contented and happy you are. Many will resent it.”
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

Wednesday, December 10, 1997

Quote of the Day:
- Unknown

Happy birthday, Chris. I hope you had a good one, Brother.

This morning I got to sleep in. I went to bed about 1030 last night and on-deck time was not until 0945. I got up just before 0800 so 9 1/2 hours of sleep was a good feeling. I felt like I was playing hooky from school.

I got up and did my normal morning routine but at a slow pace since I had so much time. Sloan came in at about 0900 and told me that he thought that the material we were supposed to read for the STEX today was long and we had some work to go along with it. This was bad news and I went upstairs to scare up a copy. I got what I thought was the assignment but it ends up that it was only the first page of six. It seems that we had a lot of work to do and all of the sudden, I had a ton of work to get done.

I was mad because yesterday at the nightly meeting, they said to have it read and right at that moment I turned to my squad leader and told him that no one in my room had a copy. His response was that neither did he, a shitty answer. But I thought it was just something to read and did not pay much attention to it. Now I wish I had. When I went to tell him how much work we had this morning, he handed me the entire order. So, in essence, I was caught with my pants down and I had made some effort to rectify it but was let down once again. Now I would not be ready and no excuses are accepted.

We had three more TMIs and they were at the armory. Achenbrenner did one on aiming stakes (yippee!!) and it was raining. So shivering and bored, we sat through it. The next one was by my favorite lieutenant, B, about the AK-47. His was not actually that bad and we had moved in the armory where it was not quite as cold and was at least dry. Lastly came S’s on night vision goggles. The class was alright but a little dry, like all TMIs. I was glad that we were done and I had to go to the bathroom so when we were let go, I bee-lined to the room.

I wanted to eat lunch so I would have plenty of energy for the endurance course tomorrow. I could have stayed behind and worked on the order but I thought I might not get dinner and a day without food the day before the endurance course would not be a great idea. When I returned, the captain was in the room tearing apart Acu’s rifle. We were expecting an inspection today but this was a bit of a surprise. He looked at everyone’s rifle and mine was the cleanest. He was dissatisfied with the overall state of the section and we had been lectured by Demik, the section leader, when we were over at the armory. I think that everyone is dreading D week and the vacation is starting to get in everyone’s mind.

After the inspection we had class. We all kind of chuckled because we knew that the captain was a little peeved at the section and he had only seen our room’s rifles, the cleanest in the section. He’s going to have a heart attack when he goes upstairs. Then when everyone is unprepared for the STEX, all hell will break loose. I just hated being part of this problem and it not completely being my fault. But that is TBS, spread-loading the blame.

After a class, the moment of reckoning came and we went to the STEX. But there was a surprise, they switched the SPCs so instead of having Captain Whiteside, we had, who else...Captain “I am so lost in hurts to imagine the depth of my cluelessness.". I knew nothing about the STEX but at least now I knew I knew more than her, who I figured knew LESS than nothing about it. All I had to do is look interested and fade into the background. The other tactic I use is to jump in like you know what you are doing during the easy parts or on the one part you may know what is going on. Then you bought yourself all kinds of time to look like you know what is going on when, in reality, you have no idea what they are talking about. This is skill that is unmatched at TBS.

I was right, I just slimed through the STEX and afterwards, knew little more but I had no wounds to lick. I had plenty to do afterwards.

I had a meeting because I am 1st squad leader for 1st platoon during D week. We had to receive the order from the platoon commander, Lt Broadstone. I like him and he knows what he is doing. We could have done a lot worse. Sloan is the platoon sergeant so there is another strong link in the chain of command. The order was long and boring but he assured us that he would give us a copy so we could study it before next week. Afterwards, we stayed behind and divided up our people and made assignments.

I had to cut out a little early because I needed to grab chow before another meeting. I went to the chowhall and was glad to find Leon there. He had to go to the same meeting and I spoke with him briefly between eating spaghetti for the second time today. The last meeting was for the people who volunteered to be escorts for mess night. They wanted people who were not going to drink and could handle themselves in front of high-ranking people.

The meeting was short and Captain McD said a few words. He is from Boston and is a riot. He is a brilliant officer and very intimidating but he can be so funny.

I came back to the room and after Sloan left, I was all alone again. I had a lot of things to do and wanted to get in the rack early. Carrie called and I had a great time talking to her. It pulled me out of my depression and it motivated me. Only nine days left. I got an email from Carrie that said that Stephanie ran around all day with both her hands spread out telling everyone that her daddy is coming home in ten days. I thought that was great.

Alex was a little sick but it was still fun to hear his little voice. He told me all the things we would do when I got home, mostly about Chuck E. Cheese’s.

I have the endurance course in the morning and I am feeling OK about it. When I have something like D week looming in front of me, a little E-course does not seem all that bad. I totally re-organized my gear so it would sit better and got everything ready. I have duty tomorrow night so I went to the training office to settle things with the duty and read up on the order. I have to post in the morning and then again at the end of the day.

Well, one day closer and I got to talk to the ones that I love. I guess it was a good birthday of my brother’s. I never fail to think of him on this day and will always remember what December 10th is. In a few days, I will be able to tell him in person.

Free Advice for Today:
When lending people money, make sure their character exceeds their collateral.”
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

Tuesday, December 9, 1997

Quote of the Day:
- Unknown

Again, this morning, I was tired when I woke up. I do not know why but the alarm seemed to go off so early. I kind of dreaded the morning because I knew that we would spend it outside in the cold but at least in was only half the day.

In snowed last night and it was snowing when we got up. The first thing on the schedule was going to the range and shooting the 50 cal machine gun. We had gotten the word to be over at the motor pool at 0550 but when we started over there, no one else was around. We discovered that the word had changed to 0620 and we did not get it. I was bundled up tight and warm and had to peel all my layers off and sit in the room. Sloan had called in and he had overslept. The lucky little guy made it in plenty of time because of the changing word. Some people get so lucky sometimes.

We went over there but I was a little late and everyone was waiting for me when I got there. There was big snowflakes falling and a little was accumulating on the ground but not the concrete. It was going to be a cold one.

We bussed out there and I fried on the bus. I did not mind because I knew I would be cold outside. We got there and it was not too bad. We got a couple of classes and shot about 20 rounds out of the 50 cal. It is a big gun and it was the first time I enjoyed firing any of the weapons, even though I was informed that I would have to help clean them since I was late in the morning.

The snow stopped after awhile and it was obvious that it would not stay around. When we got back, we were secured for lunch and had almost two hours. I ate and then went to S-1 to turn in my allotment paperwork. The PFC was not there so I dropped it off and would come back later. I then went back to the room and caught about 45 minutes of sleep that felt extremely good. We had a class afterwards and I went to that.

The class was learning how to set up an ambush. It was highly complicated and the procedure contained many, many steps. I was utterly confused by the end and I think that everyone else was too. We had about an hour between the end of the class and the time we were supposed to report to TA-7 to do the practical. I went up to S-1 to finish the paperwork and luckily the PFC was in.

They never seem to know exactly what they are doing at S-1. The PFC said it would take less than 10 minutes and it ended up taking almost 30 because he could not get his computer to print. Finally, he got it done and my allotment will start being taken out of my paycheck starting in January but the bank will not receive the first payment until February. So that means that I will have to pay January’s payment again by check.

After I got through with this, I went back to the room and changed over to my field cammies for the second time today. We went out to the training area and Captain Soriano had his section run through what an ambush looks like. Then we split up and a different SPC took each section and ran through it. We had Captain B, Leon’s SPC, and she was as lost as he said she was. It was almost laughable because every time anyone asked her anything, she got this lost look on her face and then asked what we thought. It was ridiculous. Luckily, it finally ended because it was really starting to get cold.

Lt A decided to give us the brief on the endurance course on Thursday. After that, our squad was supposed to go to the armory and clean the 50 cal machine guns. When we got over there, they were already clean so we just went back to the room and waited to be secured.

After we got secured, I just sat in my room and meditated for about 15 minutes. I was in a depressed mood and could not pinpoint exactly why. Maybe it had something about the endurance course coming up but most likely it was stress about D week next week. I am going to be first squad leader the entire time which is a pretty big billet. At least it will keep me busy but it will be stressful. Hopefully, it will take my mind off the cold.

I think that was the thing that worried me so much. I am so scared of being out in the cold for so long. We were out in it today in the morning and then again in the afternoon. I thought about it when we were out there in the afternoon and thought how much it would suck to stay out there. I was glad to be going inside but I could not stop thinking that all net week that could not happen. I think it got to me.

Finally, Acu came back after he said he was leaving. It broke me out of my daydreaming and got me going. I got dressed and went to McDonalds for my Happy Meals. I was extra hungry and two weeks ago I had bought an extra small order of fries but realized that it was about the same to buy three meals, so that is what I did. I ate them but was stuffed. Oh well, next week I will go without so I did not feel so guilty about it. I was tired afterward but had some stuff to do. I had to fill out more straw pull cards to turn in tomorrow. I discovered I threw my last one away after the last straw pull but luckily I remembered that I had written them down in this journal. It saved me a lot of research, again.

I also cleaned my rifle after today’s little ambush practice. I filled out my out-of-bounds chit for Christmas break. That was a chore that I did not really mind. Finally, I filled in some blank journal entries with the schedule we get. I figure it is of no use to try to fill them in now since so much time had passed.

Tomorrow we do not have to be in until 0945 so I will stay up a little late and sleep a little in, getting up early enough to get some work done in the morning. So I will go to sleep a little depressed, a little tired, and a lot full. I did not get any email from Carrie today so that put a damper on the day but I am sure she will send something for the morning.

Free Advice for Today:
At meetings, resist turning around to see who has just arrived late.”
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

Monday, December 8, 1997

Quote of the Day:
- Unknown

For some reason, I woke up really tired this morning. I had got 7 hours of sleep but when the alarm went off, I felt like I had only slept a few hours. The nine-minute snooze intervals seem to fly by in seconds and I woke up almost 1/2 hour after I wanted to get up. It was strange but I finally dragged my butt out of the rack.

The first thing we had on the schedule today was doing TMIs (Techniques of Military Instruction) which are basically a class every lieutenant has to research and give a 20 minute presentation on. I had already done mine during the first round a couple of months ago so all that was left is to listen to the other 19. Needless to say, they are hideously boring but we graded on them.

We were supposed to meet upstairs and I was one of the few that decided to show up on time. By the time everyone showed up, we still waited around for the captain for over a half hour. Then we were told to move to one of the classrooms in Heywood Hall. We all went over there and the boredom began.

First, Lt B gave a presentation on chemical agents. The captain had warned everyone that they needed to be between 13 and 17 minutes and we all reminded each other since we did not want to be there any longer than necessary. Regardless, Barney went long, almost double. It made me nervous because everyone knew she had gone long and she kept going and going. It was interesting but the time was distracting.

Next came A and he lectured on the M1A1 tank. He had made a little model and his presentation ran a little short. He seemed to “shoot form the hip” on his presentation but at least in did not go long.

After A, Y gave his and then we had to stop because a scheduled class was going to start. We would finish after lunch.

The class that we had was on Engineers in the offense and defense. The sergeant that taught it was a real jerk and showed little respect for the lieutenants. He started off his little class with a hint to us that we should spend more time on our personal appearance. He would stop the class and stare at people who were dozing off and then say “busted” when they looked at him. His whole attitude was condescending and I found it hard not to tune him out. I was picking my fingernails and he tried to nail me by asking me what he had just said and I shot back verbatim what he had said. The look of surprise on his face was priceless.

The only good thing about the class was that it was scheduled for 2 hours and he only took up one hour. So we got a long lunch but I had a lot to do.

I had gone to S-1 earlier in the day to ask about an allotment and they had no paperwork on it. So I had to get to the bank and start the paperwork all over. It was only 1000 and the chow hall did not open for an hour so I went to the bank and got the paperwork that I needed. I then went to the exchange and returned my Sam Browne belt. They credited my Visa and I was glad to get that done. It was about $73 in credit. I also found out that as of November 17th, we owed $260 to DPP. I was glad to get these things done.

I went back to S-1 with the paperwork because the PFC said he would speed up the paperwork if I brought it right to him. When I got there, the computers were down and he said he could not do it until they came back up. Oh well, almost a homerun. I will check back tomorrow or as soon as I can. He said that it would take 2-3 paydays to kick in so we have at least another month of payments to make.

After all of this, I went to chow and then made it back just in time to get back to the classroom and finish the TMIs. Ar gave his and it was about accountability paperwork and he drew from his former experience in the reserves. It was quite boring.

Next, T gave his and it was lame. His research was good because his father was in Vietnam and he was doing his presentation on the tunnel systems the Vietnamese used in the war. But his presentation was unorganized and you could tell he did not put too much organization effort into it.

After his lame presentation came Th’s on the Harrier. I found it funny that he had not come to me at all for any information and even talked about the Harriers in the Gulf. He talked about how the maintenance kept the birds in the air 90% of the time and how they were based near the front. I do not even know if he knew I was part of that. I think that even if he knew, he would not have come to me anyway. I was able to answer some questions he couldn’t at the end of the presentation.

Next, and last, came A’s presentation on MAGTF. He showed a clip of him at VMI being yelled at which a news crew had recorded as part of a story. It was funny because he had lived in Hong Kong most of his life and he still had an English accent. His presentation was not very well organized, pretty much like the rest but we all made it through. After his presentation, he went over the movement to contact we had done during O week when he was the platoon leader. We rehashed it and I was as confused as I was disinterested.

After we got this done, we were given 20 minutes to get our stuff together and change over for the obstacle course run. I was dreading this and I was way behind getting ready. I had to wear boots that were not really broken down because I forgot to put polish on my worn-in ones. I had to throw my pack together and get the bars on my cammies. Luckily I had cleaned my field cammies from O week and threw them on. I rushed out there about 8 minutes late but I was not too surprised to see that I was about the 5th one there. We ended waiting for B who came out without a helmet. He is our own Private Pyle.

We had to wear cammies, LBV, pack, helmet, and rifle on the run. We were only going to do the last half of it with the obstacles. This was very scary for me because I just knew I would turn an ankle even though I had both of them braced. I was also out of shape and I knew my endurance was lacking. I did not know the course and that always makes it worse. But that is what all this was about: to get us acquainted with the course. It was something I should have done on my own but because of my ankles, I put it off and now the test is in a couple of days.

Even the 3 minute trot to the start was starting to make me sweat. I just hoped that I was in better shape than I thought. We started the course and they all started fast. I was out of breath in no time but the worst thing was going down hill. The leaves had laid a smooth carpet across all of the roots, rocks, holes, and other ankle-seeking nasties. I went real slow and took it easy.

I negotiated the obstacles pretty well and felt good for finishing. I was more tired than I wanted to be and that was only half of the course. We have 60-80 minutes to max-pass the course. I just want to finish and not get hurt. I am not too worried about the score.

Some of the obstacles are wooden logs that form a type of ladder. You have to get “up and over.” Others are window-like structures where you have to lift yourself through the opening. There is the bear crawl which are crossed, upright logs that you have to go under. The ditch below is full of smelly water and the logs cross just low enough to catch on your pack. There are others such as barbed wire but none of them are too difficult. The worst is at the start and they are ropes up and down large cliffs. There are three sets each and they are mighty tiring.

After the run, we ere secured and I came back to take a cooling shower. I just wanted everyone to leave me alone and go home. It took awhile because S wanted to do some pull-ups and SL was in and out. Finally, I was alone and I started doing what I do best, clean and organize. I swept the floor and did some laundry. I had gotten a salad and burritos from lunch and ate them for dinner while I read a little. I cleaned two sets of boots and put polish on them, getting one set ready for tomorrow. I also cleaned my rifle but it was only dirty from the run. I had cleaned it well over the weekend like we were told to. Of course that little requirement got pushed back, like a lot of them do, to Wednesday. Oh well, mine’s done.

I am really tired from the run and will get some good sleep tonight. We will have a cold morning tomorrow but I will be ready for it with my little heat packets. It will only be for the morning but the radio was saying there might be snow or sleet in the morning. But the ground will not freeze so it will not accumulate. I hope this is not a sign of things to come next week!

Free Advice for Today:
Never take what you cannot use.”
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

Sunday, December 7, 1997

Quote of the Day:
- Unknown

Today I woke up in a good mood. I had not a lot to do and I could still revel in the fact that I could do anything and I was not in the field. I got up and took a shower, going through my morning routine. The chowhall did not open until 1000 and I was ready by 0915. It felt good to get an early start to the day and be rested.

I called the movie theater and decided that I would go see the 1315 showing of Alien Resurrection. I did not need a haircut so after catching up on some of my email and journal, I went and ate. I was really hungry because of yesterday’s lack of food but did not overdo it. I have gained a few pounds back that I would like to shed so I am trying to get back on a good diet and exercise plan.

I have fell back into the habit of getting the Sunday paper and reading through it. I had a good time doing it and it killed the morning. I learned a lot and it felt good to read comics, catch up on news, and look at the Christmas ads. I even got to see the CompUSA ad. Before I knew it, it was time to head for the movie.

I stopped at 7-11 and bought a Coke and some candy. When I got to the movie, I wanted popcorn. I had ate some during Thanksgiving and it was so good that I had to get a medium, even though the price was almost as much as the movie itself. But it tasted so good and I refrained from gorging myself with the large size. The movie was so-so but it was fun to see a movie. It could have been better but you have to take the good with the bad when you watch a movie every Sunday.

After the movie, I stopped by the drug store and got some pens and some shaving cream. Pens seem to disappear at a rapid rate around here so I bought the cheap ones and try to keep better track of them. I then went home and Acu was there, to my dismay. He was cleaning his rifle but I could not exactly say anything since I had spent the night in his living room Friday night. But it irritated me because I wanted to get things done and two people in this little room sometimes hampers you. I just hoped he would hurry and leave.

I put my Christmas CD on because I wanted to hear it. When you have someone else there, like I did, I suddenly realized how cheesy the songs were. They sounded right out of Lawrence Welk. I assumed that it bugged Acu but then I thought that if it did bother him, he would be that much faster getting out of here. Good thing that the CD is really long. It did not seem to hurry him very much though and we did talk a little. I spent a lot of time cleaning my rifle since I could do that without having to move around a lot.

I had made a list in the morning like I do most weekends. Usually I do not get all of the items done but today I did. I wrote letters to UW about a towel charge they were trying to get me on, an email to Michelle thanking her for a birthday card, a letter to Bob Boardman, a letter to the CO concerning my qualifications prior to being commissioned and how it would be helpful if I got the 0602 MOS. They asked us to submit anything that they might take into consideration.

I got all of this done and was happy to see the list disappear. I even got a chance to spit-shine my boots. I called Micki and talked to her for about a half hour. She had left me a message and I returned her call. It was good to talk to her and we had a good conversation. I told her we would have to get together when I came home for Christmas so the preliminary plans are set.

Next, I talked to Carrie. We talked for almost two hours and at a nickel a minute, it was not that hard on the pocket book. It was so fun to talk to her and it put me in a good mood. I found out some things that slipped through the cracks in her emails to me. Things like Alex peeing his pants again lately and how Stephanie had stomach aches that took her to the doctor for medicine. It was good to talk to the kids, too. I am so looking forward to going home and the time is getting so close now that I have to stop myself from getting excited about it. Once that happens, the time will just crawl.

After talking to Carrie, Chris returned my phonecall and we talked for an hour and a half. It is his birthday on Wednesday and we talked about all sorts of things. I told him all about my trip to the Gann’s for Thanksgiving. We talked about everything from movies to music to what he has been up to. I had a good time talking to him. I asked him to get my Soloflex and store it at his house. I told him that I would feel better about it if I knew that he had it vice someone I did not even know.

After I got off the phone, I realized that I had spent four hours on the phone tonight. I was really tired and it felt good to go to bed. I had wanted to go to bed real early to get some more good sleep but I did not regret the way the night turned out. I sat in bed for a little while listening to Enya and in the candlelight, thought about the conversations I had had. I thought a lot about Carrie and the kids and how much I missed them. I knew I had to blow out the candle and go to sleep before I just fell asleep on my own. I was tired but I had had a good day, one that was that much closer to going home for Christmas.

Free Advice for Today:
Shoot a few hoops.”
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

Saturday, December 6, 1997

Quote of the Day:
- Unknown

When I woke up this morning, I had a really sore back. I had been so tired last night that when I fell asleep on the futon, I must have slept so hard that I did not realize that the small of my back was on a bar. I will pay for this, I know. I did not even hear Leon leave this morning and I woke up at about 0845.

I shook the sleep out of my eyes and decided now was a good time to watch a video Carrie had sent me. So I rewound the tape and enjoyed SNL with Chris Farley, an episode of Friends and Seinfeld, and ER. I had a good time watching the shows I enjoy.

Acu got up and I felt a little uncomfortable being there even though he assured me that he was not going to use the TV. I got my stuff ready and wanted to get back to my room and do some work on my computer. I had a lot of email backed up and my journal had fallen behind. I also felt the need to express myself and let my feelings out. The best way that I have found to do this is through my computer and I yearned to get back to it.

I went home, took a shower, made some coffee, and basically spent the rest of the day doing just what I wanted to. I got so involved in it that I forgot to eat all day. I had a few chips but that was it. Not healthy, I know but the $50 that I had taken out was going a little too fast and I wanted to see a movie tomorrow.

I stayed up late and answered email and surfed the net a little. I was not really in the mood to do anything else with people so I was content to just relax in my room alone. After the week in the field that I had, staying in a warm, clean, dry room was not boring at all. I was quite content. The only thing that kept making mad all day was that AOL was acting up, kicking me off repeatedly and not connecting back on for hours at a time. It was quite frustrating.

I went to bed and was glad to know that I did not have to get up early and I knew that I would get a good night’s sleep in the bed I was used too. Maybe the pain in my back will go away because I have the endurance course to tackle next week.

Free Advice for Today:
Don't ride a bicycle or motorcycle barefooted.”
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

Friday, December 5, 1997

Quote of the Day:
- Unknown

Wonderful! Wonderful sleep last night and after being in the field for a few days, last night seemed like a pure treat. But there was one thing that hampered it but I hardly minded.

Delta company had their mess night last night, a clear milestone of their impending graduation. Needless to say, they partook in the spirits and got pretty drunk. At about 0200 this morning, all of them came busting through the door right outside my room. They were screaming and carrying on and I awoke with a start. I knew immediately what was happening but I was so happy to be in my warm, dry, clean bed that I just waited for it to end. They passed but the fun was not over.

About 40 minutes later, the fire alarm in the hall went off. Again, I immediately knew what was going on. Those drunk bastards had pulled the alarm. The sound was piercing and this tested my patience but I was still content to be in my own bed. I buried my head in the pillows and tried to go back to sleep. Then the thought hit me that the fire department might evacuate the building and I would be right back in the cold again in the middle of the night. The thought pissed me off but I decided they would have to come and knock on my door.

I faded in and out of sleep and the alarm went off for almost and hour. I thought it had stopped and then I heard it again and thought it was still going. It ends up that they pulled it a second time. Finally, it was over and it was morning. I was a bit irritated but I felt good to have slept in my bed.

We had a couple of classes but after the week we had and the fact that it was Friday made it hard to concentrate. To get to the classrooms, we have to pass through the halls of Delta Company and it smelled a putrid mixture of beer and vomit. It was rather disgusting and I hoped the bastards were suffering.

We had a heavy machine gun (50 Cal) class and then a defensive fundamentals II class. They both went by pretty fast and it did not seem that much of a chore to sit in a warm classroom and do nothing but listen. The field can really make you appreciate garrison life.

After chow, we had a hands-on machine gun class and it went well. Before we knew it, we were secured and the week was over. Many times over the day, I wanted to take a nap but always seemed to stay busy. At the end of the day, I found Leon and we decided to go out to eat. He wanted ribs but I had a real hankering for Mexican food.

I decided to stay at his place and bring a video. I got my stuff ready and we drove to the Mexican restaurant and had a great dinner. We caught up with what has been happening since we had not really had a chance to talk since before Thanksgiving. He had met his brother in Philly and then they went to NY to spend the holiday with family. I told him all about mine and we got on the subject of my Dad. I tried to convey to him the situation and he listened. This is one of the reasons that he is such a good friend. He will let you talk and listen to what you have to say. It felt good to get it out.

We went back to his apartment and he wanted to know if I wanted to watch Austin Powers and I thought he had it rented. I said I would watch it because he said it was good. It ends up that he did not have it rented but called it up on pay-per-view. I told him that it was not necessary since he had already seen it but he insisted. The funny thing about it all is that he only watched about half of it because he had land navigation re-test tomorrow morning. So I was left to watch it and really enjoyed it. It was funny because Mike Myers was so silly. By the end, I was too tired to watch any of my shows and just channel surfed for awhile. Acu woke me up an hour later because I had dozed off. Actually, he scared the hell out of me because I thought I was awake. I pulled out the futon, turned off the TV, and was asleep in seconds.

Free Advice for Today:
Pray. There is immeasurable power in it.”
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

Email -- jason@grose.us
Web -- http://www.grose.us/