Basic Training: Week 5

May 05

Here I am, another Sunday down. I didn't go to church today because I was tired of being in my OCP uniform all morning for duty week. (Duty week is when it's your platoon's turn to do all the behind-the-scenes work to make things run smoothly, like serving in the cafeteria, putting together the ice sheet coolers every day, loading up trucks with MREs, filling the water buffalo, etc.)

OCPs just magnify the heat. I think I am actually developing a phobia of the heat. I've never sweat so much in my life. Every morning I dread marching and doing PT in the heat. My whole stomach is in knots just thinking about it. I think I low-key get heat stroke every day.

The beginning of this week went really well. We had a lot of fun, silly times and the female drill sergeant from 2nd platoon who loves to harass me quit or got fired or something, so I've pretty much dropped off the drill sergeants' radar. Which is nice.

We spent most every day at the range this week. At first I was shooting really well. One drill sergeant asked me if I was going for a hawk eye streak. Then all of the sudden I started shooting really bad again. I was re-classified as a Hardcore for a few days. I couldn't understand it. I was doing everything the same on the outside, but missing all the shots.

Finally I realized my focus had shifted to the target instead of the sight post again. It's the same thing that happened the first time I was a Hardcore. I don't even realize I'm doing it, but as soon as I refocus on the sight post, I'm a sharpshooter.

If I was less shallow than I am, I might take some sort of life lesson from this. Like how the beginning of this week went really well and everything seemed to turn around for me, and I was kneeling in prayer and making a point to read my scriptures every day (focusing on Christ). But with time, without realizing it, I began to shift my focus onto the immediate target (getting through BCT) and I stopped praying and doing Bible study and suddenly things got a lot harder.

But I'm too tired to draw life lessons out of things. I think I am depressed. I just keep thinking, I can't make it through one more day, and I still have 5 weeks.

I just got back from being chewed out by our senior drill sergeant. With all the drama in the bay, a bunch of girls were telling him their stories of how the other girls wronged them, and he asked me what my view was. All I said was, "I try to stay out of that stuff, drill sergeant," and he went off about how un-involved in life and unmotivated I am. "We all make fun of you for it," he said, referring to either the other drill sergeants or the voices in his head, I guess. Then he did an impression of me that I think was supposed to embarrass me but actually just made me realize how depressed I am.

I didn't know how to respond; all I knew was I couldn't roll my eyes, because you can actually get an Article 15 and get kicked out of the Army for rolling your eyes at a drill sergeant. So in my head I'm just repeating: "Don't roll your eyes. Don't roll your eyes." And of course because I'm thinking it so hard, my eyes go and do the most dramatic eye roll I've ever done in my life.

So yeah, I got in trouble. And just like that, I'm back on the radar. 😑

May 07

As if one time wasn't bad enough, today I rolled my eyes for the second time at our senior drill sergeant! He opened his mouth to probably, I don't know, chapter me out of the Army or something, but just then I said quietly to myself, "Augh! Stop it, eyeballs!" I couldn't stop myself.

Then something unheard of happened. Senior drill sergeant laughed. It was like an abrupt bark that came out of his mouth that seemed to surprise him even more than me. Then he spun on his heel and walked away, sort of embarrassed. He probably has never experienced a laugh before. Maybe he thought it was gas or he was choking on something.

It was one for the books, anyway.

I have a new reputation in my platoon that's kind of weird. I guess it's better than my old reputation, of getting everyone smoked all the time for laughing. But is Banana Girl really a step up from Smiley?

There was one time I stole Durant's banana off her tray when she wasn't looking and ate it. One time. Now every day, to remind me of it, she gets everyone at the table to pass down their bananas to me, so I end up with like a hundred bananas on my tray. Every meal, I get more bananas. Even banana drawings on napkins. People make some sort of banana or monkey comment everywhere I go. It's on my record forever. I'll never be free of my criminal past. It's been weeks.

Durant can't wait for the day a drill sergeant sees all the bananas on my tray and smokes me for taking more than one banana. I don't think I can keep eating them all before I have to pass the drill sergeant table to get out of the D-FAC (dining facility), either. She's kind of an evil mastermind, that Durant.

Oh, want to hear something funny? Durant and Eversmann are on a no-cussing kick because they said I "inspired" them. I don't even notice or care when people swear anymore, because every other word here is the F word. It's so funny watching Durant and Eversmann struggle to find other words to express themselves. They are so bad at it.

Even though everyone pretty much makes fun of my religion relentlessly, I've notice they've started to talk about "Mormons" differently, like we are good honest people, not perverted brainwashers. So that's nice. One girl even said, "We should have had the Mormon tell the drill sergeant. Then he would believe us." When I asked why, she said, "Because you're, like, good people."

I am lucky to have a lot of Christians in my bay. We do Bible study together and pray together in the laundry room after light's out. (At first it was just Eversmann and another girl in their bunks, then I wanted to join them, so Durant wanted to join them, and soon there was enough people we had to relocate to the laundry room.) It has really been good for me, and for some of them it's the most they've been religious in their lives, they said. We help each other out. Personally, it's made the difference in how my time here goes.

May 08

Don't listen to them when they say you won't get smoked as much in White Phase. I had to do 100 push-ups for a battle buddy loading their weapon before the command to.

On Monday we spent the whole day at 120th (where we were at Reception in the beginning) getting fitted for our graduation clothes.

On Tuesday we went to the range and zeroed with our CCOs on (a laser point sight piece). I was a lot better at that one because the laser eliminated all my focusing issues.

This morning was our third APFT (the PT test) out of four. Then we did OMAHA, which is an exercise where you and a battle buddy shoot and move from behind barriers, ending in a grenade throw. Then more PT. That was our whole day. Hot and sweaty. As usual.

Oh, we also did another Land Nav exercise. But Land Nav is kind of a joke here. They give us a map that's too blurry to read so everyone just follows their compass or the other groups in the approximate direction of the point until they run into it. Our company isn't that big, so there's not a lot of places it can be. If you just walk around, you're bound to run into all your points by accident, eventually.

On the APFT I got a 271 (out of 300). It is the highest for females in my platoon, but there are still 3 males higher than me. Not too happy about that. I can tell I have stress injuries on my knees and shins, but that's no excuse because I guess probably everyone does by now. We're all hobbling around like old people. Still, I managed to run my 2-mile in 13 min. 12 seconds. I'm proud of myself for that because I never thought of myself as a runner.

Even senior drill sergeant had something good to say, which is unheard of. During breakfast chow (after the APFT) he called me over to his table just to say, "Good job go away," all in one sentence like it hurt him to say it. But he said it.

Now if I can just keep my bones intact until the final APFT.

May 12

One more week down. This week we zeroed and qualified with our CCOs. I earned the sharpshooter patch, which is better than a regular marksman but not as good as an expert.

I don't know what else to write. There's always stuff going on, but how much do I need to actually record?

Sometimes I'm really happy to be here. When I see soldiers marching on the horizon and I realize, I'm one of them! When I'm on the shooting range talking to someone about faith. When I'm in a van with a bunch of people who don't speak English, dancing and singing to English pop music. When everyone is singing marching cadences and the Star Spangled Banner in the shower and I throw a bar of soap into the next stall and shout, "Frag out!" (which is what we shout when we throw a hand grenade) and a chorus of "Incoming!" comes back. Then, "What the fudge?" as a confused Eversmann explodes in a soap bomb. I don't know, random moments.

But there are other moments. Like when Durant and I stand at the front of formation, laughing because I told her how somebody told me the other day that they love it here. Durant says to me, "I just try to imagine myself standing here, looking out over the tire pit and saying... 'Wow. I love it here.'" That stupid tire-chip pit they spit in then smoke us in and it gives us weird hand diseases. For some reason, we can't stop giggling at this idea.

I guess my attitude depends a lot on the people I'm around. I know Durant isn't exactly the most positive person in the platoon, but man, she is hilarious. She is one of my best friends and she makes it easy to enjoy every minute of our awful experience.  Even if I never will be able to look out over the tire pit and say, "Man, I love it here."


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