Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Six and a Wake-up

by 13 Stoploss

In Basic Training, we all had a special countdown to graduation that went something like “eighteen and a wakeup.” Sure, it really meant nineteen, but the optimistic viewpoint was that the last day was really nothing more than waking up and getting the hell out.

An hour before our last formation, so many years ago, I was hanging around in my Class A’s, with the rest of my platoon in our bay, just waiting for the bus. Drill Sergeant Manley walked into the bay, and we just sat there. For some reason, we all hesitated to yell “AT EASE,” and instead of snapping up, into parade rest, I noticed everyone had hardly flinched.

Sensing our hesitancy, Drill Sergeant just stood there, staring at us, wondering whether a last-hour smoke-session to teach us some respect was worth the effort. At that moment, some kid asked him for some advice in our transition into the “real Army.”

He sighed, gave us a disgusted, half-interested look, and then spit into his dip cup before going into a long-winded rant on how, in his three years as a DI, we were the most fucked-up platoon he has ever had. Pretty standard, I suppose. Probably the same speech he gave to every rotation. But before heading out, there were a few moments in his speech where he softened up. It seemed like he was pressing. The man was generally well received, and often shat out nuggets of inspiration on a whim. But this one was different. It was a warning, and it was awkward.

Today felt a lot like that last hour in Basic Training. In History this morning, Professor W played the last half of a documentary on 9/11 called “Zero.” Afterward, there were the same “sighs,” and a few last words. It dragged on, but we sat silently in our seats, taking in the words of a man we all respected and had learned a great deal from.  It was the last day of lecture for the semester, but not a relief. I still have a lot hanging over my shoulders at the moment, with several finals next week, and a bachelor party and wedding to attend before Monday. From there, it’s smooth sailing until August, when a new addition to the 13 Family is birthed. But, I suppose the rambling point of this whole post is that, in my three semesters in school since leaving the greens, I often find myself relating current experiences to those I had while in the Army.

“It’s like this one time in the Army…”

And it goes like that often; enough so, that I feel like I have nothing else to offer.


myboringlife2u said...

Didn't you know that you learned a lifetime of shit in 3-6 years? You'll be relating life to the Army forever. Trust me.

Not trying to brag, but I did 21 years of that crap. Nothing in my civilian life surprises me. It kinda' sucks having the wonderment gone, but on the flip side, there aren't any surprises. I can read people I meet just like a new person coming into the unit.

Best wishes to you. (Sounds better than good luck)

Anonymous said...

You've got plenty to offer. Plenty. You've compressed an awful lot of experience into a short amount of time; so yes, of course it looks like you've seen it before. What happens next is your perspective changes, sometimes gradually, sometimes instantly. There's plenty left, you need rest and time to process. z

Liz said...

I really like the Hum song.

Everyone relates current experiences to past onces. It's the "This one time... at band camp..." thing that EVERYONE does, either aloud or in their heads. The people who don't do that either don't think about things very deeply or don't haven't done much in their lives.

Fortunately for you, your experience has much more substance than band camp. It's what makes people want to know what you have to say.

13 Stoploss said...


thought I would share this with you:

I know what you mean about reading people, though I'm still surprised.


You're right about the rest. It seems like I haven't slept in years, constantly in and out of wreckful sleep patterns. But, with a baby due in August, future sleep ain't looking too well...


Look into the album "You'd Prefer An Astronaut." it's a 90's must have, and one of my favorites ever, all the way through. It has a very special, spacey feel to it, with a hardness in distortion that tends to soothe me, very reminiscent of Siamese Dream by SP.

I suppose I want to do more in life than just Army/Iraq. But when this blog becomes "Stories from Band Camp," it'll definitely be time to move on.

- 13

Anonymous said...

It shouldn't become "Stories from Band Camp," although, depending on the band and the camp...could be interesting!
I'm telling ya, you could have NO MORE experiences the rest of your life and you would have no excuse for boring. Perspective changes everything and time is a critical component of change!! Get that. You need to slow down and let it catch up with you. Yes you do.z