Drinking and Drawing

I’ve been drinking a lot more than I used to lately. I am not sure about the official scientific roll-up of all the effects of drinking, but I do know that it’s more calories than when I don’t consume alcohol and that my body feels weird the next day. I also know that while about two months ago, one beer was able to make me feel toasty, it now takes me way too much.

I would like to stop, but at the same time, I do enjoy the friendship that results from going out and sharing a drink. Of course, the obvious answer is that you don’t have to drink to have fun… but there is something about letting loose and just dancing for no reason on the streets.

I feel like quitting alcohol isn’t something that I want to do, but I do what to do it in moderation, and I want to figure out what precisely that means.

The good news though is that I received my Request for Orders (RFO) which for nonmilitary types, that is an order from the Army to give a warning to other people in the Army that I will be incoming personnel. So, it’s not genuinely official, but it’s the paper that allows the official paperwork to be written up and to alert my new unit that I am coming.

I got Fort Carson, Colorado! I won’t officially say I am there until I am physically in processing. There’re always these crazy stories that get told how so-and-so’s friend thought they were going somewhere and as they were driving across the expanse of Texas, they got a call that said orders changed, you’re going to Korea in two weeks.

If I had to bet poker chips on me going to Carson though, I would go all in. My husband is already there, and the Army does try their best with keeping military to military spouses together. My dwell time is still under a year as well. People with 55 months or higher of dwell time… it seems those people have less of a chance of getting precisely the post they want.

I’m still lifting and working out. I could always do better at that front. It’s hard not to get down on myself for not going every single day and running every day but at the same time, rest days are real. I remember when I did this team called Ranger Challenge at Fordham. We used to work out soooo hard that we started to get worse and worse at everything we did, much to the chagrin of the cadet in charge. Easter break then happened, and since I went to a Catholic School, we got a pretty long time off. I will never forget the feeling we got on the first workout back from break – I think we all shaved about 5 min off our run times for the lap we usually tried to complete around the Bronx. It was merely a testament to how vital recovery time is for the muscles. It seems I am saying that story as a crutch, which in some ways it might be, but I also know my body. I’d like to amp it up in a way that’s reasonable to keep me happy.

I am definitely seeing some results.

Remember, I first started lifting at 95 lbs as my one rep max. This last Friday I was able to do the prescribed weight (no scaling) for our group workout. It was 100 reps of 135 lbs straight bar lift split between four people. I was able to contribute 20 reps which, if you do the math, is a little short and I did have to break it up between the other exercises we had to complete, but I was happy I didn’t have to ask for a different weight bar and set up a smaller weight rack.

We got peer evals back, and we got to read what people thought were our strengths and weaknesses as well as being able to see how people ranked us numerically.

Only two people mentioned my physical strength as a weakness, which is nice as I know that it is, but if it weren’t a writable weakness for all 15 members of my small group, I’d constitute that as a win… It is something I’m aware of though.

The most common comments were related to my sensitivity. While a lot simply commented ‘too sensitive’ I did get some that said I ‘cared too much about CCC’ which made me laugh. I know that I take a lot of things to heart and then act out weirdly sometimes, and that is something I will forever have to work on and be aware of, but I don’t feel too bad for caring too much about my TRADOC. I do care a lot about everything, and I take pride in that. I just need to stay calm when things start ‘being wild.’

One person wrote that my weakness was simply, ‘light infantry’ and that made me laugh out loud but noted: when we learned about a breach being wide enough to get a tank battalion through, I did have to adjust my COA sketch because I was not ready to support that, among other mistakes I’ve made in class. This is my saga.

At the end of the day, I’m thankful for getting to befriend so many people. I’m also very excited to move out to be a captain in FORSCOM and to being in a unit again. Plus, living with my husband again will be a plus. I believe last month was the official mark for two years apart.

Writing Again

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Apparently, I can’t write for shit. Writing essays is a perishable skill. These last two weeks or so, we have had to turn in four different writing projects. The first one I didn’t do horribly, but it was an information memo where you are supposed to sum up information for your commander. AKA it needs to be succinct and save your commander from having to read the long paper/research you personally had to do. I am a wordy person so while I kept it at only a page, I was the opposite of concise. The next paper was a persuasive one, and we had to argue if towed artillery was still relevant in today’s fight. Today’s fight was defined as a fight that is moving away from COIN (counter-insurgency) and into multi-domain large scale combat.

Being from the world of light artillery/light infantry I argued that towed artillery is relevant.

I got smacked down on that paper.

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The next paper, a 7 pager I did in one sitting after doing research for three days, I actually feel will be okay. It was an analysis of a commander’s mission command during a specific battle. I got LTC Honeycutt during Hamburger Hill. I actually really enjoyed reading about him and found Hamburger Hill to be impressive. Plus, this paper was in the standard thesis style paper I am used to writing from college, so I didn’t have to count syllables or words the way you’re supposed to for information memos.

I did get a little frustrated this week though because one of the instructors, not mine, walked into the class and told us how company FSOs were irrelevant and that nothing in BOLC was useful for fire support.

Literally, everything I did as an FSO I used in BOLC. So, it made me feel like he was invalidating my fire support time which, while it wasn’t my favorite and was hard, I felt was successful.

I need to learn to stop being sensitive and that no one can know the path I walked. The officer who spoke to us was from Carson. This is a little nerve racking since that is where I want to go. One thing I have learned though is how much I don’t know about heavy artillery or heavy infantry.

We were talking about how to conduct a breach, and while the principles of breeching were the same between light and heavy, it was wild in the difference of scale. In heavy, they have to plan to get at least four tanks/large vehicles through at once which drastically changes how and what assets are blowing the hole. For light, we just have to make it big enough to walk some people through.

So, I’m trying to keep an open mind.

On the friend front, it’s going amazingly.

I’ve said this before, and I will repeat it, Polk sucks because with only one brigade and thus only one artillery battalion, friend selection is hard. Even if you loved every single person you met, there’s still only a small amount of people to hang out with. Here, it’s swarming with captains who just want to hang out! It’s cool getting to expand my social group and try out different things.

They also all are in pretty good shape and inspire me to get healthier and stronger. I’ve been lifting a lot more than I’ve ever lifted before in my entire life. Of course, I’m still not at the running level I was before I got injured. With the weather getting nice, I will start running again.

 

Currently Reading: Matterhorn: A Novel of the Vietnam War By Karl Marlantes

Currently Listening To: Billy Eilish

ACFT Stats:

  • 3 Rep Max Deadlift Hexbar: 150 lbs

  • Standing Power Throw: 4.8

  • Hand Release Pushups: 11

  • Sprint-Drag-Carry: 2:32

  • Leg Tuck: 1 2 Mile Run: 16:10

Field Artillery Captain's Career Course So Far

I love living in Oklahoma. The last time I was here for Field Artillery BOLC, I was so stressed out I couldn’t properly enjoy it. My friends and I went to the same handful of restaurants in between panicking on every single homework. Being in FA CCC, everything so far has been less stressful and more doable. I’ve already done a hike, checked out books from the library, and eaten at three new places. I’m sure it’s a combination of the instructor I have right now (a civilian) wanting us to pass gunnery and not wanting to scare us. It also helps that I can actually focus on what he is saying instead of being lost in the sauce and still uncomprehending of the differences between howitzers, let alone how to actually calculate data for them which was my problem as a new lieutenant.

Talking to newer LTs who were fresh out of BOLC at Polk, they seemed stressed too but less so. Sounds like the Artillery branch is trying its best to teach in a more approachable style. When I went through, we weren’t even allowed to have access to PowerPoint presentations but now they pass out every slideshow on discs, and you can take them home and study.

Picture in the hallways at FT Sill of 10th Mountain… my brigade Patriots logo is missing but at least we are the coolest looking artillery unit.

Picture in the hallways at FT Sill of 10th Mountain… my brigade Patriots logo is missing but at least we are the coolest looking artillery unit.

Since I have had less homework, I’ve also had more time to enjoy the surrounding area with friends. There’re many women in my class. We all realized we need to work on the new APFT standards. I am especially terrified of the dead-lift with a hex bar. The minimum standard is 180 lbs for combat MOS and all Officers. Every day during lunch we go and lift together. This week I’ve been doing 85 lbs…95 lbs to go. It’s nice having a group of women encourage me.

I’ve also been going to yoga, and I am in love with the instructor and class. Some of the stuff we are introduced to include: the crow pose, compass pose, handstands… it’s amazing. I’m glad to have a real hobby after work. I probably should’ve picked something like Cross Fit to really focus in on the new physical standards, but yoga gives me joy. In exchange for doing yoga, I must be more motivated by myself to workout. CCC is good about providing you work out time.

In the mornings we workout as a squad. I have three other women in my squad. Not to say I’m not becoming friends with the males, but it’s fun to have girlfriends to giggle about things with and who can assist you on pull-ups.

We pick a topic to discuss while we stretch out before starting a workout. So far, we have considered some thought-provoking things such as: if PT is useful; is staff duty for officers a good idea; is the new APFT a good idea.

You’d be surprised what we come up with. You’d probably think we would all be against staff duty, but the majority ended up arguing for keeping it, we all seemed to like the new APFT but are nervous about retention rates with it, and PT we all feel is a leadership opportunity more than a tool to have every single soldier max his PT test.

If I include working out as essential parts of my day, I still have a full day that probably takes me to 18/1900. But class time itself hasn’t been very long. We average getting out around 1500. Test days we get out before lunch/when you finish the test.

This is such a drastic change from working at Polk where I averaged leaving work at 1900/2000 and was way too exhausted (and hungry) to go workout.

We did get an in brief from the Commandant of the Field Artillery (BG Stephen G. Smith), and he did use the term ‘taking a knee’ aka getting a chance to take a break but warned us that it meant we needed to focus on improving our self with our free time. I’m glad he was honest that the schoolhouse for Captains is structured that way. No need to pretend its hard. Just tell us the reality.

If I can leave the schoolhouse with a respectable grade, pass the new APFT, able to do a handstand or headstand without wall support, and ready to sit and take the GRE, I will call this experience successful.

Maybe my goals and thoughts will change once we move past the gunnery block of instruction: I will keep you updated!