Thursday, March 30, 2006

Birds Eat Worms

We had a little excitement yesterday. I had to go down to Human Resources to turn in some paperwork. My daughter, Grace, stayed with Grandma all morning. I picked Grace up and we went home.

I opened the door to the house and Grace ran in. I set down my purse, hung up my keys and grabbed the phone to check messages. I had a message from my cousin, Jimmie. He is in the Guard too. I picked up my cell phone and called him. I got him on the phone and he asked me some questions about tryingto go full time military. I was talking and Grace ran in the kitchen laughing and yelling at me. She was jumping around on her chubby three year old legs and pointing towards the livingroom. As I kept talking to Jimmie I went in the livingroom. Grace was shrieking with glee and pointing towards the TV shouting "BIRDIE! MAMA, BIRDIE!"

I looked and looked but could not see what she was talking about. Grace continued to jump and shriek and laugh, all the while pointing at the TV. I got closer and was examining some of her toys trying to figure out what my little girl was trying to communicate. Then I noticed a little flutter from the glass case part of the TV stand. And there, trapped in the case, was a little bird.

I told Jimmie I had to call him back. I tried to retrieve the little bird from the case without hurting him or letting him loose in the house. He pecked me. Not hard, but he let me know he didn't like my huge human arm trying to trap him. Grace laughed and said "Birdie bite mommie!". Then he flew out the small space created by my arm reaching in the case. Grace was in ecstasy! "Birdie FLY!!"

I decided to snap some pictures of the little bird. It was not as easy as it sounds because each time I got close he would get scared and move/fly away. I mumbled under my breath that he needed to stay still. Grace said "Stay still little bird, Mommie taking a picture." I laughed.

I finally snapped these pictures and then opened the back door. Our little fellow hopped out (guess he was tired) and sat on the steps for a second. Then he noticed the freshly tilled ground from my recent gardening efforts in our back flower beds. He hopped into one and proceeded to eat some seeds and look for worms. Grace said "Birds eat verms. EWWWW Naaaaaaastie!" LOL. That's my girlie girl! Here is a picture of her recently watching TV on Josh's bed.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Farming stuff....

We went to look at the land in Tennessee that was really cheap. Well, there's a reason things are cheap and that's lack of quality. It was clear cut mountain land. Nary a flat spot on 3500 acres. Good veiws of the Tennessee River in some spots, but those spots had been sold. It looked really bad since it had been clear cut. For an investor this is a bargain. However we are not investors and we don't have 10 years to wait till this land comes back to forest or woods.

We have been scouting around locally but haven't found anything yet. We haven't been concentrating on it due to lack of time.

Thursday we were in Valdosta Georgia attending an Agricultural conference. Seems we are on the cutting edge of a movement back towards small farms. Seems people are tired of huge farm conglomerates that produce massive quantities of tasteless food. My husband has said for years that he doesn't eat chicken from the grocery because "I've tasted chicken and that ain't chicken!".

SO, things are shaping up and looking good. We are attending another conference soon. This one will be on meat goats. We are pretty excited.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Home sweet home

I got home an hour and a half after leaving the Post. I listened to oldies rock-n-roll all the way home. I just wasn't in the mood for country. The weather has been a cold misty wintery sort of weather to match my mood. I hate doing things half way and I felt like not getting phase 2 was quitting while I was only halfway through the game! My 1SG called me on the way and was pretty upset that things had fallen through. At this point I just said "I'll pick it up later..." Lesson learned for the unit, reserve space and orders for both phases. I was down about it but... what could be done?

I got home and my husband was just finishing up cooking breakfast! So much for the prediction made by my battle buddies! I sat down and enjoyed bacon and pancakes with my family. I was soooo tired. My husband was kind and let me sleep and sleep and sleep. I must have been exhausted because I slept almost the whole day!

My son was glad to see me but as soon as he could slip outside to play he was gone. I was the SAME WAY at his age so I did not mind. Grace (my three year old) stayed by my side. I played with her hair, talked to her and just did girly stuff. She ate it up.

I began to notice...the house was spotless. Wow. The laundry was caught up, dusting, vacuuming was done. Hmmm. I found out my husband had hired two cousins to come in and field-day the house. Nice.

Sunday I didn't really feel like going to church, but I also didn't want to miss church either. We went for the early service. My in-laws were glad to see me. We had a BBQ at their house in the evening. Steaks, sweet potatoes, cole slaw, potato salad, salads and then desserts of lemon meringe (sp?) pie, apple pie and chocolate chip cookies. Yum! I was good but still ate too much.

I turned in my orders to get paid this morning. I am going to Fort Knox Kentucky to attend phase two!!! Whoo Hoo! I love to travel so this was a sweet surprise. I have no dates yet but... I am also going to attend the Warriar Transition Course and my Training NCO said "well we are growing and are going to need another fulltime person. We will need a S1 (personnel type like the school I just attended) so I will let you know when that comes available." She was VERY impressed with the "Distinguished Honor Grad" and said so. She said that would really help me get the fulltime position. YEAH.

I am STILL tired. I didn't realize how much this all took out of me. I have been warned the Warrior Transition course is very difficult, but hey... I like a challenge.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Day 13: PARTAY....

I was dressed to the nines. Yep. I wore a pair of hip hugger, bell bottomed jeans with a black sweater and a black leather sweater/jacket. I wore some styling high heels and some pretty jewelry. I did my hair, topped with killer make-up and Kenneth Cole "Black" perfume.

SFC Whitten had sudden plans with her husband come up. So she would not be able to attend. SGT Dennis was surprised by her honey! He called the night before to say he was coming to town and they would spend a quiet intimate evening alone. I was beginning to feel lonely. SGT Dennis was ready to leave to meet her honey and I must say...she was stunning. She had her hair done the day before. Her make-up was flawless. She wore a gorgeous black jacket over a leopard skin print shirt with fashionable jeans. She is already tall, and standing in high heels is easily over 6 feet! She grinned as everyone whistled as she strolled down the center of the barracks.

Two girls from class rode with me, SGT Nichols (the tom-boy) and SGT Levi; a mouthy argumentative funny New Yorker. SGT Levi is petite. She weighs 105 at the most. She is TINY and wears a size 4 (they make them that small??). She is little in stature but that is where is ends. SHe is fiesty and has earned the nickname "I dispute that". She constantly challenged the instructors in class (in a good natured way) making them show in the regs where they got their information. And usually....SGT Levi was RIGHT! LOL. She knew her stuff. She rode shotgun while SGT Nichols watched my back. I had TWO "Battle Buddies" tonight!

Battle Buddy: another soldier who is by your side and guarding your back.
Also a friend who helps you out when needed. We are supposed to have someone with us at all times, but especially at night. I don't want to say it isn't safe to walk around at night on an Army post...but we need to be smart. So I had not one BAttle Buddy, but two. We were going to look out for each other. :-)

We got to the Outback and met several other soldiers at the bar. Our tables were not ready yet, so I ordered a Margarita on the rocks. Yum. I polished it off pretty quickly and SFC Hall bought me another. Hmmm. Several of the soldiers said "SGT FIELDS?? Wow. You sure look different." I responded that we ALL looked different in civvies. In fact there was one young soldier sporting an AC/DC ballcap (backwards) and dressed in all black "Goth" style clothing. YIKES.

I was talking to SFC Hall quite a bit. He is a nice guy, married with two children. He is in the NAtional Guard and is AGR (fulltime). I picked his brain about going AGR. Several of our instructors were there; even the nice looking SFC Hansen. He grabbed a beer and was talking to several people. In walks a very young (19) SPC Bouchamp and she gives him a hug and says "I am so glad you got to come!!" Hmmmmm. A shark like grin spreads across his face. Oh no. Oh well. He is married and she is oh so young. sigh.

We are seated and I am sitting next to SFC Hall on my left and PV2 Colson on my right. Colson is the ex-Navy guy. He is hispanic and hilarious. As we order our appetizers and drinks, he orders another beer and asks SGT Hawes (down a few seats on my left) if he can buy her a drink. We all know that the lovely Hawes has taken the fancy of Colson. But he is married with a very young baby at home. Hawes has NO intention of responding to any of Colson's advances. However...however tonight she has tied on a few and feels compelled to tease him. Unmercifully. Each time the waiter comes Colson orders himself another beer and another drink for Hawes. I stopped at the second margarita. I am easily the oldest (or near oldest) one in the group and have decided that I am going to be the ULTIMATE Battle Buddy for the group. LOL.

We order our meals and more drinks arrive. Is it me or is it getting hot in here? Bouchamp is flirting outrageously across the table at Hansen who is eating it up. Several guys are still commenting on me. Hawes is now shamelessly taunting Colson telling him "You couldn't handle it honey..." At this point Colson says to bring it on. Someone moves the table so Hawes can get out to the ailse and closer to Colson.

Remember we are at an Outback Steak House and not a bar. Hawes leans against a table poking out her rear as Colson jumps up and then *I* jump up, grab his arm and whisper emphatically "This is a restaurant and there are children in here!!!!!!!!!!!!!!". Everyone is hooting and hollering and jeering. Colson throws up his hands (thankfully) and says "I can't...not here." His response is met with good hearted jabs at his courage. Whew. And we haven't even gotten our suppers yet.

We eat and that slows everyone down. LOL. We sit and chat and have a good time. We decide to go to a local sports bar. We arrive and find out that Bouchamp (remember 19 years old?) cannot enter since she is underage. One of the instructors recalls another club and we hoof it back to our cars. We lose several in our group as they decide to stay at this sports bar. This is where it went wrong. *I* should have stayed there. But I didn't. I really wanted to dance and this was a sports bar. So I follow several people to this other club. Can we say dog house? In fact I said outloud as we drove up "Oh my gosh, this is "the dog house". Everyone in my car laughed but I had to explain.

I used to live in a tiny little back water town. It was a dry county and so the only place to legally get a drink was at the Golf Club. Since I was poor and not a member of the Golf Club, the only other option were illegal clubs. On Sunday nights there was only ONE place in the county to get a drink with your friends. It was waaaay out in the country in an old barn and called "The Dog House". They had concrete floors, had a pool table and played some soul music on a record player. This was in my much younger (stupider) partying years and I am ashamed to say that I even knew of the exsistence of such a place much less say that not only had I been there once, but TWICE!

So when we drove up to the dirt parking lot and I saw the white washed building, with no windows and a neon beer sign out front I panicked. Needlessly. Bouchamp could not get in. As we stood outside she got upset, stormed to her car and took off with her friend.....leaving behind one of the people riding with her. He was shocked and upset, but I assured him he was riding with me. I was very sober, and getting pretty ticked. This was turning out to be ...well....juvenile. Enter Hansen who announces that we are all heading to yet another bar. This bar doesn't card past a Military ID!! hmmmmm.

I decide to go. Yet another mistake. We lose two more people who decide to call it a night. Me, my two battle buddies and the left behind soldier follow the convoy to a club close to the base. Comments about Hansen and Bouchamp ensue. We are pretty shocked because not only is he married but is easily 25 years her senior. Levi says "What happens TDY, stays TDY." I've been around the block a time or two. I was a lusty sailor once upon a time. And in all that time I rarely saw married people cheating freely. Maybe I am naive and ignorant, but most people who are married are not cheaters. Hansen is getting ready to go to Iraq, and Bouchamp is going to Afghanistan. Maybe they are reacting to the situation. I don't know. I hope they stay safe. I really worry about her. It's like my mama always said "If you go looking for trouble, you're gonna find it.." And Bouchamp is looking for trouble.

If I thought the other club was a dive.... I got out of my car and announced loudly to Hansen that if Bouchamp didn't show up we were not going to chase her down somewhere else. Everyone's eyes got big and Hansen sputtered and said "Oh no, of course not..."

So I ordered a watered down margarita and spent the next hour watching Hansen and Bouchamp flirt with each other and the rest of the crew play pool. All the music was rap or country (can't dance to either) most of the patrons were terribly young GI's. I felt like a fish out of water and was missing my honey fiercely. I did have fun cutting up with the girls but I would have much rather been somewhere nice with my husband. I stayed because I could see my Battle Buddies were having a good time.

Midnight came and went and Hansen left without Bouchamp. Whew. I still kept my eye on her though. She was drunk at this point on a bottle she had smuggled into the club. I made sure she wasn't driving and that she and the other soldier got to the newly assigned barracks without incident. I drove to my barracks, tumbled into bed at 1am but not before setting my alarm for 0430.

We had a walk through inspection at 0600. I was dehydrated and in a bad mood. How did I get elected to be a baby sitter? We literally ran to chow at 0630. I wolfed down my traditional bacon/eggs/grits with hot coffee. I commented to the girls that I would miss this routine. They laughed and said "Sgt Fields, your gonna get home and your husband is gonna say "what's for breakfast!". They kid me about being a housewife.

I check out at 0705, wave goodbye to everyone and head home. I cried on the way home. It has been an emotionally physically draining experience.....

Friday, March 17, 2006

Day 13: just a wake up

Well my orders have not come through so I probably will not be attending Phase 2 at this time. Boo Hoo.

I went home last night. I am oh so tired but I have a rosy glow and a huge grin. Can we just say "Abscence makes the heart grow fonder."?? The children were in bed by 9:00pm and we followed soon after. An HOUR later...I was sleeping soundly, curled up in my husband's arms.

We had our last block of instruction and our last test. It was a toughy. We were released for lunch for 2 hours. I ate with a large group from our class at the chow hall. We are all anxious to move onto phase 2 or home. The Three Musketeers took a two mile walk after lunch. We usually only walk a mile, but since we have extra time... I was able to call my 1SG (First Sergeant) and see if he could push things forward on getting phase 2. He gave me the number of the CSM (Command Sergeant Major) in charge of training in Georgia. He said to have the senior enlisted here call him. It was now 13:30 Central time. The race was on to see if we could get this done.

We got back to class and recieved our grades. I made a 100. Yeah! Everyone had passed the test and so had passed the course. Good news all around. The instructors named the top 20% students and the top grade for the course. Now, I knew I was close to the top of the class. Several names are called but not mine.... last name to be called is the number one student... Sgt Fields! Me! Wow.

This was a 14 day course and may seem like small potatoes, but quite a bit of information is put out. The single most important factor to me?? This course will be worth points towards promotion, and so will being Distinguished Honor Grad.

We are all more relaxed and breathing easier. It is over. Everyone is clamoring for details about our party. We hand our instructors a card with a coupon that entitles the bearer to a free supper at Outback Steak House that night at 7:00. :-) I had checked with the MSG (Master Sergeant) and she said that if every block of instruction was over and every test taken and graded it was not fraternization to have supper with our instructors. ;-)

It is now 14:00. We are released to clean the classrooms and latrines. I slip in to see of MSG has been able to contact the CSM in Atlanta. She tells me that she has called and left two messages. Sigh. We finish our cleaning and it is 1500. That means it is 1600 in Atlanta on a Friday afternoon. Figure the odds of getting hold of anyone. I try the main number hoping to get an operator but I guess he/she has left for the weekend as well. Oh well.

We all leave for our barracks with plenty of time to pack and get ready to party!

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Day 12: You want the good news or the bad news first?

We got some good news and some bad news. Good news is we will be able to move out of the barracks Friday night to our new barracks. This will help those of us who want to go home to visit Saturday save some time. The bad news?? They are moving us to the "Ghetto". These barracks are WWII barracks. No wall lockers, only foot lockers to stowe your gear. 2 showers for 24 women. CONCRETE floors. Can we say prison??

Our party plans are progressing nicely. Outback Steak House and then out for drinks.

Day 12: The Rule Is....

The rule in the classroom for cell phones is... they are allowed but they have to be set to vibrate only. The penalty for forgetting to set your cell phone to vibrate??

My cell phone rings (loudly) and a shout goes up from the classroom "Ho!". My face turns beet red as I answer my phone and inform my husband that I need to call him back as I have a some push-ups to do. A few snickers and chuckles as I drop and pump out 10 push-ups. :-)

I call my husband back at break and he laughs at me for forgetting to set my cell phone. Oh well.

The blisters on my feet are healing up nicely. I am not getting winded during our daily walks. I was able to pump out those push-ups without struggling. Hooah!

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Day 11: Can we say hot??

It is GORGEOUS outside. I mean it must be 70 degrees, not a cloud in the sky, a cool breeze. Oh it is SO pretty I have spring fever.


It is SWELTERING in our classroom. See, the Military has this little rule. The heat does not come on in the Fall until a certain day. It can be 50 below zero but if it is in October, you won't have heat. The same is true in the Spring. It can be 120 degrees in the classroom but if it isn't before April 1st, you won't have air.

So we sit and sweat like a bunch of pigs.

Day 11: New Development

I may be staying longer than I thought. There is a Phase 2 for this MOS. I contacted my Unit and asked if I could extend my orders and stay for phase 2. Why not? I am already here, have acclimated and am in a routine. My Readiness/Training NCO went ahead and reserved a slot for me (yeah) but I have to wait until I am approved by the Chain of Command (COC).

I really hope I get to stay. This will only help my career and help me get used to the Military again. This is a National Guard Training Post so it isn't the same as a Regular Army Post, but... as a Training Command they are pretty squared away.


Day 11: Some Observations...

As things are moving along and developing people are forming little groups. At first it was females and females combining to form little groups, and males doing the same. NOW it is males and females and the groups are sometimes getting so small there are only two in the group. Hmmm.

There is a young soldier in the class who is prior service Navy like me. However he reeks of it. LOL. I reek of civilian but I am rapidly losing the smell. :-) He is clinging to it. He wears his hair long for a military cut, it is typical Navy. He talks about the Navy all the time. "We didn't so that in the Navy.... We did this in the Navy." We are planning a class party for Friday I am in charge of the details. SGT Colson said "Oh SGT Fields you know how it goes, I am Navy, I won't miss a party!" He is right. Sailors KNOW how to party. Hmmmm, maybe that's why I was selected to plan the party???

Anyway we also have a new instructor. (nice looking too). He was giving SGT Colson a hard time. SFC Jones (another instructor) had told him that SGT Colson was prior Navy but Colson didn't know it. So here comes this new instructor who says "I *know* you're prior Navy..." Blew SGT Colson's mind! LOL

I saw the instructors in the chow hall and approached the new instructor and said "You are going to have to leave my Navy boy alone now SGT." I smiled and he laughed. I told him I was ex-Navy and he got the biggest grin. He said "Don't tell SGT Colson you told me. I'm gonna string him along for awhile. I 'm gonna tell him I think you are prior Navy too." Oh no, poor Colson.

This morning we can in and SFC Hansen walked over to where Colson was sitting. I pretended to busy myself (typing this) and watched as SFC Hansen told SGT Colson he suspected I was ex-Navy. Colson got this dazed look and said "She is!" Hee Hee. I wonder how long this SFC will play this out. Poor Colson.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Day 10 continues

Whew, it is still hot but I DON'T STINK!!! My friends were making fun of me because I kept saying "I smell good! FINALLY!"

Lots of wedding rings are disappearing. hmmm. We have a party scheduled for this Friday, and I have requested my unit extend my orders so I can stay for phase 2. we shall see.

Gotta go for now.

Day 10: Just when I was starting to like this...

Can it be? Day 10. Seems like yesterday I just got here and now I have only 4 days to go. I have really begun to enjoy this. I feel like I have run away from home though.

0415: alarm goes off I lay in my rack for a few more minutes. Up and get ready for PT. We assmeble in formation, spread out and then work on our push-ups and sit-ups. Push-ups are done "Man-style" and not "woman-style" push-ups. However the Army likes to add a little spice to things and push-ups are done while having your partner stradle your back and offer "resistance". Ha ha. Sounds a little kinky but is definately not fun. My arms are weak.

It was still dark as we stood back in formation waiting for commands to stretch and relax, etc. We hear another company approach running in formation. Again the stirring cadence being called. All the quiet chatter stops as everyone is silent and we watch the company run by. We are almost reverent as we acknowldge this Army tradition. The deep voices responding in unison to the cadence caller. Moving. Heaven will have PT, I am convinced.

We are released from formation and I run back to the barracks. I was the first one to hit the showers (with my dial soap). I dressed and hurried out the door to chow. I walk alone this morning as SFC Whitten won't be going to chow and SGT Dennis is not ready yet. I walk briskly. It is now habit after many days spent running from here to there. The air is crisp as dawn breaks. I feel I am standing taller and more erect.

I began to reflect on my short time here. I love this. There is just something God put in me that loves this lifestyle. I love the order, the discipline, the "family". I have trimmed down and feel good. I love being outside breathing this fresh air. I love the challenge, the opportunity to excel. I feel proud to wear this uniform and it makes me want to do even better. Even though I have only been here 10 days, it has made an impact on me.

I am sad though. Since I am National Guard, this is only part-time and I will probably be back to my lazy slothful habits again. This will end and I will be back to civilian life all to soon. I will also miss my new friends. Especially SGT Dennis. Although she is from Georgia and we could meet for a dinner out every now and again, she is shipping out to Iraq come June. I have her email and she has my physical address so we will keep in touch. I am worried about her already.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Administrative Issues

1) Just to clear up a few things. Since I am at school, I have very limited use of the internet. I am a quick typist so I can usually type out these journals pretty quickly. However I do not have time to do the following:

a. Edit for content

1. spelling errors

2. grammatical errors

3. typographigal errors

b. Post accompanying pictures or links.

2. I have changed the names to protect the innocent (or the guilty). I am sure you have noticed I changed several names. I thought it best to do so.

3. This post is in the proper format of an U. S. Army Memorandum. Can you guess what school I am attending??

Day 9: Up and At 'Em!

I rose early, as is my new habit. I went and worked out breifly. I cleaned up, called Sgt Dennis to walk to chow.

I have a confession. I am one of these women who never sweats. I just don't. I use deodorant, but unless I am doing something very strneuous, I don't sweat. We let me tell you....I have been sweating. I believe my whole body temperature has risen. I stay hot. All the time. The classroom is hot on top of that. The barracks is now hot too. The temperature has risen a little. In fact, last night, it was GORGEOUS. It was a nice balmy temperature with a little breeze. I was quite comfortable outside with just a t-Shirt and a pair of Yoga pants. However in my winter weight uniform, I stay hot.

We are allowed to take our "blouses" (uniform top) off in class and just wear a T-shirt, however EVRYONE has to agree to take it off. Unit conformity is the rule. We have one SGT who refuses to take off her blouse!! ARGGGG. I asked her "Pulllleeeaaasse??" LOL. She is embarassed, so I'll leave it alone....and sweat...profusely.

I shower. I do, really. I also use an anti-perspirant. I have been blessed physically and I even put antiperspirant under my bosoms. The females out there will nod knowingly and a few of you males will say "Do what??!!" It helps to not sweat so much. But I still smell. Sgt Whitten sits next to me and swears that I am exaggerating, but I think she is being nice. I don't stink but I still have that sweet/sour smell of fresh sweat. It is so distracting. I make my own soap. It is a lye recipe and it is very mild. I make an outmeal/goat's milk blend. It is very nice and creamy and good for my skin. However it is NOT an antiperspirant soap. Note to self: Go buy some DIAL soap.

I will be going home this afternoon. Last visit home before we complete our phase of instruction. I have PT in the morning at 0445 so I will not be spending the night.

We are all getting into the groove of things and getting to know each other better. The younger girls have quit treating me like mom. I guess because I don't treat them like kids. I am actually enjoying having open bay barracks, I don't have to worry about a pecking order that usually rules in a smaller room.

More to come

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Day 8 Continued

We continue to make great progress with our instruction. I am listening very carefully and learning quite a bit. Indeed, as our instructors promised, this is a specialty in which "Attention to Detail" is critical.

After each block of instruction we take a test. After our test we get a prolonged break to wait until every test is graded. I happened to be able to speak with a soldier who is ex-Navy like myself. After enlisting his unit sent him to Warrior Transition Course. Definition as follows:

Warrior Transition Course Effective: 1 Oct 04 all prior
service Air Force, Navy, and Coast Guard personnel, including their reserve
components who have not completed a US Army BCT course or WTC or US Marine
(USMC) Basic Training Course are required to successfully complete WTC
conducted by the US Army within 180 days after enlistment into the Army National
Guard or Army Reserve. The Warrior Transition Course will provide our Army with
trained, disciplined, motivated, and physically fit Soldiers who respond to
leadership, are focused on teamwork, demonstrate the warrior ethos, and espouse
the Army’s core values.The purpose of the Warrior Transition course is to
transition active and prior service Navy and Air Force enlisted personnel to the
Army, as well as retrain prior service Army personnel who are not required to
attend Basic Combat Training. The course is taught at Fort Knox and focuses on
the Warrior Tasks and Warrior Drills.

This would be an excellent course for me to attend. It would really help me to get up to speed. The SGT I spoke with said "When you get to that course, you'll remember my name and cuss me each night!" He laughed a hearty deep throated laugh. Maybe so. The Navy had a course like that but it was for only 2 weeks. Ha! Well so far I know one thing, the NAvy didn't have to tighten up about Military bearing, but the ARMY does it right! Hooah!

I saw MSG Flirt at the chow hall during breakfast and lunch. Sigh. He says hello everytime. I have tried to ignore him. Maybe I am just being paranoid and he is just trying to be nice. What do you all think??

Day 8: the end is NEAR!

Last night with my family was wonderful. I left the house early to make it back to base and less than a half mile from home I hit a deer! My vehicle has a crunched bumper, but I think the deer is ok. Broke my heart about the deer. The vehicle can be repaired. She was a doe. sigh.

I forgot to mention an event that happened the other night. The three musketeers (me, Sgt Dennis and SFC Whitten) stayed home from partying Thursday night but a few of the ANCOC girls didn't. A woman MY AGE got totally plastered. They didn't wake me up coming in however the toasted middle aged woman *did* wake me as she vomitted CONTINUOUSLY into a metal garbage can for over THIRTY MINUTES!! I kid you not. I was laying there sleeping and I heard this strange sound.."urp. urp." I lay there for a second and then I herad the "bleeeechthsh" into the can. I sat up because I was really disoriented. and I looked around. In the dark I saw the woman in the bunk across the aisle from me. She was laying there and then I heard her gagging again. "Urp.... Urp...." and then the sound of fluids hitting metal. I almost got sick. Then I got mad. Then I tried to think "well maybe she has diabetes or some other illness and she is simply sick. The next morning I learned from SFC Whitten that.."Oh NO girl, she was DRUNK." Oh good grief.

Now I have hugged a toilet bowl or two in my time. I have even made myself GET sick because I realized I had drank too much. I even got in a drinking contest with a Marine and won. As a result of that I did a lot of baaaad things that I don't care to repeat here! maybe someday. Petty Officer Pope, where ever you are, I will never forget that night....and neither will my roommates (who were not pleased with our performance).

HOWEVER, please, you are in your 40's; go sit in the bathroom and toss your drunken cookies.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Day 7!! Yeah, Half Over

Today is Friday and PT day. Last night we did have a big storm. Lots of rain and strong winds. There are quite a few limbs down and pooled water every where. PT was cancelled but the three stooges (me, SFC Whitten and SGT Dennis) decide we cannot afford to miss so we hick it over to the gym.

The gym is literally across a street from the barracks and has a good assortment of equipment. And, as is my custom, when I work out I go "as is". I don't wear any sort of cute workout clothes, wear make-up or anything like that. SFC Whitten is the same way..,HOWEVER, SGT (little miss cutie pants) Dennis is wearing her Army PT gear, short sleeved shirt with shorts. She is wearing a pair of skin tight black workout pants under her shorts but the shorts don't hide much. You ought to see heads turn when she walks by. She is not sleezy in the least, but she takes the little pains (that I used to) to look attractive and it is duly noted and appreciated by any red blooded male within 50 yards of her.

So I get on the Eliptical to run. I only get five minutes into it and I am warmed up. I decide to work on my sit-ups and push-ups today. As I am taking a break from one of the machines an older male soldier approaches me and asks if I had been there last year. Now I am really slow or dense. I don't take hints well. And I sure don't know a line when I hear one. I am very naive. SO instead of smiling and saying "no" and walking away I say "No" and ask why. He says oh I was here teaching last year and thought I saw you. Upon reflection I think it is hilarious because this is just so transparent! However at 0530 in the morning with no make-up, hair not neat and combed, sweating profesely who would think they were being hit on?? So I say "Oh, no I am a student." He asks what school and I tell him. I also say that I am a 25 uniform (Communications technician specialist) but am adding the current school to my portfolio. He responds that he teaches there at the Post but he also teaches at Fort Leonard Wood. "Oh" I reply, "I may be going to Fort Leonardwood soon." I mention that my unit is a Chemical Unit and will be sending me there for 12 weeks sometime in the future. He begins to inquire, when, how long will I be there at Fort McClellen..etc., etc and so on and so forth. It suddenly dawns on me.... Lori, he is flirting with you, he is hitting on you, he is trying to pick you up. I end the conversation as quickly as I can politely. Good greif I need to get a clue.

During our morning instruction we are informed we will be gettingoff EARLY as in around 1300!! That calls for a loud Hooah. SGT Dennis leans forward and whispers "I am going out tonight for sure". I am headed home! I want to see my honey and my family.

We break for chow and who do I see but MSG Flirt! Right in front of us in line. Of course he begins chatting. I am polite, but not encouraging. He is a nice looking man so I am flattered... never hurts a girl to know she has still got it! :-)

We decide to walk to the cars so we can park them closer to the barracks/school and not waste time when it comes time to leave. We decide to take the shortcut through the woods again but this time the creek is now a small river due to the rain last night. No fording in our boots. So we slosh through a marsh and make it to the parking lot. SFC Whitten asks if we mind if we stop at the exchange for a minute. We pull in the parking lot with the radio blasting and SGT Dennis in the back seat next to me (with my bun!) singing along and talking about partying tonight. Hilarious.

The ride home was quick, I spent the afternoon hugging my children and I can't wait until my GORGEOUS hunk gets home (that would be my husband!).

Day 6: Party Time?

I wake at 0500 to do laundry of all things. I put my clothes in a washer and then go get ready for the day. at 0530 I put them in the dryer and sit and read a while. I should have gone to the gym to work out but my legs are stiff and I am too lazy. I did too much sitting yesterday and got "stove up".

After my clothes are dry I go to class. Halfway in the afternoon SFC Vincent announces to the class that she heard a rumor that some of us wanted to party. Eyebrows raise along with suspicions. Party? or a working party?? Someone said "An Army Party?? or...." Hooahs across the room are heard as the other wary soldiers voice their support for his question. SFC Vincent laughs and says "No, no..I heard that some of you were wanting to get your groove on...." Louder hooahs and an air of excitement spreads across the room. She says that the 1SG had mentioned that there was a club that catered to soldiers and Thursday nights were pretty lively. Hmm.

The lovely Sgt Dennis leans over her desk and looks down the line of desks at me and SFC Whitten. She whispers loudly.."1SG told me the club is called the Legion and is pretty fun.." Figures she had the inside scoop. I'm thinking "The American Legion??" At break we are discussing this new exciting news. SGT Dennis finally says "I'm going." So I chirp up and say "Me too." Well, then everyone is incredulous and says "Really? OK, I'm in..."

Well, now I am married and I am a devoted wife...but I was NOT going to miss this "Cultural Event". So we three girls (SGT Nichols said "no way" from the get go) start to get excited like school girls. SGT Dennis is the only single one but me and SFC Whitten decide what our gooses don't know won't hurt them. We didn't bring any party gear so we decide to make a trip guessed it...Wal-Mart. We are on the hunt for a pair of shoes, and a hairpeice.

OK, now you are thinking, Hairpeice?? What does a hairpeice have to do with any of this? I am not sure if I mentioned it or not but our class has a lot of color. There are two girls in particular who always look so put together. Their uniforms are spotless, creases so sharp you would cut yourself on them and their hair! Their hair is slicked back into a cute little braided bun. They look so elegant and just put together. I had been admiring their hair each day just so impressed that they could get it together so well each and every day! Well the night before I noticed that one of them had no braided bun. In fact her hair was my length and there was no way hair my hair could be braided into a cute braided bun. It hit me! They wore hairpeices! I approached them and they said that yes, indeed, it was a hairpeice that fit over their ponytail and looked like a nice, neat bun! I was informed by SFC Whitten that these little numbers are well known and could be purchased just about anywhere AND they would even have a cute brown bun shot with grey hairs. I didn't believe her.

So we hunt high and low all over Anniston Alabama for a braided brown with grey haired bun. We finally find it. We also found a cute little bun for SFC Whitten. Sgt Dennis humored us and came along for the ride. However as the afternoon evening wore on she got quieter and quieter as she got more and more tired and sleepy.

We arrive back at the base at 1930 and decide to go rest before our big night. We are supposed to meet the 1SG in front of the barracks at 2100 to carpool and follow to the Legion. The weather is looking bad, the wind is beginning to blow and we race for our barracks. SGT Dennis decides she'll take a short nap. Yeah right. Then SFC Whitten decides that she doesn't want to go. I am feeling pretty silly about going, and by now it is raining. So we decide to stay in the barracks.

So we three old ladies stayed home. Pretty funny. If it had been 20 years ago, Lord have mercy I'd of tore that town up. Instead I went and bought a little brown with grey haired bun. :-)

Day 5: PT

PT Gear: Physical Training Uniform. It is a sort of uniform. It is composed of a grey short or long sleeved t-shirt with ARMY written across the front in black and a big black A on the back. You have an option of wearing black nylon shorts with ARMY across one leg, or long cotton lined nylon pants. There is a matching nylon jacket that is also lined in cotton. I have to wear my hair up in a regulation style while wearing PT gear. This is an issued "uniform" to be worn during PT or Physical Training.

0415, my cell phone alarm is going off and I wake to a few figures moving about in the darkened room. The sun is not out, so it is nearly pitch black in the barracks room. I doubt they will cancel PT twice in a row so I get up, grab a small flashlight and begin to get dressed in my PT gear.

0435, I head out the barracks door and walk quickly to the PT area. We form up in ranks and await instruction. It is pitch black dark and COLD. Note to self: find your d*mn gloves. I'm standing next to Spc Colbert who is prior Navy, like myself. We grumble and gripe to each other in the Dark. "Lordy, did you even have to do PT in the Navy?" I ask. "Not since Boot" he responds. We both chuckle. We quietly trade old Navy stories as we wait for instruction.

Presently an ANCOC (pronounced A-nok) student walks up. She is a petite blonde but formidible. She calls "Fall into formation!" She then calls for the Squad Leaders to report. Each Squad leader calls out "Squad One, All present and accounted for!" Then the ANCOC student yells "Extend to the left! MARCH!" Of course I have no clue what this is. So I look around (so is the other prior Navy guy) and I quickly realize that the whole formation has extended their arms out and is rapidly (running) pushing to the left. We are to extend out our arms and move until only the tips of our hands are touching.

Our Formation leader then tells us we will commence stretching exercises. She explains what we will be doing then shouts "Follow me!' The formation yells in return "LEAD THE WAY!" The leader stops stretching and says "Relax!" formation yells "NEVERRRR!!!" in return. After strecthes, we run in place to warm up. Then we close ranks (draw the formation together). Our leader then calls for a volunteer to call cadence. Someone pushes Sgt Nichols out of formation, she stumbles forward and as all eye are on her she says "I guess I'll volunteer". It was hilarious, we all chuckled. Someone else volunteers for real. Then we make a right face then begin to run at double time for a "short" 2 mile run.

Our run is at a good pace. I am keeping up but I hate running. I just cannot stand it. It is boring. It is hard to keep my mind on it or rather off of running. I think about stopping the whole time. I have no idea how long the run will be since they said we would only go for a "short" run. In PLDC school this could mean 7 miles. Add to this I was very close to the front of the group with the fastest runners. Wasn't planned that way, just worked out that way. We ran about a mile and a half and then I really began to get winded, so I fell out of ranks (not really fall, you just drop back) and brought up the rear. I walked/ran and pretty much kept up with the group. I made it all the way back with everyone, so that was good. I hope to greatly improve to the point of keeping up the pace the whole way.

I guess I must look old and decrepit, because everyone kept telling me all day "Hooah, on the run, Sgt Fields!" LOL, I guess they thought I'd literally fall out! :-)

After quick showers and an even quicker breakfast, we made our way to class. Sgt Burn is one of our instructors. He gives instructions in a way that we have begun to mock after class. In a nice way. He will talk and say "OK, after you open your packet, count the pages hooah. Make sure you have 5 pages hooah and the last page is a copy of a map hooah." Of course the proper Army courtesy is to respond with a Hooah after each hooah! So we start to smile and silently chuckle after the umpteenth hooah! Then later we will say "I am going to chow hooah, then I'll walk to the barracks hooah. Later I want to go to Wal-mart hooah." Then we all break-out laughing.

We break for lunch. As we walk to the Mess Hall we spot a group of OCS cadets. Poor guys. It was reminiscent of Boot Camp. The Instructors were yelling at them, they were ahving them go through a sort of obsticle course. I felt sorry for them but it brought back bitter-sweet memories of my own Boot Camp experience. We can hear them marching in formation during the day as they go from class to class. We don't have to march, thankfully. Hearing cadence or a marching song is a haunting sound. It is hard to explain. It makes you remember those days of blood, sweat and tears. But it makes you proud too. It brings back the memories of feeling like part of something bigger than yourself for the first time. The feeling is very similar to hearing a really good old spiritual. Think of hearing Amazing Grace played on bagpipes or Taps on a trumpet. The whole experience is beautiful and terrible at the same time. It felt that way hearing those young soldiers marching and calling cadence. Haunting.

Day 4: It's getting easier

I woke at 0500 and I felt GOOD! No headache and not bone tired. I check my feet and discover I have some blisters. Oh well. Sgt Nichols asks if I am going to chow and I respond "Affirmative". We walk to chow and we get to know each other better. Sgt Nichols is Army reserve and works in a great unit. She is an E-5 filling an E-7 position. She is going up for E-6 and should get it. She is a college grad, had done ROTC but decided she did not want to go officer. She is very squared away. She is athelic and loves to play basketball. This is the young YOUNG sergeant I told you about. She loves her mama and misses home. :-) Her mother is two years younger than me. It is SO REFRESHING to meet such a well rounded young person.

Chow was same as it is everyday for breakfast. I had raisin bran for reason that shall remain unmentioned. With all this walking you would THINK I wouldn't need to, but I think that I haven't been drinking enough water. Note to self: slow down on the coffee and drink more water.

Lots of instruction today, but we had good class participation. I am making mostly 100's, Hooah! It is not as boring as I thought it would be. "Just keepin it real" as my new compatriots would say.

During lunch several of us (7) decide to make the long trek to the PX (Post Exchange). We decide to take a "short cut" through some woods that will cut about a mile out of our walk. We are confronted with a creek with steep banks. We spot a pipe that fords the creek. After eyeing it for a few seconds (I was game) the concesus is to wade through the creek in our combat boots. The creek was pretty shallow and my feet stayed dry much to my surprise. Guess these girls had forded a creek or two before! :-)

After chow at supper, I headed back to the barracks to relax and hit the sack early. Tomorrow is PT at )500 and I do NOT think they will cancel it again. I fall asleep missing holding my sweet 3 year old daughter.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Day 3: New Friends

My alarm goes off at 0415, but I decide to lay awhile in my rack. I figure if I get up at 0430, I will have time to get dressed, run down to the PT area in time for Formation. at 0429 CSM Olsen calls and lets us know that PT for OUR class is cancelled! I was ecstatic. I had a splitting headache and needed to rest for a while longer. My feet were swollen and my face puffy. My body was in revolt at this assault. I showered, dressed, walked to chow, then to class. We had a very long day. We broke for lunch at 1200 but afterwards worked through until 1845. We covered a lot of material but the room was filled with hot (no A/C) hungry, bitchin' soldiers. As they say "A Bitchin' soldier is a happy soldier". If we don't have something to gripe about then something is WRONG! :-)

I sit next to SFC Whitten. She is a very lively woman. She is 2 years younger than me and we have a lot in common. She has been very friendly and wouldn't give up on chatting me up. We went to chow together at lunch and found that we share a birth month, number of children, husband's birth month, and second oldest of 4 girls! She is hilarious and a lot of fun. We walked everywhere and were tired and spittin mad at having to RUN to the chow hall for supper before it closed. Four of us decided after chow we would head to Wal-Mart. I had a short list of a blanket, WIPES, lotion and toilet paper.

The chow here is not too bad. Think high school cafeteria. Some days are better than others. They always have a salad so us girls always have a choice. The cooks are local and so we have a lot of good ole home cooking like greens, pinto beans, corn fritters, fried liver and onions, etc. Yum, yum. I am not joking. I grew up moving all over the world but I LOVE good country cookin. Nothin like it to fatten your bones or fuel a weary soldier.

We four Army girls finished our chow and walked to the designated parking area on the other side of the Post, griping the whole time. Now that our bellies were full; the griping was more light hearted. We drove to Wal-Mart in uniform. We saw several of our classmates buying supplies as well. I pushed the buggy as we loaded up. I got to know the other two girls in our little group. Sgt Nichols is 23 years old. YOUNG! She is so young. She is very squared away but just a baby! :-) She is so funny. She has a dry sense of humor. She is a Tom Boy and an asset to her command.

I have to tell you about Sgt Dennis. She gets a whole paragraph to herself. This woman is a peice of work. She is tall, thin and looks like something out of a magazine. She has her hair cut very very close cropped and bleached blonde. Her eyebrows are bleached to match. Her skin is the color of bronze and her almond shaped eyes are a deep brown. She wears very minimal make-up and carries herself with a stately air. Sgt Dennis is so "fine" that I began to notice that when she walks with us we get a lot of "hellos" from the groups of male soldiers clustered all over the Post. I mean they can be 50 feet away and I hear a deep "hellooooo". She smiles and waves and ignores them. When we are in the chow hall the most senior of the enlisted try and chat her up.

More to come

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Day 2: Feeling Like PVT Benjamin

Sunday in this woman's Army means no day off! Class starts promptly at o900. Class moves briskly, with "Hooah!" shouted out in unision to each of the instructors commands and instruction. Break for lunch at 1200, run to the Mess Hall, eat, run back to class. More instruction to follow. Mandatory parking of vehicles on the other side of the Post, effective immediately. We finish up class at 18oo. I eat chow and drive to Walmart IN uniform. I was too tired to change into civvies first.

I buy a set of T-shirt Jersey material sheets. I bought a few other items and headed back to the Post. I approach the Gate while talking on my cell phone to my sister and hand the Guard my ID. The Gate Guard points to my phone and says "Sergeant Fields, you are not allowed to drive while speaking on the cell phone on this Post, please do not approach the Gate while talking on your cell phone!" Crap. "Oh, yes, Sergeant!" I replie sheepishly.

I drive to the other side of the Post to our assigned parking area. It is pitch black and cold. I have no "snivel gear" or cold weather gear, after all this is Spring in 'Bama! I hike it back two miles to the barracks. Several people pass me by but no one stops to offer a ride and hitch-hiking is prohibited. I am now HOT, tired and not feeling very motivated. I change my sheets and remember that I FAILED to purchase a blanket. Sigh. I set my cell phone alarm for 0415. I am bone tired but am unable to fall asleep.

I toss and turn and miss my husband and children terribly. The class is filled with young people and I am not making many "friends". There is NO toilet paper in the bathroom and only 4 shower stalls for 40 women. The excitement has faded and is replaced with a feeling that I am too old for this. (it gets better but this *is* how I felt at this time! :-)

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Formation Day 1 Continued

Standing in formation we clear up some Army business. We are assigned a class leader and into squads. We are told to fall out and muster in the class room.

As we are seated in the class the instructor asks for volunteers to carpool people who have no vehicles. A dozen hands shoot up and I am surprised at people's eager willingness to volunteer! The instructor selects 6 people and then lowers the boom. Those of you who have vehicles and are NOT carpooling shall park their vehicles on the otherside of the post. Well no wonder everyone was so willing to volunteer!

More good news follows; not only have we been assigned to the very old open bay barracks, but we are required to have lights out by 2200. PT will be held three times a week on Monday, Wednesdays and Fridays to commence at 0500. Not "be there at 0500" but to begin at 0500 so make sure your tired rear is in formation and ready to PT PRIOR to 0500. More good news, anyone whose home unit is in MOB status (getting ready to deploy)...those people are on "Lock Down", no leaving the base. Uniform of the Day, everyday, even weekends.

We are released and I go to the barracks to unpack and make my bed. I am very tired and put off my trip to Wal-Mart by one day. Instead I decide to use my last night of Liberty by going to an all you can eat Chinese Buffet (most excellent) and then to a Books-A-Million to buy a couple of books. Our barracks has NO TV lounge, so I buy Bleak House and Memoirs of a Geisha for reading material. I also have limited internet.

I spent the night freezing to death because I failed to buy my sheets and blanket. Hooah.

Formation Day 1

After I checked in I SUDDENLY realized I have left my beret at home.

I think I am having a Fruedian thing with my beret. When I first got my uniform, I kept wearing it wrong. I kept wearing it with the flash (insignia) over my right eye, instead of the left eye. After an embarasing moment in front of the Sergeant Major...I finally got it right.

So here I am my first fulltime experience in the Army and I forgot my beret at home. Hmmmm.

I ask at the gate for directions to the Uniform Shop or MCSS (Military Clothing Supply store). No go, this Post carries a limited supply at the Post Exchange. The PX is tiny. I mean some 7-11 stores are bigger than this. They have THREE rows of Beer and wines and a tiny section for uniforms. NO berets. However, I am told I am in luck! There is a "Super Trooper" store here! Wow! Super Trooper *does* carry berets, but no unit badges. Sigh.

I quickly check my watch and see that I have roughly three hours till formation. Can I make it home and back?? I will sure as hell try. So I jump in the family-mobile and race like a mad woman back to Georgia. I leave pulp woods trucks and farm vehicles in my dust. I am praying the whole way I make it back in time not only for formation but to even CHANGE into my uniform. That's right, I am still in my PT gear. I make it to the house in an hour and 25 minutes. I run in grab my beret and haul *ss back to 'Bama. I slide into formation with 2 minutes to spare, but BY GOD I AM WEARING MY BERET!!!

School Day 1

My unit scheduled for me to attend an Army school for two weeks in Alabama. I was very excited to attend. The report date was scheduled for Saturday March 4th, 2006. I got my things packed and my car loaded for the trip. I drove to the Post and checked into admin in my PT gear as directed. I filled out paperwork, was weighed and hieght measured. I was assigned my barracks, linens and cut loose until 1430.

Oh, did I mention open bay barracks?? This means 50 soldiers assigned to a large open room. I haven't stayed in an open bay barracks since Boot Camp in 1983. Sigh.

The "linens" are thread bare. The bottom sheet is basically a large "sock" that I had to stuff my mattress into. The Army wool blanket has holes. I wrote "Go to Wal-mart to buy sheets" on my to do list. We reported back to formation in our BDU's or ACU's at 1430.

More to come.....