Sunday, May 24, 2009

This New Feeling

I am buoyed with happiness right now. Even though it is 0515 hours and I'm sitting in the airport waiting for my 0829 flight and I really haven't slept... it doesn't matter or make the smile on my face fade at all. Nor can it stop me from humming all the sappy love songs I know... or from sorta half smiling at everything good that keeps on happening to me.

Did I meet a guy? No. Am I going out with someone? No. I am still blissfully single, but I'm talking to someone who is interested in getting to know me better. That's the beauty of the situation, I'm this happy because of someone who is just a friend. And we're actually not gonna talk to each other that much this summer... we're not even going to speak to each other until I go to LTP for Buckner, and then I think not even until I get at least a week into it. He already gave me tips to call him from Buckner, so I'm going to assume we should wait until then. Meanwhile... I have a life I need to be living. I am getting my license this week no matter how jittery I get. I am going to go hiking sometime maybe this weekend. I am visiting my teachers since school isn't out yet. I am going running and eating some Mexican food that I have been missing and craving.

I am happy to do these things, because someone who is just absolutely amazing thinks that I am amazing and awesome, and wants to pick up where we left off last night... somewhere during dinner at Buffalo Wild Wings and sitting in the Astrology section of Barnes and Noble... we were both undeniably happily enjoying each others' company just laughing and teasing and discussing everything. And even though my allergies and my hormones were making me a grumpy nightmare at the beginning I eventually lightened up and he understood. I felt all the better since I wasn't pretending to be something I wasn't for a man. I mean after all... even as friends, it would be better if he knows who I am and not some projected image of me that tries to cover my flaws. Plus hopefully this way he understands that he genuinely cheered me up.

And speaking of good fortune it comes in droves because I found my keys today and I also got the fee for my one checked bag waived since the lady behind the counter was being nice to me. Kyle stayed with me until it was 0400 because we was waiting for a shuttle to go to Delta terminal. It was a shame because it would have been fun to sit on a plane with him. Well, there is still plenty of time, but I'm temporarily exhausted from the adrenaline and the fun as well as pure sleep deprivation.

Friday, May 22, 2009


Alright my room is pretty much cleared out. Which means a lot closer to being completely empty in other words. I didn't sleep at all, but I had planned for this. Yesterday after my typhoid shot and the giving of about a shot's worth of blood yesterday I fell asleep for about 7+ hours. This has been keeping me going along with one red bull which is moderate. I am just going over what I need to do today and it goes something like this:
  1. Put away CFT stuff, trunks (2), and bags in basement, trunk room, or day room. (realistically I will only be able to put away about 75% of it today since I need access to certain bags and boxes tomorrow too)
  2. Go to the Cadet Store and buy 2 subdued cow brass
  3. In the afternoon after the parade and before their lunch break go to the Cadet Health Clinic and pick up malaria pills (for the one island Sao Tiago which carries malaria threat
Sometime this afternoon I also plan on talking to former SL, finalizing plans for Saturday, taking another nice long nap, and then finishing watching Tortilla Soup with my friend. After graduation tomorrow, I will be going out (to eat maybe... maybe something else... I kind of want to just relax and get away from West Point without anything to do), and then returning whereupon SL is giving Kk. and I a ride to Garrison Station and we are taking a very late train (2328) to the city. We'll split a taxi to the airport and get there ~0200 hours. Kk's flight will be leaving earlier than mine, but I feel safe for the trip since we'll be together on the way there.
It's time to start the day, but I feel well-prepared for the next three. It will be great to be home and I'll know I'm ready for the upcoming training.
PS already talked to former SL, finalized plans for today and Saturday, and FOUND my birth certificate which was hidden wedged in an orange folder in a black laptop case behind some pipes above my locker... it's gonna be a goooooooooood day (^^)

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Going Slow

I've been dragging my feet a little on all my tasks and my to-do list. As the saying goes, if it weren't for the last minute I wouldn't get anything done. I was talking to my mentor and he told me it's normal to feel burnt out.

I'm supposed to be figuring out who I am this summer. I need a more permanent journal right now I'm sort of just wandering in and out of all of my mediums of expression. I have several notebooks going it's getting difficult for me to organize my thoughts much less all my documents and deadlines. I have to box so much of my stuff still and I don't even have tape to do it with.

I don't have a bad feeling though. After that talk yesterday I actually feel much better rested than I have been. I also have a slightly better idea of how I am going about with my development of self in the leadership category.

My mentor told me that I need to realize that a good leader knows to separate what's personal from what's the leadership. He also told me there are three different types of leadership. Leading your subordinates, leading your peers, and leading those above you. The most important part is that when you are making improvements you are imagining how the system could be bettered, or where it failed, that can make the improvement. You are critiquing the system in order to fix problems. You don't take it personal if someone disrespects you or your position, but you address it and fix it, because the system needs respect to work. If you take it personal you will either collapse and let the disrespect occur or you will overreact. Hence, you separate your personal feelings from leadership. I hope I am explaining what he told me in a coherent fashion, because it not only made sense to me but it motivated me and helped me sort out my feelings about past bad leadership experiences.

Additionally, he told me that gradeswise I probably faced my worst semester. I earned it, so I'm going to say it, my GPA is a 2.955

There it is. It's not a 4.0 or even an even 3.0 right now, though if you rounded it you'd get the latter. However, this was not due to heavy hours or mind-bogglingly difficult work. It was stress and being burnt out and disinterested. This is going to change for many reasons. However, my mentor told me that I displayed qualities and that I obviously expected a lot from myself. He told me he perceived that I wouldn't be happy if I just skated by, under the radar, doing the minimum. He also said that I would want to go to grad school, that education was important and this was probably passed to me unbeknownst to myself from the female lineage of my family.

Whether his perceptions were all accurate or not I don't know, but I listened and appreciated them. They got me to thinking and definitely stirred me from my stupor. That always seems to happen and I'm happy for it, whenever I'm starting to drift off the trail, someone always comes around to get me back on the straight and narrow. I appreciate it, because I don't think I could make it in the wilderness without turning bitter. I want to be working towards something. I want to be successful, but I want to be human. I want to maintain my wandering, and excitable personality. In excess it may be bad, but I'm learning from interacting with other people that these qualities can actually be sought after by less exuberant or passionate people. People who might have the skills and the standards, but who long to be more outgoing. Surprised? I am. But I'm happy to share these qualities with people, and even happier to maybe pick up some tips from my more even-tempered friends.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

I Don't Know Who I Am Anymore and That's Okay

I am slowly figuring out who I am slowly. It's a much slower journey than expected. I've messed up recently, but that's okay too. I need to learn to not be such a perfectionist. There are more measures of success than grades or the ability to perform specific tasks. There are more general, more important things. I cannot believe that I've lost sight of that. I used to do things for the pleasure of them, learning physics and calculus was fun and writing was this interest to me to put my thoughts on paper for me. I sort of lost sight of that when I got caught up in the competition that is West Point. I became sad when I didn't perform like I thought I would, and I lost my fire when I suddenly found myself struggling in ways I'd never had to struggle before. It's not as simple as starting an engine up again either. It's not a spark that I'm missing, it's tinder.

These long conversations on Sunday are more and more interesting. I feel like I'm getting a glimpse into someone who is more like me than I knew. I'm getting positive feedback from someone who seems to have it together, and there's no competitive feelings between us and there's an affinity that I certainly can't put a finger on. Maybe I'm seeking this connection, but I don't think I would get such good reception if there wasn't one there before I started looking.

I went for a run today with a friend leaving on a two year mission because he's Mormon. He doesn't know where he's going yet, but I feel it's a shame that I didn't get to know him better and for some reason we're getting along quite well. It's quite accidental and I didn't all of a sudden warm up to him because he was leaving. Plenty of people start to leave and I don't get close to them, like for instance when another guy left at the end of last semester. We never really spoke at all.

However, to avoid lingering on that fact, today we went for a run. It was fun. I made him run up to the trail behind the Jewish Chapel (which I guess isn't really a chapel, but that's the common name here on campus) and we ran up some steep trails up to Fort Putnam which is a historical site on campus but it was closed. I got curious though, so we ran around the edge of its high walls until we found a spot that was passable and we climbed up and did a leader's recon. This is another one of those hypothetical situations of which there is no proof, only rhetorical description. It was fun, it was green, and we definitely had a good - albeit short - run uphill twice. We also did pull-ups. Two sets of five for me, plus three wide grip pull-ups, with about seven half wide grip pull-ups thrown in, and then followed with five pull-ups grip facing towards myself.

I like the trail run, even if I do start wheezing after only ten meters into the green. It's still more fun and more interesting than a run to Lee Gate which is not only boring but to me isn't the easiest thing ever. I have trouble running for three miles at the same pace. I need to work on that. I might go on a long run tomorrow, but it probably still won't be a Lee Gate Run.

I wrote this a couple weeks ago:

I'm Embarking

on a new adventure

on old trails

running straight into Nature.

Into the past
no questions asked

praying that my strength will last.

I'm seeking not a destination

but for some hidden explanation.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

With a Mission

It has been cold these last two nights. It's raining right now. The rain usually puts me in a good mood.

Lately I've been almost despondent and on edge and feeling as though I can do no right. I am stumbling through the week like a zombie. I am endeared to anyone and anything that can make me laugh right now.

I am still reading this book called I Was Told There'd Be Cake which is a collection of essays by Sloane Crosley (wow, it's so nice to reference something and not have to make an endnotes or footnote). It's terribly funny I keep on laughing out loud in my room as I read it. My roommate and I are on edge for different reasons, but nonetheless we are sort of grating on each others' nerves. It's slight, but in light of the current week it's like the straw that might break this camel's back. If I'm going to compare myself to a smelly desert animal with a tendency to spit.

I cannot believe how much work there is still left to do! There is an economics writ on Friday, and there is my Portuguese Oral tomorrow as well as the Rosetta Stone. It's gonna be a shit show getting all of this done. My thought process has been pretty bitter and unstable lately. I am somewhat volatile at mealtimes too. Not like I'm connecting with calming people or situations lately though. Still, today was taco wednesday (which also irritates me) and someone was acting so damn smarmy I kept snapping at him. Every successive snap I was more frustrated at myself for snapping. Then naturally Blondie my absolute favorite person in the world right now says,

"[My name] calm down."

leading me to retort with a lot of frustration,

"That is the most annoying thing you can say to anyone! Calm down? That does the exact opposite! Like saying, 'Stop getting riled up [My Name]'. You do it just to rile me up more, and you know that's what you're doing, don't act so innocent."

At which point... I became aware that I was getting the what-a-crazy-woman look. I can't stand it. I mean, I'm excitable, I'm passionate, I'm... foolish sometimes. Ha ha ha. Very funny everyone, you got me. You got the response you wanted, and now you get to give me the look like I'm the crazy one. I didn't start the conversation down this path in order to piss myself off. Still, in a more serious sense, I've got to get a handle on that.

It's not so much that I always have trouble controlling my emotions, but when there's some serious stuff roiling under the surface... I can't help but let it bubble out in different ways on the surface. Am I really upset by the talk at lunch? Do I really care if someone wants to be an absolute prick about everything I say about Mexican culture? Do I really get upset that the boys want to make yet another generalization about women based on the only two of us at the table? No, I'm used to these things and I'm okay with a lot of them and often see the humor. Right now though, I'm thinking about a lot of other things, and it's coming out in these seemingly small arguments and snaps of mine.

Tomorrow I'm going to ask for a regrade for my plebe who definitely deserves a better military grade than I've got or at least equal. There is nothing he did wrong. He is definitely above and beyond and he's cordial and he has experience and he's on top of things, there is no way he is 'B' material. I can take my B+ and I can roll my eyes and accept that it's probably because I have an attitude and because my grades were so-so this semester even though I significantly improved militarily and physically. I cannot however take him getting a B when he was the Regimental Soldier of the Quarter and has great grades (hell I wish I had his GPA at one point in my life) and he improved his physical performance too from an APFT in the 260s to one in the 290 range. That's a good job and deserving of an A or A- if you really want to be nit-picky. We have fair or tough graders. I've yet to get a grader who gives me a break. Everyone thinks women have it so easy, I wish I could meet the people who give women a break. I wish I had the squad leader who gives his girls an easy A. Girls rarely even complain if they get a lower than they wanted military grade because we don't want to rock the boat. Unless you're like certain girls who can quote the SOP by heart and who will do anything to make sure their grade isn't affected... but if you're not so obsessed and have a generally good and sunny outlook and are approachable... well you're probably not going to work to argue for that military grade. You will also probably never get a great grade because someone somewhere thinks that they don't want to appear like they are going "easy" on a girl. I imagine they must sit there right before entering the grade and their mental dialogue going something like this,

"Okay... this guy has a great APFT score, did his weekly reports okay, and is mostly B's academically. Militarily, recommend him for an A... maybe A-. Next guy has a great APFT score, did weekly reports, asked good questions, all B's typically academically. Recommend for an A... wait a second this is a girl. Did she do anything particularly amazing this semester? Hmm... it's not like I'm going to be playing favorites. B is a good military grade after all. I'll recommend her for a B+. Nothing particularly amazing here. Alright next..."

But I'm sure at this point I probably sound like I think West Point is SO hard, which I don't, just venting. I'm okay, like I said, with my grade, but my plebe deserves better. So I'm going to brave the decision of our TAC NCO sometime tomorrow. It may not be my favorite moment of the day, but it has to be done. At least I think I have proof that he deserves this.

More to do for my squad tomorrow too and hopefully another run for the week. Only two more days of academic workload... and then it's rest this Saturday for me and studying Saturday evening. I will be getting to bed at a good hour on Saturday too. Setting the mood for the upcoming week of Term End Exam's (TEEs).

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

How to Apply for the First Time...

Today was not so good, although it was cinco de mayo, it was miles away from cinco de mayo of yester-year. I did not make guacamole this year and there were no decorations around my room. To top it off, I stayed up until four o'clock in the morning just trying to sleep. I woke up barely refreshed and must have looked like death because I had a friend stop by asking if I was okay, he thought I was suffering from a heartbreak. I assured him it was plain sleep deprivation.

I had my appointment to submit my passport and VISA applications today. It went smoothly with the exception that my photo now makes me look like I have no idea how to dress. I was wearing my white crew t-shirt under my As For Class shirt, but I'd brought a nice (tight) civilian top. However there was no place to change and my options were... grandma sweater, raiders fan, or my cute tight civilian top over the white t-shirt. The result is a passport photo that will get shown to as few people as possible. Hopefully I have to retake the photo to go to Portugal. Additionally I had no make-up today and felt pretty miserable so... it probably would have been a pretty good idea to put some on... My expression also says "just shoot me". I will probably get searched a million times especially because I am so smiley in my military I.D. so the two photos will be suspiciously different.

The next bit of misfortune to befall me occurred after I stopped by Grant Hall for a latte with vanilla flavor. I ordered a "Classic Chock" which is multi-grain with cream cheese between and raisins. It's not terribly healthy, but it's not terribly unhealthy. The cashier must've misunderstood me though, because she served me a thick slice of sinfully chocolate cake. I couldn't resist and started to dig in. It was delicious but I felt so guilty. I was on my way to finishing it when I was pleasantly interrupted.

This is when the day began to have an upswing again. A teammate, H, sent out an email on the sandhurst distro requesting a running buddy I threw up the chocolate cake I had consumed at the top of the hill. The endorphins from the intense run had me in good mood for a little bit. Unfortunately my funk returned before I finished this post. I'm once again sad and can't find a good reason. I have a job to do. I have ten people relying on me. That's not even that many. I need to stop thinking negatively. Snap outta it. Let's go? I wish I sounded convincing to myself.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Collective Thought

Got my ink cartridges Sunday. It was a very enjoyable day. It was drizzling and overcast but it was warm. Plus I got an egg sandwich from Dunkin Donuts which really makes it a great Sunday. I also got to have an hour plus talk with someone who I didn't realize I had as much in common with... it's amazing what you learn if you just exchange ideas. People that seem suited to careers might not want them, at least not the contract or the idea of slaving away towards retirement. Naturally, having a family (if that's already in your plans) throws a wrench in a devil-may-care attitude, and I guess I'd better not completely dismiss the idea in case I fall for a guy who is family-minded but I digress

Who'd have thunk that 'the man with the plan' that everyone admires and of whom people say, "I don't think he's ever broken a rule...", that guy who "is" the standard, he and I get along just fine. Why? I dunno. I feel like I'm as far opposite that as possible. My drive is fantastic far-off places. I want to live in a city with a young crowd. I want to be displaced, moved, shaken. I wish i were better at enjoying life than I am, then at least I could claim I was good at something besides being frenetic and comic-book drawings. However, it was strange how we both agreed on one thing. Neither or us could see (doesn't mean it won't happen), but neither of us could see ourselves stuck somewhere in the future. Neither of us could really explain ourselves, but he agreed,

"It's like you said, I want to be able to go."

I had described that as the life I wanted in the city. The ability to just go, to not have my time metered out to me in blocks and charts. He described it in a different sense, but somehow meaning something similar. I was surprised. It's not that I didn't think he was capable of that, but I assumed he would crave consistency and stability and here he was craving something he had no name for but in the outdoors in the future. He couldn't see himself doing the Army career at the exact moment we spoke. For all I know, his opinion has shifted and right now he is positive he is going to stay for life, but we shared that for a moment in time. It was brief, but it was great. I was on the same page with him, and it's okay because I'm still on my page. I'm still on my path and it's different and carved uniquely through time.

I guess it really made me feel confident because another friend of mine who is determined to do the military career told me vehemently that this guy is definitely going to stay in for life. According to my friend, Blondie, there's no other possibility. I think B. is career-driven which is fine, but he sort of slaves towards that end. It's okay, but I look at him and wonder if he's fulfilled. He is busy and satisfied and hard-working... harder working than I certainly. I wonder if he will look around someday and think that maybe he worked a little too hard on his career and not enough on things that make him happy without serving any particular military or career benefit. He hasn't exactly been very nice either. I stopped by the other day to invite him out for coffee and after that and my stopping by later he told me to not imagine we are 'dating'. The manner in which he told me was quite rude, because I left immediately and right after I left his roommate (who had been pretending to be listening to music on his headphones or legitimately trying to block our noise) told him he was being a real "D" which prompted him to apologize to me. I still remain offended because I was just being friendly, if he wants to read into it I won't invite him out to coffee. I mean it's just one of those things you do here at West Point, it's the social exchange that centers around food. Why do you think there are party pizzas? I love to go to Grant with friends even if I already ate, we just talk while they get their food or wait for their pizza. Some people need to get off their high horse and realize when a friendly offer is that and no more.

Well, it's the end of the year and I have a tendency to suddenly do something that isn't exactly well thought-out, impetuous is a better word. I am struggling to stay focused. More to follow.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Symbolism in the Hallway

Late this evening I was in the hallway when former Sandhurst SL returned to the barracks. We engaged in a discussion carried on from the last couple of days in which we compared fishing and shopping. I agreed with my fellow teammate "Mia" that the two could be compared experience-wise and if that was to be disproved it could only be done by someone who had compared the two. We said that since SL hadn't experienced shopping - in particular for dresses - than he couldn't prove the two were incomparable. As we argued, laughing most of the time, me calling him "stubborn" and him calling me "violent" (honestly, as though that had anything to do with the fact that my argument was sound) we dragged various people into our argument. One girl was at the ccq desk and sided with me while random company-mate walking down the hall and having heard about our argument earlier, took SL's side.

For no particular reason rando-guy and I started to wrestle and stopped when we heard a pop and the metallic jangle of something falling on the floor. It was my necklace... the gift from my ex. I picked it up and was only a little sad to find the chain had broken. Is it symbolic though? Am I really over that part of my life now and ready to move on to a new beginning of me really getting to know me? I know the point of the time without my ex at all (even if our interaction was limited to just as friends) is for self-discovery and self-development. I'm hoping that's what this means.

Additionally earlier tonight I was out shopping with Mia and I bought a great bag and five more camis that were $2.50 as well as two cute casual tops that are perfect for the summer. Nothing big, all great deals, I swear! We ate a slice of cheesecake at The Cheesecake Factory which I can finally say I've experienced and talked the whole time about everything really. I tried on so many cute shoes I was sad to remind myself I absolutely needed to buy a medium-sized purse for outings, and I was on the lookout for cute tops to go with my very cute new jeans. My old jeans weren't as classic so I had tops that were the defining part of my outfits or that hid my jeans with loose or long cuts. Now I have absolutely awesome jeans that fit so amazing, the cut of my jeans is ironically called the same name as my cousin whom I called tonight and spoke with. It's funny she says she and her friend only read my blog one time when they were "really bored" in class, which made me laugh.

At the Cheesecake factory it was Rando-guy, Rando-guy's friend, Mia, and I all discussing different aspects of romantic prospects or engaged in conversation about various what not, I guess we were having so much fun the conversation got fuzzy. Those conversations are naturally the best. Mostly we drew common interests and poked fun at each other even on the way back in the car. We talked about GPA's, sponsor families, wine, states (most notably how awesome Texas is), and people in the company. We talked about Rando-guy's fiance and about how Mia and I probably weren't in the business of getting married anytime soon since we're both such independent women. It was engaging conversation and so much fun. Rando-guy's friend commented that even before he and Rando-guy arrived that Mia and I seemed to be "having a ball." I replied,

"That's just what we do you should just hang out with us more often."

It was a great day overall. I am going slightly backwards with the timeline because before the shopping trip I went to Highland Falls for the Relay for Life at which we walked to support research for the treatment of cancer. At the very beginning I arrived with J's girlfriend. She is very nice and very much a BAMF. She runs triathlon and she is going to SAPPER school this summer (an elite school that's a lot like RANGER school except with a distinctly engineer-like flavor so I've heard: essentially sleep and food deprivation wrapped in physically-demanding packaging for four weeks). She has said things like, "As far as kids, I'm hoping to have a team or squad-sized element." which no one has let her live down. She is amazing. We agreed to be doused in water from a giant water balloon that was suspended in a cage that would pop the balloon if a target was hit with a beanbag. We had fun getting each other (although honestly I missed all three times and the guy running the show had to just hit it manually to make it fair... it was free so we didn't lose any money) and it was refreshingly cool in the summer sun. I ran into a lot of people and just had conversation. I ended up walking back with my old team leader and just exchanging stories and talking about everything.

The day was good and long and the weather was great. I couldn't complain about a day like this... especially one that ended so great and that promises an amazing tomorrow as well. I will probably fall asleep with a smile tonight.