Monday, May 30, 2011

Some guys just can't handle Vegas

And I'm one of them. I spent a week on the West Coast, visiting a high school friend in LA, then jetting to Las Vegas for a reunion of sorts with my friends from Beirut. The first night in Vegas didn't end until 7 am, or longer if you count the additional hours spent unsuccessfully trying to sleep on the floor. As it was, that was too much for this body to handle, so I was disfunctionally sick for the next 24 hours (in Vegas dammit).
This trashy bacchanalia capped off several decadent weeks devoid of exercise, beginning with finals (focus on studying, worry about fitness later), through that sweet week between finals and commencement (focus on partying, wrapping up loose ends with the coeds, go to DC, worry about fitness later), through a day at home and then a week out West (drink, don't be the wierdo doing pushups in the middle of your friend's frat house, worry about fitness later).

As the days went by, I had an increasing number of "you fat sack of shit!" moments, until I decided I'd have to do something drastic when I got back.

In order to get myself back on the wagon, at a friend's recommendation I have begun (I can't believe it) P90X. If you can get past the cheesiness and creepy, autistically talkative instructor, it's actually a pretty good smoker that reminds me of some PTs I've led/followed.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Capitol Fun

Shortly before graduation/commissioning, I took a trip to DC to see friends at GW, AU, and Georgetown, fulfill my dream of running down Embassy Row, and go to night spots filled with WASPs and overpriced (or so I thought before I went to Vegas) drinks.

Oh yeah - I got to meet personal hero Andrew Exum. Basically, he was an infantry officer (like me, eventually) and a PL in the Rangers (probably won't do that), and after he got out he decided to study at AUB (like me) and be an all-around speak-Arabic-know-about-the-Middle East kind of guy (like I pretend to be). He works for a sweet defense think tank with John Nagl (helped write the Army counterinsurgency field manual) and a host of other scholar/soldier badasses. I found out about him through his blog, Abu Muqawama, which is exactly like mine, except no drawings and an informed and thoughtful commentary on events abroad, US policy, and CT/COIN instead of a warped personal narrative.

Should he discover this post, I hope he'll appreciate the stylistic tribute to his blog, where pretty much every other sentence is a hyperlink.

I got in touch with him through a colleague of his who spoke in my Terrorism & Insurgency class (yes, I took that) and a professor. I showed him my blog (which he linked to on Twitter, resulting in more views than ... ever), one thing led to another, and he took me up to his office to chat and have breakfast. I ordered poorly (see illustration).

He seemed rather busy, but we talked about Army stuff for a while, and he said something that (as I best remember it) particularly resonated with me:

You will not use your intellect as a platoon leader.

Not to mean that you don't need to think and use your head, but that it's really about dealing with people and looking like a stud - which is apparently more about fitness and marksmanship than propensity for witty quips and poignant analogies.

It meant a lot to hear that from him - though I'm still not sure how well I'll be able to keep the Moshe Dayan separate from the Larry David when I'm out there.

My God, they made me an officer

I am now a Second Lieutenant in the US Army (yay!) reserves (gross!), bearing the proud MOS classification of 11Z. I'll get to be an 11A once I enter active duty and get some infantry training, though I've been told by saltier soldiers that I can't call myself an infantry officer until I graduate Ranger School. Of course, by then, someone will have told me that I can't call myself an infantryman until I've deployed, by which point I'll hear that you can't really say you've been deployed unless you've actually been deployed three times to both theaters and strangled someone with your blue cord.

Despite my pygmy-like status in the Army, it's still pretty great to have a rank in front of my name. And it's really exciting not to be a cadet anymore. To think I went through that whole schlep for this bar of gold ...

PS I will have to renovate the blog a little now that I am no longer a cadet ...
PPS Also I graduated college but who gives a shit. Becoming an officer was definitely the cool part of the weekend. 2LT > PBK, magna cum laude degree.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Last ROTC PT, Ever

CPT Krunch arrived when I did and will leave when I will - he was my MSII and MSIII instructor, and then continued to work with us as the training officer when we became MSIVs. A former boxer, he has described himself a "abrasive," which just about covers it. I'd call him the strong silent type, except not at all silent - his favorite (and perhaps only) perk as ROTC cadre is mercilessly making fun of the cadets.

Nonetheless, we all idolize him and we (read: I) wanted to get him something as a going away gift, so on the last day of PT I presented him with the only gift I could think of - inspired by something that was hanging up in his office from his old tank platoon - a framed guidon, signed by everyone in the company, with the battalion coin (which I designed two years ago), the ROTC shoulder patch, a small plaque with some kind words.

It was unbelievably expensive and I'm not really expecting the other MSIVs to pay me back, but it was worth it.

The last ROTC PT session (and the end of ROTC) is one of a dozen little milestones leading up to my graduation and commissioning in a little over a week - which, of course, is only the beginning of the story.