Oh, mama

Surprise! The second record Army Physical Fitness Test of the year is rapidly approaching, as is the slightly worrying prospect of MS IIs leading morning PT sessions.

For the past few months, I’ve been training with Fortis Academy founder and all-around awesome Princeton student Josh Levine to build strength, resist injury and nudge that APFT score higher. (All worthy goals, though Josh and I would also love to see a certain cadet’s high score conquered).

However, a gruesome finals period and a badly sprained wrist have me worried that I’ve cramped my progress. Call me insecure, but I think if we faced each other today, my mother would kick my ass.

Of course, my mother is no ordinary woman.

"This Christmas card photo is taking a long time. Let's go over there and do some lunges."

Some women have walk-in closets. My mother has a pull-up bar. Free-standing and made of steel, the thing looks like a doorway, a magical portal from her room to the land of beautifully-defined back muscles.

The picture of health, my mother. Every time I go back home, she has six new nutrition texts at her desk. A doctor should take photos of our kitchen shelves, honestly. And of course, she looks great. Since my sophomore year of high school, she gives me clothing that…wait for it…is too big for her. One time we were going through security at the airport, and the TSA agent thought she and my brother were twins.

My mother has always inspired me in many ways. She’s thoughtful, pragmatic and dedicated.  A graduate of the second class of women at West Point, my mother went on to fly helicopters for the army, study history and teach. I count on her support but I also think there is something about her example that is especially motivating for the trials of cadet life.

Because when I’m complaining, she’s already done twenty reps.


The knowledge of torch

I have to say, it’s fabulous to be back.

Returning to the Battalion as an MS 2, I’ve discovered how great it feels to know stuff.

To know, for example, that the female bathroom on the second floor of the armory is so rarely used that brown gunk sometimes comes out of the soap dispenser. (Well, I’m assuming it’s rarely used, but a bathroom’s a bathroom, especially when another bathroom is busy).

To know that new equipment looks cooler, but my equipment actually works…because it has since Vietnam.

To know that when my favorite janitor doesn’t say “hi” the way he normally does, its not because he’s having a bad day, but because he thinks I’m someone else when I’m in uniform and is confused as to how I know his name.

To know not to expect my book stipend to be in my mailbox, but to check anyway, just in case.

Some things I don’t know?  The names of all the new cadets. I try to learn them, I really do, but too often my eyes start desperately roving around for backup–a birthmark in the shape of a similar-sounding animal? nope. A non-regulation, very boring but also very useful tattoo? nope. And on their chest only a naked strip of velcro. Its times like these when I say a prayer for that prisoner somewhere whose job it is to machine-embroider on a nametape the tricky, probably hyphenated word of obscure origin that I cannot recall. Be swift and speedy, my friend, for all our sakes.

It’s alright, though; the newbies will forgive me. I certainly wasn’t fussed about being re-christened “hey” for a few weeks last year. I was too busy trying to learn all the things that now I consider second nature. Like what exactly to say to make each/one of my classmates want to murder me:

Other MS 2: “So at Air Assault, ___________[insert anecdote demonstrating difficulty and/or frustration and using at least one frighteningly large number of reps]____________.

Me: “Hey, so did you get paid over the summer?”

Other MS 2: “What!?! You got paid? I spent my summer crawling around in the heat doing overhead arm claps…(fades into incomprehensible grumbling)”

Me: “Oh yeah, what was that thing you did? What was it, again? I’m sorry, I forgot.”

Coming soon: Ranger Challenge! Push-ups! Room-clearing! Mud! Grenades! Blog posts that don’t make me sound like a complete jerk!