Today I had my first day of FTAC- which is a week long of 9 hour days full of briefings and power points and networking. The joy. Just one more step to get through before I get to my job training and work towards getting my rating- which will no doubt be the hardest part of my career, since statistically half of us wash out (from the half of us that made it this far) and at my base there’s been an 80% washout rating. So I have my work cut out for me.

But right now as I’m sitting in Crave waiting out the storm and sipping my chai, I’m feeling pretty good. Later on I’m going to go shoot hoops with some of the guys from FTAC- or rather – they’re going to teach me how the fuck to not look like an idiot on the court. Then it’s shower bed and do it again for the next 4 days.

Tomorrow I have a belly dancing class I’m going to try to go to.

Things are looking up, even though it’s currently shit storming outside do to the monsoon that happened out of nowhere. Seriously I’m driving under crystal blue skies and BAM.

This shit

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Then 5 seconds after this pic it was twice as bad. Damn weather.

 

Anyway the point of this blog was to say thing are getting better, and I feel like I’m really starting to settle in. I’m meeting people, joking around, I have something to keep me busy every day, things to look forward to through the week- and this fantastic little cafe I’ve been coming to every day where the owner already recognizes me.

Life is looking up

– and just in time, because the rain is letting up and the sun is peaking back out

Exploration

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This morning I decided it was time to explore. I have the weekend off, my own car, a full tank of gas, and some money in the bank. So it was time to discover the new place I call home. I started the day with some good old Orange Juice, and coffee, because hey- I needed to be fueled. I went to the gym for half an hour and went to town on the treadmill, only because I learned the indoor pool is closed on weekend. Little things.

I came back to my dorm and showered, because holy shit I was sweating. Then I took my time dressing up. You never know what kind of situation you’ll run into and I did not want to be in a t-shirt and sweatpants for this adventure.

I was ready, and I was going.

I drove down Craycroft road, which was familiar to me from my half-assed explorations the day before. Then I kept going. And going. I drove towards the mountains, I followed signs, I made mental notes of the little shops I saw. I stopped in a park, Udell I believe, or something of the sort. I drove around it a bit and watched some lizards chase each other beneath a giant cactus. Literally, giant. It was like 3 of me combined.

I proceeded to stop at a dollar store because, oh shit, my dads birthday is coming up and I needed to buy a card.

Pit stop over I continued, following signs that read “Down Town Centro.” Pretty sure that’s the worst Spanglish sign, ever, but whatever. I followed it until I found myself speeding down a hill with some really bad concrete. Then bam. I was in downtown Tucson, or at least a part of it. The first thing I noticed? All the art on the walls. I wished I’d been able to stop and snap some pictures like a tourist, but alas I was going 40 and wasn’t sure where I was going, let alone where I could park. So I kept driving. Roadwork took me on a detour through a less than appealing neighborhood which I promptly exited, and then I was driving again. Taking mental notes of where things were.

I looked at the time. I’d been driving around for almost an hour. Holy shit.

So I took some wrong turns and then ended up on Stone st. Which I crossed my fingers would take me back to another street I was actually familiar with. I was fully equip with a GPS…just in case. But I wanted to figure this shit out on my own.

So I drove. And drove. And drove. I was basing my direction off a certain mountain….because it’s not like I was surrounded in mountains or anything. Heavy sarcasm, by the way.

Finally I saw a familiar street- Grant. Bam, turned onto that shit. And then I drove forever.

Somehow I found myself on Broadway again, which is the Mecca of all roads to me, simply because I know exactly how to get back to base from it. And also I use that as my point of reference when trying to find something. Hmmm…how close to broadway is it?

Back on base, I bought some groceries at the commissary like an adult and then ate the fuck out of a bagel back in my dorm. Because now it was noon, and I hadn’t eaten since 7am.

Then I napped.

When I woke up I remembered that tonight is the 2nd Saturday Downtown…which apparently is some cool event in downtown Tucson. Live shows, street vendors, food, the good stuff. So I said hell yeah I’m going.

So I change out of my dress and slipped into some leopard print shorts- because I don’t wear pants, and jean shorts are too plain. Dilema- it doesn’t start til 5:30.

So here I find myself, sitting in Crave, which is a fantastic coffee bar, sipping on a White and Dark mocha, and booking myself a bellydancing class for this Tuesday. That’s right.

So as I’m doing this, I’m thinking to myself

Maybe this isn’t so bad, after all…

And the road splits

Taken from my journal earlier today.

   “I should be in New York right now. In central park. Or in Brooklyn. Or hopping subways. I should be with friends right now. But I’m not.
I’m in Arizona.
And I’m alone.”

I was bitter, sad, and I just wanted to get the hell out out of the desert. Things haven’t gone the way I pictured they would last year. And I’m ok with it, I know I have to roll with it and keep going.

I know that what I’m doing is important.

And right now it has to be more important than the other things I want to be doing.

It has to be.

Being smacked with the realization that somewhere down the road my path and the path of all my friends split and we went down opposite directions….well it sucks. But I paved this road with the months of training, work, and perseverance I’ve had to have. So if I can do that, I know somewhere down the line I can make these roads meet back up again.

I just need to find a way to live both the life I want to live, and the life I have to live.

Is that even possible? Can I be two people at once? Can I turn them into the same person?

Arizona Bound

 

Wow, it’s been real. This time tomorrow I will be on my way to Arizona to officially begin my career. Of course, there’s still hurdles to jump through like all the On the Job training I have to get through- but I know I’ll be okay.

It’s terrifying and exciting all at the same time. I can literally take any path I want for myself to make myself into something. There’s so much I want to do, so much to accomplish. So many options. I’ll have my own suite, my own car (which I just bought. 10pts for being a financially stable adult), my job, and my own life. I’ll be alone- for the most part except a few people I met in tech school- and I’ll be on my own two feet.

So as a pre-Arizona post I figured I’d lay out some goals for myself – short term mainly

First off, I want to get my budget figured out. See how much I have to spend for me after car payments, insurance, savings, food, phone bills, retirement, and shit like that.

When I figure it out, I need to go get my safety briefing so I can do unnecessarily dangerous things

Once that’s done, I’m going to start going to the fire spinning/dance classes nearby. I scoped it out. Tucson has a huge fire dancing community

I’m going to fucking rock that shit and buy my own fans. Maybe even a staff.

I’m going to build myself some roots in Arizona, make friends, find places, make it a place I want to be. A place I’m happy to be.

I’m going to rock my OJT and become a rated Controller

I’m going to work out and lose my tech-school weight

And I’m going to be a fucking boss.

Yes. That covers it.

Arizona here I come

Symbolic Tattoos

So I got a new tattoo-

Another one? Is what everyone reacted when I either showed them or told them. Well yes, another one. But I get these tattoos to mark a significant moment in my life, or a significant feeling I have. I can’t very well forget them if they’re on my body permanently, now can I?

I got my first tattoo the day after I turned 18, a large birdcage with a heart trapped inside. There’s other symbolism, and lyrics going along with it, but the main idea was that I felt trapped and needed to escape. And I did.

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My second tattoo was about two weeks later when I was in New York for VKAM, and represents all the magic and memories I have in NY, and is a constant reminder that I want to return.

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My third tattoo is a silhouette of my cat, which I got when I was in tech school. I hadn’t seen her in almost 5 months- which was the longest we’d ever been apart. She got me through one of the worst summers of my life, and never ceases to make me smile. I know cats don’t live forever, but I needed her with me forever.

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My fourth tattoo is a Sylvia Plath quote that I got nearly spur of the moment. But it’s one of the dearest to my heart. “I desire the things that will destroy me in the end” over my ribs. Not only did it hurt like a bitch, a reminder that my pain could only be self inflicted- not caused by others. But a reminder that I can’t let people hurt me, and I can’t fall into the same traps I have over and over. Just sitting there and remembering its on me has kept me from doing some things I’m glad I didn’t.

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And lastly, my new tattoo:

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I love the symbolism I wove into it, and I absolutely love the work the artist did. The skeleton key itself has different symbolic meaning depending on who you’re asking or where you’re getting your information, but the basic meaning is unlocking something. Your future. love, heaven, success. Any of those are fair game. The infinity symbol, or course, means infinity. The eye also has several meanings, they’re the window to the soul, they represent watchers, visions, focusing in on a new direction. The two birds represent the two parts of my life – military, and civillian. Black birds are symbolic of potential, transformation, higher intelligence/thoughts/ideals, secrets, and mystery. There is of course the heart which symbolizes love. Then the two conjoined venus/female symbols represent strength, femininity, creativity, and inspiration.

So put it all together and you can get countless different meanings to this tattoo, all of which are accurate.

Tattoos can mean a lot of things to different people. They could be memorial, reminders, guides, symbolic, aesthetic, or just purely art. To me, they’re a way to mark yourself with your story, and they never allow you to stray from it. A reminder of who you are, who you were, and who you want to be.

Basic Training Weeks 4-8

First off- whoa. I meant to take a short break and I ended up getting through tech school before I ever finished my BMT posts. So sorry about that!

 

Picking up where I left off, 4th week has to be the quickest week of training in my opinion. The days were so packed full of events that the week was over before I knew it, and from this point on training was all gliding downhill from here.

 

4th Week:

 

  • CBRNE: A.K.A Gas Chamber! You get on a bus and get taken to the CBRNE site where you’ll spend the remainder of the day. First you’ll sit through safety information about the gas chamber, and going over your gas mask/equipment, fitting it properly, how to seal it. Pay attention to it- you want a good seal. You’ll get your MOPP gear and go through some exercises, learn how to put all your gear on, get briefed no the procedures of going through the chamber. I personally was one of the first people in the chamber- it’s WAY better. The gas gets released after the first people get inside so it isn’t as concentrated. You’ll get told what to do, but basically you do jumping jacks, walk around a bit, then you loosen your mask. When they tell you, you’ll pull it off completely and shout out your reporting statement before exiting the gas chamber, from there you’ll just walk around with your arms spread a few laps to get the gas off you, then you’ll take your gear off and clean out your mask. Tips: Hold your breath when you take off your mask to lessen the effects of the gas. After this you’ll have an MRE, and go through a few hours of classes giving you some information on chemicals, explosives, and information you’ll need for BEAST.
  • Blues/Name Tags: Super exciting until you actually get there. For hours you will be dressing/undressing, getting marked to get clothes altered, re fitting things on, waiting for them to get back to try them on, ect. It’s exhausting and boring, but nonetheless it’s a mile stone in BMT because not only do you finally have your blues- you have name tags! Which is a big deal when you’re 0-4th week.
  • Obstacle Course: Definitely a LOT of fun. They put a lot of emphasis on safety because so many people get hurt doing this, but honestly if you pay attention and use common sense- you’ll get through it just fine. There are several obstacles to go through, some of which may or may not be open (a lot were under construction). You’ll spend the day learning some safety, doing a walk through of the course, then actually going through it. The Weaver was the most physically challenging in my opinion- but I still got through it in decent timing. The rope swing was probably the hardest for my female flight, 98% of us fell into the water.
  • PT Evaluation: You’ll have a PT eval this week also. Seriously push out everything you have for this. There are some exceptions for this eval, like if you get seriously hurt at BEAST and can’t do your 7th week eval they MIGHT take your numbers from 4th week and let you graduate with them if you have passing numbers. Also where you’re at on 4th week is about where you’ll be for 7th week evaluations, because during BEAST you wont be doing much PT so when you hit 7th week you’ll be slower and weaker.
  • Weapons Evaluation: The training M16 weapon you were issued during 1st or 2nd week that you’ll have to have carried with you for Entry Control duty should be pretty familiar to you by now. You’ll have an evaluation where you have to take it apart and put it back together with less than two instructor assists in order to pass. It’s no longer timed but ideally you should be able to take it apart and put it back together in under 2 minutes – which isn’t hard.

5th Week:

 

This week goes by a little slower after such an eventful 4th week. You’ll have a LOT of classes, you’ll also take your flight photos and individual photos, and you’ll have some evaluations like locker inspections and control (marching). Overall it isn’t a bad week, nor a hard week.

 

6th Week:

BEAST WEEK! Camping out in tents, going through exercises, and learning to work together with other flights to earn beast excellence. It’s cold, it’s hot, it’s exhausting, and you just want to go back to your dorm- but when it’s over you realize how quickly it passed by and how easy it was in hindsight. Just push through it, it’s just one week of your life.

 

7th Week:

This is when everything starts hitting you- you’re about to graduate. Now it’s time to sink or swim. You have your EOC test, your final PC test, final inspections, Control, and a few other tests they have for you. You’re getting riled up for graduation, wearing blues, and walking around like you own the place. You also – if you’re lucky- will get to EC for baby flights coming in. (Which means you guard their dorms so their MTI’s can go home, or you help their MTI’s teach them basic things). DO IT. Don’t be the asshole that scares the new people and gives them bad information, don’t teach them shortcuts either- they need to learn for themselves. Think of your first week and what you wish you would’ve been taught, or how you wish you were treated. This is a great chance to start working on leadership and mentoring skills- which you will need. Don’t baby them, but help them out. Motivate them and give them tips to succeed.

 

8th Week:

And here it is. This week will CRAWL by, you’re dying to see your families and get out, you’ve passed your tests and all you’re doing is sitting around your dorm trying not to kill each other because at this point you’re so sick of the attitudes and everyone else. (Especially girls). But it finally rolls around. I’m not going to spoil the best part of BMT for anyone, but the last days you’re there are the best. Airman’s run goes quick but it’s exhilarating and amazing, the coin ceremony makes you feel like you’re 10 feet tall, and when you see your family or significant other again you will feel a thousand different emotions. You’ll spend the weekend with them and finally get to call yourself an Airman.

“Sir/Man Trainee Airman ____ reports are ordered…” Don’t say it. But you probably will. You’ll be so used to calling yourself a trainee you’ll tack it onto Airman in your reporting statement. But don’t worry, you’re an Airman now- call yourself one. The last night you’re in BMT is a long and sleepless one, you’re about to go off to tech school and you’re worried about being on your own because you realize BMT wasn’t so bad and it’s been a mental vacation.

 

Don’t worry. You made it- and you’ll keep making it.

 

You WILL get through Basic Training if you just do what you’re supposed to do and don’t stand out. Don’t get an attitude, don’t think you know more than anyone else, don’t think you’re better. Just get through it and put it behind you. BMT is just the first very very short step in your military career, or 4-6 years of your life. Get through it without a fight and it wont be so bad.

 

Air Force Basic Military Training

 

Wow- Basic Training is OVER. I honestly can’t say that I saw myself on the other side of the hurdle that’s known as BMT. I knew I was going to go, and I knew I wanted to be in the Air Force, but I can’t honestly say that I knew anything about going or how I would come out on the other side. But here I am- sitting at a table in Tech School, looking back at BMT in the rear view mirror. So how was Basic Training? What the hell did I do? I’m going to try my best to break it down for anyone and everyone that is curious. Think of it as an insiders survival guide. Because every Post BMT post/video/blog I’ve ever seen left SO much out. So this will be a multi-part blog, covering BMT up until Tech school, then I’ll continue on with my adventures from there.

 

0-1st Week. (Also known as hell week, sneaker week, and rainbow week).

How can I some up this week? Well, I honestly don’t even remember this week in detail. It became a blur so long ago sometimes I forget I even lived it. It’s hard and exhausting, and 0-2nd week are the worst weeks of BMT because it is nothing but in processing, appointments, and you adapting to your new schedule, environment, and stress. You get screamed at, you get told you’re doing everything wrong, you get rushed everywhere, you get belittled. You’re going to get your first issue of clothing, learn how to mark it all and put it away, you’re going to get a series of shots, urinalysis, and a bunch of other crazy appointments. Then you’re going to go to your first chapel briefing before Sunday and it’s going to be like a little patch of heaven in BMT.

I personally am not a religious person, but you better believe I was at church every Sunday and loved every second of it. There is every religion imaginable in BMT, and if you’re a crazy religion that doesn’t have a service, they will work to help you get your service. I went to the Contemporary service which was a lot of singing. It kept you awake and it kept you motivated, plus the Chaplain was awesome, and the praise band was really good.

Sometime in this time frame you’ll get your initial PT test. DO YOUR BEST. Give yourself a base line that you need to improve off of. And do not give up. Just don’t. There was a girl from my flight who gave up, she just couldn’t complete it- she said. They offered her another chance to take the test and she didn’t take it. So she got sent to med hold for out processing- Well as I was in my 8th week she was in her 3rd week- because after weeks and weeks of being in med hold UNABLE to go home yet, she decided to give it another try. Moral of this story? It is MUCH easier to get through basic by graduating than it is to just give up and go home. They will keep you for weeks, even months. You don’t just get to quit and go home right away. So no matter how hard it is, keep going, and just get through it.

 

Most important lessons I took away from 0-1st week:

  • Move with a sense of urgency. (You will hear this a thousand times. They mean it. If you think you’re moving fast, move faster)

  • You’re wrong. (Even if you’re right, you’re wrong)

  • They will give you an impossible task and an impossible time frame- Do it anyway. (The purpose of this is to actually follow orders and do your best. Show that you’re trying. Show you’re going to work your hardest, even if it’s impossible. If you go in telling yourself the task is impossible I guarantee they will make you do it 50 times over)

  • It gets better. No really, it does. Get through your second week and it starts getting better. You get into a routine, you get used to the stress, you start making friends, you start getting your life together.

  • Don’t give up. You’re capable of more than you think.

 

Things the old blogs don’t tell you:

  • Because it’s more of a newer thing do to critiques and “suggestions” the new BMT has this torture device called a Web Belt. I promise you, you will hate it. It will be around your waist from the moment you get up to the moment you go to sleep (aside PT). On it you have a pouch, and your canteen. Trust me, you will hate it. A lot. Also something not new, but also torturous is your IRS Parka. Now because I went in Jan-March, it was chilly, but not ALL the time. However they would make us wear this parka even when it wasn’t cold. Even when we were inside. We’d have to make our beds with these parka, do pushups with these parkas, run around with these parkas. You will be pouring sweat- and hating life. But it doesn’t last forever- remember that.

  • Get used to being naked in front of people. You’ll be showering with anywhere between 30-60 people. Changing in front of them. Peeing in front of them. Going to medical appointments. Just get used to it.

 

2nd – 3rd Weeks

This is when it starts picking up and you start realizing what BMT is about. You start going to class, you start doing PT regularly, you start getting put on your face. Those are the main things happening during these weeks (aside more appointments.) But you also begin to get some more freedom, you’ll be left alone for a few hours in the day room. You wont be yelled at as much (if you’re doing the right thing) overall you’ll start realizing that maybe you can do this. So to touch on the biggest parts of these weeks:

  • PT: You get your second PT test in the 2nd week, you will see BIG improvements if you motivate yourself. As far as regular PT, it alternates between muscle days and running. Running is hard if you’re not used to it so my advice is START RUNNING. No really, get some running shoes on and go run. Any bit you run will help you. You will run for 31 minutes nonstop. NONSTOP. The first 15 minutes you run in groups based off your initial run times, the pace is 2:15 a lap, and it’s nonstop. The next 10 minutes is a self paced run, but you cannot stop. The last 6 minutes alternate 30second sprinting/30 seconds walking. Muscle days get progressively harder through the weeks but they’re not impossible. I don’t consider myself a very strong person or very “fit” and I was able to do them. Situps, pushups, squat thrusts, partial squats, leg lifts, cross-knee crutches, and pyramid pushups. That’s it.

  • MTI Tools: A.K.A getting put on your face. You start off doing one set until you get to your second week, where it turns into 2 consecutive sets. Basically it’s pushups, flutter kicks, and squat thrusts. You can do these for any reason at any given time.

 

0-3rd week is nothing but getting adjusted and getting into the right mindset. My best advice to this is to work hard, don’t stress out. It’s only 8 ½ weeks of your life and it starts passing so much faster after this. So don’t give up and the most important thing: WORK TOGETHER. Some people in your flight will be terrible, the wont care, they wont want to work as a team. You’ll probably want them out of your flight. Just be an adult, be mature, and put your differences aside. Fighting, arguing, hating each other- it wastes your time, it divides your flight, and it really negatively affects your experience in BMT. As you start going further in your weeks of training, things like Warrior Flight, Honor Flight- they’ll start to matter to you. And you’ll realize that you need to work together in order to get those.

 

I’ll stop here for now and pick up again in the 4th week. Any questions/comments about anything- feel free to ask and I’ll answer as best as I can.