Run, run, run

 

Alright, I hate running. But being in the military- it’s kind of essential. Especially since the way the military is now, you fail a PT test and you’re probably getting discharged. So it’s pretty imperative to stay in shape, and be able to run- since 50% of your PT score is your run. 

In Basic Training I got a 90% on my PT test by a hair. I think if I had run a few seconds slower it would’ve dropped my score. So lucky me, that meant I only had to PT test once a year, so my next one isn’t until the end of March. 

Since there’s a giant ass gym at my disposal, I decided it would probably be smart to use it- because I definitely don’t want to be a PT fail, but I also want to get back in shape. Trust me, Tech School will kill your weight and PT scores. I promise. 

So last night while sitting in the community room someone came up to me and recognized me as “that girl that’s always in the gym” hah. But yes, we happened to run into each other at the gym almost every day. Their compliment? I always looked like I was working my ass off. Ok. Sometimes I cut my run a little short, and sometimes I’m too lazy to do that extra rep. But that got me thinking, other people are noticing- they think I’m giving 100%. So why aren’t I?

Oh motivation, how rare you are. 

So this morning, despite being a Saturday, I woke up got breakfast, got dressed, and headed to the gym. While sitting in the parking lot doing my mental prep of – you’re already here so just go work out you lazy ass – I made a workout playlist on my phone. Holy shit. I mean, I always listen to music when I work out, but this playlist was pretty much perfect. 

I ran two miles, maxed out on situps, then lifted for around 20 minutes. And I ws pumped the whole time. Music really is the key to motivation.

So in honor of my new found go-to playlist, I’ll post the songs that kept me running and giving it my all.

1. Alone Together- Fall Out Boy

2. Bugatti – Ace Hoods

3. Hello – Karmin

4. I Need Your Love – Calvin Harris Ft. Ellie Goulding

5. Radioactive – Imagine Dragons

6. Rat  a Tat – Fall Out Boy

7. Ritual – Ellie Goulding

8. Runnin’ – Adam Lambert

9. Sexy Back – Justin Timberlake

10. Low – Flo Rida

11. Sugar – Kerli

12. Supermassive Black Hole – Muse

13. Sweet Nothing – Calvin Harris ft. Florence Welch

14. Fuck You Betta – Neon Hitch

15. I’m Gonna Getcha Good – Shania Twain

 

There we go. But if anyone has any other songs they jam out to while they’re working out- post them and let me know!

Climb to Mt. Lemmon

 

So today, I climbed up a mountain. No really, I did. Not the entire 9000ft, obviously, but we climbed up some really awesome places when we stopped to get out. So here’s the recap of the Mt. Lemmon adventure.

And if you haven’t been and are in Tucson- get out there. Now. SO worth it.

So this morning Matthews, Lind, and I set off for Mt. Lemmon around 9am, blasting some music and swapping some stories. It was about a 30 minutes drive to the base of the mountain, I turned onto the Mt. Lemmon highway and we set off on our adventure to the top.

Starting temp: 82 Degrees. Elevation: 3000ft

We started driving through the crazy winding curves, and I was pretty sure I would end up driving off a cliff. I have never driven on a mountain before, and I was trying to look at the scenery and the road at the same time. I failed, so I just focused on the road around the curves.

Our first stop was maybe 10 minutes into the drive, we HAD to get out because we were already blown away by the scenery. It was still desert and cactus, but it was freaking amazing. So here was the first stop:

ImageImageImageImage And onwards we went. We drove for a bit more, watching as the temp kept dropping the higher we drove. We got out again around 5000ft, pulling into a little area with a lot of parking. There was a ledge you could look out and be tourist-y, but we went the scenic route in the opposite direction. We climbed up some rocks and stood on a ledge

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Lind on the ledge

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Checking out the scenery

We kept climbing, higher and higher. Every direction we looked, we saw something cool we wanted to check out- until we ended up way high in the air, far from where we’d parked, with a spectacular view.

ImageBut we had way more to go. So we kept going until we pulled off in Palasades, which had a little store in it. We walked in and looked around, and I found the cutest stuffed raccoon- and anyone that knows me knows that I squealed and hugged it. $8? Yeah. Yeah I’m gonna buy that shit. So the lady at the counter started talking to us and asked if we were military. Why yes. Yes we are. Then we learned that military get free annual passes to any federal park, for free. No cover charges, nothing. Grand Canyon? Free. WHAT. So she gave us passes and told us about some stuff further up the mountain- then off we went.

A while further we stopped in Summer Haven at this restaurant called The Saw Mill. It was like 10:40 and we were starving already. Their food is fantastic, they have an outside deck which we sat in and talked about how much we’d kill to live here. It was in the 70’s now, with an awesome breeze. The air was crisp, the food was awesome, and the nice cars driving by were turning heads.

In a food coma, we trudged back to the car and continued on. We reached 8000ft and saw a mini waterfall coming down the side of some rocks. LETS GO. So we pulled off to the little parking area and after a failed attempt at parallel parking, Lind took over and got us parked.

We set off following this little stream that was running down the rocks. We crossed it, and I slipped and got my feet soaking. The water was freezing, but it was awesome.

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We found a makeshift hut

 

ImageI found some crazy crystallized rocks and pocketed them. Then we found a pretty sweet ledge with breath-taking scenery. Though we were already out of breath from the climb.

ImageWe found a cave. A freaking cave. Yeah, we sat in that shit.

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Cavemen!

 

We noticed some water trickling down the side of the walk and decided we were determined to find it’s source. This is when we became badass rock climbers and worked together to get to the top of this giant rock. I got a few cuts and scrapes, but it was badass when we got to the top.

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Made it!

 

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fWe’d been going for awhile so we decided it was time to head back towards the car and keep climbing. On the way down I found a used condom (ew) but decided that is going on a bucketlist. Sex at 8000ft? WHY THE FUCK NOT.

We got back to the car and backtracked a bit, stopped at the general store, stopped to use the bathrooms, then went to the road that led to Ski Valley- apparently in the winter you get to ski like a mother fucker down the mountain.

We passed some signs that cautioned for bears- I wish! Sadly they did not make an appearance on our trip, but the thought that they were around was pretty cool.

At last we got to the very top at the mountain- you could drive no further. We parked and set off to get to the top and to the edge. We were gonna find this shit.

As we walked we were blown away, looking through the trees all you saw was white. We were in the clouds.

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Oh, hi cloud

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White stuff? A cloud

We trekked on, going through a path, then veering off it and climbing through ferns, fallen logs, and some rocks. At last it was in sight. We fucking made it to the top of Mt. Lemmon. Not just the top. The edge- looking out at the world. Or rather, the clouds.

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9000ft baby

ImageEnding temp: 62 degrees. Elevation: 9000ft.

After sitting to take in the view, and enjoying our victory, we made our way back to the car. The drive down was SO much fun, I barely hit the gas, we were flying around the curves just from the descent of the mountain. About every mile the temperature jumped a degree and we realized it was going to be hot as hell when we got back down to Tucson.

We wound down the mountain, and as we reached a curve we went from crisp mountain air, pine trees, and greenery- to desert. In an instance. and also 73 degrees.

When we got back down to the desert floor is was 94 degrees and cactus galore- I already miss the mountain top.

All in all it was an amazing experience, and I can now say I climbed up to the top of a mountain. I will definitely be going back, and anyone that’s thinking about going- go. Just start driving.

 

When it rains it pours…

…So I just put on my rain boots and dance in the rain until it stops.

Or at least, that’s what I like to think.

Today threw me a few curve balls, and taught me some lessons.

Yesterday I hadn’t paid attention to my schedule and arrived to the briefing 3 minutes late-when I THOUGHT I was getting there early. (Because as any Airman knows, 15 minutes early is on time). Thankfully I wasn’t the only one to make that mistake, but we were of course held accountable to our fuck up and asked to stay after to get talked to. We were on a one and done deal, late again and they’d talk to our supervisors.

So this morning I set my alarm 10 minutes earlier so I’d be able to accommodate running a little behind and still be on time. So glad I did.

I get my hair in a bun, get my uniform on, grab my bag and head out the door with a growling stomach- because I hadn’t been allowed to eat since 7:30 last night due to labwork I needed to get done- but I’d had a belly dancing class. So really I hadn’t eaten since 5pm and I was HUNGRY.

I’m walking towards my car and hit the clicker- no beep. Hmm, strange. I get closer and hit it again. Still no beep. Okay not good. I get to my car and manually unlock it- thinking maybe my key remote had died. I go to start my car. Nothing. I try again. Still nothing. Okay panic time- I had an appointment in 25 minutes, it would take at least 5 minutes to get there, walking wasn’t an option, and if I was late I’d be in deep shit. I get out of my car and think frantically- Okay obviously I wasn’t about to fix my car just then, my priority was getting to the clinic and getting to my tests. And not crying because I was tired and hungry and extremely overwhelmed.

Then I remember I’m not a civilian anymore. I’m not by myself, I’m not screwed, I’m not ‘lucky’ if someone stops to help me. So I whip out my phone and call a fellow FTAC Airman that I’d eaten lunch with the first day, and met at the gym to learn some pointers 2 days before. I call him, and woke the poor guy up- then tell him my car wont start and I have an appointment in, now, 20 minutes. He was on it. I called my sister, whom had helped me buy the car, and told her what was up. She offered me some suggestions to get the car going but to no avail. Alas, it would have to wait until later.

Said fellow Airman pulled up within a few minutes, fully dressed in uniform and ready to go. I got to my appointment in time and he went in with me and just waited anyway- even though his appointment wasn’t for another hour after mine.

I’ll save the play by play of the appointment, and fast forward to what really sealed the deal for me. I’d got a ride back with another guy to my dorm and the guy who’d helped me in the morning texted me seeing if I needed a ride back since he’d just gotten out of his appointment. Well no, but I offered to buy us brunch (since we hadn’t eaten since last night) if he’d be willing to try jumpstarting my car, but first take me to go buy jumper cables (something I regret not having already purchased). So we went to Denny’s, along with another guy from my FTAC class, then got some jumper cables and headed back to base.

I, knowing nothing about cars, stood buy and let the guys do their thing. They tried jumping my car to no avail. So guy #1 suggests we go to the auto hobby shop on base and see if they could help. He drives us there. Bring us the battery- they said. WHAT. I don’t know how to remove a fucking battery. Okay, I didn’t even know which black part the battery was in my car. Guy #2 happens to know how to remove and re-install them. Damn my day is being saved.

Long story short? We go back to my dorm and remove the battery, we bring the battery back to the auto shop. Come back in an hour they said. We go to guy #1’s dorm and get something to drink and play xbox for a bit, then go back to the auto hobby shop, pick up the battery and go back to my dorm. Guy #2 reinstalls my battery and the moment of truth came. My car started and all was well in the world again.

I couldn’t have been more grateful for being in the Air Force and having such awesome wingmen. I’d known them a few days, and already they had dedicated their entire afternoon helping me out and fixing my car for me- just for the sake of helping me. Even with the best of friends, I wouldn’t find this level of helpfulness anywhere else but right here where I’m at. In this group of people that would willingly lay down their lives for their country, their families, and each other. And I would do the same.

Motto for this post? Just help someone out. Even if you’re getting nothing in return materially, you are getting everything in return in reality. And I assure you, whoever you help will be eternally grateful.

Status of crisis: defeated

Status of my car: Getting checked out Saturday

Status of my day: Long, tiring, taxing, and rewarding.

 

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

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?

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.

 

Two Weeks of Goodbyes

Two Weeks.

That is exactly how long I have left until I leave this chapter of my life behind and start my new journey as an American Airman.

The thought of this is still unreal to me, and I’m waiting for it to sink in completely. I walk into my very empty room and look around at the few decorations and photographs I’ve left up
and think to myself “this isn’t my room anymore.” Of course, in ways it will always be -my- room, but for all intensive purposes, it no longer is. I wont be coming home to this room, I wont be covering the wall in more photographs or posters. I wont curl up in my bed after a long day and sleep. I wont have these comforting walls to run to when I need to escape the overwhelming reality that might be facing me. My safe haven, my room, my belongings- I have to part with.

As I go through my things and wonder what I should keep for my future self and what I should part with, little voices inside tell me that there is a good chance I’ll never use these things again. Not for several years. Sometimes, this is a depressing thought. I’m sentimental, I want all of my pictures, letters,  knick-knacks, and presents with me all the time. If I miss someone I want to be able to touch some sort of physical reminder of our relationship, friendship, or a memory we shared. It keeps me connected with people, it keeps them near to me even if they are thousands of miles away.

But in other ways, it’s freeing. I have a new start, a way to start from scratch. Build my own life, and then when I’m settled, bring these pieces from my past back in. I waiver back and forth between sadness and excitement at my future constantly.

Then I stop to think- I’m not the only one affected by this. I’m saying goodbye to all of these people that I hold so dearly- but at the same time, I’m forcing them to say goodbye to me. I worked into their lives, and then suddenly I’m leaving for an unknown amount of time. Yes, it’s life. But it’s also painful.

Which is why for the next two weeks, I’m going to dedicate my blogging to letters to individual people. Thanking them, reminiscing of our memories, and letting them know why they are so special to me. I want everyone to know what they mean to me, and what they’ve taught me.

With that said- I’ll begin today with my first letter letter.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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My mom, dad, sister, and me at my dads graduation.

Dear Mom and Dad,

  I know I need to start this letter with a thank you. No matter how many fights we’ve gotten in, how many times we’ve butt heads, disagreed, and so on- I’m still grateful for both of you. For a lot of reasons. Even if I don’t act like it, I am. the older I’ve gotten the more I recognized the things you did for me, the things you tried to do for me, and the intentions behind your actions. Even if you didn’t know how to respond to things I did or said, and even if I didn’t turn out to be the daughter you envisioned I would- I know you both still tried, and a lot of what you did- you did for me.

My teenage bitterness and anger turned into appreciation and gratitude when I saw the things you did for me, and the way you’ve raised me. I’m forever grateful that I was raised with the manners, respect, and compassion that I have. It has gotten me far in life, and I know it will continue to do so. You taught me to work hard and always do my best at everything, you taught me to be kind to people even if they weren’t kind to me. You taught me how to be respectful and grateful. You taught me so much that I didn’t realize- until I realized that not everyone behaves the way I do. My attitude in the outside world is a reflection of how I was raised. And while their may have been faults in my childhood, they only served to shape me. And I thank you for that, because I know I could have been so much worse off.

I know there are things that I do and paths that I’ve chosen that you don’t necessarily agree with, and some that possibly even disappoint you. But I hope that throughout my life I still manage to do things that please you and make you proud of me, as well- and I hope that down the line when I’m living my dreams and doing what I love, you’ll be able to smile and proudly say that I’m your daughter.

Thank you for everything you’ve done for me, and everything you’ve given to me. And thank you for taking care of my beloved babies Quinn, Halo, and Azera- while I’m away on my trips, and off to the Air Force.

Love,

   Your Nena, Iiae.

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My dad and I, when I was around 1yr.

My mom and I this year, when I took her to see Pat Benatar, Journey, and Loverboy

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My dad and I at the Emilie Autumn concert this year

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My mom and I at my Great Grandmothers house