Tuesday, March 31, 2009

"Three meals a day, for which you didn't pay..."

My favorite holiday movie has always been Irving Berlin's White Christmas. There is a musical number at the end of the movie titled, "Gee, I Wish I Was Back In The Army." It is a cute little number (as you can see below) that talks about all the GREAT things the Army has to offer. I very often find myself singing the line, "... three meals a day for which you didn't pay ...," as I stand in line for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. People are always talking about our three square a day, and how great it is. I wish that was the case here.

When we first arrived I didn't think the meals were too bad. But after a week or two you could see a pattern developing. On the hot foods line every day they serve mac and cheese, instant mashed potatoes with gravy, corn bread, corn dogs, grilled cheese, some kind of spaghetti and broccoli mixture, corn (on the cob or off, creamed, or in succotash), and occasionally some other overcooked mushy vegetable. Some of you may be thinking that it doesn't sound so bad, but you are wrong :) . The mac and cheese is neon yellow, and tastes nothing like cheese, the grilled cheese is greasy and soggy, and there is a limit to the amount of instant potatoes a person can stomach. At least they never run out of brown lettuce or frozen tomatoes on the salad bar. As for the protein portion of the meal I cannot tell you how many times I have said, "What is That?"

The soldiers here, myself included, consider themselves lucky when they get to have chicken cordon bleu, a burger, chicken patties, and on rare occasions even lasagna. I have only seen the lasagna twice in these two months. Most of us are getting pretty good at recognizing the items on the food line, but occasionally there are a couple of items that stump us all. Each meal is like a guessing game, and always a gamble in the end (if you know what I'm saying). Some of the soldiers deserve awards for the items they eat. Most of us wouldn't even eat it if we were contestants on Fear Factor. It has become amusing to watch the confused faces of the soldiers that are before me in line. It is even better when they cannot hide their looks of disgust.

At least once, sometimes twice, a week I have peanut butter and jelly for lunch or dinner.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Kittens, Inspired by Soldiers

When we first arrived one of my room mates showed me a funny video on You Tube. It was about kittens, inspired by kittens. For a couple of weeks we walked around saying, "We are eating pepper and chips," and "I'm her mom. No she's not!" And sometimes, "Bow-wow, chick-a-bow-wow." Then I found the poster that is in the above picture. It was duct taped to the door of a room, a room full of male soldiers. Above each picture of a kitten was a soldiers name. I took the photo and sent it to my room mate in a text titled Kittens Inspired By Soldiers.

To many outsiders it is sometimes hard to understand a soldier's sense of humor. Imagine being cut off from everything in your normal day-to-day life, and then imagine trying to have a good time (without any alcohol). We find very interesting ways to keep ourselves entertained. Ideas range from strange posters, to gluing a soldiers hand to his head gear (his hat), putting bubble wrap on the floor in front of a soldier's bed at night, so when they come into the room to go to sleep in sounds like a mini explosion under their feet, and even opening a soldier's full Camelbak (hydration bladder carried on your back like a back pack) before rollover training, so that water dumps out over everyone in the Humvee. These are the small things that keep us going.

I am beginning to collect some pictures of the different ways we make each other laugh. When I feel that the collection is more complete I will post the photos for you to see.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Calm After the Storm

One afternoon it began to rain right when I was about to walk from our building over to the chow hall, which is about 300 feet away. It was pouring and didn't look like it would let up any time soon. So after a minute or two I decided I would make a run for it. As I opened the door and stepped out I noticed the dime sized hail that was now coming down. But it was too late, I had already committed myself to the run. So I took off. By the time I made it to the chow hall I was drenched from head to toe and my hands stung from the hail coming down. It was a sight to see. By the time I was done with dinner the rain and hail stopped and the sun was out again.

Upon exiting the building we saw a huge bright rainbow. Soon one rainbow turned into two. You could see the entire color spectrum. It was beautiful. And since Oklahoma is mostly flat you could see the beginning and end of both rainbows. We stayed outside for about fifteen minutes just staring at it. Soon our small crowd became larger. People were paralyzed by the sight of it. The word spread, and people started coming out of the barracks. To see a bunch of tough soldiers suddenly soften at the sight of a rainbow was unique. Almost all were taking pictures to text to friends and family. It was the nicest thing I have seen since arriving here. The picture above is one that I took with my phone, so it does not do it justice. To see the huge double arc in the sky was humbling.

Before I left home my grandmother told me that each day I should try to find something beautiful. On that day, unlike most, it was not a challenge.

My Doppelganger

Some of you may be wondering why my blog is called The Alaskan Experience and why my URL is alaskanicequeen.blogspot.com. This is the story:

It all began in high school. I was never like the other girls, and it didn't go unnoticed. It started when my high school boyfriend said I was cold, and he decided to nickname me Alaska. I thought it was clever and I didn't mind. Soon it was a joke tossed about by us and a few friends. After high school was over, and the boyfriend gone, I did not hear the name for a long time.

Recently some of the soldiers in my company began joking about my cold disposition, so I told them the story. Big mistake! Before I knew it they were rattling off new names for me and laughing until they couldn't speak. The one that has stuck is The Ice Queen. It is very amusing. Now when I get irritated and short with someone they like to make sound effects simulating a cold blizzard whipping through the room. They wrap their arms around their bodies, shiver, and rub their hands together to try and warm them up. At least once a day I hear the phase, "Do you feel that? It just got really cold in here." Or, "I think the temperature in this room just dropped fifty degrees."

The picture I have posted is of the name plate that sits on my desk in the Supply Office. It took a considerable amount of time to make, and went through many revisions. First it said, "You don't know what cold IS, bitch!" Then it said, " aka: The Ice Queen aka: Alaska." And finally they have decided they like, "Kneel before the frozen throne," the best. I wouldn't be surprised if it went through another change, there are always new catch phrases flying. Today we woke to find that we got a dusting of snow overnight. I am sure there are a few people that hold me responsible for that. Ha, ha!

That's the story. The End.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Reenlistment Ceremony

Here are photos and video of my reenlistment ceremony. We went out to Geronimo's grave. It was a little strange. The person issuing the oath of enlistment is my company commander. I also performed the ceremony with the battalion commander. If I can get hold of those pictures I will post them as well. Enjoy!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

A Little Piece of Quiet

Yesterday afternoon I went for a short hike, joined by another soldier from my company. Just to the north of our barracks are the Medicine Bluffs, and on the northern side of the bluffs is a small river. These bluffs (or hills) appear to be man made when you are to the south. But as you travel around the eastern edge of the small range you soon realise they rose from the earth hundreds of years ago.

The shear cliffs covered
in bright mosses, with trees clinging to exposed rock, are a strange sight to see in Oklahoma. The semi-stagnant, dwarfed river creeps along the base of the cliffs creating a very serene environment. With the exception of an occasional Air Force jet flying overhead, it is the quietest place I have found on post to date. It was refreshing to get away from everyone else and pretend, for one fleeting moment, to be free. If I hadn't been obligated to make it back by sundown I would have stayed for at least another hour. I am looking forward to a day when I can pack a lunch, a blanket, and a good book, and waste away a few hours.
I miss the mountains, hills, winding roads, and diverse vegetation of PA. Go outside today, and open your eyes.