I thought so much of my journey would be settled by now. I thought the whole officer vs enlisted would be my main contemplation. After a lot of work and a sprained ankle that held me back from maximizing my PFT score, I was ultimately not selected for the officer program.

There was so much drama. My original recruiter kicked out of the marines corps because he was accused of raping a possible poolee. I didn’t want anything to do with the marines corps for a little bit after that and went low radar for a little bit. But then I realized that I have to do this for myself. I kept seeing signs everywhere. For some unknown reason, I’m meant to be a marine. A female marine.

Now my dilema is going reserves or active duty. I thought originally that my scholarships couldn’t be extended, so that I HAD  to do reserves. But then I found out that I can do active duty and not have my scholarships reverted to loans.

I’m honestly really scared. Not scared of the marines corps itself, but the thought of moving away without mending my broken relationships with family. I’ve missed so much of my brother growing up….. I’ve pushed my family away all the years I’ve been away at college.

There are so many raw emotions floating around in my head. I’m coming towards the end of my college career. I’m haunted by the amount of people that have both entered and so easily left my life. I’m haunted by all my failures even though I’ve been so incredibly successful in comparison to most college grads.

My gut feeling is YES. I want to do this. I want to be an active duty marine for 4 years, possibly more. But then I fucking love teaching. I know I can do that afterwards. But I’ve already spent 5 years preparing for this job. How could I put off 4 more years?

 

Finding My Community At School

Posted: September 15, 2012 in Uncategorized

I decided to go officer. Well, at least apply and see if I get it. If not, they’ll be able to get me enlisted. Then I’ll be leaving for N Carolina June 3rd. Otherwise, if everthing goes as planned, I’ll be leaving in late June for OCS.

This past Thursday, I worked out with officer candidates and a couple of those who have already graduated via the PLC program. It was comforting to have those who understand what I’m trying to do. I called Captain and couldn’t get ahold of him because he was at a career fair, but he texted back out of extreme curiosity to hear my decision.

The next step is to do a PFT.

I don’t want my recruiter to think that I ditched him. Or I don’t want him to treat me differently bc I’m not enlisting. I have a feeling this will happen. And it settles in reality that he is still a recruiter in the end. I feel like I’m losing someone important in my life. But maybe, he was never really that important. Maybe he just wanted me to enlist and gave that impression that he cares. I don’t know.

In any case, I’ve been really sad about this. Because I know what I would benefit more from. But I don’t think he understands. I’m not supposed to have those kinds of people in my life right? It’s not that easy to accept.

I’m leaving in June, and I’m graduating in May. I’ve already started to recede back into my own bubble. Friendships don’t feel the same any more. In fact, I feel like I’ve started to lose friends. I think it’s a coping mechanisms. The people that I connect to are now more those who understand my journey rather than my usual.

But in the end, I still feel alone. There are so many hats: future marine, student teacher, still a student, friend, sister, daughter, leader, etc… I feel so overwhelmed.

I’m looking for someone to hold on to and it’s not easy.

Enlist? Officer? What to do?

Posted: September 11, 2012 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , ,

I still don’t know what I want to do. Enlist? Go officer? It’s not that I have to choose one or the other per se…. It’s that it depends on what I want to start my military at. I want to eventually go to officer. But enlisting is something I feel that I have to do to understand my fellow marine. Yes, it’s not necessary, but I myself would have more respect for those who “mustang” it, rather than going straight to a leadership position. It’s been my motto in life.

I met with Captain right after my clinical today. His presence just screamed “marine” as he walked into the Einstein’s in my the student union building at school. Firmly shaking my hand, Captain and I started our chit chat then moved on to the real deal.

Here’s my story. When I first started talking about joining the Marine Corps, I was just smitten with the idea of becoming part of that few. I wanted that discipline, that mold. I wanted to learn more about team work, to grow in a certain way I only could at boot camp. Then I was told that I had to talk to the OSO simply because I was in college. As I found out about it, I realized that was what I wanted—that leadership training. I strongly considered going officer right away.

But that dreams was cut short. I will not say everything to protect my Sgt. But I made mistakes in telling them some of my history. It was taken the wrong way, and the corpsman working for our region said that the problem would keep me from being a candidate.

There is just a lot of things you just don’t say for your history. There are no real records of my problem. So that in the end is what helped me.

But when that original OSO said no to me, I was basically shut down. He didn’t get back to me or anything. I felt like they wouldn’t fight for me. I know that the OSO was just doing his job, but I felt like I was wasting his time. My Sgt though…. He’s like a father figure to me.

He is has a huge heart and is a softie. He’ll listen to me and will give me real feedback.  He said he’d fight for a way to get me in, and I realized the true benefits of enlisting first. So I went through with the paper work to go to MEPS and enlist.

The Captain I talked to today was on vacation when the other OSO person talked to me. He found out about me when I was down at MEPS and then contacted me when I got back.

Our conversation lasted three hours today. I’m pretty exhausted so I won’t go into detail, but I found out more about the officer program. And he basically apologized for the other OSO not digging further into my situation to see if there are real medical issues or not.

I went right away to the recruiting office and just sat there. I wish I knew what the right path is. At this point, I’m still leaning towards enlisting. I will graduate when I’m 23. By the time all that enlisting training is done, I’ll be 24. I’ll teach for 5 years…. And in between year 4 and 5 I’ll apply for OCS. The earliest I can consider doing that is when I’m 29. But I figure it’ll be ok. I want to do active duty then, and afterwards return to teaching for the rest of my life. But I want to serve in the military. I will so far at least serve when I am 24 to 33. After active duty as an officer, I would consider keep going. But since my calling is in teaching, I want to go fully into that for the rest of my career. But I would keep renewing my contract with the Marine Corps.

It kinda sounds like I’ve answered my own question. Laid out, it doesn’t seem that bad. I won’t be too old… and distance running will only get easier for me as I get older. I want to know what it is like to be an enlisted Marine. Let them fuck with my head. I’ll show them I’m stronger.

Too many letters?

Posted: September 9, 2012 in Uncategorized

I’m beginning to wonder if I sent too many. Or if I said too much. Or I said something wrong.

As usual, relationships are complicated. I’m not officially with him, but Greg and I started seeing each other in April. It was supposed to be a “no strings attached” deal. It was supposed to be simple.

But it’s not.

I know that we tried to keep each other at bay, to do our best to keep the other from getting attached. But for someone like him…. someone who has seemingly an unbreakable exterior and a short “people I don’t hate list”….. a mutual attachment developed.

I mean, I didn’t even cuddle with the guy. I tried being cold, I tried being a bitch. I vowed that I could never be with a Marine. After 3 and a half months of being distant, all those walls just came tumbling down. And then with just a couple weeks left, he couldn’t hide it anymore. I couldn’t hide it anymore. Then he left for boot.

Greg is one of the boys I met through my former coworker. I had just gotten out of a relationship and wanted something simple. Haha.

But anyways, I started writing to him…. and he wrote back right away. I thought that he could either gladly get my letters or shut down. I remember opening the mailbox and seeing his scrawled boyish handwriting. The shakes started and I felt myself blushing and getting hot. I didn’t know what to expect, and I’m glad it was like that. Because it was basically one long sentence that included 3 “i’m so happy to hear from you” and a “it’s hot” and some “write back asap”s. Nothing was directly addressed with what I wrote.

Then I got another letter two days later, which isn’t long enough for me to write back and for him to respond. He must have reread my letter and had to tell me something. “I don’t know if that’s still going on but I guess it doesn’t matter because we weren’t dating I guess. But whatever =( Please write back asap. I like hearing from you”.

Greg was referring to the fact that we saw other people while seeing each other. Well duh!!! We were friends with benefits. But honestly, he’s the last person I’ve been with. I only want to be with him and that’s a lot coming from me. I’m flighty. I can’t do commitments. But since Greg left I haven’t even looked at a guy. If someone hits on me, I’m totally oblivious. This hasn’t happened to me since my first boyfriend.

But now I’ve sent him 6 or 7 letters and Sgt has heard from him, but not me. I realize that he’s in boot camp. That he doesn’t have time to write a lot. But it still makes me wonder if I wrote anything that would turn him off. But if he responded to my first letter, that was supposed to have been a way to measure his responsiveness.

It just sucks when I havne’t heard from him in so long…. going to the mailbox and turning away dissapointed.

Some people ask…. can you do the distance? And honestly, I can. I’m so fucking busy I can’t think most of the time. Also, boot is the only time when he will have just snail mail as a source of communication. He’ll be able to talk at least once in a while when he’s gone.

Sgt thinks he’s not worth waiting for. But both Sgts agree he likes me a lot. He even told them he was going to start dating me.. and they of course discouraged it because he was leaving! They joke around that if he gets stationed in Japan, he’s going to die of STDs. He likes those kinds of ladies. But either way…. I hope to hear from him. That he’s just honest when I do. Nothing would hurt more if he told me to wait just so he could get into my pants when he’s back. This is 100% possible. I just hope that the side he’s shown me has exposed a different Greg than what everybody else sees.

I understand both ways. But… I just want to hear from him. Even if it’s “hi” on a sheet of paper… even if he fucking…. sticks a leaf in an envelope. I don’t care.

My Experience at MEPS Part I

Posted: September 3, 2012 in Uncategorized
Tags: , ,

After my meetings last Wednesday night, I drove over to the recruiting office at 8:30. We didn’t end up leaving til around 9:30 because some of the boys wanted to get Burger King. They better thank me for buying them!!! It was nice to have three boys go with me…. so that I wasn’t just with my recruiter. I don’t even think that’s allowed anyways…. they had me sit in front so that Sgt could see me the whole time. The boys would honestly never hurt me, but it’s protocol. The whole drive was not that exciting until I started seeing some landmarks of the city that our MEPS is housed in. Besides that, I was just excited to see signs for where my best friend lives, which is just 40 min outside of the city.

Now, I’m a big girl. But they as I checked into the hotel and got my card number, I turned around and realized that I’d be the only one moving forward from that point. Some flash backs popped into my head.

Mom leaving me at day care for the first time.
Mom leaving my sister and me alone at night because she had to leave for work.
First day as the new kid.
My parents leaving me in my college dorm room for the first time.

It wasn’t like they were abandoning me at any of these situations, but it was the same raw nervous sensation in my stomach. I wanted to know what was ahead. but the only thing I could do was to find out for myself.

I quietly entered my hotel room to not wake my sleeping roommate, realized that I forgot toothpaste… decided fuck it, and collapsed into bed.

It was 4:45 AM when the wake up call rang. It wasn’t just some wake up call. It was a shrieking, peircing, shreaking, shrill noise that startled me awake. The empty stomach pit sensation was still there.

While my roommate hustled out of there real quick, I took a few minutes to gather myself and put on some nicer clothes. I ate alone in the dining hall…. well more poking at the flurescent looking eggs. No thank you.

My chatty nature came in handy because I had said hi to a girl on the elevator. At first she was really reserved and didn’t say much. But after breakfast, she found me and we started talking. Our conversation eased my anxiety as I learned about her pregnancy at the age of 14 and how she’s turned her life around for the better. And through that, we didn’t get on the right bus. Ooops!

We got on the bus and rode about 3 blocks. SERIOUSLY!!? We couldn’t walk that distance? Apparently we couldn’t. Filing off the bus, a huge group of us got into line at security checks. Lots of lines. Up to floor 10. Find your military branch’s office. Marine Corps? There you go.

“Now every one of you listen close! This is death by powerpoint! Listen carefully because we are only going through this once! When you are here you are not to lounge around in this lobby! No putting your feet up on government furniture! Address everybody as Sir and Ma’am since you’ll be doing that at boot anyways!”

Every sentence literally ended with an exclamation point. But instantly, I saw that those joining the Marine Corps were expected to follow a higher standard than other branches. Sorry to hate on you, Coast Guard.

I went into another line to check in.

“Where’s your ASVAB score?”

“I didn’t take it yet, Sir”

“What do you mean you didn’t take it?”

“Sir, my recruiter thought it was arranged for me to do all of the processing in one day because I’m in school.”

“Well, that isn’t possible today. You’ll have to wait until 2 PM to take the ASVAP. We can’t do your physical until that is done.”

what. the fuck.

And so that was my fate. I had to call in to work, and my cooperating teacher to say that I had to miss a whole day with my students, my kids. Then I proceeded to go out in the lobby and tried to fall asleep with good posture. No luck…. someone from the marine office shook me awake saying I couldn’t nap there. At that point, I was frustrated. All this had happened by 6 AM. I had to wait 8 hours before I could go any further into my military career. I was bored out of my mind. Even though I had brought homework and lesson planning, the wait was excruciating and I was frustrated. I called Sgt extremely agitated. In the end, I asked if it would be appropriate if I asked to do office work for them.

“Sir? Do you have any paper that needs to be shredded?”

“Are you serious?”

“Yes Sir, I need to do something. I’m really bored.”

Another marine: “Well that’s a first.”

And I shredded through all their paper in 30 minutes. They decided that I should get my IST run out of the way so they sent me to another part of the Marine branch to take to a Corporal. Well the guy wasn’t showing up because he was in apparently “retirement mode”. So I ended up shredding paper there too. For two straight hours. At that point, the monotonous task of feeding exactly 3 sheets of paper into an electric machine wore me out. I went to the leather couch and fell asleep there. Nobody woke me up this time, I’m assuming because this was an office that was more tucked away.

I had a conversation with a marine… he mentioned his experiences in Korea and how he had friends that were teachers too. I noticed he had great waiting patience. Whoever or whatever he was waiting for, he waited in that same spot the entire time I waited for the ASVAB.

marine or not… I can’t do that.

I noticed that once in a while, a really chipper and happy marine would walk in and out singing. He would even jump up and do some pull up just for the hell of it. I instantly noticed his energy and humor.

When I woke up finally from the couch, he was bringing in some younger looking guys (so I assumed they were enlisting) and popped in a DVD. Long story short, I started talking to the chipper marine. I guess he took a liking for me because he had me hanging out with him the whole time. We ate together (thank you government for lunch) and we even dropped another potential officer candidate at her university and we continued to talk about my future in the military. He was confused as to why I wasn’t going Officer if I was going to have my college degree. I’ll talk more about that later.

But when I got back, I saw the other Sgt from the same recruiting office. My friend and a couple guys were there to do their final physical tests because they were shipping soon. It was so good to see familiar faces. But time had flown by and I had to take my ASVAB.

The ASVAB is a diagnostic test to see basically what jobs you qualify for based on your “smarts”. I found myself embarrassed at the fact that I struggled through it. My brain was fried from the anxiety and long periods of waiting earlier that day. I had trouble doing long division. I had barely heard of some of the terms, and the puzzle work was frustrating. At the end, I was drained. After the last question, I pressed NEXT.

But an “error” sign came up. Thinking it was just a glitch, I called for help.

Guess what? The computer had kicked me off after 2 out of the 10 parts of the test.

what. the. fuck.

This was beyond frustration. I had just powered through an extremely annoying test. And the computer had lost it. I was given the choice between taking it again right then and there or wiating till morning. I knew that I would do poorly if I retook it. But I just needed to finish. Asking to take a rest room break, I just randomly walked to the first marine corps liaison office.

At this point, I could tell the marine guys had a soft spot for me. I was professional the whole time, and I had come in to ask several questions. They could tell I was serious. Explaining my situation, I had to keep myself together. I kept thinking about how I had to stay another day already and now I had to take this humiliating test. Right when he left to get someone to see what was going on, I turned my face to hide my hot angry tears. They were gone by the time he was back.

I told them I’d do it again, and went to the bathroom first. The tears weren’t kept back then.

You see, waking up early is no biggie for me. But the last 3 weeks, I had 2-3 hours of sleep. I have an extremely busy schedule, and coming down to MEPS for even one day was a huge sacrifice. I didn’t want to miss a day with my kids, to see their beautiful and smiling faces. I cried silently in a bathroom stall… and it was just a flood. I was stressed. I was tired, and I didn’t want to take another computer based test. I couldn’t stop.

But when they did, I splashed some water on my face and marched into the testing office. I powered through that fucking test and called for the helping person.

“What do you mean you were worried?”

“Did I do ok, Sir?”

“You got a 92.”

 

This is the reaction I’ve been getting lately when I tell people that I’m joining the Marine Corps. It’s as if I’m not the one who just told them I’m going to be a Marine.

But to some extent, I understand why I am getting this reaction. Not only is the Marine Corps.. well…. the MARINE CORPS, I’m a female. I’m a female almost done with college, with a life ahead of her as a well established teacher. On top of that, I’m an Asian Female. Not exactly someone you find everyday in the military.

I still ask them back: Why NOT join the Marine Corps? I don’t want to join the Navy, the Air Force, the Army, or the National Guard. I’m set on the Marine Corps. There’s something about this branch of the military that stands out to me. I want to break stereotypes. I’m here to serve my country. Marines can say this…. they are “The Few and The Proud”.

I want to be part of that “few”.

My inspiration comes from a former coworker of mine. She’s a lot younger than me… and still has a lot of maturing to go through, but she’s the one that opened up that whole path for me. Through her, I met a lot of young men getting ready to joing the Marine Corps. I became friends with a lot of them.

Then I found myself talking to a recruiter. He laid out all of these thing metal cards with characteristics on them. After placing them in order from most important to least important, Sgt went through how joining the Marine Corps would help me reach and exceed those goals. Keep in mind, I’m graduating with a degree in teaching. It is still my greatest goal in life. To impact our youth, the future of our country. I will be teaching biology and chemistry at the HS level, and math, general science, and social science at the middle school level. But I want to further give back. Plus, I see how becoming a Marine will round out my character. There are a lot of things that my students have experienced. I plan on teaching in Chicago, where I grew up. But I plan on teaching on the south side. Everyday is a battle. Not just on the field… every day, in and out, many of my future students don’t know if they’ll make it to 16…. much less 18.

Most people will say that recruiters will say anything to get you to sign. To an extent, all recruiters are still salesmen in the end. But my recruiter is different. He’s different from other recruiters I’ve heard about, and the fellow recruiter that shares the office with him. My recruiter takes his work home with him, meaning that he becomes sort of a father figure to his poolees. I’ve seen many broken young men and a few women literally peiced together through his mentorship and care. Sgt would rather be in the field, but he sure as hell cares about his poolees. Whether they are in the DEP or not, he shows that you are worth it.

Joining the Marine Corps is no simple task. There’s a lot that has to happen before even getting considered. I learned that very fast.

I had to then talk to an OSO person because I will have my bachelor’s next May. You have to go down to MEPS and go through a bunch of processing to qualify and swear in. They could nit pick at the smallest things… and it could require you to go down to a Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS) more than once. The one that my region is assigned to is almost 3 hours away. I know. You just hope that once is enough. Sadly, that case wasn’t for me. I’ll elaborate more on that later.