Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Prior Nostalgia...

During Beast, I wrote home a few times. One letter, I remember particularly, because at the time, I wasn't feeling totally sure I wanted to stay at the Academy when I had woken that morning. I lived, at the time, in MacArthur Barracks overlooking Mac Statue and the Superintendent's house, Quarters 101. The statue has around its base quotes from MacArthur's farewell speech to the Corps. I remember, as hard as this is both for me to admit and for most to believe, being humbled at that moment that I was wearing the same uniform he had worn and was attempting to accomplish something I had never imagined. (For those of you who knew me ten years ago, when I was a Junior at Fallbrook High School, graduation from college seemed unattainable enough, but West Point, a military college, was not just unattainable, but completely out of character.) Yet, there I was, in my white over grey, looking at his statue in disbelief and deciding to continue on.

The intervening years have been difficult on so many levels, with family problems, personal problems, a lack of academic prowess (and dedication, to be fair), less than stellar physical performance and an overall poor attitude from me. I can't even begin to count the number of times I wanted to quit, and nearly did right before my junior year.

And yet, in 83 days, I am going to graduate.

I was watching The Contender today for my politics in film class. At the end, the President shakes hands with his Chief of Staff and grasps his shoulder. The President was a West Point graduate and his ring is displayed prominently throughout the film. In the final scene, you recognize that the Chief of Staff was also a graduate. It is like a wink at anyone in the audience who was a cadet also, and I caught it.

While the movie President was fictional, it made me realize how many great men and women have graduated before me. How many of them aren't even known by society, weren't Presidents or CEO's, but whom I've met over my four years. Two in particular stick out, from the class of 1955 I believe. They met me at a banquet in DC I was attending and told me about their experience. They had been roomates at the Academy and then fought in Vietnam. One was wounded and went on to Law School to become a judge, the other stayed in the military and eventually became a General Officer. They told me about their alumni review durring Graduation week when their fifty year cohort class had stood across from them and marched, from the class of 1905. One of them began to cry, and he shook my hand and walked away.

I think there are very few people who know what my graduation has cost me and how much I've had to sacrifice to earn my diploma. I think even fewer have known me long enough to know how unlikely my graduation really is. I wake up every day, still, and wonder exactly how I got to where I am, and how it is possible that someone like myself will actually leave this place a part of the Long Grey Line, but it is going to happen...and for that, I can't be anything but grateful.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007


We picked up our uniforms today...our Army uniforms. No more grey. It's wierd, like I'm playing dress up or something, but, it's coming sooner than I realize. 88 days actually. I should be sending out invitations and announcements soon, so wait by your mailboxes.

Nina Simone...again

I was listening to Nina Simone again, just sitting here waiting for class. Every once in a while, her songs just hit me...this time was one of them. I love when that happens. When you suddenly hear a whole meaning behind a song, not just the beat, or the chorus, but the whole song has more meaning than it did just two minutes before. It's amazing. Anyway (and I know this is really getting into 17 yr old emo-girl style blogging), but here are the lyrics to the song I was listening to(minus the last verse which I didn't like as much):

And I wish I knew how
It would feel to be free
I wish that I could break
All the chains holding me
I wish I could say
All the things that Id like to say
Say em loud say em clear
For the whole round world to hear
I wish I could share
All the love thats in my heart
Remove every doubt
It keeps us apart
And I wish you could know
What it means to be me
Then youd see and agree
Every man should be free

I wish I could live

Like Im longin to live
I wish I could give
What Im longin to give
And I wish I could do
All the things Id like to do
You know theyll still miss part of you
Yes sir...
And Im way way over due

Monday, February 26, 2007


Sunday, February 25, 2007


100th night...

100 night before graduation, there is a banquet here for the seniors. The senior class also puts on a musical that it writes, directs and stars in. I did none of the above, but, I did watch, and it was hilarious. It's always full of inside jokes and songs "to the tune of" other more popular songs with new words.

After the banquet, most of the seniors in my company and I took a party bus from WP to the city. On the way, we consumed an amazingly large amount of alcohol and danced while holding onto the subway-like bars placed for those revelers who so felt the urge to dance while standing on a moving bus.

So many drinks were spilled on me that, while I maintained my Lenten promise not to get drunk (I figure a 3 drink maximum is good), I smelled like a drunk when we finally got to the city.

In other news, a large number of my friends are now getting engaged. I think it's because Post Night (when we find out where we go after graduation...I'm going to Ft. Hood in Texas in case anyone didn't know yet) was on Wednesday. It was interesting, seeing cadets with their girlfriend/boyfriend or fiancees there. After we chose where we go, I was walking back to barracks behind a friend of mine with his fiance. He had his arm around her and they seemed so happy, planning the life they'd lead together...and it all started that night really.

Likewise, 100th night weekend. My friends, some of whom are dating or engaged, are all realizing that our time of careless fun is nearly over, and that our group would soon be disbanded and sent to various places around the world. In ten years, when we all get together again, my friends husbands and wives, who weren't cadets while we were here, are still such a huge part of our experience. They've been here for Ring Weekend, Affirmation, Post Night, Branch Night, Graduation, and every other high and low point throughout our cadet careers...when we look back, they'll be a part of West Point too, and West Point a part of them.

Monday, February 19, 2007

President's Day Weekend...

I realize ahead of time that I cannot do justice to this weekend. Pat and I packed about a years worth of experiences into four days, starting with the moment we got into the car. I can't explain it all, but I'll put the photos that help to explain just a part of the experience up so you all can share in the journey...
The weekend began with a quick trip through Pennsylvania. Unbeknownst to us, the state had not hired anyone to plow the roads...any of them...since the blizzard. thus, every single freeway you see was not plowed.
We, driving the above pictured BMW tried our best to make our way. Finding ourselves stranded on a back road, with a flat tire and nowhere to go, we eventually got aid from a nice Pennsylvanian who showed us to a tire fixing place (pictured here) and a hotel/restaurant/bar to spend the night in.
We had dinner/breakfast/drinks/a room at the lovely Country Squire Inn. The bartender gave us the advice to check on the heat in our room before the manager left for the night. She also said that "no one ever gets out of Schuylkill" so she was impressed we were from WP. Beers were $1.25.

This video is a tour of the room we got, given by Doobs and myself. You may notice I say "ladies and gentlemens" That's because everyone in Schuylkill, PA called us "youz guyz" which I found funny.
This is the parking lot in front of the Country Squire Inn with me, giving the patented thumbs up!
Pat and I drove another five hours the next day. here is us finally getting on the freeway we spent a full day trying to escape. I swear, I thought I was in a Kafka novel for a while.

We finally made it to Southern VA where Ms. Danielle (pictured left) was celebrating her roommate's 21'st (roommate on right)
On the way home, I took some time to "drive" a piece of modern art on the campus.

After the bar, we went to the apartment. There, beer pong was played, southern rap was sung along with, and Pat and I made a hasty exit when controlled substances were not so controlled.

The next night was in DC w/ all the old army friends. Pictured above are Steve, my Basic Traning roomate, me, Adam (best friend from DLI) and Pat, best friend here at WP. 12 pitchers of Sangria later, we were feeling good.
From there, the whole crew moved to a bar that allows dogs. Literally, there was a black dog running around and licking us. It was awesome...I have 2 unexplained cigarette burns (and one explained one) I know I had fun.
From there to Lee's house, where he offered us a bite of the largest wedge of parmasean I'd ever seen.
And we shared a hookah...

And some more...
Until I was spent. All of us were...people were passed out was about four in the was awesome.
This is the next morning...well...around 2 in the afternoon. I was still in my blanket and things were golden.
The weekend continued for another night of which I have no photos, but believe too was remarkable. Pat and I made great travel partners and we'll have to do it again before we leave the great grey walls.

Monday, February 12, 2007


So, I am going to get an apartment soon. I've never had to furnish an apartment...or a room for that matter (I remember the deliberation I put into getting big pillows for my bed at took me weeks to decide on full body pillows...which were great, by the way). Now, I have to find and furnish an apartment. I was looking at eco-friendly furniture online. I don't know much about it, but some of them use sustainably harvested wood, others re-used wood. I don't know how reputable they are or whatnot, but it couldn't hurt could it? Anyway, most of it's out of my price range anyway.

My cousins asked me to do a "registry" of sorts, but there's no one store I want anything from. I may just post it all online. Is it wrong to just put a picture of the bedroom set and dining room table I want and say "donate money to buy me this supercool bed and table!" My roommate said to just request a lava-lamp and all will be good. We'll see. I'll probably end up with a house full of Ikea stuff.

Kansas v. Marsh

I was reading this article by Dahlia Lithwick and started to research some about what the Supreme Court has said on the issue. As per usual, Scalia had some rather interesting things to say, but his last paragraph of dissent is what caught my eye. He wrote,
Like other human institutions, courts and juries are not perfect. One cannot have a system of criminal punishment without accepting the possibility that someone will be punished mistakenly. That is a truism, not a revelation. But with regard to the punishment of death int he current American system, that possibility has been reduced to an insignificant minimum...The American people have determined that the good to be derived from capital punishment--in deterrence, and perhaps most of all in the meting out of condign justice for horrible crimes--outweighs the risk of error.

Unless I'm mistaken, isn't he saying that, even though we may kill innocents (those "insignificant minimums") it is OK so long as the majority are satiated? Isn't that exactly what our system of government is supposed to protect the innocent from? Maybe I misread it. I will read it again...but that was my first reaction.

Baptism pics...

Here are some pictures of me and the Baby Eli. You'll have to excuse the huge bags under my eyes. Over the course of my whirlwind trip back home, I traveled some twenty-five out of fifty hours. It was well worth it though, just look at the little bugger and tell me you wouldn't have traveled as far for a day with him.That's me when I woke up in the morning after my flight and got to hold him for the first time. He has abnormall long toes and his hair reminds me of a chimpanzee...he's awesome.

Me and his godmother were changing him into his baptismal clothes. My tie and suit combo was no accident.

This is me holding him after the actual baptism. My cousin JT took this picture...he's a young one, but a good one.

This is Theresa, his godmother, and the baby Eli.

This is me, holding the baby, with big bags under my eyes. He was sleeping around that time.

You'll find that babies are just like real people...but everything is smaller. See that pinky finger and tongue? Just like yours and mine...but smaller.


Saturday, February 10, 2007


For the last three years, I have seen the world through the understanding that we will all die. I know that sounds harsh, but it's true. After my dad's death, nothing has seemed more real to me than the fact that we will all die. Nothing we do will last, nothing we do will carry on after, but, we will die, and that, my friends, will be the end.

This weekend, I flew out to California again to be a Godfather. My cousin, Valerie, gave birth to Baby Eli, and asked me to be his Godfather. He is eight pounds. Tiny, by most standards. I have been a Godfather before, but maybe it's because I'm more mature now, but the reality really hit me. This tiny little person has as much life, as much potential, as much of a future ahead of his as anything. I held him in my arms, and tried to rock him to sleep (to little avail) and was nearly at the point of tears. It's difficult to explain, really. My cousin, Valerie, is amazing. She reminds me of my sister, me, she will always be Valerie, my crazy, funny cousin. But now, she's a mother.

Seeing her as such makes me realize that my own mother was once just like Valerie. I don't know if my mom was funny or crazy or any other adjective, but I know she was the youngest daughter. I was talking to my second oldest aunt tonight and realized that she still thinks of my mom as her parent's twenty-five year accident. To me, however, my mom was never a sister, a daughter, a friend...she was always

It's strange for me this weekend. For the past four years, all I could see was the end. Something about being here at Eli's beginning really makes me see that each of us had the same start, and that from my start to now, I have so much to be thankful for, I am almost ashamed about how I let the end worry me. For how can one be here, around so much love, and family and history, while so many others lack, and worry about what may happen in the future? I have a family that is closer and more loving than so many others. And, my future, and my past, unlike so many others, has been so full of love and family, that me feeling anything but grateful for it is simply selfish and wrong.

I will post some pictures when I get back to school.


Wednesday, February 07, 2007

I swear...

I stumbled upon an article about congressional investigations into the deaths of some Blackwater private security personel in Iraq. This picture was on there showing the wives of those who died being sworn in. It made me remember when the Oil executives testified before congress. We didn't swear them in...remember? It was right before they said they had never been to the White House and had never had contact with Dick Cheney. Well, I for one am glad we have more faith in oil executives than we do in the wives of dead Americans. I mean...we all know one of those two groups has something to gain from lying to the American public and Congress. And thank God Congress knew which group that was. Now...raise your right hand ladies...

Monday, February 05, 2007

Sitting in my National Security Seminar class today, we were discussing what is and isn't in the National Interest. My teacher pointed out that no one had mentioned having a social welfare network. Someone asked what she meant, and she said, basically, welfare and other ways to help the homeless and those in poverty. The girl next to me skoffed, "'s their fault." To which I replied, "You're kidding right?" She said, "Oh...sorry, was that disrespectful Respect Captain?" So, due to her snide use of my job as a response, I said, "No, not all ignorance is disrespectful." She then said, "Oh please, we have an upwardly mobile society. If they want to get off their asses and work, they don't have to live on the streets."

Sometime around that point, I had to stop listening because I was going to vomit a little in my mouth.


Fox"News". Fair and Balanced...or, so the tagline goes. In a speech given a couple of days ago, owner Rupurt Murdoch said the following when asked if NewsCorps (owner of Fox"News") had managed to shape the agenda of the war, the following transpired (article here):
"No, I don't think so. We tried." Asked by Rose for further comment, he said: "We basically supported the Bush policy in the Middle East...but we have been very critical of his execution."
So...for any cadets who read this and still continue to debate me about the validity of Fox"News" being "fair and balanced", or, that they "report" and we decide, there it is, straight from the horses mouth.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

The Bright Side...

Every once in a while, I get stuck on duty for the weekend. There are plenty of things I could complain about, but there's one part about it I like. I have to stay awake until everyone is accounted for, which normally means really late nights. Once everyone is accounted for, I turn in the report to the officer on duty, and come back to my room. The trip back to my room is always a treat. You rarely see the school empty. While it's not empty at 3AM, everyone is asleep. There are no sounds but my own feet and the wind. Tonight, as I came back, I could see the new library, which is wrapped in plastic, and glowing from the inside out. All around me are high granite buildings which look like castles, and the sound of the wind. It's an awesome feeling, though the entire place belongs to me. There's a weird moment where I almost feel like we (West Point and myself) are connected or conversing. I don't have to say anything, obviously, because the buildings are silent...but I think, as I walk, about how happy I am I came here...and I think it feels the same.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Give this man a medal...

From an actual citation for a cadet (not for a medal, but for a "hooah note"):
Under adverse conditions of heat and chaos in the Gymnasium you were able to rally the company CIC's and keep the wolfpack, controlled, Spirited, and in the right uniform
and the hits just keep on coming...