The Road Less Traveled
Basically a West Point diary, if we're being honest.
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When I was 17, I created something on Blogger called “The Road Less Traveled.” It wasn’t a blog, at least not in the traditional sense. I didn’t use it to opine on stuff. It wasn’t even public, for that matter; other than a few family members, nobody knew about it.
More than anything, it was for myself. I wanted to prevent memories from being trivialized by time. I wrote to remember, to “digitally document” certain experiences at West Point and ensure they never faded beyond my reach of recollection. I guess you could say it was a journal, since nearly all the posts had some substance and length. And though I didn’t write every single day, I wrote often and continued all the way until graduating.
Well, I recently stumbled on the link. Ironically, I’d nearly forgotten about the journal thing I created specifically not to forget things. I’m not sure whether people will be interested in reading this or not, but I thought I'd maybe share a post on occasion.
Which reminds me: If you ever have any suggestions, any thoughts, any requests—please feel free to email me. You can just reply to any email I’ve sent out and I’ll receive it. Is there something you want to see more of? Less of? Do you want me to shut the hell up already about the covid stuff? Is there a burning desire in the pit of your stomach to tell me I’m an idiot because of something I said like 2 weeks ago? Don't for a second hesitate to reach out.
Below is one of the very first posts from “The Road Less Traveled.” Unabridged, unedited, unfiltered. The only picture included is the one that’s actually at the top of the original post, so no frills. Just yours truly at 17—in many respects, very much the person I am today.
Friday, August 14, 2009
That's a picture of me (going over the log to the right) the day we did the obstacle course. This course wasn't that bad, it was just really long and tiring. It probably seemed even more tiring than it really was because in order to get to it we had to ruck like 8 miles. It took forever, and the thing that really pissed me off was the fact that the terrain we marched over was terrible. There were holes and huge ass logs all over the ground, and when you're marching you're supposed to keep your head up, so this made it ten times more difficult to ruck. I always felt like I was about to break my ankle because every two seconds I'd come close to face planting.
One of the days after we did this obstacle course we did the "Leadership Development Course". This wasn't really a course though. It was more like a series of obstacles that each squad had to try to complete. For example, one obstacle was enclosed within two walls with two 10 foot posts about 6 feet away from each other. Between the posts was barb wire and an imaginary mine field. The objective was to use the supplies given to you (a board and a length of rope) to move every member of the squad and some "intelligence" over the mine field within a 15 minute time limit. This was my objective, meaning it was my responsibility to command and direct the members of my squad through the course so that we could successfully complete it. In other words, I was the leader for this station, and my performance had to be graded by an instructor who watched our progress.
We ended up "failing" because we didn't manage to get everyone over due to lack of time (out of a total of 15 stations we only successfully completed 3. That's just the way they were designed I guess), but I received a score of 14/15 which was tied for highest in the squad, so I was pretty happy about that.
I remember I enjoyed doing that course because it didn't involved being yelled at, as we were on our own to complete the tasks, and it took a big chunk out of the day so that it seemed like things went by faster, a rare thing then.
I had like a half hour of free time earlier today and I decided to make a list of some of the funnier things that happened during BT.
Like the time my old roommate (the one who resigned Monday) was yelled at for throwing away the dirt we swept up in the hallway on detail. Just picture us quietly sweeping up dirt in one of the Bravo Company hallways one night. Kyle went to throw the dirt we collected in the dust bin into the garbage can nearby, and up walks this sargent with this mean ass look on his face like one of us just screwed up royally or something.
He asked, "CCs, what the hell are you doing?", and we go, "Sweeping the hallway sargent, we were told to do so by sargent Anderson-Davis". Then he screws up his face in contorted rage and asks, "Are you throwing away that dirt?" And we kind of just stared at him for a while wondering what he meant until he finally asked if we knew where the garbage we collected went to. We told him that we didn't, and he says "It goes to Canada CCs! Canada! NO FREE DIRT GOD DAMMIT! Throw it outside with the rest of it's kin." And he walked away.
Here's another one that was hilarious. You might have had to have been there with us.
It was one of the last nights at Fort Dix, and one of the 11 other guys I was rooming with found out that our flashlights we were issued some weeks earlier had different color lenses on them, meaning they could shine all these different colors. So right before TAPs (when they turned the lights off on us), we all made sure that we had our flashlight with us under our Green Girls (the thick green blanket we were given). As soon as they turned the lights off, we all took out our flashlights, changed the color option to the color we had chosen for our self earlier that night, and started waving them around so that they shined on the ceiling. One kid I roomed with named Gray can beat box really well using only his mouth; he literally sounds like a jukebox. So we had him start up, and it wasn't long before we had created your standard "rave". Just picture 12 dudes party boying each other in a dark room with the colors of the rainbow bounding off the walls and ceiling. Sadly, the rave only lasted like 5 minutes because it didn't take long before one of the cadre realized what was going on and came in and smoked us. But it was worth it.
The very last night everyone in our building was going crazy because we were all leaving Fort Dix and going back to Fort Monmouth the next day. Compared to Fort Dix, Fort Monmouth is like a luxury suite, and the fact that we were going back made everyone happy as hell. Some kid's were really, really happy. For example, this kid across the hallway somehow managed to smuggle glow sticks into the barracks. Even though TAPs had been constituted, everyone was still all riled up in their designated rooms, so it was still a party-like atmosphere. Anyway, this guy decides to get naked, tie a sock to his groin, put his Kevlar on (bullet proof helmet), and start dancing around, waving the glow sticks above his head, and grinding up against other guys. The whole building went nuts.
One of my favorite things to watch (yes, I actually enjoyed some things) during BT were "military bearing contests". The cadre really stressed maintaining composure and a hard, rigid, strict facial expression, or "maintaining your military bearing", even when something hilarious happened. These contests consisted of two CCs being pulled out of formation to stand in front of the platoon. They were then instructed to fill their mouths up with water from their 2-Quarts, but not to swallow. Upon filling their mouths to capacity, they would turn and face each other so that they were nearly touching noses, and the cadre would begin trying to make them laugh, thereby eventually causing one of the CCs to spit all over the other's face. So the CC who won the contest would have a mouth full of spit shot at their face, while the loser would remain perfectly dry. This is the only time I can ever think of during BT where it didn't pay to be a winner.
I have a lot more stories to tell, but very little time now. I'm going to try to eventually pass off everything I can think of, just not right now. I have to shower and stuff.