Upon waking to the repeated yells of “FOR-MA-TION” (punctuated as three distinct words) by the unfortunate duty Marine as he tromps up and down the hallway, I don’t imitate the frantic behavior of my roommates as they hustle to the sink to perform a minute of morning routine before running downstairs. Instead, I smugly roll over, pull my blanket over my head and wish them a good morning. “Fuck you Lance Corporal” or some variation is the usual response. This is one of my few and valuable privileges as a “Fleet Marine” that I have over the regular students here, which is not being required to report for morning formations on the weekends.
The Marine Corps has definitely affected my overall attitude towards sleep. From the very beginning I acclimated to springing out of the rack at some ungodly hour in the morning and frantically getting dressed under the stress-inducing countdown of a Drill Instructor. The countdown always started from a high number like sixty, but it only took the DI about fifteen seconds to count all the way down to zero in an impressive barrage of barely discernible numbers. This was referred to as “by the numbers,” and any drowsiness I experienced took a back seat to the fear of being the one recruit out of ninety who didn’t finish on time, whether it be getting dressed, making my rack, or peeing (3 recruits simultaneously using each urinal was the solution). Since we performed every task with “speed and intensity” after a long day of running around like idiots sleep became a precious commodity not only because of our fatigue, but because it was the only time we wouldn’t be fucked with. For me, sleep provided an opportunity to blissfully dream of the real world outside of the recruit training circus. Pleasant dreams of roaming freely, reuniting with friends and loved ones, serenely driving through the beautiful Willamette Valley with the breeze in my hair.
Then suddenly jarred awake and realizing depressingly “Fuck… I’m still here” as the lights flared on and I jumped down to fumble with my bag of hygiene items. Each return to reality in the morning left me anxious to escape it again the next night. Through boot camp and after, the sleep schedule for training remained mostly the same (though the activities less ridiculous). I assumed that in the end I would become more of a morning person than I was before. But no. I’m not. I still hate it. The only difference now is that my habits have changed to reinforce behavior that I despise. I hate that I consistently wake up at least twenty minutes before my alarm goes off, never enough time to go back to sleep, and never motivated enough to actually get up and be productive. What? Am I going to shave, brush my teeth, get dressed, etc. and then just sit in a chair for the next fifteen minutes waiting for my roommates? Instead I’ll just lay here staring angrily at the wall and checking my watch every two minutes, trying to prolong the inevitable movement from bed to floor for as long as possible.
Therefore, each weekend here I get a little bit of satisfaction as my roommates and most every other trainee has to go stand outside each morning to have a prison-style headcount. I’m still awake when they come back and shortly after I usually go to breakfast. So it’s not as if I’ve actually gained any sleep, but something about being granted the privilege to be a lazy piece of shit two days of the week makes those mornings so much better.
Happy September by the way. Sorry for not posting any entries this past week. If I actually graduate on time I will only be here at Fort Despair for another 81 days. In terms of meals at the chow hall, that’s only 221. The end is 1944 hours in the future, but keep in mind that I‘ll be asleep for roughly 567 hours of that time, and eating chow for about 162 hours of that time, and sitting in my room pointlessly looking at facebook (hooray for weekends!) for 375 hours. So, the rough estimate is 840 hours devoted to the study of welding or other Marine Corps bullshit. I will not endeavor to compare this figure to what I make per month, seeing that I’m sure the hourly wage will be depressing even by Virginia standards.