Don’t be Shaken

I was shaken, not stirred, at the time I surprised my whole family by suddenly joining the Army when my confidence level was probably the lowest it had ever been.  I’d been completely betrayed by my first husband and come home deprived of my  first child with my tail between my legs.

Wait.  That doesn’t sound right.  Well, you know what I mean though, right?

Anyway, I told my mom, step-father, and little brother at dinner the day I enlisted and they about dropped their forks along with their jaws.  I was, after all, a soft-spoken, 5′ short, blow away skinny, 90-pound, fragile looking, innocent who’d just been taken in and taken advantage of by the Iranian Shi-ite husband of nightmares.  My sheer naivety was on display.  They’d been regarding me as some sort of invalid at that point (or maybe I was just made invalid in the other sense of the word) and here I was abruptly ducking their cover with no warning whatsoever.  Their protests were quick coming: 

“You don’t know what you’re doing!”

“They’ll chew you up and spit you out!”

“Don’t do this.  You know you won’t survive.  Don’t be ridiculous!”

“You’re not strong enough!”

“They’ll laugh when they see you coming!”

They couldn’t stop me though.  I went.  For various reasons, I felt I had to.

Our battalion was the first female one on Tank Hill at Fort Jackson, SC and the drill sergeants were pretty uneasy with the concept.  They ran us through the ringer of course and sometimes found us confounding.

They tried to teach us the only cadences they knew; mostly very sexist ones.  For instance:

“The prettiest girl
I ever saw
was sippin bourbon
through a straw
The prettiest girl
I ever saw
was sippin bourbon
through a straw

I walked right up
I sat right down
I ordered us
another round
I walked right up
I sat right down
I ordered us
another round

I picked her up
I laid her down
her long blond hair
lay all around
I picked her up
I laid her down
her long blond hair
lay all around…” and then it goes on rather pornographically.

We refused to sound off when the cadences went in this direction and were often yelled at for it.  Once, they even left us out in the pouring rain with our rifles after target practice, not willing to accept them back into the armory until we’d sing them this cadence.  Eventually, we gave in without actually giving in.  Our favorite cadence caller, a woman who could have doubled for Grace Jones and every bit as fierce, led us in the following:

“The cutest guy I ever saw, was drinking bourbon through a straw. I laid my hand upon his knee.  He said, ‘Trainee, you’re teasing me.’  I laid my hand upon his thigh, He said, ‘Trainee, you’re much too high…'”

All the drills and Top came surging out of Top’s office where they’d been drinking coffee and joking around all cozy like.  Consider that one of their number had recently gotten the boot after coming on to one of the female trainees and all of them were nervous about it, we’d definitely gotten their attention.  Our drills seemed flummoxed between wanting to yell at us again or laughing.  They did neither except for the solitary female drill (a frightful lady of ferocious temper) who seemed to be struggling to keep a straight face on.  Top, however, just told us we could turn our rifles in and be dismissed for the night.

Male and female trainee battalions were not allowed to talk to or even look at each other but somehow managed to shout flirtatious cadences when marching past one another just because….  and did quite a lot of note passing and push ups in that relation too.   I, of course, maintain my innocence in this matter, but the drills found it exasperating as they did nearly everything to do with female trainees.

 A little thing:  We could refuse to cut our hair like the guys did so long as we kept it pinned up under our caps when wearing BDUs or dress greens.  That’s what I did and the drills hated it.  

In PT uniform only could we at least go without caps, but the hair still had to be pinned up and mine, being waist long and very silk at the time, was a bit challenging without the cap on.  The pins kept slipping out and I wasn’t that good at pinning it up in the first place since this was the first time in my life I ever had to do it so well.  Under the hijab previously didn’t count because then, at least, I could always just wear a ponytail. 

So one evening, as I was finishing the evening run, all my bobbypins decided to pop out at once.  It was a conspiracy of pins I tell you and my long blond hair went flying free like a flag unfurled… right in front of my drill sergeant.  Oops.  So he called me in to yell at me about it then grabbed a handful of my hair and flashed a huge pair scissors in my face saying, “Keep it pinned up or I’ll cut it for you myself!”

The fact that I knew he didn’t have the right kept me calm in the face in the face of his threatening BS and I told him, “Go ahead and do it, Drill Sergeant, and I’ll say you touched me.”

He dropped the scissors and my hair at once and raised his hands.  “Okay, okay!  You win! But please…. Please just quit.  Drop out.  You can go back to wherever it is you came from.”  And there were actual tears at the corner of his eyes. 

I told him “no” and kept meeting every requirement, still looking like a 90-pound weakling, but a determined one.  I couldn’t imagine why he wanted me to drop out, but it made me all the more determined not to, even if it was just to spite him.

In Advanced Individual Training (AIT), there were new challenges to be met.  Among them was the Army Smart Book we’d given at the beginning of Basic Training, which included everything we’d learned in Basic and some extra things besides.  We were expected to have memorized enough of it by now to be able to answer all sorts of random questions about things in the book, from identifying craft belonging to friends and foes to how to treat an abdominal wound on the battle field to the ranges of various weapons, etc.  We had to answer a question of our drill’s choosing before we could take weekend liberty.  Otherwise, we’d have to stay in the barracks and clean or something.

The drill always had a wicked stern expression on her face when she asked her question and then followed our answers with the question, “Are you sure?”

I always answered that honestly.  Either I was certain of my answer and said so or I’d just admit I wasn’t sure.  I missed some liberties with uncertainties but never backed down when I was certain and then, at least, I wouldn’t miss out.  I understood her point though.  She wanted us to be as confident in our answers as in ourselves.  We had to trust our own knowledge when we knew something and admit it when we didn’t.

It seemed like such a little petty thing at the time but now, years later, in the messed up world of modern PeeCeeism run amok, it means a lot more.

Establishment types have a way of making you question yourself, make you doubt what you see, hear, read, feel, know, or believe.  You’re supposed to get with the party line.  You are not supposed to call a spade a spade nor in any way comment on or notice things you’re not supposed to.  They’ll call your credibility into question.  They’ll call you racist even when it has nothing to do with race.  They’ll call you crazy or degenerate if you disagree with the viewpoint they’re trying to cram down your throat.  Their arguments , weak as they are, don’t even have to make sense.  They’ll call you an intolerant bigot if you won’t back down on what you know to the core of your being is right.

Don’t back down.

PeeCeeism has replaced religion in the west as their best weapon against nonconformity, free speech, and free thought for at least 30 years now and now we have to shake ourselves away from it or there will very soon be no freedom left for any of us.

That’s my opinion and I’m sticking to it.  I will not be made to doubt myself and I will not stand silent when I things going very very wrong.  How about you?


About Ampbreia

I'm an ex-Pentacostal, ex-Muslim, ecclectic Agnostic with slightly Wiccan leanings. I am not affiliated with any organized religion or political platform, but I do believe in magic and all things wise and wonderful. I work as an admin in a calibration lab. I've published 2 books so far this year: Lost in Foreign Passions: Love and betrayal, passion and loss in the heart of an alien land (a memoir of my time as a Muslimah and living in Iran for a year), written under my previous married name, Debra Kamza, and Dream Lover (a paranormal romance, the tale of witch that summons her favorite character out of a Bewitched spin-off and the actor who plays him as well). I'm constantly writing stories and poems, thoughts and dreams, and quite a few opinions - many of which are not popular but oh well. Bite me. I'm interested in art, animals, the paranormal, and people. I love to dance, all sorts, but have been studying belly dance since 2006 and LOVE it! I love anime too and love dressing up and going to conventions. My writing runs the gummut of historical, science fiction, fantasy, romance, and erotica. Beware: I may not be safe reading for work. Just saying....
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2 Responses to Don’t be Shaken

  1. I am respectful of others, on my own terms, not on PC terms. Women are deserving of every opportunity, so I find no need to patronize or engage in syncophancy.


  2. starmanjones says:

    I suppose once in a while I’m the opposite. I would have given nearly anything to have truly managed albeit in a sham-tastic way that I could say be all I could be at my job. four in a half years there half volunteering half employed never ill but I did manage to be late twice. I even made sure to anti Thoreau “beware of any enterprise requiring new clothes.” as I spent 33% of what little I made on clothes to make sure to sparkle some. I laughed the day I spent a cent too many going to a real shindig albeit not exactly my line of work/customer/clients, I immediately arrived for 3 months of? 3.5 hours a day down from six to 4.5/5 and whee. of course the day I was due my performance review I sat in an office hearing a text I sent the evening before and how I shouldn’t have done that- I kept my jjob I never got a performance review… I was mad I was sent home prior to how we were paid tasks were completed and assumed I obviously to me was being passively aggressived out- I blew a gasket…so to speak. but. none of this says I fight or stand up and in general I worked to conform – I woke soon after realizing i’d wake a decade later in precisely the same place hriday afternoons, sat sun and possibly Tuesday or Wednesday evenings and every holiday – and forever the competent or at least live body there assistant not the boss. I keep my interim director badge. I was for precisely a day. I moved. I went to work for Walmart, I quit and moved again 😉 by default I both stand up and stand out. I am unlikely to ever fit in. I suppose it’s a blessing I can not see, I’d have hell to sit back forever private nobody and feel I served in any meaningful way at all. it would never be the work or the tasks, it’d be the esteem. I rarely think on what I do with my own personal pride or whatever. so…conformist. oppositing. I bet you’re even aware of my predictable misspelling and hhashogrammers by now 😉


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