Latest for Racked: I Miss My Army Uniform


For five years I stopped looking in the mirror before work. There was no point in wasting time; I knew what I’d see. My face — naked, flaws and all — gray and green camouflaged blouse, cargo pants, and boots: the uniform of the US Army. But while I didn’t care what I looked like then, at an earlier time in my life, I had cared far more about my appearance.

I’d spent my high school mornings parked in front of the bathroom mirror applying blue mascara and straightening my blonde and fuchsia hair. My favorite outfit had consisted of a blue mini skirt, white tube socks, and hand-painted Chucks. I spent more hours than I care to tally in front of various mirrors before I let myself leave the house.

I wore my kaleidoscope wardrobe, makeup, and hair as a way of trying to display my personality on the outside. A lifelong introvert, I struggled to make the first attempts at friendliness. Neon blue eyeshadow and purple mascara seemed to put people at ease, or at the very least it sparked curiosity, which meant I didn’t have to do the work of initiating conversation. It helped that I genuinely adored bright colors, but it was more than that; it was my identity. It was also vanity: I didn’t dare leave the house without covering up pimples or outlining my eyes. I used my look for confidence and as a way to display my personality.

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Don’t be “that guy,” our instructors told every cadet and newly minted lieutenant. “That guy” was a fresh second lieutenant, usually from West Point, but not always. “That guy” would attempt to establish authority in small and petty ways—by having subordinates stand at attention in all interactions, or by flipping out if a salute wasn’t rendered correctly, or at all.

No lieutenant, especially the handful of females in my basic officer class, wanted to be seen as a ball-swinging, chest-puffing, insecure new officer. But it still happened. We knew no soldier would listen or respect our authority if we acted like that—hypervigilant and overcompensating. But we struggled to learn where the fine line between confident leader and quiet pushover lay.

One day, shortly after joining my first unit after officer course, I headed to a meeting with a couple lieutenants and a senior NCO. As we made our way down the sidewalk, a group of soldiers walked by without saluting.

“Hey! Did you miss the four officers?” barked the NCO. He jerked his head, indicating our group. I hadn’t even noticed. The soldiers looked sheepish and quickly lifted their arms to salute us. I was farthest from the group of passing soldiers, and I was relieved it hadn’t been on me to spot them and point out their mistake.

“You can’t let them get away with that,” the NCO said. “They know they’re supposed to salute. It’s a lack of respect when they ignore you.”

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It’s Essential to Uncover What Truly Makes You Happy

excerpt from Paul Graham’s blog post “Copy What You Like”

excerpt from Paul Graham’s blog post “Copy What You Like”

Think about the last book you read from start to finish. Maybe stayed up until 2 AM to reach the last page or set your alarm for 5 AM so that you could dive back into that world the book created, before slogging to work. Or, maybe you sat in your car during lunch hour, devouring those last few chapters.

The books you hate putting down show you what you love, or at the very least enjoy.

It probably wasn’t The Metamorphosis by Kafka, or War and Peace by Tolstoy that made you flip pages one after another. More likely than not, it was Big Little Lies, something by Danielle Steel or John Grisham, The Hunger Games, Harry Potter, or Eat, Pray, Love, or Ender’s Game, or any number of novels that have hit the bestsellers list in the last 10 years.

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“You must be used to order and discipline, coming from the military,” the executive said. “Things can be fast-paced and dynamic around here.” He folded his thin fingers together and looked at me. The office was silent, gray, and situated high above the teeming streets of Manhattan.

I pushed myself back in my chair, swallowed, and tightened my left hand around the pocket-sized notebook I had brought to the interview. I started flipping through my mental rolodex of Army memories, trying to find one that I could turn into a pithy anecdote that would convey my ability to handle the open position’s duties. Fast-paced, dynamic, and the ability to multitask, were listed on the job description. Hmm, multi-tasking—here’s one:

I pictured Sergeant Tilley’s pistol sitting on the desk in front of me. We were in Kansas in our rat infested company area, a crammed 900 square foot portion of a low-slung one story concrete building. I was charged with babysitting the weapon after Tilley had been hauled off for questioning by the criminal investigative division. When I had taken charge of the platoon months prior, the outgoing platoon leader had said, “Sergeant Tilley is one of the platoon’s best soldiers.” At 19, the haggard teen soldier was still mischievous and testing the boundaries. He’d show up to physical training hungover, and would try to shock me and the platoon with comments about his rough, and possibly abusive, Oklahoma-country upbringing. Shortly after I took over the platoon, he found himself in a relationship with a woman, a mother of two girls, nearly 10 years his senior.

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Things That'll Make You Laugh

I don't know about you, but sometimes I forget a favorite funny writer only to rediscover her or him, months (or even years!) later.

And each time I feel like giving myself a gentle slap upside the head and think to myself how could I forget someone who's words put me in hysterics?!

So, without further ado, a roundup of hilarious writers for those times you just need an extra smile.

Funny Articles

Passing gas: A modern scientific history by Mary Roach (I just love her.)


Yeah, I'm Muhammad Ali by Mary Roach again (I've reread multiple times, and still, I end up in hysterics)

I Regret to Inform You That My Wedding to Captain Von Trapp Has Been Canceled by Melinda Taub (she writes for Full Frontal now)


The Bloggess

Advice I Could Have Used Yesterday

Dubaussi (thank you to my sister for this blog!)


Hark! A Vagrant

Cassandra Calin