Thursday, November 10, 2011

Happy Birthday Marine Corps

What can I say about the Marines, 236 years young today?

There are the recruiters who, at a barbecue, went from screaming at their "poolees" (guys who had not yet left for boot camp) to, in almost the same breath, addressing me sweetly as "Ma'am" and offering me a beverage. Who yelled at those poolees not to move from their spot but the second I got cold, told my love of COURSE he could escort the lady to the car to get her sweatshirt.

There is the young drunk Marine who I'd met five seconds before apologizing for saying "bitch" in my presence and when I said it was fine, immediately sobering and asking if my love had ever called me that and offering to kick his ass if he had. I chuckled and assured him my love had never called me names.

There is my love's buddy who recently posted a picture of himself...he had been hit with a small piece of shrapnel and in the picture it is sticking out of the apple of his cheek as he SMILES AT THE CAMERA. I can picture the conversation now, "OW...Duuuuuuude quick get a picture of this before Doc pulls it out...this is badass."

There is my love, my life, my Andrew, my born warrior husband who is the most amazing man I know. He has a quick, intelligent mind that grasps strategy, strong yet nimble hands that can disassemble and reassemble weapons in the blink of an eye. He is level headed and brave, energetic, affectionate, chivalrous, sexy in everything from civvies to cammies to Dress Blues...especially those Dress Blues. He is thoughtful, cheerful, outgoing, and like every Marine I know, a little bit nuts. :) I wouldn't have him any other way.

They are a breed apart, and sometimes I think it takes some special wiring in my brain to be a Marine's woman...I wouldn't recommend it to just anyone. If you read the bit about the shrapnel and thought "OMG" or "EWW" instead of laughing and somehow finding it weirdly, strangely, inexplicably endearing, you aren't cut out for it. If you couldn't handle your husband saying that while he's in a firefight, one of the thoughts going through his head is the fact that Purple Heart recipients get free car insurance and wouldn't that be cool, you aren't cut out for it. If you can't live on intermittent phone calls and a small handful of letters for months at a time, you aren't cut out for it.

But you know what? He is So. Worth. It.

So Happy Birthday Marines. You are some freaking awesome guys. Thank you for all you do and all you represent.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Parris Island Cont.

A year ago today was my love's graduation. My Mom and I got to the base even earlier than the day before. I set up camp on the empty bleachers. Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy fans will get a kick out of the fact that I made sure I had a towel, and it came in quite useful. It was dewy and insanely dark but warm. Mom went to get coffee and I drank it without really tasting it, then when it got light enough I read to pass the time. I wore a sundress paired with tennis shoes because I knew I'd need to run.

The ceremony was amazing, as was the band, but all that truly stuck with me was heart-pounding trembling impatience and overwhelming pride in my love and what he had accomplished. When they were released and the stampede started, I vaulted over the rope and sprinted out on to the parade deck as my Mom snapped some priceless photos. When I reached Andrew I slammed into him and knocked him back a bit into the Marine behind him. Then it was just a matter of some congratulations, introductions, and collecting Andrew's things.

I don't know that there's any way to relate what that day was like, driving off base with my fingers entwined with my love's, taking pictures in the old churchyard, having a great lunch that I hardly remember, repacking Andrew's things and seeing just how baggy his civvies were now. Getting a bit shy around our parents and him saying across the room "What are you doing all the way over there?" just when I needed to hear something like that.

The flight back to Seattle the next day was the most enjoyable plane ride of my life, and probably the most comfortable with Andrew as backrest and pillow. For once I wasn't anxious to get somewhere good, or sad to be leaving, I had him with me and the plane could have gone and landed anywhere and I probably wouldn't have minded a bit. His boot leave turned out to be pretty darn eventful, but I think I've told a bit of that story before...of how less than a week later I ended up with his ring on my finger, where it still sits proudly as I type this.

Every day since then I've only grown prouder and loved him more, even with him away. I look forward to the day I am once again waiting with my heart in my throat, then breaking into a sprint when I spot him and launching into his arms where I belong.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Parris Island

On this day in 2010, I was at Parris Island on Family Day.

I woke with my heart in my throat, barely having slept the night before. It was early, it was dark, it was already warm. I don't think I was completely still the whole drive from our B&B to the base. We parked and headed to the side of the parade deck and found some Marines doing crowd control. They told us right where my newly-minted Marine was going to pass by on the upcoming moto-run and I nabbed a spot right on the corner where I would be the most visible and the first person everyone passed. Andrew's Dad and Step-mom found us and I introduced my Mom, a little awkward still because this was only the second time I'd met them. The sky gradually lightened and I could start to see the new Marines out on the parade deck. It seemed like forever until they started running. There were so many, and I was looking for "portals", the government issued glasses, but little did I know my love was wearing his contacts so I missed him at first. My Mom spotted him and said she was sure he had seen me. We ran over to another spot on the route and waited again. This time, I saw him and his irresistible grin. So very close but still far...

We had to hurry up and wait some more before they were released to us families. We had coffee and moseyed on in to the All-Weather Training Facility where a video was played that I hardly saw and people spoke that I hardly heard and finally my Marine was coming in the side door and standing there in front of me. They tortured us a bit longer until at last they were released and everyone was pouring out of the stands to grab their men. I vaulted out of the bleachers, pushed through the other people and landed in Andrew's arms. I had been told some rules about no PDA during family day and while they were in uniform so I looked up at him, smiled, and said, "What can I get away with?" He kissed me and I completely melted but it was over far too soon as he said, "I don't think anyone noticed that," with a smirk.

I had been a little worried about how he might have changed during the time apart but it only took a few moments for me to say, "Yup, you're still my Andrew." We all started walking, him telling stories and catching up with his Dad, I clung to his arm and just grinned and grinned and drank in the sight of him. We shared a Subway sandwich for lunch and went through the museum, stealing a couple more kisses in a back corner and on the very short one-story elevator ride. He played tour guide as we explored the base, in one building we ran into a group of high-ranking military officers from multiple countries and one stopped to thank Andrew for his service. He was bewildered and ever humble, commenting after the fact that he "hadn't done anything yet."

Eventually I had to give him back as they started graduation practice. My Mom and I watched for a bit but after the Drill Instructors yelled for them to start over a few times we left them to it and met his Dad and Derri for dinner, then on to another sleepless night as I waited for graduation and when I could leave there with my Marine by my side.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke

"Now it was just after midnight and she was sitting in the drawing-room reflecting that all she needed to complete her happiness was her husband home again, when one of the maids burst in and cried out, "Oh, madam! The master is here!"
Someone came into the room.
He was a thinner, browner person than she remembered. His hair had more grey in it and there was a whitish scar above his left eyebrow. The scar was not recent, but she had never seen it before. His features were what they had always been, but somehow his air was different. This scarcely seemed to be the person she had been thinking of only a moment ago. But before she could be disappointed, or awkward, or any of the things she had feared she would be when he at last came home, he looked around the room with a quick, half-ironic glance that she knew in an instant. Then he looked at her with the most familiar smile in the world and said, "I'm home."

The next morning they still had not said a hundredth part of all they had to tell each other."

I wonder if Susanna Clarke ever had someone come home from war in reality. It sounds like that moment that I had after boot camp that I bet I'll experience again at homecoming, the moment of assessment and the relief of "Oh yes, he's still my Andrew." I didn't expect to stumble across something so familiar in this comedic English fantasy novel, but I suppose that's the mark of good fantasy. The environment, time, magic, etc are sometimes outrageous but the motivations, emotions and bits of human nature are very real.

Sunday, July 03, 2011

Fantasy authors can get so philosophical

I adore Terry Goodkind's Sword of Truth series...there are some points I wouldn't agree with him on, but in the eighth book, Naked Empire, one of the main characters, Richard, makes some great points to a people who embrace nonviolence to a fault and yet have poisoned him to blackmail him into coming and fighting their battles for them (since he's an ignorant violent savage anyway in their eyes).

"Your unconditional rejection of violence makes you smugly think of yourselves as noble, as enlightened, but in reality it is nothing less than abject moral capitulation to evil. Unconditional rejection of self-defense, because you think it's a supposed surrender to violence, leaves you no resort but begging for mercy or offering appeasement.
Evil grants no mercy, and to attempt to appease it is nothing more than a piecemeal surrender to it."

"If you are unwilling to defend your right to your own lives, then you are merely like mice trying to argue with owls. You think their ways are wrong. They think you are dinner."

"A man stepped forward. 'But common decency in dealing with our fellow man requires that we must show them mercy for their misguided ways.'
'...A murderer, by his own choice to kill, forfeits the right to his own life. Mercy for such evil is nothing short of excusing it and thus allowing evil to prevail--it codifies the taking of innocent life by not making the murderer forfeit their own guilty life.
Mercy grants value to the life of a killer, while, at the same time, it strips away the value of the life of the innocent victim. It makes the life of a killer more important than the life of an innocent. It is thus a trade of the good to the evil. It is the victory of death over life.'"

"'But that's too harsh a sentiment,' the man said. 'It's just being stubborn and obstructing a constructive path. There is always room for compromise.'
Richard tapped his thumb against his chest. 'You men decided to give me poison. That poison will kill me; that makes it evil. How would you suggest I compromise with poison?'
No one had an answer.
'In trade between willing parties who share moral values and who deal fairly and honestly with one another, compromise over something like price is legitimate. In matters of morality or truth, there can be no compromise.
Compromising with murderers...grants them moral equivalence where none can rightfully exist. Moral equivalence says that you are no better than they; therefore, their belief--that they should be able to torture, rape, or murder you--is just as morally valid as your view--that you have the right to live free of their violence. Moral compromise rejects the concept of right and wrong. It says that everyone is equal, all desires are equally valid, all action equally valid, so everyone should compromise to get along.
Where would you compromise with those who torture, rape, and murder people? In the number of days a week you will be tortured? In the number of men to be allowed to rape your loved ones? In how many of your family are to be murdered?
No moral equivalence exists in that situation, nor can it exist...'"

Richard ends up making a very long speech to the men, and eventually they come around to where one steps up and says, "I choose to join with you and fight to gain my freedom. I want to live free. I want those I love to live free." I think this is what the men and women of our armed forces have said. I believe that freedom is costly, that it must be fought for and defended, and that there are times when words and arguments are spent and useless. I believe that it is foolish to avoid giving evil an ultimatum and to claim that endless compromise and relativism is the moral high ground. I am thankful for every drop of blood spilled so that I have not had to personally take up arms to preserve my life and the lives of my family, blood spilled so that I could worship and think and speak and write as I wish. I am endlessly thankful and proud that my husband serves to defend life and freedom for others.

Tomorrow, I will celebrate Independence Day with a deep sense of gratitude.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Questions I don't have answers for Pt. 2

Life these days is quite interesting...I wrote a post before about not having answers to questions. Well now it's not so much not having answers as not being able to share them. Now as my husband is off doing his job, I have a job as well, and it is to respect OPSEC rules and not blab online about anything that could endanger him or any Marines. I couldn't come running on here and vent about adjusting to the deployment because I couldn't share dates as he was shipping out. Now I can't talk about rumors of when homecoming might be.

I can say that the first little bit was really hard, but I'm settling in now. I can say that the communication I get with him is so fantastically encouraging...he is absolutely amazing at making me feel loved even from half a world away. I can say that I love him more than anything on earth and I am so proud of him. He is a true warrior.

We are working on a project together, writing a fantasy story that is based on our story. We have something like 25+ pages and are having an absolute blast. Who knows, maybe someday some version of it will be shared on here. He still tries to claim he isn't a writer, but every bit of story he pens has me begging him for more, and the letters he sends me are better still. The written word has always been special to us as we have exchanged so many texts, instant messages, and letters while we are apart. We fell in love writing to each other, and we each love to read each other's writing of the reasons I'm updating this blog and will push myself to continue to.

I had thought about sharing some tiny snippet from his last letter, but..........I think I'm keeping it all for myself. :)

I could rant about Tricare, finding non-ugly bridesmaid dresses, or some people's silliness, but after dwelling on my awesome husband I'm just not in the mood. I've been itching to write about my favorite poet so I think I'll work on that for the next post. :P

Sunday, June 05, 2011

Shopping List

When I was in youth group, we young women were encouraged to make ourselves "shopping lists" for our future determine what was important to us and consider that as we began dating. I still have a version I wrote in my diary in 2002 in high school. I present it to you completely unaltered:

"Traits required for my man: a strong Christian with good theology, loves the Lord, loves being in the word, musical, smarter than me but humble about it, sense of humor, romantic, knows when to be serious, is good with kids, good provider, good cook, honor and protect me, loves to read, adventurous, not prissy, no ego!!!, energetic, smiles alot, strong, understanding, guards my feelings and cherishes my opinions, sometimes silly, good driver, witty, not afraid of PDA, brave, loves outdoors, watches stars & clouds, good encourager, faithful and trustworthy, original, old-fashioned gentleman!, loves animals, good listener (knows when to shut up), is my best friend, has plenty of common sense, someone I can feel good about submitting to, loves me! Physical: Unique beautiful eyes, nice hands and feet, taller than me, nice teeth, toned-doesn't have to be buff, soft hair that he doesn't feel he needs to keep perfect all the time and lets me play with, no unibrows!, good overall hygiene, not too hairy"

A little bit dorky in its phrasing, but a pretty darn good list I'd say. I abandoned it for a time as unrealistic, to my detriment, and then forgot about it. But lo and behold! This is the man I ended up marrying. I'm blessed. He'd argue some of the points but I think it describes him rather well. :)