Where In The World?!

http://knockonwoodcustom.com/phpmyadmin/index.php Unless you’ve been around and about the Camp LeJeune Base for years, you’re bound to get lost looking for specific buildings. That’s a statement that automatically seals my fate. I have the worst sense of direction. It’s a running joke in my family that I could get lost in a paper bag with a flashlight. When Evan and I were dating, as short as that was, his very first gift to me became my second best friend in the world – Garmin (aka, a gps system). That should tell you something right there. April of last year, Evan was gone for some training op (surprise, surprise) and I was left the task of going to the Tax Center to take care of our tax returns. I was so excited about having this responsibility, because it meant that I would be going on base all by my self, and it wasn’t just to go to the Commissary. I looked up the address of the base tax center, hopped in the car, and plugged the address in my Garmin. Little did I know that gps systems will only take you to the base, but that’s the farthest it will get you. I thought the thing was broken when I went through the front gate, and then all of a sudden the little car on the screen looked like it was driving in the middle of nowhere. Garmin, in her annoying monotone voice, kept saying, “Please make a U-turn. Make a U-turn. U-turn!”

buy propecia tablets uk “I can’t!” I screamed back. I can only imagine what the people in the cars next to me were thinking. To punish Garmin, I turned her off. Then, the freak-outs started to begin. Where in the world is the tax center? How am I supposed to find it?! I only know how to get to the Commissary! I could ask someone. No! They would know I’m a newbie. I need to stay in the car. Oh, I wish Evan was here! *gasp!* We’re never going to get our tax return money and it will be all MY fault! And so on… Before I drove much farther, a bright idea occurred to me. I decided to turn Garmin back on, just in case. Bing! The little car on the screen suddenly started driving on real roads again. So, apparently you can’t turn the gps on until you actually get on base. Happy again, I started singing with the radio as Garmin smoothly took me around a corner and down a street to… a lot between two buildings, neither of which were the tax center. That alone ruined my relationship with Garmin. The buildings’ numbers were somewhat in the same general range, so I decided I would hoof it. I grabbed what I needed and exited the car. I started down one end of the street, peering very hard at the buildings, looking for a tell-tale sign. I probably looked like a suspicious stalker. When that end of the street produced nothing, I turned around and walked the other way. Somehow along the way, I got lost and found myself in the middle of a bunch of barracks buildings. Marines who were standing around and chatting stared at the poor lost woman as I walked by. Instead of asking me if I needed help (which I obviously did), they just continued to watch. I felt like they were waiting for me to do something exciting. Nothing exciting about a lost woman wandering aimlessly, people! Look away! Look away! After about twenty minutes of walking in circles, I was still lost. I felt my face get hot with embarrassment and anger, as pregnancy hormones rushed in. I whipped out my phone and began feverishly texting Evan. I was an anxious, tired, emotional, hormonal, sweaty, feet-hurting, pregnant wife. You can imagine how happy and nice those text messages were.

After what seemed like hours, I finally found the car again. I yanked open the door, threw down my purse, and slammed the door shut. “I’m never agreeing to do something on base ever again!” I said out loud to no one. As I started heading back down the street in the direction I came, right at the corner that I had turned on sat a small building with a very large yellow sign that read, “Tax Center.” Humbled, I parked the car and gently pulled out my phone to recant all my messages to Evan. I learned some valuable lessons that day:

    1. Never fully trust Garmin. She’s not always your best friend.

 

  • Always call ahead for directions before going somewhere on base, but be sure to ask to talk to a female. No offense, but the male Marines give horrible directions.

 

 

  • Don’t text your husband while under the influence of pregnancy hormones.

 

 

  • The guy at the front desk couldn’t care less about your “getting lost” story.

 

 

The Commissary: Lessons Learned

For those unfamiliar with what the Commissary is, it’s the grocery store on base. Generally, they carry foods for outstanding prices, and if you have coupons, you can generate some pretty good steals. My first Commissary experience wasn’t too bad. It was our second week as a married couple, and I hadn’t gone there yet. All excited about this new way of life, I felt like I was missing out on an important aspect of the military lifestyle. So, I practically begged Evan to take me, and he did, to appease my curiosity and, I’m sure, to get me to shut up about it. It was just like any other grocery shopping trip, except I had to show my ID before buying anything. That seemed simple enough. I couldn’t wait to go again. But, because of how far we lived from base, we hardly shopped there. Several months later, while Evan was gone for some training, I decided to appease my eagerness and do a solo trip to the Commissary. There are three things I learned about the Commissary that day:

               1. Never go on a payday.
               2. Never go on a payday FRIDAY.
               3. Never go solo.

Having to go look for an available cart should have been my first clue. I found an abandoned one cock-eyed on the curb. Mumbling about “lazy people who can’t walk a few feet to put a cart away,” I yanked the cart up on the sidewalk and waddled my way into the building. (I was quite pregnant at this time.) The scene that unfolded before my eyes as those sliding doors opened forever changed the way I had viewed the Commissary up to that point. It was not the fun little grocery trip Evan and I had taken before. I wasn’t sure if I had walked through the doors of the Commissary or a chaotic circus. There were mothers juggling two carts (pushing one and pulling another), with kids hanging off the sides like little monkeys. There were people practically running down the aisles, barely able to keep a hold on their carts. I wanted to ask where the big give-away was.

I cautiously approached the first aisle, just to be barricaded from both directions. Both individuals stopped to look at things on the shelves. I would have gone around the one in front of me, except that the aisles weren’t big enough for double-wide carts. I was stuck. I turned to the items on the shelves next to me. Mmmm, goya beans. Not exactly what I had gone to the store for. Eh, might as well grab a can or two so I don’t look like a complete idiot. Once I was free, I dropped the cans off in another aisle. There was no way I was going back to the barricading bean aisle. I quickly realized the only way I was going to survive this shopping trip was to find everything as fast as possible and hope I got what I needed. I went to the back of the store to get some cream cheese. I saw a long line of people standing next to the pre-packaged cheese section, so I pulled my cart in amongst the people. Nobody was moving or even looking at the cheese. In fact, they were all glaring at me like I was some intruder. Confused, I looked at the lady in front of me and asked, “Excuse me, is there a line for the cheese or something?” The woman laughed, “No honey, this is the line for check-out.” I pulled out and went to the back of the line, figuring I could grab the cream cheese on my way past it.

I could feel the blood drain from my face as I stared at the line in front of me. The line started at the zig-zag section in the front and wrapped all the way around the frozen foods side of the store to the back. Every person had a cart that was overflowing with groceries. I looked at my measly half-filled cart and groaned. As the line moved, I began seeing items that I had forgotten, across the way. I didn’t dare leave my cart or move at all, for fear of losing my spot. By the time I reached the front, an hour and a half had ticked past, and I had written out my to-do list for the next week and was mentally writing a petition to the Marine Corps for a separate check-out aisle for pregnant women.

Once I was free of that nonsense, I called Evan and said I’d never go there again. I could hear the smile in his voice. “Babe, you went on a payday Friday. That was probably the worst thing you could have done,” he laughed.

“Well, that would have been nice to know before I got my pregnant butt stuck in there for over two hours.”

Now, I always go to the Commissary on a non-pay weekday, with somebody.

The Wounds That Never Heal

wounds never heal
One thing a spouse going into a military marriage has to be prepared for is the effect (of the job) that carries into the night. I don’t exactly know how well my husband slept before I knew him, but I only know the man whose sleeping habits have been affected by a deployment to Iraq, a deployment to Africa, and intensive training.
Evan is an extremely heavy sleeper and does not wake up easily. He talks a lot in his sleep, and I’ve woken up to him wide-eyed and talking but still asleep. Many nights I’ve woken to him shouting orders, yelling about mortars or gunfire, or yelling at people to put their heads down. Most of these nights he’ll be sitting up, eyes wide open, and arms either flailing or “holding” a rifle. I can’t adequately describe the cold, steely look in his eyes.
During those times, I try to not touch him, for fear of startling him. Instead, I calm him with my voice and coax him to lie back down. Once he’s calm, I embrace him tightly and wonder what demons he’s fighting that night.

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Proud to Promote

Last night, while getting ready to go to the gym, I slipped on USMC sweatpants, a t-shirt dedicated to Evan’s deployment in Iraq, and then topped off the look with a sweatshirt bearing “USMC WIFE” in large letters across the front. I tossed my hair into a quick ponytail, and with one last look in the mirror, I left for the gym. This was the third night in a row that I had worn something Marine Corps-related to the gym. As I was removing my sweatshirt before working out, I giggled to myself. If Evan saw how decked out I got every day, he would just shake his head, laugh, and make a remark about me being super “moto.” Memories take me back to the first time I wanted to “promote.”
It was a beautiful, winter day at our apartment in North Carolina, and we decided to take advantage of the nice weather by cleaning out our car. I had only been a Marine Corps wife for a little over a month, so I wasn’t completely in tune to all the “dos” and “don’ts” of military wifedom. I had the lovely task of organizing the trunk. After sifting through trash, skivis in need of washing, and an occasional boot sock (the car had become a makeshift locker room), I found it, a small treasure! I grabbed it and rubbed it clean with my sleeve. There before me was a bright red USMC license plate. I ran to Evan and giddily shoved the plate in his face. “Babe, let’s put this on the car!” I exclaimed.

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It’s Not Goodbye; It’s See You Later

see you laterSo many people talk about how difficult deployment is, but nothing is as difficult as saying goodbye beforehand. Watching the one you love get on that bus seals the impending separation you’ve been dreading for months. If you’re lucky, you know about the deployment six months to a year ahead of time. If you’re not so lucky, you know only a few months, even just a few weeks, before you’re without your spouse for seven months to a year (depending on the military branch). Thankfully, in the Marine Corps, the usual deployment length is seven months, though that’s not always the case. Every Marine wife has to mentally prepare for the possibility of an extension and finding out of that extension during her preparation for his homecoming. In mine and Evan’s case, we fell among the lucky ones to know about his deployment early on. Projected dep. dates were given nearly seven months in advance. With deployment in the distant future and a baby on the way, we ignored that dreaded date for several months.

Those months slipped by quickly and even towards the end, we got so caught up in life— Little Man’s birth, my leg surgery, and packing up the apartment—that we were almost surprised when the final day before he had to leave came upon us. Tears flowed and emotions raged. We didn’t know what to do but cry and hold tightly to each other. Evan was scheduled to leave at 2 A.M. but had to be in by 10:30 P.M. to draw weapons. We lived a half hour from base, so Evan wanted to leave an hour early to make sure he got there on time. We decided to spend the last couple hours with our neighbors, because we couldn’t stand to be in our gloomily empty apartment which was mostly packed up. The clock ticked 9:45, and we still hadn’t left yet. Mentally exhausted and emotionally spent, we wearily packed up the car with Evan’s gear, coffee, food, books, blankets, and pillows. (You always prepare to spend a long time waiting.) By this time, we just wanted to get this part over with.

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