Wedding Nostalgia.

Joe and I went to a wedding this weekend. It was a military wedding. A friend of mine from work and her marine fiance were tying the knot. I absolutely love the idea of a military wedding. So formal and the groomsmen and ushers all look so snazzy in their uniforms. All in all, we had a good time. My pantyhose had a slight malfunction (runner all the way from ankle to crotch), and my husband primped in his dress blue uniform more than a debutante at a London ball (he couldn’t decide whether to wear medals or ribbons…a life changing decision to be sure).

Of course whenever people go to a wedding, you can’t help but reminisce when you hear the couple take their vows. I would love to be able to tell you that my wedding was as lovely and romantic as this one. All acoustic guitar and champagne toasts, but then I would be lying. And who lies in a blog…

When Joe and I got married, we decided on a courthouse wedding. He couldn’t get any leave and we really couldn’t afford to do a whole shebang due to money. No big deal, a nice private, family only wedding was fine with me. The week before the wedding, I went to St. Thomas with my family. This was planned WAY before Joe and I decided to get married. I like to joke that my honeymoon came before the wedding and without the groom. We spent a lovely week in St. Thomas with my sisters, parents and grandparents. We were due to fly home on a Friday and I was to get married at 9 am the next day.

We get to the airport at St. Thomas and go through customs. If anyone has ever flown to St. Thomas then they know that the airport is not air-conditioned and extremely small. Not to mention I had my son with me who was 2 at the time. Not a good combination. Of course we find out that the flight to Philly was delayed. No biggie, we had a 2 hour layover there to get to Chicago. The plane in St. Thomas took off an hour late and it was a 4 hour flight to Philadelphia. Around the time that we were supposed to land, the pilot comes on the intercom and says that there is traffic and we have to circle until we had clearance to land the plane. Now I am starting to panic since there was only about 45 minutes until our connecting flight was supposed to leave for Chicago.

After a half an hour of circling, a screaming toddler with pain in his ears,and a panicked bride to be who hated to fly, we landed in Philly. Of course we would be in a completely different concourse and the airline had left my son’s stroller in St. Thomas. Fantastic. My dad took one look at my miserable, sunburnt face and took off like a light to the next flight to Chicago, as ours had already boarded and got in line for takeoff. My parents, my sister, and my son and I hauled ass through that airport. Jogging with a two-year old is no mean feat, let me tell you. We got to the gate just as they had boarded everyone and were trying to figure out who was going to fly standby. Panting, I went to ask the people at the check in desk if there were any seats leftover. She gave me a look and pointed, smirking, at the 30 or so people milling around the gate. Obviously this was going to be a problem.

She tells me that I am last on the list and I won’t be able to make it out until the morning. I literally burst into tears. I had been waiting to marry Joe for 7 years and this was definitely a bad omen. I will never forget the reaction of those people at the gate. When the attendants began calling out names for standby, each one of them declined their seat. They kept saying, “Let the bride go, let the bride go.” The flight attendants were not to be deterred. They said I wasn’t on the flight roster, it was illegal to let me go on the flight. I was miserable, sobbing in a plastic airport seat. I suppose the attendants took pity on me. She said, “Get your bag, get on the plane. There is one seat left.”

I looked at my mom and dad who told me to go. I couldn’t take my son, he couldn’t ride on my lap, he was too old. I handed him to my mom with his diaper bag (which had 2 diapers left), I gave my parents, my sister, and my son a hug and a kiss and boarded that flight all by myself. My family had to stay in Philadelphia overnight to catch the first flight to Chicago in the morning.

I made it to Chicago at midnight, had to hire a cab to get home, and passed out for 4 hours. I got up, managed to make myself somewhat presentable, and drove off to get married in Waukegan, IL, where Great Lakes (naval base) was. I suppose it doesn’t matter that while we were waiting for the JOP, I went to the bathroom. While I was in there, Joe was asked if he didn’t mind having a group wedding because of time constraints in the courthouse. I was just lucky to be there and to be getting married. Although, getting married with 10 other couples was possibly the weirdest thing I have ever done. But our vows were said, we were married, everything was done.

My family made it home that morning, but they missed my wedding. I will always regret that. According to my mom, they had dinner at the hotel in Philadelphia that night where everyone was talking about the girl who managed to barely make the last flight out to Chicago to get married. My mom proudly told them that girl was her daughter.

So I suppose every wedding is beautiful, and in its own way, mine was too.

Wearing Rank.

Ah…wearing your spouse/significant other’s rank. It’s something that nearly EVERY military wife has done at some point. Yep, even me. I won’t admit to it often but sometimes it’s hard not to. Now, I always feel like I should do a little background explanation for those of you who aren’t living the military lifestyle. When a spouse “wears the rank”, it really means that they are using their husband (or wife’s) staus in the military to better their social lives. I had been warned about this before I got married, but brushed it off.

My first experience with a military wife wearing her husband’s rank was when we had just moved to Camp Lejeune. Jacksonville, N.C. is a total military town. It has Wal Mart (two of them!), bars, strip clubs, tattoo shops. Weird things go on there. I have heard rumors about a midget strip club night at one of the popular clubs down there. Of course, we didn’t know any of this when we moved there. We had wanted to get in base housing but the wait was a few months so while we waited we rented a townhouse out in town. It was a pretty crappy place, had a lot of “waterbugs”, a.k.a. roaches, neighbors were all kind of trashy. Jesus, I sound like a spoiled brat.

I had taken my son Scott to the park in the community. It was summertime and hotter than hell, I must have been covered in sweat. Not looking my best, I’m sure. A mother and her son came up to us and her son started playing with Scott. As mothers do, we carefully tested the waters to see if we had anything in common. Turns out we did…both of our husbands were in the military. Once this was discovered, she started into the military wife inquisition. This is where they ask what branch your husband is in, what rank he is, what he does in the military, how old you are, and how long you have been married. They keep a mental scorecard in their heads, checking off each answer, and using that to judge your “worth” in the heirarchy of military wives.

Unfortunately, I failed that test. If that had been the old days, I would have been the scruffy maid milking the cows in the barn. My answers were as follows: husband is in the navy, he is only an E1, he is a corpsman, I am 22, we got married 3 weeks ago. Suddenly her friendly face turned stony. I will always remember the way she curled up her lip at me and snapped at her son to come here and that they were going home. She literally took her child by the arm and towed him out of the park, away from the contamination of my virginial military wife status.

I was so offended. I couldn’t understand what happened. I was a generally likeable person. I had friends! Hell, someone liked me enough to marry me…why didn’t she want her kid to play with mine? I kept this experience to myself, always wondering what I had said wrong. After I spent a little more time in my new role as military wife, I began to understand (but definitely not condone) that woman’s thoughts.

Camp Lejeune is not a naval base. It is a Marine Corps base. The only naval people there either work at the hospital, with the platoons as a field corpsman, or in the administrative side. The fact that my husband was not a marine was my first fail. Secondly, he was an E1. Fresh out of boot camp. No rank, no respect. Next, I was too “young”…a sterotypical fresh, young military wife. Lastly, we had only been married 3 weeks. This I don’t understand, everyone has to start somewhere!

Now that I am a seasoned military wife, I have caught myself doing this…the military wife inquisition. I always stop myself before I finish, knowing that this could be a young, new wife who is lonely in a new duty station. I have often told my husband that I want him to go officer so I can be saluted when I drive through the gates on to a military base 🙂 Or so I can park in the primo spots at the commissary. But I would never treat another wife so disrespectfully. Even girlfriends deserve respect, because a military girlfriend is only a few steps away from a military wife.

The Joys of Tricare

Let’s discuss the lovely healthcare system of the United States Armed Forces, also known as Tricare. Tricare Prime in our family. Disclaimer: I am NOT bashing the fact that I get free, usually quality healthcare! Just putting that out there. I just might be bashing the logistics of said system.

When my husband was a stationed at Camp Lejeune, NC, he worked at the Naval Hospital. This was our first duty station so he was fresh out of boot camp and A-School (job training), and was just pretty much a huge newbie to the Navy scene. So they slapped him into night shift work at the hospital on base. Not his first pick on how to spend 2 years in the military, but what can you do? Gotta pay your dues somehow.

This was my first experience with being a military spouse in general. We had gotten married 2 weeks before we moved from Chicago to N.C. We get signed up for Tricare, my oldest son and I. Things are great, we are learning about our new locale, getting to know the local Walmart (pretty much the hottest spot in Jacksonville, N.C.), and then BAM! I found out I was pregnant. Called the OB-GYN clinic and told them I had a positive pregnancy test. They told me I have to come in and take a “military issued test”. I say ok and drive up to pee on a stick that looked exactly like the First Response I peed on the day before. Lo and behold, the military says I am pregnant. Fine. This is in May, they can’t fit me into OB-GYN until January. January is when my new fetus is due to make its debut. So they send me to Family Medicine. I get my first appointment in July. That’s a lot of waiting for a pregnant lady.

My pregnancy was slightly high risk towards the end. The baby wanted to come out, the doctors didn’t want him too…Premature labor was put under control  and my actual birth experience was not too shabby. This was the first time having a baby in a military facility and I had heard horror story after horror story. Still do actually. The only disheartening thing was the corpsman who was brought in to start my IV. Turns out he was buddies with my husband (they had gone to Corps School together) and instead of paying attention to the elephant sized, panting pregnant woman that he was supposed to be “professionally” sticking, he was joking around with Joe about their times in Chicago and how “fucked up” they used to get. While I had the upmost faith in my own husband, this guy was stressing me out so bad that the nurse came in to see why my heartbeat was off the charts.

Immature corpsmen aside, my experience with Lejeune wasn’t too bad. It wasn’t until we moved here to Norfolk that Tricare and I have become foes in this crazy healthcare battle. Now if you have ever been to the Hampton Roads area you know how congested it is, and how full of military it is. It’s out of control. There are all sorts of bases here. Tricare set me and the boys up at Langley AFB which is about 30 minutes away and through a tunnel. Again, if you know Norfolk you know to avoid tunnels at all costs. The traffic here is painful at best. Naturally, aside from necessary appointments, I self medicate at home and avoid going at all costs.

Unfortunately, this week I have received a lovely present from my husband (who is conveniently absent in the field)…a cold which morphed into the worst sinus infection I have ever had. So I suck it up, call the appointment line and attempt to get seen so I can snag some antibiotics.

Me: Hi, I have a sinus infection and would like to see my doctor.

Operator: We’re sorry, there are no appointments available until next week.

Me: I will probably be dead next week, are you sure you can’t fit me in?

Operator: Ma’am, if there were appointments open, I would give you one. I do apologize.

Right, not getting an appointment at the doctors. They suggested that I go to the emergency room at Portsmouth Naval. Hah, not likely with two young children and a husband who is playing war games in some field…It would seem that free healthcare does have a price tag; although at least I can say that I have it!

Hey! Mrs. Doc Brady!

This is what my husband’s marines call me. A little background info on a “field corpsmen”…My husband Joe is a field corpsmen, meaning he is trained to work with the marines. The Marine Corps doesn’t have their own medical so they use the Navy’s. When you see pictures of marines in Afghanistan or Iraq, there is ALWAYS a corpsmen with them in the platoon. Since there is one corpsmen to maybe sixty or so marines, they get the honorary title of “Doc”. I know about 27 thousand “doc’s” since all of my husband’s corpsman friends are also called doc. Get a few in the same room and you start to get confused. 

Anywho, these marines are all younger than my husband and I, so most of them are super polite military style. “Yes ma’am, no ma’am, thank you ma’am.” You get the picture. I adore the politeness from a military man. Too bad my husband doesn’t have more of it 😉 It would seem that a few of the marines get nervous when they are talking to me. I have told them repeatedly that they are allowed to call me Sam but they won’t. As I was trying to assure a marine that this wouldn’t be a breach of military conduct, he nervously blurted out, “Yes ma’am Mrs. Doc Brady, ma’am!”

I was surprised into silence (something that doesn’t happen too often, let me tell you). My husband started laughing, and the marine looked like he didn’t know whether to laugh with him or run out of my front door. He opted for a stoic smile…

And yes, my last name is Brady. Let’s all get it out of our systems now… “There’s a story of a lovely ladddyy, who was bringing up three very loveelllly girls!” I do not claim this last name by birth, only by marriage. My maiden name was a nice, no jokes name. Oh well. You love the man, you love the name.

So at our house we are often referred to as “Doc and Mrs. Doc Brady.” Pretty classy for a couple of people who haven’t finished college yet and don’t plan on ever holding a Ph.D in anything don’t you think?

A Foray Into Blogging…

Ok, who hasn’t googled some random question and had a bunch of blog posts pop up? I know I have. I am a google freak. Any question I have gets googled. My husband calls me the queen of google. I digress…My thoughts this morning were, “Why can’t I have a blog that comes up in a google search to quench some thirsty web questor?” Well, why not? Et voila, I am now a blogger. True I have no followers, no facebook likes or visitors to my blog, but I have taken the first step.

I love to read. When I say that I love it, I mean I LOVE IT. I will read anything: the back of cereal boxes, those dumb advertisements that come with my daily bills, the dictionary…you get the picture. When I was younger I wanted to write a novel. I dreamed of being the next J.K. Rowling or Judy Blume (to my younger readers; she was a pioneer in teen girl novels). I soon realized that I am a total procrastinator. I would write 3 chapters, be covered in ink and in love with my characters, and then all of a sudden lose interest. I must have a dozen unfinished novels laying around in my moving boxes.

Blogging seems like it could be a way for me to jot down snippets of writing, to express myself, without having to commit to writing hundreds of pages of flowing story. Eh, maybe someday I will get around to it.

My life around here can get pretty boring. No joke. I go to school online, so when I am not procrastinating with my schoolwork, or googling some inane question, I am attempting to become a teacher. Preferably I want to teach history, although my degree is in Interdisciplinary Studies K-8 grade. I figure it will give me more options when I actually begin to teach. When I am not studying, I am taking care of my two boys. Scratch that, I am taking care of them while I study. Those boys go, go, go 24/7. Since my husband works extremely long hours, and often is gone weeks or months at a time, I get most of my conversation from my kids, or from Facebook. Sometimes I mix up the two and when my oldest, Scott, comes home from preschool with a project, I go to press the “Like” button. Yep, I admitted it. Go blogging!

So be warned that this blog may be full of mommy stories (sorry, but if you are a mom you get it), funny stories about drama on Facebook, or recaps of catty mom moments at the elementary school bus loop (there are a bunch of those). Try and meander over to my “About Me!” section (if you don’t aleady know me) to get a sort of back story. But don’t worry, like all good authors, I will make sure nobody gets lost when they read my posts 🙂

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