Monthly Archives: January 2014

In Which I Become Affianced

The time has come, dear readers — the time at which my Pinterest wedding boards become legitimate, and I realize I can’t afford most of the absurd things I think princesses should have at their weddings (fireworks, elephant rides, and a puppy as a favor a la Bridesmaids being the most disappointing).

Yep, I am interrupting this regularly scheduled program to announce that I have become affianced to Manfriend!

A lot of little girls spend their whole lives fantasizing about their weddings. I’m not really into floral arrangements or cakes that look better than they taste, though, so my wedding plan was basically this: I manage to look ethereal and virginal and old-Hollywood-sexy all at once. He’s tall (sorry short guys of the world, but you were just not a part of my wedding fantasy) and shmexy. My whole family is there. There is a ton of food and some of it is grilled cheese and all of it is delicious. Then there is dancing and merriment and probably ice sculptures and enchanted fountains. A fairy grants us three wishes for our marriage. Then we fly away on a magic carpet to start our happily ever after.

Really solid plan, right?

Regardless of whether or not the fairy godmother I plan on inviting can clear her schedule to make it to the wedding, I think I’m still off to a pretty good start. Also he asked me to marry him and I said yes, so now I can actually, legitimately plan a wedding.

I had some good reasons for saying yes too. Here is a list of things I like about Manfriend:

1) He’s tall.

Apart from this being an evolution-based indication of good health and the ability to defend our family, it is also terribly convenient because I can wear whatever height heels I want when we go fancy places without looking silly. It also means he can reach ALL THE THINGS.

“Manfriend? Could you please hang this plant for me on the porch? I can’t reach that chain thingy.” Of course he can.

“Manfriend, the plant is dead because I never remember to water it. Could you take it down and hang up this fake one instead?” Not an issue.

“Manfriend, be a dear and fetch the rum from the back corner of the top of the fridge, where I slid it and now cannot access it.” Then he pours shots.

“Manfriend? I can’t reach that book on the top shelf.” Book + boy = swoon.

“Manfriend, I can’t see the parade because America is obese and all these fat people are blocking the view of those of us with only borderline BMIs.” Then I get hefted up so I can see the parade.

“Manfriend, could you–” Then he’s like, STOP CALLING ME MANFRIEND, because it’s only endearing for so long and then he wishes to be called by his real name or whatever, but regardless. With Manfriend in my life I can reach/see/drink/forget to water all the things.

2) He tolerates/sometimes enjoys the company of my family.

I know everybody’s family is crazy and all that jazz, but Manfriend grew up with one brother and no sisters and his parents are really nice and have been married forever. I have three sisters as crazy as I am, a father who likes to run background checks on everyone, a stepmother that we called our Wicked Evil Stepmonster (her idea for a title), a mother I’m pretty sure has a compulsive holiday-decorating disorder, and a partridge in a pear tree. (Well, not the last thing, but Manfriend comes from a family that just has cats and dogs for pets and in my family we’ve had two kinds of birds, rabbits, five kinds of dogs, fish, mice, a desert tortoise, and a five-foot iguana. Zoo status, when you include the mood swings of four girls.)

Manfriend bears all these things with grace and humor, and looks really good doing it.

3) He’s secretly smart.

Because I can sometimes be an elitist, pretentious bitch, I used to think Manfriend wasn’t smart enough to keep up with me. He played video games and sports and never seemed to be reading for fun, and he occasionally demonstrated incorrect usage of your/you’re in our early text conversations. Clearly not somebody I could procreate with. Scoff. Hair toss. DIS-MISSED.

Then while I was busy being too smart for him, he charmed my family, convinced me to go to Disney World with him during my last spring break at West Point, and cemented our relationship when he stood up for me against an ex who made all kinds of wild, unflattering accusations about my family and me. He also made perfect grades on Physics exams at West Point, proving once and for all that he’s not a dumb jock, as much as he likes to claim he is. I, on the other hand, studied for hours and still only skidded by in Physics I and II with a B- both semesters. I neither remember nor understand anything about that class, except that if you copy down all the equations you might get some partial credit.

Now, to tease me for being a pretentious bitch in the early days of our relationship, Manfriend pretends to have a diminished vocabulary purely for the sake of driving me crazy.

For instance:

HIM: What are you doing?

ME: I’m being coy.

HIM: Oh, like the fish.

ME: No! Not like the fish!

HIM: Kelley, stop being koi.

Or:

HIM: I don’t understand.

ME: You’re just being intentionally obtuse.

HIM: You know I don’t like it when you call me fat.

…infuriating. Adorable…but mostly infuriating.

4) He’s a bazillionaire.

Just kidding. If he was we’d definitely have a roller coaster photo booth at our wedding. Also baby otters.

But he is good with money, and math, and carpentry, and electricity, and technology, and sports, and grilling, and being coordinated, and all kinds of other things at which I am hopeless. He also has a much higher internal body temperature than I do, which I really appreciate in the winter but requires the use of a fan in summertime. Basically he fills in the gaps in my life, which I think is a pretty important characteristic in the person you’re going to marry.

5) He’s dreamy.

But seriously.

Here’s how he proposed:

We’d been planning to get engaged this past Christmas for almost a year. We shopped for rings over Valentine’s Day weekend last year, and decided what we liked/didn’t like, price, etc. Then we didn’t talk about it again for months. Over the summer he told me to go get my ring finger sized, but other than that he gave no hints about what he was going to buy or when. By November I was convinced he still hadn’t picked one out, and I was worried he was going to spend too much money or wait too long and then we’d have to wait longer to get engaged and waaaaaaah.

Then, two days after Thanksgiving, my mom and youngest sister were visiting his house. His parents, his brother, and his brother’s fiance were also there. Manfriend’s brother’s fiance (the girlfriend-in-law, my stepmom calls her) announced that evening that they had done a bunch of work outside, and so she wanted everyone to get dressed up to take nice family pictures on the bridge over the pond in the backyard the next day. We all said, okay, whatever, and Manfriend seemed clueless/appropriately uninterested so I suspected nothing.

The following afternoon, Manfriend and I were taking our turn for pictures on the bridge. Suddenly, he stopped and grinned at me, and said, “Hang on. I have to go get something,” and leaves me standing baffled on the bridge by myself. He jogged to a nearby tree and grabbed something from behind it, then came back to stand with me on the bridge.

It was a book. Oh! A book! I love books! I tried to take it from him, starting to feel a little indignant that he would bring me a present and then not just hand it over. Holding the book away from me, he put his other hand on my back and stood close. (He was kind of rubbing my back like you might do with a skittish bunny or something, so I’m pretty sure he was trying to lull me into a false sense of security before he could strike.) Then he began his little speech. I started looking around and realized that every female member of our family watching was now crying. Then I realized that he was proposing. And our families were there. And it was being filmed for my big sister in Afghanistan. Then he was down on one knee, opening the book to reveal the ring inside:

It was basically the most magical thing ever.

So of course I cried.

And I said yes.

Duh.

And then my dad and stepmom and Sister #3 showed up and the whole big happy group of us had a belated Thanksgiving dinner together. There was even celebratory pie, courtesy of my future sister-in-law.

engagement2

This was the book Manfriend had picked out to use for the proposal:

And this is the bling ring he gave me:

Sometimes I make a disco ball on the wall when I’m bored during staff meetings, because examining the sparkliness (yes, that is important in choosing a diamond: cut, color, clarity, carat, and sparkliness) of my ring is a lot more interesting than who’s on profile and whatever we’re doing for training next week.

Now all I have to do is win the lottery or get a fat book advance so I can have elephant rides and a fireworks show to rival Disney World, and I’ll be set! After that I plan to spend a few hours coming up with witty retorts to the inevitable and unoriginal string of “lovely” jokes that I will endure for the rest of my life. That’s right, Manfriend’s last name is Lovely, and so after he graduates/commissions/we get married, we shall be the Lieutenants Lovely.

I invite you to stay tuned this year as I slowly morph into Bridezilla. I am now accepting donations to fund my extravagant fairy-tale wedding, complete with water slide.

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My Favorite Squids

Well.

You all may have noticed a distinct upturn in readership as a result of my last post (I certainly did. I had to turn the Word Press notifications off on my phone after the torrent of Navy haters, Navy good sports, and Army supporters leaving comments woke me up in the middle of the night. And two hours before I had to get up for PT, too; somebody call the waaaambulance for me, please.)

But letting a few rude middies ruin it for the rest of them is like letting a couple of burnt kernels ruin an otherwise delicious bag of popcorn (I don’t know why the popcorn analogy. Probably because we’re fresh out of the Christmas movie season but I could still go for some theater-popped goodness covered in butter) and we can’t have that.

Several people lamented the way I poked fun at Navy’s mascot, uniforms, traditions, etc. blah blah blah. Aren’t we all supposed to be on the same team??? How can we defeat the terrorists if an Army officer makes fun of the Navy football team??? How dare you drink at a football game as a 24-year-old officer off duty! I’m a former Naval officer and graduate of the Naval Academy – but I can’t go to bed now, honey; someone on the Internet is WRONG!

I get it. We are all on the same team when it comes to being proud members of America’s armed forces. But unless we strike up a friendly game of football with Team Bin Laden or the Saddam Squad and Navy is playing them, I am going to root against Navy football. I just am. I want Navy to lose frequently, and to Army, always. Forever and ever, the end.

But, having said that, there are several former midshipmen and current members of the Navy of whom I am rather fond. Here are the ones topping the charts:

LYZZY

This lovely woman is Lyzzy, USNA Class of 2010. The Lord gave her a beautiful singing voice, luscious blonde locks, and the good sense to cross-commission into the Army. She actually did it since HUMINT wasn’t open to females in the Marine Corps at the time and that was what she wanted to pursue. She spent her first deployment as a source analyst working solely with human intelligence personnel.

Lyzzy was in Glee Club at West Point her first semester of her junior year while I was a plebe (freshman). She lived in the same building I did, and if I ever ran into her in the hallways she’d talk to me like a real person instead of the pond scum that plebes really are at West Point, and for that I adored her.

Did I mention she’s amazing?

And, per her request: “Ok! I hate to say it, but please include that I still love my Navy roots and will always cheer for Navy…no matter how sad it makes my husband and friends.” (Lyzzy married a West Point grad. Smart lady.)

MATT

Matt was an semester exchange from Navy who was in my company when we were both first semester juniors. He lived one floor below me and was actually Manfriend’s squad leader that semester. Manfriend benefitted from Matt’s leadership skillz, and I benefitted from his friendship. We sat at the same lunch and dinner table and he made life more bearable on crappy days.

Matt is currently being a badass as the Anti Submarine Warfare officer on a destroyer based out of Japan. He also told me he was a boarding officer onboard, which was “semi-interesting.” Actually, it’s really interesting. I had to look it up because he didn’t explain what it meant but one definition I found said it was “a naval officer detailed to board an incoming ship to provide local information (as to the ceremonies or honors expected, uniforms required, or facilities available).” Basically an ambassador of land to those at sea/pretty freaking cool.

Matt’s pretty easy to get along with. He even told me he did “not mind one bit to be one of your favorite squids,” which I thought was quite generous.

MELANIE

Melanie was another semester exchange middie that I met when she was in Glee Club the first semester of my sophomore year. Sometimes she gets these really adorably uncontrollable hiccups, which were only minorly disruptive when we were singing warm-up scales, but infinitely entertaining nonetheless. Last year Melly was the accompanist for the Naval Academy Glee Club when they sang for George Bush Senior.

She gets some pretty sweet close-up action in THIS video at 1:14 of the Glee Club singing at West Point on Veteran’s Day a few years ago.

Aaaand this is her with Patrick Stewart. (That sound was me collapsing into a heap of jealousy on the floor.)

BRANDON

I knew Brandon in high school, when we did Civil War reenacting together (yes, that is a real thing; yes, I participated; see, it happened:

Get over it). We had super big crushes on each other, but I went to West Point and he enlisted in the Navy and now he’s married and I’m engaged and so that ship has sailed (ha, ha). When I asked if I could include him in my blog entry he said of course, and as for the hate mail, well: “See Kelley? That’s what happens when Army loses and you all don’t let it go right away, hah!”

Brandon is now a Navy Corpsman, Petty Officer 3rd Class. Apparently in the Navy, they use their jobs as ranks, so he’s actually a Hospitalman 3rd Class (HM3). This means he deals with anything medical. They work in hospitals, on ships, and can be attached to the Marine Corps as medical attaches. Brandon currently works as a Navy Psychiatric Technician. When I asked for more details he told me to look up Navy Corpsman on Wikipedia. So much for interviewing and going straight to the source.

This is him and his wife, who’s also in the Navy:

Brandon is actually Canadian, born and bred, but he’s a smart Canadian, which is why he lives in America. He asked me to mention that he is “extraordinarily proud to be serving in the United States Armed Forces and to be serving her people.” Happy to have him aboard, eh?

HUNTER

I love this picture because this is how we all felt at graduation but only a few people actually showed it so clearly.

Hunter was a semester exchange student from Navy in the second semester of his junior year and my senior year. He was in the elective I took with a bunch of my friends, Film and Film Theory.

That class was delightful. We were a bunch of burnt out seniors ready to get the hell out of West Point with our undergrad degrees and commissions in hand, so we thought we’d watch a few movies and overwhelm the class with our senioritis superiority.

We were mistaken. The focus of the class turned out to be foreign films, so instead of just analyzing and discussing cinematography, camera angles, and soundtracks, we had to read the whole movie in the subtitles. I was a very attentive student; during one film “lab” when we watched the Kurdish war film “Turtles Can Fly” (no they can’t, and spoiler alert: everyone dies) I took some notes, read the movie synopsis online, rearranged my kingdom in Castleville, and filed my taxes. (Sorry, COL Nelson. I really did learn things, I promise.)

Anyway, Hunter was one of the few males in a predominantly female class (a definite rarity at the service academies). He later admitted to us when we were celebrating our end-of-the-semester project in a local bar that we had contradicted what he had heard about West Point girls (i.e., we’re all ugly). He then proceeded to accurately classify each of us as not-a-bitch, a bitch, and sometimes-a-bitch. (I was sometimes-a-bitch, in case you were wondering, and mostly due to my pretentious use of academic jargon in class.) His honesty about our personalities, his admittance that there were actually five attractive West Point female cadets in a single class hour, and his excellent sense of humor has won him a place on this list.

Hunter studied English (literature and poetry) at Annapolis and completed his senior thesis on Irish poet W.B. Yeats. He branched into the Marine Corps out of the Naval Academy instead of opting for a specific branch in the Navy. He’s currently attending The Basic School (TBS), which is similar to the Army’s basic officer leader course for the Infantry (IBOLC). “All officers go because every Marine is grounded in basic infantry skills,” Hunter explained. His course at Quantico, VA lasts six months. While at TBS, Marines compete for their specific job within the Marines. Hunter was just assigned as a Comptroller (Finance) and will report to his unit after he completes his finance-specific training.

Hunter loves America and the ladies of COL Nelson’s Film and Film Theory Class in Spring 2012 love Hunter.

**

Honorable mentions go to Gene Kelly and Frank Sinatra as sailors:

‘Cause yay.

Happy 2014, everyone! Stay tuned for the story of how I recently became affianced to Manfriend and also read 100 books in 2013. Adventures abound.

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January 8, 2014 · 6:36 pm