The blog has moved!
All the old posts and my continued adventures can be found at It’s a Lovely Life.
Check it out!
The blog has moved!
All the old posts and my continued adventures can be found at It’s a Lovely Life.
Check it out!
When I was a kid I thought grown-ups were so boring.
Either that or they were just pretending. Surely they were just speaking in some kind of unfathomable grown-up code. Nobody could actually be interested in the mundane topics they always seemed to be bringing up voluntarily, could they?
Wow Bob, looks like rain.
Sure do need it, Susan.
You know that’s right, Bob.
And how about that construction over on the loop?
Well it really wasn’t that causing the congestion this morning, Bob; it was that fender bender over there on Magnolia Street!
Was that James’s boy?
Sure was, Susan. Such a nice kid — just a shame.
Oh you know those insurance rates are just going to skyrocket!
Blah. Blah. BLAH.
I used to stand in a kind of stupor in the grocery store while my mom got roped into one of these types of conversations and try to slink away to find something more interesting to do. You know, like stare blankly into a freezer or read ingredient labels or pretend the floor was lava and step from tile to tile until even that got boring, and I began to wish that the floor would open up and swallow me into its magma-filled abyss, since that at least would be more interesting than the conversation that my mother and I were being forced to endure while shopping for sustenance for our home. Maybe this is why people farmed for so long–not because they couldn’t figure out how to industrialize, specialize, then package and ship goods to stores for retail, but because they’d rather get up at the butt crack of dawn and milk their own cows on a daily basis instead of getting trapped, shivering, in the milk aisle by some guy they vaguely know from a church they used to go to, so they can talk about the weather for so long that rain becomes just a vague recollection.
So this is why I am ashamed to make this confession: Here I am at the tender age of not-yet-twenty-five, and I have begun the wretched transformation into one of these capable, intelligent human beings who suddenly, for no apparent reason, morphs into an unbearably boring zombie caricature of my vibrant self.
Yes. I am becoming a Grown-Up.
(Or a Grup, as my sisters and like to call them, based off this one Star Trek episode we really liked.)
Here are some things that I found not even remotely interesting circa 1998:
– Seasonal allergies
– Turning off the lights when you leave the room
– Pet dander
– Waiting until the dishwasher was full to run it
– How fast grass grows
– Zoning laws
– The cost of a gallon of milk
– When we might be getting some rain again, Bob
– Gas mileage (Although it is fair here to note that I did not have a driver’s license until 2006.)
As of 2014 I have some level of interest in every single item on that heinously mundane list. This is not okay with me.
But you know why all of the things on the list are suddenly interesting? It seems that my parents were sheltering me throughout my childhood from a very unfortunate reality about adulthood: it costs money. Lots of it.
Turns out the magic of childhood is not in the way that clothes appeared in my closet or sheets appeared on my bed or food appeared on the table, but the fact that I did not have to put them there, work for the funds that made them available, pay taxes to make them legal, or, most magically of all, ever wonder about any of the economic process whatsoever. And everything on that list in some way leads to something that ends up costing money.
I’m learning it’s not all doom and gloom, however. If you have a nice Manfriend, the two of you can have an extended conversation about which gender roles you will choose to adhere to in your marriage and decide how to assign tasks accordingly. I like to think of it as Domestic Utilitarianism.
For example, I don’t really like to cook, but Manfriend is really good at making Fancy Chef Ramsey Food, so he cooks, and I follow him around with a sponge and a bottle of 409 and do all the dishes, and at the end of the night we’re both fed, and I didn’t have to cook, and he didn’t have to clean, so we’re both happy. He cooks; I bake; clearly we’re both going to end up fat even though I don’t fulfill the traditionally female role of meal preparation. Just gotta play to our strengths. (And I’d say we’re both very gifted eaters. Why yes, I would like another scoop of spaghetti. Thanks.)
I invite you now to take special note of the “how fast grass grows” item on my list. This one is important, because it has implications beyond just the length of a lawn. It encompasses watering, mowing, edging, and fertilizing that lawn. It involves monitoring that lawn for pests and disposing of those pests accordingly. It involves understanding what type of soil you have. It involves maintenance. It is a gigantic pain in the butt. Guess which item on the list Manfriend volunteered for in order to properly maintain our level of Domestic Utilitarianism?
I am basically content to let the grass die. But my dad and stepmom came to visit over the summer and bought us some trees as a housewarming gift. Then my dad and Manfriend spent the rest of the weekend hauling bricks and deciding where to plant them and digging holes and basically doing a lot of things I dislike (moving heavy things outdoors in the heat in the dirt surrounded by bugs) while I got to stay inside. So I feel like I owe it to them to be a good steward of their gift by taking care of the trees.
Apparently this means watering the poor little dears every morning and every freaking night. Like what the heck. These greedy bastards are so scraggly and unimpressive and yet so DEMANDING. Even Betty is doing her part by providing ample fertilizer. Still this does not change the fact that I did not sign on for any freaking yard work but I’m out there twice a day–before the sun comes up and after the sun goes down–like some kind of non-mustached Lorax, trying to drown these damn agua-holic trees.
It is the worst. Just GROW UP ALREADY AND PROVIDE ME SOME SHADE.
Also when you are outside watering your helpless baby trees, you discover other unpleasant, nature-related things. Like fire ants. WHERE DO THEY KEEP COMING FROM. I think they’re growing inside the grass. Like at night the grass all gets together and has a secret meeting while I’m asleep about how it’s being neglected in Manfriend’s absence, and to teach me a lesson, it’s going to sprout ant beds every week in random places across the lawn.
“Oh? Not going to water us again, are you? Well, we’ll just see about that…” FIRE ANTS, GRASSHOPPERS, HORRIFYING-LOOKING LIZARDS. Bam, bam, bam. “Enjoy watering your lawn. …Bitch.”
Don’t tell me I’m being dramatic. My lawn is out to get me because it’s jealous that it doesn’t get watered every day like the lawn next door, which is owned by some zealous over-waterers who really need to calm down, since they’re making all the other lawns in the neighborhood jealous. It’s like bringing your kid Panera or Chick-fil-A for lunch every day when you know all his classmates are just getting soggy PB&J’s in hand-me-down lunchboxes. That’s just wrong.
And anyway, who really cares how green your lawn is, crazy neighbors? Are you competing in the Hey Everybody, Look How Green My Lawn Is Today competition that Fort Hood isn’t holding? Such a waste of time. Such a waste of money.
There are other wretched Grup topics that I foist upon innocent bystanders. I talk about how busy I am at work. I talk about my water bill. I talk about how high my energy bill is during the summer. These are terrible, boring, Grup-like things to do. I know it. I am confessing it to you here. BUT… If my stupid trees would become responsible adult trees and provide me some shade on my house I could have fewer conversations about my energy bill.
That is a lie.
I would have the same number of conversations about my energy bill, but instead they would just go something like, “It’s amazing how much less our energy bill is in the summer now that our house gets some shade from those whiny, high-maintenance Lorax-tended baby trees!”
I have to go now. The aforementioned trees are ready for their water. I can’t wait till they become tall, dependable, shade-providing, boring Grup trees that will bore the baby trees next door to tears. Lady Lorax out.
Please enjoy this delightful break in our regularly scheduled but sporadically updated program for an entry by Sister #3. You’re welcome.
My sister has been pestering me to contribute to her blog since she started writing it. Alas and alack, the life of a royal like me is incredibly busy so I haven’t had time to contribute. Also, she never updates and who wants to contribute to a vessel of wit and wisdom that isn’t properly maintained?
[Blog mistress’s note: Cheeky little brat.]
I suppose that’s where I come in. As I contemplated an appropriate topic for my guest entry, nothing particularly clever came to mind. I am a philosophy major, and as such I am fond of writing dry, analytical essays intended to make the reader weep because they are so logical that their brains simply cannot handle the pure, unadulterated rationality so they must create emotion where there is none. In layman’s terms, they are, in fact, “bored to tears.” I shall spare all of you that pain and toss the old advice to “write what you know.” Who really knows anything about philosophy anyway? It’s a bunch of things that people made up in the first place, and then we are required to know the things that other people made up, so that apparently makes it knowledge. I will make up my own thoughts one day and they will be magnificent and students of future generations will curse my name as they are assigned epically long papers on my made-up thoughts and have to connect it to some inane topic.
BUT I DIGRESS.
I am not writing what I know. I will instead write what I do.
And what is it that I do, darling imaginary audience? Well, I live as a relatively functional human being. I bathe, I eat, I work out, I have social interactions. I also mess these things up and more on a regular basis. But those things are the primary functions I perform, so I will address those. Two of my dearest roommates used to listen to my stories endlessly, and we adopted a phrase to summarize as well as title all of these stories: “My life is a joke.” These stories sometimes really did seem to model themselves after actual jokes, but most of the time they more closely resembled really bad sitcom writing. Without further ado, welcome to an introductory episode of the terrible sitcom that is my life.
The beginning of college held a lot of firsts for me, with one of the most disorienting being my first communal shower.
My college experience started with Cadet Basic Training, and all I was allowed to wear at the time were Army-issue glasses.
They are horrendous. I also had a strap that held them in place. Now, they did their job for the most part (except when they fogged up while I was trying to shoot), but they had no place in the shower. When I went to shower for the first time, my near-sighted self was thrown into a blurry, steamy box of naked female bodies with no way to orient myself to what was happening. This is not as erotic as it sounds. These females are checking each other for ticks, prickly heat, and the like. They are trying to move as quickly as possible so that everyone can conduct proper hygiene, but if you’re me, you’re stuck at the entrance to the shower trying to figure out where to go. I had a number of courses of action run through my head:
I went with number three and that worked out for me because I was naturally called over to the nearest open showerhead and bathing without vision wasn’t really all that difficult. Muscle memory. This option totally worked out because I still have friends. I wouldn’t be friends with the “girl who wore her glasses in the shower” or the “girl who announced her nearsightedness and demanded a Seeing Eye Friend in the shower” so I’m glad I didn’t go with either of the first two.
I’ve since mastered the whole communal shower business (aided by the fact that I got my contacts back at the end of Basic) and the only issue I’ve run into since is finding the showerhead with hot water. People say the building I live in now is haunted, so I’m pretty sure Moaning Myrtle hangs out in one of the girls’ bathrooms and pipes hot water only through like two showerheads.
This creates another one of those Awkward Situations for me when I shower in the morning. I’m usually the only one in there, or I only pass one person on their way in or out, but I always worry someone will walk in on my Hot Water Acquisition Ritual one day and I’ll have to explain, butt naked, what I’m trying to accomplish. You see, for some reason, turning on every single showerhead helps the water heat up in some of them faster.
So that’s what I do. I turn on no fewer than six showerheads and stand in the middle in my birthday suit and wait for my delightful scalding water to be ready. Sometimes I go flush a toilet for good measure, even though I understand literally nothing about plumbing. That always heated up our water in the shower at home, so maybe it’ll work here. Mostly I think it just kills time, but it also increases the risk of the Hot Water Acquisition Ritual being discovered, so I have to rush speedy quick back over to my shower. It seems to be working and I haven’t had to take a cold shower yet, so knock on shower tile that it keeps going well.
I have a small phobia of eating in social settings. I also go to a school where we eat family-style for two meals out of the day. This works really well for me when I eat at the same table every day during the school year, but in the summer your table mates will vary a bit more. I don’t feel comfortable telling a table full of variant table mates what I would to an actual table family. Normally I very aggressively tell people to “mind their own plate” because my stepmom taught me that. Baby Sister (who is actually 18) is very bossy and Stepmonster got tired of her telling everyone what to eat. I adopted the phrase and use it at school. However it is summertime and the variant table mates might silently judge.
I know I do, so I assume every time they glance my way they’re doing it too, so I’m thinking, “Okay, I know I ate 12 baby carrots and the bun for the roast beef but I didn’t eat any roast beef but I really like the bread of this bun and I didn’t want the weird roast beef and also I have a thing about roast beef every since my dad purchased way too many Arby’s Roast Beef sandwiches during my adolescence!” This thought is accompanied by what is probably a nasty look on my part, and the alleged judge-y person is all, “Could you pass the ranch?” And then I think, “Ew, you totes should not put ranch on that.” But I pass it anyway and continue to judge silently. Just call me Judge Foodie.
ON WORKING OUT
This is another one where all the silent judgment happens. The difference here is that I’m usually staring at someone else because I’m curious about what they’re doing and wanted to know how it’s working for them.
Recent internal questions that I’ve had include: “How long have you been doing free-standing handstand pushups? Were you trained to do them as a child? Did you run away and join the circus before coming here?” and in the weight room: “Does grunting while you do bicep curls make you feel like a man? Should I try?” and back in the cardio room where the horrible climbing apparatus known as Jacob’s Ladder hides in the corner and some people seem to enjoy using: “Are you a masochist?”
Not that I can really talk. I too enjoy engaging in semi-masochistic behavior at the gym from time to time, but I also am looking forward to the day when I can power walk for fitness and it actually counts for something.
Normally I’m pretty smooth at the gym, drenched in sweat except for the outline of my sports bra (I can’t seem to break the barrier and sweat all the way through both layers), and only limping a little bit as I make my way to my next trick. The other day, though, I was cooling down on one of the stationary bikes and finished up and went to retrieve my water bottle. There was only one other person in the room at the time, also on the bike, and they were totally bored and watching the only other live activity in the room, AKA me. You know what I did? I went to put my things in my drawstring backpack all smooth-like because that’s my Gym MO, as previously mentioned, and I knocked down my water bottle off of the ledge and made a big mess. If no one else had been around I probably would have been like “eh, it’ll dry soon enough,” but I suddenly felt as if Lone Biker was judging me and I threw my sweat towel on top on it. Lemme tell you, the ol’ sweat towel ain’t no Sham-Wow. It didn’t do crap to absorb that water so I just ended up spreading it around. I gave up after a bit and stuffed the towel in my bag and left in shame.
This incident has led me to believe that I need a more reliable water bottle.
ON HAVING SOCIAL INTERACTIONS
This one is tough because it happens quite a bit. I’m generally quite good at these but I also struggle with quick and witty responses. Texting is a much better medium for the rate at which my brain processes things. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve answered, “Hey, what’s up?” with “How are you?” after a pause in which my brain should have realized I was asked first.
Walking and being greeted is especially difficult, as is being called out in a large area. I probably reply with the appropriate response at the appropriate time about 10% of the time. Because of this sad truth based on highly educated statistical analysis, I have developed a catch-all response. It’s the “one size fits all” of social responses and it is The Open-to-Interpretation Large Smile, which for our purposes we will call “OTILS” for now. You know the smile I’m referring to—you’ve gotten it from people who have no idea what you’re saying, who have no idea who you are, or have no desire to speak to you. You’ve also given it. I’ve perfected it. Witness:
“Hey what’s up?”
“Saw you out at the restaurant/bar/library/movies/gym the other day!”
“Oh haaaay gurl! I see you!”
“I was just thinking about how *blah blah blah*”
“You have to be at (insert place) at (insert time).”
Are you seeing the genius?
It requires no commitment, garners no obligations, and creates an environment with very minimal risk for another Awkward Situation. It is genius, and I am sharing it with you because I am a nice person.
I hope this summary of what I do on a daily basis enriches your life. I hope you are able to learn from my actions as a functioning member of society and use those to help guide your own actions in life.
May you always be able to avoid the dreaded Awkward Situations and reach the ever-fulfilling punchline of My Life is a Joke.
If you know me in real life, or are friends with me on Facebook, or follow me on Instagram, or have been within a fifteen-foot radius of me within the last two months, you are already aware that there is someone new in my life.
Her name is Betty White, Lady of Cadbury. She is a Miniature Holland Lop, my pride and joy, and absolute confirmation that I am nowhere near ready to procreate.
I’ll give you a moment to recover from her absurd level of cuteness, then I’ll elaborate.
(Wait, one more picture.
Now we can elaborate.)
First, I will tell you why making Betty a part of the family has meant I am basically a member of Border Patrol now.
– She can’t speak English.
Or, if she can, she’s doing a really good job of pretending she can’t understand what I’m saying. Sometimes I think she really knows.
“Betty, I love you. ” She responds by licking my face.
“Betty, you are the best bunny in all the land.” She responds by licking my hand.
“Betty, you have the cutest floppy ears in the history of floppy ears.” She hops away to demonstrate how floppy her ears can be when she hops.
It works in negative ways too, like when I catch her chewing on wires: “Beeee-eeetttyyy…” She scurries away, like, What? I wasn’t doing anything. Wires? What wires? I didn’t chew any wires.
Or when I can hear her digging in the corner on the carpet and I try to sneak up on her to tell her to stop. As soon as she hears me coming she freezes and curls up into a ball and twitches her nose really fast and pins her ears against her body and stares up at me like she’s trying to hypnotize me. You heard nothing. I did not attempt to dig a hole to China through the carpet. I did nothing. You are getting very sleepy. Stop monitoring my behavior.
But most of the time I’m like, “Betty, are you hungry? Are you hungry baby girl?” And I make a big show of feeding her and watering her and she can see it and smell it and knows it’s there. And she just looks at me like, “Um, no, I’m not hungry. Stop cramping my bunny style.” Then ten minutes later she’s all up in my business like she’s starving to death or something so I have to show her where her food and water is and she chows down. I don’t want to say she’s stupid because she’s my bunny and I love her; I just think we’re not speaking the same language. Hence my claim that she is a non-English speaker.
Unfortunately for us both I don’t know enough languages to figure out what language she does speak, so as a native East Texan I have to fall back on all of my East Texas stereotypes, hence the next reason I think she is an illegal immigrant.
– She does not appear to have a problem with water.
She lets me give her a bath every week without complaint. I towel her off and she gets all slick and grumpy-looking, then she gets all fluffy and licks herself and grooms ferociously for about an hour, then hops about merrily for the rest of the night. It is pretty delightful.
This is actually a pretty racist and inappropriate point to make to I am just going to leave you with this picture of Betty not enjoying Cinco de Mayo and move on to my next point about why she’s an illegal immigrant.
– She kind of looks like a terrorist.
This is probably unfair. But you know what, it is also unfair for any creature to be as adorable as she is, so tough toenails. Suck it up, buttercup. Betty magically develops gigantic-looking biceps when she wears a camo harness intended for ferrets (yeah, it’s true; ferret people are actually crazier than bunny people like me. You can visit any pet store to verify this statement).
Also she is conveniently ACU pocket-sized.
Two words, my friends. BUNNY. GRENADE.
You never saw that coming, did you? OF COURSE YOU DIDN’T. Because she will kill you with her cuteness and you will LOVE EVERY SECOND OF IT. She will lick your hand and nuzzle your cheek and lay her fluffy body across your lap and you will melt into a puddle of helpless love for her tiny, fluffy, adorable, perfect, gray, bunny body.
It is exactly like this:
And the final reason I am convinced that my beloved baby bunny is an illegal immigrant:
– She cannot produce absolutely any paperwork of any kind. None.
I’ve coaxed; I’ve wheedled; I’ve played bad cop. Still she has failed to produce any documentation proving that she is an authentic, blue-blooded, all-American baby bunny. I have begun to look into having her naturalized but I’m concerned that alerting the authorities to her presence could mean deportation.
I know. I’m a terrible border patrol agent. I’m too soft. But you’d melt into a puddle of love too if you got to feed her lettuce and watch her crunch it around her cute little bunny mouth. Nobody in the history of time has ever looked cute eating a salad until Betty the bunny. Weep, ugly vegans; the bunny has put you to shame.
She has made me aware of my limitations though; namely, that even though as soon as I see a baby my arms open up and my hip juts out ready to receive that squishy lump of kid, I am nowhere ready to have one of my own. Manfriend and I have talked about it and agreed we definitely want a few, but it is at least several years down the line (I can hear my mother wailing now, “Several? Several?” She wanted grandbabies like, yesterday. Betty is referred to as her grandbunny).
But here is why:
When I first brought her home, she didn’t eat for a couple of days. At least not in my presence.
“Kelley,” my mother tried to reason with me, “if she’s still pooping then there’s still something in her system and she’s okay. Just give her a little time to adjust and she’ll be okay.”
“Okay,” I said, and hung up, and immediately went back to lying on the floor next to her, willing her to eat. I left work early two days in a row and followed her around the house on my hands and knees while she hopped aimlessly, trying to get her to nibble on her bunny food, but she showed no interest in it. I thought her hopping was aimless because she was slowly starving to death, but now I realize it was probably just because she was a pound-and-a-half baby rabbit who didn’t know where anything was and was just trying to explore her environment but this annoying human was crawling around after her holding food up in her face every thirty seconds saying, “Please eat this, Betty, I love you.”
Clearly she’s still here so clearly she began to eat and drink on a regular basis so my fears were unfounded. But can you imagine how I’d be with a baby if I was such a psychotic ball of nerves about a rabbit? OH MY GOD THE BABY DIDN’T FINISH NURSING. HE/SHE WILL CLEARLY BE UNDERNOURISHED AND THEN BE BULLIED IN PRESCHOOL AND NOT GET INTO THE COLLEGE OF HIS/HER CHOICE AND LIVE A LONELY LIFE OF DEBT AND ALCOHOLISM, PLAGUED BY ANEMIA AND A TWITCHY LEFT EYE BECAUSE I WAS A BAD GIVER OF NOURISHMENT.
Don’t get me wrong; it wasn’t all bad. The pendulum swung dangerously far in the other direction as well. I used to (and still do) lie on the floor for hours and just watch her hop around. For hours. I let other, important, actually-need-to-get-done things go undone because I am lying on the floor watching my baby bunny hop and toss her bunny head and twitch her bunny whiskers and lick my hand and be adorable.
It is delightful.
This blog is a perfect example. There were many evenings I had time to write but I didn’t because it was a lot more fun to sit on the couch while Betty hopped from side to side, using my belly as a springboard, than it was to upload pictures or stare at the computer screen some more after staring at a computer screen all day at work.
My younger sister says she thinks I have a problem. Actually, all of my sisters have, at one point or another, voiced their concern for my mental health based on my affection for Betty. But honestly… I JUST CAN’T HELP IT. She is freaking adorable. Currently she is hopping around my feet, her little bell jingling merrily, her ears flopping, her nose twitching. And she is perfect. And I am not sorry.
You can follow her on Instagram @ladybettybunny.
I love a good ode to grammar.
1. Because I know how to use them, shy, beautiful things that they are.
2. Because there are a large number of people who don’t know how to use them, and they deserve a little love after that much comical and tragical abuse.
3. Because someone, once upon a time, in a land far away (which was probably inhabited by dragons or fairies or squid bears or some other fantastic beings), looked at a sentence he had just written and came to a crossroads in his life. He stared at his written page and was so concerned with whether a period or a comma – a hard stop or an anticipatory pause – belonged between his thoughts, that he threw his hands in the air and used both.
4. Because someone else (presumably a learned and influential individual) saw it, and thought, “Hey…
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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 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 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.)
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 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:
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.
Here’s the thing about the Army football team: it’s reallyreally bad. As far as the score goes, Army has lost to Navy in one of the biggest rivalries in college football for the twelfth consecutive year. But if you look a little more closely, you’ll see that there are a few ways Army actually did win the game this past Saturday.
10. We didn’t wear flair on our uniforms
What is this garbage? This is not Applebee’s.
We don’t want to see your personality, Navy; we already know that it sucks.
9. We didn’t look like drunk toddlers during march-on
This happens every year. Everyone always says that Army wins the march-on, but it is so true. I’m honestly not expecting the midshipmen to look as sharp as the cadets; West Point has the Corps marching for a couple of hours each night (regardless of rain, wind or snow) the week leading up to the game to make sure they look good for the main event.
Based on Navy’s march-on performance, I’d say they prepare by giving everyone a shot of whiskey, injecting their legs with a numbing solution so they can’t walk in a straight line, then making them spin in circles for a few minutes before they get into formation.
Compared to this:
Sloppy, Navy. Sloppy.
8. We didn’t look like sullen teenagers in the stands
To be fair, would you really be interested in hanging out in Lincoln Financial Field for nine hours straight in the snow when you knew you were going to win anyway? Probably not. But I’m not here to be fair. I’m here to talk about how much better Army is than Navy (at everything but football).
It was pretty pitiful how much they didn’t care.
This didn’t happen at the game. But these guys are in the Navy.
I’m glad I’m not in the Navy.
The Army mascot isn’t something majestic, like a bald eagle. Or even something super exciting and exotic, like a dinosaur (this raises the point about why aren’t more mascots big, scary dinosaurs? but that’s another question for another post). But it does look pretty good at games nonetheless.
This demon-animal is Navy’s mascot:
This is a cringe-worthy animal if ever I saw one. In fact, I’m pretty sure every time they showed the Navy goat onscreen at the game, there was a collective cringe from everyone inside Lincoln Financial Field unfortunate enough to see that scraggly, nasty thing blown up to the size of a barn.
Actually, there’s a long history of Navy mascots looking stupid next to Army’s mascots at the Army-Navy Game. Observe:
Sweet pants, Navy.
5. We weren’t bad sports.
If nothing else, losing has certainly taught us sportsmanship. Winning twelve years in a row has apparently only taught the midshipmen how to act like (pardon me) ass clowns on national television.
At the end of the game, when we sang our Alma Mater, despite the freezing rain coming down on their heavy, soaked overcoats, the cadets I saw all stood ramrod straight and sang along. Then, after it was over and we had to listen to the mids sing “Navy Blue and Gold” AGAIN, the cadets remained at attention and gave the appropriate respect to the other service academy.
Stay classy, West Point. Navy, you keep up your traditions; you don’t look at all ridiculous.
(For the record, “Navy Blue and Gold” is my least favorite song. Hearing it sung is more painful than listening to Taylor Swift songs on repeat while someone runs their nails down a chalkboard and a thousand microphones screech with feedback simultaneously.)
4. COL Ragsdale
Colonel Ragsdale loves Army football about as much as I love chocolate chip cookies, naptime, and Oxford commas…which is a lot.
You always win for high spirits when COL Ragsdale is at an Army game.
I plan on making faces like this someday when I’m in labor.
3. General Odierno
Another BAMF that Army gets to claim for their own. General Odierno was at the game on Saturday too, making everyone else on the field look like puny mortals (all football players included) and just generally being awesome. I think what I like best about General Odierno is that he takes the time to meet and speak with Soldiers, officers, cadets, and families and listen to their concerns and suggestions, but he could also turn around and kick a terrorist in the face. That’s what I want to be when I grow up: a well-groomed, friendly, badass motherfucker. I’ll have to settle for being a miniature version though, because I don’t think I’m going to grow another two or three feet in this lifetime.
This is how I know he’s a good dude, because he rocks his ACU fleece with all his stars. I don’t have any stars, but I likewise enjoy wearing my ACU fleece in Arctic temperatures, such as may be found in my office at work.
2. Former Army football players
Another thing that happened at the game that was special (and due entirely to Army being classy and full of badassery) was when these guys stood out on the field and GEN Odierno and SGM Chandler shook their hands while the announcers told the spectators who they were and what they had done. Each one was a combat veteran, and the fewest number of Bronze Stars any one of them had was three. One guy had SIX, and one for valor. Oh yeah, and they were all former Army football players.
Their stories (however brief) made me proud to be a West Pointer, an Army officer, and an American. Also I was glad (again and forever) that I’m not in the Navy.
1. Hot chocolate plus
Technically this point does not apply to Army, but since I’m in the Army and it applies to me, I’m including it, because this was my biggest win of the day (other than not being in the Navy, but that’s a win every day, hallelujah, praise the Lord).
Two years ago, when the game was in D.C., they sold hot chocolate with Bailey’s in the stadium. This year, in Philly, they did not.
But I came prepared.
The only real upside that I found to wearing enough clothing to last me a week at one time just to stay warm was that there was plenty of space to hide miniature bottles of alcohol. Great success.
I alternated the whole game between this:
(click for animation)
I saw four of these at the game on Saturday. I don’t know why the Navy fans think it’s a good idea to wear this horrifying thing on their heads, but I was certainly relieved not to see any mules bobbing through the crowd on the heads of Army fans.
Manfriend summed it up pretty well: “That’s one of those things where you can’t decide if you should put a picture of it online so everyone can see it and know how not-okay it is…or we should burn them all, so no one ever has to see that hat again.”
The really bad news is that this is not a niche item. If it was one of those things that someone had made so there were only two or three of these monstrosities in the world, it might not be so bad. Tragically, however, these little horrors are available for only twenty bucks: it’s true!
We won just by not having any of our fans wear anything this horrendous.
Don’t get me wrong: I hate Navy. I hate their team. I hate their songs. I hate the way they whoop at us. I hate their ugly goats. I really really really want to hurry up and start winning. Not just winning either, but destroying them in the Army-Navy game while still being a bunch of classy ladies and gents.
Admittedly, losing sucks. I’m not here to offer excuses for Army’s poor performance against Navy for a gajillion years in a row. I just want to remind everyone that there are worse things in life…like being in the Navy. Beat ’em.