Trapped in Paradise – the DC Edition

Part travel blog, part philosophical musings. All tongue-in-cheek ridiculousness.

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While I was sleeping

I’m back! The crazy old commander’s retirement ceremony was on Friday, his going away party was yesterday, and now that it’s over I can finally have my life back and return to writing about Hawaii and all the things that disappoint me.

Sing it, baby kitties!

Sing it, baby kitties!

The ceremony went off as well as any of these big events usually do: you spend months laying out a grand plan for the event, which of course gets scrapped because everything goes to hell on the big day, but in the end it somehow all works out and everyone is happy. And seeing the commander and his family so happy and proud made the time and effort all worth it, since this is a guy we all loved working with. I was glad I got to help orchestrate his big day. But man, that doesn’t mean I didn’t pout and complain every step of the way.



My biggest victory (well, besides making sure no one fainted on stage and that the Very Important Senior Officers got their personal escorts, special seating, and handiwipes or whatever) was that infamous shadowbox. Holy hell, I am never, ever, ever creating one of these again. It was, oddly enough, the best summary of this whole party planning process – looks so simple at the end, but belies the pain involved in creating it: finding a fancy-shaped box, begging for donations to cover the cost of shipping from the mainland, hounding the commander for weeks to have him give me the stuff that goes in it, the painstaking process of measuring, aligning, and gluing everything down, and dealing with last-minute crazy requests like “I want this set of ribbons in there, not that one,” “How many medals do I have again? How come you don’t know how many medals I have?!” “I want this coin by my name. No wait, this coin.” I half-expected him to ask for a unicorn mounted by the flag. The end result was great, if I do say so myself, but I still can’t get over how ridiculous it all was. I’ll be more than happy to give pointers to anyone cursed tasked with building one in the future, but I told my fiance that if he stays in the Navy long enough to retire, he’s going to have to find his own minion to do his shadowbox because NEVER AGAIN.

Looks so simple, so innocent...

Looks so simple, so innocent…

But enough about that. I have a handful of half-finished posts that I’d written over the last couple of months, and look forward to posting them now that I’m not spending all my time tracking down cakes and flag-bearers and what-not. I’m really eager to write about the trip I took to London last week for a friend’s wedding! It was only my second trip ever to Europe, and now I’m all sorts of excited to go back and see more. (But maybe when I’m no longer living in Hawaii, because the 20 hour flight + 11 hour time difference was not so fun.)

This is from yesterday's party at the commander's house, specifically his enormous bar. Will keep this in mind for when I decide to build my own house!

This is from yesterday’s party at the commander’s house, specifically his enormous bar room. I’ll keep this in mind for when I decide to build my own house!

One more photo of the house, because it's ridiculous - this is the BATHROOM, bigger than most hotel rooms I've stayed in. It has a garden, for crying out loud!

One more photo of the house, because it’s crazy – this is the BATHROOM, bigger than most hotel rooms I’ve stayed in. What bathroom has a garden?!



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The 55-year-old “bridezilla”

I have to apologize for not writing as regularly as I normally do. I’d usually be able to post once or twice a week during my down time at work, since my job is pretty mundane and even a caveman could do it. However, work had gone from zero to insanity over the last month, mainly because I was voluntold to help coordinate a commander’s retirement ceremony. I didn’t mind the extra duties at first, since this commander is pretty cheerful and I enjoy working with him. (He’s been in the service forever, so in my mind he’s like that crazy old grandpa who says and does whatever he wants just because he can.) However, as the weeks went on and I started meeting with him to set up the specifics, I’ve come to the conclusion that planning a military retirement ceremony is like planning a wedding, and the retiree is basically the bridezilla who wants the most ridiculous and difficult-to-obtain things.

Why yes, I want clowns and ninjas and a giant chocolate fountain and of course I want Putin to officiate. I want it all and I want it NOW!

Why yes, I want clowns and ninjas and a giant chocolate fountain and of course I want Putin to officiate. I want it all and I want it NOW!

I’d volunteered to put together the commander’s shadowbox. Again, initially I was glad to do it… until the guy chose a rather unconventional design, which wouldn’t have been bad except we started with only six weeks to put this together. That would be plenty of time in anywhere but Hawaii, but in the land of poor work ethic and no sense of urgency, I couldn’t find a place that would build an octagon-shaped shadowbox with the flag displayed smack in the middle in less than two months. As it turns out, that particular design is only available off the shelf from an engraving shop in Virginia Beach, which means we get to pay an arm and a leg to have it shipped to Hawaii. The other two coordinators aren’t happy that so much of our budget is going towards this, but despite my best efforts to talk the good commander out of a silly-looking shadowbox shaped like a stop sign, in the end he’s the retiree and like that crazy bride, he gets whatever he wants. At least he didn’t ask for it to be made out of pricey koa wood.

As it turns out, this was only the beginning. For instance, I spent a good part of the day last week sending a fax to the office of the Texas governor requesting a personal retirement letter from Rick Perry, never mind that the commander is actually a California resident. Details, details. And who even uses fax machines nowadays?!

I always thought this was how you use a fax machine

I always thought this was how you use a fax machine

On the upside, I’m finally getting a bit of a break – I’m heading to San Diego for the weekend for a friend’s wedding. Oh, I do miss the mainland. Happy Friday indeed!