Friday, February 28, 2014

anchors aweigh

Well, Yoni is officially gone, off to spend 6-8 weeks on the USS Ashland as part of the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit.

While there was no official send-off with flags and balloons and a brass band (too many people and too much stuff to on-load, I guess), I did get a chance to visit the ship with Yoni a couple of days before he left. We weren’t on board for long – Yoni was just dropping off some of his bags – but it was long enough to check out the accommodations and get a sense for what it might be like to live on a US Navy vessel.

First of all, I have to say that ships were not built for people as tall as Yoni. Putting aside having to step through every porthole/doorway and the million and a half opportunities to trip there are onboard every day, Yoni barely cleared the light fixtures. I’m not convinced that he won’t come back with a permanently bruised head. At least he fit in his bed – even if it was just barely.

Speaking of beds. In the Officers’ berthings (apparently that’s the ship-appropriate word for room-where-people-sleep), or at least in Yoni’s, there were 4 beds – 2 sets of bunk beds. It was a small room, and that seemed crowded.

At least until I saw the Enlisted berthings. Their beds are – no joke – 4 high. And these are not rooms with high ceilings. And each set of beds is pushed right up against a second set of beds lengthwise, which I’m sure makes for some awkward accidental middle of the night cuddling.

Oh, and the stairs might as well be ladders. I thought about wearing a skirt the day we visited; let’s just say it’s a good thing I didn’t. It must be an excellent workout, though, just moving around the ship all day.

Even based on the 45 minutes I spent on board, it’s hard to imagine being able to live on a ship like that for two months or more. It certainly gives me new respect for people who elect to do so. I’m curious to see how it plays out for Yoni. I’m sure he’ll make the best of it, however the actual experience is, but here’s hoping he learns how not to bump his head everywhere he goes! It’s the little things. 

Friday, February 14, 2014

Stay Safe from Thundersnow, East Coasters!

I am a neglectful husband.  I am leaving my poor pregnant wife alone with the dog while I go to sea on a cruise that people would spend thousands of dollars to book (and in fact, the taxpayers do spend millions on it).  Further, I didn’t buy her chocolates today.  Even though neither of us celebrate Valentine’s Day: fact is, she is still pregnant and chocolates taste good.  To that effect, I will not write a blog post this that I can spend the few minutes after work and before going to shul with my wonderful beautiful wife.  I will, however, write for her next week (she says this post is a cop out)

Friday, February 7, 2014

deployment "benefits"

Last night, I attended my first ever pre-deployment brief for Yoni’s battalion. By the way, I can tell that I’ve been living in the military world for too long because that sounds completely normal to me – of course that’s what I did with my Thursday night. In case it doesn’t sound quite so normal to you, here’s a bit of an explanation. As I think he’s written about on the blog (although, looking back, I’m not sure he was so overt), Yoni is getting ready to head on a deployment for about 1 ½ - 2 months. His battalion, Combat Logistics Battalion 31, is part of the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), which, to make a long story short, means they spend almost as much time off island as they do on island.

During the lead-up to any deployment, Marines, Sailors and their spouses always have a lot of questions, like – when are we leaving? Will it be easy for us to stay in touch with our families while we’re gone? Where are we going, exactly? What should we expect? Where can I send my spouse mail while he/she is aboard ship? What if there’s an emergency at home while we’re gone? The pre-deployment brief is designed to address those questions and concerns.

While we did get answers last night, I can’t share very much with any of you (or, really, with anyone). At least not if what you want to know is when will Yoni be leaving and when will he be back. I can tell you that we’re told to expect bad connectivity i.e. don’t be upset if your spouse can’t call you and doesn’t manage to send many emails. (Awesome.) If there’s a real emergency you’re supposed to send a Red Cross message. And we’re told that any dates we’re given re leaving and returning are – of course – subject to change.

While this is all valuable information, I’m sure you can imagine that a spouse who is a veteran of many deployments might find such a brief boring; aside from the specifics, the information and suggestions don’t really change. MCCS (Marine Corps Community Services), though, who runs the briefs, is always looking for ways to encourage spouses to come out. And so they decided that if you want to receive a Deployed Spouses Benefits Card, you have to come to this meeting. These cards are serious – they have our names printed on them and they’re laminated and everything. Someone, somewhere spent time making them. It would follow that there are some serious benefits to be had by cardholders. Want to know what they are?

Typhoon Motors (our on-base auto repair shop)
-       free roadside assistance to include towing (I already get that from my insurance provider)
-        40% off all oil / filters (every girl’s dream)
-        all retail sale item discounts will double (discount will not exceed 40%)
-       20% discount for regularly priced retail merchandise over $50 (in case I want to…buy a new car stereo?)
-       free rental shoes 7 days a week during open bowling
-       first game of bowling is free for adults during open bowling (bowling is pretty cheap on base anyway…but I guess that’s nice)
-       all retail sale item discounts will double (discount will not exceed 40%)(for all my bowling merchandise needs I guess)
Food, Beverage, Entertainment, and Special Events
-       $5 off Sunday brunch
-       20% off the total check (excluding alcohol) at all participating MCCS club dining facilities, to exclude: Sunday Brunch, Family Night, Mongolian BBQ, Sunday Breakfast Brunch, Catering, and Banquets.
-       $0.50 off for children under 5 from a Lunch Buffet, excluding: Sunday Brunch, Family Night, Mongolian BBQ, and Sunday Breakfast Brunch (what is that? I don’t even…)

Impressive, huh? If by impressive, you mean not really. Thanks, MCCS. I appreciate your support.