My Moto Military Weekend

^^Please note the awesome shirt that I bought at the PX. I'm aware you can't actually read the fine print, but says "Mission Ready. Ooh-Rah USMC. Semper Fi. The Strength of the Corps." Some motivator couldn't decide which slogan to put on the shirt, so he just threw 'em all on there. I think it's hysterical. Tun Tavern, baby.

I don't get to visit Zach at Camp Lejeune often, but I absolutely love the time that I do spend down there. Don't get me wrong: I'm glad that we won't be living in Jacksonville after we're married -- my only graphic design opportunity would be at a tattoo shop. (However, considering those are more abundant than restaurants in the area, it might not be a bad gig...) Regardless, I love it. Being on base is like being transported to a completely different world.

Allow me to explain:

You're no longer in civilian world when...

You have attended multiple Marine Corps Mandatory Fun Days.

I have never met a Marine who enjoys Mandatory Fun Day, ever. But the Marine Corps keeps on having them, and we keep on going (because it's mandatory, obviously). Sometimes they aren't so bad, like cookouts on the beach. But this one? This Mandatory Fun Day had llamas and clowns and balloons. Someone please tell me where the fun is in that.

You're no longer in civilian world when...

You witness a group of Marines enter a rapidly deflating bounce house to rescue children like a flippin' SWAT team on a mission. I kid you not: the generator stopped working and with one giant "whooosh," the inflatable castle collapsed. I yelled, "man down!" (it was the first thing that came to mind?) and these boys took off into the bounce house, swooped up children under both arms, and rushed them safely outside before the kids even realized what was going on. I would have taken pictures, but the mission was complete before I could even get my lens cap off. Folks, I've never laughed so hard in my life; nothing like a little bounce house SWAT team to put the fun in Mandatory Fun Day.

You're no longer in civilian world when...

You take photos on the beach in the ugliest sweatshirt known to mankind: the official government-issued Marine Corps PT sweatshirt (in olive drab green, of course). Goodness, I love that hideous thing.

You're no longer in civilian world when...

You can walk for miles and miles on uninhabited beach. Okay, I'm sure that exists in civilian world, too... but still. It's so bizarre going to the beach on base and not seeing a single hotel or beach house. Or even a single person, for that matter. This is Zach's backyard, people:

You're no longer in civilian world when...

A couple of Marines teach you how to shoot a gun on Second Amendment Lane (I can't make this stuff up. Second Amendment Lane, people. I learned how to shoot a gun on Second Amendment Lane).

Adam Hipp, ladies and gentlemen. (Also featured here and here). He has somehow become everybody's favorite guest star in my sitcom of a life. Plus he's in our wedding, so you're guaranteed to keep seeing more of him.

For the record, I did pretty well for my first time - 35/36 hit the target on this one.
(Please note Zach showing off 7/7 down in the bottom left...)

You're no longer in civilian world when...

You see this as you walk across the church parking lot on Sunday morning:

Goodness, It gets me every time. Rare moments like those make me wish I had been able to live in Jacksonville throughout Zach's time in the Marine Corps. Don't get me wrong - I have some of the greatest friends. But there's something about being surrounded by people on a daily basis who just GET IT. People who have lived it. People who know what it feels like and have experienced the spectrum of emotions that accompany military life. God bless you and your car window decor, women of First Baptist in Jacksonville.

• • • • •

I actually have quite a bit left, so I'll break this post up into two parts.
Until then, Mission Ready, Ooh-Rah USMC, Semper Fi, and The Strength of the Corps ;)