Thinking Outside the Box

I grew up Navy.

There was a time when I didn’t even realize that other branches of the military existed. I learned to roller skate near the SEAL obstacle course. I learned to swim in the pool where they filmed the closing scene of Top Gun. I didn’t know that regular neighborhoods had sound ordinances that prevented sonic booms and afterburners that shook the china. I’m pretty sure I was a teenager before I realized “BEAT ARMY!” wasn’t a part of the official ending to the National Anthem.

Naval Aviator

Me and My Daddy.

My Daddy wore a green one-piece suit with a zipper to work, smelled like jet fuel, and instead of a briefcase, he carried a round-shaped green bag that concealed a “Darth Vader Helmet.” Him and his buddies called each other funny names instead of their real names.

And he would leave sometimes.

When he was home, we loved him. When he was gone, we missed him. That was just life.

I remember my mom sitting at the Thanksgiving table by herself saying, “whatever you do, don’t marry a Naval Aviator.” She said it other times while hugging him in the kitchen. And while I realize there’s some dark Freudian theory that would explain why I felt the need to marry not only a Naval Aviator, but one who flew the same airplane as my father, I’m not sure exploring that would lead to anything healthy. We’ve all seen what happens when I get too analytical, and it probably involves taco engorgement and then violence, in that order.

The deployment separations that I experienced as a Navy wife weren’t much different. I understood. I knew what to expect. I knew we’d probably fight before he left, I knew I would cry and it would hurt. I knew I’d find new independence while he was gone, and feel weird about making new friends without him. I knew I’d hit a wall around month four and rally in month five, and I knew homecoming would be a bigger expectation than reality could provide. Mostly I knew that no matter what, I’d make it.

But this IA thing … now this is different stuff.

If you don’t know, this deceptively small little acronym stands for Individual Augmentation. From my view it’s the Navy taking its turn to help other services that are already maxed out on this terrorific war. Our guys are plucked out like a single gray hair and sent wherever they are needed to plug holes. Not that I would ever know anything about plucking out straggling gray hairs. Nor would I ever infer that Husband is old. Never would I do that. That would be shameful.

So in IA situations, engineers might become supply officers, flight mechanics might get stuck checking tire pressure somewhere, and submariners could conceivably get sent out to do something important on, yep – you guessed it – LAND. To me, it’s sheer unadulterated madness. But apparently, it works. And as you might expect, Husband showed up for his IA duty in his blue Navy uniform, and they gave him a new Army-colored one. And so, the old one came home to me, in a box.

That’s right. I got my husband’s uniform sent home to me in a box:






Is it just me, or is this creepy? This felt like the scene where Maverick delivers Goose’s box of personal belongings to his widow. Well, it didn’t really feel like that because my mailperson is actually a balding fifty-something chubbster who would look ridiculous on a motorcycle and would have substantial trouble getting the aviator glasses over his bifocals. But you get the drift. I opened the box, and I gulped. I imagined the circumstances under which a box like this could be sent to a woman. There was no little note inside reading, “Hey honey, throw this in the garage for me, I won’t need it for a while!” There was no stamp saying “PROPERTY OF US NAVY, please retain for safekeeping.” It was just his uniform. And his boots. In a box.

So okay okay, I know, I realize that logistics do not take into consideration the connotation, denotation, expectation, or symbolization of a simple task like mailing home a uniform. But really, could you just, I dunno, put a big smiley face on the box or something NARMY? Or maybe could you give the guys a stamp that says “Do Not Open Until Husband RETURNS?” Or could you at least send it to his office, NARMY? Because frankly, this freaked me out a little.

I’m willing to move past this small error in judgment, NARMY. I realize you just needed to get that badboy out of the way now that Husband is in the NARMY, and that the U.S. Mail was the best way to do it. But let’s consider something just a little more creative next time, alright? Or maybe a little head’s up – that would be great.

What’s that NARMY? You don’t know what else to do with the uniform in a box? Because right now, I’m thinking about exactly what you can do with your uniform in a box. And I promise it doesn’t involve any tacos whatsoever.


73 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. F.J.Schaefer
    Mar 23, 2012 @ 15:48:44

    My heart is broken that this fine young man is being tried and convicted by the media. I’m a 2 tour Vietnam Vet and just hope the American public is ready for our boys coming home BROKEN……First of all the wars accomplished absolutely NOTHING but the Bush family being supported by oil income felt it necessary to invade. I hope this young hero gets the help he needs and a Meritorious Service Medal for his 4 tours…God Bless him and his Family…


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  6. ....the little thread of thoughts
    Nov 03, 2010 @ 07:49:32

    Nice post. Anyone would have freaked out on getting that parcel. A mighty small oversight, I must say !!!


  7. Goodnight moon
    Oct 29, 2010 @ 10:21:23

    You and are are of the same mold…well same but not really. I grew up as a Marine Brat…and my mother always told me to stay away from Marines…but of course I did the same thing you did…I had to go out and marry one! I do believe that growing up as a Marine Brat has made me an excellent Marine wife. I understand that he has NO control over being gone all the time, or not making it home in time to tuck the kids into bed….and so on and so on. I don’t get upset when he misses moments anymore, but it is just part of our life. I accept it…I may not like it, but I accept it.

    Anyways…getting his uniform sent home in a box like that would freak me out! BLECK!

    P.S…the USMC also has AI.


  8. allythebell
    Oct 28, 2010 @ 07:01:17

    Eesh, yeah, as someone who also grew up Navy (RCN), that is pretty creepy. It’s bad enough finding old dog tags lying around …


    • wittylittlesecret
      Oct 28, 2010 @ 07:03:46

      Oh no. Thank goodness Husband took those with him. I did make the foolish mistake of asking what the second, shorter chain was for on his dog tags once. “Your toe,” he said. Gulp.


  9. Gaily
    Oct 27, 2010 @ 09:56:01

    THANK YOU for your post! “Saw” you on FaceBook and “followed” you here. Wanted to read your blog… and glad I did! I, too, received my husband’s “box” in the mail. I opened the box, closed it and put it aside and have yet to unpack it – and may never do so! It IS creepy, weird, SURREAL.
    My husband is also in the NARMY as an IA. He is a Naval Reservist and although he had been ‘deployed’ before in ‘this war’, he remained in the states; this is his first overseas deployment. He is ‘Boots on Ground’ in Afghanistan just this week – although he has been gone from our home since June! It is odd to think he has been gone so long already and is really just beginning his tour (for nine more months!). LONG time for those of us “left behind”. Oh well… One Day at a Time, right?! Thank you again for your blog… I will be back to read more. Take care. God Bless.


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  11. Gina Mortenson
    Oct 26, 2010 @ 07:19:17

    Great post and congratulations on being Freshly Pressed! You’re right, that box with your husband’s boots is creepy…I hope you weren’t alone when you got it. My prayers are with you and your family, thank you both so much for your service.


  12. Radhika
    Oct 26, 2010 @ 06:45:09

    Congrats to be on Freshly pressed! that’s how I found your post..
    Like your writing style. You started off very well, ending could have been better. Worth reading!


    • wittylittlesecret
      Oct 26, 2010 @ 07:40:57

      My first editorial feedback! I struggle with length. I always want to shorten the endings, so that makes sense. I guess I’m used to writing briefs not stories. Thanks for the input. I’ll work on that!


  13. J
    Oct 26, 2010 @ 06:32:05

    This is humorous yet seriously unnerving lol! I kept waiting for bad news, I dont know why. Great Read! Want beautiful ready to wear dresses? Visit


  14. Slowvelder
    Oct 26, 2010 @ 04:55:46

    Love your blog – you write beautifully and with wonderful humour. i will be back….


  15. mayorsky
    Oct 26, 2010 @ 02:45:59

    Well, that was a really fun read.. 😀 Hope your husband gets home soon. Keep posting :]


  16. pablo redes
    Oct 26, 2010 @ 01:35:55

    Very good. Thank for sacifices.


  17. munira's bubble
    Oct 26, 2010 @ 00:49:07

    Cute, funny, ALARMING insight into your life! How masochistic of you to marry a military guy after BEING WARNED by your mother!! Just goes to show doesn’t it? No one listens to their moms, haha.
    Enjoyed your post! 🙂 Hope you’re saved from further creepsville moments like these!


  18. Adrian Fah
    Oct 26, 2010 @ 00:04:17

    I can understand the feelings of those in military life and their loved ones. I have had my tough times doing national service in the Singapore Armed Forces many years ago.


  19. alienhippy
    Oct 25, 2010 @ 22:14:16

    Hello I just found your blog on freshly pressed, I enjoyed the read. I think that the NARMY should have a bit more heart. I agree, totally creepy. x


  20. Lindsey
    Oct 25, 2010 @ 21:02:40

    I really enjoy your writing, great style. Looking forward to reading more!


  21. fiona2107
    Oct 25, 2010 @ 20:29:16

    WOAH, no I agree….that IS creepy!
    Congrats on being freshly pressed! Im so glad you were – I wouldn’t have found your blog otherwise!


  22. Single Mom Confidential
    Oct 25, 2010 @ 17:53:30

    Im not sure what the criteria is for being featured on Freshly Pressed is either… but Im so glad you were. I enjoyed not only the one featured today but I found myself hovering over my computer reading… blog after blog after blog. And I must say the whole OPTCOS…. Brilliant! Is this an ‘official’ acronym? Because I think it should be!! 🙂 Im hooked…. Best wishes!



    • wittylittlesecret
      Oct 25, 2010 @ 17:55:36

      Nah, it’s just operation something all the time at our house, so we finally gave it a name. Operation Take Care Of Self rarely makes an appearance, so I felt it deserved its own acronym. Cheers, hope to see you around!


  23. glacierwave
    Oct 25, 2010 @ 17:47:34

    Well said and written. Give’em hell for the creepy package.


  24. Kim Pugliano
    Oct 25, 2010 @ 17:43:51

    OHMYGOSH Awesome post. Congrats on being Freshly Pressed. I was blessed enough to meet my husband when his Navy service was completed, but I’m still proud that he served his country and my heart goes out to all of the wives at home. Thank you for being his biggest support and fan.


  25. blackshepherd
    Oct 25, 2010 @ 17:38:27

    you’re a courageous woman and a credit to your husband who is a lucky man…women like you are priceless…don’t ever doubt or forget it…wishing you a long joyous life together…may we all find our way to a just and true peace…


  26. "THE DAD"
    Oct 25, 2010 @ 17:28:03

    It was the summer between her Junior and Senior year in high school – Coronado, CA – lived one block from the beach. She was needed at home – so the dutiful dad walks to the beach and finds her with friends soaking up the California sun. As I approach, a F-14 Tomcat taking off from NAS North Island (about 200 yards away from the sun loving beach girls) goes into afterburner and executes an “unrestricted climb” that is, straight up, spinning all the way – A la Tom Cruise. Her friends “Oooo and Ahhhh” as SHE leans up on one elbow, watches the display and says, “Smart Ass!”


  27. Debbie
    Oct 25, 2010 @ 16:55:42

    Wow. Most of the men in my family are veterans. As is my husband. I was scrolling down as I was reading and I literally got shivers as I saw that photo.

    Great post! And one of the most interesting posts I’ve seen featured on Freshly Pressed in quite awhile. Thanks for sharing!


  28. perfectperfectionist
    Oct 25, 2010 @ 16:08:52

    Wow, that would have completely freaked me out. Well done on handling this, and so many of the other situations you describe, with such grace. Your sacrifice is huge, but important.


  29. DogBoy
    Oct 25, 2010 @ 15:54:11

    The really freaky thing is that you smelled the uniform and boots. Don’t lie.


  30. Jumping in Mud Puddles
    Oct 25, 2010 @ 15:47:08

    I bet you just stared at it a long while before even thinking, “Wowww.” That is just wrong. Great post! Congrats on being Freshly Pressed!


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    • wittylittlesecret
      Oct 25, 2010 @ 19:38:14

      It’s truly amazing to me how the blog world has responded to this, a very “regular” post. Thanks for your publicity and support. This is the cheapest therapy a girl could hope for.


  32. mudstew
    Oct 25, 2010 @ 12:35:45

    Wow I completely love your writing style and just as I was reading the post about your little girl sleeping, I could hear mine breathing deep on the monitor. You seem like a mom lots of other moms could relate to – especially military – which I am not – but I am proud of you and those that I know personally. Good luck to you and your whole family.


  33. navygunner
    Oct 25, 2010 @ 12:35:24

    Great post, those of us who have served understand, but most don’t realize that there is someone at home waiting. My wife is a Navy Brat and married a sailor, I know what her reation would have been.


  34. sandyhawkins
    Oct 25, 2010 @ 08:41:59

    Wow…that picture of the box and it’s contents is so compelling….and yes, creepy.


  35. Acai
    Oct 25, 2010 @ 08:41:49

    great post, you had me cracking up. very strange what to do with your uniform in a box!


  36. Etiquette From the Trenches
    Oct 25, 2010 @ 08:41:34

    I love this post. I’m an Army brat and our childhood sounds so similar (except my dad drove tanks and it was “Beat Navy” that completed the anthem). I then became an Air Force officer and married one. It’s harder being married to one than being one. There is nothing easy about deployments – not the farewell, the waiting, or even (suprisingly) the reuniting. You captured it perfectly.
    NARMY had me laughing out loud!! Congrats on Freshly Pressed. So glad to have found your blog.



    • wittylittlesecret
      Oct 25, 2010 @ 17:17:56

      Well, my hat is off to you for sure. Family reunions must be confusing. We have a friend in Husband’s former unit who is a female getting ready to leave four kids behind, including very young TWIN boys, to be dealt with by her active duty hubbie. But I think you’re right. I’d rather be the leaver than the leavee.


  37. CrystalSpins
    Oct 25, 2010 @ 08:41:13

    Thanks for sharing…and I know this freaked you out, but it’s pretty funny too. Glad your hubby is safe!



  38. The Simple Life of a Country Man's Wife
    Oct 25, 2010 @ 08:41:02

    Cute post! The music startled me, however … wasn’t expecting that 🙂


    • wittylittlesecret
      Oct 25, 2010 @ 17:19:09

      I get this from my mom, too! I try to pick slow-starting songs, but that darn player is just too low down on my sidebar. I’ll work on adopting a “fade in” tune. Thanks for the feedback!


  39. Coming East
    Oct 25, 2010 @ 08:40:41

    Great post! God bless you and your family and keep your husband safe. I live in a Navy town and we love jet engines! That’s the sound of freedom!


    • wittylittlesecret
      Oct 25, 2010 @ 17:20:03

      I actually thought that was the required response when a jet flew overhead while I was growing up. You know, like the aviation version of the Catholic “Peace be with you … and also with you?”


  40. stuckoutsidethebox
    Oct 25, 2010 @ 08:40:30

    great post. 🙂


  41. runtobefit
    Oct 25, 2010 @ 06:17:03

    Great post. I can’t imagine what it was like to get that box. Wow…that’s freaky…I have pandora radio playing in the background and a song literally just said, “come home soon” as I was writing the first sentence.


    • wittylittlesecret
      Oct 25, 2010 @ 17:20:54

      Actually, that’s my music player. I love that song. I gotta change it to something a little more upbeat, though. I promise to post something a little more enthralling by Friday!


  42. barefoot_med_student
    Oct 25, 2010 @ 06:16:39

    I love this, had me in fits of laughter


  43. dtrasler
    Oct 25, 2010 @ 05:19:00

    Yikes! Glad to see the North American Military is as well-meaning and considerate of families as their UK counterparts. Thinking happy thoughts for you and your husband – my wife retired from the RAF four years ago, but my brother is still in blue and doing his part.


  44. Joseph Munley
    Oct 25, 2010 @ 05:18:21

    I grew up an Army brat… Moved all over the place, and learned to live with the seesaw realtiy of Dad’s Home & Dad’s Away just like you did.
    Great post. I cannot imagine the thoughts & images that must have flashed through your mind as you were handed a box of your husband’s possessions.


  45. notesfromrumbleycottage
    Oct 25, 2010 @ 05:17:11

    Great post, so filled with emotion. I hope your husband stays safe and is able to come home soon.


  46. rtcrita
    Oct 25, 2010 @ 05:16:59

    Don’t blame you one bit. I get it… That would freak me out, too.

    I read a couple of your other posts and was very entertained. Think I’ll be stopping by again.


  47. mmgoodsongs
    Oct 25, 2010 @ 05:16:42

    wow! What a great post! You are absolutely right and that was a terrible oversight. I know we are always reminded to think of “our boys” over seas but how about the family left behind???? Love the memories of your dad. I’m sure there are many others out there who share your thoughts and fears. I hope you are able to find lots of support.


    • wittylittlesecret
      Oct 25, 2010 @ 17:26:20

      Well your post was one of my supports today, so thanks for the comment. I really like it when civilians see another side of our life. Despite my sarcasm, military life really is a great one, and there are lots of complainers around … but it’s fun to poke fun at situations that might otherwise be unbearable.


  48. Bethany
    Oct 25, 2010 @ 05:16:20

    That is creepy. God bless you both. Thank you for your sacrifices.


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