My Modern Family

Well, folks, my little brother is an official sharpshooter Marine and can shoot to kill from 500 yards away. That's why I haven't posted since last Monday! We had a last-minute client event to pull together at work for Thursday, which ended at roughly the same time I was to be boarding my Virgin flight for San Diego, so you can imagine the chaos. It all worked out somehow, magically.

I was seated next to a real wanker on the plane, though, one of those dipshits who feels the need to make a big showy deal of his Louis Vuitton weekender bag and how put out he is about having to reduce himself to Main Cabin Select because all the first class seats were taken. A GEM. I was thrilled when the third person in our row never showed up and I darted into the window seat before the plane cabin door was all the way shut. He thanked me and I rolled my eyes, put my headphones on and started watching the last season of The L Word (can you believe that they have that OnDemand on their planes? LOVE).

When I got off the plane, I found my mom wandering around looking for me. I was so thrilled to see her that I actually ran to her yelling, "Mommy!" and off we drove to the hotel together. We parted ways and I had to eat from the vending machine for dinner because none of the six places I called would deliver at that ungodly hour and of course all the restaurants onsite were closed and apparently room service ends at 11PM at the Four Points Sheraton in downtown San Diego. The nearest open place was several blocks away and I needed to be wandering around unfamiliar Gaslamp District streets all alone like a hole in the head. I was exhausted and famished and apparently have forgotten to travel sans tomboy and wanted to cry, but I sucked it up and chili cheese Fritos it was.

I at least was clever enough to have breakfast delivered to my room at 6:30AM sharp, since we all had to leave the hotel at 7AM to head to my brother's graduation ceremonies on the base. At 7:04AM I called my mother to tell her I was still curling my hair and were they waiting in the lobby, and she said none of them (there were nine of us NINE) had had breakfast yet, so I slowed my roll and wished I hadn't gobbled down my Jack Daniels waffle and sausage and OJ and coffee in like 20 seconds before.

Off we all went - my mom, stepdad, grandma, brother and his girlfriend, other brother, and my Marine-to-be brother's girlfriend - in a minivan, to the base. The GPS had a  husky, breathy lady voice, but only when saying street names. When we got to the base we waited in a long car queue and had to show our IDs and offload all electronics to the dash, and then get out when it was our turn so that they could thoroughly search each vehicle. This was made bearable by the fact that I'd been informed that there was a Starbucks on the base, and also because there were oh I don't know, like six lady Marines standing at the checkpoint and they looked for all the world like some very tough cookies. One had a puppy! More of a trained-to-kill German Shepherd but they're still puppies, I think, don't you?

A few of us took orders for coffees while everyone else headed to our seats in the grandstand. At the time I hadn't switched into these sandals here, I was wearing my gorgeous new snakeskin pumps by Vince Camuto and let me tell you, to get from one bit to another on the base you must pound a great deal of pavement. I can't say if it was the tattoos or dress or heels or plumage in my hair that did it, but I got lots of nasty looks from other Marines' friends and families of the female variety, which made me miss M even more. She always makes good jokes or says the perfect thing to take my mind off it when that sort of nasty thing happens.

The ceremony was long but not too long. SO MANY UNIFORMS. It was hot, but not miserably so. The marching band was a riot and played a few old ragtime-y numbers in the beginning. I did well divorcing my loathing for the war machine and whatnot from being there to support my brother (the lanky kid closest to the camera below), but I had a moment where all the Marines marching just a few yards in front of me were all just so young it broke my heart and I had to fight back tears.

All of the sudden it ended and the crowds poured out onto the blacktop to envelop their new Marine. It was immediately apparent that ours was yes, stronger and more respectful and almost serene, in a way, but the same as ever. All my fears were allayed when he said he just wanted to eat a cheeseburger and get off the base already (but not before a trip to the PDX where he bought a new hat and I picked up some tax-free makeup and souvenirs for my girls).

We all packed into the minivan and set out for one of those surf 'n turf places right over the water for lunch. It was a beautiful day and we listened to his totally insane stories about what the last three months of his life had been like. After lunch we strolled around the marina and through the Gaslamp District - I bought that awesome hat up there and the turquoise bracelet. A little girl on the street stopped to say hello and called him Captain, it was adorable. Even though we were off of the base there were Marines everywhere and my brother knew every last one of them. Eventually it was time to head to the airport and go home, but I was really glad I'd made it there to welcome him home and congratulate him in person. He's home for 17 days and then off for more training. I'm sure he's dreamily soaking in all the rotten spoiling from our folks and eating all the cheeseburgers!

These photos are funny because my totally unawares mom and brother took them (the ones of me, anyway). My mom screamed my full name at me when I was up on this ledge as she thought I'd slip or take a tumble right into the water. Can I remind everyone that I turn 31 years old on Tuesday? Anyone who thinks parenting stops when your kids turn 18 is oblivious. Also my grandma hollered at ALL OF US in the minivan at one point and I am not kidding it went from nine people bickering a la Modern Family to instant, total silence (except for sexy GPS lady).

Let's get on with it:

Dress + Feathers, H&M Sandals, Kensie Bag, Co-Lab by Christopher Kon Necklace, Three Sisters Jewelry

PS. My 91-year-old grandma accessorized her outfit with a kittenish scarf worn as a belt. Amazing.