Monday, September 10, 2012

Three spouse events in 1 week...and I survived

I have spent the past (almost) 12 years of my marriage avoiding military spouse events. It wasn't really hard to do. I have never lived on base, until now, and I have worked full time almost all 12 years.Time and proximity were not in favor of the spouse events. That, and I'm not a huge joiner when it comes to the military wife community. Much of the time these events get gossipy, drama-filled and full of conversation about the husband's career or potty training a member of the offspring. These are not popular topics of conversation for me, at least not after the first 15 minutes, so I have learned to play poker and beer pong so I could escape the living room full of chatty women and go play with the guys.

However, my 12 years of avoidance of spouse events has come to a hiatus. It is completely self-induced because I am not anti-social and will require a friend or two in the next three years. The pool of friends I have to choose from are residents of this base, and to meet them I need to get out of my apartment. There has got to be some intelligent, witty, non-dramatics and I am determined to find them. But to do this, I must attend some events where spouses will be. As luck would have it, three spouse events were planned by various entities on base this week alone. I attended all three. And I survived. I think I have attended two spouse events in 12 years. As my fellow Marine Corps spouse Stacey said on my Facebook page: "Three spouse events in one week is a bit more than I could be persuaded to partake of. Like, 3 more. lol." I completely agree... until I am landlocked and surrounded by a foreign country. Now I need to adapt accordingly.

And, yes, I did find some women who appear to be intelligent, witty non-dramatics, but this was only the first impression, so I will reserve final judgement for a few months from now. I have found that first, second, third and even several-year-long impressions can be deceiving, although I only have three years here, so I am willing to forgo waiting years.

But I did do more than meet people. Each of these events had its own perks, and I'd like to share them with you here:

Wednesday, Sept. 5 - Simple Elegance, sponsored by the Marine Corps Exchange

This was a two-hour sales event for the Exchange. There was a fashion show of gowns, most of the "custom" gowns because the majority of the Exchange's dresses did not make it to the event on time, thanks to the typhoon that swept through Okinawa. But the unexpected highlight of the custom dress service was interesting to me - I wondered how women avoided wearing the same styles and online shopping for gowns is not something too many women can do successfully. Each of the Exchange's off-the-rack gown styles comes in each size in each color. So, there is a chance that seven other women may be wearing the exact same dress you are, just sizes smaller or larger. It's never bothered me to wear the same thing as someone else. It just means we both have great taste. But I see how this can bother some people. I just like the idea of a custom-fit dress in the exact color and style I want. And I asked how much they are... anywhere between $120 and $210, so not too bad price-wise. I don't know if this is offered elsewhere, but if you are interested in learning more click here.

Bonus: I won a door prize valued at more than $100. Score!

Friday, Sept. 7 - First Annual (they meant Inaugural) Iwakuni Spouse's Day

This was definitely the most educational of the three events. This was an all-day event, designed with a travel theme, with a passport with all of the classes and activities.

The day was broken up in to different 1-hour classes about a variety of topics Iwakuni spouses have requested, such as how to start a home-based business, services available at the library (like FREE continuing education courses... everything from accounting to dream interpretation) and relaxation techniques. For example, the first class I took that morning was on Japanese business etiquette, but I learned a lot more than just etiquette. Such as Japanese geography and statistics:
  • The string of islands that makes up Japan is 1,860 miles long and has a land mass the size of California.
  • The Japanese islands stretch longitudinally so they the same length of the U.S. East Coast - so the climate varies a lot.
  • 128 million people call Japan home, 3.5 times more populous than California
  • Only 30 percent of the land is inhabitable - the other 70 percent is woodlands.
  • The Japanese value getting along - harmony - highly because of so many people living in such a small space. Therefore, unlike Americans, who just want to "get to the point," Japanese conversations value the process. Find the reason behind the point, respect others' feelings, etc., and then come to the conclusion.
The Japanese language has five values:

a - pronounced like the a in father
i - pronounced like the i in ink
u - pronounced like the oo in food
e - pronounced like the e in elephant
o - pronounced like the o in hotel

To say Good Morning your coworkers politely in the morning: o-hi-yo go-za-i-ma-su
If you leave for the day before they do, you should say "I am sorry for leaving first," o-sa-ki-ni shi-tsu-rei shi-ma-su.
And you should always thank them for their hard work and effort: o-tsu-ka-re-sa-ma-de-su

When to bow and how far to bow: Bowing is used to express thanks, apologize, request something or ask a favor. The higher the social status and/or age of the person you bow to depends on how long and how deeply you bow.

15 degrees: Casual greeting
30 degrees: Used in a business setting
45 degrees: Respectful, deep gratitude, formal apology

Men should keep their hands to their sides, women show clasp their hands in front of them when they bow.

Exchanging business cards is a ritual, with eight key points to remember:

1) Stand up
2) Face the person you are giving the card to,making sure that the card is turned right-side up toward the person.
3) Bow slightly
4)Use two hands to hand the card to the person, take their card with two hands (a brief time of one-handedness is necessary to exchange the card and is acceptable.
5) Review the business card.
6) Place the card on the table in front of you; multiple cards should be set out in the order of how the people are seated across from you.
7) Do not take notes on the card.
8) Put the card in your briefcase after the meeting.

Japanese superstition: The numbers 4 and 9 - the written words in Japanese for these numbers also mean death(4) and suffer (9). Don't give gifts in these numbers and there are no hospital rooms number 4 or 9. The numbers 13 and 666 have no significant meaning in the Japanese culture.

Plus there was a folder of information, embellished with this paper kimono.

Although it is not for the same style of kimono, here is a link to a video that shows you how to make them.

Bonus: I won a door prize! Score!

Saturday, Sept. 8 - Semper Style Military Ball Expo

This was a semi-formal event that showed off different looks and service available for the upcoming military balls. There was a fashion show, segments on table manners, up-do hairstyles, dress styles to flatter your figure, etc. It was the classiest event of the week and I learned some useful information:
  • The first Marine Corps ball was in Philidelphia in 1925
  • There is a iPhone and iPad app called Mind Your Manners so you can look up etiquette
  • BMW is more than a craptastic car. When you are seated at the table, your Bread is to the left, Main Meal plate is in the center and your Water is to the right. No grabbing your neighbor's beverage by accident.
Bonus: I didn't win one of the door prizes, but everyone got a cute gift bag with goodies in it... Score!

And by the way, if you are looking for a comical, yet realistic look at the lives of military wives, I recommend the book Confessions of a Military Wife by Mollie Gross. I am about halfway through it and am finding it to be pretty true to life.

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