At the Brady Press Room in the West Wing
Our anniversary weekend continues, tonight we have our behind the scenes tour of the White House. Last night we had a wonderful reunion with my former Commanding Officer Colonel Mike Paulovich and his wife Janet. Colonel Paulovich and I served together at Marine Security Force Battalion, when it was still called a battalion. The unit was actually regimental size with subordinate units located in the United State, the Middle East, Guantanamo Bay Cuba and Europe with FAST (Fleet Anti-Terrorism Security Team) Platoons deployed in hot spots world-wide. The Colonel was a great officer and should have been a Flag Officer. He retired as the senior Marine Corps Officer and Professor of Ethics at the Naval Academy. We have remained close over the years and have always had a special connection, to include that of our wives. During our time together at Security Force Battalion we went through some incredibly difficult personal and professional times. The battalion lost I think about 11 Marines while we were there due to all sorts of causes so we shared a lot of community grief as we saw our battalion through difficult times.
I never will forget the night that Colonel Paulovich called me on my cell phone saying he needed me. I was at the ballpark and I knew things were bad for him to be calling me there, he too is a baseball fan and has great respect for the game. When I got to the battalion I found that he had been involved in giving CPR to a Marine who had just checked into the unit that late that afternoon from an overseas command and had hanged himself within 30 minutes of checking in and getting his room. That night I was with him and the other Marines who tried to save that young man’s life until about 0300 the next morning. I was there when the Colonel’s father died and he was there when I found that my father had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. We shared many other difficult times together as well as good times. We frequently travelled overseas together and I have never had a Commanding Officer any time or any where seek my advice on caring for people, support the ministry of his chaplain and ensure that I got to his Marines no matter where in the world they were. Even more importantly he allowed me to be his Priest. Some of the places that we travelled together included Bahrain, Japan and Spain and a particularly memorable trip to England and Scotland where our Marines were doing exercises with the British Royal Marines. We saw each other through good times and bad and it was such a pleasure to fellowship with both him and Janet over dinner and beer at the D.C. Chophouse. I am so honored to have him as a friend and Judy to be a friend of his wife.
Outside the West Wing
This morning was a relaxing morning except for two things. First, my tooth started acting up again and started hurting pretty bad. I doubled up on one of my non-narcotic pain meds and slammed down some 800 mg. Motrin which made the pain bearable through most of the day. It is starting up again right now so I will be hitting some more Motrin and Ultram this evening. Then I read the details of our invitation to the White House and realized that we had not brought appropriate attire for Judy. I looked up women’s clothing nearby and saw a Dress Barn. We started walking, unfortunately not being very familiar with the layout of the city I made a right turn rather than left coming out of the hotel. After dragging Judy around having followed the advice of several residents and a store keeper we were nowhere near where we needed to be. I realized then that some people are clueless as to the layout of the city that they live in. These people really had no clue; I’m surprised that they could find their way to their own toilet much less survive in the city. Heck if I lived here I would know this place by heart within months because I have one of those phonographic memories you know. It was kind of like they were saying “go four blocks and if you pass Freddy the pan handler turn left and the street will be two blocks down” except that Freddy the pan-handler wasn’t on the corner and the street was the opposite direction from where the clueless person said that it was. Finally I knew that I was only torturing Judy by dragging her around. I hailed a cab and said I need to go to Dress Barn on Connecticut Avenue Northwest. The guy was great. He knew where it was; he was friendly and dropped us off at the door. An hour and $248 later we walked out of the store with a nice outfit and butt-load of other clothes. Since I had not really gotten her much for the anniversary it was nice to do that for her, after all she tolerates all of my annoying habits and understands how to make sure that I don’t do anything to screw up my career. The ladies that helped us, Frieda and Mary were great. If all people in retail were as friendly and helpful as these women there would be a lot more coming off the shelves even in the bad economy.
I guess one of the really cool things about this weekend is that we have not tried to fit too much into it. It used to be that we would plan and schedule so much that although we were “together” there was no time for any kind of intimacy. We would end up stressed out, tired and resentful of each other. For once we decided just to be with each other and that has been way cool. If there is any advice I can offer to couples be they young or old is to get to know each other again by not focusing on things which entertain and take up time but don’t bring you together. Judy and I are wired differently, we have different interests, but we give each other the freedom to pursue those interests and encourage each other to fulfill our dreams. At the same time we finally figured out that we have to take time with each other. It took a quarter century to figure this out but we have finally been able to and the results have been amazing.
This evening we had our private staff guided tour of the West Wing of the White House. My friend Mark, the Chief of Staff to the National Security Council had to be out doing a Navy Reserve Drill so his assistant Cindy took us around. It was really cool seeing the Oval Office, the Roosevelt Room and a number of other historic places including the James Brady Press Room. We were not able to see the Rose Garden on this trip as the President and his family was relaxing out there, but we did see the Presidential First Puppy “Bo” playing on the back lawn. Hopefully we will get to meet the President on a future trip. Since we have reason to come up here anyway it would be cool to get to meet him. Everyone was great to us at the White House and we enjoyed our visit tremendously.
Tonight we went out with Judy’s cousin Becki to a Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurant and will meet her again in the morning for breakfast before heading back home. We stopped by her house which she bought when she moved her for her job with US Department of Fish and Game. The house was a “fixer-upper” and Becki has been doing this with houses for a good amount of time. She has already transformed much of the place which frankly looked like hell when she purchased it. It was good to see her and Tucker her friendly little black cat. It’s weird having a cat come when you call it, hell our first dog Frieda wouldn’t do that unless she thought it was in HER best interests.
Note: As I was getting ready to post I decided to load my SD card from my camera into my computer to retrieve my photos from the West Wing. It looks like I have somehow got the damned thing jammed in and I can’t figure out either how to get the pictures off of it or how to get it back out. Since I want to save the card and not damage my computer I will try to figure this out when I am not tired and have some idea of what I might do to solve the problem. So now the cool pictures inside the Press Room and at the entry reserved for official visitors will have to wait. Be assured that they are cool and I will post them when I can. Gotta love technology sometimes….
So tomorrow we see Becki again for breakfast and head home.