Army 101 / Cheese-y

That’s the way the Army ball bounces

It’s that time of year again: No, not wedding season; birthday season! (Though technically, yes, I think it’s wedding season too. The seasons don’t matter as much in constantly-cloudy Monterey, so I’m having a hard time tracking them.) On June 14, the U.S. Army turned 239 years old. If only we could all look so good after two centuries and some change.

(Between you and me, I think the Army’s had a little work done.)

And while the Army barreled tumultuously through another year of its second century, Jonathan and I barreled into our second Army ball.

DLI Army Ball 2014

It’s stereotypically difficult to believe that a year has passed since the Army’s 238th birthday. It has somehow been a year since my first Army ball. It’s been a year since I quit my job and moved to Fort Campbell. It’s been a year since Jonathan returned home safely from his second deployment in Afghanistan. It’s been a year since I charged haphazardly into military life, armed with humility, hope, and a tea kettle shaped like a giraffe.

And, a year later, I’m still holding fast to all three of those things. Also to the same bottle of hairspray I’ve had for at least four years.

Makers Mark pregame

This year’s Army ball was brought to you by hair products and bourbon.


Rent the Runway Magenta Orchid Gown

Loxley had some jealousy issues with my beautiful Carlos Miele “Magenta Orchid Gown,” leased from Rent the Runway. And Jonathan had some jealousy issues with his bourbon.

Whiskey and Blues

In that he had to consume as much bourbon as possible in one evening. But he looked very good while doing it.


Carlos Miele Magenta Orchid gown

The Army ball at DLI was a completely different party than the Army ball at Fort Campbell. They both contained the same traditional elements (a nice hotel ballroom, a pricey cocktail hour, a series of toasts, a guest speaker, and a few silly traditions), but the atmospheres contrasted each other starkly. In Fort Campbell, there was a party vibe: boisterous shouts and cheers, plunging necklines, flasks flying.

DLI Army ball

In Monterey, the gowns were sophisticated, the cocktail hour subdued, and the entertainment even included service members who had volunteered to sing (highlights were a “Frozen” parody called “Do You Want to Learn a Language?” and a “Mulan” parody that began, “Let’s get down to business…to pass the DLPT*). I spent much of the evening gawking at all the beautiful women in beautiful dresses, and marveling at the talent buried in the DLI soldiers.

Though most of my friends here did not attend the ball–many of them have husbands who are away–I was able to find familiar faces flitted through the ballroom.

DLI Army Ball gowns

Some of my very beautiful and elegant neighbors.

By the time the Army turns 240, our time in Monterey will be rapidly disappearing. Jonathan will be nearly fluent in a foreign language, and my giraffe tea kettle will be stained with another year’s worth of darjeeling. The risk of an Afghanistan deployment will be significantly lower, but the Army will have changed in countless other ways.

And my goal for the next Army year remains mostly unchanged: Stay humble; have hope; eat gouda. Lots and lots of gouda.

How have you changed since a year ago today?

*The DLPT is the Defense Language Proficiency Test that all DLI students take after their language classes have concluded. Which honestly sounds about as difficult as when Mulan was training to be a man.

3 thoughts on “That’s the way the Army ball bounces

  1. Your husband smiles like a little boy and it is too adorable for words.

    Also, your gown is out of control gorgeous. Did RTR work well for you?

    Changes in the past year: super similar to you. Quit my job, got married, and moved to our first duty station. In the next year, we’ll move to our next duty station and FINALLY get that Corgi we’ve been dreaming about since we were in college. It’s the little things =)

    • Most importantly: My parents have a corgi and I LOVE THEIR LITTLE TINY LEGS I WANT TO SQUEEZE ALL THE CORGIS.

      For my last Army ball, I used RTR and everything was perfect. This time, I got a call two days before my event informing me that, though they could still send one size of the gown I’d requested, the other size was trashed by the last wearer and wouldn’t be available. They let me choose another gown to order as a backup, regardless of price which was very nice, but the first 8 dresses I chose weren’t available. Choices 9 and 10 were available in *almost* my size–one of them wouldn’t zip over my bust, and the other was fine but I had my heart set on the magenta gown. Luckily I was able to SQUEEZE into my backup size, but as you can see it was quite tight up top. My husband, however, didn’t seem to mind.

      Do they have an Army ball in Alaska?

      • I think you and my husband would be best friends with your love of squeezing Corgis.

        Wowza. I can’t believe your first EIGHT choices were unavailable. Glad to know it’s always worked out though. The magenta one looked AMAZING on you.

        Uh I think so? We’re Navy and in Hawaii. I skipped Navy Ball this year because my husband had just left and I wasn’t loving the Navy at that moment, but I did see a video from the ball where one of the boats built an A-frame swing set structure on wheels, attached an exercise ball to it with a chain, and put one of the JOs on the exercise ball in a baby tee and tighty whities. They wheeled him in on it while “Wrecking Ball” blared and the captain hit foam bricks with a sledgehammer that he then licked and gave to the admiral. I can’t understand why people think Navy guys are weird.

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