Decluttering in 2019: The Winter Edition

Welcome to another year of self-improvement for me! This year’s theme is Decluttering! This theme of decluttering comes from the need to start getting rid of some things before I move in mid-2020 after I get married.

Here’s what I got rid of so far:

  • Six textbooks
    • Three textbooks I sold to booksrun.com
    • Three textbooks that I put on a table at my university with a sign that said “FREE! PLEASE TAKE!” since it’s too old to be sold back on any website. Textbooks that are too old to be sold back are textbooks I couldn’t sell back in undergrad. I was able to give away all three of the books before spring break.
  • Sweater I wear in the computer lab at work
    • This one wasn’t planned. I brought it home to get it washed since there was a lot of shed hair and dandruff on it, and since mom got me more sweaters for the lab at work, mom thought it best to donate it (yes, we wash all the clothes that are getting donated beforehand)
  • One pair of jeans
    • I don’t wear jeans very often anymore
  • Two watches
    • I only wear one watch nowadays and I didn’t want to have to change all of the times on my watch for Daylight Savings Time

It doesn’t feel like I got rid of much so far. Maybe the decluttering will be more noticeable later in the year.


My Experience at a Military Gala (and Marlow White, the company, Screwed Up)

This was my experience at a military gala. Your experience MAY be different from mine.

On December 19, 2018, I went to a holiday party hosted by an association Franklin is a part of. They advertised a military gala that would be taking place in the future and it happened to be where I will be getting married.

Sometime in February 2019, Franklin’s mess dress uniform arrived from a company called Marlow White. Marlow White is known for selling Class A uniforms (known to the general public as “dress blues”) and Mess Dress uniforms. We didn’t know anything was wrong with the uniform at the time. The reason why I made him buy a mess dress uniform is because he will be wearing his Class A uniform for our wedding and I don’t want to see him in that uniform until I’m walking down that aisle. No one I’m inviting knows about my blog so they won’t have that surprise spoiled.

March 23, 2019: We attended a military gala. It was our first time attending. I have never been to one, and the closest thing that Franklin went to were some dine-ins.

In short, everything happened in the following order:

  1. Check-in and finding tables
  2. Formal ceremony
  3. Dinner
  4. Dancing/Socializing

I’ll do my best to mention what happened in the formal ceremony, but Franklin has the program so I might miss something. We also did not have a receiving line. Not every military ball or gala has one.

When we got to the venue, we checked in and found our table number. However, we couldn’t go into the banquet room until 7 PM (1900). When we were allowed in, there were boys who seemed to be of the preteen to young teen age escorting everyone to their tables. Our table was right by the buffet, which is what Franklin wanted.

The formal ceremony started at 7:30 PM (1930). This started with opening remarks. Next, some members of a nearby college’s ROTC presented the colors. “Colors” refers to a flag and there will be people holding a flag (in our case, the American flag, the army flag, and the air force flag) or a rifle. Here’s an example of a presentation of the colors. Unlike in the video, we did not state the Pledge of Allegiance, though that may happen where you attend. Someone sang the National Anthem instead. You also stand at this point and look at the color guard when they march.

After the singing of the National Anthem, someone did a prayer. You are still standing for this part.

I believe the next part is where we had the most solemn part of the evening: the fallen soldier table (or the fallen comrade table, or the missing man table, or whatever else they may call it). You’ll sit back down for this part and you can only toast to the fallen with glasses of water. People will speak and place items on a small round table. A bell may be rung after each time the military members say “Remember”. Here’s the symbolism at the table (in this order, source from Wikipedia):

  • A small round table set for one (or more than one, depending on if you’re representing one person or all of the military branches) symbolizing the isolation of the absent service member
    • The table is round to represent the everlasting
  •  A white tablecloth on the table symbolizing the purity of a service member’s intentions to respond to the country’s call to arms
  • A single rose symbolizing the faith the family members who kept their faith while waiting for their family member’s return
  • A red ribbon symbolizing the service member’s love of their country
  • A slice of lemon symbolizing the bitter fate of the missing service member
  • Salt sprinkled onto a bread plate symbolizing the tears shed by families who waited for their family member to come home, but didn’t
  • An inverted glass symbolizing how the missing and fallen are unable to partake with us
    • This is also the reason why you cannot toast with alcohol. The fallen cannot partake in alcohol
  • A lit candle symbolizing the light of hope which lives in the hearts of many to light the way home

Sometimes, there is a Bible symbolizing the spiritual strength to sustain the lost. We did not have a Bible. We toasted, and the service members stood up while someone played Taps. I remember at some point, they sang the armed forces songs for the army and air force (it was a National Guard gala). I would like to apologize to the people who heard Franklin sing. Even he knows he can’t sing.

Before it was time to eat, the Mess Call was made. This may not happen with you. While dinner was supposed to start at 7:50 PM (1950), dinner started later. Maybe because the formal part of the ceremony ended late? I wasn’t constantly looking at my watch. There was also time between the formal ceremony and dinner, for some reason. Don’t know why.

While we waited for dinner to start, we took a professional picture with a photographer. Because the lighting in the banquet hall was dim, the picture looked horrible. Franklin looked angry and I looked like I had gaps in my teeth and looked like my eyelids were bruises. That was a waste of $15 and we had to pay before getting our pictures taken.

Dinner finally starts and they start telling tables to get their food. When it was our turn to get dinner, we were told to get food from the tables further away from us since there was less of a line. I looked at the buffet menu on the back of the program and my worry that none of the entrees would be something I could eat happened. I was mentally prepared for it. The only things I could eat (due to pickiness) were one of the chef carved options and both sides. The food was good and I got up to dance before I finished eating. When I came back minutes later, my plate was gone! I was pretty angry about that and even (POLITELY) told a nearby waitress about it. She was nice enough to get me a plate of what was on my plate that I didn’t finish eating (it was just turkey). I should have gotten her name so I could publicly commend her somewhere. Maybe she’d be rewarded with an extra scoop of ice cream or something. Seeing as how someone warned in a Google review that people at this venue have taken plates before people were done and I am having my wedding at this venue, I will need to warn people to not get up until they finished eating.

Backing up a little bit, I will tell the tale of Marlow White’s fuck up. After taking our pictures and while we were waiting for our turn to get food, someone went up to Franklin and was talking to him about something. After the conversation, I asked him what the conversation was about.


Franklin is supposed to have dark blue pants with ONE yellow stripe going down the leg, which is for commissioned officers. Franklin was given black pants and TWO yellow stripes going down the leg, which is for generals. Marlow White saw that he didn’t have General in his rank. Reading is fundamental! Franklin will be getting a return label to return his incorrect pants and the correct pants. He will no longer be a Marlow White customer and will instead go to a Post Exchange that has military clothing and will buy any uniform pieces he needs in-person.

I later had fun dancing with my dad’s co-worker, who is a Senior NCO and was honestly the only reason I had any bit of fun. You see, when something goes wrong, it ruins a day or event for me. Marlow White fucking up started to ruin my time at the gala, and then the plate was taken from me, and then I saw how horrible the picture turned out. I was honestly ready to go home.

So would I go to another gala? I’m not sure, to be honest. The things that went wrong left an impression that this will happen again.

DiaryofSelf Marries in 2020

T – 15 Months: It Goes On and On My Friends…

So I said I wasn’t going to do another one of these until I hit the one-year mark, but I didn’t feel like waiting six months between the last countdown blog and the T-12 blog.

Today marks 15 months until I say “I do” to Franklin. At this point, I am a month and two weeks away from doing my bridesmaid’s duties at my cousin’s wedding. Since my last post here, this is what I’ve been able to accomplish:

  • Figured out the last of the groomsmen
    • This is honestly the hardest thing we have done for the wedding so far. One of the guys we wanted as a groomsman ghosted Franklin for weeks. When we finally got ahold of him, he said there’s a small possibility of him being able to come due to financial and health reasons. We will still invite him, but as a guest
      • After that, I figured that two of my cousins can fill the last two groomsmen spots. However, I’m now worried that one of my cousins won’t be back in time for the tux fitting since he recently revealed to me that he is going to seek help for his drinking problem and he will leave right after my cousin’s wedding. I know there will still be time between my cousin’s wedding and my wedding, but if he can’t be a groomsmen, we will likely have to cut a bridesmaid (don’t worry, no one has been asked) and our already small wedding party of four people per side will become a pitiful three people per side
  • Went to a local bridal shop that was doing an in-house event and started thinking about florals and cake
    • We will not look for a florist until the summer so Franklin and I’s school schedule will not interfere with appointments. He’s almost done with grad school and I have group projects and homework

Yeah, it’s not much. The ball will roll as soon as we’re one year out. Here’s what still needs to be done between now and the 12-month mark:

  • Have mom give me the guest list for my side of the family
    • She is really holding this up, so I need to tell her next month that I NEED the guest list by June so I can pare down the list and Franklin’s family needs their save-the-dates sooner than everyone else since they need to fly in for the wedding
    • I’m also very sure we’ll hit the 150-person maximum set by our venue (based on the minimum we predicted)
  • Related to the guest list, we need to still determine the minimum age of the kids who will just be guests (not including my niece and his nephew)
    • Again, it’s because of the maximum. Franklin’s side has a lot more people on the guest list than I anticipated
  • Make my Matron-of-Honor’s proposal box
    • I wasn’t going to do the proposal boxes for the bridal party, but since I want her to be there when I try on dresses (more on that in a bit), it’ll be at least a way to thank her for coming. The bridesmaids I want will get a card later in the year
  • Find shapewear for wedding dress shopping
    • Might buy another shapewear for the actual wedding if I need a different one (like one with a low back if I choose a low-back dress)
  • Make an appointment for wedding dress shopping
    • I wasn’t going to go dress shopping until July, but a change in schedule means that I need to go dress shopping in June now. The good news is that I get to go one month sooner. The bad news is that I have less time to get stuff to make the potential Matron-of-Honor’s proposal box

Whew, this is more stuff on the to-do portion than last time. Guess this is when things will start moving a bit more. Also, be on the lookout for my wedding countdown on my blog after my cousin’s wedding is over.

Mental Health

The Power of Music

This could also be called “The Power of Music for Mental Health,” but I don’t want anyone to assume that music works 100% of the time for mental health treatment. I am not a licensed mental health professional, so I will not tell you to do this or that in regards to your mental health.

This is a piggyback on my blog about how a music conservatory provides music therapy for veterans with PTSD and is also based on a recent experience at choir practice.

So let’s back up a moment. In December, I joined the choir at my Unitarian Universalist church. There is no experience necessary, which is good because I do not have any vocal training. My musical background comes from playing instruments. I was nervous about joining the choir because of a joking answer someone from the exploring membership class gave when someone asked if the choir wanted his bad-sounding voice.

An older woman just joined the choir and she decided to sit next to me for rehearsal because she thought my singing voice was pretty. It’s not, but thanks! I guess she felt emotional safe because she was telling me about how music saved her life. She told me she had a bad childhood and developed bad depression because of her childhood. She told me about a music teacher in high school who told her to join the choir and gave her the recommendation to go to a music conservatory after high school.

Her story really resonated with me because I feel like my mental health is also improving because I feel like I’m discovering myself through returning to music and doing something I wanted to do many years ago (long story short, I quit baton to do choir, but by the time I quit baton, I was about to be too old for the children’s choir). Now if only I could find a drum circle to be a part of…

Has music helped anyone with their journey to improving their mental health?

Also, little footnote, this is my 100th blog post. Party party.