People think I have a great understanding of how the navy works, but the truth is, I have no idea. The mothership wrote me after my first blog post (see above or below, I’m not sure which) and pointed out that navy refers to the color, whereas Navy refers to the branch of service. (She also called me at the weekend to explain the significance of Frank Underwood’s final ring knocking in House of Cards.) I don’t even know how to refer to my new employer correctly in print.

Now last year when I began talking to my recruiter and found out I couldn’t do aviation since I’m too old (ug), and was told I’d be in Intel, I was like ok, what do Intel officers do? Is it fun or boring? Am I going to get shot? But he told me that Intel was the one Naval career which they couldn’t tell me anything about. Nothing. Intelligence wouldn’t tell the recruiters, and so the recruiters couldn’t tell the recruits. So I asked how am I supposed to make an informed decision about whether to join? Basically, he said, you are either up for adventure or you’re not.

The adventure has been a long time coming. Turns out joining the navy Navy isn’t like the old footage from World War II where recruits walk into the recruiter’s office and leave with a duffel bag in one hand and their orders in the other. I actually had to take the flight exam they give to perspective aviators (to add insult to injury), pass it, and then put together a rather substantial application and information for top secret Top Secret security clearance, a paperwork drill that took hours. Much of the form had me list all foreign contacts, addresses, employers, and bank accounts, with extensive references who could vouch for everything I wrote down, and as an archaeologist who did my Ph.D. in Europe and does fieldwork in Greece, this was a nightmare. All the paperwork and test scores and whatever else gets sent to some board who at some point makes their decisions about who gets in. My board was cancelled thanks to the October government shutdown and was pushed to the February as I recall. Ok, so after months of hearing nothing, my recruiter calls me in early 2014 with the good news that I needed to get a physical and get ready. Oh and go get fingerprinted. Doing all of this new stuff took numerous weeks, not least of which was the extensive bloodwork, ladies’ favorite gyno visit, physical, eye, and hearing exams…I also had a 2 hour interview and all of my friends, relatives, and even my parents’ next door neighbors got interviewed too.

Then all of this new paperwork was submitted to yet another board and then I was finally all officially approved huzzah yeah please go to the closest Naval base and swear in.

After all of this, all I know for sure about my new job is that:

  1. I cannot get a tattoo between now and I think OCS, but I’m not sure.
  2. I avow that I have seen the OCS video on YouTube and understand that OCS is physically and mentally challenging.
  3. Thanks to the OCS website, I know that OCS is located in Newport, RI.
  4. My recruiter mentioned that Intel school is in VA.
  5. Oh yeah and I’m supposed to uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States.

That’s pretty much it! OCS turns us civilians into Naval officers, and man, does it look fun. My recruiter sent me an email with a list of things that I must bring (“2 pairs of running shoes” OMG-that is a lot of running in 12 weeks) which included “12 pairs of white brief cut underwear.” Now I have given this required item a lot of thought. In the last 2 weeks I have bought 2 pairs of running shoes, 3 white towels, high impact sports bras, some all white underarmor crew cut shirts, and toiletries. I even asked my recruiter about the underwear (“who is going to check my underwear?”)…but finally I decided I’m not buying new horrible underwear-12 pairs, no less!-for OCS. No, I’m going to bring my own, actually comfortable, skivvies, and buy new pairs after OCS is over. And yes, I’m fully expecting someone at OCS to get their panties in a wad over this.

Further research: Consider not bringing a razor to OCS. The men’s required items had shaving kit listed right at the top, but a razor was noticeably absent from the women’s list. After 12 weeks of not shaving, and with the required hair cut, OCS is going to turn me into a guy. Eww.