15 May 2012

Assignment Night - JAPAN!

I thought I'd take some time to explain how we found out about moving to Japan.

We were hoping for an overseas assignment and just assumed that locations in Europe would be available. 

Aaron came home one day and told me Europe wasn't on the dream sheet1.  I was sort of bummed, but no biggie really. We both are in agreement that we want to live lots of places, and thanks to the military, we will probably get the opportunity.  And if we end up in a place we don't really like...it's only temporary. So anyway, he tells me Europe is a no go, however, Japan is on the list, with a plane that he's interested in. 

Holy motherfuckingshitballs!

So for the next few weeks I can't help myself. I start researching Japan. Overseas moves.  Importing the cat into Japan.  Etcetera. And every day I have to remind myself not to get excited yet...there are still 20 or so other assignments he could get. Then I go look up more Japanese stuff.

I know, I know...that's basically just asking to get your hopes up.  But I knew what I was doing, I knew we had just as much chance to get assigned to Japan as we did anywhere else.  I understood that.  That's what I told myself.  And to be fair, I started researching the top 5 places we put on our dream sheet, just to figure out where exactly we could be going...just to be a little familiar with stuff.  I'd like to be caught off guard as little as possible.

Aaron submits his dream sheet, and we have to wait a couple of weeks for assignment night2.  I continue my research and break it to my parents that an overseas move is possible.  Meanwhile, Aaron concentrates on finishing up his last few flights before graduation.

Assignment night arrives, and I am sooooooo nervous.  I don't know why.  I know I'll be happy wherever we end up.  I hope that Aaron gets a plane that he wants, although I know he'll be fine with anything.  I think it's just the anticipation.  We have NO IDEA where we are going or when we are going.  We could stay here, we could move an hour away, we could move to THE OTHER SIDE OF THE WORLD.  Aaron is one of the first ones to receive his assignment.  I should have had someone else hold my camera to film it, because I am shaking with excitement.  They call his name, he walks up to the front looking a bit of a combination of stressed and nonchalant.  (You'll have to know him personally to know what I mean.)  They roast him for a few moments.  Then...3 possible plane selections pop up on the screen.  I see Aaron instantly relax and even start to grin.  This is good.  I know any of these planes will be awesome and have awesome assignments.  So does the crowd, they 'oooh' and 'aahh'.  Did I mention that this is all happening in front of a couple hundred people?  Family, friends, instructors, other students.  Beer is flowing.  The room is packed, people yell and cheer and clap and boo all night long.

As suspenseful as possible, they eliminate one of the three planes.  Silence.  Waiting.  The second plane is eliminated.  Aaron smiles.  I am so excited...only a few more seconds, it seems like an eternity, and we'll find out where we are going.  The next image....a map of OKINAWA, JAPAN!!!!!!!

The crowd yells and cheers and claps and I scream.  Aaron looks stoked (as much as Aaron can look stoked!).  I clobber hop over the parents of another student (sorry if I crushed you Mr. & Mrs. D!) and practically knock Aaron over with a hug.

I can't even pay attention to the rest of the assignments.  I cheer and laugh and clap, but really, I have no idea what is going on.  I keep turning to my friends mouthing, 'Holy fuck, we are really moving to Japan!'.  

That pretty much sums up how I've felt ever since.

Unofficial Definitions:
I am creating an unofficial definitions page to define acronyms and explain some things/events in my own words.  My definitions are based purely on MY experience and should not be used in an official or legal manner. 

1Dream Sheet:  This nice piece of paper that lists what planes/bases are available for your assignment.  Aaron had to write everything on that list in order of preference.  He had 1 weekend to consult the list and make his decisions.  It seems like sort of a mystery as how they pick people to go where.  Obviously, if they need airmen in location X, you'll be sent to location X regardless of your dream sheet.  I think that the dream sheet is used as more of a 'tie-breaker', if both base X & Y need someone like you equally, and location Y is on your list, you'll get location Y.  The selection you end up receiving can also depend on the number of other people requesting that choice and your class standing. 

2Assignment Night:  I'm not sure if assignment nights are done the same way at every base or branch, but here they have a big event at the club, sponsored by the graduating class.  It's an open invitation, typically with free food and beer.  This is a really casual and fun event, most people on base who can go, do.  I'm sure the free beer helps.  The graduating class presents their homemade 'class video' (light-hearted, funny, and often filled with mocking themselves and imitations of Air Force and pilot stereotypes).  Next come the assignments.  The student gets called up to stand in front of everyone, then they get roasted (the rest of his/her class has previously come up with a script for them), and then they find out what plane they will be flying and where they will be stationed next.

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  1. Will you have enough space in your pod for us to visit? Do the Japanese do pillow fighting? I do expect a strange, only in Japan, gift from you. So excited for you both!

  2. We have no clue where we are living yet (on/off base), but no matter how small or large our pod is, you are always welcome to visit (its funny how no one wants to visit us in Oklahoma!)!!!  And don't you worry about gifts....I plan to attack the vending machines and 100 yen stores for amazing things!

  3. so stoked for you guys, japan is going to be awesome! i forgot i had a blogspot for my trip to japan, so in addition to the other informational emails i can send you (and info from my friends who actually lived there!) here's my blog: 

    i definitely want to come visit! i didn't get a chance to go south, so that would be a lot of fun. i loved japan so much, you're really going to have the best time exploring. the people and culture are so amazing!