Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Jamie Goes To Boot Camp

I'm having a little trouble today getting going, wondering what my Little Brother, Jamie, must be doing right now on his first day of Basic Military Training at Lackland Air Force Base near San Antonio. Yesterday, he and five other recruits squeezed into a nondescript office in eastern Vegas to be sworn in. Then we all went to the Buffet Asia, a Chinese buffet place that Jamie's step-grandfather chose and paid for. (Weird sighting: Legendary art critic Dave Hickey and his wife, former Las Vegas Art Museum director Libby Lumpkin, having lunch.)

No, Jamie's not my son. But he has been my "kid" since he was 6. He made the decision to enlist not out of some overwhelming sense of patriotism but for the same reasons that prompt so many other young kids: He was utterly failed by the public education system and cannot afford college. He wants to do something with his life, and at 18 this is the best way he can think of moving forward.

Indulge me -- or don't -- but it's quite an emotional experience for all of us. It was only yesterday that we were sneaking into pools on the Strip for a pool-rating piece I did for the LA Times and others. Then he also came along to rate Vegas wildlife for the same papers a year or so later. And I had to defend my very right to be his Big Brother in the BBBS program against attacks by gaybashers on CNN along the way, too.

How did he go from this... this... this... this!!!

My favorite was this 1-minute video his mother made while I was living in China in 2001. I had totally forgotten all about it until just now. You can click on it to watch if you want:

I'm sure he'll do OK. But it's scary. Also scary: What all that candy's done to me! Time for a diet and some boot camp for me, too!


Michelle said...


I know how he went from this, to this, to this, etc....because of positive influence by you. Whether you think he has a sense of patriotism or not, by the time he is done with basic training he will be the most patriotic person out there. It is quite an achievement to be selected to join the Air Force. I say that because it is one of the hardest services to get into. It will give him opportunities that he would not get on the outside. It is a credit to him that he recognized that. I look forward to following his (and your) journey through BMT. I do hope you are planning to go to graduation. Encourage him to go to church on Sundays. Not that he has to be a religious person to do so, but it provides a little bit of "me" time in the hect weeks of basic. And when you go to graduation you must go with him. In preparation, do a YouTube search for Letters from War and be prepared to cry. I still get choked up every time I hear it and my daughter graduated in June 2007. You can check out my blog and see some posts about my daughter. She recently received an award and we are so proud of her. Write every day just to let him know how your day is going, what you did, what you ate, etc. He may not be able to write that often but your letters will carry him through the tuff times. I can direct you to some other blogs that you can go back and read and they might help you on this journey. Just let me know. Good Luck.

Anonymous said...

It's tough for you for the first couple weeks, then it does get easier. Stay by the phone, especially Sunday mornings. You'll be amamzed at how he will be changed when he comes back from boot and specialized training.

Jeff in OKC

Maureen said...

I hope you share with us his and your journey. Sounds like a great kid about to become a man. Well done to the both of you!

Jinx said...

Good luck to him and hang in there, I can only imagine how tough it is, my little one is at this point far away from any decisions like that, but I wish him all the best.

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