Ten Things You’ll Be Surprised I Haven’t Already Told You

When you write memoir-based pieces, it feels like it’s all kinda already out there, but…

My probation officer ID reveals how incongruent I appear for the part. Forgive my stealth around my identity. I am using the Jordan Bray pen name as a courtesy to my family so I need to obscure my actual name.
  1. I was a probation officer right after college graduation for three months while my internship supervisor went on maternity leave. It was one part hilarious, because of my appearance, which is not intimidating. I have been described as “sweet, kind, understanding, etc,” by people in interactions. It’s not the disposition typically associated with probation work. This dispositional mismatch was clear to me during my year-long internship my senior year of college. But I needed the money, I knew it was only for three months, and I didn’t realize what one of my duties would be. One of the duties always given to the lowest probation officer on the totem pole was to co-lead the sex offender treatment group. Worse than that, I had to drive two hours to do it once a week. One of those sex offenders later murdered a woman. I didn’t get an instinct from him that told me he would do that. That gives me chills.
I didn’t really expect to get the scholarship. I tried for it on a lark. When I actually got it, I found the major was going to be more math than I enjoyed.

7. I almost joined the Air Force ROTC program. I received a scholarship for a full-ride to college. The only requirement was that I had to major in aeronautical engineering. I stared down the barrel of that major and I just couldn’t do it. I was drawn to understand social policy, mental health systems, and criminal justice. I wanted to have the same impact my brother’s juvenile probation officer had with him. But I was also already thinking about a PhD to teach college. I thought a PhD would mean a guaranteed job because of tenure. I smile at the expression “Man makes plans, God laughs.” Even as an agnostic, I have the worldly wisdom to see now that there is no such thing as a guaranteed job.

8. I have been to an Aircraft Carrier Decommissioning Ceremony.

There is a great deal of pomp and circumstance involved with decommissioning a military vessel, and probably with commissioning one as well, but I haven’t been to one of those ceremonies. Navy sailors stood at attention for hours without moving all along the rim of the carrier. A band played music. Speeches were given. Everyone was proud to be an American including when we sang along to “Proud to Be an American,” by Lee Greenwood. There were American flags everywhere and jets flew in synchronizations above.

The U.S.S. Coral Sea was decommissioned on 26 Apr 1990 (Photo: Jordan Bray)

9. If it isn’t obvious by now, I was very conservative half of my life. Raised by fundamentalist Mormons, I spent my life prompted by Bible verse. My father directed us to and fro with military commands such as, “Front and center.” I was in love with a Navy man with a Harley. I listened to country music including Hank Williams, Jr. After my dad got out of the military, he didn’t want any of his kids to join, but I almost did. It wasn’t just for the college money, I also had a sense of patriotism involved in my decision. My brother joined the Army and served two tours in Afghanistan. I learned through genealogy that serving in the military is a family tradition which goes as far back as the beginning of the republic. God and country. That’s definitely been what my family has stood for. That’s why accusations of “Liberal, socialist, pinkie, commie, witch” always have to be coming from people who don’t know me. Yeah, no. Wrong tree you’re barking up.

I am sporting my Navy shirt in Florida visiting a family with crocodiles in their backyard. This is my ex-boyfriend’s motorcycle which we drove the wrong way down a one-way street in Nashville, Tennesee creating quite a stir. It was an accident due to being dumb tourists.

10. I tried to bribe a police officer when I was two years old. I was in the back seat of my aunt and uncle’s car in Chicago when they were pulled over for speeding. As the officer was discussing the ticket with my uncle, I pulled two pennies out of my pocket, scooted forward in the seat, because I was unrestrained — Bless the 1970s — and I handed the money to the officer. I no doubt babbled something incoherent, but I made my point that I was paying him to let us go. Everyone thought it was hilarious including the officer and he let us go with a warning.

I want to say, “bless your heart,” to the people like Jason Stelzner 🌹🍁 and Terijo and others who thought of me for these writing activities lately. I have been a complete wreck in the past couple weeks. It took me quite a while to rack my memory for things I hadn’t disclosed already or to try to conjure up a poem (not my strong suit). The mental energy was distracting and healing. I’m pretty sure I hadn’t already said all this. Please forgive me if I repeated myself about something.

Chances are I have a migraine. My spirit guides are Voltaire & Bierce. Considering making SJW into a religion. Genealogist

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