Monday, January 30, 2006

I got tagged again!

Ryan and Christy got me.

4 Jobs You Have Had in Your Life
1. In a factory, drilling and deburring holes.
2. Waitress in a bagel shop.
3. Assistant in a firm that organized conventions.
4. Proof reading and/or translating (into English)

4 Movies You Would Watch Over and Over
1. Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (the original, not the Johnny Depp one, regrettably)
2. Trading Places
3. Wedding Crashers
4. Forrest Gump

4 Places You Have Lived
1. Germany
2. Dijon, France
3. Kauai, HI
4. Los Angeles

4 TV Shows You Love to Watch -
1. Law and Order – Criminal Intent
2. CSI – Las Vegas
3. Las Vegas
4. An Adoption, (Wedding, Dating, Baby, or any of those) Story, I am a sucker for The Learning Channel

4 Places You Have Been on Vacation
1. New Zealand
2. Vietnam
3. Budapest, Hungary
4. Ireland

4 Web- sites You Visit Daily
1. Hotmail
2. Yahoo
Oh, No They Didn't
4. Too many blogs to list

4 Favorite Foods
1. Steak!
2. raspberries
3. sushi
4. more steak...nah, um, french fries with mayo (I've gone native!)

4 Places You Would Rather Be Right Now
1. At my boyfriend's homecoming ceremony!
2. on a massage table
3. in some disgustingly decadent restaurant, like, The French Laundry (one day, I will get there)
4. Walking along the Great Wall!

4 People I Tag:
Homefront Six, Bee, Shayna, and last but not least, Itzy Bitzy Nicole.

(As always, participation is purely voluntary and I won't have a snit fit if you snub little ol' me.)

Friday, January 27, 2006

2 versions of PopoZao: KFed and James Lipton

I was chatting online with my best friend from LA, and discussing all those important topics. Like, you know, how Kevin Federline is just so pathetic, it's funny.

And I asked her if she had seen this clip of Kevin jamming to his recently produced single, "PopoZao." (Of course, all made possible by Britney's financial support, cos certainly has no musical merit.) The clip is just embarassing.

And she replied, "Well, then you are going to love this!"

And all I have to say is, "James Lipton, you're the shizzle!"

The Graduating Class of OEF VI and OIF 3

I have mixed feelings.

I can remember a joke from when I was a little kid. It went something like this:

There were three men stuck on a deserted island. And they were always trying to figure out ways of how to get back to their respective homes. One day, after years, they found a magic lantern, and rubbed it...and sure enough, a genie popped out, and said he would grant each of them a wish.

So one castaway wished to be back home on the family farm. *Poof * He was gone.

Then the second one wished to be back in his mother's kitchen, smelling her cooking. *Poof* He was was gone.

So then the third castaway looked around, and then said to the genie: “I miss my friends, I wish they were back here.” *Poof * The other two castaways reappeared on the island.

Usually the joke was told in a derogatory way, giving the last castaway some nationality that was considered to be lacking of intellectual powers. However, I can really relate to those castaways right now, the two who went home and the last castaway. This deployment is thankfully coming to an end. Soon, I too will have my soldier back, and this whole experience will be over.

However I will miss my fellow bloggers and non-blogging internet friends who have accompanied me on this journey, either by me passively reading their blogs, or actually communicating with them. It's weird to spend almost everyday with someone, and be a part of their life, and then * poof *, they're gone.

Major K. is home.

As is Thunder 6.

Christy's husband came home in November.

Melinda's husband came home at the beginning of this month.

Teresa's son is in my boyfriend's unit.

Military Bride's fiancé is in my boyfriend's sister-unit in Afghanistan, and he will also be coming home soon.

Household6's hubs is also on the same rotation in Afghanistan.

As is Firepower Forward. His last post made me smile:

There was a phenomenon that I read about when soldiers were due to rotate out of Vietnam that for some reason they couldn't bring themselves to get on the airplane. I imagine it to be something similar to Stockholm Syndrome where hostages begin to develop symathy for their captors, or what was described as "institutionalization" in The Shawshank Redemption" where paroled prisoners had become so familiar with life in prison that they couldn't adjust to living as a free person.

Despite my excitement about the return of my boyfriend, a part of me is a teeny weeny bit melancholic. I mean, no matter how challenging this year has been, how low the lows were, I have really developed bonds with many people. I got used to reading their blogs and vicariously being a part of their lives, and often relating to their experiences.

The flip side of the redeploying coin, is that once the soldiers come home and we have our lives back, we lose the connection we once had with many people. We were all thrown together into this deployment experience and have accompanied each other, but like with graduation, and the signing of yearbooks, and promises to keep in touch, the reality is that without the cement of the deployment, we will no longer really be a part of each other's lives.

I won't get all mushy about it, but basically thank you and I will miss you guys!

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Afghani Dan flies on a Chinook

Every once in a while I do technorati searches for blogs mentioning chinooks and afghanistan, to see if there is anyone reporting about their experiences riding one...and most often a Big Windy chinook...and I hit pay dirt today:

The flight line at Bagram is a hub of activity--there was a number of helicopters doing flight prep when we found one heading where I needed to go. It was classic, since it's such a pain in the rear to get on a fixed-wing flight, yet just find a laid-back helo crew with some space and you're on your way.

He also has some pics of the snow caps mountains as seen from his flight and his lamenting amused me:

And I've yet to find a helo crew who will accomodate some heli-skiing requests, but I'll keep trying.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Photo Tuesdays

That Bee Girl had a photo post up yesterday that inspired me to share some random snapshots of my own. I guess the theme of this one could be Signs:

My mother and I were having saimin at this family run restaurant, and she started cracking up when she saw what was written on the menu board in the center, towards the bottom. It adds that nagging motherly touch to the whole family restaurant experience.

Hog Busters! Wild boars are a problem in Hawaii, since the hunting of boars has become highly regulated. My mother and I were driving into town one day when we just saw one snuffling at the edge of the road. But I love the small-town charm of this sign.

Sign in front of the Pantheon in Rome. My favorite is the 5th one down...apparently they have a problem with people going in there and lying down on the floor.

Also seen in Rome: Nothing to do with signs, but have you ever seen a car with so much bird poop on it?

Laughing my a** off

Okay, I am still laughing. I just watched a clip of President Bush fielding questions from the audience of a Kansas university. (The first video link...I didn't watch the second yet).

What amuses me on top of this is that this clip can be so many things for so many people. I know that Bush-haters will watch this clip and think, man that guy is stoopid...look at him. But to Bush---well, I am not going to call myself a Bush-lover, but to paraphrase Bush, since I am not against him, I must be with him - so to Bush-likers, they are going to clap their hands gleefully, because most of them will be, yeah, I would be making those faces too.

And that end is just priceless! Reminds me of why I like the guy so much.

Update: Nicole is right. The second video, although not as long and painfully drawn out, is just as funny too.

(Via Adam.)

Nerdboy and CaliValleyGirl

Nerdboy is one of my best friends.

Why the nickname? I could give you many examples, like the fact that one of his favorite past-times is to pour over maps, thus quasi memorizing them.

Or that he has an odometer on his bike that he uses all the time, not just for long rides...but to calculate his total distance ridden on his bike (sometime this week it will hit the 25K mark) since he bought it in 1997.

Or that he has a freak-like knowledge of an array of trivia (he will definitely be one of my call-in-jokers if I ever need one).

Basically, Nerdboy is a super-hero.

And I decided that Nerdboy, like every other super-hero, needed his own costume...okay, just a t-shirt.

Fellow Valley Girl, J. gave me the tip. Neighborhoodies.

And since I was making one for him...I thought, well every self-respecting blogger needs to “represent” too.

So Saturday, Nerdboy and I went out to celebrate our new super-hero costumes:

Nerdboy disguised as a run-of-the-mill nerd, his superpowers hidden under his magnificent green t-shirt (that's a Currywurst and Pommes in front of him...yummy stuff...a German fast-food must-try)

And his side-kick, CaliValleyGirl, the blogger!

What lays behind, and what lays ahead...

It's the last few weeks before my boyfriend came back for mid-tour leave, I was soooo freakin' excited. And towards the end of the deployment, it's almost like I am in denial that he is coming back. I mean...seriously, it's only 30 more days now. 30 days is nothing compared to what is behind us. I can honestly say that I think these last 30 days will go by quicker than the first. I really wasn't that sure a few weeks ago, but now that we are on the final stretch, I am.

The beginning was terrible. It took forever to get used to him being gone. I mean, I can just remember thinking what a basket-case I would be, if that lasted the whole year. Thankfully it didn't.

I got so used to him being gone, that it's like I can hardly believe that he is actually coming back.

A few nights ago, I was going through my archives, reading my posts about my feelings over the course of the deployment. I am so glad that I kept this online diary.

It's funny, because in a way, I was so naïve about the impending challenges. Some posts made me laugh, they were so cute and innocent:

It's only been five weeks since my boyfriend deployed, but somehow it seems so much longer. We have now been apart longer without seeing each other than ever before.

Well, guess I definitely broke that record now. Crazy to think that I have less time laying in front of me now, than I did laying behind me at the time I wrote that.

And some of the thoughts were definitely quite lucid:

So, I guess this is a journey for us both. His is physical, and mine is emotional. And when he comes back, we will both be better people, because of it.

I would have to add, that I was a bit self-centered in that post. My boyfriend has obviously gone through an emotional journey as well...but I was louder about it!

And one post, written before my boyfriend had even left, really made me smile and gave me butterflies:

To my surprise, I am also somewhat excited about him going to Afghanistan. I look forward to his emails describing his experiences there, the people, the sights. I look forward to his photos. And I would have to say, the thing I look forward to most, is meeting him all over again. After a year, he and I will both be completely different people and I look forward to the butterflies in my stomach upon seeing him again. Checking him over for new wrinkles, new scars, more gray hairs. To be re-introduced to that teasing twinkle in his eyes.

Oh man...I am getting so freakin' excited!

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Hostage and Kidnappers in Collusion?

In December Germany was treated to the drama of it's own Iraq kidnapping victim, Susanne Osthoff, a German woman who had been living and working in Iraq for the last 10 years.

Since her release her behavior has been quite strange, firstly, she did not return back to Germany, but stayed in Iraq. Which I guess is not that strange for someone who considers Iraq their home, but strange that someone who had experienced something so traumatic wasn't in a hurry to see her family including her teenage daughter. Well, now the plot thickens:

Part of the ransom money alleged to have been paid by the German government to win the freedom of Iraq hostage Susanne Osthoff last month was found on Osthoff after her release, the German magazine Focus said on Saturday.

Without citing its sources, Focus said officials at the German embassy in Baghdad had found several thousand U.S. dollars in the 43-year-old German archaeologist's clothes when she took a shower at the embassy shortly after being freed.

The serial numbers on the bills matched those used by the government to pay off Osthoff's kidnappers, the magazine said.

The possibility of criminal charges might explain her reluctance to return home.

You know your soldier is deployed when...

(I found this list at Syvanna's and was nodding and laughing so much I had to paste it up into my blog, too.)

1. You wear old sweatpants and sweatshirts to bed.

2. You can watch whatever you want on TV without arguing with him first. (Well, my bf is not such a TV nazi...I am...he always lets me watch what I want, on HIS TV...even if it is German television...I tell you, the man is a saint.)

3. You get up in the middle of the night to check your e-mail.

4. You sleep with your cell phone incase he calls in the middle of the night.

5. You love watching cute love movies because it reminds you of all the cute things he does when he's home.

6. You haven't shaved your legs in weeks.

7. The mailman knows you because you are always out waiting for him to come.

8. You start paying close attention in class when the words "military" or "iraq" are mentioned. And Afghanistan, Pakistan, Taliban, Chinook, etc.

9. You suddenly have an obsession with anything military related. Oh, non-military friends are shocked.

10. You see someone wearing an army, navy, or usmc shirt and you get this overwhelming urge to talk to them. Yes! It's so nice to know that I am not alone in having this urge.

11. You make friends with strangers online just because they are in the same situation as you and are the only ones that can truely understand what you are going through. Yes! And some very special ones at that.

12. You can't decide what to wear when you meet him at the airport because his flight comes in at a rediculous hour in the morning and you want to look cute, but not too cute, because your cutest outfit you want to save for your first full day together. Oh yeah... not to mention the 3 "costume changes" a day during R&R.

13. Your first Christmas together is.... apart.

14. You find yourself checking your e-mail every fifteen minutes. What? That isn't normal?

15. You know all the time differences between where you are and Iraq, Ireland, Kuwait, Italy, Germany, Korea, and every state in the U.S. Afghanistan is 3.5 hours forward from Germany, 12.5 from Los Angeles, and 14.5 from winter. In summer, 2.5/11.5/13.5.

16. The highlight of your day is getting a letter that was mailed a month ago.

17. And if you don't get a letter, the highlight of your day is writing him a letter that you know he will be able to read in a month.

18. You realize that HOMECOMING is so much more than a football game.

19. You want to hit any happy couple you see together.

20. You get excited about "unknown" phone numbers calling you.

21. You've exhausted every idea a brain could have of what to put in a box. And I will always have a soft spot for Flat Rate Priority Mail boxes.

22. You see a "support our troops" sticker on a car when you are stuck in traffic and you find yourself guessing about who they know that is deployed and thinking about their entire life story. Oh my God this is soooo true. Especially when I was on Kauai, because almost every other car had a sticker, but from a population of about 50K only about 100 National Guard Soldiers were deployed, so I was always wondering: uncle, cousin, brother, sister, auntie, teacher, friend?

23. When the clock says 11:11, you find yourself wishing for the same thing everytime: a call from your soldier.

24. You get excited when its only 9 months until you see your soldier instead of 12!

25. You can't stand girls that talk about missing their boyfriends who live a few hours away. You just want to yell "drive and go see them then" because if you had the chance, you would jump on the first plane to go see your soldier no matter how far it is. Oh, yes...I have lost any empathy I could have ever had for them.

26. You don't know what teams are on top for football, basketball, etc. (My bf is not a sports freak, so I never did.)

27. You wouldn't dream of walking out of the house without the cell phone and every number you have is forwarded to that cell.

28. You find yourself randomly crying from just looking at a picture of the two of you together. *Sniff*

29. You find yourself randomly crying and you sometimes have no idea why. Um, yes. I swear, I can read a story about anything and start crying. I was reading the book sleeve of the autobiography of a pretty inspirational book, and just start crying in Borders Books. I cried when reading an article in PEOPLE about a family whose house had burnt down and all the people who helped build it again. I. Cry. All. The. Time. I was not like this before the deployment.

30. You stay on the internet for hours searching for anything and everything about the military.

31. You talk to your friends about him so much that they know his full name, birthday and even his favorite color.

32. You are reading this and smiling and nodding because you know it's so true!

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Dreams of BBQs, swimming, summer hikes and bike rides!

My boyfriend's stationing in Germany was officially over last summer, so when he came back from Afghanistan, he would have only been here another three months before moving to his next duty station (back to the US). This would have had him leaving Germany sometime in May or June, most likely before my birthday *sniff*.

He put in for an extension for a few months, to be able to spend the summer here, but we both really weren't that hopeful. But the Army came through and approved it!

I was just estatic that he returning from the deployment, so this is like the cherry on top! So fricken' happy! *Does cartwheels*

Friday, January 20, 2006

Holy Chirac!

I nearly choked on my chewing gum when I read the headline: Chirac threatens nuclear attack on states sponsoring terrorism

Um, okay...this is interesting.

In the biggest shift in French nuclear doctrine for 40 years, M. Chirac revealed that the force de frappe - the French nuclear deterrent - had already been reconfigured to allow it to destroy the "power centres" of any state which sponsored a terrorist assault.

So, you touch Paris, you will be reduced to nuclear waste. Bet Afghanistan is thankful that Al-Qaida only attacked the US, whose swift retaliation seems harmless when compared to the nuclear destruction of Kabul.

The journalist hypothosizes that:

President Chirac's motives appear to be a mixture of the personal, the electoral and the strategic. Opinion polls suggest that France no longer regards him as a significant player in world or domestic events, and his speech yesterday appears to be an attempt to thrust himself back into the limelight as an experienced world statesman with a finger on the nuclear button. can't wait to see world reaction to that speech. Especially Iran's.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Tether ball and four square

I was just watching the last scenes of Napoleon Dynamite (I am working at my computer and needed a short distraction and Napoleon's dance scene is perfect for that). And the last scene of the movie where Napoleon is playing tether ball reminded me of elementary school.

I was never good at tether ball, but my best friend at the time was. She and I spent all our time together, except when playing at recess. She was the tether ball queen, while I held my own at four square. I am just remembering all the weird special rules we had at four square, like “stick in the mud” where no one was allowed to move their legs while playing.

What simple games those were, it would be fun to try them again. I think, the next time I see some kids playing four square, I am going to ask if I can play too, (although I can hardly remember the rules).

This one is for you, Sarah!

Before taking the red-eye flight back to Los Angeles from Hawaii, I had to have the obvious choice was:

To the right is a 1/2 lb Cheesy Bean and Rice Burrito: A warm flour tortilla loaded with hearty beans, seasoned rice, a blend of three cheeses, nacho cheese sauce, zesty sauce and fiesta salsa.

To the left is something that I couldn't find on Taco Bell's's a grilled burrito thingie with a flat taco shell stuck inside (thus the round shape). [Somehow I don't think Taco Bell will be calling me soon to ask me to write their food descriptions.] (Update: It's called a Crunchwrap. Thanks, Stacy.)

And of course, Dr. Pepper.

*Sigh* Life's simple pleasures.

The Final Countdown

Only about 4-5 more weeks to go until my boyfriend redeploys back to Germany.

It's pretty strange, part of me feels like doing cartwheels all day long, however the other wants to tuck this piece of information into the deepest recesses of my brain, because I want to downplay the excitement as much as possible.

I feel like if I start getting really excited, I will be too susceptible to the inevitable change of plans. My emotions might take a nose dive at the exact moment I should be rejoicing, because instead of being back in a day, he won't be back for another week perhaps.

Also my fear that some tragedy will befall the unit in these last few weeks has also increased. Of course the chances of something happening to them now, is that same as before, but for some reason, because we are in the end phase, we almost forget that. Our daily worries about our soldiers are replaced by increasing anticipation of their return.

A deployment is not only a long separation. What many don't understand about a deployment, is that every day you grapple with the fact that your soldier could die or get injured that day. Obviously, many people lose loved ones every day. They get up in the morning, kiss their loved ones goodbye, and for some reason or another, their loved one doesn't live to join them for dinner. But usually this comes as a total surprise. Essentially those who have deployed loved ones are aware ever waking moment that something could happen to their loved one. Imagine how that eats at your psyche. That fear. It just isn't healthy. Of course most develop a coping mechanism, otherwise you just couldn't handle it. However, the fear is still there. And for me, it seems like towards the end it peaks again, to the same levels it was at the beginning of the deployment.

I have just arrived back to Germany, after spending 5 weeks at home. When I awoke yesterday morning, I was a little disoriented until I realized I was back in my apartment. I am sure that when my boyfriend returns, I will have a period of readjustment, moments where between sleep and waking, I will be disoriented and still think he is deployed, and I will still be tense. But eventually I will be able to let down my guard.

Five more weeks...*sigh*...(restrains self from doing cartwheels)...;-)

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Invasion of Privacy

This is the Freedom of Information Act taken a step too far:

In State Long Distance Calls Made from Land Line Phone Number - SPECIAL!! $89.95

You provide the land based phone number, we will provide the requested in-state (intralata) billable long distance calls made! Includes dates and numbers called. Times and durations are available.


Cell Phone Outgoing/Incoming* Call Records - SPECIAL!! $89.95

You provide the business or personal cell phone number, we will send you the outgoing calls made from the most recent (or requested) billing period, including dates and calls made. Times calls placed and duration of calls are available as add on options.

I can't believe that there is a service giving you a list of all calls made from any phone number you should so desire.

(Via Bee)

Friday, January 13, 2006

Oh, the irony...

I am back in Los Angeles for a few days...and today I got a jay-walking ticket. (Anyone who's been to LA or lives in LA will understand how ironic this is, considering no one ever walks here.)

Even funnier, is that I got it crossing a bus way...not even a "real" street.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Kids say the darndest things

My nieces are spending the night.

I asked them if they bought any movies to watch here...and the older one (6 years old) starts some long-winded explanation (lots of kids stories are long winded and the thing's a little bit like the old adage: "it's the journey, not the destination" stories sometimes have no point, but their story-telling is fabulous!) about some movies they had rented to watch somewhere, but that we couldn't watch it here, because the rented movies were the "fat ones" took me a few seconds to realize they were talking about VHS video cassettes. I started laughing and realized what a HUGE generation gap I have with them. I mean, I guess some people were thinking that same about me when I had no idea what an 8-track was.

These are kids who knew how to use a DVD player and a computer before they knew their ABCs. But when faced with a VHS tape, it becomes the "fat things".

So, I start laughing and tease them. And the younger one explains, yeah...."fat"..."you know, like when you are pregnant?"

Man...I was really laughing then. I love it when kids have no idea why you are laughing.

Then they got into the bathtub, and were playing around with the bubbles, making beards. So I wanted to take a few pictures of the funny faces they were making, being careful to not stray into the kiddie porn department, when the younger one jumps up out of the water in what can be best described as a naked gymnast's landing pose with bubbles covering her face, and shrieks: "AUNTIE, take a PICTURE!" And I said: "no, no"...trying to discourage her exhibitionist tendencies and not relishing the thought of the special victims unit meeting with me when I tried to pick up my pictures in Walmart.

Oh man...spending time with my nieces on the one hand makes me look forward to having my own, but also reminds me of the incredible responsibility that raising these wonderful beings brings with it.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

“This is my blog, so I will rant like I want to” Post No. 4536

I guess it’s a perfectly honest question, but it always manages to rub me the wrong way. After learning that my boyfriend is in the military and deployed, and making the obligatory slightly pained face, some people will ask: “So how many more years does he have in?”

The question is reasonable, because, yes, my boyfriend DOES have a contract with the military. He signed an agreement between himself and his employer agreeing to a certain duration of employment. When that contract expires, he will have the option of ratifying another contract with his employer.

Many employees have jobs with contracts, that expire. Sometimes they are six months, one year, five years, etc.

But rarely does someone ask them with a smirk: “So how many years do you have left?”

Most people working for companies would like to renew their contracts with their employers when the contracts expire. If someone says, my contract is expiring at ABC and Co., but I would like to renew it, most people nod in agreement. But if a soldier wants to do that, instead of that decision being respected as one having been made after considering all the options, it is usually met with disbelief, because they assume that most people want to get out of the military as soon as they can.

Comments like: “well, I guess they are a little brainwashed*” are not uncommon. (*Someone actually said that to me recently about my boyfriend when I said he wasn’t in a hurry to leave the military.)

A decision to stay in the military isn’t seen as one made based on consideration of the benefits, pride in one’s job (which by the way includes more than “just” Iraq and Afghanistan…the first major help after the tsunami, the earthquake in Pakistan, and Katrina came from the military…they are the world’s first responders), sense of community and camaraderie, etc. I.e. all the factors one would weigh when considering employment.

I just wish people would respect that a job in the military is just that, a job choice like many others. It’s not the contractual servitude that many would like to portray it as.

Rant over.

Monday, January 02, 2006

New Years Eve

New Years Eve certainly wasn't as depressing as I thought it would fact, I think I almost have better memories of this past celebration, than the year before, which I shared with my boyfriend. Last year's celebration was filled with foreboding of the upcoming deployment, while this year's celebration signaled the end of a year, which despite my greatest efforts to the contrary, still will be to some extent defined as "the year my boyfriend was deployed to Afghanistan."

All the accomplishments of the past year, no matter how great or fulfilling they were, will be slightly overshadowed. When my boyfriend deployed, I vowed not to let this year be defined by his absence, but nevertheless, his absence has left this gaping hole.

This New Years Eve, I enjoyed the company of my family, especially my nieces, and many family friends. We drank, we danced, we talked until our eyelids started drooping...and yesterday we were all paying the price for it. And I felt a sudden giddiness as midnight passed. Another milestone in this deployment had been reached. Another tangible marker in time.

In my best Martha Stewart impression, I made the desserts.

My mother and father ringing in the new year.

Me with my favorite niece (aunties are allowed to have favorites).

All the little girls getting their groove on.

Shortly later: passed out on the livingroom couch.

Hope your new years celebration was memorable too!