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These words are my diary screaming out loud

Friday, December 28, 2012

Heaven gained another angel today...

I've written before about my friend Ali and her battle with stage 4 cancer. Ali was diagnosed just before her 38th birthday with lung cancer - and no, she was never a smoker. Ali's doctors didn't think she'd make it 6 months. She turned 40 a couple of months ago.

This afternoon, cancer finally won. Ali's battle was inspirational to so many people. She made us all believe that cancer could be beat, and she worked so hard to raise over $50,000 for lung cancer research. She made it nearly 2 1/2 years after her diagnosis, to include more than 6 months in hospice care when the doctors said there was nothing else they could do for her.

Ali, you will never be forgotten. Your life served as an inspiration to so many of us, and so many of us are better people for having known you. There's a new star for us to wish upon tonight, and there's a new angel watching over all of us.

Rest in peace, sweet Ali.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

There are no words.

What kind of a sick person opens fire on babies? That was my first thought upon hearing about the shooting at the elementary school in Connecticut on Friday.

I've been thinking about what to write about this all weekend, and I just can't get past these babies. My fiance says I've been acting weird lately. If lately is since Friday, I agree. I have no children, but I have 5 and 6 and 7 year old nieces and cousins and future nieces and nephews. I have friends with children this age. And it affects me. It makes me sad, that there are people so disturbed in this world that, for whatever reason, they would do something like this. And there's nothing to really say.

I thank those who have refrained from putting the focus on the gunman, and instead have focused on the victims. Some have speculated that these people do things like this to gain a notoriety they've never been able to get. If that is the case, I wish we'd stop indulging it. Stop saying his name. Instead, say the names Emilie Parker, Noah Pozner, Ana Marquez-Green, Victoria Soto, Dawn Hochsprung, Charlotte Bacon, Daniel Barden, Rachel Davino, Olivia Engel, Josephine Gay, Dylan Hockley, Madeleine Hsu, Catherine Hubbard, Chase Kowalski, Jesse Lewis, James Mattioli, Grace McDonnell, Anne Marie Murphy, Jack Pinto, Caroline Previdi, Jessica Rekos, Avielle Richman, Lauren Rousseau, Mary Sherlach, Benjamin Wheeler, Allison Wyatt, and Nancy Lanza. THESE are the names that we should be saying, that we should be remembering. Not his.

So yes, I've been quiet the past few days. I've been a bit moody. I've been reflective. I've been trying to process. I'm not sure if its working. It just doesn't make sense. None of these shootings make sense, even the ones where there have been children among the victims. But there's something different when young children are the intended victims.

Perhaps that's why when The Voice opened its show with the below video, I felt the closest to crying that I've felt in the last 4 days.


My thoughts and prayers are with all those families affected by the horrific events in Connecticut last week. I cannot, and never want to be able to, imagine what you are going through.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Productivity. It feels so good.

Hooray for me! I'm on it this year!

OK, that's an odd way to start out a blog post. Let me back up.

I've always been a fan of Christmas cards. I love getting them, and I love doing them for friends and family. Most years I'm pretty good with them. But 2 of the last 3 years I was not. At all. Christmas 2009 Matt and I were both unemployed, and I was trying to figure out moving and getting a new job. So not so much in the real Christmas spirit. I don't think we even really decorated our apartment that year - we both went home to our respective parents' houses and had a nice, depressing Christmas. Christmas 2010 we were past all of that - I was fully employed, back on a good track financially, and Matt had joined me up north and we decorated our apartment and all was good. That year, we made our first joint Christmas cards, complete with pictures of us and the cats. Because no matter what anyone says or how many people call me a crazy cat lady (which I'm not, I have 2 cats that are as much Matt's as mine these days), the cats are part of the little family we've built. We sent out a ton of them, and were so proud of ourselves. Last year, we didn't make them, we bought some, and I did a bunch, but not as many as I normally would have - mostly just family and really close friends.

But this year, I'm back on it! We ordered cards, complete with pictures of us and the kitties again :) Not gonna lie, part of it is that we're in the throes of wedding planning, and it saves me on postage to send the Save the Dates with the Christmas cards. Because with a semi-destination wedding, we want to make sure people have plenty of time to plan. Or something.

So last night, I figured I'd get started on the cards. At least addressing envelopes and stuff - I'm budget-conscious enough that I didn't order fancy address labels, or make a fancy stamp with the return address, or anything like that, so I hand addressed everything. Maybe for the actual invitations, I'll go a little fancier, but not at this point.

Anyway, I made it through my entire list, to include a few people that were added along the way. There are a few folks I'm still waiting on addresses from, but I was WAY more productive than I anticipated being. All I've got left to do now is buy stamps. And seal the damn envelopes. That's my least favorite part. I think I can do it with a q-tip or a sponge  and water, because nothing says awesome quite like licking 50-some envelopes...

So yeah, hooray for me! I'm on it this year! :)

Monday, December 10, 2012

A word to CBS Sports, and a word to Trent Steelman

So, USNA adopted this "Exce11ence" motto, using the number 11 to represent the 11 year streak of beating Army that would happen if we won this year. I think its kinda lame, but the good news is, we won!! This was probably the closest game in years, a little too close for my comfort, and frankly, we only won by luck. Well, luck, and some good defense.

Army only scored one touchdown, and were held to field goal attempts on the rest of their possessions. They missed one of them. We were up 17-13 with only about 2 minutes to go, but Army was driving. And it was looking good. They were at 1st and 10, or maybe even first and goal - near their own 10. They had plenty of time left to score. But their quarterback fumbled on a handoff, and we recovered the ball with just over a minute to go. And we won.

Army's quarterback, Trent Steelman, started this game all four of his years at West Point. And he lost all four. That sucks. It sucked to lose twice while I was there, but at least we won the other two. He was understandably upset about it. I laughed a little the first time they showed him crying. Even posted on Facebook that I almost kinda felt sorry for him. But then the cameras never left him. Through the end of the game, the two alma maters, and after, they kept showing this poor kid crying. SERIOUSLY CBS??? Who OKed that? There was so much else they could have been showing - the celebrations on the Navy side, even some other upset Army players if they really wanted to go there.

I'm thrilled that we beat Army, but that was uncalled for. It was bad enough that we kept getting stuck with Verne Lundquist and his equally douchey counterpart whose name isn't even worth remembering. All they do is talk crap about the Academy players - they did it during Notre Dame, where it was obvious where their love was. But to do it during Army Navy, and then cap it off with the completely classless humiliation of a young man who has already done more in his life than these two a-holes will ever do? Uncalled for.

No matter that I wear shirts that say Beat Army, and have a sign in my house that says Beat Army, and yell Beat Army at the end every time I sing my alma mater. This rivalry is unlike any other - Navy doesn't hate Army the way Florida State hates Florida. Army doesn't hate Navy the way Texas hates Oklahoma. We love and respect each other and each others' teams, players, and fans. However, I think its pretty safe to say that Army and Navy can unite together and maybe not hate, but at least strongly dislike, CBS Sports and their choices at the end and following the game on Saturday.

Trent Steelman, you played a great game. Everything said you should have won. Luck was on our side on Saturday, but that does not and should not discount the fact that you obviously left everything you have out there on the field. I'm proud of you, your team, and to call you a brother in arms.

Friday, November 30, 2012

A month of thanks: Day 30

Yeah, I know this daily thanks thing is a little silly, but you know what? I kinda liked it. It really made me put some things into perspective, especially when I was having a bad day. It really helped me remember how well I do have it, even if things aren't always perfect. Hell, they HAVE been worse for me.

So today, for this last day of the month of thanks, I'm thankful that things are as good as they are. I'm thankful that we've gotten out of the slump we were in a couple of years ago. I'm thankful that I have a place to live, a job that pays enough to live on, a wonderful fiance who I love with all my heart, a family that loves me no matter what, a soon-to-be family that has accepted me from day 1, and some of the best friends in the world.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

A month of thanks: Day 29

Today I am thankful that I still have a great relationship with a bunch of my old coworkers. I got the chance to have lunch with a few of them today, and also to surprise another one by showing up to his little birthday shindig in the office. As much as I do not at all miss that job, I do miss the people that I work with all the time. They really are a good crowd!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

A month of thanks: Day 28

Man, I am starting to run out things to be thankful for!! All of the things I was thinking of today (my chiropractor, because its that time again, my fiance, just to name a couple) I've already used!

But then I started listening to the news, and I read the paper. I know back on Day 6 I talked about being thankful that I live in a country where I could vote with no issues. But today, its more than that. I am thankful that I live in the United States. We absolutely have our problems. But we don't have a President issuing decrees that make him little more than a dictator (Egypt), or car bombs going off regularly in busy areas of big cities (Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, to name a few). We have regulations in place that prevent over one hundred low-wage workers from being trapped in a building on fire (Bangladesh), and there are no rebel armies fighting the government and forcing us out of our homes (Congo).  Kinda makes all of our fighting over tax rates and universal health care seem a little silly, if you think about it.

So yeah, today I am thankful that I am an American, and that I do not have to deal with all of the so many worse things that so many people in the world are dealing with today.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

A month of thanks: Days 26 and 27

Day 26: Yesterday I was thankful for the best dentist check up I've had in years. I chalk that up as another win for cleaning up my diet - since I cut back on sugar and processed foods and refined carbs, I've had several benefits, not the least of which are the weight and inches that have come off. Yesterday, though, I got another one. I've always had trouble with my gums and been borderline for minor gum disease. Yesterday, they didn't even do the checks that they usually have to do to measure the inflammation in my gums - she said they looked perfectly normal! The only thing I can think of that could be attributing to that change is the change in diet.

Day 27: Today I am thankful for companies who truly take the phrase customer service to heart. So many businesses and companies these days seem to forget that their customers are who keeps them alive, and make it VERY hard to interact at all, much less get anything done. There are those few, though (*cough Sixthman cough*) that are just awesome. Ask a question, and they find an answer, and if its not the right answer, they work it until they can figure out a right answer. Today, I asked a question about gift certificates for The Rock Boat. We switched cruise lines this year, and on the old cruise line we could purchase gift certificates without a reservation on the line. We never have reservation information this early out, because we're a charter. The new line doesn't offer that, you have to have a reservation number with the line. But that's not the right answer, so what does Sixthman do? Not just leave it at that and say too bad. Nope, they're in the process of working out a way for people who want to give onboard credit as a gift for Christmas to call their office, do it through them, and they'll settle it with the line. How cool is that??

Monday, November 26, 2012

A month of thanks: Thanksgiving Weekend

Day 22: Thursday I was thankful for the time spent with my family, and for being able to share how my family does Thanksgiving with my future in-laws. And, yes, everyone got along well :)

Day 23: Friday I was thankful for the opportunity to take the future in-laws up to Annapolis for a little while to show them my school and my grandparents' house. It was also really awesome to see how much they enjoyed my Uncle Mark, and to see the look on his face when FMIL showed up with a whole dish of deviled eggs just for him, as promised when he told her how much he'd liked them on Thanksgiving!

Day 24: Saturday I was thankful for friends, family, and football. We had the biggest group we've ever had over at our house for the afternoon - his parents, all 4 of my siblings that were in town, and a friend. Our little house almost couldn't take it! We had a great time eating oysters, shrimp, corn bread, chili dip, and pecan pie.

Day 25: I am seriously thankful that I drew the lucky straw when it comes to the in-laws. I've heard so many horror stories, and while yes, my FMIL can drive me crazy sometimes, its nothing compared to the love and support she has shown me since the first time she met me. (The crazy isn't really crazy - its just different from what I'm used to, but there is absolutely nothing malicious, which is more than I can say about some of my friends' in-laws. It comes from the greatest place, and I'll take it.) And my FFIL is just the nicest, sweetest guy in the world. So yeah, absolutely thankful. It was a fantastic weekend, and it makes me all the more excited for a wedding this fall!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

A month of thanks: Day 21

Today I am thankful that we have set a date for the wedding!!

I was REALLY stressing out over some things related to the wedding the last few days, namely making sure that we were definitely going to be able to afford the venue that we want, and getting the date squared away. Well, it appears as though we have finally gotten that figured out, which means that I have MUCH less stress than I did yesterday at this time. HOORAY!!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

A month of thanks: Day 20


Today, I am really thankful that I never had to go to Iraq or Afghanistan.

Let me explain. I'm currently reading the e-book extra of In The Shadow of Greatness. This is the part where my story, along with 20 or so others that didn't make it into the hard copy of the book. So many of my classmates talk about how bothered they were about being on ships far away from the land campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan, and how they volunteered to go over there to be part of it.

I had exactly the opposite reaction during my time in the Navy. While I was on the ship in the Northern Arabian Gulf, or Persian Gulf as its also known, within only a short distance of both Iraqi and Iranian international waters, and only 12 more miles beyond that to their shorelines, I was thanking my lucky stars that this was as close as I was getting. When my name was added to a list of people being put in for an individual augmentation (we called it being voluntold instead of volunteering) I was scared to death that I would actually be chosen, and so relieved when I wasn't. When I found out that my shore duty station was essentially IA-proof, I was thrilled that I would be able to get out the end of that tour without having had to go overseas. When I found out that the Navy had accidentally completed separated me instead of just transferring me to the Inactive Reserve like they were supposed to, I was freaking out that they were going to reward me for their mistake with an all-expenses paid trip to the desert.

I've often been a bit ashamed of this, and afraid to say it out loud. But the truth is, I didn't sign up for that. I didn't sign up for the Marine Corps or the Army. I signed up for the Navy, and didn't even get to do what I actually wanted to do in the Navy - I wanted to fly, and I ended up on ships. That doesn't change the fact, though, that reading the stories of my classmates who volunteered to go over and who had extremely rewarding experiences while there makes me wonder if I didn't miss out a little bit.

Today, though, I'm saying it. I'm thankful I didn't have to go. I'm thankful that while we had some scares on the ship, I was never truly in harm's way. Does that make me feel a little undeserving when people thank me for my service? Sure. But honestly, I volunteered to serve, and had I been told to go to Iraq or Afghanistan, or anywhere else for that matter, I'd have done it. But I'm REALLY glad I never had to.

(I feel like I'm rambling a little here, like I can't quite find the words I want to use to express my feelings. I hope I'm getting my point across.)

But let me make this perfectly clear. As thankful as I am that I didn't have to go, I am even more thankful for those that did and that continue to do so. There is not a person in the military today that did not choose to either join or stay in knowing full well that their chances of going to either or both places were extremely high. There is not a person in the military today who did not CHOOSE to put their lives on the line if called to do so. I am incredibly thankful to the Matt Freemans and the Jen Harrises, the Ronnie Winchesters and JP Blecksmiths and Travis Manions and Jonas Kelsalls. Google them all. Every time I'm thanked for my service, I say you're welcome, but I pass it on to these folks.

Monday, November 19, 2012

A month of thanks days 17, 18, and 19

Day 17: Saturday I was thankful for friends that came in from out of town to visit us. Well, sort of. They came in from out of town for football games, but they got to visit with us as well :) Matt's best friend came in from North Carolina and the two of them attended the Florida State - Maryland game, which they enjoyed immensely since Florida State won by a lot. That night, Matt's roommate from Atlanta (we started dating right before Matt moved into his house) and his girlfriend got in for Sunday's Eagles-Redskins games. They're Eagles fans, so it didn't go as well for them! It was great to see all three of them.

Day 18: Sunday I was thankful for some quiet time. While the old roommate was at the football game, Matt and his friend went fishing, so I had a few hours to just relax. This was especially good because my back has been giving me some trouble again lately, so I needed that time to put some heat on it and relax. That was super nice.

Day 19: Today I'm thankful that I finally get my old property manager for my house in Virginia Beach back. She left the company where she was working when I hired her (but I had picked her, not the company) and now that my tenant is getting ready to move out, I can finally drop the old company and get her back! This is fantastic for me, because I just have not felt as comfortable with the situation since she left. But I had a contract with the other company, so I had to see it through. However, as soon as I got word that my tenant might be leaving, I tracked her down and established contact with her. As much of a pain in the rear end it is to switch services (and its expensive too!!), it will be totally worth it.

Friday, November 16, 2012

A month of thanks: Day 16

Today I am thankful for drugs.

No, not the illegal kind, thank you. I like my job.

I'm talking about the kind that make my sinuses stop burning, and my nose stop running, and my cough stop. The kind that I have to go to the pharmacy counter to buy, because they're the good stuff. The kind that you have to sign for, agreeing that you are, in fact, using them for your intended purpose and not to make meth or something. The kind that actually work.

I'm also thankful that its Friday, and that means almost the weekend, which means relaxation!! While I do have some cleaning and stuff to do this weekend ahead of the in-laws getting here on Monday, and because we have some friends in this weekend, I don't have to do much of anything in the way of entertaining or anything, so I should get some good relaxation time.

Also, I'm thankful that, for the most part, people have stopped talking about Gen Allen as part of the sex scandal. Not everyone, but some. I REALLY want for him to have done nothing wrong, and nothing out there right now seems to indicate otherwise. The more information that comes to light, the more it sounds like this Kelley chick was just a little nuts, and that most of the 20-30,000 pages of emails were conversations where every new email was printed out with history, and that Mrs Allen was either on the "to" or "cc" line for most of them. But the investigation is ongoing, and it needs to run its course. I just get irritated when he gets lumped in with GEN Petraeus.

So yeah, there are some things to be thankful for today. And everyday, to be honest. Sometimes its harder than others to find those things, though.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

A month of thanks: Day 15

Today I am thankful for sleep. As someone with a diagnosed sleep disorder, and who had some serious insomnia issues going on a couple of weeks ago, I've slept AMAZINGLY the past couple of nights, and I love it. It really makes a difference in my day. But it also really makes me want more of it, so here's hoping I can get it tonight!

A month of thanks: Day 14

Yesterday I was thankful for family close by. I'm extremely lucky to be getting to live near my parents and youngest sisters right now. They were really young when I left home, and its great to be close to them now and get to know them better as adults (or close to it).

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

A month of thanks: Day 13

I'm not going to lie, I'm finding it hard to find things to be thankful for today.

First of all, I woke up this morning to the news that one of the people I have admired for a good portion of my adult life, Marine Gen John Allen, is now under investigation for possible inappropriate communications in this whole soap opera surrounding General Petraeus. Now I know how others have felt when people they've looked up to have been implicated in things. I almost started crying.

Then, I found out that my friend Ali, who has been fighting cancer for a little more than 2 years now, is probably very near the end of her fight. She's been in hospice care since May, and her nurses now believe she probably only has days, or maybe weeks if she beats the odds yet again, left on this earth. We've known this was coming for a long time, but that doesn't make it any easier. While I'm far from being part of Ali's closest circle, she's someone I've gotten to know pretty well over the past 5 or 6 years through the local music scene, and her absence has been noticeable. Cancer really really sucks.

So it makes it really hard to be thankful today. All I can think of is that I'm thankful for my health, and that of those around me. I'm thankful that I know Ali, and for the way that she has touched my life, even if it has been small. I'm thankful that there is a full process for investigating Gen Allen, and hopeful that the process will result in not having one of my professional role models' reputation permanently tarnished. I'm thankful that even if it is, that won't change what I learned from him.

And it sounds awful, and I'm mad at myself for thinking it and writing it down, and for it being true, but I'm glad that its not me. In either of those situations.

A month of thanks: Days 11 and 12

Day 11: Today I am thankful for the fact that I was able to go wedding dress shopping with my mom, and that it was WAY easier than I thought it would be. Seriously, it was so much less stressful

Day 12: Today I am thankful for all of those who have served our country, and all those who continue to serve. Less than 1% of the population of the US is in the military at any given time, and many have zero concept of the sacrifice it takes to do it. I'm incredibly proud of all of my friends and family that have chosen to serve (because we all CHOOSE to serve in an all-volunteer force), choose to risk their lives, and in some cases actually do.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

A month of thanks: day 10

Today I am thankful for a fiancé that can cook! I can follow a recipe all day, but I have to follow the recipe. When I start getting too creative, bad things can happen. So sometimes cooking becomes painful. Luckily, Matt is really really good at it :)

Friday, November 09, 2012

A month of thanks: Day 9

Today I am thankful for Fridays. It may be lame, but its been a long week! Fridays are generally a little more laid back, and people tend to be in a better mood because the weekend is coming. Tack onto that this this particular Friday is the start of a long weekend, and its even better! Fridays mean 2 days of sleeping in are upon us, 2 days of no work, and 2 days of relaxation, fun, and time to get all the things done that you didn't get done during the week. Especially since Matt's been working so much, it means that we get to relax together tonight without having to worry about getting to bed early for work in the morning :) Hooray for Fridays!

Thursday, November 08, 2012

A month of thanks: Day 8

Today I am thankful for the new windows in our house! Not only do they seem to block MUCH more outside sound, but the biggest difference I've been able to see so far has been that the temperature difference between the main floor and the upstairs is much less. The thermostat is on the main floor. Before the new windows, we had some definite problems with the seals downstairs to the point that one of the windows wouldn't even stay closed all the way. Luckily, that window was very close to the thermostat, so the heat was on probably more than it needed to be. The result was a chilly main floor and a VERY toasty top floor. That was fine for sleeping, but sucked when it was time to get up and get ready for work in the mornings. Now, its much closer to the same. Its still going to be cooler down there, just because its all hardwood on that floor, but the difference is much less. Here's hoping it results in a smaller power bill - it's been COLD outside, and the heat has been on!

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

A Month of Thanks: Day 7

Today, I am thankful for my chiropractor.

Go ahead, laugh. Get it out.

I have chronic back pain. Have for years. Enough that it counts towards my VA disability rating. Every three weeks, I go to the chiropractor. And he does his magic and settles things out. Sometimes, I get significant issues with my back, and I go in outside of that three week window, and he fixes me.

Some of you may be saying hmm.... but aren't chiropractors kinda shady? I'll answer that by saying not this one. I've been to my share of chiropractors who made me feel like all they wanted from me was my payment when they were through. This one absolutely is not like that. He listens, he asks you what your problems are, and he works with it.

I know, this sounds like a Yelp review. But believe me, my Yelp review is better than this post. But I seriously am thankful for him and the work he does on my back, and I wanted to say so :)

My take on the election results (And your fair warning)

Pre-upfront disclaimer: This is a bit of a ramble. But it's my blog, dammit, I can post whatever I want! :)

Up front disclaimer: I am a lifelong Republican. However, as I've shared before, this has been a very hard year for me. I was undecided much longer than most people, it appears, but ultimately, I made the decision that I made for who would receive my vote for President based on everything except which party affiliation was in parentheses after the candidate's name. 

So perhaps that's why I'm so perplexed at the anger I'm seeing this morning from people over America's rejection of the following:
- A return to the policies that got us into economic trouble to begin with
- A return to the 1950s on women's rights
- A presidential candidate who proved, over and over again, that he was willing to say absolutely anything, true or false, consistent or not, in order to win this race
- A vice presidential candidate who did absolutely nothing to appeal to independents and moderates
- A campaign that allowed A LOT of nastiness towards the President, much of which was attempted in 2008 but was shot down by John McCain

Here's the thing. Yes, we are in a lot of debt right now, and we have a large deficit. 12 years ago, we had a pretty solid surplus. Then 9/11 happened. You absolutely never know how the future is going to look. But what I do know is that as worried as I was when Barack Obama was elected in 2008, most of that worry has not materialized. The military is doing OK. Yes, there is downsizing happening, but its appropriate. The sequestration thing would be a HUGE problem, absolutely. But while that may have been a suggestion from the President, the Republicans that want to blame it on him VOTED FOR IT. The President never thought it would actually happen - the whole point was to put something in front of the supercommittee that was so ridiculous, so unbelievable, that it would never, ever pass and they'd figure it out and come to a compromise. Obviously, that was not what happened. But to say that all of the blame goes on the President for that is disingenuous. Do I absolutely love Barack Obama? No. But in this case, for me, it came down to a known vs unknown situation. I could not determine what his policies would be, what he would do about certain issues, and what he would actually do to help the economy, besides just getting rid of everything Obama had done. That, and I don't think Obamacare will be the death of this country. Does it need work? Yes. But that does not mean complete repeal with nothing to replace the really good stuff that's in it.

This campaign was dirty and nasty. It was full of negativity, stretched truth, and massive amounts of spin on both sides. But from one side in particular, I just saw so many instances of blatant lying, making things up, refusing to acknowledge facts and math and other things, that I just couldn't bring myself to vote for the person that all of those things were representing. And yes, I understand that most of the ads came from PACs, but those PACs were never denounced by the Candidate they represented, so therefore its on him. On both sides. Either way, I'm glad its over so we can get back to our regular TV ads for junk food, fast food, and weight loss products.

However, now its time to move on. The election is over, and like it or not, Obama won. What I absolutely hope will happen is that everyone who let politics get in the way of their personal relationships will put it all behind them and move forward. I hope that the Republican Party will step back, reassess, and move away from the extreme place they've gone for the past 6 years, especially with regards to social issues. This country is primarily made up of people who are much closer to the center than either extreme. The Republicans seem to have forgotten this, and throughout this election cycle, I saw very little attempts from that side to reach out to the moderates that were feeling torn between social issues and economic/fiscal concerns, like me. (And let's not even talk about why social issues are even still coming up in PRESIDENTIAL campaigns in 2012...)

President Obama said in his victory speech that he heard the concerns of those who didn't vote for him, and that he's going to reach across the aisle. Let's hope that's the case. So far, I've seen a lot more respect for the other side from both sides than I expected to see. It started with Mitt Romney's very classy concession speech, and has continued through watching Fox News and reading Facebook and Twitter. Yes, there is still a lot of vitriol out there, but there's also a lot of this is what have, now let's work with it. THAT should be the message moving forward.

A month of thanks Day 6

Yesterday I was thankful that I live in a country where I can go, stand in line, vote, and not feel as though my life is in danger for doing so. We have an amazing country, and I know well that most are not as free as we are, nor do many allow women the equal freedoms we enjoy here. No matter who you are voting for or whether or not your guy wins, that is absolutely something to be thankful for.

Monday, November 05, 2012

A month of thanks: Catching up

I will catch up... I will. One day...

[Day 2] Today, I'm thankful for my friends. (yeah yeah, getting the obvious ones out of the way first) I have an amazing group of friends, spread out all over the worlds, from all of my many walks of life. Just about everywhere I've traveled, for work or for pleasure, I always have someone there. Whether its letting me crash on their couch or just meeting me for dinner or drinks, there's always someone to keep from feeling alone anywhere.

I wrote the above post, and somehow managed to save it as a draft instead of actually posting it. Oops! But I'll take this opportunity to actually catch up!

Day 3: Saturday I was thankful for quality time with people I don't get to see near often enough, namely my two youngest sisters. The 2nd youngest is a junior in college up at York College in PA, about 2 hours away. She's the VP of her sorority chapter this year, and planned this really fun Girls Day Out luncheon. The youngest and I, along with my best friend who's been an honorary sister for years now, drove up to York for the luncheon. It was a lot of fun! Then, after that, the youngest came with me to see Tony Lucca and Matt Duke at Jammin Java. It was her first time at a show like that, and I think she enjoyed herself.

Day 4: Sunday I was thankful for my fiance. I know, sappy. But seriously, we had a blast just spending the day together. We did super fun stuff early like cleaning the house and running errands. Exciting. But the second half of the day was spent watching a silly movie (That's My Boy, probably the best Happy Madison movie in years) and eating the fantastic steak dinner he made us. That man can cook a steak, let me tell you what! I'm incredibly lucky to have him.

And today, Day 5: I am VERY thankful for my job and the people I work with. Mostly because I have a job and I don't hate going to every day. But also because they're flexible and supportive and good people, and because even though our job is incredibly important, and we all take it very seriously, none of us take ourselves too seriously, and it makes it a good place to work. Can't say that about everyone we work with, but my office in particular is good. I've hated going to work before, and I've been in a spot where I don't have a job to hate going to, so this is definitely the best of both worlds. Especially in this economy, I'm glad to have it.

And... phew! Caught up :)

Friday, November 02, 2012

A Month of Thanks: Day 1

I saw a few people start this up yesterday, and I think its a great idea. I may not be that great at remembering to blog every day, but I'm going to try. In these times of economic turmoil, never-ending election cycles, natural disasters, and any other number of things that can make people feel less than excited about life in general, there is so much in my life that I can be thankful for, and I'm not sure I take enough time to show it. So here goes.

Day 1 - My family

I have friends who have no family. Literally - they're only children and their parents have passed away and any cousins or other relatives they may have are not close (physically or otherwise).  I have other friends who have families, but less than ideal relationships - people falling off the face of the earth, parents creating drama by acting like children, half or step siblings holding decades-long grudges for things they made up, just to name a few. While my family isn't perfect, whose is? While there are definitely members of my family that I only talk to out of courtesy to others, I am blessed to have four grandparents who love me (even if they don't all always show it in ways I'd wish they did), two parents who are always there for me no matter what, 5 siblings who I wouldn't trade for anything even if I do what to toss them off of tall buildings now and then, and tons of aunts, uncles, and cousins who keep life interesting, to say the least. On top of that, I will be marrying into a family that is equally awesome. I really am a lucky girl.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

And... Done! On to the Next Project...

Well, not COMPLETELY done. I still have to do my final exam. But I am officially done with the curriculum for my master's degree!!

Last class ended this weekend, and I got confirmation that I have an A in the class. I couldn't manage straight As in undergrad, but damn if I didn't do it in grad school - I'm pretty proud of myself!

Of course, now that I don't have schoolwork to do, I need to find something else to do with the down time at work. I guess it will be wedding planning...

Seriously, anyone with any thoughts on how to start planning a wedding, I would LOVE to hear them. Because I have absolutely no idea where to begin.

Oh, and yes, we're fine after the Frankenstorm. Power stayed on, no trees down in the neighborhood or anything. We got VERY lucky. Thinking about all my NY/NJ/CT/RI friends who weren't as much.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Dear Sleep, I miss you.

Insomnia is a giant bitch.

But wait, you might be saying if you know me at all. Aren't you borderline narcoleptic? Why yes. Yes I am. But apparently, bouts of insomnia are not abnormal in people with narcolepsy, so why would they be abnormal in people with idiopathic hypersomnia too?

Since Friday night, I have not slept a full night. I came close on Tuesday night - I slept pretty well for about a 7 hour stretch, from 9-4ish. I thought maybe this was past. But then I woke up at 3 this morning. After going to sleep a little before 10. Which is still better than the 9:30-1ish that I got on Monday night. But this just is not working out for me. I don't do well on more than one or two sleep-deprived nights. I have things to be doing at work that I'm having trouble doing because I can't focus. 5 minutes after sitting down at my desk this morning, when the time still started with 7, all I could think about was when it would be time to go back to sleep.

I thought the first couple of nights were due to not having eaten well over the weekend. But I fixed that - I've been pretty well paleo the whole week, other than the Chinese food soup the other night when I just wanted to get in bed the minute I got home from work. That always works when I don't feel well. Not so much this time. I've tried taking Benadryl. I've tried taking melatonin. I've tried taking a warm shower before bed. I've tried everything I can think of short of locking myself in a different room with no cats and no Matt. Not that the cats wouldn't whine at the door and scratch and keep me awake either way. I'm at a loss at this point. Here's hoping I can get my focus together well enough to finish this paper in the next couple of days (it doesn't have to be perfect - a 66% would still keep me with an A in the class, but I'm pretty sure as long as I turn in a completed paper I'll have an A), then I can sleep this weekend. Keep your fingers crossed for me...

Monday, October 22, 2012

An incoherent post about stress.

I haven't even started planning this wedding yet and I'm already stressed out about it.

Not that its necessarily stressful, per se. Yesterday I went to my parents' house to show them and my youngest sister the ring. And I should have known what would follow - mom's questions about things I haven't even thought about yet, and thereby unintentionally stressing me out. And not about anything controversial or out of the ordinary, just about things that I had not yet really started thinking about. And combine that with not having had enough sleep last night... and one of the questions in particular hitting a nerve (not her fault at all)... Basically, while it was great overall to know that my parents are excited for me and are on board with the (VERY basic) initial plan we're looking at, it stressed me out hard core.

My goald really is to finish up this last class of my masters' degree (HOORAY!!) before I start planning, but all of her questions are stuck on my mind, and its distracting me a little bit from that paper. Which is fine on the one hand, because I don't really want to write the paper anyway, and I'm excited to start planning. But on the other hand, I really need to get it done so I can be finished with it!! 

Honestly, I'm a little bit overwhelmed with it all, because I don't really know what I'm doing. So that probably doesn't help. And I still haven't slept well, which just adds to it. And I started looking at wedding dresses online last night, and they're all strapless, which I do not want. See how much of this stress is self-inflicted?? Gah!!

I think I need to take a few deep breaths, get a good night's sleep the next few nights, finish up this paper, and take it a little at a time. Of course, that might well be easier said than done.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

He Asked...

Florida was absolutely amazing. Eventually I'll get around to posting a bunch of awesome pictures, but the most awesome picture of all needed to go up first...

Of course, I said yes :) No details yet, but obviously I'm pretty happy. More to follow...

Monday, October 08, 2012

Is it Florida time yet??

My phone said it was 39 degrees outside when I got up this morning. THIRTY NINE DEGREES. On October 8th.

On Wednesday we leave for Florida - sunny beaches and warm temperatures and friends and the wedding of two awesome people. I've been excited about it for ages, but thirty nine degrees plus hat, gloves, scarf, and warm coat this morning made me even more ready. Are we there yet??

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

My story is up!

First of all, thank you SO MUCH to all of you that have supported In the Shadow of Greatness, whether that be by buying a copy, watching the videos, reading the links, or just putting up with me :) I hope that if you have not yet bought a copy of the book that you will please consider doing so - its totally nonprofit, I get nothing out of it, but its a great collection of stories and the profits go to some really awesome veteran charities.

As I have mentioned a few times, my story didn't make the hard copy of the book, but will be featured with about 20 others in the e-book version. The publication of the e-book has taken a little longer than expected, but my story and one other are now available on the book's website. It's a little bit different than the version I posted on the blog a while back, but its pretty much there. Please take a read, share the link, and make sure you read Derrick Hunt's story as well.

THANK YOU!!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

This seems to be happening more and more...

This thing keeps happening where I feel old. My baby sister is a senior in high school this year. My 10 year USNA reunion is next weekend. I have grey hairs all over the damn place. Kids I used to babysit as toddlers are out of college. I came to the realization that at my age, my  mother already had 5 kids. You know, the normal things.

It happened again today.

I've connected with a few of my master's professors on LinkedIn, so I looked up my current one. And in his education experience he has like 7 degrees, but the one that made me die a little inside was the Bachelors - 2000-2004. I'm currently working on convincing myself that he just took a couple of years off after high school and waited to start his degree. Maybe he's Mormon and went on a mission, or backpacked through Europe, or something. But I think, in reality, he actually is younger than me. He's good, don't get me wrong. But tell me you wouldn't feel old if you realized that one of your professors was older than you. And I will then proceed to call you a liar.

Monday, September 17, 2012

What a week.

I started this post last week. I just couldn't get it finished. Its a bit disjointed, but those of you that have read my blog for a while know that I tend to do that sometimes...

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This week has been an incredibly emotionally draining week, but also an incredibly exciting week. I went into it knowing it would be busy - helping out with a course at work that took me away from my desk, the book launch for In The Shadow of Greatness, a book signing, 9/11, the most reading and writing intensive course I've had in my entire masters program... But I had no idea.

Monday started out fine. Typical Monday morning, nothing special about it. I knew I was a little bit behind in my reading, but I had 4 days to get the book read that I needed to read and get the paper written that I needed to write. No problem. I stayed up a little too late watching the finale of Bachelor Pad (because who doesn't like a good train wreck?), but felt fine about the week to come.

Then Tuesday hit. The last time 9/11 was on a Tuesday was in 2001. I remember that morning being so beautiful, just a perfect, crisp, clear fall morning. Leaving for work on Tuesday morning, all I could think was wow, it was just like today. I put up a short post on Tuesday afternoon about how much I hate that day. I was happy to not be at my desk, because all of the TV stations were just replaying their broadcasts from 2001. No thank you. I'll stick to escorting and facilitating, thanks, and do my reading while I'm sitting there.

Well, it turns out that the absolute last think I wanted to read on 9/11 was a book about the guy believed to have been the brains behind 9/11. So that didn't so much happen. I think I got about 5 pages read.

I left the Pentagon to head up to the Navy Memorial for the book launch, it was great to reconnect with some classmates and see some people I hadn't seen in a long time. But it was also FAR more emotional than I had anticipated. It started with the wreath laying ceremony outside, which was pretty short, and not too bad. Then we went inside the memorial for a presentation about the USS New York, where we were treated to a slideshow of pictures from a Tiger Cruise the ship had taken from Norfolk to New York last September. On board, they had NYC firefighters and police, as well as several family members of victims. They also showed a video of several of the shipbuilders visiting the 9/11 museum with family members as they built a ship made using 70 tons of steel from the World Trade Center towers. That started the emotion - while the video was a bit of an advertisement for the shipyard, it was very well done. And the photographs were amazing, and you can see them on the Navy Memorial's website.

The book launch part of the evening went wonderfully, with great words spoken by my classmates and a fantastic answer to a less than ideal question by our illustrious class president. Once the link is up on CSPAN, I'll post it and you can guess which one I'm talking about. I knew that Matt Freeman's mother would be speaking, but I had no idea how hard her words would hit me. I lost it. It was actually kind of embarassing, but luckily my dad was there next to me to hold my hand, and a super nice lady from the Navy Marine Corps Relief Society was on the other side and gave me kleenex. Which I almost needed again at the end of the talk, when my dad prefaced his question with, as a member of the last all-male USNA class, how proud he was of me and the other women that have gone through the Academy. The talk was great, and once again I'm super proud of my classmates.

After the book talk, I had a chance to catch up with classmates, mingle a bit, and speak to both the photographer, C.R. Richardson, and Mrs. Freeman. The photographer, when she spoke, basically said that she didn't have much to add and that she had been honored to get to take the photographs, and she hoped that we all could feel the emotion that she felt as she took the photographs. I made sure to go up to her and tell her that she needn't sell herself short. She may not think she has much to add, but her art is her voice, and I absolutely felt it. I think sometimes people who have little to no connection to the military come into a situation like that and are intimidated, think that well these people are in the military, and I just take pictures. But in reality, those people contribute just as much. Those pictures, or those paintings, or those songs, or whatever they are, those things were, and still are, a lifeline, for me at least. They express feelings and emotions in a way that oftentimes I felt as though I was discouraged from expressing. They provide an outlet, a relief. I couldn't then, and can't even now, find the words to express what I wanted to say to her - and I'm sure the wine that night didn't help either. But I felt it was important to at least try.

Speaking to Mrs. Freeman... oh man. I told her a little bit about how I felt at Matt's funeral, how I had felt as though I had to hold it in there, because if the people that had been closest to him could hold it in, what gave me the right? I almost lost it again telling her that. She is an amazing woman, so strong, and I felt bad that she was the one comforting me.

Even though I was in bed by about 1030 that night and slept pretty well, I was definitely emotionally drained an I was still exhausted when I woke up on Wednesday. It took two 9 hour sleep nights this weekend to finally recover. And I'm happy to report that I got all of my schoolwork in on time, but my social life definitely suffered - I think Matt got a little bored with me :) 

The book is doing wonderfully so far, which is super exciting. The first print sold out on Amazon, and the Chief of Naval Operations added the book to his 2012 reading list. The additional stories are running a little bit behind, but that's OK - they'll be out soon. All of them will be available in the Kindle version of the book, and mine, along with one other, will actually be featured on the website. Its pretty exciting to be a part of this project - I just wish I had done more. And, like I said, its been really awesome to reconnect with some of my classmates from USNA. We're totally different people than we were 10 years ago when we graduated. Well, most of us are anyway. I'm actually looking forward to the reunion in a couple of weeks more than I was, because all of this has reminded me that even the people that I wasn't too fond of while we were at school, or even at the 5 year reunion, have changed and grown up just as I have.

I think the week of 9/11 will always be hard for our generation. We went through a lot that day, and in the days and years since. I think for me it will always feel like yesterday, but so long ago. I'm not sure that I'll ever be able to handle watching the footage from that day, or the movies about it. I haven't even been able to go to the memorial here at the Pentagon yet, but I think that I might be just about ready to do that - just not today.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

I hate this day.

9/11 will never be easy. The constant replaying of footage. The movies. The songs. The memorials. People constantly trying to get you to remember their way. I'd like to remember my way, please. Because this day is personal.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Patriot Week and In The Shadow of Greatness

This week marks the official launch of my Naval Academy Class's Book, In The Shadow of Greatness. I've posted about it several times, and hopefully some of you reading this have had a chance to check it out. We're super excited about the book and everything that is happening with it. We've had some great feedback so far.

In light of the anniversary of 9/11, we're working an effort we're calling Patriot Week - basically this week is an opportunity to reflect on the day our homeland was attacked, take pride in the servicemen and women who defend our way of life, and support veteran charities. One way to do this is to buy a copy of our book. If you go to the book's website you'll find an awesome video about the book and the efforts of Patriot Week (also at the end of this post), information about each of the charities that the book will support, and more information about how to buy it. If you actually buy from one of the charity information pages, all of the proceeds will go to that charity. Otherwise, the proceeds will be split among the charities.

Tom Brokaw has called the book "...a must read for all Americans." An interview with two of the editors is on the Time Magazine website. There are feature stories this week in several newspapers (here's one from the Miami Herald), and multiple radio and TV outlets will be talking about it as well.

Please consider buying a copy of the book - hard copy or E-book. And while all of the charities are awesome, consider supporting the Matthew Freeman project. Again, I've written many times about Matt, and this charity was created by his parents after he died.

Also, my story will be featured in the "additional stories" section of the website, along with about 35 others. They should be up at the end of the week.

Thank you for your support!!

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Hey look, I can cook!

Going paleo has lighted some sort of a cooking fire in me. I guess out of a desire to really stick to it, I've been cooking a lot more. Now, I'm not a great cook, but I can follow a recipe all day long. Here are some of the best ones I've followed so far:

Moist Chocolate Zucchini Bread

Spicy Pineapple Chili


Sugar Detox Pumpkin Mug Cake


Apple Shallot Pork Chops (from Everyday Paleo) and Cauliflower Mash (from Paleo Comfort Foods)



Puerto Rican Beef over Mashed Sweet Potatoes (from Everyday Paleo)



Coconut Shrimp (from Everyday Paleo)


Sweet Potato and Chorizo Hash (modified from Everyday Paleo)

Maple Mustard Chicken Thighs (although we did them in a skillet, not on the grill), Curry Roasted Cauliflower (from Everyday Paleo), and steamed broccoli
I also tried out the concept of using spaghetti squash instead of pasta. When I first cut into it, I was a little unsure - it basically looks like the inside of a pumpkin, gooey and thready and lots of seeds, and the flesh looks very much like any other squash you might come across. But I went with it, cooked it in the pressure cooker, and when it was done, this is what it looked like - just like angel hair pasta! Its a little sweeter, but works perfectly as a vessel for a nice hearty meat sauce, as well as in this recipe, which I didn't take pictures of.
My new favorite thing - spaghetti squash!
Its been pretty fun, and I've been pretty proud of my accomplishments so far. Next up, I have a couple of chicken recipes and a couple of beef stews that I want to try, although I'm trying to wait until it cools off a little for those. The Paleo Comfort Foods cookbook also has a recipe for Tom Ka Gai soup, which is one of Matt's favorite things, that I'm excited to try to see if I can live up to the Thai restaurants :)  And I'm not sick of cooking yet, but I am sick of doing all the dishes!!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

The Lunchbox Saga: Updated

Ok, so it was never really a saga. I know.

BUT, it appears as though the lunch box that I sadly left on the bus yesterday has been turned in! When I turned my phone on after work I had a voice mail from a customer service rep who said he thought he had my lunch bag. And considering the level of detail I put into the description when I reported it, I'm pretty sure there is no possible way that my black and gray bag with the VH1 Best Cruise Ever logo with a rectangular pyrex, ice pack, and apple wrapped in a paper towel in it could be mistaken for someone else's.

I left the guy a voice mail back, but I think he was already gone for the day. But hopefully we can get it picked up tomorrow, hooray!!

Update: It's official, they have it! And the guy even said he's going to wash out the dish for me, which is super sweet and super unnecessary. Mad props to Mr. Turner at the Fairfax Connector, and hooray for the return of the lunch box, the Pyrex, the ice pack and the spoon!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

I hate mornings.

I am not a morning person.

This may be confusing. Yes, I spent 10 years in the military, which seems to be full of people who think it's perfectly acceptable to start the day at times that begin with 5 or sometimes even 4. (And I'm not talking about waking up at those times. I'm talking about requiring people to be somewhere at those times.) And then, even after leaving that life, I chose to go work for the military. Yup, same crowd. And then, when I was waiting to get my situation squared away for current job and was working at my company's headquarters building, where most people don't get in until at least 9:30, I had trouble with it. Which might imply that I am, in fact, a morning person. I disagree. I think that just makes me a creature of habit. And one of my favorite parts about this new job is that I can take mass transit to work (which, yes, I'm pretty sure is more expensive than the gas it would take to drive these days) so I don't have to be awake and coherent when I leave the house in the mornings.

This week of mornings so far has been less than stellar. Monday morning wasn't AWFUL. I woke up knowing my allergies were in full force, and I had a little bit of a squeak in the voice. But that's OK. Tuesday morning, I was moving slow, and then was so rushed to scarf down my breakfast that I left my lunch in the fridge.

Today, though, brings a whole new level of special to the week. First I woke up with an amazing post-nasal-drip-induced sore throat, which I'm hoping will be assisted by the 400mg of ibuprofen I took, but my hopes aren't high. Then I took for damn ever to get out of bed, which means my hair did not get done so, yet again, its up. This is why I do not have short hair. I was very proud of myself, because I got a smoothie made AND I got my lunch put together, AND I was out the door with plenty of time. There was a little more traffic than normal getting to the metro, but everything was good. I'm reading a book that I'm really enjoying, and the iPod was shuffling up a good mix.

Then I sat down on the train and realized I no longer had my lunch. Yup. My non-awake, non-coherent self had left my lunch sitting on the bus, right next to where my purse sat on the bus. I mean, I'm bummed about losing the food, but I'm even more bummed about the awesome Pyrex dish it was in, and the even awesomer VH1 Best Cruise Ever lunch box it was all in. Here's hoping the Fairfax Connector Lost and Found comes through.

Hopefully the mornings can only get better from here on out. 3 day weekend, you have no idea how excited I am for you.

Monday, August 27, 2012

New Ingram Hill Music!

Those of you that know me know that my music geneology, if you will, traces back to hearing Ingram Hill on the radio back in the fall of 2004, just after returning from deployment. I've been a huge fan ever since. Which is yet another reason why I'm super excited that they have a new album coming out tomorrow.

For those of you that can't wait until tomorrow to hear it (like me), it's streaming on AOL Music. Enjoy!

And make sure you check their website to see when they'll be near you. I'll be seeing them on September 6th :)

Contagion

I first started working in the world of Pandemic planning in about 2007. The person that had been the Bird Flu point of contact left the Agency, and because I was already working Continuity issues, I sort of became the default for the Bird Flu stuff too. It all fits into the "planning for what to do and how to keep operating when bad things happen" folder, right? Sure...

Since that time, I've worked a lot in the realm of bird flu, general biological threats, some swine flu, then finally more general pandemic / bio combined.  I've worked these at an agency level all the way up to the global level. I've studied biological threats and hazards, and learned probably a significant amount more about the science of diseases than I ever wanted to or thought I would, as well as what would happen if certain diseases were weaponized, either via conventional-type weapons, human vectors, introduction into the food or water supplies, and many other possibilities. I've been involved in working groups tasked with looking at the worst case scenario and figuring out how to plan for it.

So I'm pretty sure that all of the above is why, when we decided to watch Contagion the other night, I sat through it and just kind of nodded and agreed with most of what was happening throughout the movie. It was kinda funny, because I pretty much knew what it was about before watching, and had heard that it was very well done and very believable, but boyfriend thought we were going to be watching some sort of horror-fantasy-zombie movie or something, not something that seemed so realistic. I'm not sure he felt much better when I told him that oh, it didn't just seem realistic, it really was pretty much how we planners saw it going for a worst-case scenario. Especially after the swine flu (and bird flu, for that matter) not being as bad as we originally thought it would be.

I think that anyone involved in the pandemic planning or preparedness worlds should absolutely see this movie, because every bit of it, from attribution to tracking to the reaction of the general public to the chaos that is inevitable in such a scenario is dead on, at least as far as what the experts have said would happen. Someone involved in this movie did their homework. If you haven't been around the topic before it might scare the crap out of you, but even so, I highly recommend this movie. And since I obviously spend a ton of time on this blog talking about movies, that should tell you something :)

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

And... I'm officially sick of this election cycle.

I know, that's some sort of blasphemy for a politics wonk like me, but I seriously have had about enough. Both sides are making things up. Both sides are taking things out of context. Both sides are getting just a bit ridiculous. And then this dumba$$ from Missouri talking about women's bodies being able to "shut it down" and "put up defenses" against getting pregnant by a rapist if its a "legitimate rape" - seriously??? WTF??? Ugh....

The Washington Post and Kaiser Family Foundation recently conducted a poll of Independent voters, and an article published in today's paper explained it. It made a lot of sense to me. Most people who identify as Independent are much closer to one party or the other. I am generally much closer to Republican than Democrat, although not on social issues. But what tends to separate them from the parties is the complete distaste for the horribleness that is going on between the two parties right now. I knew I wasn't the only one sick of all the attack ads, sick of all of the words taken out of context solely for the purpose of making a political point. Most say that all they really want is a political system that works, with two parties who would cooperate with each other instead of confront each other. ME TOO. But it seems like neither party is listening, all they seem to be concerned about is firing up the base. Um, hey guys, newsflash: your base is going to vote for you no matter what. You really should be focusing on those of us that either haven't made up our minds yet or are leaning towards leaving the "President" section of the ballot blank this year.

In the last 1/3 or so of the article, they talk about a tiny portion of the population that truly is in the middle, and how most of them are just sick of the whole thing and a lot aren't even registered to vote. (I am, for the record.)  The poll shows that most of them favor Republicans on the economy (I tend to as well) and Democrats on social issues like abortion and same-sex marriage (as do I). But according to this and many other things I've read / heard recently, people like me make up, as my niece would say, an eensy weensy portion of the population. (She'd say eensy weensy, not the rest.) I thought there were more of us than that. I'm not sure if that should make me feel sad, or better.

Either way, I can't wait until November when all of this will finally stop. Of course, I'm not sure what all the pundits on TV will talk about. But then again, this election cycle started so early that maybe they'll just jump right in to 2016. Awesome...

Monday, August 13, 2012

3 weeks down...

A little update on the paleo transition... Three weeks in, and I'm down 5.5 pounds! Myclothes are fitting better, I have had zero stomach issues, I'm far less hungry, I snack less, and I feel overall really really good.

And best of all, the little switch that's supposed to tell you that you're full so stop eating now, which had been broken in me for a VERY long time, has started working again. And it even works before I'm uncomfortably full!!

I've had a little bit of trouble getting out of some old habits, but so far, I'm really liking this. I won't lie, I've thought about having a big bowl of pasta or a bagel with cream cheese in the morning, especially this weekend when I was staying with friends. Their kid thought I was super weird when I stopped for beef jerky, but I just told her I eat funny :) But then 2 nights ago I had a dream that I ate a big old slice of pepperoni pizza, and it was SO GOOD. But then I started feeling like general ass after eating it. I think that's a good sign!!

In reality, I don't feel like I'm depriving myself of anything. The old me, when I cut something out of my diet solely because it was supposed to be bad for me, or because it was too many WW points, or whatever, it was really really hard to keep away from it. Eventually, inevitably, I would cave and have way too much of it. With this, though, I'm realizing how good I feel, and understanding that chances are, if I try to eat that bowl of pasta or that bagel there's a really good chance that I will not feel very well afterwards. I'm going to try it eventually, just to see what happens, but I'm going to plan it out for a Friday night or Saturday morning, when there's nothing else going on, and where I will be able to spend however long it takes to feel better laid out on the bed or the couch in front of the TV. For now, though, I'm liking how I feel, so I see absolutely no reason to do that anytime soon.

Thursday, August 02, 2012

Wow!!

My little blog has had a HUGE 24 hours!

When I posted yesterday about The Rock Boat Family and how awesome it is, I had no idea how many people would see it and how many nice things people would have to say about it! Thanks to everyone who read and shared!! The over 300 views that post has received is a record for the nearly 8 years I've been blogging. There is something really cool about so many people, strangers and friends, reading my thoughts that way.

When I was a little girl, I always kept a diary. I started this blog because it just wasn't practical to keep a written diary anymore - I lose things, and I'm not trying to keep it a secret, and I tend to use written journals more for writing song ideas. Most blogs have some sort of a theme, or something in particular that the writers focus on. This one has never been like that for me - I stole borrowed the tag line "these words are my diary screaming out loud" from an Anna Nalick song because it absolutely describes what this is for me. Its just an added bonus when people actually read it and relate to it :)

(Oh, and in case you were wondering, within a couple of hours of things being set up, the Rock Boater in question's payment was made, thanks to a little here and a little there contributed by the community. A professional resume writer in the TRB community offered to help her with her resume free of charge. A LinkedIn group just for Rock Boaters was set up with the aim of Rock Boaters helping each other out in the business / job / professional world. And inquiries have been made into setting up a general Rock Boat Relief Fund for cases like this in the future - primarily by those who tried to call and contribute to the original cabin but by the time they called it was already paid. Did I mention how proud I am of my TRB Family?)

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

If you don't get it, you don't get it; or Why the Rock Boat is amazing


Sometimes when I tell people about The Rock Boat, and why I love it, and why its my first choice for vacation every year, they look at me like I have 4 heads or something. I guess I'm not explaining it to them well enough, or they don't get it, or something. Maybe this will help.

Yesterday was the last day to cancel a Rock Boat reservation and get a full refund of payments made up to that point - they call it the lineup guarantee, because most people that cancel at that point are people that aren't happy with the lineup so far. Occasionally roommate issues and the like. But usually the people who take advantage are the "I booked on blind faith and I'm not happy with what you've given me to this point, so money back please" types.  But yesterday, on the Rock Boat facebook group, something awesome happened.

A longtime veteran of Rock Boats (she'd only missed the very first one) canceled her reservation because of finances resulting in having lost her job in the spring. A bunch of people were sad, then one person said they'd send out her resume, and by the way they'd be willing to chip in towards her payment. It all catapulted from there. As of this morning, her reservation has been reinstated, and who knows how many people have chipped in to make sure that she makes the payment. I haven't even met her, but we have enough mutual friends that I chipped in as well. I'm pretty sure that with the number of people who have chipped in plus those who haven't, she'll have little if any to pay on her own when all is said and done.

This isn't the first time the TRB family has come through for someone who needed help. One friend mentioned in passing that she was in financial trouble and a few days later had a check in her mailbox from a TRB friend for grocery money. When my teenage sister was having tax issues with her employer, a TRB friend got on the phone with my parents and helped them sort through it. Who could even begin to count the number of couches and guest rooms Rock Boaters have shared with other Rock Boaters when traveling. I can, off the top of my head, name several couples that have met on the Rock Boat and are either now married or engaged. And I'm sure there are many, many more examples out there.

The music is only one part of what keeps me coming back to the Rock Boat year after year. What really does it is the real, true sense of community and family that develops between the people that love the music as much as I do. I've made lifelong friends, have an extended network of support and understanding for my weight loss endeavors, always have a concert buddy, usually have a dinner buddy at least one night in almost any place I've traveled for work, and never have to worry about getting bored on my vacation.

But today's outpouring of support, even by people who aren't even going on this year's boat, just warms my heart. As cliche as it may sound, it honestly makes me feel better about people in general. There is no shortage of love and caring for others out there, but its true that sometimes you just have to look a little harder to find it. The TRB family has it in abundance, and I'm privileged to be a part of what has become more and more of a family to me over the past few years.

And if you still don't get it, you're just never going to! :)

Monday, July 30, 2012

An open letter to all the media outlets (except NBC)

Dear Everyone,

PLEASE stop with the Olympics spoilers!! If the event doesn't air until prime time, don't tweet the results, or post them on your homepage, or run them on the tickler at the bottom of the screen. Its fine to say for results click here - that way I have the option. But I basically can't monitor the news these days without seeing a spoiler from someone - Washington Post homepage, Washington Post Twitter, White House Twitter retweeting Michelle Obama tweeting a spoiler... Just stop with it all please!!!

Thanks.
Love,
Me.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The Chick-Fil-A Conundrum

The other day, a friend posted something on Facebook about the whole situation with Chick-Fil-A and its CEO talking openly about how he supports "traditional" families and is against gay marriage. I responded to her status with the following:
Honestly, though, I'd rather think that I'm supporting some local folks who would other wise be in the unemployment line. Just because the crazy at the top is the way that he is doesn't mean that every single franchise owner and chicken patty fryer is too. I would never donate to CFA, but I won't deny myself my two or three times a year indulgence because of the CEO either.
I then got yelled at by a friend of hers, and replied that if I worried about what causes the CEOs of every company I spend money on supports, I'd be a lot richer than I am today because I'd never be spending any money. She said that there are other places to get chicken. I thought nothing more about it until yesterday when I read Alexandra Petri's column from the Washington Post about this issue. Granted, she's tongue in cheek, but she made some really good points. In particular, the following:
... if a food item’s main selling point is the fact that it benefits some cause, it does not taste very good. You do not make a big fuss over the fact that your granola cookies benefit the rainforest unless people were unlikely to buy the cookies on their own. There is no such thing as a moral sandwich or an immoral sandwich. Sandwiches taste good, or they do not. That is all. Once you start judging sandwiches on criteria other than how good they taste, you wind up in a world full of mediocre sandwiches, and that impoverishes everyone.
This morning I read a column by Dana Milbank, another snarky WaPo opinion writer, who wrote about Mike Huckabee's Support Chick-Fil-A day idea. I found it entertaining, but I also think he's spot on.

I don't eat Chick-Fil-A very often, but I do enjoy it occasionally - let's be honest, they make the best chicken sandwich out there. But I have never been one to jump on board with boycots like many are trying to stage here. I also am not all about the efforts to "buycott." Seriously, if you're that concerned about a few pennies of your $6 chicken sandwich meal going to an anti-gay marriage organization, go donate (ideally more than $6) to your gay rights group of choice. Or, if you really feel strongly about no longer patronizing Chick-Fil-A, you'd better start researching the CEOs of every single company towards which your money goes. And good luck with that.

In The Shadow of Greatness, Part 2

I posted a few days ago about my USNA class's book, In The Shadow of Greatness, that is going to be out on 15 August.  I was lucky enough to be able to purchase an advanced copy, and I couldn't put it down. I started it Monday morning on my way to work, and finished it last night. And I have to say, I am so incredibly proud to be able to call myself a member of the US Naval Academy class of 2002. I also fully understand why my story wasn't chosen to make the print edition of the book. The stories that did make it were all better than mine, no question.

Our class was the first to graduate from the Naval Academy after 9/11, and the first to graduate during a time of war in our lifetime. The stories contained in this book include so many different experiences of my classmates since that May day in 2002. We have the last female F-14 pilot, who shared how she was able to live her dream. We have an explosive ordinance disposal officer who lived in real life what was portrayed in the movie The Hurt Locker. We have someone who took advantage of the Blue to Green program (which I almost did myself) and transitioned to the Army, and then had the responsibility of delivering the casualty notifications to families of his soldiers killed in action. We have the first military member to legally marry after the repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell. We have a classmate who was commissioned into the Air Force and finally found her calling when she got out. We have four stories written by the mothers of classmates who have died since graduation, one of cancer, two in training accidents, and one (which is written by his mother but in his voice) of our only classmate to have been killed in action. And these are just a few of the examples of the stories contained in the book.

Bottom Line: I very highly recommend this book. And not just because I'm biased.

My story will be included on the book's website along with many others that were submitted but didn't make the print edition. They say the goal publication date for those stories is September 11, 2012. Appropriate, I think. I can't wait to read the rest of them.

All profits from the book will go to the U.S. Naval Academy Class of 2002, Inc., a 501(c)(3) (status pending) organization set up exclusively for charitable and education purposes that support education, training, and excellence within the Navy, Marine Corps, and veteran communities. Specific organizations that have been tagged to benefit include The Travis Manion Foundation, The Matt Freeman Project, Run To Honor, the Semper Fi Fund, Mission Continues, and the USMC Scholarship Fund.  It is available for preorder here, here, and here. Also, please go like the book's facebook page.

Monday, July 23, 2012

And now, for something completely different

I've been struggling with my weight my entire adult life. Yup, even in the military. I remember the first time I had to be "roped and choked" to make weight/body fat standards - it was my junior year, and where I had always been just on the edge of the weight limit for my height, I had, for the first time, gone over, and was required to be taped to measure my body fat. I didn't feel fat. I wasn't wearing huge sized clothing. I was working out fairly regularly, and was arguably in better shape than at almost any point in my life. So, as you can imagine, a bit of a complex set in, especially as this was the standard for my entire Naval career. It wasn't until my very last weigh in in the Navy, where I had just lost a significant amount of weight, that I was able to make weight without having to be taped.

Keeping weight down was a lot easier at the Naval Academy, when people were forcing my hand, and even on the ships, where workout gear was readily available and I was moving around a lot. But once I made the move to a desk job, and then to the civilian world, it became much harder. I'm not helped by the fact that some of it is in my genes - both of my parents and all of my adult siblings are constantly struggling with their weight. But even while at Annapolis, I was surrounded by girls and women who were just plain naturally much smaller than me, and who had much more discipline when it came to exercise and working out. Being at USNA was really the first time I remember being truly unhappy with my body.

I joined Weight Watchers for the first time about a year after graduation. The guy I'd been in love with for years was coming home from deployment and I wanted to look good for him. I made my goal, and didn't really think much more of it for several years. I was on ships, I was moving around, and I was in a pretty good spot, I thought.

Fast forward to 2007. I was the heaviest I had ever been at that point, and basically, some jerk on a free dating site I was trying out for shits and grins saw a picture of me and said no offense, but I'm not into fat people. OUCH. But it was the kick I needed. I got back on Weight Watchers, and managed to lose nearly 30 pounds over the next 6 months or so. I managed to plateau at about 20 below the starting number, and stayed there for a little over a year.

When I got out of the Navy, finding a job ended up being far harder than it was supposed to be. I finally did find one, but it wasn't what I wanted, and it was incredibly hard to be successful. It became more and more obvious that if I didn't find a new job, I was going to lose the one I had, but finding a new job was proving impossible. All of that stress, which culminating in finally losing my job and making the decision to move back to the DC area, resulted in me not only gaining back that other 20 pounds, but gaining nearly 20 more on top of that.

Since then, I've been back on Weight Watchers (although not always 100%). I lost about 15, gained about 5 of that back, and have been pretty much stuck. For YEARS I've been hearing about this paleo diet, and I finally started doing some actual research on it. Turns out, its not a diet, but a complete lifestyle change. Its focused on eating whole foods of the sort that our hunter/gatherer ancestors ate - meat, seafood, fruits, vegetables, nuts. It removes dairy, grains, processed foods, added sugar, juice, and most starchy foods. The best part about it is because its not a diet, you don't totally screw yourself if you cheat, or if you just go 80 or 90%. On top of that, everything that I'm reading seems to show that people like me (who struggle with weight, even when calorie counting) do really well on it, because instead of tracking the number of calories taken it it is focusing on the kinds of food, and the types of calories. I decided that I'm going to give it a whirl - people say they feel better, have more energy, and lose weight. It can't hurt - I know all the chemicals and processing can't be good for me.

Has anyone else tried paleo? Have any good recipe / food ideas?

Thursday, July 19, 2012

In The Shadow Of Greatness

I've mentioned before thay my USNA class was putting together a book of our experiences. Well, its just about out, and available for preorder now. I hope you'll consider it.

Monday, July 16, 2012

My thoughts so far on The Reagan Diaries

I'm in the middle of reading The Reagan Diaries, a book that is exactly as it sounds: A (slightly) edited compilation of Ronald Reagan's personal diaries from his time as President. And let me tell you what, it's been quite enlightening. Here are a few of my favorite highlights, so far:

- He hated Mondays. Just like the rest of us :)
- He hated having to spend even one day away from Nancy. Every time he had to travel alone or she traveled without him, he commented how lonely it was without her, and how he couldn't wait to be back with her. I think we all hope for love like that.
- He really was as straight laced personally as we were led to believe. The harshest words he ever uses are hell and damn, I mean h--l and d--n. Yup, he didn't even spell them all the way out.
- The political BS that is going on in Congress today is exactly the same as what was going on then, except it appears as though the roles were reversed. Tip O'Neill and the Democrats were blocking debt ceiling raises and tax reform, instead of John Boehner and the Republicans.
- The same world leaders that were causing trouble in the mid-80s (minus the Soviet ones) are causing trouble today, or at least in the recent future. Mubarek, Assad, and Qaddafi are all over those diaries. Oh, and there was just as much confusion as to how to spell Qaddafi back then. Reagan even notes at one point that he usually uses the last version that he saw, so he spells it at least a dozen different ways himself.

A lot of people like to hold Reagan up as a standard bearer, but it seems as though many who do so could learn a thing or two by really looking back at not just Reagan the President or Reagan the Politician, but at Reagan the Man. He writes many times about making compromises with the Democrats to get at least closer to what he wanted, and how important it was to personally get to know and meet with even the biggest of his political adversaries. That seems to be the part that's lost these days.

It's not a light read, and the diary entries are just as he wrote them, so until you get the hang of it (it took me really until about late 1982-early 1983) it can be a little confusing. But I'm really enjoying it, and I recommend it to anyone who enjoys politics but needs a break from current events in that arena.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Next up...

I really want to write about the Atlantic column that's been tearing up the interwebs the last week or so. You know, the Why Women Can't Have It All one? I read it, and I read multiple responses to it, but I just can't figure out what I want to say about it. I mean really, what does "having it all" actually mean? I bet it means something entirely different for everyone.  Life is about choices. Everyone, man or woman, should make the choices that are best for their individual situation, and own them. At the same time, nobody should be given grief for their choices. Just because a woman has chosen not to pursue her career all the way to the top does not mean that she lacks ambition. And just because a woman has chosen to forgo marriage and children for her career does not mean she's lonely. Are there some cases where the above are true? Sure. But who is any outside observer to say? The world would be a much better place if we stopped caring so much about other people's lives and used that energy instead to concentrate on our own.

And no, as of now I don't plan on writing any more about the health care law, other than to quote Chief Justice John Roberts in the Court's opinion released yesterday:
We do not consider whether the Act embodies sound policies. That judgment is entrusted to the Nation’s elected leaders. We ask only whether Congress has the power under the Constitution to enactthe challenged provisions. ... Members of this Court are vested with the authority tointerpret the law; we possess neither the expertise northe prerogative to make policy judgments. Those decisions are entrusted to our Nation’s elected leaders, who can be thrown out of office if the people disagree with them. It is not our job to protect the people from the consequences oftheir political choices.
Basically, it's not on us to decide if its good policy. If you don't like this law, that's not on us, its on your elected representatives. So make sure you vote!!

And I think that pretty much covers the topics I was wanting to write about. Phew!