Saturday, November 29, 2008

What I'm Thankful For...

Well, now that everyone has another years Thanksgiving under their belts, I thought it would be a good time to list the things I'm thankful for:

-Good health for me and my family
-online companies that ship to APO addresses (Thank you Amazon, Target,, etc.)
-The blogosphere which helps me know what's going on in your lives
-Being in a place where our bombing drills are filled with laughter and a casual attitude b/c we have yet to see a serious threat (this happened yesterday...half the people didn't don their gear and we just stood around our bunkers shooting the breeze)
-Meat-wiches. A term coined by me and my extreme love of meat on condiments or cheese or anything but meat and bread (preferably rolls). That and cold cereal are the staples of my Iraqi diet.
-The new season of Lost coming up. You all know it's going to be good. Here's a link to a my favorite promo for it...
-being almost at my halfway point for my time here
-mail...any kind, all kinds, I've never loved the postal system more
-digital camera' else could I take pictures, but more importantly, get the latest pictures of Noah with just a simple click of a button?
-My REI coat that is indeed water-repelling and wonderful.
-Jeans that are too long for me.
-my vivid imagination. It keeps me quite entertained, even if it dips into morbid territory every now and then.
-my laptop. I know I've thanked her before, as well as cursed her, but without this sucker, I would be adrift in a sea of dust and guns.
-all of you.

Well, that's sappy and pointless enough to make the perfect holiday list. Hope all your weekends are going well. I miss you and love you all.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

30 Books to Read Before I'm 30.

So, I've had this idea since a couple of you came up with the 100 books to have read before you die or something like that. I felt quite uneducated after discovering I was sorely lacking in my literary education. And while I don't want to read every one of those books, I made a goal to myself to read a nice chunk--this way, I can maintain the moral superiority and intellectual superiorism I feel whilst among the plebians of the world. But I took it one step further. I shortened the list of books to 30 I feel I need to read/want to read before I turn 30, and then decided to do the same with movies and life goals. So this is the first in the installment of things to do before I'm 30 (I've got a little over 2 years...isn't that crazy???), and if anyone has any advice on how to get through some of these, pass it along.

Okay, so the layout of these isn't anything like I wanted b/c the stupid things can't be moved on a whim, so pardon the chaos. Also, The Hobbit signifies that I want to read not only that, but the whole Lord of the Rings series, so technically, my list is 33, but as most view the whole as one grand story, I feel I should do the same. Lastly, my motivations also come from books I've owned a long time and really wanted to read, but my literary ADD manifested itself many times. So in conjunction with that, the lists I've seen previously, and Entertainment Weekly's recommendations, here you have my list of 30 books. The first I plan to start reading is Watership Down, and as soon as I am done with my current book, I will delve into the world of rabbits.

Wish me luck on my journey of words!!!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Hating is the new black.

Before I get to the brunt of this email, a bit of tacky business first. Let me first say I hate that I have business that needs taking care of, but some things are surprisingly hard to do while living in a war zone. Who knew?

1: Well, that time has come again. We've been waiting for it all year, hoping and praying that our wishes will come true, saving our money for this special event. That's right, People's Sexiest Man Alive issue is on the verge of coming out, and this year, they've anointed Hugh Jackman as their world's sexiest man. Now, as you all read in the previous posting, I'm saving my attached self for Hugh; therefore, I need to support him in all that he does. First things, getting my mitts on this magazine. Normally, I am loathe to spend any kind of money on publications resembling People, but this issue and the one they do every year about people losing half their body weight are the two worth seeking out. However, I do not think I will have access to purchasing People here, at least, no guaranteed access, so if anyone is thinking of sending me a package (height of tacky right now, I know. I'm cringing as I type), if perchance they could include a copy of this issue. I owe it to my future husband to read magazines he's featured on.

2: This blends well into my next point of business. Being even tackier than the previous point (and we thought we were at the very top), Christmas packages. I don't know if anyone is planning on sending one, and I promise you this is not a plea for you to do so. However, if you are planning on it, and you are set on getting it to me by Christmas day, they highly recommend you get the package mailed by December 4th. I originally thought it was December 11th, but that's for less volatile areas the military is installed. For us scary country folk, they need a bit more time to get their bomb sniffing dogs to sniff out our packages. I don't say this to stress anyone, I just thought you should know.

I think that's all the business I have for now. I'm currently listening to Bing Crosby's Christmas album (which I caved and bought b/c I have no Christmas music here and Bing has become my absolute favorite) and I'm filled with happiness. No regrets or sorrow yet, so that makes me smile. Some of you may know, I wasn't planning on doing anything really Christmas-y. Most of that is born out of practicality. It's kinda hard to drive around and look at Christmas lights in Iraq, as well as make candies with parents, wrap gifts while watching Christmas movies, and decorating the tree while The Carpenters Christmas album plays. (Those are my favorite of all favorite holiday activities). And I will miss that. Heck, I miss it already even if it isn't that time of year just yet. I wasn't planning on really doing anything though. No Christmas music, movies, stories, none of that. I was just going to enjoy the day off and try not to think about what I'm missing out on. But I've decided that would be depriving myself. Yes, I'm not surrounded by the holidays like I desire, and I will possibly be spending Christmas in my room, watching movies. If anything, it's going to give me a whole new appreciation for my family and my traditions. I'm hoping that I can go to Baghdad and spend Christmas with Kathy, where we will watch A Charlie Brown Christmas (her favorite) and It's a Wonderful Life (my favorite...after White Christmas of course) and be grateful we are doing well, we are paying off debts, and that we will have next year to make even more amazing. To make a long story short (too late), I'm not going to hold myself back from enjoying what I can of Christmas over here, even though there isn't much. I'll bring it, I don't need where I live to provide it. I'll celebrate Christmas in my heart, even when the constant dirt makes me wonder if White Christmas's even exist.

Onto the meat of what this entry was supposed to be about. The following is a link to an amusing article Kyle sent me. What he couldn't have foreseen was the strongest desire to rant about it. I mean, he should have b/c everyone who knows me knows I'm happiest when ranting. However, living in pre-Boca Raton with all the mid-life crisis folks, I don't have anyone who is really on the same page as me. And what is a blog if not a place to force people to read your rantings?

Well, as you can tell by the link, this might have something to do with Twilight. I liked Twilight. It was an addictive book that forced me to sneak reading it during slow shifts at Mac Shack, and had me panting to get my hands on the last of the series. I encouraged those around me to read it and hoped they derived the same pleasure from it that I did. I did not claim or believe it to be the next Harry Potter. I don't need a "next Harry Potter", much like I don't need another "Lord of the Rings." I have them. I have accepted that no other book or movie experience will be the same as those two. I'm okay with that. So I didn't go into Twilight looking for it to be my new obsession. I enjoyed it for what it was. No, it's not Jane Austen, but it is fun. I love vampires, so it was right up my alley. Yes, I was a bit disappointed that most of my family did not enjoy these quite as well as I. But I don't like Homestar Runner, so I'm sure disappointment goes two ways. I even like to harass Kirsti and Sarah about their unabashed hatred of it. I mean girls, WHY are you going to see the movie when you hated the books and the main character makes you want to chew glass? And you were thinking of wearing "I hate Twilight" shirts? Why? You two are cra-cra. But I love you, so know that this rant is not directed towards you two. Nor is the article.

The article did infuriate me though, or rather, the comments did. The article itself was fun, witty and made great points. I love my principles and find them a lot warmer at night than most popular things. However, these comments and a previous article on the Entertainment Weekly site has opened my eyes to something. I don't want to hate something just because it's popular. I have a few things I've sworn never to attempt b/c of their enormous and in my eyes, unjustified, popularity. Grey's Anatomy, Play Station 3, Y107, sushi, stuff like this. But when I was reading the hostility and incredible arrogant pride of people who think they are sooooo great because they've never seen an episode of Friends or won't watch/read anything Harry Potter makes me sick, and almost has me running to watch Grey's while eating sushi. Not quite, but it has convinced me to never swear off of something without giving it a chance. I'm talking pop culture here of course, not crimes or anything like that. I mean, who is so absolutely proud of the fact that they have never done anything? And then to act intellectually superior to those who do is ridiculous. If you have never seen/read it, how do you know???

Furthermore, when people criticize the writing of J.K. Rowling and such, and claim it's terrible and how they would rather read Milton or something, it makes me want to rip their faces off. Did anyone anticipate that Lewis Carroll's childrens stories would be on the AP reading list, or that Mozart, who was panned for a lot of his music, would be revered for even breathing on a sheet of music these days? Vertigo was HATED and considered film crap when it was released, and a mere 50 years later, AFI considers it the best suspense movie ever made. What I'm trying to say is that to compare Harry Potter to classics and saying it is crap is closeminded and weak. We don't know what we will consider classics from the 90's and 2000's. And if you hated the books, fine, you are entitled to your opinion. But maybe, just maybe, you should get over it. I mean, Twilight has a lot of moments that are easy to disagree with, but no one forced you to read it, or the following go ahead and dislike them, but QUIT hating on people who don't share your opinion. It's lame. (Sarah and Kirsti, this isn't something you do, so I love you for that...thanks for not giving me crap.) I hate the Family Guy (i did give it a chance and wish I could have that 20 minutes back), but I do not go onto sites and comment excessively about what an offensive show it is.

Okay, I've got to wrap this up. Basically, I NEED to stop reading comments on the internet. They get me so worked up. I hope my rant was a bit cohesive, because I had a lot to say and I'm not sure I presented my argument very well. I do better when I can verbalize, largely b/c my loud voice intimidates people into agreeing with me. I guess I just wish people wouldn't be so amazingly critical. Stephanie Meyers just set out to write some books that meant something to her, and miracle of miracles, they struck a note with a large amount of people. She doesn't deserve all the crap and backlash she has gotten. Same with J.K. Lay off the authors, enjoy or don't enjoy the books, and move on. But if you did enjoy them, call me.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Blog Survey I've been wanting to do.

A. Attached or Single? Single and lovin' every minute of it. I'm saving myself for Hugh Jackman.

B. Best Friend? Well, I have a number of bessie's, but my best friend, the one who puts up with so much of my crap I can't believe we are still friends, Kyle.

C. Cake or Pie? Cake, easily. Especially of the cupcake, german chocolate, or ice cream variety. I like pot pie, does that count?

D. Day of choice? Thursday's. This favoritism comes from when I was still in school, and Thursdays were when you began eagerly anticipating the weekend as you hadn't wasted it yet, plus, ER was on Thursdays and I used to love that show. No phone calls were allowed while I watched it. Now Lost is my no phone-call show.

E. Essential Item? Laptop. I couldn't survive Iraq without it. It's my lifeline.

F. Favorite Color? Navy blue, b/c I look good in navy and I love nautical everything. I was a sailor in another life.

G. Gummy Bears or Worms? Bears. I can't eat the worms b/c it grosses me out. I think of that book that was popular when I was a kid "How to Eat Fried Worms" and I get queasy.

H. Hometown? Columbia. I loved living away from it because driving home to it was great. Especially when Elise and I would drive home from Maryville for the holidays. We would put on Christmas songs and just simmer in our excitement.

I. Indulgence? I love it. I've gotten way too many books considering this is a temporary residence. I go on there every day to drool over more books. I have a stack waiting in my "to be bought later" section, and add at least another one every day.

J. January or July? January. I like the bleakness of it. I hate driving in winter, but if I could take that part out, I would be a winter convert. Even horrible February. Sometimes a good month of festering in misery is a nice change of pace, and it makes spring all the better.
K. Kids? I plan to have dogs. I'll let you know about the kids thing later. (My 3 dream dogs)...

L. Life is not complete without? Laughter. What a dull existence life would be without a belly laugh to get you through.

M. Marriage Date?Kyle was my date to the last marriage I went to. But where was he during the conga line dance? Eh? I made do.
(Us at the wedding reception)

N. Number of Brothers and Sisters? More than can fit in a

O. Oranges or Apples? Neither in the form of juice. Grape.

P. Phobias? Open heights and house fires. Get the heebee-jeebies just thinking about them.

Q. Quotes? "We have nothing to fear, but another Great Depression." -Stephen Colbert misquoting FDR.
R. Reasons to smile? Vacations, Scrubs, family, friends, cupcakes, sloppy joes, Gap camisoles, books, packages while living Iraq, sleeping in, air conditioning, cool breezes, movie theatres, new socks, daffodils, baby animals, driving with the windows down while singing along with Bon Jovi, Tina Turner, or the Dixie Chicks.

S. Season of Choice? Spring or Autumn. I love the one I'm with.

T. Tag some peeps! Lame...whoever came up with this survey couldn't come up with a T category.

U. Unknown Fact about Me? I've never won a game of Trivial Pursuit, but that will never stop me from playing it or forcing others to play it with me. One day, TP, one day. Oh, and I dream of being best friends with either Kathy Griffin.

V. Vegetable? Hmmm, I really like spinach. Both raw and cooked.

W. Worst Habits? Chewing my fingers, talking too loud, eating mindlessly while watching anything, grocery shopping when hungry (suddenly a 15$ trip becomes a 75$ trip),

X. X-Ray or Ultrasound? Um, ultrasound would mean I'm either preggers or have a clearly X-Ray.

Y. Your favorite food? Sloppy Joes (Lambson recipe only), chocolate, bbq chicken pizza, bread of all kinds (well, except raisen bread), potatoes of all kind, pizza rolls, mexican (but no pico de gallo), eggplant parmesan, burgers, grinders chicken salad, peanut m&m's
.Z. Zodiac Sign? Aries. I'm as stubborn as a ram, so it makes a lot of sense. Though I don't believe most of this zodiac mumbo jumbo, I still love to read it.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Melancholy in November

Hi everyone. First off, thanks to everyone who made me feel confident in my hasty glasses decision. So far, I'm loving them. I only wear them at work, as I find them hard to get used to in my normal life. I'll see something in my glasses-free peripheral and it will throw me off. Luckily, I only really need them for work. I'm sure if I weren't in Iraq and driving at night, they would be a great asset, but as I drive like once a month, and it's just a quick stop to the post office or big PX, I don't need 'em.

Also, special thank you to Mom and Dad who have made my holidays go so much easier. Due to the lack of volunteers and their amazing generosity, I now have someone I can count on to receive holiday packages and make sure they get to the right person. I haven't decided what, but you two are getting something extra special for Christmas. Truly, you have taken a load off my shoulders.

So, on to the melancholy part. I'm actually doing really well. The weather is just about perfect, a constantly sunny fall with cool breezes. I love it. Work is about the same, learning some new things, finding new morons to complain about, and enjoying Dave's ornery stories about when he was an iron worker. He's got some great ones. He truly has lived a thousand lives and how he is still alive amazes me. I'm just in my usual funk that I get in after reading the Harry Potter series. I planned to reread it to help me get over my let-down feeling from October being over. Well, it worked too well. I'm still amazed at how well these books ensnare me, though I know everything that is going to happen. I even took yesterday afternoon off (3 hours really) to finish the Deathly Hallows because once you start from "A Final Hiding Place", you can't stop. It was magnificent, not that I expected anything different. But I am filled with the overwhelming depression that comes when you know few things will ever meet up to that experience. Much like seeing "Return of the King" or watching the series finale of Gilmore Girls, you are so happy to have been along for the ride, but so sad to say goodbye. I know it's the mark of a good artist when you can feel so deeply for a fictional character, and boy, do they make me feel.

I have a stack of books that I have been so excited to read, and held off until finishing Harry Potter. Now they seem dull and hold no interest for me. I know this will pass, it always does, but for the next few days, I'm going sulk in the absence of Harry, and just hope that one day, another artist will come close to creating the happiness these books bring me. In the meantime, I plan to take my overly high expectations out on a Stephen King novel. He can handle it and I would hate to think I didn't give a more worthy novel a chance. I'm thinking either Watership Down or Pride and Prejudice after Stephen King. Or maybe something non-fiction, like The Nine. Any suggestions???

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Glasses!!! I can't see anymore!!!

As some of you may know, one of my biggest priorities for my trip in October was visiting the eye doctor. I had become something of a joke in my office with the way I squint at the computer. My strained vision (mainly affected reading) wasn't a big deal until I came to Iraq and spent 11 hours a day staring at small print on a computer. So I was filled with anticipation over the idea that I could reduce my crows feet by not squinting for half of my day. However, things never go according to plan, and instead of having plenty of time to visit a reputable doctor and have even more time to select the perfect pair, I found myself at Wal-Mart, only a few days before I was about to leave, and without anyone to give me solid advice on the frames. Plus, I was on pain meds and muscle relaxants for another bout with my back, so my decision making skills were rushed and impaired. When I described the glasses to Kathy as black, chunky with rhinestones, I was not surprised when she died laughing and insisted on being the first to view these glasses. And frankly, I was doubting myself and worrying I had picked the ugliest pair just because the Wal-Mart lady kinda liked them.

Well, Mom has shipped them to me, and while I like them, I'll leave it to the jury. Feel free to leave no comment if they don't move you in any way, but otherwise, I encourage both negative and positive feedback. If you are worried I will go crashing into a pit of despair in case you think they are unflattering, remember, I'm in the desert and instantly 2 degrees hotter (both literally and figuratively) b/c of it, so I'll be fine.

Incidentally, I've learned I have a crooked smile, and that I photograph better from the left. For future reference, Emily.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Quirky Me!!! Idiot Style...

Okay, so this is the first survey I've done for my blog, even though I'm sure I've been tagged numerous times before. I wish I could do more, b/c survey's are my favorite thing in the world, but what with a lack of time to spend on here, I have to make my blogging decisions carefully; the computer version of Sophie's Choice.

So Tamara, I'm not going to follow the rules exactly b/c I don't know how to provide a link to you blog, but since only family reads this, I think that's okay...they should know how to get there by now. Also, I'm not going to tag anyone b/c I literally think I only follow 6 people on their blogs and vice versa, so that seems a smidge pointless. Regardless, I have to list and detail 6 quirks of mine, so here goes:

1. Debating: I LOVE to debate. I mean, there is nothing that gets my blood pumping faster than the heat of a good discussion. I used to debate in high school and then again in college, and I tell you, I miss it. Knowing your argument is superior and being able to TALK someone into submission is a glorious feeling. On a more personal level, I love to debate with friends and family. However, I do NOT like it when people try to make someone else feel stupid, or refuse to follow basic rules of logic, or don't have opinions on even the most important of issues. I have an opinion on everything and am fully prepared to back each one up. So it kills me when someone I respect and love, doesn't have an opinion on the state of the environment, or on the education system, or on whether or not American Idol can continue their complete dominance. A perfect debate will end in an equal exchange of ideas, with no derogatory attitudes or statements, and where each member leaves the conversation more educated, with a new way to look at things, and respecting the others view. Meaning, if we are engaged in a debate over what is the greatest Disney movie of all time, I don't have to convince you it's Beauty and the Beast, and you don't have to convince me it's The Lion King. But if we leave the debate wiser and with a new found appreciation for each, then that's just bliss.

2: I hate bugs. I hate them so much I refuse to include a picture with them. I don't know when I turned into such a sissy, but I hate them. I STILL cannot watch that scene from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. You all know what I'm talking about. I understand the necessity of them, but man, they are gross. I've reached a point where I am seriously contemplating living in a cement house with only a mat on the floor so no bugs can get in and hide places. If you can think of a way they can penetrate my concrete fortress, please don't tell me.

3: Photo time is not often happy time for me. People seem to want to take pictures right when I'm in a bad mood, or maybe it's that I'm in a bad mood whenever people take pictures. The exception has become Emily, weirdly enough. I think it's because she will let me put my foot down on pictures I hate myself in and I love her for that. But if you will look back in our family albums, I'm often shown very grumpy, possibly with red eyes from throwing a childish fit.

4: I chew my fingers when I get anxious. Disgusting, I know, but it doesn't help that I spend large amounts of my time with fellow finger chewers. Many members of my family, and the most egregious of them all, Kyle. We enable each other, and then abuse each other for that same behavior. I'm thinking of putting myself into a coma for 3 weeks to possibly break myself of this habit. I can't be a finger chewer when I'm 30, can I?

5: I HAVE to watch/read things in order. Read Harry Potter book 6 without having just read the first 5? Heck no!! I get weeded just thinking about it. I can't watch a trilogy out of order, I can't watch the third season of The Office just because that's the only season someone has, I have to start at the beginning and work my way up. The ONLY exception is if the show/books/movies are set up to where history doesn't matter. For instance, The Simpsons, Law and Order, Agatha Christie novels. I know, I know, there are smidges of history, like Maude dying and such, but otherwise, watching those out of order does not effect the experience. However, I cannot just sit down to Return of the King and watch it. I have to build to that climax. And I think TRUE fans would agree with me. (yeah, I'm talking to all of you who have read Harry Potter books out of order. Heavy judgment coming from me here).

6: If there is EVER a Top Model marathon going on, I'm watching it. I've seen all the cycles (yes, Tyra is pretentious enough to call them cycles, not seasons), but that doesn't matter. If I don't have to be anywhere, and sometimes, even if I do, I put it on, cook to it, sleep to it, eat to it. I love me some Top Model and VH1 and MTV have NO problem supplying me with enough to feed the purple dragon.

So I don't know if those were actually quirks, but if Alanis can sing a song about irony and use examples that aren't ironic, I can claim these 6 factoids about myself are quirky.