Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Inside and Out (A duo of Survey's)

I've spent the last hour rocking out to my itunes and playing spider solitaire, and just thought, "what a great time to try out that itunes survey/blog entry." Not a remarkable thought process...rather predictable in fact, but nonetheless, here goes:

(Oh, and I'm assuming first song is the title of this post, so that's what I'm rolling with.)

(Oh, and my comments are in italics.)

1. Put your iTunes on shuffle.
2. For each question, press the next button to get your answer.

Hello (Not said like the greeting, but like "Burn", J.D. says it like that in Scrubs)

Sucker (Awesome. I am rather naive when it comes to some things, i.e. anything an airport official tells me, anything Dave tells me, anything Wikipedia tells me)

Pretty Women (hmmm, I do like pretty women, in a purely aesthetic sense, not a romantic sense...lets just pretend Sweeney Todd is singing about Pretty Men)

All These Things that I've Done (I have done a lot of things today...busy day)

Top of the World (I'm going to take this to mean travel/world domination)

Proud Mary ("rollin' on the river...")

Am I the Only One Who's Ever Felt This Way? (Probably)

The Living Years (So true...I obsess over the years I've been alive and the years to come I will be alive (knock on wood))

9.WHAT IS 2+2?
Take Me Out (because math is booooring)

You Were Mine (awww, my bessie IS all mine.)

Standing Still (well, as I don't really like anyone right now like that, this seems appropriate.)

Please Mr. Postman (SOOOOOO true here in Iraq. Such my life story for my time here. Oh, sidenote, two helicopters just flew overhead and felt so close I thought they would land on me. Buzzing the tower apparently.)

SexyBack (Well, since I don't have a song titled "world famous film critic/cupcake taster", this one will have to do)

Hearts Breaking Even ( I think I already mentioned there is no one in that scope right now, but meh, this works well)

Duet (Mom, I'm not going to sing/play with you, no matter how much Candlelight wants it)(Kidding, I would if you really needed me)

Glory of Love ( Okay, this is just creepy. I swear on my life this used to be THE quintessential song for me when it came to picturing my future love. I mean, I still hear this song and dream of a storybook/dramatic but ends well romance with Colin Firth (he's my hottie of the moment). SO CRAZY!!!)

Tourniquet (Disturbing, but probs rather accurate.)

Guitar Hero (First off, there is a song named this, I'm not making it up, and this could easily be a hobby of mine. Well, more Rock Band, but I'm not too picky)

Secret Heart (aw, my love for them isn't so secret, but we can pretend for this question)

Love Song (like Karen C sings, "it's a dirty ole shame when all you get from love is a love song...")

Come Clean (Tourniquet would work better here, but I'm going to assume this means my death will be that horrific carwash nightmare Em always imagines when in one of those automated carwashes)

Black Sand (The song is a bit about regret, but I think I only regret never being anywhere cool enough with black sand...give me time)

I Walk the Line (my balance is really poor)

Long Time Gone (wow, another one right on the mark. I do feel I've been gone so long...sad)

Pretty Bird (Interesting, my itunes also wanted to divert attention from this pointed question that is way too personal)

Wonderful (spoken like a true pessimist)

What's Up? (Probably not after I quote them that archaic greeting)

Lie To Me (I would have people lie to me about a couple of things, like how hard life is once you move out of the comfort of your parents house, and how annoying collecting quarters for laundry is)

I'm the Kinda (my head kinda hurts...probs from laying in one position too long)

Popular (I will be traveling to popular destinations such as London, Paris, Amsterdam and Vienna...can't wait)

Pelican Bay (I'm going to take this to mean I'll meet Julia Roberts, we become bessies, she introduces me to George Clooney and the rest is history)

Holiday (If only there were a "Happy" before that, and an 's' at the end of Holiday)

When You're Good to Mama (Dang, my itunes is good, as Kathy and I constantly refer to one another and ourselves as Mama. The only way it could have been more perfect is if there were a song in my library called "gurl".)

Don't Stop the Music (talk about your bad first dates when they prefer music over conversation)

Now At Last (okay, I didn't remember this question, and I refuse to change the title. If it offends your sensibilities as readers, know that at least the songs came from the same album by Feist...Inside and Out works better as a title anyhow, as you are getting to know me, Inside and Out.)

Oh, what a treat, another survey. I just copied and pasted Sarah's, not remembering this part after having read it weeks ago, so I'm going to keep going for funsies.

25 Random Questions

Grab the book nearest to you, turn to page 18, and find line 4.
"...dockworkers and hospital orderlies, in some cases postal clerks, a..." -A Drink Before the War by Dennis Lehane

Stretch your left arm out as far as you can. What do you reach?
My glasses case

What is the last thing you watched on TV?
A Friends rerun

Without looking, guess what time it is:
10 p.m. Late for me, but I get most of the day off tomorrow.

Now look at the clock. What is the actual time?
10:25 p.m. I best be getting to bed regardless of that day off...I don't want to waste it.

With the exception of the computer, what can you hear?

When did you last step outside? What were you doing?
Couple of hours ago when I was coming to my room. Nothing at all interesting.

Before you started this survey, what did you look at?

What are you wearing?
pj pants and a tank. Wishing I had slippers on my feetsies.

Did you dream last night?
Yes, I did. Can't really recall what, but it was vivid. Almost all my dreams are vivid, occur nightly, and are quickly forgotten (though I feel if I were to stop being lazy and write them down, I would tap into the psychic powers I have yet to harness...just sayin')

When did you last laugh?
Earlier in this post when itunes got some good answers in.

What are on the walls of the room you are in?
Another dull answer...hmmm, nothing at all. Oh, I did tape some cards I got up, so that will count. Otherwise, nothing but an ugly paint job and the reminder I live in a tin can.

Seen anything weird lately?
A story about a baby born with another baby growing out of it's brain. THAT'S RIGHT!!!
(follow this link)

What do you think of this quiz?
Not as entertaining as the previous one, which is sad b/c this one started off so well.

What is the last film you saw?
Bridget Jones Diary on DVD...if we are counting in the theatre, unfair b/c I'm in Iraq, but that one would be Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist.

If you became a multi-millionaire overnight, what would you buy?
Oh, don't even get me started internet survey. I'm going to attach an actual number to make this fun. If I got 100 million after taxes, 25 million would immediately go to charities for animals. Particularly The Humane Society and also No-Kill shelters (I know that seems counter-productive, b/c THS will euthanize, but both do such good things for animals) and also for legislation to make animal abuse more than a misdemeanor. Then I would give my parents and family members significant chunks of cash. Then I would buy one of those AMAZING homes in the Central West End (maybe one on Hortense or something). I would travel often, I would continue to donate to charities, I would take my friends on a fabulous trip to Hawaii where I own a vacation condo (my only other home) and I would own a Prius, WHILE still working, at either an animal shelter or womens home. And my only indulgence (besides all that's been mentioned) would be the occasional purse from Prada or Kate Spade (my current faves). Otherwise, I'll still shop like whoa at Target, Gap, Borders, places like these.

Tell me something about you that I don't know about.
I hated to pluck my eyebrows. I would let them grow all "Peter Gallagher" (as Kyle fondly called me) in between waxings, but this past trip home, I've discovered the joy of it, and now I can't stop. I still have eyebrows, but only through sheer willpower. I'll stand in front of the mirror for 30 minutes at a time just looking for an errant hair to pluck. Too much information? Thought so.

If you could change one thing about the world, regardless of guilt or politics, what would you do?
Put me in charge of it. I've got some grand ideas (rooted in small communities living socialist like existences). But in all seriousness, I would educate the world in tolerance, acceptance, humility, and general kindness.

Do you like to dance?
Only if the music is so loud and pulsating I lose myself in it. I'm not good, but it's fun to not think for 4 minutes during the perfect Rihanna song.

Do you like cartoons?
Only if they are as entertaining for the adult as they are for the kid.

Imagine your first child is a girl, what do you call her?

Imagine your first is a boy, what do you call him?
Kirkland Cale

Would you ever consider living abroad?
Living and breathing it at the moment. But I don't count this as the true abroad experience. After this, yes I would, preferably Europe.

What do you want God to say to you when you reach the pearly gates?
"It's about time...we need a 4th for domino's." (Too sacriligeous? I don't know where that line is.)

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas Treasures

Merry Christmas all. If you are reading this in the next 24 hours, clearly you are sick of the family and trying to escape. Shame on you. I wasn't really planning on posting today, but I realized I never recognized those of you who have made my holiday something special. I speak of course about the various holiday packages I have received. I've already mentioned the first package from Mom and Dad, Steven and Tamara's package, and had a vlog based around Em's package. I would vlog about this one, but meh, it seems like too much effort right now to deal with the downloading, witty (I wish) banter, and remembering what it is I want to talk about. Instead, we'll do it old school. As my month has progressed, I've also received a package from Elise, Juli, and another one from Mom and Dad.

Oh, and I should mention Kyle and Charlotte (my friend who lives in Pennsylvania) also sent me Christmas packages. So the above photo is just a bit of what I've gotten this month. On the presents are holiday cards I've sent out. And while it does not even come close to showing all I've received, it's a nice taste. The lamb is from Em, as you would know if you watched the vlog. The green and red holiday ornaments are from S and T, the wrapped gifts are from Kyle and Mom and Dad. That bottle is pillow spray from Elise, the tree from Mom and Dad, the snowman ornament and M&M's candy holder from Charlotte, a veritable booty of holiday cheer, all atop my mini fridge.

These next two are to display the advent calendar from Juli, and the Christmas decorations from the folks. Christmas lights are not allowed in rooms (safety/electrical issues), so they heeded the call well. These little reminders have cheered me this month. What you don't see featured are the treats included in M & D, Juli, and Elise's packages. They included things like homemade fudge, cherry nut cookies, 100 calorie packs of all types of sweets, edible coal (humorous and tasty), movies, all sorts of things. I can't even remember it all now. Just know that they were very appreciated. I shared the cookies and fudge with my office, who loved them, and thought about sharing the 100 calorie packs, but nope...too selfish. Seriously though, you all banded together to make my December pretty remarkable. Thank you.

So, how has my day been so far? Well, I didn't set an alarm this morning and for the first time in Iraq, actually slept till I wanted to wake up, which was at about 8:30 a.m. Heaven. I've watched Master and Commander (one of my all time favorite movies, so it was a real treat), eaten stuff that will not be on my diet for the next 2 1/2 months, browsed the internet for funny Conan O'Brien clips (check out on Hulu his "NBC Tour" bits...hilarz), and gone to lunch with Flo at the DFAC. There, they finally had tacky displays that come close to yard inflatables. I didn't take a picture, and the contest may very well be over, but if not, count it. You'll just have to trust me on this. The DFAC employee's went all out with not only the decorations, but the feasting. The food was delicious...I had glazed ham, a stuffing/potato casserole of some sort, corn, rolls, shrimp cocktail, cake, sparkling grape juice, topped off with a candy cane. The employees were all so great. I'm fairly positive most of them are Hindu or Buddhist, but they all greeted us with enthusiastic "Merry Christmas's". There was a camaraderie in the air amongst all there, b/c it was clear we would rather be with our families; but since we are all in this together, we should make the most of it. I opened my gift from Mom and Dad, a book I look forward to reading (and I know the rest of you got, so you know what I refer to). The Sri Lankan boy (I call him boy b/c he looks 14 but must be at least 18) who cleans our office gave me a Christmas card this morning that says "Happy Merry Christmas Day". It was so thoughtful and sweet. It just was great to be around such genuine spirits.

But nothing made my day more than opening an email from Elise explaining my gift this year. I was a bit curious/hesitant to see what she concocted for my gift. I knew it wasn't anything I could use over here b/c I made it explicitly clear that I didn't want anything I couldn't use to be shipped to me, as it would cause more stress than joy for the shipping of it back. So when she stated she was just emailing me a picture of it, I wondered what she possibly thought of. And since I couldn't enjoy it over here (my choice, I realize), I'll admit there wasn't much excitement surrounding this email I would be getting. So I went into the office this morning to fulfill my two hours of work required, piddled around, and finally opened my email. Elise, I'm speechless. Or at least, I was. I'm clearly not now. I also cried right there for anyone to see if they so chose. I'm sure you all know, but she has given me the gift of a chance to swim with dolphins, one of my greatest dreams since as long as I can remember. I know I have the rest of you to thank since you will help cover the cost for my upcoming birthday, but Elise, to remember that, to think of that, and to make it happen, I can't thank you enough. I am truly, utterly and completely blown away and touched. I hate to say it, but I really cannot imagine any gift in my life ever topping this. And that's okay. This will be the Lord of the Rings of gifts, knowing that nothing will be as good, but many things will come darn close. I don't know what else I can say. I thought today would be pretty mediocre, but it isn't. It is the perfect gift.

So, wrapping things up (get it? Wrap things up? Gifts? Wrapping paper? All that???), thank you to everyone who made what could have been a depressing holiday one that I will look upon fondly. From the southern Asian workers to my families packages and perfect gifts, I am truly blessed to have you all supporting me. It's a festivus miracle!! Oh wait, I mean Christmas miracle. Enjoy your holiday, and if you are reading this on the 25th, get back to the family!!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Eve in Iraq.

I woke up this morning, filled with excitement and anticipation. A giddy feeling. However, it was not for the usual reasons that one might get excited for on a Christmas Eve. It was because I was getting to talk to Emily. I look forward to these phone calls so much. Now, before anyone starts to think I'm playing favorites, you should first know that Emily isn't my favorite, Trissy is. Also, she makes a concerted effort to set up a phone date, so naturally she is the family member after the parents that I talk to the most. If Trissy had opposable thumbs and the ability to communicate besides her scratching at the door, it's more than likely I would talk to her the most, with a bit of Alfred mixed in. Back to my original point, I love talking to Emily. I think each of us Lambsons (including recent additions), have many talents that draw us to each other. We depend on them, we use them, and we delight in them. One of Em's many talents is her sheer enthusiasm for analyzing anyone and everyone with me. Analyzing people's behaviors, views, and actions has to be my favorite thing to talk about (with episodes of Lost, family memories, reasons why we need a third strong political party, and lists that rank things coming in a close second). She picks up the ball and runs with it, and we can just gab for hours and hours nitpicking every behavior we've ever displayed, as well as any behavior anyone else has displayed. Don't believe me? Just ask Joe almost any time I come over. It all comes from a place of love, so nothing mean-spirited motivates us when we talk about why Sarah is such a devoted employee or why Elise is a cat person more than a dog person. Mainly, we talk about ourselves and help each other to be okay with our faults (not justifying them, but not villifying them either).

So I know each time I get to talk to her on the phone, it will be a good conversation. We also discussed Austrailia, our sisters continued obsession with criticizing Twilight (just know that as you continue to criticize it openly, I will continue to mock you for it. Your call, sisters), Noah, Kyle and his hypocrisy when it comes to the internet (long story), game playing, and many other things. I left the phone call feeling revived and excited to start my day. Not to discount her miraculous phone skills, but this feeling could also be related to the fact that I have two days off in a row. And by two days off, I mean of course that I will be working two hours each day, but essentially, it's like a day off for me. What will I do with myself? Absolutely nothing. I may watch some movies, finish season 5 of Scrubs, read a book, nap, eat unhealthy food (I allow myself chips and candy on my rare days off), and internet till my hands bleed. I will not though, be participating in any Christmas Eve activities that fill me with that childlike spirit, that feeling of family, that warm, cuddly, hot cocoa in your soul feeling that comes with the greatest day of the year. That's right, I think Christmas Eve is better than Christmas. On Christmas Eve, there is that glorious anticipation, possibly my favorite feeling in the world. As a kid, you still had one day to pray that Santa got your letter, and that all those wrapped gifts under the tree contained your greatest desire. As an adult, it's when your family rolls into town, you finish getting your gifts together, eager for your loved ones to see your tokens of love, you aren't working, you are just basking in the glow of the holiday. Now, Christmas Day isn't too shabby. The food is amazing, the all day showing of A Christmas Story on TBS is comforting, and you can spend the day napping, eating, playing games, and napping again. But it doesn't have the magic of Christmas Eve.

So, while my giddy feelings weren't diminished, they definitely were not at all related to the date on the calendar. And that makes me sad. Those in my camp are doing everything they can to create a happy holiday for everyone here. And I know that it's a failing of mine that these things do not appeal to me. My extreme anti-socialness and my stubbornness to want the perfect Christmas Eve or no Christmas Eve at all is definitely a key factor here. I sometimes wonder if I'm denying myself the full experience of Iraq by not seeking out deeper relationships. And maybe I am. But, to argue in favor of my decisions, I don't have the time for relationships like that. Before October, my free nights were spent either scrambling for some internet access to stay in touch with family and friends, studying for that blasted GRE (it may be over, but I still resent it), or treating myself to a movie. October is over, and I am done with the GRE and internet scramble. But now there are new things filling my time. Writing personal statements, learning new procedures for when Dave leaves (which means a couple of late nights), internetting here...And maybe all of this sounds like a cop-out. It probably is. I just don't feel connected with most of these people. As friendly acquaintances, they are all great. I'm so lucky that everyone is a genuinely nice person (okay, not everyone. The girls in RM are notoriously witchy/backstabbers). And I'm not normally an age-ist. Some of my favorite co-workers from previous jobs were significantly older than me. BUT, I never hung out with them outside of work. So it's hard to imagine Carol, a contracting lady whose nice, wanting to sit down to a marathon of Arrested Development episodes, or talk about how the college system is way too easy on students (study guides for every test? What is this, high school??). It's hard to imagine they can relate to my ever-present feelings of not knowing what I'm doing with my life, if I want to have kids, my desire to travel to every continent (well, not Antartica) before I turn 35, the happiness that a good America's Next Top Model marathon can bring, the beauty of renting, or why I feel kinda weird that I think Daniel Radcliffe is hot. Maybe I'm not giving them enough credit. But for the most part I'm okay with that. I have relationships that fulfill me, sustain me, empower me, and though all of them are not located within Tikrit, they are enough. So I may sound harsh and judgemental...I guess it's just that I would rather spend my precious free hours bettering my current relationships, having some alone time, and not filling it with a half-version of a friendship I more than likely will not sustain when I leave. Judge away if you like.

99% of the time, all of my rationalizations work and I am as happy as one can be in a war zone, working 72 hours a week, and eating food that can best be described as "edible." But on darned Christmas Eve, these rationalizations don't mean squat. So know that I wish all of you the best of holidays, and that I love you and am thinking of you. But also know that I will not be trying to reclaim some of that magic, because it is impossible. I'm going to enjoy my holiday for what it is to me right now...two days off and all the candy my teeth will allow.

Just wait till next year, when I go so over-the-top, you will be holiday-ed out before November even hits.

Merry Christmas family.

Friday, December 12, 2008

An attempt at some videos...

Alright, so after a lot of confusion and a lot of waiting for things to upload to, I present to you my pathetic, very amatuerish, first version of a vlog. It is lacking any sophistication, depth, wit, or classy effects that one comes to desire from their online videos. What can I say? Go to youtube or something if you are looking for quality. However, if you are looking for the latest thing to graze my interest level, check this video out. It's over 10 minutes long, so get the popcorn out and let the mocking commence. Details in the video...

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Ringing in a December

Greetings to everyone!!! I hope your Decembers have started off quite well, filled with the usual delights: the end of a semester, Christmas lights, baking, quality movies, the smells of the holidays, everyone in good cheer, hot chocolate, naps that are justified on the holiday, the start of college basketball getting interesting, traditions, and taking assessment of your year. Those are just a few things I think of when I imagine December. Here in Iraq, I think maybe 2 of those items hold true for me, and those would be the basketball one and the Christmas lights. Our little camp has their own way of trying to bring in the festive spirits, and it includes a tree in our main pavilion which is quite pretty at night. They don't keep it lit very often, so I'll try to catch a picture of it when it is so you can see.

However, I am getting the chance to enjoy some baking. The first of holiday packages came in today. THANKS to Mom and Steven and Tamara. Mom, the cookies turned out delightful and everyone in my office enjoyed one. I'm so glad you thought to include extras b/c often others get enought to share (of whatever their care package includes) and do so; therefore, it was nice to be able to do the same. Now, I know I could extend this to the multiple packages of peanut M&M's Steven and Tamara got me, but you would be crazy to think that. Ain't no one getting their mitts on my candy. Included in these packages were as follows:

Mom's: Christmas decorations, including a stocking, door hanger, mini tree, pillowcase and table cover. See picture for more details. Also, the Christmas socks are perfect, as is the reading material and recorders. I'm not sure anymore about the realities of going to Baghdad for Christmas (details too boring/complex to share here), but I will send one along to Kathy and begin practicing my finger work. For those not in the know, I was so impressed with Steven's reintroduction to the trombone, and very envious of it, that it has sparked a renewed interest in my saxophone. Hey, me, Steven and Mom could be our own little jazz trio!! Anyways, I've grown nostalgic for things I eschewed in my idiotic youth, and Steven's great choice/sacrifice to play in the stake orchestra has motivated me. Included in this nostalgia is a desire to play basketball again, so I think I will look up YMCA/Columbia Parks and Rec type leagues when I move back home. Sorry, getting sidetracked. Thank you mom, so much. I'm so lucky to have your thoughtfulness in my life.

Tamara and Steven: Well, you already heard about the M&M's. My guiltiest and most delightful pleasure. I have no self control when it comes to them, so I'm grateful you didn't send that huge, 3-pounder bag which would have resulted in me eating them furiously in a corner while hissing at those trying to come near. Love them way too much. Also, they included some thoughtful, fun little presents that include the perfect time waster in crosswords, connect four, and some magazines with details of president-elect Obama's win. Despite the differences in politics our country has, I'm glad we can all recognize what a historic event that victory was. The number of voter turnout, the first black president, the importance of the change our country needs (whether it were to come from McCain or Obama, it is needed), and I love that you two included that for me. I also loved that you wrapped everything. Again, see the photo for images of the wrapped gifts, which explains why there are no pix of the Christmas decorations you included, but rest assured, I'm hanging the photo one and the stocking I got from Mom in my office. Oh, and the pictures were great.

Last note, both packages included tons of sugar-free, fruity gum. Have I mentioned my addiction to that on the blog? I could go back and read old entries, but meh, I'm lazy. Well, I LOVE it, and it will be chewed and swallowed shortly.

So, thanks again you all for getting my holiday season off to a great start. I promise this blog is not meant to highlight those who didn't get me a package by now. I don't even expect packages. Any time I get one, it's a positive treat, and I thank you all so very much for thinking of me and taking time out of your lives to send me your love in the best way possible: sheer materialism. J/K of course. Your unconditional love and support is the best kind, but a break in my day and the smile it brings to my face is great too. I know this holiday will be filled with ups and downs for me, and a lot of newness (as I've spent every other Christmas tucked in the bosom of our family), so know that even your thoughts sent my way are enough to emulate a warm cup of cocoa.

Wow, that last line was so cheesy. Methinks the packages have made me embrace sentimentality, which as I love to say, "Sentimentality is wicked...but cynicism is worse." (okay, those aren't my words, they are Jincy Willett's, but I still love them).

For some of you (you know who you are), update your blogs!!!!!! OR, send me an email to let me know how you are doing. I accept emails from all, but there are a certain few I feel out of touch with, so I'm eager to know how the last month of your year is going.

Mele Kalikimaka!!! (It is a WISE way to say Merry Christmas to you.) (Detractors from this sentiment will not be received by me).