Mar 30, 2007

The Curtain Falls

As I write this, I am sitting at my desk in the "Secret Squirrel Room," waiting for my information from my computer to burn onto a CD. Three years of work, and it will be reduced to a compact disk. I have already changed my voicemail greeting, indicating that I no longer work for District Eleven. My "Out of Office Assistant" is already on, alerting people that I am no longer receiving email at this address.

When I woke up this morning, I felt a sense of dread, mixed with a sense of excitement. Today was my last day as an active duty Coast Guard officer. I start what is called "terminal leave" tomorrow. That sounds rather foreboding doesn't it?

For exactly one third of my life, I have identified myself as a member of the United States Coast Guard. Nine Years. I don't care how old you are, that is a long time. Now, I am moving on. Granted, I am being offered a Reserve Commission, which I will take. I may actually be called back to Active Duty under Title Ten. But, I may also do the whole "one weekend a month, two weeks a year" thing for a while too. I don't know. I have a second interview set up two weeks from yesterday with a company that is very excited about the prospect of hiring me. Yesterday I heard from another company who is also very interested in me.

Things really seem to be falling into place. Why then do I feel so lost?

I will miss the familiarity of Alameda, and the routine of putting on a uniform every day. I will miss my friends and the camaraderie that I have with people here - even the people I don't get along with. We are all part of the same Coast Guard family after all aren't we?

But now, it is time for me to see the rest of what is out there. Look out world, here I come (but I can't help but look back over my shoulder at what I am leaving behind...)

Mar 28, 2007

Still waiting

Well, everything is all boxed up, and I'm waiting for the movers...again. I have never had it take two days for movers to pack my things. Ironically, this time I have much less stuff than I have ever moved with before. Katelyn is keeping a couple pieces of my furniture, and a LOT of my clothes and knickknacks have gone to Goodwill or were sold. The moving inventory that I have of boxes is a page shorter than the one I had moving here from Hawaii, and they packed me out in less than four hours.

So yeah, I don't understand why it is taking two days. Either way though, I don't care as long as it all gets on a truck and to South Carolina, preferably right around the time that I do.

Mar 27, 2007

It's that time of the year again...

The day the movers will be here to pack up my things for the journey to South Carolina has finally arrived. I'm waiting for them to knock on the door and send Coda into a frenzy. Right now he is so discombobulated that I don't think he knows what end is up. Tomorrow they will actually load everything on the truck. I can't believe it. I'm actually moving to South Carolina!

Last night, as I was separating all of my stuff from Katelyn's, washing all of my linens, and packing my bags that are going to travel across the country in the trunk of my car, I came to an interesting realization. When I drive out of California this weekend (OH MY GOD, I CAN'T BELIEVE IT IS THIS WEEKEND) I will be moving for the seventh time in five years. I feel like quite the nomad. You would think though that it would get easier the more I do it. Unfortunately, I don't think moving is something that will ever get easier for me.

You see, I'm kind of like a plant. I put down roots when I am left in one place for too long. When I left Massachusetts for California the first time, it was like someone ripped my heart out. As long as I live, I will remember the sight of my parent's house disappearing in my rear view mirror, and look on my dad's face when he realized that it was time for me to go. Heartbreaking doesn't even begin describe it.

When I left California for Hawaii, it was sad because I didn't want to leave Josh and Cassandra. However, I knew I had to go. It was time for me to move on, even though it had only been six months.

Hawaii was the first place I really put down roots outside of Massachusetts. I had my first address (that I paid the rent for) that I lived at for more than a year, as well as a circle of friends that I was very close to. I was in a job that I enjoyed, and I could not imagine living my life any other way. When I moved out of my apartment on Kulewa Loop, I cried for days. Although, as I think about it, I really DON'T miss the cockroaches.

During this stint in California, I have had three addresses. I lived in the "ghetto apartment" on Crolls Garden Court, the cute duplex on Central Ave, and my current home on Barbers Point Road. The first apartment was doubt about it. That's the first and LAST time I rent an apartment through classifieds. The Central Ave apartment was nice, quaint and homey...but expensive.

My house here on Barber's Point Road is my favorite place that I have lived so far. Moving in with Katelyn out here was one of the best decisions I think I have ever made. The rent was cheap, and the company was good. Granted, we had our squabbles, but for the most part, it was fun.

I think the big difference with this home versus the other two I have lived in during this stint in California is that it actually FEELS like a home. From the first night I moved in, I have felt like I am coming "home," not just back to the place that I'm paying somebody to let me live in. It's warm, inviting, and friendly. I know this sounds cheesy, but I'm a big believer that homes have a spirit to them. Some places feel cold when you walk it, no matter what the heat is turned up to. Some places set you on edge, no matter how comfortable the furniture and interior design may be. Some places have no feeling at all, and it's confusing. From the first time Katelyn and I walked into this house when we were looking for apartments, it has felt warm and comfortable. I will miss my home very much.

All of this being said, I can't wait to walk through to door in Folly Beach, and have that sense of relief that comes when you know you are not a guest some place. Instead, you belong there. Not that I have ever felt like a guest in Ben's apartment, or that I didn't belong, but I've always known that it was temporary and I would have to go back to California in a week or so. The next time I put my key in the door though, I will be home.

And I cannot wait.

Mar 24, 2007

Roughing it

Last night Katelyn, her boyfriend Jimmy, and I went camping up in Bodega Bay. On one of my trips to the Coast with Andy I found this great campground right on the beach in the Doran Beach State Park. They don't take reservations though so it's first come, first served. When I called they had one site left, but wouldn't hold it. So, yesterday after training (which thankfully let me out VERY early), Jimmy and I beat feat up to the Coast, and Katelyn followed as soon as she left work.

It was definitely worth it. The view from our campsite was positively wonderful. We were just off the break wall into Bodega Bay.
So, we got there, set up camp, and proceeded relax. It was great.
We built a fire and roasted Polish Sausages, drank some wine, and remembered what stars look like without light pollution to ruin it.Even the dog got into it, and enjoyed himself. He was the only one who was brave enough to go into the water. We opted to go camping to commemorate my last weekend in California, rather than throw a party like we originally planned. This was definitely a much better option, and infinitely less stressful.

It was just what I needed.

Mar 21, 2007

It's the Final Countdown...

Seriously, I feel like wherever I go, Europe's "The Final Countdown" should be playing.

I have ten calender days left in the Coast Guard before I go on "terminal leave." That means only 8 working days. I'll be in training for three of those, and moving during 2 of that means only three days left! This is something that I find both exciting and a bit scary.

Every night I get an email from Ben with a countdown in the subject line. We've already done the extent of the planning that I think we'll do for the trip, determined our route, and figured out where we plan on stopping (his uncle's house, the Grand Canyon, and his parent's home). Coda's all caught up on his shots, and I even got him a new dog bed to travel with. The car's been to the mechanic twice, and I had a moving sale to sell off the stuff I don't want to move with me.

I think I'm ready. Let the games begin!

Mar 20, 2007

Happy Birthday to Me (Part 2)

Tonight, some of my "California Family" threw me a birthday party - complete with balloons: flowers: party favors: and cake!
Thanks guys. This was a memorable birthday. I will miss you all.

Happy Birthday to ME!

Twenty seven years ago today in a Worcester, Massachusetts hospital, new life was brought into this world at 8:20 am. That new life was me.

My mom had me on the first day of Spring in 1980. To hear her tell it, the day was absolutely beautiful. The sun was shining, it was warm, and the trees were getting ready to bud new leaves. The next day of course, there was a snow storm :). Typical New England weather.

This morning, I didn't want to get out of bed. It is damp and raining here in the Bay Area. But, I did, like I do every morning. This morning though, I treated myself to a cup of tea and a fruit salad from a coffee shop down the street as a birthday present.

Earlier in this patrol, Ben and I discussed it and decided that we would celebrate BOTH of our birthdays when he gets back. Mine will be belated, his will be early. He will be at sea for his during the next patrol. He keeps reminding me though that he got me something really nice for my birthday...but won't give me any hints about what it is ;).

Last night before she went to sleep, Mom wished me a Happy Birthday. This morning as I was standing outside my office, locked out with the rest of my co-workers, my Dad called me too. my sister sent me a HILARIOUS e-card. Last night Katelyn and I decided that we'd go camping this weekend to celebrate my birthday. My friend David emailed me this morning to wish me a Happy Birthday.

It is nice to be thought of, especially on your birthday. My friends and family really came through for me.

Thanks guys. I really appreciate it!

Mar 15, 2007

Photo Theme for Thursday

It's interesting, since posting my blog on Tuesday, I've already been given some really neat ideas for postings. The Daily Meme is a website that poses different ideas to write about every day, one of which being the Thursday Challenge. The challenge is to find a really interesting picture to illustrate the topic for the week. The challenge for this week is "Water." Over the last nine years I have DEFINITELY had exposure to some neat pictures of water, in all of it's forms... This was taken during a winter storm in the Bering Sea...the waves were about 30 feet tall that day. The ship is almost 400 feet long. By the time we came through the storm, the deck nets around the gun had been ripped off the ship by the force of the water...

Mar 14, 2007

Welcome to the Outside World

Today I received my first comment from someone that is not in my circle of family or friends. Last night I listed my blog on, a website for blogs written by females. Today I was tagged with two more"meme's" by Zandria M from outside Washington D.C.. In blogspeak, a meme is an idea that is shared and passed from blog to blog, like a question posted in one blog and answered in many other blogs. Usually it is expressed as a list of questions about yourself, to be answered in such a way that others can learn more about you. My first entry in this blog was a "meme" about Six Weird Things About Me. So, without further ado, here's are MY answers to the "meme's" that were posed by Zandria:
Meme #1
3 Things That Scare Me
1. Thunderstorms.
2. Being the center of attention in a crowd
3. Crowds and lots of commotion

3 People Who Make Me Laugh:
1. Ben
2. Andy
3. Bernie

3 Things I Love:
1. Watching NASCAR.
2. The ocean
3. My family and friends (does that count as two?)

3 Things I Hate:
1. Being Late for ANYTHING.
2. Ambiguity of any sort
3. Bugs (especially Cockroaches and Palmetto Bugs).

3 Things I Don’t Understand:
1. Stereo Instructions
2. Why people around here are so anti-military (not just anti-war). Don't they understand that we are also there to (God Forbid) protect them?
3. Homophobia

3 Things On My Desk:
1. At home I have a printer, a lamp, and mug of pens.
2. At work I have a picture of Ben, a philodendron, and a phone.

3 Things I’m Doing Right Now:
1. Answering email from Ben
2. Checking news on
3. Watching "Jericho"

3 Things I Want To Do Before I Die:
1. Go back to Alaska
2. Help as many people as I can while I am here
3. Write a novel (no, really, I want to)

3 Things I Can Do:
1. Make pancakes from scratch
2. Complete maintenance on my car (I just choose NOT to anymore)
3. My own taxes

3 Things I Can’t Do:
1. Be outgoing with strangers (I am SUCH an introvert).
2. Come up with a "comeback" when it's appropriate (usually by the time I think of one, it's long past the time it would even be remotely funny or applicable)
3. Skydive (although Andy keeps telling me I should)

3 Things I Think You Should Listen To:
1. (I can't believe I'm saying this) Your Parents
2. Your gut
3. The Pachelbel Cannon

3 Things You Should Never Listen To:
1. Anyone who ever tells you that you "can't."
2. Hypocrites
3. Rap music so loud I can hear it a block away

3 Things I’d Like To Learn:
1. Spanish
2. How to drive a stick-shift confidently
3. Glass Blowing

3 Favorite Foods:
1. Red Curry Chicken (Toomie's Thai Red Curry is good, but I prefer my own).
2. Fish tacos
3. Creme Brulee

3 Shows I Watched As A Kid:
1. Sesame Street
2. Mr. Rogers Neighborhood
3. Reading Rainbow
(I stole those answers from Zandria...mine were the same)
Meme #2:
The Wikipedia Edition.

Instructions: Pull up Wikipedia and search for your birthday. Find three notable historic events that occurred on that day, two notable births (besides yourself), one death, and one holiday.

On March 20:
Notable historic events:
1760 - The "Great Fire" of Boston destroys 349 buildings
1922 - The USS Langley is commissioned as the first United States Navy aircraft carrier
2003 - 2003 invasion of Iraq: In the early hours of the morning, the United States and three other countries begin military operations in Iraq.
Notable births:
1928 - Fred Rogers (from Mr. Rogers Neighborhood)
1948 - Bobby Orr (of the Boston Bruins!)
Notable Death:
1727 - Sir Isaac Newton
One Holiday:
The Vernal Equinox you know me a little bit better...

Mar 13, 2007

Writer's Block

If there was one thing that I didn't plan on when I started this blog, it was writer's block - both the traditional type and the self-imposed type. You see, when things are going well, I love to talk. I have things to talk about for days. When things are not going well though, it's a totally different story.
I'm not a huge fan of talking about what is going wrong in my life. I prefer to talk about what is going right. When things start to go bad, I start to clam up. When things go from bad to worse, some people don't hear from me for days. All I can think about are the things that aren't working (take my car for example, which is now after three visits to the mechanic in five days is finally working), and just like I'm pretty sure you don't want to hear me talk about these things, I'm pretty sure you don't want to read about it either. I'm sure you've been able to tell, I've been having a pretty rough couple of weeks.

You see, I'm getting frustrated. This "holding pattern" is getting really old. Toss in being sick, car troubles, a sick dog, and some bad news about my seperation from the Coast Guard, and I can confidently tell you that I'm ready to land.

On a positive note though, yesterday was Andy's last day in the Bay Area before meeting his ship in Peru. Therefore, we took his new Supra out to the Coast. Our intention was to see a sunset and eat at some obscure little restaurant. We made it to the coast, and we ate at an obscure little restaurant (one that made amazing fried oysters and calimari). Unfortunately, work, fog, cows, and a hill got in the way of the sunset. No, really, I have pictures to prove it (well, at least of the hill and the cows).

Mar 11, 2007

They Say Everything Comes in Threes ...

Yesterday started out fantastic. I woke up feeling great for the first time in days. Yeah, I had a bit of a nagging cough, but it is going away, and well, I didn't have a fever. I counted that as a major victory.

So, armed with that major victory, 100 rounds of ammunition, and Andy's 12-gauge shotgun, we went skeet shooting yesterday. It was a really great time. I haven't shot a gun in a long, LONG time, so my aim wasn't very good. But, eventually I started getting it. The feeling I had when that first clay exploded as my shot hit it was priceless. I want a gun now. I almost bought one on my first drive across the country after graduation, but I decided not to. I think this time, I may actually do it. It was so much fun.So after all that, Andy dropped me off at tire place where I left my car that morning to get new tires on the front and an alignment, and I went down the freeway to get some new jeans.

On the way home from Target is when the real fun started. At 75 miles an hour on the 880 heading northbound, the Serpentine Belt on my engine disintegrated. I lost power steering and power brakes. Every light on my dashboard lit up like a Christmas tree, telling me that "Houston we have a problem."

Fortunately, Andy was able to come wait withe me for the tow truck, and give me a ride home after the truck dropped my car off in front of the Chevy dealership here in Alameda, where it will sit until Monday morning when they have agreed to fix it.

Mar 8, 2007

Family (of a sort)

I think my fever has broken (I am knocking on wood as I type really, I am).

Last night was frightening. I woke up in the middle of the night shaking so badly I could not move. I was so I should have been with a fever of 103 degrees Fahrenheit. The scariest part was that I was alone.

I didn't go to work today. My boss called twice to make sure I was okay though. It was incredibly considerate of him. My friend Rosie stopped by after work to drop off some candle's I'd bought from his wife. When he saw how sick I was, the first words out of his mouth were "How can I help?" Last night I was supposed to go to the movies with Meg. When I told her that I was too sick to go, she also told me that I could call if I needed anything. When she found out how sick I was last night she scolded me for NOT calling her. My friend Andy offered to make me chicken soup last night...tonight I took him up on his offer. He also made me cheesecake. What a guy.

All of this has gotten me to thinking.

One of the biggest complaints that I've had since getting my commission has been the distance I've been from my family. I've often felt that I've missed out on the most important things in their lives - birthdays, anniversaries, holidays, promotions, all of those things that families are supposed to celebrate together. I've also felt abandoned at times when I have been lonely, or angry, or hurt, or like last night, sick.

When I leave here, I will be leaving behind a family of sorts. Katelyn, Meg, and Stephanie have become like sisters to me. Rosie and Andy have become like brothers. When things have gone right we have been there to celebrate each others victories. When things have gone wrong, we've been there to prop each other up. In 23 days I'm going to have leave that behind...for now.

I have never left a duty station before and felt sad about it. When I left Alameda the first time, I was rejoicing in the chance to move on to bigger and better things. When I left Honolulu, I left with a sense of relief that I could leave behind all of the mistakes I had made, and hopefully start anew. When I leave here, although I am excited to begin a new life on the "outside" with Ben, I will leave some of the best friends I have ever made.

I just hope I can always remember the ties that I've made here, even as we all move around the country. To all of my friends and "family," thank you so much for all of your support. I will miss you more than you will ever know.

Mar 7, 2007

I shoulda gotten a flu shot...

Today I came down with the flu. Just typing hurts. At the moment I have a temperature of 102 degrees Fahrenheit.

Why did I have to be so stubborn about getting that stupid shot ? :(

Mar 6, 2007

In a Holding Pattern

I have been lax on my postings lately. This is something that I feel a little sheepish about, but there just isn't very much going on right now. I'm in a holding pattern. All of my paperwork is finished for me to leave, and all of the arrangements have been made. Now all I have to do is be patient and wait. Just ask Ben though, patience is not one of my stronger virtues.

The only thing that really needs some firming up is employment for me on the other end. I won't be homeless, and I won't be destitute (I have 60 days of paid terminal leave and administrative absence coming to me). However, I know that after about a week of relaxing I will become very bored. So, I want to know that I have something else to look forward to. I've had preliminary interviews, and some of the leads have been promising. I'll just have to wait and see.

While I've been in a holding pattern, Ben on the other hand has been extremely busy. Every night I get emails from him, telling me about things things that are going on. The nature of my job right now also fills me in on what is going on in his neck of the woods. Ben is getting ready to assume a whole lot more responsibility with transfer season coming up, so he's been working hard to make sure he doesn't get TOO bogged down in work. Fortunately though, Ben has been able to send me some pictures from this patrol to share what he has been up to. So without further ado, or any amplifying information that tells TOO much, here are some of the pictures:
These pictures are from their first port call, when they got to work with British vessel HMS LANCASTER. Ben was up to his eyeballs in administrative work, so he didn't even get to enjoy the brief stop. He was able to get out for a wardroom function with both ship crews though.The next port call, Ben was able to get off the ship for some down-time, thankfully. I got so see some pictures of the beaches where he was, and I was insanely jealous (of course). But he got to golf and got to go shopping (which always bodes well for me...he he he), and just relax. The relaxing is the most important part if you ask me. And of course, being OPS comes with some serious perks, including getting to do really cool stuff like fly in helicopters...

That's all I have for updates from Ben about this patrol. As I get more pictures, I'll post them to let you know what he's doing and how things are going.

Mar 3, 2007

My San Francisco

Today I went to San Francisco for what may be the last time in a long, LONG time. My friend Andy came with me to keep me company, and also to help me take pictures so I wouldn't have to ask strangers. We went to my favorite places, and he showed me some places that I wish I had known about before. So, Andy met me at my house and we took the early ferry over to the city. From there we took the Muni train out to the coast, where I really wanted to start my trip. We rode the Judah train to the end of the line, getting off at Ocean Beach. Ocean Beach was a great place for me to start today because it is a place that my parents know well and love. They spent their 20th and 25th anniversaries in San Francisco, and would go down to Ocean Beach to walk and collect Sand Dollars. My mom made those Sand Dollars that she collected into Christmas ornaments...which my dog Holly promptly ate off the Christmas tree.From there we went up to the windmill in Golden Gate Park. For years I have heard about what are supposed to be amazingly beautiful tulip gardens around the windmill. I have yet to see a single tulip in bloom. Today was no exception.There were beautiful poppies there today though, so it wasn't all for naught, and we managed to walk the entire length of Golden Gate Park. I've never actually done that before. I got to see things in the park that I didn't know existed. Did you know that there is a man-made waterfall on an island in the middle of a pond there? And that from that island in the middle of the pond, you can see the entire peninsula of San Francisco, in every direction? That's me in the upper right hand corner of the picture...I climbed the rocks beside the waterfall.After exploring the island, we went to the Japanese Tea Garden, one of my favorite places in Golden Gate Park. It is so peaceful there that I could spend hours just wandering through, sitting looking at the interesting sculptures, and drinking tea at the little pavilion they have set up there.
One of my main objectives today was to get to the Conservatory of Flowers. That was the reason that Andy and I walked the entire length of Golden Gate Park (about 4 miles). It is on the far eastern side of the park...we started out on the western side at the beach. It was well worth the walk though. As soon as you walk in the doors, it is like being in a jungle...except this one has beautiful stained glass surrounding the main entry, and very few bugs. From that main entry way, you have your choice of four different rooms. One was full of orchids and rain forest plants. The next was full of aquatic and carnivorous plants. Both of these rooms were very interesting, but my favorite room was the one with the potted flowers and exotic plants. It smelled like heaven when we walked in. I could have stood there for hours...just breathing. But, of course, my stomach started telling me that I was was time to move on.
From the Conservatory, Andy and I hopped a bus to the Palace of Fine Arts. It is a beautiful dome that was built in the early 1900s, and survives to this day with it's accompanying colonnade. It is an awe inspiring and peaceful place for me walk around. We were only there briefly, but I couldn't leave San Francisco without going there just one more time.
Our original plan after the Palace of Fine Arts was to catch a bus to Fisherman's Wharf and do some shopping there. So we walked...and walked...and walked...and didn't end up actually catching a bus. Instead we walked all the way through Fort Mason to Fisherman's Wharf. What a beautiful place. I had never actually been there before, and I am kicking myself for not taking the time to explore the city more during my time here.

This evening I finally bought a piece of artwork that I have been looking at for months. It is a picture of the Golden Gate Bridge at sunrise, and it is absolutely stunning. It will look fantastic on the wall in our apartment in Folly Beach, right next to Ben's picture of New York City.

With the day coming to a close, Andy and I headed for the Hard Rock Cafe so we could get a very late lunch before getting back on the ferry home to Alameda. He collects glasses from Hard Rock Cafes all over the world, but hadn't actually spent enough time in port to go there. So off to dinner we went, and we caught our ferry home.I had a great time today, exploring San Francisco as a tourist. I wish I had done it more while I was here. Oh well. If Ben and I stay associated with the Coast Guard long enough, I'm sure we'll be back...

Mar 1, 2007

On my way

Today was another good day.

This morning I was able to pick up my final orders. These are the last set of active duty orders that I may ever get. They are my separation orders from the Coast Guard, indicating that my last day in the service is officially May 22, 2007 - five years exactly to the day from when I joined. What a long, strange, sometimes frustrating, but wonderful trip it has been.

In my orders, the Yeoman that prepared them worked magic. I am getting all of the allowances that people normally on active duty get when changing duty stations. Those personnel separating from the service typically don't get those allowances. She was able to find a loophole for me, and the Coast Guard will give me enough money to pay for gas and lodging. I can't tell you how much that put my mind at ease.

My date to go on terminal leave is now official. My last day of work for the Coast Guard will be March 30, 2007. Ben now has an airplane ticket to fly out here March 31. We will leave for South Carolina after church on Sunday, April 1. I am so excited.

With my orders, I was also able to firm up a date for the movers to come get all of my things. They will be here March 27 and March 28 to pack my things up in a truck to move across the country. I can't believe this is all happening so fast!

So, tonight to celebrate I went out to dinner with Meg and her little boy, as well as a friend of ours who is here on temporary duty. We went for Thai food at the best Thai restaurant in town. On the way home, I bought myself 15 roses and a bottle of wine to celebrate. I was aiming for tulips, but they were sold out at Albertsons, and the roses were on sale for less than ten dollars...they are pretty flowers though.

So this evening, I'm going to have a glass of wine, curl up with a good book and a cuddly German Shepherd, and enjoy my flowers to celebrate going home.Here's to new beginnings!