Thursday, June 29, 2006

Oh, yeah, baby!

Two of my favorite things just joined forces to make my life sweeter: CSI Season 6 is now downloadable from iTunes.

It's all relative

Last night I was chatting with a friend lamenting that my boyfriend and I had only about 6 more weeks together until we both moved to opposite sides of the United States.

And we both commented how ironic it was that just 6 months ago, when I was waiting mid-January for the return of my boyfriend, that 6 weeks seemed like an eternity, and I wanted time to speed up.

And now I want time to slow down. And six weeks will seem like a blink of the eye.

Separated at Birth?

I was perusing some online news articles the other day, when I caught the story about Boy George being ordered to do community service as part of his sentencing for drug possession.

And I noticed an eerie similarity.

Image of Boy George from, Darth Vader from

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Verbal exchange

My boyfriend came home around noon today.

Me: Hey, I made lunch. I also made the bed, folded your clothes, did a load of laundry, cleaned the kitchen, unloaded the dishwasher, and (drumroll, please) cleaned the toilet.

Boyfriend: Wow...I am going to be sad when your exams are over, and you have nothing to procrastinate from.


Tuesday, June 27, 2006

An Inconvenient Truth

Nerdboy and I were talking about global warming a few days ago. Nerdboy, I must mention, is a lot more socialist than I. But he German, so I can’t fault him for basically acting out what is natural to him…;-). Nevertheless, Nerdboy and I have many fascinating discussions, because we are able to argue our sides without calling names (except perhaps “socialist” and “neo-con” but those are more badges of honor than insults).

Anyways, Nerdboy and I are pretty much in agreement about this whole global-warming thing. His basic take on it, if I remember correctly, is that Gore is right in his film. Pretty much everything that he says will happen, will happen: “a flooded New York City, an inundated Florida, more and nastier hurricanes, worsening droughts, retreating glaciers and disappearing ice sheets.”

However, what is up to debate is the inevitability of it all. Gore claims “that the world is getting hotter and it is a manmade catastrophe-in-the-making caused by the burning of fossil fuels.” I don’t even want to debate the factualness of that argument. I have heard so many contradictory arguments, and I am not a scientist. However, one thing I do know, and Nerdboy so eloquently pointed out: the world is constantly changing. And he took the example of the history of the Grand Canyon:

Wetter climates brought upon by ice ages starting 2 million years ago greatly increased excavation of the Grand Canyon, which was nearly as deep as it is now by 1.2 million years ago. Also about 2 million years ago volcanic activity started to deposit ash and lava over the area. At least 13 large lava flows dammed the Colorado River, forming huge lakes that were up to 2000 feet (600 m) deep and 100 miles (160 km) long. [...]

Then the base level and course of the Colorado River (or its ancestral equivalent) changed 5.3 million years ago when the Gulf of California opened and lowered the river's base level (its lowest point). This increased the rate of erosion and cut nearly all of the Grand Canyon's current depth by 1.2 million years ago. The terraced walls of the canyon were created by differential erosion. (bold, my emphasis)

Climates have always changed the face of the Earth. Like I previously stated, I am not going to debate whether or not humans have an impact on climate changes, but instead wanted to point out that perhaps instead of trying to think that we can prevent the flooding of New York, we should accept that it WILL eventually happen.

This led me to an amusing thought. The image of Gore with his ingenious “I care about the world, not just America” platform positioning him nicely for the next presidential elections (I bet Michael Moore is more than a little annoyed the he has been replaced as official Democrat Party Documentary Director) makes me wonder, if in the age of the supercontinent Pangaea some Paleolithic early invertebrate politician was trying to convince the other invertebrates to stop eating algae and cross over to an alternative algae, otherwise the noxious waste caused by their secretions was going to cause the Supercontinent to break up into many little continents.

I bet they wished they had elected him now. He might have been able to stop the upcoming horrors of the continental drift, the formation of our modern day continents, not to mention the Grand Canyon.

Fools they were, ignoring the inconvenient, or shall I say, inevitable truth.


I have been spending a lot of time at my boyfriend’s lately. For an array of reasons among them: to spend time with him, and to better study as he lives in the boondocks far from the distractions of civilization.

It’s been interesting. We are essentially “playing house.” It’s almost like we are a married couple, without being one. He gets up in the morning to go to work. I sleep a few more hours. Because the unit is moving and there isn’t much flying going on for the last few weeks, he has made it home usually before noon every day. We go grocery shopping together, clean house together, cook and eat dinner together. It’s all very domestic.

And I realize how much further along we are now as a couple, than before he deployed. When he left, we had barely known each other for 8 months. And now we have been together over 2 years. It’s seems like less. I guess, because he wasn’t physically present for a year of that.

But sometimes I think back to how different things were then. We both wanted it to work, but knew that it would take a real commitment to each other, a lot of trust and good communication. Part of me knew it would all work out, but there were times when it was so difficult, so frustrating, that I wondered if it would.

It is so amazing how so much more confident I am about things now, than I was before. And I am sure this is a reflection of my boyfriend’s behavior towards me, too. I feel that he has also become more confident in our relationship. It’s always difficult to see things from their perspective, but I am sure that it wasn’t easy for him to trust that I would be waiting here for him.

So, to anyone out there, on the cusp of a deployment or plodding through one, wondering how things will work out, all I can say is to jump, make the leap of faith. It will be hard, you will sometimes curse yourself for putting yourself into such a situation (as if you could have avoided falling in love with your significant other). But after the whole ordeal it is worth it, because it is a great basis for any future endeavor as a couple.

P.S. Did I mention that I am baking a pecan pie right now? How very domestic of me.

(P.P.S. KC of Alis volat propriis: You have "comment moderation" on. )

Monday, June 26, 2006


I just had to weigh in here with my thoughts on the whole immigration debate in America.

Firstly, I think immigration should be open to everyone who wants to make a contribution to American society and will be proud to be a part of the United States. It is a long and difficult process, but there are reasons for this. America just can’t saturate immigrants at the influx that would happen if we just opened the borders.

What bothers me here isn’t the whole debate over whether America stole the land or not, but it’s their claim to what is called Aztlan:

Due to the association of Aztlan with Mexican national identity and an indeterminate northern location, the name Aztlán was taken up by some Chicano activists of the 1960s and 1970s to refer to the area of the Southwestern United States ceded to the United States after the Mexican-American War. Aztlan appears in the title of the 1968 manifesto issued by the Chicano youth movement, the Plan Espiritual de Aztlán, as well as the names of several organizations, such as MEChA, (Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlán, "Chicano Student Movement of Aztlán") and the Nation of Aztlan.

The following rhetoric that has been uttered in support of open borders with Mexico, and I assume makes reference to the Chicano movement’s Aztlan.

“You took this country. You killed people in order to take this country for yourselves.”

"They can't deport you from the land that they stole from you!!!"

Okay, here’s a short history lesson: Before the Spanish came to America there wasn’t really such a thing as borders. Then they made some deals with Indian tribes (which later could almost be seen as "stealing"), sent some missionaries up into the California territory, etc. And California and the rest of the South West (including part of Texas) became known as the Spanish Possessions. Then in 1821 Mexico won its independence from Spain, and thus the Spanish Possessions of the modern day American Southwest, became part of the Mexican Republic. Fast-forward almost 30 years to 1849 and the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo incorporated the land into America.

Now, it should be mentioned here in the case of California, for a few days it just declared itself it’s own nation (Bear Flag Revolution: settlers revolted against the Mexican rule) and then when the revolutionists realized that America had declared war on Mexico, they decided they wanted to become a part of America.

Anyhoo, what I am trying to get at is that I find if hypocritical that some think that Mexico has the moral superiority to claim ownership of lands that it “owned” for about 30 years, when really they were just claiming ownership of land that the Spanish had also previously “stolen.”

[Mexico lays no claims to any American land, I am just responding to people who claim that Mexican nationals have a birth right to live in the American Southwest.]


Had a great weekend spent down at my boyfriend's place. Over the weekend we went out with some good friends. I have been so excited about moving back to the States, that I hadn't really processed what that would mean yet. *Sniff*...going to miss you, M.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006


I just got an email from my professor's secretary saying my oral exam had been pushed back a week. On the one hand, it gives me longer to study, but on the other, a job only takes as long as the time allotted, and I would have been okay taking it next Thursday. It is just delaying the inevitable.

And my boyfriend and I are going to Paris for a short trip over the 4th of July weekend. That was supposed to be a celebratory trip after the end of my it will just be two days before my final.


Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Future plans

My boyfriend will be moving to his next duty station in about two months. I had been planning on staying here in Germany for at least another year to do an apprenticeship, but have decided to also move back to the States. I will be moving back to Los Angeles. So we will be having a bi-coastal relationship.

There are a few reasons for this decision. One, I miss my family. I have been living here in Germany since January 1997. That's 9 ½ years. Before that, I was a year in France. I left home when I was 17. And I just miss hanging out with my family, especially now that I have so many nieces and nephew (only one nephew). I want to go suck up some family time, tank up on all that again.

Secondly, I want to work. I have never supported myself financially. Sure, I have had part-time jobs, but they only funded my travels or were just extra pocket money for me. I have never had to fend for myself financially. And I really want to do that now. If I had done an apprenticeship I would have once again been financially dependent.

Thirdly, my father has offered me a job. Which is kind of cool. My youngest brother already works for him, and has for a while. My eldest brother actually works together with my mother, so I guess I am just following tradition here, getting into one of the family businesses. It definitely promises to be interesting.

So basically a summation: in attempt to become financially independent I will be 1) moving back home, and 2) working for my dad. ;-)

I am really excited about it all. Sad to leave Germany and my friends here, but also excited about this new chapter in my life.

I am also interested in seeing how my relationship with my boyfriend handles that distance. Right now I am all gung-ho about this segment in my life, which I see as a kind of breather between university and settling down. However I wonder how I will be feeling after a few months. I know that our relationship has evolved since the deployment, and we are strong enough to handle this kind of separation. I know I am going to miss him terribly. I have gotten so used to seeing him for days on end, hopping on a train on a moment's whim, and not having to go longer than a week without seeing him. So this might just be hot air, and when I get to Los Angeles I will be a blubbering mess. Time will tell.

But over all, I am excited.


I went to the university yesterday to see my exam results. They were supposed to be posted as of 11 AM. I was so nervous, my heart was really pounding, and the two flights of stairs up to the third floor to see them seemed like the longest ever. I found the glass wall case, searhed for my matriculation number and....only ONE lousy result from the three exams so far. What a let down. That means I have to go through that whole rigmarole next week again, when they update the lists.

I got a 3,7 which ain't great. The German grading system is 1-6, 1 being the highest. You must have between a 1 and a 4 to pass. So basically, I was 3 decimal points away from not passing. But hey, passing is passing. So I am relieved about that. Also, I saw a few results with 5s or 4s, so I am not going to feel too sorry for myself.

Next Thursday, the 29th, I have my oral exam. So I am prepping for that now. Hopefully I will have my two missing results by then, because my professor will give me my oral grade immediately. Then I would be able to walk away knowing all my scores.

And hopefully I will then be Frau Magister CaliValleyGirl! Actually, they don't say that here. I think only Austria puts the masters' title in someone's name...and they don't really do it anymore either. But I am certain that for the first few days after getting my degree I will demand that my friends call me that. It's got to at least be worth that.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

In awe

A little over two years ago, I was celebrating my 26th birthday. I had just met my boyfriend, and everything was still in the beginning stages, at it was all so exciting. But a few days later, I heard that an old friend of mine had lost her husband in Iraq, on my birthday. It made very clear to me what it meant to be dating a soldier.

And as fate would have it, she happened to be visiting Germany, and we had plans when I heard the news about the Big Windy 25 crash. She and another friend stayed at my place until late in the night, keeping me company during those hours of uncertainty. I couldn't believe she was so strong, to be sitting there with me, comforting me, when she had lost her husband 9 months before in similar circumstances. I am sure it was a little too close to home for her, but nevertheless she stayed.

Her college alumni newspaper published an article about her, and I can only echo their sentiments, and be in awe of her grace and dignity:

[...]McCrae also said she now realizes that Americans generally do not know how to grieve. She said many people attribute war deaths to the youth and inexperience of the soldiers.“They all knew they could go to war when they signed the dotted line,” McCrae said. “Of course you don’t know what it’s like to see a body in pieces on the ground or to smell burning flesh—you can’t prepare yourself for those things. But none of them didn’t know what he was getting into.”[...]

“Heather has a way of surviving on her own,” Elegant said. “She doesn’t need us to protect her, but she lets us for our sake.”

This echos Heidi Sims' words:

[...] McCrae may be surviving, but she said she will never be able to move on, and she said it is wrong to ask someone who has experienced such a loss to do so.“You never move on,” McCrae said. “You learn to live with. You learn how to let go of the pain to some extent but hold on to the memory. You learn how to, instead of being consumed by the grief, allow the grief to accompany you forward in life.”

Grief, McCrae said, is important in any loss, whether it be the death of a spouse or a change of career or location.“I’m proud of myself for not running from my grief, for not listening to a lot of advice from people about what I should be doing,” McCrae said.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Deployment as Couples Therapy

Deployment is the best couples therapy. Honestly. Know that saying: “Don't sweat the small stuff?” When your partner is deployed, you really get a sense of what is important. What it absolutely vital in a relationship, and you are able to identify the small stuff pretty quickly. And also like the saying says: ...”And it's all small stuff.”

Your relationship is bare-bones, down to pure verbal or written communication. There is no more movie dates, no more physical contact, no more daily chatter, none of all the fun stuff. Nothing to distract you from the essence. This is make it or break it time.

And when you are reunited, you realize that everything else is just whipped cream and cherries on top. Suddenly everything and all time spent together is seen as a wonderful luxury. Just sitting on the sofa watching TV together, or being able to yell from one room and hear the voice of the other from down the hall...pure bliss.

Also before he deployed, when I would go visit him, I would feel like we HAD to do something together, like go for a walk, go into town, see a movie, etc. Being together was something that had to be actively worked at. I would say that I have become less insecure about our relationship, because it was tested by the deployment and made it. Now, like mentioned above, just sitting together in the same apartment is considered "together time."

Conflict is dealt with a lot easier, too. You learn how to deal with conflict a lot better during a deployment, because you don't have a lot of time to communicate with your partner, and you want to resolve conflict as quickly as possible, because no matter what, you always have the nagging thought, that it could possibly be the last time you communicate with your loved one. You just don't have the luxury of dragging an argument out for as long as possible. Also, upon closer examination, most reasons of conflict fall under the “small stuff” category, and post deployment rarely make it to the conflict stage.

That is not to say that my boyfriend and I needed couples therapy before he left, however, I do think that our relationship actually benefited more from our separation, than was harmed. I personally definitely learned a lot of relationship tools.

I definitely learned to appreciate my boyfriend a lot more. All the things that would have potentially bothered me before, bother me less...or even make me smirk or smile. I am not saying I have become a connoisseur of my boyfriend's farts, but almost. If that it is the sweet smell of him being home, so be it.

(Cross-posted at ArmyWifeToddlerMom)

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Yaaay! (+Scrapbooking)

So I am starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Today, shortly before 1pm, I exited the testing room for my final written exam towards my masters. In a few weeks that final results from all 3 written exams will be posted, and we will receive our "invitations" to the oral exam. But until then I have a little breathe time. I think I will give myself a few days before I start prepping those two final topics. I feel pretty good about the written exams, not good, as in: I did well, but good as in: I passed. Hopefully that feeling will be validated in a few weeks.

I feel pretty spent though. I have had a headache for the last few days, and have been plagued by dreams about me missing the exam because of oversleeping. I know my boyfriend has had to put up with a little nervous attitude of mine, and for that I am thankful.

One project I had to entice me like the proverbial carrot on a stick was the prospect of making a scrapbook of our trip to China. I had never really scrapbooked or even knew what it was until last year. It seems to be really popular among military wives. (Military wives are very crafty. I mean, they can sew, quilt, knit,'s pretty impressive). So I was bitten by the scrapbooking bug. And I made my boyfriend a small scrapbook of pictures of me (very self-centered) to send to him while he was deployed. Then after Christmas I made a scrapbook for my grandmother of all of our Christmas pictures. Now I want to make one for myself.

Last week while on post I convinced my boyfriend to buy me piles of magazines (have I mentioned what a sweetheart he is), and among my selection of Marie Claire, and Cosmo and co. I made room for my very first scrapbooking magazine: Scrapbooks etc.

I was flipping the pages for some inspiration when I came across a layout that I really liked. It was a square grid of 25 square pictures of the scrapper's vacation to Hawaii. And she called it “Views of Hawaii”. It was marvelous, because she was able to use all those pictures that she found kind of cool, but really don't justify being a page of their own.

(I am probably risking getting a Cease and Desist letter here.)

Although one could do it the old fashioned way, cutting and sticking together 25 small photos, I was sure that she had done this with a computer. I was trying to figure out how to do this, but realized I would probably need some expensive photo-shopping software which I don't have. I do however have GIMP, which is the Open Source, i.e shareware photo editing program.
Yesterday I had lunch with a friend who is a photographer and is starting to learn Adobe Photo Shop. And I asked if she could help me, and she gave me a few tips which I was able to use in GIMP...and voilá!

I present you with my version: Views Of China. isn't scrapbooked yet, but the photos have been slapped together.

I will be getting this printed out in a larger size online (super cheap).

It occurred to me that this would also look great in a picture frame. I think I will definitely do more of this in the future with many photos that on their own wouldn't warrant framing, but with many others make a nice collage.

(I know someone who will get a kick out of this out of this post and be teasing me in my crafty
endeavors...*wink wink*, Jenny.)

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Reality Check

I was just working at my laptop, prepping for my final written exam this coming Saturday, when a friend of mine currently serving in Iraq came online.

He asked me how I was doing, and just as I typed the word "stressed," I felt so foolish. I had gotten an email from him earlier in the day:

I went to a funeral for ****** the other day and right in the middle of it, 6 more soldiers were blown up a few clicks out. The medevac birds took off from their pad about 150m away and buzzed right overhead out to the PZ. It created an unexpectedly dramatic effect.

I am still doing ok in spite of things.

Um, yeah. My stress seems so petty compared to that.