The Social Network

October 9, 2010

I have always dreaded going to a movie alone.  It’s unbecoming.  Sure, people do it all the time but even those brave souls would probably admit that there’s a stigma attached to going to a movie alone.  It’s perfectly fine to watch a movie alone in your home but to do it surrounded by people who are not alone, well that’s just socially unacceptable.  With all that being said, tonight I went to a movie alone.  Not only did I go to a movie alone, I went to a movie that spends a great deal of time discussing coolness.  I won’t go as far as to call it irony but I will say it was an interesting coincidence.  But wait, it got more interesting. 

As I was driving to the theater, a giant herd of teenagers crossed in front of me.  This has nothing to do with the rest of the story but I knew it was a bad omen.  Teenagers and black cats are equally powerful distributors of bad luck.  Anyway, also as I was driving to the theater I noticed it was lightning.  Since I’ve been at Guantanamo Bay (did I mention I’m in Cuba now?  I am.), it has pretty consistently either thundered, lightninged or rained every evening.  So a little lightning was nothing to get upset about.  But about half way through the movie it started to pour.  I mean buckets of rain.  This isn’t making sense is it?  That’s because I haven’t yet told you that the theater is outdoors.  Completely open air.  There was nothing between me and the torrents of Cuban rain beating down on the island. 

So now I’m faced with a choice.  The movie was free so by leaving I’m not throwing away money.  However, movies come and only stay for a week or two down here.  If I leave now, I’ll have to come back at some other point, probably alone, and restart the movie and that’s only if I can make it before the movie stops showing.  I’ve made a lot of decisions in my life but this one was a toughy.  But as with so many of those previously made decisions, I took the path of least resistance…I just kept sitting.  I pulled my coat over my head and got soaked.  But I watched the last hour of the movie, I enjoyed the movie and I survived my first movie alone.  And by survived I mean, I left looking like something worse than a drowned rat.  

I’ve been at GTMO for less than a week and I have done a few things besides go to movies alone.  I’ve been the third wheel for at least 2 dates, which is pretty much every girl’s dream, and I’ve left my GOV in reverse on a hill (don’t worry, my sponsor caught it).  In all seriousness, I’m extremely lucky to be here.  I mean, it looks like this for Pete’s sake!

And the beaches are a little rocky but I’ve already been snorkeling a couple of times and these beaches are truly made for snorkeling.  Plus, even with a few rocks, they’re still gorgeous.

And I have gotten a mosquito bite here and there but I’m comforted knowing these guys are eating as many as they can.

The iguanas are everywhere.  There’s one that comes in and out of a drain pipe just below my billeting room.  He’s highly suspicious of me which he indicates with vigorous head bobbing.  If he wasn’t such a good mosquito eater, we’d have words.

Also, really quickly, I’m happy to report that Kurt and I were able to spend some quality time together in D.C.  We even got pictures of us hanging out.  If you don’t get it then good for you because it means you’ve never survived solely on Skype.

For now, that’s all from Cuba.  It’s surreal being here and I fully intend to make the most of this gift of a deployment.  I’ve updated my address on the contacts page but my email address is still the same.  Now I’m off to bed…as soon as I post my blog to Facebook and finish looking at pictures of the Holzhauer children on Facebook and I should probably update my Facebook status before I go to bed too…  See you all on Facebook!

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The Road to Virginia

September 17, 2010

Oh gosh, where to start…  Let’s start with that I no longer live in North Dakota…for a while.  This Friday night finds me sitting on a couch at the TownPlace Suites in Springfield, Virginia.  When I told people back in December of 2008 (yes, it was that long ago!) that I would be moving to Grand Forks, North Dakota I got a lot of, “I’m sorry you’re living where?”  Although it seems just minutes ago I was answering that question, now I’m answering a new one, “You’re deploying where?”  It is technically a “deployment” that brings me to Virginia to join the Criminal Investigation Task Force at Ft. Belvoir.  There is a good chance I will be forward deploying from the couch here in Virginia to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba (where I can only imagine they sit exclusively in hammocks and bean bag chairs) at some point.  Still hardly what one would call a “real” deployment but a winter away from balmy Grand Forks none-the-less. 

But my deployment is boring in comparison to what I’ve gotten to do leading up to it.  I think the last time I blogged I was enjoying Grand Forks in July.  I was planting flowers, growing vegetables and prepping for court.  Well, the court came and went and suddenly it was very definitely time for me to prepare to leave.  The first order of business was attending Combat Airman Skills Course (CAST) in San Antonio, Texas.  As much as the Texans in my office tried to convince me how lovely San Antonio is, I just couldn’t wrap my head around wearing a helmet, vest and carrying around a M4 in the August heat of Texas.  Ultimately it didn’t matter much because I didn’t get a choice, I was going. 

So I went.  As it turns out, I actually learned a few things.  First, we didn’t only wear helmets, vests and carry a M4, we also got to wear masks.  Masks that others breathed in and out of in the Texas heat and then passed on down to us.  It gets grosser so if I’m losing you, you might want to quit now.  But look how tough I look!  Could someone please reassure me I don’t only look tough because I don’t look like me…

Another thing I learned, when porta potties are all you have, you’ll learn to deal.  I think you all know what I mean by deal…develop insanely strong leg muscles so hovering becomes second nature.  Sometimes I do it at my hotel room just because I can.  Oh, and for you ladies out there, don’t worry, they had separate ones for us females.  One guess as to how you can tell which ones are ours…

So what else did I learn…I learned that if you sit at the end of the table and no one else in your squad wants to be a driver, you will become a driver.  I’m not going to post the picture of me driving the HMMWV because it’s my Facebook profile picture and I know how you all feel about redundancy.  However, I will show you some of my fancy photography work from the passenger seat of a HMMWV.  Don’t feel like you have to act unimpressed.  I won’t get a big head.

So that pretty much wraps up CAST.  Wait, there is one thing I forgot.  Important lesson here.  Getting hit in the nose with a paintball sucks.  It hurts and makes you look like Rudolph (that would be the red-nosed reindeer).  Fine, I’ll show you a picture but everyone has to promise that if you’re ever hit in the face with something, you’ll send me a picture.  It’s only fair.

Does anyone else think I look way too happy for having just gotten hit in the face?  So I’ll end my notes on CAST with a picture of my tent mates and the simple note that they rocked.  It’s amazing how a group of great people can help you through nearly anything (including such deadly combinations as MREs and porta potties and rattle snakes and tent living). 

The week between CAST and leaving Grand Forks was a flurry of packing, cleaning and moving.  My parents swooped in and helped me more than they’ll ever know…or maybe their aching backs are telling them exactly how much they helped.  I had movers come and actually move everything into storage (climate controlled of course) but the amount of packing, taping, wrapping, and organizing my parents did in the 3 days before the movers came is nearly unfathomable.  For any of you who visited my place in Grand Forks, you may have observed that I have an enormous amount of crap.  Somehow we managed to make it look like this:

It was sad to move out of that place.  A lot of work went into making it a home and I really enjoyed living there.  But being the fiscally responsible person I am (Kurt, stop laughing!), I just couldn’t justify keeping it while I was deployed.  So now some college kids will come move in and trash it and annoy the neighbors.  The 4th Ave Drinking Team lives on.  I probably wasn’t doing it justice anyway.

So after a farewell to Grand Forks (more traumtic than I thought it would be) and a quick stop in Minneapolis (always generous with hospitality), I made my way down to Chicago for my second wedding of 2010.  It was a beautiful wedding and I felt lucky to be a part of it.  I think I should be able to make a case for knocking running a marathon off my bucket list after walking down the longest aisle I’ve ever seen but I always enjoy a good cardio session.  The reception was beautiful, the food was great, and the company was even better.  We danced, we laughed, we cried (thanks a lot Marta) and generally just had a blast.  Can’t you tell?

No, your eyes do not deceive, I am wearing jewlery.  That’s what I will do for a friend and for those of you who know me, that’s no small thing.  But more importantly, the bride was beautiful and the groom had my favorite line of the night…”First, I’d like to thank Christine for marrying me.  I don’t know how I pulled it off…”

So that should catch you up for the most part.  I went to Texas, packed up my life and Christine became a Fiscella.  I said bye to my cats (don’t laugh, I actually cried harder than I did during Steel Magnolia’s…maybe not), taught my parents how to skype and now I’m in Virginia.  I’m 2 days away from turning 29 and I have a Trader Joe’s near my hotel.  I can live like this.

Thanks for tuning in and no, you may not see any more pictures of my nose after the paintball.