When I lived in Charleston, we lived a good 30 minutes from any form of military community. In addition, I was a girlfriend when I was there. If you know anything about military life, yes, spouses have it hard but girlfriends have it much harder by far. They are constantly having to prove themselves to be a permanent part of military life without having any of the benefits- we have to pay to move ourselves- moving trucks, flights, etc; we can’t get onto base to access resources; we don’t have power of attorney usually or any kind of military benefits; and often our family and friends think we’re crazy for moving to be with someone without even having the all-powerful ring on our finger.

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Back in Charleston I mostly hung out with just Nick

Sadly enough, the military wives, who have probably gone through exactly this entire “girlfriend experience” before are often the reason that the girlfriends aren’t taken seriously. They are then excluded from that much-needed military community that helps you deal with all the questions running through your head: “Am I crazy for moving to be with this person?” “How the heck am I supposed to feel during a deployment?” “How can I relate to people who have no idea what I’m going through?”

 

Moving to Hawaii and only being engaged at the time (often still not taken as seriously as a “wife”), I was fortunate to be accepted into a group of wives from the boat who didn’t look down on me for being engaged and who also didn’t look down on the girlfriends.
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Ali was my only military girl friend in Charleston- Thank God for her! Miss you, Ali!
Still, military life- real military life with wives, FRG meetings (Family Readiness Group), deployments, etc- was completely new to me.

 

Being a non-mom (other than to my wonderful only-dog-child at the time, Maggie), I still wasn’t sure how to relate to all the wives with kids. 
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When I first touched down in HI...didn't know any wives yet!
 I don’t have a problem with kids at all. Don’t get me wrong. But I’m definitely one of those awkward girls who doesn’t really know what to do or say to kids because I feel like I’m just going to sound stupid.

 

I always felt beyond awkward waitressing because whenever I had a table with little babies, the other waitresses were always drooling over them and asking “Oooh! How old!?” while making cooing sounds and turning to mush. I would smile awkwardly in the background and ask quietly if they were ready to order yet.

 

(Also, don’t think I don’t want kids someday. I definitely do. We definitely do. But we just got married, and I’ve barely spent a month with him as a married couple. Especially with military, since we lose so much of that much-needed couple time, I think it’s completely acceptable to wait a while to have kids and enjoy that time together as a couple before things completely change forever.)

 

When I first came to Hawaii I hit it off with one of the boat wives in particular who was also not a mom, like me. Molly and I became really close over the course of the 2 months before deployment.
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Me and Molly on 4th of July
Molly was a fun-loving, surfing, high school teacher. She was a light-hearted, funny person who often took a lightly sarcastic approach to situations (such as I do). I think it helps to have that approach sometimes to situations like deployment- it can help you to stay grounded and less emotional during an experience that could just envelop you emotionally otherwise.

 

About a month or so before the boys left for deployment, Molly found out she was pregnant. While neither of us are really “kids” people per say, Molly knew she wanted kids and knew the timing was right to have them since she and her husband were going to be leaving Hawaii a few months later to go to California for two years. Her husband was to attend school there for the Navy, which would mean no deployments or 24 hour duty shifts for 2 years. Just nice, easy hours and perfect timing to have a child and be around to spend time with a little one.

 

It was really interesting for me to be friends with someone who was going through a pregnancy. I’ve never had a pregnant friend before. (I know that sounds funny…sorry!) I’ve never learned firsthand all the things one goes through while she is pregnant. I’m really happy that I got to know Molly before she was pregnant and during- it was such an educational experience!
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Even our dogs were friends! My Maggie & Molly's Winston pictured.
Even though we had less in common when Molly became pregnant, she didn’t change. She still remained funny and sarcastic and most importantly, my friend. Not that I’d thought she would suddenly drop me as a friend, but part of me did really worry. Like I said, I’d never had a pregnant friend before. I know priorities and conversational topics tend to change. I didn’t know if Molly would still want to talk about going to the beach, surfing, and pain-in-the-butt students. Fortunately she did. J

 

Molly and her husband left the boat and Hawaii behind about two weeks ago. She was due to have her baby on Christmas day, but someone had other plans. Last week she delivered a tiny little creature. I saw the pictures on Facebook and my first thought was, “Whose baby is that?”

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Molly with her new bundle of joy. :)
It was still hard to picture that little thing as the thing that Molly had been carrying all this time! It was just the oddest feeling. I knew she was pregnant the whole time she was here but to actually see the whole thing “develop” in a manner of speaking and to actually see the end result…it’s crazy.

 

I feel so sad in so many ways that I’m not there to actually see the little one in person. But I feel even sadder now that it’s hitting me that Molly is really gone.

 

See, I’m learning this is just part of military life. Meeting new awesome friends, seeing their lives change for better and for worse, growing close with someone- only to let them go as you or they move a few months later to the next location.

 

Thank God for social networking. It’s such a great way to keep in touch with people that sometimes it helps you stay in denial about those people really being gone from your life. Not that they’re really ever gone.

 

And the nice thing I hear with military life is that often you run into people at different locations and stages in their life later down the road. That gives me something to look forward to at least.

 

But maybe everyone is really just brought into your life for a certain period of time for a reason. I’m so thankful for having Molly as a friend here because I think she was the perfect narrator and friend to guide me through to military life- and even through knowing what it was like to be pregnant!

 

She helped me come out of my shell to the other ladies. She showed me it was okay to still stay me throughout becoming a military wife- I didn’t have to change who I was to make my husband look good. I could still keep a slightly sarcastic approach to military life and make jokes at it sometimes. Molly helped me grow as a person since I’ve started life here. And for that I will be eternally thankful.

 

But I still need to keep in mind that everyone we meet we meet for a reason. I do think I was meant to become friends with Molly. God knew that was what I needed in my life when I came here.

 

People like Molly have to move on though because other people need them in their lives too. Maybe someone in California is in need of a friend who understands them, and Molly will become her friend and help her along her way too.

 

I also hope that I can continue to grow and make friends in and out of the military community and to hopefully touch someone else’s life the way that Molly touched mine.

 

Whooops, things just got a little emotional.

 

My writing teacher in college introduced me to an amazing quote. Just like my writing teacher was there to push me to find myself through writing (and to find this amazing quote with which to relate), Molly was there to push me to be who I am at this very moment, living life right here in Hawaii.

“I am a part of all who I have met.”

-Lord Alfred Tennyson
 

Our lives change as we go, but I think we’re all one big mosaic of other people. Our families and friends along the way have changed us and molded us into who we are now. It’s all because of our experiences- the big ones and little ones, the good and the bad- with those people that we have the little quirks and thoughts that pop into our heads daily and even the music we listen to and the opinions we have on religion and on life. I’ve written some variation of this blog using this quote time and time again throughout the years, but it still remains timeless and ever-transforming and applicable to me.

 

I’m thankful to everyone who has come into my life, the good and the bad who has an impact on me and who I am today. And I’m especially thankful to Molly in this case for helping me grow as a person and as a military wife when I had absolutely no idea what I was doing. I hope that someday we can meet again, maybe when I have kids of my own and she can teach me how to do that too!

 

But until then, thanks. :)
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05/12/2010

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17 Days into deployment.
Not that I'm counting.

Nick left on April 26th for his deployment. I couldn't talk about the date beforehand, and I can't talk about what he will be returning or where he is. But he is gone.
I've actually been doing pretty well. Of course, he was gone for 2 weeks shortly before leaving so 2 weeks is tolerable. I'm not sure how I'll be when 2 months rolls around.
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View of Waikiki from the catamaran
We had a really great couple of days together before Nick left. We did that sunset cruise in Waikiki...it wasn't all it was cracked up to be. The food was just okay (at best) and it was super awkward they sat us at a table with another couple.

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Mini-moon before Nick left for deployment
I wouldn't have had a huge problem with that but the other couple like didn't even look at us and just kind of ignored us when we introduced ourselves. Awkward. The cruise itself was pretty though. And we got a good laugh when they got an old Japanese tourist up there to dance with the Tahitian hula dancers. :)

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Fun with the new camera- Bella & Winston
The last day he was here we went to Lanikai with our friends Molly and Sam (Sam is also on the boat and Molly and I have been hanging out a lot). They brought their two dogs Winston and Bella and I got to break in my new camera.

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Lanikai beach=Perfection.
Lanikai is definitely my favorite beach on the island. Calm, clear, gorgeous. It's on the other side of the island though- a 45 minute drive from where we live. Ko Olina will remain my favorite beach on this side of the island.

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Anyway, Nick and I had a great last few days together before he left. It gets me excited about planning a honeymoon for when he gets back.

And fortunately, since he left I’ve been keeping super busy.

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From underwater :)
The week Nick left I ended up picking up extra hours at work. With working fulltime, and driving an hour or more each day to and from work, I really didn’t have time to do much but eat, walk the dog, water the lawn, and sleep. Not much time to think.

Also fortunately, the other Navy Wives have been awesome. They really are such great friends to have…and we’re all on the same boat (pun intended).

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Nick brought his new skimboard to the beach
I got to talk to Nick a few times since he left. He doesn't have a calling card to talk on the phone but he bought a netbook before he left and when they pulled into port only a week after leaving, he was around WIFI so we were able to Skype- way better than the phone anyway. We Skyped about 3 or 4 times before he left that port today...well, technically tomorrow/Monday (they are a day ahead of us).
That was great. Nick even got Maggie to SIT via Skype. She looked confused when he said the command but she followed instructions.

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Now that he has left that port, it will be a few weeks at least before I get to talk to him again.

I have a bunch of little goals set for while Nick is gone. One of the major ones (which I haven’t started yet) is that I really want to start writing a book. I also really want to learn to play guitar but I don’t currently have a guitar. And there are way too many other things I want for the house before a guitar comes into play.

The most important (and most accomplishable) goals involve the house.

We got grass seeds planted before Nick left since the 6 inch “plugs” of grass are taking so long to spread. We hoped this would help move things along a little. They’re all starting to shoot up, and it’s just so darn cute!

When I was little I loved to plant and grow things..it happened accidentally when I made an acorn-sawdust pie and it started growing. I thought it was the coolest thing! So I loved to grow catnip, Chia pets, aloe vera, and whatever else my mom would let me. When we moved to Charleston I was super excited to get a fern. I don’t know why. I just was. And I brought with me some peppermint plants from my grandma’s house.

Both died pretty quickly. It didn’t help that we were in apartments and they were out on the patio we never went out on. And I don’t think the severe humidity in the summer there helped either. The whole fern-killing experience kind of discouraged me.

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Bob & Gizmo

But now that I’m seeing little baby grass shoots everywhere it got me excited again!

I bought a fern a few weeks ago- which is still alive!- and named it Bob. He sits perfectly on top of our little Tiki man named Gizmo (doesn’t he look like a Gremlin?) They make a perfectly matched couple.

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My garden!
Yesterday I bought herbs and veggies to plant in the garden area we have sectioned off. I also bought hibiscus plants (bushes?) to put in a really sunny corner of the yard where the grass is dying from too much sun.

Today I dug right in. Literally. I also made 3 trips to Home Depot this week and got cute patio furniture.


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Patio furniture! Well, some of it.
After the yard is a bit more together, I’m going to work on the house. We got blinds last week (on the day of my birthday actually) and the house already looks…well, like a real house.


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The hibiscus bloomed today. :)
I have some great ideas for splashing the place with some color and some decorating designs I can’t wait to work on. It’s kind of crazy that Nick will be coming home to a completely different looking place- but that’s why I’m excited. This week I’m going to go to Ross and utilize more giftcards by picking out some wall hangings and random decorations. So excited!

It’s still a bummer in some ways to live here though…I know what you’re thinking. “Don’t complain about living in Hawaii!” But when you’re living here- not vacationing here- it really is different.

I mean the cost of living is a given. It’s insane. The isolation is a big downside to the island. It was cool living in Charleston because if I needed to get back home, it was a10 hour drive and Maggie could come with me. Or the plane tickets, in case of emergency, weren’t insane.

Not here.

Having the dog (not that I’m complaining because she’s my best friend and my bed mate right now) limits a lot of things with the island because I can’t take her with me off the island. And plane tickets? Whew. So expensive to get back to the mainland.

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View from Tiki's in Waikiki on Cinco de Mayo
But I think the biggest thing with it isn’t that it’s Hawaii- it’s that it’s living in Hawaii while being in the military. As long as we’re in the military, everything is temporary. I was looking at different things I could plant in that sunny corner of the yard and the garden store had lemon trees, lime trees, and navel orange trees….but with our time here I wouldn’t get to appreciate having something like that.

And it’s saddening to think of fixing this place up and putting money into it- knowing that someone else will be living here in 3 years or so.


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Yummy pina colada
I definitely appreciate my time here. But I look forward to having a forever house one day, hopefully. A house that I can continue to buy things for it knowing they will be able to stay put. Or picking out patio furniture based on “Do I like it? Is it pretty?” and not “Will it break during our next move?”

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Taken right before Nick left
But home is home. Despite what Luther Vandross says in his song- a house is not a home when there’s no one there to hold you tight.

My house is still a home. It’s up and coming but it’s still a home. Maggie and I will wait patiently- well, maybe not always patiently but mostly, hopefully- for the day Nick will come HOME.

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Blonde at the beach :)
 
 
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Ko Olina- raining out over the water
The whole time I lived in Charleston I really wanted to LOVE the place. And I liked it a lot. There were even parts of it I loved. But it just wasn't the one. I've always loved California and it's warm but not too hot weather and laid back style and thought that's maybe where I belonged. God only knows I've never been happy living in Maryland and can't stand cold weather.

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Maggie's enjoying the sunny weather
Now when I walk out of the house to take the dog for a walk in the morning every day, the words, "God, I love this place" echo through my mind like waves lapping over each other.

It's just incredible. The weather is amazing to say the least. The beaches...well, I don't know that there's any going to back to Ocean City, Maryland and being close to satisfied at this point. Even the people are really great. Not all of them. But most.

I've met pretty much all of our close neighbors at this point. My next door neighbor to the left even said he would see if his company was hiring for me. As I was walking the dog last night I had a nice conversation with an older couple who have lived here for 30 years and promised to email me information on their veterinarian. 
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Yard planting day!
I just feel so...this sounds cheesy but blessed to be here. Nick isn't always around and that's the downside to his job but I've already met some amazing friends through him. And I'll continue to push myself to meet more people. The nice couple directly across from us are awesome. The guy is a West Point grad from the year before Nick graduated from the Naval Academy. They're engaged too and getting married next month. They already invited us to dinner at some point in the near future.

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Laying the compost
There are of course negative sides to living on the island but I feel like they're worth putting up with to be able to live in such paradise. Traffic is the biggest. It's hideous. I hear it's worse than LA and I believe it.  I've been trying to find a local job, which is actually harder than it seems. The area I live in is developing quite a bit but it's not really there in a business aspect yet. The major places to work are in downtown Honolulu or Waikiki. Which are over an hour commute each way...with a decent day of traffic. It's horrible. And I won't get started on parking.

I did interview at a restaurant at a golf course one street over from out house so I'm hoping to hear back soon.

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Grass trays before being broken into plugs
Also of course natural disasters are something to be aware of here. The tsunami scare was a big warning to us. Nick and I have since developed a list of disaster preparedness food and water and miscellaneous that we're working on assembling. It was good to have the scare and be warned because now I feel like we'll be a lot more prepared next time.

Being a homeowner has been interesting. About three weeks ago we decided to work on our yard and plant grass patches/plugs. That was tsunami day. We couldn't get out to rent a tiller to till the compost in with the dirt/clay base of our backyard. The following day, a Sunday Nick went out to rent the tiller...but when he got back and dropped it off with me he told me he'd been called into work. We only had the tiller for a day and I didn't want to spend our evenings that week working on the yard. I had no idea how long he'd be gone so I got to work. It was quite a job ahead of me. We had gotten the compost laid down the day prior but using the actual tiller was really hard. Once I got the entire yard tilled I broke apart trays of grass into approximately 5" by 5" "plugs" of grass to plant. The plugs are expected to grow together in 3-6 months. I got almost half the yard planted by the time Nick came home. I got him to cut the rest of the grass into plugs for me and I got the rest planted.
It's been about three weeks now and there are tiny sprouts of grass poking up next to the plugs so it must be working.

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Grass plugs: the semi finished product
I finally got the house pretty organized as of last week and even cleaned everything really well for the first time. Of course it's all just in time for our third and final shipment to come tomorrow. Then I'll have more cleaning to do and more things to put in their places. Then I have to get around to filing our insurance claims for all of our things that got broken in the move over- our dining room table, our dryer, a bedside table, shelves, and more than one lamp.

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Ko Olina lagoons on a bright sunny day
This weekend was really nice because, since I got pretty much everything done that I could get done on the house at the time, I was able to take it easy. I went to Ko Olina beach with my friend Megan. Ko Olina has man made lagoons which separate the waves from the beach. They provide a nice little outlet of calm where you don't have to be concerned about being dashed into rocks or taken out to sea. The sun was so hot we kept thinking we were burning but we were sunblock suited up. The sun is just really hot here. The water was perfect though- it seemed chilly at first but it was satiating in the heat. In Charleston what bugged me about the water is that at some point in late summer, the water became so warm that it wasn't satisfying to go in it to cool off. Here I think it's perfect.

I've been working on a lot of stuff lately- little projects other than just job hunting. It's definitely been keeping me busy. But it was nice to finally let myself relax at the beach. This is a really exciting month now that we've both gotten to know the area a bit more. I'm sure this is just the beginning. Some more exciting things to come very soon...

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Out to dinner last month at Roy's for Valentine's Day
 
 
Every time I step outside here I feel like I'm in a constant state of awe. Seriously, how did I get to live here?
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So nice to see green & mountains again!
It seems so funny now finding out so long ago- over 5 months now- to the actualization of living here. And it's crazy to think that while it's been warm and sunny here (I'm already completely acclimated to the warm- I can't stand cold weather!) back in Maryland they set records for snowfall and blizzards. Literally the day after I left, the airport began canceling flights, two blizzards came in one week, record-setting snowfall, even I-95 was shut down. I don't think I've ever seen that before.


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The view from my mom's front yard in Baltimore
I'm really lucky I left when I did because it would have been over a week later I would have finally been able to get here.

I'm still adjusting a little bit with the time difference. It's definitely not hard to get up early here since it's kind of like sleeping in in Maryland. :) Unfortunately, Nick and I have been sharing a car off and on so I've had to drive him to work a few times if I needed the car that day so I would get up at 5:30am and be exhausted by 9:30pm that night...doesn't help get on schedule.

I think I'm just about there now. Five hours is a lot to adjust by. I think I'm closer to California time at the moment, but that works.

Last Monday we got me a car. A little aqua '99 Toyota Corolla which I have promptly named "Little Clunker," due to its slightly clunking engine. Also "Little Beater." That's actually more of an island term- the crappy little cars that people drive a lot of times when they live here are called beaters. Much of the island is military so people just get temporary cars. Also, you don't put a lot of mileage on cars here since it's not like you can suddenly plan a road trip out of state. The funny thing is my new (to me!) little car had 117,500 miles on it when I got it last week- the one that I sold had 117,555....Weird.


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The houses on our street- don't they look like faces?
We moved into our new house on Friday. Well, I got here and got to read a few pages of my book before realizing I had no toilet paper in the entire house. I walked over to the office to borrow a roll (take a roll? not like I'm giving it back) and by the time I got back to the house, the moving truck wasn't far behind. We have three shipments total coming. Our biggest one on Friday was from back in October when they boxed up almost everything from Charleston, SC. The second which is coming this morning is from the end of Nick's being stationed in Groton, CT. The last one which I think will probably be sometime next week will be the final one they took from my house in Baltimore, MD the week I left. Oh, and technically four shipments- Nick's car isn't here yet either. We'll be expecting that sometime next week.

I hate dealing with movers. I feel bad asking them to unpack everything, but it's what they're getting paid for. Also if they don't unpack the stuff while they're there, for one you end up with a ton of packaging materials you don't know what to do with until they come pick it up. But the biggest thing is that if something is broken, you can't claim it because you can't prove you didn't just break it after unwrapping it.


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Downtown Kailua behind a shopping center
In our shipment Friday, our dining room table didn't make it- the legs broke on the journey so now it's sitting awkwardly in our living room. My bedside table lost the whole handle and looks pretty ugly now. My favorite Target lamp is no more. Our couch has some slashes on it. And they dropped a dolly on the side of my car and put a nice gash in the front of the fender. We'll get reimbursed but it's a bummer. Especially with the dining room table because I have no idea what to do with it at the moment. It's big. I don't know if they'll be able to fix it (I think a claims guy will come out and tell me that) and I really don't want a new one- I love my old one. It was a $100 Craigslist purchase in Charleston and well worth it. Beautiful oak table.

So at the moment, I'm waiting for the second shipment to get here and today will be spent trying to organize everything and put it in its place. It's helpful that the moving company unpacks everything- it saves a ton of time. But then you're left with mounds of THINGS in every room piled up high. Sigh.

Nick is working extra long tonight and I might not see him until tomorrow. He took the car since I have so much to do here anyway.


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The beach on Kailua's Marine base- Gorgeous.
Other than the craziness of moving, Hawaii has bowled me over so far. It's incredible. Especially the area we live, called 'Ewa Beach (pronounced Eh-vah). We stayed in Kailua the first week with friends on the base and Kailua was incredible. There was even a beautiful beach you could walk to that was on base. I went two days in a row I didn't have a car. I saw 4 different kinds of crabs I had never seen before, sea anemones, got stung by a jellyfish, and even rescued a tiny little octopus which tried to squirt ink at me. Twice. (His little tentacles were so cool! They kept sticking on my fingers as I was trying to get him back in the water so he wouldn't die.) 

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This little guy visited me while I was laying out
Oh, and I almost had to be rescued by the base lifeguard. The water is NO joke here. I was walking in the water up to my calves when it suddenly dropped off up to my chest. And rocks appeared. And waves that wouldn't let me get away from the rocks. Fun. (I did end up with some scratches on my knee, a pounding heart, a talking to from the lifeguard who warned me that the area wasn't safe for swimming, and I got knocked down a few levels in the embarrassment department

Kailua is on the rainier side of the island. It was pretty nice while we were there but they said it had been raining a lot prior to my arrival. And toward the end I drove in and out of rain quite a bit.


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To the left, rain. To the right, sun. Crazy island living.
The Ewa side of the island doesn't rain as much. It's not too hot here. It's been between 74-88 every day and sunny. But the crazy thing about the rain all over the island is that you can drive into or out of it. If it's raining on one side, just drive out of it. Half the time it will be raining on one side of you and sunny on the other side (see my picture)- which is why you see so many rainbows here. I think I've seen six already in just over a week.

The house is beautiful. It's a new house but needs a lot of work. We've been trying to cover the windows in our bedroom at least with duct tape and sheets and beach towels. And I guess we didn't realize that grass doesn't come with the house- our backyard is a red clay. I have light colored carpets- clay and light carpets do not mix well when you have a dog. So despite the decently sized back yard, we have to continually take the dog for walks. Kind of a pain when I got so spoiled by my parents yard and just being able to let her outside.

We began investigating how to get grass since I think grass and blinds are priority. We talked for ten minutes to a guy at the base garden shop on all the steps we need to take- sand down first for filtration, top soil mixed with spongey rocks since apparently clay is no good for growing, purchasing multiple cubic feet of grass and tearing them individually apart and planting each one a few inches apart. We're waiting for a sale on all that.
We also priced blinds through the base. Nick isn't around much to be able to install a ton of blinds and we thought instead of getting the cheap ones from Walmart/Target, since we already have really awkward sized windows we would get professional blinds done. We're looking at really nice white wood grain horizontal blinds for the entire upstairs and light off-brown verticals for all the downstairs which would match our sliding glass door. We priced it at $2500. Ouch.

Owning a house is definitely not cheap. So many other little costs like those- and just filling up the house, buying a bed and stuff for a spare bedroom. Ugh. Money.


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How can you complain when your backyard could look like this?
Our realtor actually took us out to dinner last night at the Cheesecake Factory in downtown Waikiki. CRAZY CRAZY CRAZY PACKED area. It's the most touristy part of the island and there is no off time. It doesn't get less busy on a Monday during the day because everyone there is on vacation. It was insane how packed it was. Definitely trying to stay away from there as much as possible. On Oahu they try to keep all the hotels in one area of the island so it's not like that all over. And that's pretty much where they all are. The beach was incredible though and looked like a postcard with the sun setting colors and the palm trees in the foreground. The shopping was incredible. Louis Vuitton, Rolex, Fendi stores. Crazy. But I'll stick with staying out of Honolulu and Waikiki whenever possible. Even the restaurants were ALWAYS packed. Man, that's be a hard but lucrative place to work.

Some of the other crazy things I've noticed so far- traffic is horrendous. I heard someone say it got voted #1 worst- Los Angeles was number 2. Ouch. All the street names are crazy to pronounce. I try to say every one I see out loud to practice pronunciations. You mostly just try to pronounce every vowel. But in some cases that isn't easy- Kamehameha Highway is a popular road here. I still haven't figure out which part of the name to stress. But at least I have the pronunciation right. I think. And just when you think you have pronunciation down- you get three vowel in a row and just have no idea. And then there's the state fish: the Humuhumukununukuapua'a fish. Yeah, try that one when you think you're good at pronouncing Hawaiian. I just figured out this week how to say my street name.

Banking has been an adventure. There are no Suntrusts here. No Bank of Americas. No M&T Banks. Basically nothing there is back home other than Navy Federal Credit Union. There are lots of local banks. Bank of America actually froze my account for suspicious activitiy the day I needed to get money out for my car. AFTER I had already called them to make sure it wouldn't be a problem. I spent 45 minutes on the phone in a bank parking lot. Nice.

Superbowl kicked off at 1:25pm. The only thing live here is football. So during the season there will be 8am games. That's some real tailgating. The 10pm Jay Leno show comes on at 9pm. I still haven't figured out any other TV show times. And I miss good ol' eastcoast Comcast cable. I'd even take ghetto South Carolina's Comcast over this weird Oceanic Time Warner. There's no TV on demand! I miss my Pilates on demand from Exercise TV.

Hawaii is also the place that those "Prices and participation may vary" disclaimers were made for. My first night here we tried to order the 3 mediums for $5.55 from Dominos- only to get "Yeah, that's the mainland price." (They call the other 48 states the "Mainland.") It's 3 mediums for $7 each here. And Subway's $5 footlong is $6. Just doesn't have the same ring to it.

Everything is more expensive if you don't buy stuff on base (which I can't by myself since I don't have a military ID). I heard one of the ladies say they had to go to a regular grocery store one day after commissary hours and spent $7 on a gallon of milk. I bought gas the other day for $3.30 a gallon. Yup, miss mainland prices. It's not a bad trade off to avoid the cold weather and snow. And hey, while talking gardening to the garden center guy, he told us plants grow year round. I'll be planting my own herbs and some veggies too. Oh, and hey, my Verizon cell service works better here than anywhere I've ever been. I didn't even know I could have that many bars!

Well, it's definitely an adventure here so far. I'm not going to have much of an adventure the next few days as I go crazy trying to organize everything-unless your idea of adventures include finding our that hand soap spilled all over my favorite towels. But hey, I do have Nick's bike so maybe I'll ride to the beach once or twice.

And when he is here, we decided to try to explore and have real adventures as much as possible. Every weekend we can. I like that idea.

PS. I have a house and cable now finally so I'll try not to slack on updating. I currently don't have access to pics on my camera though. (Just thriving on pure camera phone pics at the moment.) Darn USB cord went missing. Hey, maybe it will be on today's shipment!


For more current updates
as I travel the island (& take pictures of it!):



 
 
I got in at 5:10pm Hawaiian time yesterday, 10:10pm Eastern standard time.
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Nick lei-d me at Honolulu airport
I had hoped to blog before I got on the plane yesterday but it just didn’t work out. We left the house at 5:15 for my 7:50am flight to Houston. Maggie wasn’t able to be checked in until 6 so it timed out very well. But it took almost 40 minutes to get her processed. By the time I got through security and got to my gate, it was already 7am and boarding began at 7:15. It took me 10 minutes to get my laptop up (I really need to get it fixed!) before I realized that it costs $7.95 to access the airport’s wifi. Which wasn’t going to happen for 5 minutes of internet access. So I boarded that plane, the airline attendants let me know Maggie made it on. I slept at least half of the 3 ½ hour flight and arrived with an hour and a half before my flight from Houston to Honolulu…then I looked at my pass and realized that it boards an hour before my flight. I guess because of the size of the aircraft (there were two floors!).

I had enough time to freshen up and put on some makeup and when I got over to my gate they were calling for my row of seats (I was sitting all the way in the back).

The flight was supposed to land at 4:10pm in Hawaii but because we hit some kind of strong trade winds we actually had to reroute over Mexico to avoid them and it cost an hour extra time for our flight.

Since the flight was pretty empty I had a little row to myself and got to spread out and nap. I was only going to nap a little and read a lot…but I realized I was burning too quickly through my Sookie Stackhouse book I’d brought with me (expecting me to take the whole flight or more to read it). They had a GPS tracker up on the screens in the plane throughout the flight that told us what time it was where we departed, the time in Honolulu, where we were on the map, and all the stats about altitude and speed. I kept thinking a lot of time had passed but then would look up and see that only an hour or two had gone by. So I got myself to sleep…a lot. I’d wake up, check the time, then go back to sleep. I slept close to half the flight (which was helpful because I only got 2 hours of sleep the night before).

I had three glasses of champagne on the flight. J That made me really happy. Hey, it was a 9 hour flight…one drink every three hours? That’s not bad.

The CO’s wife from Nick’s boat was nice enough to meet me at the airport to introduce herself. She brought me a lei. (In case you’re wondering, they don’t do that automatically…those things are expensive and it’s typically only people who are flying on vacation packages who have a travel agent meet them with a lei. They also sell them somewhere near the airport so you can bring one for someone too.)

We got to check on Maggie at the airport’s quarantine center before leaving. She was really anxious but her tail started wagging when she saw us. I felt so bad leaving her there but we would be able to come back the next morning and pick her up.

This morning began my first day in Hawaii. I had to be up at 5am to drop Nick off at work on the base so I could take the rental car to go get Maggie. Thank God for GPS. When I got to the animal quarantine part of Honolulu airport I was about a half hour early but they still let me and got me started with filling out paperwork. A few minutes into signing some papers, one of the guys from the quarantine center came to the window to talk to me. He said the vet that did my heath certificate for me a week ago didn’t finish filling it out properly. She filled in the medical history portion from my records…but didn’t fill in the dog breed, gender, color, microchip, etc…all the things that identify Maggie as the one they wrote the health certificate about. Five months of preparation for Maggie and it could have all been ruined by a vet who didn’t know how to fill out the form properly.


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The view driving to Kailua beach
Luckily after a few attempts we were able to get ahold of the vet and the guy said he would take a faxed copy if she would refill it out. I had to give her the medical records over the phone since most of our vet trips had been in SC. After waiting around some more for the fax to come through I noticed the guy I was working with was over by the fax machine a lot…my newly faxed health certificate was crumpled up inside the machine. Nice. “It worked fine earlier this morning,” he said. Great. I sort of started laughing hysterically.

The second copy of the certificate that came through made it without getting shredded into 4 crumpled up pieces but it was completely off center. It cut off half of the medical records portion…but you could see the part about her gender and breed and all and some of the medical records. Sigh.

Finally the guy gave in and said I’d be waiting all day for this to work so he went ahead and released her! Yay!

I had to leave her inside her huge crate until we were off airport property. Luckily our Focus rental had a decently sized backseat and it fit.


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my first Hawaiian rainbow!
I got way off course coming back to the base where we are staying with friends. My GPS works pretty well on the island (the GPS on my phone does anyway, my regular Magellan GPS apparently doesn’t work outside the 48 contingent states so I’ll have to look into upgrading that or something). Unfortunately, the GPS doesn’t account for entering the base at a key checkpoint. So I got a little off course and had to reroute all the way back around. The cool thing was that on the way back from the airport to the base, about a 45 minute drive (including getting lost) I went in and out of rain about 3 or 4 times. It doesn’t really rain for days here like it does on the east coast. I kept driving in and out of the rain. At one point it was drizzling and cloudy on one side of the highway and the other side was bright and sunny and shining down on me. I looked to my left and saw a big rainbow and screamed- my first island rainbow! The dog just looked confused.

It’s only 3:30 here and it’s gorgeous, not hot, warm. Sunny and mid seventies.

My mom just called and told me they’re getting 30 inches of snow this weekend, expecting a blizzard, and they cancelled a lot of the flights out of Baltimore-Washington airport this morning…thank GOD I flew in yesterday.

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Kailua Beach- finally a blonde at the beach again!
I hope to get this blog up as soon as possible but we’re staying with friends so I don’t have wireless on my laptop until they give me the network key. Hopefully later this evening I can get it online. Even as I began typing this blog earlier on today the electricity went out in the base housing and I had to take a break from wiriting but luckily I had started the blog in Word and it autosaved it.

Right now I’m waiting for Nick to get off work now so I can go pick him up and get some food for Maggie and for us. Tomorrow is Saturday. Nick immediately had to start work after getting here (got here Sunday evening and started work early the next morning). We’re really excited to have a weekend together in paradise. And we’re definitely going to the beach. And so the adventure really begins… :)

 
 
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Rehobeth for Joe & Cait's wedding
Sometimes I feel like it was so long ago that we found out that we were moving to Hawaii but now that it's almost here it's coming at me fast. And with this snowy crazy weather, it can't come quickly enough.

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Caitlin, me and Ali- night before the wedding
I feel good about things right now. I feel on top of things for the most part, and that's important. Last week I felt like I was falling apart and was borderline having panic attacks just about every day trying to think of all the stuff that needed to be done.

Maggie had her vet appt on Thursday and got her health certificate. I called the Quarantine Center in Hawaii to make sure everything was fine with her other paperwork and found out she qualifies for direct release from the airport rather than the "5 day or less" quarantine. She still has to stay overnight because of the time our flight gets in, but she will be released the next morning at 8am. So I'm happy she is all taken care of...just need to get through the plane trip with her.

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Condo partying night before the wedding
We went to an awesome wedding in Rehobeth Beach this weekend for some friends from nuclear power school in Charleston. It was a snowy crazy weekend but it was a lot of fun. I was particularly excited I got to hang out with my good friend Ali I knew from Charleston (one of the nuke guys' girlfriends). I haven't seen her or talked much since leaving Charleston so it was fun to hang out and catch up and just have fun.

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oh those navy boys.
The wedding was beautiful. Nick was in the bridal party in uniform. They had a string trio that played "Tale as Old as Time" from Beauty & the Beast as the bridal party walked down the aisle. So pretty.

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<3
The reception was a BLAST. So much fun. Although right afterwards we had to leave and drive back 3 hours to Baltimore so Nick could catch his flight to Hawaii early the next morning. It was a miserable drive. The Eastern Shore isn't used to heavy snow and that's exactly what they got that day. The roads were horrendous and definitely stressed me out a lot. I kept thinking, "I can't wreck the car! Nick needs to get on a plane and I have to sell my car next week!"

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Nuclear power school reunion at the wedding
Thankfully we AND the car made it back in once piece (each?). Nick caught his flight on time. He made it into Hawaii about 4:30pm Eastern time, 9:30pm Hawaiian time. He was quick to tell me that it was 82 and sunny and sent me a picture of a clear sky while he was driving.

As you could tell from my previous blog entry, my car sold. It was official today. I still keep thinking it's outside the house on the street, but it's not. The girl who took it really seemed to be a little odd and quirky like me so that makes me happy. My Echo was a good car and needs someone a little kooky driving her.

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Happy couple: Mr. & Mrs. Milo
The movers also came this morning and took the rest of the stuff that I don't need immediately. In fact, we won't get this shipment for over a month so it was difficult deciding what I could do without for over a month when it will be warm weather. I wish I had known while we were in Charleston that we'd be getting one more pickup...I could have brought a few more summery things with me for when I first get there before we get into our house.

Anyway, tomorrow is my last day in Baltimore.

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Ali & Matt...getting crazy at the reception
I have a checklist a mile long of places I need to go and people I need to see. My engagement ring needs to be picked up (a tiny diamond on the band came loose Sunday and they are fixing it), pick up prescriptions, my license and registration need to be returned to the DMV so I can cancel my insurance, meet a friend for brunch, return a shirt at Target, get to the bank, pay bills, call the live animal desk at the airport in Hawaii to tell them they need to keep Maggie overnight, find out where the dropoff desk is for Maggie at the Baltimore airport, pack,  put all the Live Animal stickers on Maggie's crate, and meet p with my sister tomorrow evening one last time. Whew.
And blog. ;*)

I finally feel okay about everything though. These are just loose ends. Easy to cover- but will just take a little while.

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So many good times.
I will still be nervous about the flight. More for Maggie than me. I'm fine. Just not excited about flying for 13 1/2 hours....ugh talk about nap breath. Also Nick is looking into cars there for me. He may be checking out that silver corolla tonight...how perfect would that be?

So thank for sticking it out with me and listening to my ramblings....almost there!

And don't worry. I absolutely won't stop blogging when I get to the beach. The trip getting there is fun but the big adventure is still to come. ;*)

PS. I added some new pictures in Photos de la Blonde - Check it out!


 
 
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Today is Monday, January 25th, 2010. Nick received the info on his plane tickets (finally) and he leaves Sunday morning, January 31st. I follow shortly after next Thursday, February 4th. Holy CRAP, time is ticking down.

Nick graduated from his Connecticut classes this past Friday and drove into Maryland Friday night. Well, his friend drove him. His car is now underway to Hawaii and will arrive in about a month.

I've been trying to finish off the last few steps of getting ready to move. I cleaned out my car, got an oil change, and listed her on Craigslist. She's been up for a week and I had two different groups of people that came to look at her Saturday. She is getting a Maryland State Inspection today then I'm giving those people a call back. Both are very interested though one offered slightly more money. So it looks like my dear little car will be leaving me soon.

Maggie has her vet appointment scheduled for this Thursday (one week before we leave). She has to be checked out a last time, get a health certificate issued to her, and have a flea and tick medication administered by a vet and signed off on.

It's crazy how quickly time is ticking down now. I have gotten to hang out with quite a few friends up until now. There are still some more I'd love to hang out with, but I am just simply running out of free time. This past weekend was my last weekend here. This Friday we're driving to Rehobeth Beach for one of Nick's good friends' weddings. The actual wedding will take place Saturday. We have to be there Friday night since Nick is in the bridal party. Since Nick is flying out from Baltimore's airport Sunday morning, we'll have to leave Saturday evening.

The things going through my mind at this point are....well, AGHHH.

I got a call from the moving company that's making one more pickup from my house (Thank GOD!! Saves me from having to ship everything and pay for everything myself!) next week. They have to come out "survey" the stuff that we're shipping again. So they'll be here Thursday for that.

On the girly side of leaving, I tried to cover all my bases. I LOVE getting my hair highlighted. But highlighting by a professional at a salon- well, it's expensive for one, and it's hard to find someone you can trust. Here in Baltimore, I've been going to the same person for about 15 years. I wish I could move her with me! So I won't have to worry about keeping my hair done nicely when I get to Hawaii (I can hear you laughing!! Stop it!), I talked to my hairdresser about changing it to something I can keep up with myself. I got it done Thursday but it came out a little more gold than I usually like, so I'm trying one more time today. Don't worry- I'm definitely staying Blonde at the Beach. Ginger at the Beach just doesn't have the same ring. :)

I woke up this morning with my head just buzzing of stuff to worry about doing before we leave (the call from the moving company didn't help with that drowning feeling either). I need to open an account at Navy Federal sometime this week since apparently there aren't any Bank of America's in Hawaii (or any other local bank for that matter). I need to pack...although anything I pack and the movers take next week I won't get back until the end of February. Hopefully I have enough summery clothes with me to last a week or two. I might be buying shorts when I get there! At least I remembered flip flops. Only 2 pairs but it will work. Still have to get the car officially sold. I need to pay off my bills for next month so I won't have to worry about getting money into my Bank of America account from Hawaii. I need to start changing addresses over on all my mail again...although since the house isn't quite done yet I'm not sure how soon I can change the address. I wonder if we even have a mailbox at this point!

Like I said....AGHH.

I'm really excited for this great adventure though. I just wish it would hurry up and get here so I can stop stressing out about it! Everything will just feel better when I get there, get some sleep and get to the beach the next day. :)

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So I have to warn you that I'm feeling a teeny bit artsy fartsy right now. And a bit inspired....
 
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All images in this blog obtained from vi.sualize.us
The thing I love most about moving around is that every time we move somewhere new I feel like I'm given a new start. I love that I'm going somewhere people don't know me...It gives me a chance to analyze myself and play around with reinvention.

Girls, you know how amazing you feel when you get a new haircut or hairstyle. Picture that on a grander level. I'm not talking dying your hair that opposite color and suddenly going from pop and country music to goth...unless that's your thing.

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You should never change the fundamentals and essence of who you are as an individual. But starting over in a new place allows you to take some time and analyze who you are. Is there something you want to be better at? Maybe you want to try to be friendlier to people and come off as a more social person on a first impression. Moving allows you to do that.

That's definitely one of my goals. I wish I was the person who said "Hi" first. I don't feel like I do that enough. Not because I'm not a friendly person...I just don't say hi first. Maybe it's an insecurity- that small part in my head that worries the person will just ignore me. But I can work on it.

Something I do think I'm good at is I try to make someone smile at least once a day. I love being complimented. Who doesn't? A lot of times I'll think something in my head about how nice someone's outfit looks or something. I try to get myself into the habit of saying it out loud to that person instead of leaning toward that catty, jealous side we girls can occasionally have.

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Of course reinventing yourself can also just be about the fun stuff. Maybe I'll get ultra short bangs. Or try a new hair shade. Or find a new makeup trick to make a statement with. Or go vintage clothing store shopping more and fancy department store shopping less. Or bike ride more. :)

I have already made a pretty big change diet wise. For the first time in my life I'm trying to be a pescatarian- no meat- just fish and seafood. I just thought it would be an interesting change. Red meat isn't great for you and I know my body doesn't handle it well. And I really like pigs. :) So I'm giving it up for a while to see how it goes. I've also been drinking more water. And haven't been eating dairy. I don't know if I'll go forever without dairy- I love my pizza. But a few weeks at a time at least is good. I know my skin is loving it.

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I'm seriously not trying to preach. Especially not about dieting and stuff. I'm just pointing out how fun it can be to reinvent. To make it a point to look at life differently- or just try something different out for a little while to see how it affects you...and maybe the people around you too. :)

Okay. Done with my inspired ranting.

Now why do I suddenly feel like breaking out a very old Fiona Apple album....?

 

Only me

01/04/2010

1 Comment

 
I got one thing knocked off my list today- I sent out Maggie's paperwork at the post office today, signature confirmation and all.


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A pilot I did awhile back- I'm not a judge this time though!
One thing to check off my list felt nice...then I checked my email.
My old roommate (whose address I still have on my license since it was pointless to change it) emailed me to let me know I got a jury summons for the week after I leave for Hawaii. Haha nice.

My mom is 58 and said she has only had a jury summons once in her life. I guess it could be worse- it could be for the week that I'm supposed to leave as opposed to the week after.

I called them today to find out what I can do since I will no longer be living in the state effective a week earlier than my report date. My one-way plane ticket to Hawaii is apparently not enough. I have to get Nick to write the Circuit Court a letter saying he is my fiance and it has to say we're moving to Hawaii in February and also has to include my Hawaii address. Sigh.

It could be worse, like I said. But seriously? What are the chances? Alright- so I guess I knocked one thing off my list and added an even more fun thing to it.

Oh, Hawaii. I hope things fall into place a teeny bit more when I get there....I won't even stress about the looking for a job, finding a car, and unpacking all our stuff into a new house. Whew.

 
 
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Maryland's Spice-good on everything!
So I was thinking...I always wanted a new license from somewhere other than Maryland. At least for probably over ten years I haven't been a huge Maryland fan.

Of course there are things to love about Maryland. Blue crabs, Old Bay, Baltimore Ravens, tailgating for home games, Towson bars, Towson University (my alma mater)'s Homecoming in October each year, gorgeous Annapolis, Ocean City in the summertime, Halloween in Fells Point, karaoke at The Charred Rib in Lutherville, and of course my amazing friends and family. All of these and so much more are things I'm going to miss.

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My last San Diego trip in 2007
But when it comes down to it, I have never been a fan of the cold weather and have always wanted to move somewhere warmer. California has always been my dream. I would still love to live there one day. We actually had San Diego down as our number one preference when Nick had the option a few months ago. Pearl Harbor, HI was number two. We had Virginia Beach/Norfolk, VA as number three since it was closer to Maryland. Groton, CT; Kings Bay, GA; and Bangor, WA were our last few choices. And of course Guam. (Thank God we didn't get Guam. Apparently guys actually wanted to go there...I guess if you're single it doesn't matter...)


Nick warned me not to get excited about the idea of San Diego. I think if I had to pick anywhere in the US I probably would pick San Diego- but so would a lot of other people. It was probably most of the guys in his class' number one choice.

I'm one of those people that truly believes in things being meant to be. Hawaii is such an amazing opportunity that still seems surreal. I mean...I always wanted to visit there. It's literally number 2 on my lie goals list...And now I'm going to live there? For three years?

Crazy. Absolutely crazy.
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McBlonde?

It looks like I'm going to get my wish of having a license from somewhere else. And it'll have a rainbow on it too. That's nice. I'll be sad to leave behind my happy blue and white Maryland license with the little crab on it. But it'll be exciting to move onto new, bigger, warmer things. ;*)