30 August 2010

#10 a hair donation

Got to check another off my 101 list!

10: Donate my hair again.

I had been excitedly waiting to do this.  My hair was LONG!

Never dyed, rarely blow-dried, and super thick!  And HOT on my neck!
I've had to wear it in a bun a lot lately because my ponytail would stick to my neck if it was really humid.  Yuck.

The previous times I've done a donation, I went somewhere that would do it for free.  But the only place I could find around here that did that was Hair Cuttery or Great Clips, which I have "matured" from.  I wanted a good style, so I just went to my regular place.  I'm 26 years old, and I think I'm worth a $30 haircut now.

The stylist sat me in her chair and said, "So what are we doing today?"  
My response: "Chopping it all off and giving it away!"

She asked me if I was nervous, and I wasn't even a tiny bit!  I was so ready for a change!

I immediately felt 3 pounds lighter.  Let's take a look at all that hair:

And how's about my new 'do?
I told the stylist to make me look my age, since I'm tired of being mistaken for a college freshman.
I think she did a good job!

If you look closely at the above picture, you can see my hair in the plastic bag behind the purse strap.  I then took it home and completed my research on who to donate to.  My previous two donations have gone to Locks of Love and the salon sent it off, but I'm not their biggest fan any more after reading this NYT article.   They seem to be more of a PR-factory than anything else AND my perfect hair might have been sold off to pay for overhead (um, if I donate food to the homeless shelter, I'd rather them not sell it off to pay their bills; I'd give them a check if that's how I wanted to help them).   

Wigs for Kids had a million regulations that we didn't follow (and wanted 12 inches, which I'm not quite sure I had; it was probably in the 10-11 range), so I settled on Pantene's Beautiful Lengths program.  They only needed 8 inches, and they didn't seem as strict.  Also, after working (3-month temping) in a corporation's community affairs department, I kinda trust that they'll do it right since it's their PR-ass on the line.  And they have the commercial and monetary backing to do a lot of good.  Look at the numbers in the article: in 10 years, Locks of Love distributed 2,000 wigs (and they charge for them on a sliding scale).  In less than two years since it began, Pantene gave away just as many (for free).  I could be wrong, but I just want my hair to get used and I had a feeling this was the best bet.

I needed a padded envelope, and the post office was closed all weekend, so I got it this morning and sent it off.  I even enclosed a little note with a dumb little picture.  I hope some kid/adult/whomever gets some mileage out of it, because I sure did!

29 August 2010

trip to OBX

On Friday, we took a day trip to the Outer Banks. We hit up the Wright Brothers National Memorial, where I learned a lot and then attempted to retain it. My usual antics ensued:

Then we drove around way too much (it was gorgeous though!) and finally settled on a beach in Nags Head. Gotta love boogie boarding!

26 August 2010

calamaties of our pensacola trip

So I guess the last month of my life couldn't be called an "adventure" if nothing went wrong.  The good thing is that we are both still healthy and still talking to each other.  But here, I will present to you, my dear readers, a list of what went wrong!  Enjoy!
  • The oil change with a few 'surprises' (of the expensive sort).  I'm sure some of you have had these.  B took his car in before we drove it 900 miles to Pensacola, and apparently it needed new wheel bearings and two new tires. 
  • The move date.  I knew it was high-PCS season, but I didn't think it would take a whole month to get the first open move date.  We had to extend our lease out an extra 10 days, and then we found out the owner of our rented condo wants to sell, so it's gonna be shown.  I brushed that off and let them look at it as is.
  • The laptop computer.  We took the laptop down to FL, and halfway through our stay at the Navy Lodge, something goes awry with the power.  We ended up finding out it was just the cord.  We ordered a new one from Dell, and got it in the mail yesterday!
  • The desktop computer.  When we got back to Virginia, we figured we'd just use the 8-year-old desktop since the laptop was shot.  Well, the keyboard on my trusty old Gateway decided that NOW was a great time to bite the dust.  This did result in a slightly funny Facebook status, but overall it was just frustrating.
  • The canceled flight, the Kindle.  His Kindle.  Left on a plane that got into Atlanta at 1am after his first work trip to D.C.  (My mom picked him up and he slept at my parents' house for the night.)  I made some calls, and he is officially Kindle-less now.  :-(  He also can't find his mp3 player, and earlier this year my digital camera got stolen.  We are cursed when it comes to portable electronics.
  • The new tire.  Yeah, the one from the oil change... we hit some sort of debris while driving back through Alabama, and there we were on the side of I-65 with a flat tire.  The lugnut-tool-thingamajig somehow stripped out and B couldn't finish changing the spare, so I called AAA.  However, before they made it, a friendly State Trooper came by with a much better tool and helped us out.  The only major casualty from this side-of-the-road debacle was that I stepped in a big bed of ants and I still have the bites on my pinky toe!  Then we stopped in Evergreen, AL, to get yet another brand new 80-thousand mile tire.  Sigh.
Other than all those biggies, the trip was by most accounts, a pretty smooth one.  Seems like we were hit with a lot of "mo' money, mo' problems" kinda issues.  Many worse things could've happened, and I'm glad they didn't!

18 August 2010

hampton roads to the gulf coast

We've been down here in Pensacola just over a week, so I thought I'd share my initial observations about the differences between this area and my most recent living arrangement in Hampton Roads.
  • The base only has TWO gates.  One front, one back.  And when you leave, you don't have to slow down to under 35.  These gates are also sometimes staffed by actual police officers, not just sailors waiting for a new command or whatever they were in Norfolk.
  • The main commissary and NEX are on the other base, the smaller one.  It's about two miles up the street.  It's kinda nice that way.
  • The sand here is WHITE.  And it doesn't get as hot (it's still hot, just not walking-across-burning-coals hot the way it can get in VB).
  • The main limited access roads aren't very close, so it's stop-and-go at lights any time we want to head anywhere.
  • I think I traded in my fabulous kitchen in Norfolk for a patio.  I'm still not sure how I feel about that.  But I'm excited about buying patio furniture.
  • I'm glad we signed for a 3-bedroom apartment, even though we really don't need it as of right now.  I just don't want to have to move ourselves if we outgrow it.  I guess a lot of couples rent 3-bedroom houses and it's just the two of them, right?
  • The gym here is fantastic, and I'm determined to take every exercise class they offer to see what's right for me.  LOVED Step Aerobics, even though it kicked my tail.  Who knows, maybe I'll find my calling as a fitness instructor??
  • The Blue Angels practice every Wednesday morning.  This will merit its own post at a later date.
  • There is no wardroom on a shore tour like this.  He did get a hail, so I met his boss (briefly).  A year ago, I probably would've been more than okay with this arrangement, but after this last deployment I know I will really miss the bonds that can be formed by a fun-loving and caring group of ladies.
  • Mellow Mushroom, Sonny's BBQ, and probably some other chains I didn't realize how much I missed.  And TRIVIA NIGHTS.  They actually know what they ARE here, and hopefully they will do them right.  (I found one--and only one--trivia night in south Hampton Roads, and I was not a fan of the way it was done.)
  • Staying here hasn't been kind to our laptop, and I've had to discover the wonders of the base library.  Since the Norfolk base was essentially off-limits to me for the first 2/3 of my time there (as I was a girlfriend), I never did much exploring once I actually could.  I actually still felt like an outsider there once I was a wife. 
  • I don't feel like an outsider here at NAS Pensacola, even though my husband doesn't own flight pajamas.

15 August 2010

a movie: Crash

I won this movie about five years ago from some dorm thing in college. Technically, I won Madea's Family Reunion, but a girl asked me to trade.  Crash had just won the Oscar for Best Picture, and I had never heard of this Madea business, so fine with me.

No, this is not the only movie that I own that I've never seen.  I somehow win movies or people give me some that I have no interest in.  (I think Flashdance is still in the shrink-wrapped plastic, and I have no idea where it came from.)  I am pretty much a strictly comedies and animation movie-wathcer.  I don't watch movies to feel smarter, or to cry, or to be scared.  Which is why I don't really watch movies.

But I let B pick a movie to watch on Friday night in our Navy Lodge room, and this is what he chose out of the few I threw in our entertainment tote bag.  It was alright, I guess.  If there's any moral to the story, I guess it's to get your priorities straight and to learn to communicate with people of all backgrounds, and maybe to stay away from the mean streets of L.A.

I really thought there was gonna be a lot more deaths, and I even said at one point, "I have a hunch that a bunch of people are gonna die in the next ten minutes."  But I was wrong, so I'll give the movie some credit for not being a total downer.  However, I'll probably never watch it again and will be promptly returning to my "sunshine and rainbows" romantic comedies.

13 August 2010

#50: zumba!

I got to a cross a full activity off my 101 list today!

✔ 50: Go to a Zumba class.

For those of you not in the know, Zumba is a "workout with a combination of different dance styles, including Salsa, Cumbia, Merengue, Reggaeton and more."  At least that's what it says on my MWR fitness schedule.

And thanks to the AMAZING base gym here, which has these classes at least 3 times a week, I got to try it out today!  I've only been to one other group exercise class in my life, but I've done some videos at home too.  Zumba is definitely one of those things you have "regulars" at.  A few of the girls (it was all girls, of course) knew every move already and recognized the songs as each played.

I wasn't a huge fan of the instructor, who seemed a bit preoccupied with looking at herself dancing in the mirrors, but it was fine.  She didn't really call out moves much, you just had to follow her backside.  (Yes, I looked at her butt and her feet for about an hour.)  I did alright with it though, since luckily almost every move was facing the front.   The moves were pretty basic salsa/cha-cha/Latin moves, although I swear we did a move out of the "Thriller" dance at once point.  A few of the dance elements I just couldn't get, so I just sorta moved along in rhythm.  One thing I didn't like is that it was sorta low-impact.  I definitely broke a sweat, but when B came to pick me up from this hour-long class, even he could tell that it didn't really get my heart rate bumping the way I'm used to from my Crunch Gym home workouts.

Next week, I'll probably get to cross off another exercise activity: yoga.  A bit scared about that one, especially if they don't explain anything to you like this Zumba class.  But I get to pick between a bunch of different styles (gentle, hatha, power, warrior, etc.).  We'll see how that goes.

12 August 2010

a welcome aboard packet

Yesterday, I ventured into Fleet and Family here on base to see what their upcoming classes were and if they had anything for newbies like myself.  Well, they certainly did!  I was directed upstairs to go talk to a woman and get a "Welcome Aboard" packet.  It was STUFFED with info on the base, the community, housing, hospitals, etc.  The nice lady even TOOK OUT the guides geared for those with school-age children, and I still had more than enough.  Check out my haul:

I liked that book all the way to the right especially. It had the history of the base ("the Cradle of Naval Aviation" as the signs say) and information on every single command that is based here in Pensacola.  A bit acronym-heavy, but if I meet a wife who says her husband is part of NAMRL or the VT-3 Red Knights, I can just look it up and see what that really means.  (B is part of NETC, for anyone who cares!)

For my milspouse friends, I suggest you go get one of these straight-away.  I bet after my three years in Norfolk, I still would've benefited from pretending I was new and getting one of these.

I'm also super-excited about the fancy gym here and the classes they offer.  Looks like I'll be crossing Yoga and Zumba off my 101 list in no time!  I might even try spinning, since some friends back in Norfolk seem to love it.  And the elliptical machines have those attached TV's with cable, so I foresee a few Friday nights spent there huffing and puffing and sweating, all while watching "What Not to Wear."

09 August 2010

pensacola lighthouse

This weekend, B and I decided to knock out the few "touristy" things here in Pensacola. My AAA Florida tour guide gave this area a measly half a page, and two of the activities listed are less than a mile from our temporary home at the Navy Lodge.

First, we went to the National Naval Aviation Museum.  They sure do love their Blue Angels here.  (I guess I will "learn" to love them and their noisy practice sessions.)  Neither of us are "plane people" (or jets, for that matter), and he had seen it all five years ago during OCS here, so it didn't really captivate us.  But I did like being able to climb into the cockpits.  I forgot my camera, but it's a free admission, so I'll make it a point to go back and get a picture of me pretending to be a pilot one of these days.

Across the street from that is the Pensacola Lighthouse.  Yep, right here on base.  Guess we gotta go climb it, right?  I was hungry for lunch, but the staff was cleaning our room, so we just went from there.  We go to pay and there's a big sign that says "No backless shoes.  This includes flip flops!"  It's been too humid hot to wear anything BUT flip flops in this town, but the gal at the desk told us that most people just take off their shoes and go up without.  There was even a "flip flop parking" area at the base of the steps.  Okay, fine, we're in.

Cranky, hungry, BAREFOOT, slightly scared of heights, sweltering, camera-less, I climbed this darn thing.  177 steps, but I was too pre-occupied to count them myself.  Wrought iron under my feet with some type of uncomfortable decorative design.  I almost passed out/threw up/fell on my face a few times, but I made it to the top and took in the fantastic view.  Then I had to come down the same way I went up.  Ouch.

And apparently the house part of this lighthouse (at the bottom) is haunted!  I didn't feel any spooky presence in the room they say is haunted, but it's been featured on Ghost Hunters

07 August 2010

america's condiment obsession: a rant

So we made it to Pensacola! That's really "old news" by this point, since we got here Thursday and B checked in to his new command yesterday.  We're staying in the Navy Lodge, and tonight we feasted on Easy Mac in our lovely kitchenette.  I'm planning on getting more adventurous with our cuisine though; I even brought a small slow-cooker.

On our two-day drive, we ate fast food for lunch each day. The first day was Wendy's--I don't eat fast food much, and now I remember why.  I decided I wanted a double cheeseburger value meal.  Those come "deluxe," and my translation of that term means lettuce and tomato.  But an explanation is provided absolutely NOWHERE in the entire place (yes, I did look).  Sometimes I get the employee to spout off the litany of crap which comes on the burger and then I go from there, picking stuff off.  I didn't feel like being that girl on Wednesday, so I just said "no pickle."  Bad idea.  Apparently what "deluxe" means is lettuce, tomato, onion, and every darn nasty sauce under the sun.  Blech!  I had to scrape off most of it.

Why do we have to "hold" things instead of add them?  No wonder why you're fat, America!  I know the Burger King saying is "Have It Your Way," but I still have to ask for things to be LEFT OUT of their sandwiches, and it's a pain in the bum when I don't know what's on it to begin with.  I also noticed this after studying abroad in Italy.  My favorite lunch sandwich there was panini in its simplest form:  pomodoro e mozarella.  All it had was tomato (pomodoro), mozarella cheese, and a piece of lettuce sandwiched between some yummy fresh bread.  When I was back in the States, I found a few places that sold panini, thinking I could get my basic one.  Nope, not a chance in hell for that.  Everything in these "authentic" Italian shops had a minimum of nine ingredients.  I guess in America [some of] the people want the kitchen sink, so that is what we are given.  I've given up on any type of panini-quest and will just have to make my own.

So the next day of our road trip, we were driving near Montgomery, Alabama, around lunch time and I let B choose any lunch spot of his liking.  Being the adventurist, he sees a sign for something new and different, and off we go to Whataburger.  Apparently, this is a Gulf Coast thing -- we do have them here in Pensacola, but their headquarters are in Corpus Christi, TX.  It was fantastic!  They asked me EVERYTHING I wanted on my burger, down to the last drop of ketchup.  She even asked if I wanted it "dry," and I said yes.  I'm pretty sure if I told that Wendy's gal to make it "dry," she would've looked at me like I had three heads!  So, thank you, Whataburger, for letting me build my own burger instead of deconstructing someone else's excessively calorie-laden idea of one.  Also, thanks for being very generous with your fresh lettuce and fresh cut-tomato.  I'm a fan!

03 August 2010

top 10: why i'm a horrible excuse for a southern belle

I had already planned on writing a Top 10 list for today's post, and come to find out, there's a blog-hop for that. Perfect!
Top Ten {Tuesday}

So I spent the first 22 years of my life living in Georgia, then I spent my AmeriCorps year in Jacksonville, FL, now I'm 90 minutes away from the capital of the Confederacy, and soon to be in a part of Florida that, for all intents and purposes, should probably be considered part of Alabama.

But after all of those 26 years spent living beneath the Mason-Dixon Line, here are the Top 10 Reasons I Fail as a True Southerner:

10.  I hate sweet tea.  Actually, I loathe any type of tea.  Also, a true Southerner (with a capital S) wouldn't acknowlege that any other types of tea exist.
9.  My hair is not nearly big enough.
8.  I have never said, "Bless ya heart, sugah".  EVER.
7.  I don't own a cast-iron skillet, and I often cook with margarine (the horror!)
6.  I'm not sure I'd even recognize a magnolia tree, so you probably won't see me settin' under one waiting on my gentleman caller.
5.  I don't 'glisten,' I really do sweat.
4. My accent sucks.  It changes often, usually to the last one I heard.  Perhaps I'll get some southern twang back in Pensacola?
3.  No me gusta grits.
2.  I always forget to address people with "Sir" and "Ma'am"

And the #1 reason I fail as a true Southerner . . .
1.  My parents aren't actually Southerners.  Mom is from central Florida, and Dad is from upstate New York.  As they say, "If the cat had kittens in the oven, ya wouldn't call 'em biscuits."

02 August 2010

a pier-less homecoming

Yesterday morning, I awoke and immediately took to the computer to start tracking flights. He had started his day-long "tour of airports" while I was still out enjoying the Ghent Summer Bar Crawl (and regretting that final shot).  When I awoke, I found that B had landed on time in Munich, then landed his connection in Frankfurt. As I was walking to mass, he was boarding his trans-continental flight to D.C.

I made my preparations after I got back.

It seems so simple, but I was more than excited to have 2 towels hanging in the bathroom!

At the last FRG meeting, I won a "homecoming prep kit" -- I didn't know then that I would be need it so soon:
B and I are not the most festive people in the world, so this "patriotic bunting" is quite out of place for us.

Of course I had to decorate our front door:

Let's take a closer look at that:

I am by no means an artist.  Or even an elementary school teacher.

Around 10pm or so, I headed over to the Norfolk airport to anxiously await his arrival.  Since I wouldn't be getting a flower from him like you get on the pier, I headed to the Dollar Tree (before 6pm; it was Sunday after all!) and got some balloons for him instead.  And I tied them to a bottle of Gatorade to weigh them down, because balloon weights are just a waste of money.

Retired sailors are everywhere in Norfolk, and they're all super-friendly.  The lovely wife took my picture!

 This sign was right next to me.  Yea!

And now for the man of the hour!

4 flights, 28 sleepless hours, over 100 pounds of luggage, no more duty days ever(!), and 2 sissy balloons

Leaving the airport around midnight, and showing him that I'd gotten better at one-arm photography

And before you think everything is just sunshine, rainbows, and a second honeymoon, let's remember there was a reason he was sent home early instead of coming on the boat.  He dumped all 4 bags onto the living room floor when we got in last night, and started wading through it to find a clean uniform he could wear into squadron today (and his LT bars, which he got freakin' 9 months ago but never tacked on).  Then we spent the entire morning at the Personal Property Office, setting up our move and begging our landlord to extend our lease another 10 days.  Quite romantic, indeed.

The room looks slightly better now, but only thanks to the gabillion loads of laundry I've been doing.

We may not have gotten the "romance" of the pier (or him in his Whites!) this time, but I sure am glad to have him home!!