Day three here in Afghanistan. I posted a map because people keep asking me where this country is…which makes me smile because it parallels how bad I am at US geography – I’m pretty sure I couldn’t fill in all the states if given a blank map. I’ve been in limbo in the southernish part trying to get to my base where I’ll be working a little north of here, but flights keep getting cancelled due to the violence going on there right now. (Mom if you’re reading this, I’m fine!) Again this morning I got up early to pack up my three big bags and have them outside to be picked up by 6:30…or 0630 in militaryese. No sooner had I unloaded everything at the airport did the announcement come on that yet another flight was cancelled and that I would have to wait a minimum of two more days. When someone tells me my flight has been cancelled because a helicopter was blown up yesterday at the base I’m flying into, I don’t try to argue back. I say, “Sounds like a plan! I’ll get more iced coffee and write a blog!”
What’s really struck me is that despite that fact I’m right here where all the news is coming from, we find out very little of it until at least a day or more later. The internet suddenly got shut off here yesterday for a few hours – then I found out today is was because of bombings up in Kabul and they were putting a stop on information leakage. It absolutely broke my heart to hear that the victims of one of the bombings yesterday were children…children! What kind of savage, numb-hearted animal do you have to be to intentionally kill children? That’s a rhetorical question, because that’s the sort of enemy that we’re facing and the sort of future we cannot allow to affect or get anywhere near my future children.
We’re three for three for the incoming enemy fire (IDF=indirect fire) for each of the days I’ve been here. I’m starting to get used to the sound of the sirens and alarms sounding out over the whole base. Yesterday’s was a bit of a dilemma though because I was in the shower when the sirens went off. My thoughts: “Hmmm, so I can either go out naked in my towel right now to the bunker sitting with lots of other female-starved men, or I can dry off and quickly put clothes on and then go to the bunker – but by that time the incoming fire will have already impacted somewhere, in which case I’d already be hit by the time my clothes were on if it indeed landed near me.” I chose to stay in the shower and hope for the best…if it got me, at least I’d be clean. So I guess I learned from myself that if it comes down to it, I’d rather be clothed and dead than alive and naked. I never knew that would be my line in the sand (plenty of that stuff around here) until yesterday. Lessons being learned every day here!
In the spirit of my love for quotes, I’ll end with this one:“Never tell your problems to anyone…20% don’t care and the other 80% are glad you have them.” ~Lou Holtz
Too many down faces lately – PLUS it’s Friday the 13th…so here are some things to make anyone feel better and smile. Enjoy!
This to-do list made me laugh
These pictures help restore your faith in humanity
This will make everythink OK
“Freak Flag” (Urban Dictionary):
A characteristic, mannerism, or appearance of a person, either subtle or overt, which implies unique, eccentric, creative, adventurous or unconventional thinking.
Letting loose, being down with your cool self, especially in front of a group of strangers. Your inner freak, that wants to come out, but often is supressed, from social anxiety.
I was at a paddling team party – more like a relaxed potluck dinner with a chance to sit back and enjoy each other’s company outside of a boat. One of the girls plugged in her phone into the stereo and put on some dance music, and it didn’t take long before a little dance party broke out in the living room. A couple girls were in the middle shakin’ it, then one of the boyfriends joined in. Then all of a sudden out of nowhere, one of the most quiet girls on the team stepped into the middle and just let go of any and all inhibition and went to town with funky dance moves. She was shaking and moving every part of her body to the music, and her smile was as big as her dance flare. All of us on the periphery stood there in shock at this new brazen dancing queen that was shining out of what we knew as the shy girl. She let her freak flag fly.
As I thought about it, I realized three false “truths” that many of us probably share:
1. We all have a freak flag we want to fly
2. We don’t do it out of fear of what people will think
3. We believe that the only way to do it is under some substance influence
We all have one, no denying it. If you don’t have one, you’re boring, but I don’t believe anyone is boring at the core – just on the outside. It’s just that most of our freak flags are folded neatly (from rare use) and tucked way in the back corner of ourselves. But we want to fly it. We want to let our weirdness and uniqueness burst out because it takes more effort and energy to suppress it and to project our current boring conformist exteriors. I want to be like that girl who just let loose at the party. I wanted to just jump right in and dance with her, but I stopped myself because I was afraid of what the other girls would think – which of course they wouldn’t have cared because I was one of those side-liners watching, and I was both impressed and jealous.
We stop ourselves because of fear. Fear of what other people will think, fear of what we may see in ourselves, fear. What’s that statistic? 90% of things that people worry about never happens. I’ve also heard that 78% of statistics are made up on the spot, but I really believe the worry stat – it’s gotta be in the 90% area. Fear of what others think is such a foolish but real guide by which many of us live…especially people pleasers like me. Who cares?! They certainly don’t!
Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind. ~Dr. Suess
As for the third reality, resorting to alcohol or any substance to boost our courage and lose our inhibitions – it’s a quick-fix, sure, but you’ll always wake up the next morning stuck with the same you…so you may as well make yourself a fun you all the time instead of just a weekend-party-time-fun-you version. Liquid courage is too quick of a fix…and I’m lecturing myself on this one. It’s surface-fix, not true-fix. I’m allowed to fly my freak flag AND be free of alcohol while doing it…what a concept! I bring up the alcohol specifically because I’m an anti-drug sorta gal, but I know lots of shyish people turn to drugs to bring out the fun them…stop it! now! Enjoy life naturally! And to all you non-shy types out there – if you see one of us shy people looking like we REALLY want to join in and dance, just grab our hand and bring us on the dance floor! If your freak flag flies a little more easily than others, help a sister or brother out!
“Why are we so full of restraint? Why do we not give in all directions? Is it fear of losing ourselves? Until we do lose ourselves there is no hope of finding ourselves.” ~Henry Miller
I had a really fun 4th of July. The entire Oahu outrigger canoe community landed on Waikiki beach with all its crazy festiveness. The 4th of July race is fun because you paddle out against the waves and surf back to shore with them…and the waves did not disappoint. Sometimes they would land right on top of boats going out and completely flood them so everyone would have to jump out, turn the boat over (a mere 500 lbs) to empty it, then turn it back over, scramble back inside and keep racing. Sometimes waves would send one canoe barreling into the one in the next lane over and there would be collisions with loud bangs and paddlers flying into the water. To add to that, the paddlers like to have fun and wear costumes or add some flare because of the holiday spirit. Combine crazy paddlers with crazy locals with thousands of additional sailors on the island for RIMPAC with wide-eyed foreign tourists and you get quite the beach scene.
My team chose to make and wear tutus. More than once I stopped to look down and laugh at the fact that I was wearing a tutu on a public beach in broad daylight and felt perfectly comfortable doing it. The simple joy from wearing a tutu in public was surprising and liberating. We even got a couple free drinks from old men in Dukes who thought we were “cute” in our costumes. It turns out they were a bit of a legend group of older men – their pictures were on the walls of Duke’s, which is a famous Waikiki restaurant named after Duke Kahanamoku, Hawaii’s most famous surfer and Olympian, and is a tribute to all the original great surfers and paddlers. The picture we took with the men is below.
It occurred to me halfway through my second free drink (the point of many a deep thought) to be thankful for that moment, and that day – a day dedicated to the mark of our freedom as a country. Sometimes it feels like patriotism is a bit of a dying concept – it’s become politicized and is arguably not pc in some circles…which blows my mind. But to stop and look around at the happiness, the craziness, and the celebration around me yesterday, it’s plain to see that freedom is not a dying concept. I chose to take in the scene of freedom and independence around me and to bask in its reality…a reality that so many nations crave and still fight for. This is a great country. Nothing exists in life without quirks and shortfalls, and our country certainly has a few of those, but the daily gifts we often unknowingly enjoy is truly a reason to put our hand to our heart and say, “I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”
The picture below was from my race – just to show a little of what a mess it was out there with boats colliding from the big surf – biggest surf for that race in 8 years!