Sunday, September 26, 2010

Khaki Ball 2010, housemates, and a general update of life around here

I've been Oahu-home for three weeks now. We had the Khaki Ball two weeks ago, which marked the end of another induction season. To be honest, I didn't have nearly as much fun this year as I did at the last three. Bernadette and Ken are gone and Claudia and her husband, while still on the island, took part in a separate Khaki Ball celebration for Claudia's husband's new ship. (That is, her husband doesn't work with Zac any more.) We did have a couple friends to sit with, but the whole night felt a little . . . off. That wasn't just our lack of social circle though - the whole event felt a little soul-less. I loved my dress, but that was probably the high point of my evening.

Zac and I had a housemate for the last month or so, "Grant". Grant is/was one of Zac's co-workers, and he left for his new duty station in San Diego a couple days ago. Grant's wife (another friend who wasn't at the Khaki Ball this year) headed out to San Diego last month to get a head-start on getting their new home set up and finding employment. Grant and his wife are also selling their house, so by staying with us he was able to have the house vacant and available for viewing at all times. While Grant's wife took their cats with her to SD, Grant kept their dog here so for four weeks we had three canines underfoot.

Grant and I are great friends. He's my token conservative friend, and I'm his token liberal buddy. We have great conversations that never devolve into yelling matches. We disagree, on a lot, but more often than not we're able to find a middle ground where we both agree. It was a lot of fun having Grant around, and we're going to miss him a lot now that he's gone. (Although I am happy to have my bathroom back.) He and Zac are really close as Grant has been one of Zac's primary mentors for the last two years. It will be an adjustment having him gone.

I applied for a job a couple of weeks ago that I really, really wanted. I didn't get it. I was a little crushed. Ok, maybe a little more than "a little". I was in a pretty good funk about it all week. I'm happy to continue my telecommuting back to Minnesota with my legal editing gig as long as it lasts, because 1.) it's income and 2.) it's allowed me all sort of flexibility, but I am ready to move on when the opportunity presents itself. I'm resigned to the fact now that I'm going to have to do some/a lot of pro bono work if I'm ever going to be considered for a job practicing. I just don't think my job skills are appealing to prospective employers.

So as a pick-me-up I'm going to go with Claudia to visit Bernadette in Washington later this week for a long weekend. Claudia will be taking a Space A flight for the first time. I'm kind of excited about that. When there are extra seats on military flights they sometimes open up those seats to service members and their families for free or inexpensive travel. There aren't usually any bells or whistles on these flights, but have you flied commercial lately? Let's just say the bar isn't high for my Space A experience to be a success in comparison.

Since I'm just tossing out random stuff that's going on lately, I've also been asked to be Zac's command's co-ombudman starting this next week. (I'll probably use another entry to talk about that responsibility.) That will be a new and interesting challenge. I am looking forward to the experience, but I'm a little anxious about it.

Friday, September 10, 2010

A collection of quick MN thoughts

Here are random things I thought about/observed/learned while I was home.
  • Jeans and a sweatshirt/sweater is the most comfortable outfit a person can wear. Much more comfortable than tank tops and shorts. Yay cozy!
  • I'm much more likely to wear makeup when it's not 80+ degrees because it doesn't melt off my face.
  • Jasper is one of the world's slowest eaters. But that means you get to hold him longer, which isn't a chore. He's got that good-smelling-baby-scent-thing going for him.
  • Lincoln is a great kid, 98% of the time. The other 2% of the time usually results from him missing his nap. And then you spend the second half of that no-nap day dreading what's coming down the pipe.
  • I love the south eastern quadrant of Minneapolis best, because it's where I spend 90% of my time.
  • East Lake Street makes me happy. So does the West River Road, the area around the airport and Ft. Snelling, 46th Street, 38th Street, Cedar Avenue, Chicago Avenue, the U of M campus and even a few pockets of St. Paul.
  • I would like to have Minnehaha Creek and the Mississippi River imported to Hawaii so I can enjoy either running, walking or biking on the trails everyday.
  • Where the Minnesota and Mississippi Rivers converge might be what heaven looks like.
  • I enjoy seeing kids wearing their high school letterman jackets. I've never seen someone wear one in Hawaii. Although that's probably because it would be uncomfortable to wear a wool jacket with leather sleeves in a tropical climate.
  • It was hard to drive past my Grandpa Clare's house and realize that it's not part of my family anymore. The current owner has put in some amazing flower beds and gardens. It looks beautiful, and it looks like she's taking really good care of the place. But I still cried.
  • I could eat out every night in the Twin Cities and never run out of someplace yummy to eat.
  • I'm concerned at the lack of Greek food available to me back in Hawaii.
  • Lincoln knows more about trucks than many construction workers. It's amusing to watch him name things off with such enthusiasm. "It's a FRONT LOADER!"
  • My parent's house is just about the right size for about 6-8 adults and four kids. It feels much smaller when there are almost a dozen adults and five kids. If I bring Zac (and potentially someday a kid of our own) the house may very well explode. I am currently advocating a plan to annex the neighbors house, potentially by force if need be.
  • As much as I miss many of the elm trees in the neighborhood, the maples really do provide some amazing colors in the fall. I'm very glad they're just starting to turn, so I could get my "fall" fix before heading back to my eternal summer home.
  • Target Field is an exceptional ballpark, and I got to see an exceptional home run hit there. (Thome's dinger off the flag poll.) Even in the rain, it was one of the highlights of my Minnesota sporting experiences.
  • Though I am not a mallrat, I enjoy having many, many malls at my disposal in the Twin City area.
  • Lincoln's head must be made of kevlar.
  • It's hard to see your grandparents' capacities diminish. I think it becomes more noticeable when you don't see them regularly.
  • I was surprised at how few cashiers/waitresses had seen a military ID before. I guess that's because Minnesota has no active duty military installation.
  • I am increasingly sentimental.
  • Dairy Queen is delicious. If we have one every two miles in Minneapolis, where at least a quarter of the year is not ice-cream friendly, why on earth do we not have more than a couple of them in Hawaii where it is eternally summer?
  • I like that my MN accent comes back when I'm home. I wish it was easier to hang on to when I'm not there.
  • Rooting for the Gopher football team is tough. Really, really tough. But yet I can't not.
  • I wish Zac and my family could spend more time together.
  • I love houses built before WWII. Even though the floors might creak and they aren't wired for lots of outlets and things might not be totally square, they make up for it in character.
  • I like power tools and wish I had more projects to work on around the house. I was particularly happy to play with my dad's new table saw and compressed air nail gun this time around.
  • Minneapolis really is one of the most bike-friendly places in the U.S. and should be damn proud of it.
  • Either I'm getting old or I have no fashion sense (and quite probably both) but a lot of the clothes out there for teenage girls are utterly ridiculous. I will enjoy 15-20 years from now when they cringe as they look at their old high school pictures. There is a price to pay for being too trendy, young ladies.
  • I'm beginning to think that the 35W/62 interchange might not ever be completed. I find it odd that they've been working on it longer than I've been married.
  • Listening to the rain is the best way to fall asleep.
  • Even though I'm not a huge fan of the guys calling the games, I loved listening to Twins baseball on the radio. And I love Hardware Hank commercials.
  • Minnesota has an abundance of riches when it comes to locally produced beer.
  • My friends are really remarkable people. I admire so many attributes of each of them.
  • I will always cry when I leave my family. And that's ok.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Friends, the Fair, Food

I really want to have a blog entry where all it contains is a list of short things I like/love/miss/note about Minnesota. As I've been spending time here something will come to mind and I'll think, "I'll need to remember that for the list," and then I will promptly forget it. I need a notepad to carry around with me for the last week I'm here. Hopefully I'll recall some of those ideas that have evaporated.

I've had a great trip so far. I've managed to see a number of friends without feeling like I'm over-scheduled. My friends are terrific. Really, truly great people. Facebook and text messages and phone calls are nice, but face-to-face time can't be beat.

My feet are nice and swollen right now from seven hours at the Minnesota State Fair. One of Paul's good friends from the Port Royal, and his friend's wife, came up to visit Megan and Paul for the Labor Day weekend. Since I'm the fifth wheel of sorts, I've been spending some time with them as well. Today we introduced them to the Great Minnesota Get Together. I love the Fair. It makes me happy. Some people complain that it's always the same, year after year, but that's my argument in favor of it. Consistency. With the only exceptions being a few new food items or a couple new displays, the Fair is the same experience every year. Every year it marks the end of summer (probably more so than even Labor Day for a lot of people) and the beginning of fall. I love the noises, the smells, the general chaos of moving through the people-clogged streets. And doggone it, piglets and other baby animals are always cute and must be cooed over.

I ate more food than I should have today, but I didn't feel like throwing up at any point so I'm counting the day as a sort of victory. I'll be glad to go run some of it off tomorrow morning. (One of the few times you might hear me say I'm "glad" to run.) Paul's friend's wife wants to run with me but I'm not sure I want to run with her. She runs a 9:30-10:00 minute mile. Let's just say, I do not. I am a slow moving object. Especially now that I'm running outside with inclines, declines and a headwind. I'm surprised that casual walkers don't blow past me. But regardless of my pace, it will help in some small way to erase the damage that the Fair did today.