Sunday, January 24, 2016

Winter is Coming; or, Booms and Bowlers

It's been a cold snap of sorts here. It's been around 70 and for those of us used to living in a constant state of 90-105, it's rather chilly. As in, you have to dig in the back of the closet and find a sweatshirt cold. It's supposed to get down to 65 tonight, which is downright freezing.

Once you've lived in the Caribbean for a long time, you'd be surprised how resistant you are to heat and humidity (although I will never get used to the constant swarms of biting bugs) and how cold you get when it's what is considered a normal, or even pleasant, temperature in the real world. 

This morning I was sitting down, thinking about what I need to do today, when *BOOM* went an earthquake. We get them periodically and they are not anything like people on the west coast of the US experience, but it's still startling. Here has always been a second (or a few seconds) of a loud concussion, where the earth seems to explode. It's more of an acoustic wave than anything else, no rollers or shakers, at least so far. Since living in WA, my mind goes into earthquake mode. Get the kids, get under a table or a door jamb, etc. But I have never had to do those things because by the time my mind realizes what's happening, it's over. 

Here's what different than most places---living on base, we have unexploded ordinances that are set off, guns with loud booms, and other military goings-on that most people don't experience, so it's sort of normal to hear something so loud, it makes your windows shake. That's just the new normal. 

In other news, Rodney is sporting a new bowler hat for the New Year, thanks to a souvenir from a bottle of gin. Anyone know where I can get more miniature hats for him? Unfortunately, I tried to Google information, and there are currently no stores selling hats for taxidermied squirrels. Go figure. 

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

FAQs on All Things GTMO; or, What it is, what it ain't

Instead of having something new to say, I compiled a "best of" list from the last 3 years. Think of it as your own FAQ section of this blog.

This is what happens when your McDonald's runs out of meat for a couple of weeks.
Refugee boat found at the Lighthouse Museum

These are the GTMO-specific posts. Maybe one day I'll put together another list of non-GTMO posts, since those are some of my favorites, as well. 

start here: 
It is What It is; or, Why GTMO is (really) Not Cuba (20 December 2012) This still sums up how I feel about this bizarre and beautiful place. 
Too Many Questions; or, I'm Still Not Hanging With Fidel (22 July 2014) Everything you want to know but are afraid to ask
View of Cuba ("real" Cuba) from the ferry

on parenting in GTMO: 
Drive-bys in GTMo; or, How a Gang Took My Youngest and Brought Back Pigpen (3 Dec. 2012) This is what happens to your children when you move here. You've been warned! 
Big, Huge Hills and Nautical Donuts; or, Field-Tripping, GTMO-Style (31 May 2013) What do you do for field trips when you can't leave the base? Read more here. 
banyan roots at the Bayview Restaurant

on mail, shopping, and other things they don't tell you before you come here: 
Pineapple Problems; or, Where's My *%&! Mail?!?!?  (15 May 2014) The mail issues are like pineapples. Or something like that. I tried to make a fancy analogy and it sort of worked. 
Mr. Post Man, Bring Me My Stuff; or, It's On the Barge. . . to Oman (15 Dec. 2012) What you can and can't get (specifically, food and mail).
The (Not) Love Letters; or, Going Postal in GTMO (12 June 2015) The mail, again. Do you see a pattern? This time with photographic evidence of what exactly to expect.
One of my favorite beaches, Chapman Beach

on tourist attractions and diversions: 
Merry Christmas Parade!, or, How I Survived a Drive-by Assault  (3 Dec. 2012) I still laugh when I read this one. 
Land of (the) Lost; or, Daytripping to Ft. Conde (2 Jan. 2015) A trip with photos to an abandoned fort hidden near a gorgeous beach.
Check, Check, Check; or, Make My GTMO in Miniature (10 April 2015): Rasta Hill, the Lighthouse Museum, my favorite banyan tree, and Goofy Golf
Big Beaches, big planes, big flags; or, Dance-off for World Peace (13 August 2013): Chapman Beach, Northeast Gate Tour
Beaches; or, My Sand is Bigger Than Your Sand (30 June 2015): a run-down of our favorite GTMO beaches
Postcard pretty! View from the top of Fort Conde

only in GTMO. . . 
Just Accept It; or, The Five Stage of GTMO (4 June 2014) This kind of went viral, with over 1000 hits. A year and a half later, it's still true. 
#GTMO Problems; or, Crotch tarantulas and toad-licking dogs (22 Feb 2014) A list of 24 problems unique to GTMO 
Sh*t My GTMO says; or, Happy 3 Year GTMO-versary! (20 Oct 2015) another list of bizarre things you hear (sometimes coming out of your own mouth) once you've been here a while

To the Lighthouse

Friday, January 1, 2016

Promises; or, A GTMO State of Mind

mage source:
                                                 from Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
Resolutions for the New Year----

okay, I'm lying. I don't do the whole resolution thing.

I don't like feeling like I've set myself up for failure. How many times do you find yourself disappointed in yourself that it's mid-January and you've already gone off the rails?

So I promise (not "resolve") to live life.

I promise to enjoy everything in the moment. Living here has made me realize that I really have no control over the future. I've always been a planner and a dreamer, and I still dream, but I also need to slow down and enjoy here and now.

Having a child who seemingly overnight became a young adult, a senior planning for college and for leaving the nest, has made me slow down and enjoy the precious moments under one roof.

This past year has taught me that you don't get any do-overs, so you have to make it count.

And even if it isn't what you expected or planned, sometimes it's just as good (or even better).

Transferring to a less stressful location has been a goal of the last 2 years. However, I have no control over if and when we move elsewhere. We lived in Texas for 10 years, Washington for 5, and now Cuba is number 3 with four years. We are peripatetic people, probably a little more restless than most, and my husband's time in Texas is the longest he's lived anywhere ever.

Instead of focusing on leaving a stressful place, I'm working on figuring out how to do away with some of the stress.

from Walden

We're still making plans for the future, of course, but only for what we can control at this moment. And what really can you control? Not much, right?

So we're planning out our summer vacation, making sure those college applications/essays/forms/fees are sent off on time, and enjoying life in the slow lane.

The last two weeks have been a frenzy of parties, get-togethers, and gatherings. I said goodbye to one colleague, and will probably greet new ones in January. Nothing is permanent here; unlike some other overseas locations, you can't live in GTMO forever. (That doesn't stop people who really love it here from trying!)

I have found that for me, friendships in GTMO also require some balancing between the groups of people who love it here, and those who can't wait to get out. It's a challenging place to work and live, especially if you are a mere civilian. This place is sort of a state of mind, as well. Many people view this place as a prison (no irony intended), and they feel trapped here. Island fever is a real thing, and how you deal with it I guess says a lot about your state of mind, as well. For the handful of us living here without an end date, it's especially tough. You can't really plan, and (with apologies to Tom Petty) the waiting is the hardest part.

It's tempting to wallow in self-pity, and we all slip up and go there sometimes, but then I try to pick myself up and remember that this (GTMO, the four of us living under one roof, life in general) is temporary. So I promise to live life in 2016, thinking about the future but not obsessing over it, working more on what I can control and less on what I can't, and remember that the company I keep determines my own state of mind, as well.

Happy 2016, everyone! XO