Tag Archives: top ten


I’ve been having a wonderful time up here in Kirkuk – as I said, new adventures are what I’m all about! New friends, new experiences, and new terrain add up to me!  So, in my short time here, here are a few things I’ve learned in Kirkuk.  Hope you enjoy!

1. There’s a LOT of incoming here. It’s a little sobering, especially after attending a memorial for a soldier killed by IDF (indirect fire) just the week before.

2. The DFAC (dining facility) is bigger, but not better – I miss my Baghdad lettuce selection.

3. Honey Badger does whatever it wants. Honey Badger doesn’t give a shit.

4. Getting really drunk in a small place like this is NOT a good idea. (No, it wasn’t me!)

5. A lap dance is so much better when the stripper is crying. (Look it up!)

6. You make friends really quickly in a place like this. Someone up here asked me when I was leaving, so she could start crying now. I am loved.  I’ve only been here a week and a half, with two more to go, but I already feel like part of the family.

7. You can have an awesome time around a table with four iPods and a love of music.  It’s a music throwdown!!

8. Once people accept the idea of Pooh, they love him. It’s important to introduce him early, so people know that I’m not quite ‘normal.’ Normal is overrated – I am the kind of person that will sing to someone that comes into my office, and I’m the kind of person that will dance wherever I feel like it – I don’t seem to have those social inhibitions when it comes to singing and dancing. 🙂

9.  When you are a good rover, people want to keep you.  When you are a good rover AND crazy and fun like me, they REALLY want to keep you.  I have a feeling I’ll be in high demand.

10.  I love my life.  Truly, simply, I love it.  I’m so happy to be in this place in my life.  I am such a positive person now!  I thank all my friends and family that have helped me to get to this place in my life.  I appreciate all who remind me how special I am and how much I mean to them.  Friends, family, laughter, love – it’s wonderful!  I hope to see you all around the globe soon!

What I Learned on My Summer Vacation

Home leave is not only a time to get in touch with what’s going on in America, it’s also a time to get back in touch with those friends and family you don’t get to see while living overseas. I’m fortunate to have a lot of both, and home leave can be both exciting and a little tiring, trying to see everyone and do everything. So, as I come to the close of my home leave, I look back to see what I’ve learned about myself during home leave. I’ve learned a lot, so here’s a top ten – in no particular order…

1. I learned just how much I love music – music makes Darlene’s world go round. I could listen to live music every day and not get enough.

2. I make friends very easily. In my three days in New Orleans, I made three new facebook friends. Traveling alone helps to make new friends – I’ve learned the best way to make new friends is to sit at the bar and start chatting.

3. Family traditions can be passed on to people that aren’t technically your family, but have been around so long that we count them as such. Family traditions can include VFWs and karaoke.

4. Living out of a suitcase kinda sucks, but I’m grateful I got to see as much as I did on my home leave.

5. Class reunions can be fun, but nothing beats seeing the people that really care about you. And the people you really want to see at the reunion aren’t usually the ones that show up. Some people look great, some people you can’t recognize, and others just haven’t aged well. You end up chatting with people you never talked to in high school.

6. After getting another tattoo while on home leave, I want to get another one – now comes the process of figuring out what that one will be. Hopefully it won’t take as long to figure out as this one did. They are contagious – I’m sure of it. I think it’ll have something to do with music.

7. I realized how much I care about people that I haven’t seen for a really long time, and how much I miss having them around me. I love moving on to new adventures, I just wish I could take people with me.

8. I need to let go of people that aren’t present, in the moment, WITH me, when they’re with me. I need to not be just an option – I need to feel wanted. Most of my friends are, and I love them for that. A few aren’t, and I’ve realized that’s not good for me. I need to be worth it for them, or there’s no reason for me to make the effort.

9. Everybody loves traveling Pooh. From my new friends in New Orleans, to former classmates, to my friend that has a picture of Pooh in Rome up on his fridge – most are jealous of how many places he’s been.

10. Twenty years ago, I thought everyone was like me. I now realize how unique I really am, but at the same time how similar I am now, as a person, to how I was back then. Apparently I’ve been like this for awhile, I just didn’t know it. Old friends see this – but it took them telling me how they saw me back then to realize it.

Friday I start my new adventure – in-processing and training for a couple weeks. I’ll let you all know how it goes!

I’m a Little Bit Country

Ok, so I just came home from a bar where my parents like to hang out. It was about as hick as they come. So, for hick bars and small towns everywhere, and inspired by the hick bar I just left, here’s a list off the top of my head of “How You Know You’re In a Hick Bar:”

1. There’s a wedding reception going on. They haven’t just stopped here on their way to the reception, this is where the reception is. In place of a band or DJ, they are using the bar karaoke for music. The wedding cake is a sheet cake.

2. They don’t take credit cards – only cash.

3. There are various animal heads adorning the walls – and they are decorated.

4. They have concealed carry classes in the bar.

5. Someone gets up to sing karaoke and they can carry a tune and you think they are AWESOME, just because they are compared to everyone else.

6. You may be a little bit country, but everyone else is a LOT country and not even a little bit rock and roll.

7. The only place you find the name of the bar is on the white board, just in case they want to change it.

8. The closest you get to diversity is the really tan guy in the cowboy hat with the cane.

9. There are more pickup trucks in the parking lot/lawn than there are beer signs in the bar. Oh, and there are a few horses tied up outside.

10. When you and your brother are introduced to someone new, they are more interested that your brother works in a bullet factory than they are that you work overseas.

Leaving on a jet plane

It’s fitting that the day I leave Brussels is an average Brussels day – grey, rainy, sad. It’s a weird feeling, leaving, knowing I’m not coming back. So, looking back, here are ten things I learned in Brussels:

1. ALWAYS bring an umbrella.
2. Cars will come flying out of nowhere from the right, and you have to stop for them, unless:
3. You’re a pedestrian, then everyone has to stop for you.
4. Doner kebabs are best at 3 am.
5. If you want real Belgian frites, you have to go to a frites stand.
6. You can get pretty much anything with a picture of a peeing boy on it.
7. Some bus drivers think if they race to the end of their route, they can have a longer coffee break. Or, they just decide to go on strike.
8. Brussels is the unofficial capital of Europe, and also the unofficial capital of protests.
9. You don’t actually need a functioning government; they’ve taken the record from Iraq for most consecutive days without a government.
10. You can make great friends in the NATO cafeteria.

Farewell to all my friends staying in Brussels; those of you I’ll see on home leave – I’m coming! Everyone else – see you around the globe!


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I was once on an island and eight parakeets landed on me. I had positioned myself to welcome them. Hope has that effect. I want to see all of creation awaken with hope~ especially the Middle East. Anything is possible for those who believe. ☆☆☆☆ Come believe with me. ☆☆☆☆


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