Monday, November 29, 2004


So over the weekend, I looked at the classes I can take this semester and how much they'll cost. The two classes I'm leaning towards are Satellite Design and Space Human Factors and Life Support. Those look like relatively low-key classes that I'll be able to use to get me back up to speed. There are only two problems...both are night classes, which isn't a problem except that the Satellite Design class is on Wednesday nights. Which means that I won't be able to sing in the church choir until May...of course, if I'd stayed overseas my full term, I'd have been there until March and in TN with my family until at least May anyway, so I guess I'm not really getting back any later than planned (although I was looking forward to the Easter musical).

The other problem is the money. I remember it being expensive, but not this expensive. Two classes are gonna run me almost $5000 (including all mandatory fees, but not books). So I spent some of yesterday looking for scholarships for the first time since high school. It appears that I'm most eligible for scholarships where you write an essay. Here's hoping that all of my writing practice here on my blog will do me well. I wrote one this morning. The biggest problem with those is that most of them award in time for the fall semester, so it might help me next time around, but not this semester.

But it was really weird filling out this on-line application (that's a big change in and of itself since I was in high school - we were slightly past LOGOS on an Apple IIe then (remember him?), but not by much - way back when the dinosaurs ruled the earth). They wanted a list of my high school and college extra-curricular activities and awards. Like I remember all of that crap. All I remember is that it was a _REEEEEAAALLY_ long list. At least in high school. As a friend of mine said this morning, my extra-curriculars in college were pretty much the Lab (where I worked), and JM (my boyfriend during college), although not necessarily in that order. I played a good bit of volleyball too, but that was really very related both to the Lab and to JM.

Somehow I don't think a scholarship grantor will be impressed with an ex-boyfriend as my primary extra-curricular activity.

Sunday, November 28, 2004

SBs Only

I'm sure that most of y'all know that I was raised as a Southern Baptist, and what I will say in the following post is really just for other Southern Baptists. I'm sure that will spark the curiosity of all you non-SBs, but really, if you're not one, you don't need to read this. If you do read this, then I apologize for possibly adding to any dislike you might have of SBs in particular or organized religion in general.

Today in SB churches all across North America, people were shown a video of Jerry Rankin, President of the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention. In that video, they used the names, images, and work of four of my friends in order to wring your heart to get you to give them money.

I beg of you to not give a single penny to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions. Last year, I half-heartedly asked you to give to support the work of people on the field, but this year, I beg of you not to give a single, red (or any other color) cent.

The money from the general Lottie Moon fund does _not_ go to support the work of missionaries, it goes to pay for unnecessary conveniences like satellite internet connections and wireless networks. It pays for completely useless local staff who get paid more than twice what most of the workers on the field get paid. It pays for generators and security guards who cause the missionaries to be shown to be different from the people they're sent to work among. It pays for houses in the richest neighborhoods in town. It pays for vehicles that aren't needed or wanted. It pays for unnecessary travel.

It DOES NOT pay for projects. It does not pay for Bibles. It does not pay for training. The vast majority of those things are provided for by separate, designated funds, and/or the missionaries themselves.

The IMB has a god. That god's name is "Money," and they don't serve him very well. They're excellent at making heart-wrenching PR videos, asking for you to give your money to support their work. They're also excellent at stretching the truth as to the work being done currently.

As they wave the deaths of my friends in your face and say things like they were willing to lay down their lives - the least you can do is give money to suport their continuing work, they tell people who would give anything to be there that they can't go in. While they ask for your money to support the "work" that's being done in Iraq right now, they keep workers from _being_ in Iraq right now, and when they do allow them in, their movements are so restricted as to be next to useless.

If you want to support missions work as a Southern Baptist, give directly to a missionary on the field (your church will probably help you out with that if you're worried about your tax write-off) either for a specific project or for their own living (there are plenty out there with kids in college, etc. who aren't being adequately supported), or, if you're determined to work through the IMB, then donate to the Lottie Moon Challenge Database.

What do you mean, you've never heard of the Lottie Moon Challenge Database? Well, that's probably because it's not advertised because the IMB doesn't _want_ you to know about and give to the LMCDB, because they assume that if you do, then you won't give to the regular Christmas Offering. But you see, I'm all about that now. The LMCDB is where all of the missionaries on the field input projects that would greatly help the people with whom they're working, but which are projects that the IMB refuses to fund. Since the IMB does not allow its missionaries to ask for donations for specific projects (for fear that it will take away from Aunt Lottie's Christmas giving), this is its completely unadvertised method of allowing people to ask for money for a specific thing and still say that it's part of Lottie's Christmas Offering.

The entire database is not available online, although they do list a few of the most "strategic" needs at the following URL: You can go there directly, or you can get to it by going to, clicking on "your giving" near the top left, then clicking on "strategic priority needs" in the box on the right.'s that "simple" to find.

Talk to your local Director of Missions to find out "strategic" needs for anyplace with which you're partnering, or talk to someone you know overseas to find out the 13-digit number you need in order to designate your gift appropriately.

But I'm begging you. Out of respect to my friends. Show the IMB that it is unconscienable for them to use the deaths of my friends as a means of squeezing more money out of you. I'm about to write a letter to Jerry Rankin and all of his VPs (all of whom live in very nice houses in Richmond, VA - paid for by your Lottie Moon Christmas Offering funds). You do it too (

Missions work and giving isn't about sob stories. Missions work and giving is about following God's will for your life. It's not about effective marketing. It's not about stretching to truth to get good PR. It's not about capitalizing on tragedies. Give because God calls you to give. Go because God calls you to go. But don't give to an organization who would capitalize on a tragedy. Give to the workers who can't get a dime from that organization in order to do the work that God has called them to do.

Saturday, November 27, 2004


So my sister (a senior in high school) has a physics project for her AP physics class that's due sometime in the next week or so. She's supposed to watch some movie and see whether or not the movie is obeying the laws of physics and prove her postulation. The movie she picked, of course, was one of the Lord of the Rings movies (I think Return of the King).

One of the physics things she's looking at is when Legolas climbs up the oliphant's leg via arrows. She's trying to figure out whether or not the arrow would actually hold Legolas' weight.

Having a degree and a half in aerospace engineering, she, of course, asked me.

Not having worked with structures at all since I took the class, eight years ago, and not even having done any engineering of the sort for several years now....I'm more than a little rusty. We've found stuff online, and I could probably dig out a book from under Jesse's house to figure it out, but now I'm even more worried than I was that I'm not gonna be able to keep up with all of these young kids who'll be in my classes this next year. They're straight out of undergrad...I'm six years out, with the last two having done something completely different.

Speaking of which...I haven't registered for classes yet. Maybe I'll do that right now.

Funny Story

I meant to include this in yesterday's post, but I forgot in my sleep-deprived-ness. My cousin Tanya (who always hosts all of the "Turner" family get-togethers and who makes excellent yeast rolls) has three sons. This year was the first year that none of them wanted anything hard-to-get (and requiring mega-early attendance at the post-Thanksgiving sales), so she was bummed, because she really liked the adrenaline rush or something.

So while we were discussing our BestBuy plans, she told us this story from post-Thanksgiving sales past.

One day after Thanksgiving, several years ago, she was in Walmart or some store of that nature in search of a scanner. She had acquired the very last of said scanners and was on her way back to the front of the store to pay for it and to meet her mom (my aunt) and at least one of her kids when a man walked up to her, took the scanner from her hands and said, "I'm bigger and faster than you," and ran off.

Fortunately for Tanya, a store manager witnessed the event and found a substitute scanner for her, then walked her up to the cash registers to ensure that she'd actually get to keep her scanner this time.

True story.

Friday, November 26, 2004

After Thanksgiving

My siblings have all camped out for Star Wars here in Nashville, while I was the lone Turner camper in Maryland...but this morning, we had a mini campout in order to get some stuff at BestBuy. None of us had ever really participated in the "day after Thanksgiving" phenomena. I bought a computer several years ago, but we didn't go especially early (and it turned out to be one of the crappiest computers I've ever seen - make sure you check those "amazing deals" they offer or you too might end up with WindowsME, a Celeron processor, and almost no RAM).

Anyway, so yesterday at my cousin's house, we were all looking through the ads. My younger brother is fixing up his computer and making the left-over pieces into a computer for my sister, so he wanted a new hard drive and a video card, my mom wanted a flash drive (I think they're commonly called "thumb drives" here, but I'm more used to "flash drive"), and I was sorta looking for a DVD player/VCR combo.

Well, there were several places that had hard drives for sale, but we determined that, per gigabyte, BestBuy's was the best deal, they had the video card that Toby wanted, the flash drive that my mom wanted, and the best deal on a DVD recorder/VCR combo. They opened at 6, so we made plans to leave around 5 to get there.

Toby, surprisingly, was the first one up (shows how much he wanted his stuff), and we managed to make it out the door by about 5:15 and to the store by about 5:25. We dropped Toby off at the end of the line (it was to the end of the parking lot by then) and Beth and I went to McDonald's for my traditional campout breakfast. Sadly, TN McDonald'ses apparently don't serve breakfast bagels, so I was at a bit of a loss, but we got breakfast and returned to where Toby was. The employees had passed out maps of the store, so we knew that what Toby wanted and what I wanted would be in different parts of the store and that we'd probably have to go to different registers. Since I was funding the operation, our plan was to split up - I'd go for the DVD/VCR, pay for it, then find Toby and Beth in the computer area where they'd be hanging out, waiting for me.

There was the typical stoppage of the line when we were next to go into the door, but then we were off. I found the DVD/VCR and a few other things and wound my way through the check-out line maze while Toby and Beth waited in the line to get into the computers area (to ensure good customer service). I practically walked up to a register and was out the door maybe ten minutes after entering. I talked to the bouncers as I was leaving explaining the situation in the hopes that I could skip the line on my way back in to find Toby and no avail. So, after dropping my stuff off in my car, I got back in the line to get in - which was still about 3/4 of the length it was when we had first gotten there (and maybe 1/3 of the length that it was when the store opened).

After standing in line again, I got back into the store. Toby and Beth were still in line waiting to get into the computers area, so I got in line with them. Turns out, two of the three things they were assigned to get weren't _in_ the computers area, but they ran across them in the snake of the line. After another hour or so, we got in, Toby got his video card and we got into the line for the cashier.

We finally made it to the register and made our purchases and by 7:30 were headed home. On the way home, we stopped at Mrs. Winners for "second breakfast." :) We were completely successful in all of our purchases, and I even sat down and immediately filled out all of the rebate forms and even brought them out to the mailbox.

We now feel more a part of America, having participated fully in the "biggest shopping day of the year." We're also pretty tired.

But, to my audience in Iraq/Jordan....just let me know what TV shows you want me to record and send to you and you've got 'em (as long as you can read a DVD-R and have an address I can send stuff to).

This posting doesn't seem as fun as I'd intended it to be. Maybe you had to be there. Maybe I need to be less sleepy.

Thursday, November 25, 2004

Let's Have a Parade!

Last year this time, I'd just gotten back to my house after Thanksgiving with the WarEagle CA/PsyOps guys (and friends). As nice as it is to be home (and get to eat my cousin Tanya's yeast rolls!), last year was a great too. It was a really different family, but it was still a family. And they'd eat (almost) anything I'd make for them. :)

Happy Thanksgiving!

(Oh, and while I will still cringe until at least Dec. 1st, I will now stop yelling "It's not Thanksgiving yet!" every time I drive past Christmas decorations. This will please my family very much as it would usually startle whoever was in the car with me at the time.)

Tuesday, November 23, 2004


BTW, I went to see the SpongeBob SquarePants movie on Saturday. I went with my older brother Jesse, his girlfriend Kate, and his best friend since high school Jimmy. Kate was the youngest among us at 22. :) We saw a Saturday matinee. There were a lot of little kids there. One of the funniest things though was to hear when the adults laughed vs. when the kids laughed. Usually they were at completely different things.

It was a really funny movie. I highly recommend it to anyone else with young kids and/or a "Peter Pan" complex like all of my family and most of our friends.

I "got into" SpongeBob without really intending to. I know I'd heard of him prior to going to orientation, but I'd never watched any and was almost to the point of considering it juvenile (yeah...I'm kinda surprised at myself too). But when we got to orientation, we had this thing where we were all supposed to get up in front of everyone else and say who we were, where we were going, and what we expected to get out of our experience. A guy who later became a good friend counted. Out of 108 people, 13 said that their sole purpose while overseas was to "be a sponge."

Now, obviously, they meant that they wanted to soak up the culture and learn all they could....but all they said was that they wanted to be a spineless sea creature that, at its death, is used on dirty humans to make them clean (or to water hermit crabs).

Anyway, that became a bit of a joke at our orientation...which then spread to my family...and so some of the "joke" gifts from my mom and my aunt have been SpongeBob-related. And then, my second roommate Jaime brought some SB (that's SpongeBob, not Southern Baptist) DVDs with her to Baghdad, so I watched....and especially when you're really bored with nothing else to do, they're pretty funny. :)

What's funny is that Jesse wasn't really into SB, Kate wasn't really into SB, I wasn't really into SB, and Jimmy knew nothing about him. And yet four completely legal adults, none of whom were really interested in the cartoon character in question, went to a matinee the day after said cartoon character's first movie opened.

On the plus side, we all enjoyed it. :)

And there _is_ something funny at the very, very, very end of the incredibly long credits, at least half of which we believe were made up. Either that or there are some rather oddly-named people on the SB SP team.

The Final Frontier

I've been wondering why none of my post have been especially meaningful lately (I'm sure you enjoyed reading about my new socks, but still...not exactly high literature). I usually just post about whatever it on my mind at the moment. Lately, I've been letting "the moment" pass a good bit simply because what I was thinking about wasn't terribly important or interesting, and I was curious why that was.

Well, thanks to an email from a friend in Amman, I realized what was different about being here than when I was over there. Over there, we were studying Mark together three days a week, and I was being very dilligent about my own studies. Here, I've not been so diligent and the only other study I've gotten was on Sunday mornings at my parents' new church.

So, I'm working on being more diligent about my own reading again, and I'm gonna see what else is out there for me. I'll let y'all know how it goes and you can keep me accountable.

Anyway, so in his sermon on Sunday, my parents' pastor was closing out their "40 Days of Purpose" (purpose-driven) Study by preaching on the final purpose of our lives (according to Rick Warren) - Evangelism. It was a great sermon. He likened believers to mailmen ("postal workers" for the PC among you) - we just deliver the message given to us to deliver. It's not our place to force the person to respond or listen, it's just our place to "deliver the mail."

But he said one thing that bothered me, and he said it a couple of times....and I've heard it from other people in the past too. He said that God _needed_ us to deliver His message.

I just can't agree with that. I've spent the last year and a half working overseas. While I was working for an "unaffiliated, secular NGO," we all know that one of _my_ personal main purposes was evangelism. I think I learned a lot on the subject during my time overseas. One of the main lessons I think I've learned is that our participation in evangelism isn't _necessary_ to the spread of the gospel - it's a privilege.

It's like in Star Trek V when Spock asks, "What does _God_ need with a starship?" God doesn't _need_ our "help" to spread His message...but like we allow children to help in tasks to help them grow, He allows us to "help" Him to let _us_ grow.

Experiences like what I've been through for the past year and a half didn't happen so that the lives of people in Iraq could be changed by their interaction with _me_. It happened so that _I_ could be changed by _Him_.

Evangelism is something that we're commanded to do. There are no two ways about that. BUT, to claim that God _needs_ us in order to get His message out to the world makes God seem pretty the "god" in Star Trek V.

(And for those of you who aren't Trekkers out there, the guy in Star Trek V that needed the starship wasn't really God.)


So what's up with the commercials nowadays? I mean, it's one thing to show skin during prime time on a show that's known for its "adult situations" that you choose to watch and which has been rated by the FCC or someone and probably carried a warning prior to watching...but you can hardly watch a span of commercials (regardless of the channel or time period) anymore without seeing some woman in various stages of undress.

I'm really not fond of that. But I'm not sure that there's anything to be done about it. Granted, I have the choice to turn off the television completely or change the channel during the commercials....but at the same time, I guess I just think that commercials should be "rated" equivalently to the shows they're shown with.


My Mouf is Fat

So I went to the dentist today. Back during the summer, one of my back molars suddenly started hurting when I'd chew on that side. Not being a big fan of dentists to begin with, and living overseas where doctors are scary, even though they're excellent and they all went to schools in the West, so it's really just stupid of me to be scared of them....I did what anyone would do - I just stopped chewing on that side. Eventually it stopped hurting and had even gotten to the point where I could chew on that side of my mouth again as long as the food wasn't too hot or too cold.

Since I hadn't been to the dentist since I'd gotten my wisdom teeth pulled in 1998, I naturally assumed that I'd finally gotten a cavity. But, like I said before, doctors are scary overseas (even though rationally, there's nothing different between them and doctors in the US except that they don't live in the US)...and not liking dentists to begin with, I put it off until I got home.

And then after I got home, I kept putting it off.

But then "fate" stepped in. (Heehee...Hi, Aunt Mom!) My mom was supposed to go to the dentist this morning. She thought she'd changed the appointment until tomorrow, but apparently hadn't, so I took her spot today and we rescheduled her until this morning. So I went to the dentist this morning at 8:30. Unfortunately, my purse (and insurance information) was in my parents' car, so we rescheduled the appointment for later in the afternoon and I went off in search of my sister's school (where the car was). After pulling her from class, I got my purse and came back home to sit and wait a little longer for the appointment.

I went back at 1, quaking in my new cute litte shoes since it'd been 7 years since my last cleaning and 6 since my last visit at all....only to find out that my supposed "cavity" was really a cracked filling (showing no signs of decay), and that my teeth looked like she'd cleaned them six months ago instead of seven years!

Go me with my mad tooth-brushing skillz!

I guess that's one advantage of not liking coffee and not being allowed to drink caffeinated beverages. :)

But what is it about your breath the day you go to see the dentist? It's fine every other day, but on that day, you brush longer and better than normal, you mouthwash like five times....and still you have nasty breath five minutes later. It's like the bacteria in your mouth know you're going to the dentist and want to make it seem like you never brush.

It's always weird going to my dentist though. She's the mom of a girl I went to high school with. Diane even went into her mom's business for a while - that was a _really_ weird visit - a girl I graduated high school with filled one of my teeth...and I was still in college, so we were like 21. But now she's married with three kids, so she didn't re-fill my tooth today.

It's now a few hours later and my 'mouf' is almost back to normal.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Reality TV

As one of my also recently-returning friends has pointed out, there are a _lot_ of reality shows on TV now. I mean, there was Survivor, American Idol, and Joe Millionaire before I left, but now it's like you can't flip through the channels without seeing at least two 'reality' shows and a couple of CSI: Debuque or Law & Order: Extra-Super Special People Who Investigate Bad Things Unit shows.

And while most of the reality shows are really, Really, _REALLY_ bad, there's one that's caught my attention. It's called "The Biggest Loser." In this show, a bunch of overweight people try to lose weight. They don't get it sucked out, they don't tie off half of their stomachs, they just diet and exercise. There are, of course, the stupid "challenges" and the inevitable back-biting when it comes to "vote people off" time, but the basic premise of the show is one that I can get behind. And even the people who get voted off continue in their new diet/exercise regime and continue to lose weight.

But probably the most fun aspect of it is that the biggest compliment for any of the contestants is to be named "the biggest loser" of the week. :)


I haven't posted much lately....there's not a lot to say....I mean, there are plenty of funny, anecdotal things that I've thought about posting, but was too lazy to do at the time and then the moment passed, so I never wrote them at all....but in terms of important things...there's just really not that much.

I haven't heard from Rocketown yet. I stopped by there on Monday (most of a week since I'd dropped off my resume) and was told that the lady I needed to speak to was in a meeting, but that she'd gotten my resume, she'd just been busy. If I don't hear back by next week, I'm just gonna start being the weird 28-year-old chick who hangs out at a youth club.

I finally went through the clothes that I _did_ save. It was mostly skirts, a few 'church' dresses, and a lot of my 'fancy' dresses. I, of course, had a "try on" party. It was fun...and I could actually still fit into all of them. I'm a "little" bit hippier than I was, but I can still fit into everything. And it was weird because I'd saved so little, so what I'd saved should have been very dear to me. And a lot of it was - the dress I got my first kiss in, the dress I got "crowned" in when I became a "queen" in Acteens, this dress that I've had since I was a kid that I was waiting to wear until I was tall enough....and I almost am tall enough now, if I wear heels.....other dresses.....but after trying them on, I tossed most of them.

I kept a couple of them...all of the skirts, my prom dress (which is starting to show its age), a couple of other 'fancy' dresses (anyone remember New Year's 2000 at Jackie's house?), a couple of the 'church' dresses...but most of them I tossed. It's weird that what was incredibly dear to me two years ago is now only worthy of Goodwill. I'm almost afraid to go through all of my other stuff under Jesse's house....but then again, if I do that now, it'll mean a smaller U-haul on the way back to MD.

And a lot of me will be glad when I get rid of lots of my stuff. It's like a huge weight around my neck. I feel suffocated almost by it all. Maybe that's what I'll do during my mornings when I'm not being the weird old lady at Rocketown.

Monday, November 15, 2004

Things That Make Me Go, "Mmmmmm..."

I went to Walmart with my mom last night and bought lost of stuff like new socks and undershirts. Everytime I go inot a store like that, I get kinda spooked. I get past it, but I still get kinda spooked.

So...the socks. I put on my first pair this morning...and they made me go, "mmmmmmm...." There's nothing in the world like new socks after wearing the same couple of pairs for 18 months.

There's also nothing in the world like a Mrs. Winner's chicken breakfast biscuit. That also made me go, "mmmmm....' this morning.

And, interestingly, when I went into Home Depot this morning, there was none of the spookage that I've gotten in every other huge-mega store (which describes just about all of them nowadays) that I've been in since I've been back. Maybe it's because you never go into a Home Depot without a specific purpose in mind, so it's not completely just stuff.

I guess that makes me go, "hmmm..." instead of, "mmm...", but then again, we're talking about tools, so they make me go, "mmmmm....." too.

Saturday, November 13, 2004


I'm calling for a massive boycott. I was watching WGN yesterday (a Chicago station which has always inexplicably been on Nashville cable) and they showed an advertisement for the Chicago Christmas parade which is occurring on November 20th.

Yes, you heard me right. Not only have all of the stores been completely stocked for Christmas since about two seconds after Halloween was over (if not before...I dunno, I wasn't here), but the city of Chicago is having their Christmas parade a week _BEFORE_ Thanksgiving.

So, in protest, I have decided _not_ to attend the Chicago Christmas parade.

I hope that you, like me, will choose not to attend this parade in the hopes that we can send a message to the city of Chicago that this is not acceptable. Christmas doesn't start until Macy's brings in Santa Claus.

Fat Clothes

So I went shopping on Thursday with Beth (she had the day off of school) to get new clothes. In some ways, I was pretty proud of myself because I had kept a very small number of clothes in my brother's basement while I was away. That number got shrunk a little more when several bags got wet, but still...I didn't keep much all things considered. The downside of that though was that when I got back from being overseas for a year and half...and wearing the same limited number of clothes over and over for much of that time....I didn't have any different clothes to wear.

But the plus-side of not having different clothes to wear is that you get to go out and buy new clothes. And now we're back to where we started. So I went shopping on Thursday with Beth. I sorta intended to go several places, but we went to Ross first, and ended up buying enough there that other places weren't really necessary. I got several long-sleeve shirts, a pair of short boots (I'm very happy to be getting re-acquainted with my calf-length boots which _have_ been waiting for me under Jesse's basement), a pair of nice shoes, a pair of black pants (aren't you proud of me Jaime?), and several pairs of jeans. There was one pair that was my size and petite. Those are the pair that fit. Then there were two pairs that were one size bigger, but still petite. Those are my fat jeans. Then I got one more pair. A size too big and those are for when I get fat _and_ taller.


But I do look very stylish in my new clothes. Its kinda weird.

After we went to Ross, we stopped in at MediaPlay and they had the music folio I've been waiting for ever since Kuwait - Norah Jones "Come Away With Me." Someday I'll even be able to _play_ the songs. :)

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Veteran's Day

Today is Veteran's Day. I've always been a patriotic person. My dad used to always have our choirs put on a 4th of July musical which rivaled the Easter and Christmas musicals, so I grew up with it. I would regularly get teary at 4th of July observances, etc.

Today I attended a Veteran's Day assembly at my dad's school. They had veterans from all branches of the Armed Forces and combat veterans from each major war, conflict, and military action since (and including) WWII. They even had an Army MP Specialist who arrived in Baghdad two weeks after I did, and only returned to the States a few months ago (and who has just been nominated for the Bronze Star with Valor), and a Major who just returned from Afghanistan.

I have American Christian friends overseas who poo-poo patriotism. They think that asking God to bless America is stupid. I have American Christian friends in the States who think that to say the Pledge of Allegiance is sacreligious.

Is there anything Biblical which says "thou shalt be (or not be) patriotic?" No. There isn't. But people in the Bible were proud of their heritage, nationally, religiously, and ethnically. Paul is a great example of this as he's constantly citing his references - Roman, Pharisee, and Hebrew.

So, I proudly proclaim my heritage as an American, a Christian, and as your typical American mutt ethnically. And I ask God to continue to pour out His blessings on this nation, as He does on all nations in their time. He sets up rulers and He removes them. He allows nations to rise and allows them to fall, all according to His timing and His plans.

Today, for the first time since before I left the States, I proudly said the Pledge of Allegiance, was too choked up to sing along with the National Anthem, and did my best during God Bless the USA. I used up lots of tissues and my dad's hankerchief, and I'm still pretty moved by it all.

God _has_ blessed this great nation of ours, I hope that He will continue to do so in the future, and I'm proud and thankful to be a part of it.

Oh, and Mark Schultz should be shot for that song "Letters from War."

Wednesday, November 10, 2004


I don't know all of the ins and outs of Yasser Arafat's life. I personally don't think that he actually weilded much power over Palestinians...but my dire prediction at the announcement of his death is that Palestine will erupt in violence, both internal and external. There may not be an official power struggle within the recognized Palestinian Authority, but there will be a struggle amongst Palestinians, and there will be a change in their policies toward non-Palestinians.

But I hope that my predictions will prove false.

I Hab a Code

I don't feel miserable or anything, but I'm apparently allergic to America now. I got back late Tuesday night, and by Saturday, I was sneezing and had a runny nose. It hasn't stopped me from doing anything, but it's rather annoying. Almost as annoying as continuing to wake up well before the crack of dawn. It would at least make sense if I were getting tired earlier, but I'm just not (except for cold- and/or cold medication-induced sleepiness, but even that's not so far out of the ordinary that it'd be terribly noticable without the 6AM wide-awakeness). if you'll pardon the sneezing and blowing of my nose, I'll tell you my reflections on my first week back in America.

Tuesday, Nov. 2: I was picked up by my friend Scott at about 8AM local time in Amman to be taken to the airport. Royal Jordanian has a city terminal where you can check your checked luggage the night before your flight (soooooooooooooo very convenient), so that had already been taken care of, it was just me and my virtual plethora of carry ons. I had myself, my jacket, my purse, my bookbag, my guitar, my camera bag, BB, and a satchel (approximately the size of a computer case).

The RJ carry-ons nazi at the airport tried to get me to check my guitar (which I refused outright since it was in a soft case). The security guy understood completely, but apparently the carry ons nazi held sway, so I was sent to the ticket counter to check _something_ (I would have been willing to check my bookbag, just not my guitar). After waiting in line for an eternity (behind about 12 guys who were obviously with some security company in Iraq), I got the counter guy to ok all of my carry ons. He waved me through the carry on nazi, I shared a grin with the security guard, and I was on my way.

The plane was virtually empty. In my row of eight seats, there were two people (including myself), and that was pretty common throughout the plane. They showed three movies on the 11-hour flight from Amman to JFK, but I only watched one of them because the rest of the time I was talking to a very drunk ex-Navy Seal who only likes to be on planes when he plans to jump out of them. That made for some amusing (if repetitive - he being a forgetful drunk) conversation.

We arrived at JFK about on time. My bags took about an hour to come out of the luggage thing, but they all made it, and were still in tact at that point, although one of the trunks was definitely in worse shape than the other. Then I went through customs without a second glance from the customs agent (I guess it's common for one small girl to have four very large suitcases/trunks plus myriad carry ons, then got in line to re-check my backs. Having misread my ticket (thinking that my flight left at 5:20 instead of 7:20 - 1720 vs. 1920 - I'd been on a plane for 11 hours by that point, mostly talking to a drunk guy with ADD - I was tired), I got brought to the front of the line only to be told that there was no way I'd make my 5:20 flight since it was on the other side of JFK...then told that it didn't matter since my flight was actually at 7:20, not 5:20, but since my luggage was already up front, I might as well just leave it and go. Which I did.

I then took trains to the other side of NYC, otherwise known as Terminal 7 at JFK, and sat there until we took off. By this time, I was getting pretty tired. I dozed fitfully the whole way to Dulles. Then I arrived at Dulles and had to walk (and take a bus) across all of DC before I finally made it to where Aunt Mom and Barbara were waiting for me.

Then we went to pick up my luggage. Three of my four pieces made it - the two suitcases and one of the trunks. I had visions of my belongings trashed in the hold of the little commuter plane that took me from JFK to DC, but that wasn't the case...apparently my other trunk had decided to catch a few of the sights in NYC before coming to DC, so they'd bring it out to me when it came in.

By the time I'd landed, we figured out that I'd been awake for close to 24 hours by that point...although thinking back now, I'm not sure how that could _left_ at 8, but I woke up at like 6:30 or 7, which would be midnight-ish on the east coast....ok, so by the time I went to bed (around midnight), I'd been up 24 hours.

But despite that lack of sleep, I still woke up at 5AM...which is noon in Amman, so really I slept pretty late, according to my body's clock. But I got up around 7-ish and tootled around for an hour or so before heading over to the grocery store to sate a few cravings. I'm sure that the Weis people thought that I was insane. For one thing, my eyes were as big as saucers the whole time, but I'd also randomly stop and exclaim over some food item that I hadn't had in most of two years, but hadn't thought about (like apple sauce)...and by the end, I was so overwhelmed that I literally had to talk myself through the end of the shopping ordeal. After that I went to the church to surprise the office staff and pastors. Barbara and Aunt Mom had told our senior pastor, but no one else knew. I went out to lunch with two of the pastors (and had a very yummy steak and baked potato and salad!), then I went over to Aunt Mom's for a while and we planned the surprise for Heidi. When Heidi came to pick Aunt Mom up for her birthday dinner on Friday, I was gonna be there. It was gonna be great. This tidbit will be important later.

That evening, I stopped by choir practice late (so as to avoid most of the Wednesday night crowd) and infiltrated successfully. despite some folks in the parking lot and in conference rooms as I passed by. It was fun to hear the ripple of exclamation start in the altos (nearest the door where I came in), then pass through the men to the sopranos (on the other side of the room). I said hello to everyone, swore them to secrecy, then went to meet Lauren P. who was born after I'd left. After playing with her and some of my other playmates (choir members children), I went back up and listened until I couldn't stand it anymore, then sang with them for a little bit before the rehearsal was over. Afterwards, I was standing outside talking to people when Heidi drove up, thereby ruining the surprise Aunt Mom and I had planned for her, but providing for some amusing hi-jinks in letting Aunt Mom continue to believe that Heidi didn't know I was there, and playing off my "surprise" appearance like it was nothing out of the ordinary to Heidi.

Anyway, so again I went to bed around midnight and woke up around 5...but was able to doze until 7, and stayed in bed until around 9. It was rainy on Thursday, which was interesting. I'd seen rain one time in Amman, but before that it'd been March in Baghdad since I'd seen rain. But I went over to APL to surprise my former boss Clay and former co-worker Sanae, only to be surprised that Sanae was out of town. Clay and I did lunch in an APL cafeteria, then I went and got a cell phone. The cell phones in the States have _WAY_ too many gadgets and things on them. All I want is Snake, a distinctive ring, and text messaging. Instead, even with the cheapest phone available, I got full-color games that you have to download, polyphonic rings that sound like crap, and text messaging that has the "space" button on a different key than I'm used to. So if you get a text message from me and there are an unusual number of 0s, blame Sprint.

Then I went over to my friend Grant's house and got to eat Papa John's pizza and watch the Farscape TV mini-series (at least part of it)!!

Friday, I didn't wake up until 7! Around 11 I went to surprise my graduate advisor at UMCP. He doesn't currently have any research assisstanships open for me, but he's always got proposals out, so maybe by the time classes roll around something will come up. But we had a good chat and he took the advising block off of my record, so now I can register for classes.

After that, I took the Metro into DC to make my pilgrimage to the National Air & Space Museum. It was cool, as usual. Still having ample time to kill prior to returning to Laurel, I figured I'd take a leisurely walk down the Mall...and ended up visiting all of the memorials (except for FDR which I still haven't found). It was my first time seeing the new WWII memorial. That is a beautiful monument...and it's so striking, seeing the wall of stars (each of which represents 10 US military casualties), and seeing the Vietnam Memorial....just how blessed we are to live in the day of "modern" warfare. Don't get me wrong, any loss of life is tragic....but just really stop and consider the tens of thousands of men and women who have died in each of the previous wars compared to the one thousand in this current war. It doesn't at all belittle their sacrifice to thank God Almighty that we no longer just line up and shoot at each other.

That's one of the quirks I've come back with - even though I never personally experienced (or even discussed) a battle, I know people who did, and I saw how they lived. It sounds silly, but it's even hard for me to watch MASH now. "War" movies are out of the question. It's just too personal to me now. My grandfather was stationed in India during WWII, my dad went to seminary during Vietnam, and apparently pretty much as far back as there's been an "American" war, there have been Turners either too old or too young to fight in it...but I got choked up at those memorials because even though they weren't any relatives of mine, they were like the guys and girls that I got to know over there.

War is a terrible, terrible thing to be avoided at almost all costs. Pulling servicemen and women away from their families for extended periods of time, the loss of life, the destruction of's a miserable, horrible thing. But sometimes it's necessary to root out some great evil which would otherwise spread.

Anyway...back to my then I went to Aunt Mom's house and we got ready to "surprise" Heidi. Heidi showed up as planned, and she and I acted non-chalant, also according to plan. Aunt Mom and her mom were dumsquizzled. Heidi and I both got slaps to the back of our heads for pulling one over Aunt Mom. :) But then we went out and had crab cakes, so it was all good. :)

Saturday morning I went and played with Lauren P. (and her parents) some more, then Barbara, Aunt Mom, and I went to CarMax where I purchased a blue 2001 Ford Escape. Her name is Sydney. Some of you will understand that. She's _very_ nice. I like her a lot. :) Then I went to my friend Grant's house again. We were gonna go out for dinner, but couldn't find a parking place at Arundel Mills, and the next place we tried looked crowded, so we got take-out from Arby's instead. :) Then we watched the rest of the Farscape TV mini-series. :)

On Sunday, so as to keep my secret an actual secret, I skipped church and instead had "coffee" with Sanae (who had come back into town by then) and her boyfriend Marc. It was cool to see them (especially since she brought me stroopwafels!) and just chat for a couple of hours. It was also my first time in a Starbucks since Kuwait. After that, I met Aunt Mom and some other folks from church for lunch, then napped for an hour or two, then came back to Aunt Mom's for her birthday/my return celebratory crab feast. Donna, the crab I ate in your honor was delicious (as were all of the others).

Monday, I got up regular time (I actually woke up at 4, but was able to doze until 6:30-7-ish) and left for my drive to TN just before 8AM. After a completely non-exciting 10-hour drive, I arrived at my parents house...only to find it empty. I curled up on my La-Z-Boy in the den with Monkey (who remembers me) and waited for about an hour before my mom and sister got home. They were appropriately surprised, as was my dad who got home about an hour later, and my older brother who stopped by a few hours after that. Toby then surprised us by driving home from school too (we'd called him). Today's his 19th birthday, btw. Happy Birthday, Toby! Look at his little ear!

Tuesday, my mom took off of school, and Toby stayed home, so the three of us met my dad during his lunch break, then met my brother Jesse for lunch during his lunch break (at an "Arabic" restaurant - that was out of hummos!!!), then we went to Rocketown to drop off my resume. Their HR guy wasn't in that day, but another lady took my resume and showed us around. She sounded hopeful that they'd have a spot for me and recommended that I upload a resume and cover letter to their website (which I did shortly after getting back home that evening).

After all of those festivities, we went over to Jesse's house and ate spaghetti. I didn't get to meet his new girlfriend, but I'm sure I will eventually. We watched the "Clone Wars" shorts from the Cartoon Network, then Jesse kicked us out.

Today, I've pretty much just been a bum, catching up on some on-line reading, checking my email, and updating my blog (it now shows me in my correct location). Everyone went back to school today except for Toby who is still asleep on the floor in the den (I took over his room which was my room long before it was his, so like some would say the Philistines have to Israel, I have a prior claim to it). I know that boys and girls are wired differently in terms of things like sleep, and I recognize that he's a college freshman and therefore keeps weird sleeping hours, but it's now 1:30PM. That's amazing. I woke up this morning before 6.

My only plans so far for tomorrow are to attend some Veteran's Day thing that my dad's school is having. They're not going to recognize me as a veteran, but I'll be recognized as someone who was working alongside veterans or something like that. I dunno. People that I've never met before are really proud of me. They don't know what I did, but they're proud of me.

Oh, and grapefruits still taste good.

Monday, November 08, 2004

The Secret's Out!

Ok, to those of you in MD and Jordan who kept my secret, I thank you. The secret, for those of you still in the dark, was that I'm in America now. I arrived on election day, stayed in MD for a few days (during which I got a cell phone and bought a car!! not to mention seeing old (and new) friends), and drove to Nashville today, surprising my family. Everything happened so quickly for me in leaving Amman, that I was leaving before I'd told my family when I was coming. Then I got email from my mom saying that she wasn't expecting me until the end of it was a surprise just waiting to happen, and it did. :) Toby even drove home from college when he heard I was here. Apparently me waving in his direction from the interstate as I drove by wasn't good enough. :)

Anyway, over the next few days, I'll blog more about my first few days back in the States. It's not quite real yet, but I'm almost over the over-stimulation aspect of it all. I think the biggest thing that's struck me is how much _stuff_ everyone has here.

It was a lot of fun writing the previous blog. If you re-read, you'll see that I was not untruthful in anything I said...I just didn't tell the _whole_ truth, and instead relied on your assumptions of what "here" meant. :) Heehee....I'm sneaky. :)

The plan's still the same though....I'm gonna go check out Rocketown tomorrow. Y'all check out its website to see how cool it is.

Saturday, November 06, 2004

Future Plans

I just realized that, not only had I not posted in a while, but I also hadn't shared my current plans for the future.

Well, the current plan involves me finishing up a few more things here, then after a week or so in Maryland, driving back to TN. I'll live in TN with my parents for a few months, hopefully working at this club in town called "Rocketown." It's a youth-oriented club founded by one of my favorite musicians, Michael W. Smith. Then, sometime in January, I'll come back to MD and will begin a year as a full-time grad student at University of Maryland, College Park. I'd been attending grad school part-time prior to moving overseas, so I'm still a student. I figure that this will be a good way for me to transition back into American life, and give me a year in which to figure out where I want to live and what I want to do. I heard from my graduate advisor yesterday that he doesn't have any research assisstant spots available for me right now, but that he's (as usual) got lots of proposals out waiting for funding, so it's possible that by the time classes come around, he might have something. Otherwise, I'll get a job someplace and pay for it all myself.

After that year, I don't know.

So that's the plan for now.

Monday, November 01, 2004

Things I'm Looking Forward To

I've given you a list of things I want to remember about Baghdad, so here's a list of the things I'm looking forward to in America (also in no particular order, so no offense...and by the way, I'm really tired, so my brain's not really working):

1. Maryland blue crabs
2. Sour cream
3. Mini-golf
4. Papa John's
5. Celery
6. The Air & Space Museum
7. Seeing my family and friends
8. Live sports
9. Sliced ham
10. Convenience in shopping
11. Loaves of bread
12. Network television brain's just really not working...I'm sure I'll think of other things eventually. Oddly, right now I'm watching Full Metal Jacket.

Good night, ladies!