Thoughts, Beliefs, Hypocrisy

I've been tossing about thoughts in my head for a few weeks now, and I figured it was time to draw up a conclusive post about them.

Firstly, the one thing that I absolutely hate is being taken out of context. It is something I sincerely loathe about our technological age. You cannot tell some one's tone through text. I know that I'm not the only one who is guilty of taking some one's typed words more (or less) serious than they mean them. That being said, I also cannot stand having a semi-serious conversation via social media. A simple disagreement can be taken to even higher levels because when you may think you are coming across as calm and attentive, that person is probably taking it as you yelling or disrespecting them. I have been guilty of this and you know that you have too. It's happened to me more than once and has happened recently, which brings me to what I'm writing about.

I have very distinct views of things and I don't hide them. I believe in equal rights for all, no American (nor anyone else in the world) should be made to feel like a second class citizen. I believe that the GLBT community should have the same rights as everyone else.

I tell myself that I am pro-choice, but I realize that I am more pro-life than pro-choice. I wouldn't tell another woman what she can or can't do with her body, to include abortion, but on the other side, if I was pregnant (no matter the situation), I would not be able to have an abortion. Do I wish that women would choose not to abort? I do. I wish they would go the way of adoption before ever having an abortion. In the end, though, it is ultimately their decision and they have to live with that decision.

I believe in Occupy Wall Street and what they stand for, and on top of that, I believe in supporting and defending the Constitution.. For some reason, this causes a lot of people to scratch their heads. How can I (as a military Veteran) support someone using their First Amendment rights? Do you sense the sarcasm in that question? I don't see how it's ridiculous of me to do so. I also don't understand how anyone who has served or is currently serving can be okay with what's going on. The first thing that I abided to do when I recited my Oath of Enlistment is to SUPPORT AND DEFEND THE CONSTITUTION OF THE UNITED STATES AGAINST ALL ENEMIES, FOREIGN AND DOMESTIC.

Take a look at the Navy's Oath of Enlistment:

"I,____________, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God. I swear (or affirm) that I am fully aware and fully understand the conditions under which I am enlisting."

In the past 2 months during the Occupations around the country (and the world), so many people's rights have been trampled upon and violated. The Constitution is getting thrown out the window left and right. It sincerely disturbs me. I do not serve and protect the Constitution for it to be disregarded so rampantly.

The best example of this is all of these evictions of the Occupy protesters. The First Amendment states:

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

Police (and the politicians who command them to commit their acts) have been guilty of prohibiting the free exercise of freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and the right to peaceably assemble. The rights of Americans are being trampled by other Americans. The biggest example of this is the violence being taken against peaceful protesters. The pepper spray incident at UC Davis is one that sticks out in my mind. A police officer strolled up to a group of protesters sitting on the ground with linked arms. He walked around them with his can of pepper spray like he was showing off a new toy and then proceeded to use the pepper spray. He sprayed these people full on in the face without the ladder of force being met.

I spent my last 3 years of Active Duty serving in Sicily with a Navy Security Department. Even though by rate, I am not a Master-at-Arms, I still went through the classes to learn the basics of being a military police officer. This included learning the Ladder of Force and when to use deadly force. Deadly force is the force which a person uses, causing—or that a person knows, or should know, would create a substantial risk of causing—death or serious bodily harm.

Now this is where I have been called a hypocrite. I do understand when force is needed, but I also understand that throughout the majority of these incidents at Occupy camps across the country, the force has NOT been warranted.

Another thing that has been bothering me is the number of pictures popping up of Active Duty military overseas with sayings like "I don't have time to Occupy because I'm too busy defending our country". I am ashamed by those military members and family of military members that even share these types of posts because it goes against everything that we stand for. One of the main things we do is to ensure the freedoms of our fellow Americans. When you state or support statements like that, you are doing the exact opposite. You are making your fellow Americans (that you swore to protect) feel as though their own military doesn't care. I also get that a good chunk of our country is unappreciative of our military, but you should be glad that these people get to have their say and that we don't live in a land where this freedom isn't a right.

The other screwed up thing about a lot of the military folk that I know NOT supporting OWS is how many people are on their way out of the military because of the economy. Between Perform-to-Serve and Enlisted Review Boards in the Navy, a lot of good Sailors are on their way out because the Navy is downsizing. What is going on in this country affects every single person. Just because you were that lucky person who made the PTS cut this time around, doesn't mean you will next time.

So where is the balance? When will I not be considered a hypocrite for standing up for my fellow Americans and the rights that are given to them via the Constitution? When will I not be considered a hypocrite for serving my country and doing so proudly and faithfully? It's a double-edged sword, I guess.

Mandie’s Crack–Street Hockey

This weekend, I attended my first View Askew Street Hockey League (here fore known as VASHL) event in New Jersey. A little background, the VASHL began when Kevin Smith decided to attend the Walter Gretzky Street Hockey Tournament in Brantford, Ontario, Canada back in 2009. A bunch of people from the board created teams and went to compete and have returned every year since.

Being that I was stationed in Italy, I wasn’t able to attend any of the Brantford tournaments. Close to a year before this event, I was (unknowingly) drafted to be a part of the View Askew Girls (or more lovingly known as the VAG). On the VA board, we do a gift exchange every year for the holidays and my Santa last year (Talos) got my VAG jersey for me. On the morning before it showed up, I received a Private Message from Katie, Captain of the VAG, asking me if I wanted to be a part of the team. Best Present Ever.

Fast forward to about a year later, everyone else went to Brantford during the first weekend of June and it was decided that waiting another year for hockey was just a ridiculous idea. So our VASHL Commissioner, Darryl, started getting together a charity tournament to support both The Wayne Foundation and RAINN.
After my wonderful experience back in July and my wanting to get to hockey for a long time, coming up for this tournament was a given. The only drawback for me was never playing hockey before and really not having any idea what to expect on the rink.

I’m on vacation for 2 weeks. While I am travelling around, my sister in law and nieces are visiting their family in Pennsylvania. So I drove with them as far as Maryland and rode to New Jersey with Gavin and Nikki. We got there and I met up with my roommates, and we all headed out for dinner since there were so few of us in town.

Friday was pretty awesome. We went to eat brunch at Broadway Diner then headed to the Jay and Silent Bob Secret Stash. I got a really awesome deal on the full run of Ultimate X-men in Trade Paperback and X-men: Age of Apocalypse from Mike before heading for the Quick Stop.

Most of everyone else had arrived during the day while we were out. Everyone just grabbed whatever for dinner and we headed out for karaoke. The place ended up being the worst dive bar that most of us have ever seen, but we had a good time doing some karaoke. Yours truly sang “18 and Life” by Skid Row.

Saturday was Day 1 of hockey, and this first time that I would ever step on the rink. Needless to say, I was nervous. The team that I was on was going up against pretty much the entirety of the View Askew Vulgarians (Paul, Darryl, moTT, ArtistJim, Mike M, Keith and a few others) for the first game.

For most of the first day, I just played defense so I could get a feel for it all. The first two games were played via the rosters that Darryl had made prior to us getting there, then on the third one we all put our sticks in the middle and did teams that way. I basically ended up with the Vulgarians, which was awesome. ArtistJim was in the goal and was coaching me for pretty much the duration of both days (even when he was on the opposite team).

It was a blast. We wrapped up around 5 on Saturday so that everyone could go back to the hotel to shower and get ready for Tell Em Steve-Dave! and Jay & Silent Bob Get Old live at the Count Basie. This was the first time that I saw Kevin and Jay in person and was my first ever live show for anything SModCo wise. So besides popping my hockey cherry, I got to pop that one too.

The show was great. TESD was fantastic as always. They had puppets that were made of each of them and it was just a good time. Kevin and Jay were also excellent, and at the end they do a feature called “Let Us Act!” to which they brought Gavin onstage because it was his birthday.

After the show, we all headed to the Dublin House for drinks and food. It was a good time. Got to chat with everyone and catch up with Brian Quinn of Tell Em Steve-Dave!

We all headed back for our hotel after a bit because we had another day of hockey to go. I woke up on Sunday and had to do the Robot to get out of bed. I was so sore that I could hardly move. Took some Motrin and a hot shower just to get mobile, but was good to go once we got to the rink and I was able to stretch out.

We first did a game of the Vulgarians vs. everyone else. Then we played USA vs. Canada, and USA won! After that, we played 37 & older vs. everyone else. I played in all 3 games and mostly played offense. It was fantastic.

I surprised the hell out of myself. I figured I was going to go out on the rink and just be terrible at hockey, but I got the hang of it pretty quick. Quite a number of people told me that I did a great job, but I think the best compliment came from Ming who said that I had impressed a lot of people over the weekend when I put my heart into the game and didn’t stop for one minute.

The greatest thing about VASHL is just the kindred feeling and everyone being so encouraging. I walked in there not knowing exactly what to expect. I walked out with a couple more friends and head over heels for street hockey. So when’s the next tourney? I am so ready.

A Veteran’s Thoughts

My friend, Brian Moore, summed up one of the feelings that I usually have with a few simple words.  "What sucks right now is knowing people I care about are deploying without me". Unless you have served or are involved in the military in some way, you won't really get it. Most people look at me like I'm crazy when I say that I miss my squadron and I miss being on the ship.

.5% of Americans take the oath of enlistment and boldly go where many will not go. With an exception of those who support our military (and you all know who you are), the rest of the 99.5% of the country seems to really take for granted what we do.

I have been called a murderer because I worked on the planes that refueled the F/A-18s that dropped bombs on Iraq and Afghanistan. I am not a violent person by any means. There's a reason why I chose the branch of service and rate that I did. I did not want to be boots on the ground. I did not want to be infantry. Many people have tried to guilt trip me about this and it's ridiculous because I have the utmost respect for every single person who has gone over there, but I knew what I wanted to do and where I could excel. I also have spoken to people who have been on the ground who have thanked me for serving onboard ship because they "just couldn't do that". In the end, it's all about the team.

When I was in high school, the Navy's "Accelerate Your Life" recruitment campaign was in full swing, even had one of my favorite bands on the commercial (Godsmack playing "Awake"). I took one look at that commercial - the final checker sending the bird off, being that last person to lay eyes over that machine to make sure that it was 100% prepared for flight, and I said to myself that I wanted to be there. I wanted to be that person. I wanted that responsibility.

And I did it. I went to boot camp and completed it. Many of my own friends doubted my abilities, and tried to bring me down before I even left. The man who recruited me, the Navy Recruiter who sent me to boot camp told me that he didn't think that I would make it. How's that for a cheap shot and even better vindication??

I completed it. Everything they threw at me, I threw back. Boot camp was also where I met the first of many people in the Navy who would have a profound effect on my life. Someone who challenges me and doesn't let me feel sorry for myself. Someone who inspires me to be a better person, and isn't afraid to tell me when I've fucked up, but someone that no matter how much time has passed, I can always count on. I am so lucky to have more than one person who is like this for me.

My squadron was a challenge that nothing in this life could have prepared me for. I was met with challenges day after day, work and personal wise. I cannot say that I enjoyed working in my shop because that would be a lie. I enjoyed working with certain people in my shop. The people who were willing to teach, willing to give me a shot, and not give me the stereotypical bullshit about being a female.

I carried parts almost heavier than I was. I ran my ass all over the flight line and flight deck. Did I make mistakes? Hell yeah. Did I learn from those mistakes? Every single day. But I never made the same mistake twice.

I had to deal with people bringing me down when I meritoriously advanced to Third Class Petty Officer, and had to deal with it again when I was the only person in my shop to get an end of deployment Navy Achievement Medal (the only NAM that I ever got in the military). I didn't go to work every single day to earn medals or awards. I went because I made a commitment. I went because I wanted to serve my country. I went because the military gave me something when I had nothing at all.

If not for the US Navy, I would not have money to go to college. If not for the US Navy, I would not have had the time of my life traveling around the world. I still have many more places to go and see, but the Navy got me started on that.

I would not know some of the most brilliant people to ever set foot in my life. I am thankful for every single person that I've met because of my service. It is those people that after years of not keeping in touch that I can pick up and talk to again like we just saw each other yesterday. There is an understanding that life continues, and its okay if we don't happen to talk daily and that we can't always keep in touch. The important thing is the knowledge that if you need something, all you have to do is ask.

I am feeling very nostalgic tonight. I get this way every now and again. I didn't think my departure from the military was going to be this rough. That I won't go back to sea and I won't feel the pride of seeing an airplane that I fixed fly in the sky. This door has shut. There's still the Reserves, but its not the same.

A lot of people that I know were just so happy to do their one tour of duty and get out. As I watch and see, so many more of my comrades are being let go because of the same ridiculous system that I went through. People who I served beside, People who I entrusted with my life, People who I consider to be my family. We are all being faced with this harsh reality, but I will never regret one minute of my service to this country.

A Wedding, A Meetup, A Woman Never Happier– Part 4

I woke up Sunday morning and was able to chat with Megan for a bit before she headed out for her flight. I gifted her a bottle of Sicilian wine that we hoped to sit down and share, but, due to the crazy weekend, that shall be the next time we meet. The other bottle I gifted to Graham Doyle, of The Irish Pubcast fame, via Simon.

I packed up my stuff and took it over to Kevin and Roz’s room, since Cindy and I couldn’t check into our room until later that day. Cindy and Simon headed for NYC to see Spiderman: Turn off the Dark and I had plans with Paul and moTT to go tag along with the Tell ‘Em Steve-Dave! guys to Collingwood Flea Market.

I got down to the hotel lobby and it took me almost an hour to head out of there because everyone was saying goodbyes. Linnitt gifted me a beautiful bracelet from Guatemala.  After all the “see you later’s” were said (and I was starting to feel a little bit of the post meetup blues), Carrie, Steven, Crystal, and Ed were all heading back home, so they swung me by to meet up with Paul and moTT for our big adventure.

We drove about 45 minutes or so, and finally arrived at the fabled Collingwood Flea Market. moTT went off to do some bargain hunting, so Paul and I began our search for the TESD guys. We found them inside at the messy comic book guy’s stall (his name escapes me right now). We browsed a bit and came across a pellet/BB gun stall that had their guns made to look like real weapons (or to me, anything I could name off of MW2 or Black Ops).

The guys were already towards the end of their time there, since they had gotten there earlier to try and sell some stuff before recording. We met up with Git' ‘Em Steve-Dave and listened to Q and Walt interview this guy who was full of conspiracy theories before heading for the car.

Since moTT was heading in the opposite direction for home, Paul and I hopped in with Ming to head back to Red Bank. He dropped us off at the train station because we were going to head up to NYC to meet up with Cindy and Simon. Good thing, we didn’t hop on the train since Simon texted back and said they were coming back after the show and were heading to dinner with the British contingency.

Paul and I grabbed a snack at the bakery near the train station and walked back to the Stash. I’m so glad Paul is a patient guy and was having a conversation with Sunday Jeff, as I probably did a good 20-30 laps around the Stash. I had been in the Stash every day up until that point, but never had enough time to actually browse. When I finally felt I had browsed enough, I bought my collection of books and headed for Jack’s Music Shoppe across the street.

The day before when I was shopping with Chase, I had found a couple vinyls that I liked. I found a few more this day that were perfect, including Rise Against’s new album. Paul joined me after a bit and we were in Jack’s until closing time.

Since Cindy and Simon hadn’t returned from NYC yet and neither Paul nor I had lunch, we headed to yet another fabled TESD spot, Zebu Forno. This place is just like Panera Bread but with more of an Italian take. I can’t quite remember what Paul had, but I had a sandwich and a balsamic strawberry arugula salad that was delectable. As we had time to kill and there was free wi-fi, Paul and I just chilled at Zebu for a bit chatting, tweeting, and charging our phones. Just a nice comfortable atmosphere to relax.

I think it was about 2 to 3 hours later when we got the call that it was time for dinner, so we met up with quite the number of people at Olive Garden. Cindy, Simon, Paul D, Kevin, Martin, Cally, Karla and Dex. I believe we were there until closing time. Paul, Karla, Dex and I finalized our plans for NYC the next day, and headed to sleep.

The next morning, we got up and headed for the Big Apple. We got into Penn Station, where someone swore that Dex was famous and Karla, Paul and I were his entourage. Dex played it up real well too! So we walked from there to the Shake Shack to meet up with Frank #3 for lunch. I have been hearing about the legendary Shake Shack for quite some time, and it definitely lived up to its legacy.

Following the Shake Shack, we decided that we wanted to be touristy on this trip and headed for the Empire State Building, where Crystal met us for our trip to the top. I got us a reduced entrance fee due to my military ID and we headed up. New York City looks so small from up there. I think at one point I said to Dex something along the lines of “But Central Park is right there!”. Yeah, good one, Mandie.

I really have a tempting to Photoshop King Kong into this picture. It was really sunny and hot on the ground, but very overcast and breezy at the top. Still an excellent view though.

After the Empire State Building, we had to part from Paul as he headed for his plane back to Canada. Crystal still had some time before work and led Karla, Dex and myself to Midtown Comics. I sincerely wish Paul had a later flight once I got in there. It’s what geeks think about if they think of the promised land.

I wandered about Midtown Comics for quite a bit. Picked up some T-shirts books, and some odds and ends. I was very glad that I brought my hefty backpack since I knew that if I made it to Midtown, I’d be buying a bit of stuff.

From Midtown, Dex, Karla and I headed for Times Square. Crystal had departed once we had reached Midtown as she had to get ready for work. We just kept walking until we finally hit Central Park and then we hit the Subway to meet Robb at S’Mac for dinner.

By this point in the day, my feet were absolutely killing me. I had decided in all my infinite wisdom to wear my unbroken-in Clerks Etnies. Bad idea. Karla and Dex still wanted to walk around a bit. There was no way that I was going to be able to keep up so I decided to head back for Penn Station. Robb accompanied me over there and saw me safely onto the train back to Red Bank.

I made it back just fine, besides getting a headache from the chick who had “Girlfriend” by Avril Lavigne as her text notification. Every 20 seconds it was “Hey Hey, You You, I don’t like your girlfriend”. Quite a few of my Canadian friends got a kick out of this.

The next day, Cindy and I got up a bit early because it was our last day, but also because it was Podcasting Day! Cindy and I did a special episode of The Irish Pubcast with Simon at the Dublin House. Along with having our last meal of the trip with Simon. I definitely wore my brand spanking new Pubcast t-shirt and we got some shots for the Pubcast Facebook page.

We, then, followed that up with watching the guys from Tell ‘Em Steve-Dave record both their regular episode and TESD: Overkill. It was seriously like having my own private Smodcastle show. The guys were absolutely awesome and I am so glad to meet them. I can’t wait to see them in live-show mode in October.

Ming met Cindy and I at the Stash and we went for dinner at Boondocks Fishery, down on the river. A few months prior to the trip, I had sponsored Ming in the Superhero Half Marathon. He surprised me with a medal from it. I’m still not sure where I want to hang it. I think I’ll save it in the box that I have with all my stuff for when I have an office again. My Mini Cooper is too small to have things hanging from the rearview.
Boondocks was an awesome place to eat. The food was fantastic. This is what Ming and I split for dinner.

After Boondocks, we headed for the park right on the river, as Red Bank was hosting movies in the park that week. So Cindy, Ming and I all watched Austin Powers in the park. It was seriously the perfect end to a perfect trip and my first big VA meetup.

A Wedding, A Meetup, A Woman Never Happier– Part 3, The Wedding!

I left off at the beginning of Gavin and Nikki’s big day. Megan was up and out the door early to go document the joyous day, and I spent the day meeting up with various Boardies who I hadn’t seen because they got in late or were arriving that day.

As food was a priority for most of us, I found Carrie and Steven, so we could head to the Broadway Diner. A slew of Boardies came in and out. Karla and Dex, Zeta, Trevor and his wife, Jen, Kevin and Maria. And finally our dining partners showed up! My fellow Connecticunt and the fluffiness herself, Linnitt, and her awesome hubby, Korey.

Afterwards, we walked to the Stash to see if we could help with anything and we found the Waltons. Everything was taken care of for later in the day, so I darted across the street with Chase to get a glimpse of the prestigious Jack’s Music Shoppe. I seriously could be in there all day and never get tired of it.
The Jay and Silent Bob Secret Stash can only hold so many people. There were about 15 or so of us Boardies that weren’t going to be at the actual ceremony, so we got together in Carrie and Steven’s room for a listening party. Right here is where I would include the link to their SMarriage on, but it still isn’t uploaded.

We got some snacks and drinks, and had quite the bit of company. As much as I would have loved to have been at the Stash, I think the listening party was better as I got to spend some time with a few people that I had been looking forward to doing so with. Right in the middle of the ceremony, KT, Dawn, Amanda and David all showed up after driving halfway across the country. I got to have the biggest and best Bunny hug in the whole world.

Another great thing about the listening party was that we got to lounge to listen to the ceremony and then had about an hour or so to get ready for the reception. The dress I wore was one that I had picked especially for Gavin and Nikki’s wedding. I was so happy to finally wear it.

The reception was a wonderful time. I got to meet even more Boardies that I had been looking forward to meeting. People like Jon and most of our British contingency, who (thanks to Gerry) all knew who I was before I introduced myself.

Nikki was absolutely gorgeous in her dress. I loved that all the groomsmen had the LOTR green leaf brooch (probably not called that since they are guys, but whatever). Simon’s best man speech was epic and a great time was had by all.

Before I had flown up for the wedding, my friend had seen the wedding invitation on the table and didn’t understand the whole theme of Lord of the Rings vs Star Wars. One side of the room was Lord of the Rings and the other was Star Wars. Even though I was pro-LOTR, I was sitting on the Star Wars side. That worked in my favor, though, as I got to sit next to two of my most favorite people in the world, Jamie and Chase Walton. These are definitely two of the most wonderful people. Hands down. Unfortunately, we got absolutely no pictures together during the few days that they came up, but there’s always October.

We also shared our table with Troy, and his wife. I got to sit and chat with Troy for awhile. He’s one helluva awesome guy and I can relate with him a lot due to a lot of the things he has experienced in his life. Definitely looking forward to picking his brain again. There’s many people like that in the VA community. I spent a lot of my time just asking questions to people and listening. I do have to say I prefer talking one on one with people than through typing, but we do what we have to do to keep in touch.

One of the big highlights of my night was my dance partner for the night, Adam. I have to go back a bit because Adam and I didn’t really get on back on the Version 2 part of the board, and once the newest version rolled out, he really hasn’t been seen around. I knew about him through mostly everyone else, and we had chatted a bit the day and night before the reception. Not a lot of people really know how much I love to dance. I have never taken lessons, but at family parties, clubs, or what have you, I am usually one of the first people on the dance floor. The reception was no exception and having a great partner like Adam made it even better.

One of my favorite moments of the night was when Adam came around and told everyone that we had to get on the dance floor to dance and sing to “Don’t Stop Believin”. This prompted an outburst from Paul Saunders that left me in stitches. For those who didn’t witness this, Paul cannot stand “Don’t Stop Believin” because there is no such thing as South Detroit. I, being me, had to push him further and ask what the hell he was talking about. See, Paul is Canadian and grew up in Ontario, part of which could be considered South Detroit. Hence, South Detroit not existing. He proved his point later on that evening via Google Maps.
I’m going to transgress again! Remember, how I got those Clerks Etnies? Gavin came over to me and told me to go get them. Megan took a few pictures of Gavin, myself, Simon and Paul all in our Etnies. And yes, I wore my Etnies with my pretty dress. Definitely my favorite picture of the entire weekend.

Photos courtesy of Unblinking I Photography

Speaking of Megan, I didn’t get to spend as much time with her as I had wanted due to the fact that she was technically “working”. I hope to spend more time with her at a later date, but for the little time that we did have, she is absolutely amazing. A little tornado that one.
The night wouldn’t have been complete if not for our wonderful DJ, yet another Boardie, Nate 3.0 himself. Very dapper in his vest. All he needed was the BSG Official Soundtrack and his music set would have been complete.

The only real complaint I had about the night was any time I put my drink down (whether to grab my camera to take a pic or run to the bathroom), the wait staff immediately grabbed it and got rid of it. I seriously had 2 full Gin and Tonics that went missing within 5 minutes of getting them from the bar. It was an open bar, but I didn’t expect to have to keep going back for another when I didn’t even finish the first.

Time flew and soon it was time to vacate the reception hall. We moved the party into the hotel bar that was hosting karaoke and a few of our girls were able to get some songs in. Jess sang Zombie (I think) and KT sang us some Rebel Yell, which, had I known, I would have jumped there with her for. After the bar shut down, we headed up to Gavin and Nikki’s room for more drinks and conversation. This is when Paul showed me that there is no such existence as South Detroit.

At some point everyone started heading downstairs for a smoke break, and I went to mine and Megan’s room and fell asleep. This is a lesson to be learned everyone. If I say that I need to “go get something” or I have to go to my room for some reason, don’t let me go alone and pop some caffeine into my drink.

A Wedding, A Meetup, A Woman Never Happier–The First 2 Days

So I left off on July 7th. I was on a plane heading to Red Bank, New Jersey to the wedding of two of the finest people that I have the pleasure of knowing. Out of all the people that were invited to the wedding, I had only met one of those people in person before. Needless to say, I was a bundle of nerves.

My plane was originally supposed to come in after Cindy’s, but we left on time and somehow arrived early. I texted Simon as soon as we landed to let him know that I was on the ground. He met me at baggage claim and we went to get Cindy. As soon as we got over there, Simon surprised Cindy and I with the most awesome poster (that I now own).

The Irish Pubcast is a podcast that Simon and another fellow Boardie, Wayne, started with their friend, Graham, in Dublin, Ireland. Its one of my most favorite podcasts to listen to as I can always count on my Irishmen for a pick me up. During our trip, Cindy and I recorded an episode of Pubcast with Simon. If you’d like to listen, it can be found here.

We quickly headed for the train and headed for Red Bank. As we were walking from the train station, we were taken by surprise as out of no where popped Gavin. We chatted for a few and we continued our trek to mecca, aka Jay and Silent Bob’s Secret Stash, where Ming was waiting to greet us. I also got to meet the dubious shopkeep, Walt, and Mike (who so damn awesome the entire time we were there). We stopped for a bite at the Dublin House and then headed for our hotels to gear up for Bachelor and Bachelorette shenanigans.

The boys all headed to New York City for the Bachelor party, while all of us girls (and a few of the guys) stayed in Red Bank for the Bachelorette party. We had dinner at The Downtown CafĂ©. I had just recently started using Foursquare (after being too afraid to use it in Italy due to OPSEC). I checked in to The Downtown and got us 30% off our meal.  /hi5 to me! We had a grand time, took it easy (we only hopped to one other bar!) since we knew the next few days would be packed with excitement.

Quick tangent, the food at all these different restaurants in Red Bank is just absolutely amazing. From the Dublin House to Broadway Grill, Broadway Diner, The Downtown, Boondocks. Oh so good!

Cindy and I took our time getting ready on Friday since the boys were still in NYC and we wanted to gear ourselves up for the Dublin House pre-wedding party that night. We watched the shuttle launch then headed out to grab some lunch at the Broadway Grill then to the Stash for awhile before picking up Megan at the Red Bank train station.

Another quick tangent, Cindy and I had a discussion during our lunch this day about just how picturesque Red Bank it is. It is the town you think of when you think about Anytown, USA.

I roomed with Cindy for the first night in NJ and for the last 3 nights. In between that, I roomed with Megan. Her and I went to go get in our room and get settled before heading up to Gavin and Nikki’s room for a little Dublin House pre-gaming.

It was here that I got two surprises! I finally met the notorious Vulgarian and VASHL biotch, Paul Saunders and Adam (aka SBF), AND I was presented Clerks Etnies by Gavin!

The Dublin House get-together wasn’t a rehearsal dinner at all, but more of a gathering of all the Boardies who were in or around the area. I met so many awesome people. I chatted with the only and only ArtistJim. I finally met and was bear-hugged by the Mom and Pop of the VA Board, Kevin and Maria. Dianae drove down from NY and we had a uniting of the American Ladies of Pubcast. We partied hard and then took the party back to the hotel for jello shots, poker, and shenanigans before heading to bed to gear up for the big day!


So much has happened since I got back from Italy in June. I’ve been meaning to sit and write it all down for awhile. I’m going to start with my trip to New Jersey back in July. First, I’m going to have to give some back story.

Back in high school, my two best friends introduced me to the world known as the View Askewniverse. A world created by director/writer/all around sensational man, Kevin Smith. We all fell in love with this world of witty characters and felt like we could relate in our own way to it all.

Now fast forward about 7 years to 2008. We all have graduated high school and I am just starting my second tour in the Navy stationed in Italy. I had been on deployment for 7 and 1/2 months in 2007 and missed the beginnings of SModcast. My boss (who is also a big Kevin Smith and View Askew fan) introduces me to SModcast. As I listened, it was like I was reintroduced to Kevin again. This time as the man, rather than as Silent Bob. I also had picked up two of his three books, My Boring-Ass Life: The Uncomfortably Candid Diary of Kevin Smith and Shootin’ the Sh*t with Kevin Smith: The Best of the SModcast. Reading and listening along Kevin mentions the View Askew Board a number of times. I had seen it back before I went on deployment and meant to join, but it just didn’t happen, In February of 2009, I joined and my life has absolutely and forever changed for the better.

I have talked to and cultivated friendships with so many wonderful people. I feel as though I found my people (especially after NJ, but I’ll get to that later). Just having one thing in common (at first) to come together on a message board and feel as though I have lifelong friends and people that I can always count on is the absolute greatest thing.

After about a year of being on the board and talking with my good friend, Gerry, I started making plans to visit him in Czech Republic where he lives with his family. Soon after that, another Boardie, named Simon joined the mix and I was planning my first VA meetup! Things came together beautifully and my friend, Lynette and I had a wonderful two week vacation. First visiting Brno and Prague with Simon and Gerry, and continuing onto Dresden and Berlin, Germany.

I spent just about a week with Simon and a few days with Gerry, and that alone had me hyped up for when I was to return stateside after my 3 year tour.

There’s a group of us that play a little game that we like to call Mafia and there was a thread on what is now known as Version 2 of the Board where a group of people came together. It’s now a very notorious aspect of Board history, but not many people understand that underneath the exterior that they perceived, was a close knit group of people that still haven’t fallen by the wayside of each other.

We had movie nights along with a chat room. We would host video chats. People could (and still can) be counted on no matter what the situation. It was in these chats that I grew to know some of the group of people. In the video chats, especially, because we could just talk to each other. One of the very best days was my birthday in 2010. I took the day off of work and was going through quite a rough time. These people stayed on video chat with me throughout the day to make sure that I had a good birthday, even if I didn’t really move from the computer.

Fast forward to June 2011. I have just come home from my tour in Italy and I receive a wedding invitation in the mail from Gavin and Nikki. Even though, I think we talked about it, I was still so awed to receive one as I hadn’t even met them yet! This is how awesome the VA community is. Relationships can be cultivated to such a point that it’s hard to imagine that these people weren’t always in your life.

So on July 7th (also my final day in the Navy), I was on an airplane heading towards Newark International Airport where Simon was picking up myself and another Boardie friend of ours, Cindy. We were heading to Red Bank, New Jersey to celebrate the wedding of Gavin and Nikki. The events surrounding my visit and the wedding will be continued in my next post.

Extra Life 2011 - Gaming for 24 hours to support the Children's Miracle Network

I am the Team Leader for Delta Special Ops' participation in Extra Life 2011. DSO is a gaming clan that I have been a member of for just over 3 years now. We believe in fair and honorable gaming.

Extra Life is an annual 24-hour video game marathon that raises money to help kids at Children's Miracle Network Hospitals. This year’s event begins at 8 a.m. on Oct. 15, 2011. Each participant is asked to raise money by recruiting at least four sponsors to give $1 for each hour of the marathon (that’s just $24 per sponsor). I would like to push the envelope and raise as much as possible. I would like to blow the goals out of the water, but I need your help to do it!

I would love for you to sponsor me by pledging for my hours of gameplay. If you would like to do so, please go to this link I am playing in support of Shands Hospital for Children at the University of Florida.

If you would like to join our team, please feel free to do so! The more the merrier.

Thank you so much!

Children are our future. Let's help them get there.

NASA Juno Tweetup Press Release

Jacksonville Resident is One of 150 Selected to Attend NASA Tweetup for Launch of Jupiter-Bound Mission Aug. 4 – 5, 2011

NASA Twitter Followers Will Tweet from Kennedy Space Center, Fla.

Jacksonville, FL (August 01, 2011)- NASA will bring together 150 Twitter followers to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida for a two-day Tweetup, Aug. 4 - 5, 2011, for the launch of the Jupiter-bound Juno spacecraft aboard an Atlas V rocket. Jacksonville resident Amanda Marron has been selected as one of 150 @NASA Twitter followers to attend and Tweet the event. The Atlas V’s launch window opens at 11:39 a.m. EDT on Friday, Aug. 5. Juno will begin a five-year cruise to Jupiter and is expected to arrive in July 2016.

As a NASA Tweetup attendee, Marron and the other 149 Twitter users will interact with engineers and scientists from the Juno mission and other upcoming NASA missions as well as tour the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex. If all goes as scheduled, participants will view the Juno spacecraft launch. In addition, the Tweetup will allow participants to meet other tweeps and members of NASA’s social media team. Attendees were selected through a lottery system in which 1,200 @NASA Twitter followers registered.

“It is an absolute joy to be selected,” Marron said, “I have been enamored with the Space program since I was a little girl. This will be my first time visiting Cape Canaveral and what better way to visit than with a Tweetup and a launch.”

Marron has recently returned from a three-year tour in Sicily and is acclimating to civilian life after serving for 7 years with the U.S. Navy. She plans to start college in the fall. Follow her Tweets at
NASA Tweetup participants are traveling from across North America and Europe to attend. Find a list of registered attendees on the NASA Tweetup Twitter account:!/NASATweetup/juno-launch/members

This Jupiter-bound mission Tweetup will be NASA’s 23rd. NASA held its first Tweetup on Jan. 21, 2009, at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. NASA’s Tweetup Twitter account is and participants will be using #NASATweetup in their updates while tweeting. Information about NASA Tweetup can be viewed on

About Juno
The Juno spacecraft will investigate Jupiter’s origins, structure, atmosphere and magnetosphere. The spacecraft's color camera will provide close-up images of the gas planet, including the first detailed glimpse of Jupiter’s poles. Principal Investigator Scott Bolton, of the Southwest Research Institute, San Antonio, is leading the mission and NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., is managing it. Visit and http://missionjuno.swri.ed for additional information.
For all media inquiries, please contact:


I am a firm believer in karma. If you let your negativity - your hopelessness - your bleakness wash over you, that is all you will ever receive. If you send out positivity - love - light, that is what you will receive in return.

I try not to dwell on negativity and the bad. I think to experience life you must experience the ups and downs, but you must also not let the downs take over your life. You must learn from them and grow.

The Art Of Prayer - A Response to LunaWolfe

A few months ago, I started following a few different Pagan women via Twitter, Facebook and their blogs. With the constant craziness that's been going on this year, it has felt like I have had no time for my faith and for the Goddess. Just reading some of these blogs has started to bring me back around to where I want to be.

I was just reading a blog post about prayer on The Modern Pagan Woman's blog and it got me thinking of how I pray to my Goddess and God. She says that she prays mostly with thought. I think I do too. Just taking a few moments when I feel I need some guidance or I want to focus loving energy towards someone who I know could use it.

The most recent example of this is when my family's dog passed away. No, not Bear, but a dog that has been around since about 2005. This was a dog that I picked out, but was for my niece. I immediately fell in love with this dog when I saw him sleeping in the back of a cage as a puppy. When I left for Italy in 2008, he was a healthy boy and when I came home just about two months ago, he was no where near that. The diagnosis that the vet had given was depression. I took one look at this dog and knew he wasn't suffering from depression. I googled his symptoms which immediately pointed to heartworms. I tried to do the right thing and get numbers for the emergency vet and get my in-laws to just put him down so that he didn't have to suffer anymore. They refused.

The days before he passed were very tough. He was losing control of his bowels and bladder. He was listless and so very skinny. He had no muscle tone on his hind quarter at all. It broke my heart that I couldn't do anything for this dog.

You could tell that he was getting close to his time, especially when he collapsed the day before he passed. He was laid on a blanket in the living room and we all took turns laying with him. When I laid with him, I placed my right hand on his heart and with the other, I cradled his head. I prayed to the Goddess to not let him suffer anymore. I prayed that she would take this wonderful dog into her arms and let him run in the Summerland. I prayed that she let him feast in a way that he couldn't in the remaining months of his life. He was looking me right in the eyes as I prayed, like he knew. The next day when no one was home (save for the other animals), he passed on.

That is just one way that I know my Goddess hears me. I have prayed in other ways too. Drum Circle, for one. I love drum circle. I love feeling the beat of the drums and dancing around the fire. Building up the positive energy and sending it forth into the universe. Music, in all its aspects, can be prayer. The middle of a concert, with the right song playing, can be its own prayer. The energy of the crowd and the artist combining into something purely magical.

I haven't attended one in a long while, but I love attending and participating in ritual. When you are among a group of like-minded individuals who you trust, that makes it even more powerful. I have come out of ritual completely refreshed and renewed.

There are many ways to pray, and there isn't any way that's the wrong way. It's been a long while since I opened myself up to my Goddess and prayer is the best way to start again.


It's been a very long while since I kept a blog. I figured it was time to start back up again, especially since I'm looking into some Creative Writing degrees for college.

So much has happened in my life in the past 6 months alone. Drastic changes. Gaining friends. Losing friends. Going from Active Duty Navy to civilian life. Moving half way around the globe again for the second time in three years. It's been taking a toll on me. Physically, mentally and emotionally.

I'm used to change. I can handle change. All of this just seems to be too much change at once.