Friday, July 31, 2009

The Second (and hopefully last) Flood

Rather than cry about it I decided to blog about it. Cause I just could laugh about the possibility of spending hundreds of dollars and replacing all the meat I bought on sale yesterday. No, that’s just not funny. Nor is the puddle I am standing in inside my kitchen. My fridge is defrosting by the second and I have not a clue what to do. So I decided to make a few phone calls: eh hem…

Call #1 My dad:

Me: Hi dad-

Dad: Hey how’s it going?

Me: Fine… Dad my refrigerator is broke.

Dad: Okay… and what do you want me to do from here?

Me: Fix it!?

Dad: Well at least you can get a blog out of it.

Me: Already on it.

Call # 2: My friend Kevin- (he didn’t answer I had to leave a voicemail)

Me: Hi Kevin- it’s Katie and I am calling you because I have a big big BIG problem and you are always good at fixing my big big BIG problems. But you are probably not answering your phone because you are getting paid to fix other people’s big big BIG problems. But I miss you and that should be payment enough from me. Okay bye friend.

Call # 3: My friend Bob- (he also didn’t answer so I had to leave another message)

Me: Hi Bob, it’s Katie and I am calling the smartest person I know in the whole wide world and you know that’s true cause I am all the way in Paris to help me fix the biggest problem in the whole wide world right now. But you are not answering and therefore imminent disaster is about to take place.

Then I gave up calling and started to write. In the midst of typing my VM to Bob I heard the best sound in my life… My Fridge RESTARTED! Ahhhhhhh Thank you Jesus for hearing my desperate cries! My only issue now, is this fridge has to stick it out for another year. Come on baby- Stay cold!

But we are not done yet, I went onto facebook and my friend bob told me to call him back. I called him back, and was assured I knew he was the smartest person in the whole wide world. Want proof? where it is Bob heard my problem and then without hesitating started asking me questions about my fridge and broke down to me the mechanical reasons of why my fridge stopped working and then suddenly turned back on. Bob then assured me that my fridge should continue to work for the remainder of my time here. Told ya, smartest guy in the world.

So in the end my fridge breakdown didn’t turn into a nervous breakdown but a time to chat with a good friend, and had me laughing at myself once again.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

I just don't know

I have often considered this topic to blog about in the past, but rather than blogging about it, I have continued to process over and over again in my mind- maybe writing it out today, thanks to this weeks writer's prompt by Mama's Losin' It, will help me. Help in what you might ask? Help me in deciding what to do when I leave Paris?

Gasp! Yes this adventure is (at this time) not a life time commitment and I fully plan on returning to my home when I leave here. Now I know what you may be thinking, “Katie, you are not returning until next June, why are you thinking about that now?” But, that is exactly why I am thinking about it now! June is not that far away… and whatever my next step is, I want to be sure I head in the right direction.

So here are a few options I have come up with and cannot decide. I would love comments from you readers, on what you think I should do next! (and friends I know your biases on some of these topics but your opinions do matter the most :) )

First- The most contemplated decision I continue to go back and forth with, is whether or not I should go back to school to get and M.B.A. I have also considered law school, but in the end think an M.B.A would be more befitting to me than a law degree. But I am not sure if an M.B.A right now is something I really want. I know that I eventually want one, but starting school next fall would require taking the GMAT and taking the GMAT would require me to study now. Yuck. But I know that getting an M.B.A. now would be smart because then I would have it the rest of my life, rather than trying to take time out later. Or maybe once I have more experience it would be better to go back to school???

I just don’t know.

Second- Get a job. If I don’t go back to school then I obviously need to go and get a job. But what kind of job is the question. Do I want to find an international relations job? Do I want to work in hotel Management? Or event planning like I am doing now? Or do I want to have a job similar to one I had before I moved here? Before moving I knew I liked my job- but I think after I moved I appreciated it much more- or is it the grass is always greener thing? Another job option would be to stay and continue to work here in Paris. I love what I do here – but home is home.
Oh and now that I have found my love for writing… do I want to pursue this as an option?

I just don’t know.

Third- Then there is the issue of where to live? This is always a greatly divided issue. After high school my life became split between two places, San Diego and Orange County. My family and half of my friends live in San Diego and after college I moved back to San Diego and started developing my life there. But then the other half of my friends live in Orange County and it would be nice to live with them again as well. There are benefits to living in both places but I simply cannot decide. Not to mention that one of the M.B.A programs I have considered is in Texas- so that would really throw in another option if I ever make a decision about the M.B.A. program.

I just don’t know.

Ugh! I thought that writing all of this out would help- but it has only resurfaced the stress I feel. I need to go and take a walk and stop contemplating these things- and enjoy a rare and beautiful Paris Day. But they are all valid questions, and I need to start thinking about now- to know how to plan ahead for the future. You know… cause having a job and a place to live when you return to your home country, is a pretty important thing so I hear.

I just don’t know.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Le Chat!

You know that feeling you get when you are just about to fall asleep but even with your eyes closed you can sense something moving around or see a shadow? Does that ever happen to you, or am I just crazy? Well… last night just as I was about to drift to sleep, I thought I could sense something above me, coming from my sun roof window. As I slowly opened my eyes in the reflection of the window, I could see a figure of something small, but couldn’t tell what it was. Startled, I quickly jolted up, turned around, looked up and found- a cat!

First Sighting

I was so excited about my new little friend, I kept saying, “hi cat! Hi cat do you want to come in? Come in cat? Come be my friend!” The cat continued to sit there and looking around and scooping things out. I then slowly turned around to turn on my light, I didn’t want to startle him and have him run away. Next thing I knew I was standing on my bed petting the cat with him purring. I loved this cat and I wanted him to be all mine.

Before I even moved to France, I had been debating whether or not I would get a dog or cat while I was here to keep me company. In the end I always decide it’s not really fair to the animal because I am often away, and would then need someone or something to keep the animal company. So I have left my final decision on, I would not seek out getting an animal but if one found me, it would be wrong not to care and love for it. And this cat found me, so technically speaking, I could keep him! In my mind I was re-planning my entire next day. I would wake up in the morning go to Carrefour buy a litter box, cat food and fun toys for my new friend. This cat and I would be friends for life.

However, I did have one new stipulation- this cat most likely did belong to someone else. Thus I could not grab the cat out of the window, he would need to jump off of the window and into my room for him to be for keeps. While watching him contemplate his decision to jump or not to jump, I did encourage him to do so many times.

As I was talking to my new cat, I realized he wasn’t responding like a typical cat. I remembered that my friend Israel told me that French cats don’t respond to the same sounds as American cats. I was hating myself for not remembering what proper sound I needed to make, to get this cat to come on in. I began speaking French to the cat, and that made progress in getting the cat to respond. He really liked the name, “Mon Amie” So my cats name is Mon Amie, meaning my friend. Mon Amie speaks French.

After an hour of trying to tempt the cat to come inside, I decided it was 3:00 am and I needed to turn off the lights and go to bed- if Mon Amie wanted to come in, he would jump. I knew he wasn’t afraid of heights because he obviously found his way to the top of my apartment building, a three feet drop to my bed, would be nothing to four floors he was going to have to find a way down from. As I laid back in bed, I kept watching Mon Amie continue to be curious. He began to meow missing my company and wanting to still play. I kept hoping that I would wake up to find Mon Amie curled up next to me.

As I continued to watch and hope for Mon Amie to come into my room I could see the reflection of the street down below. One of the last things I remember seeing before falling asleep was Mon Amie down on the street looking up and then scampering off into the night. He made is way down from the apartment building and was off to find greater adventures. I thought about where he would go, and what else he would find, and left my window open in case he decided to return. As I closed my eyes, I let out a series of sneezes and remembered after all of that… I am allergic.

Saturday, July 25, 2009


Living here in France there are many ups and downs. Many days I live a life that seems straight out of a dream and I expect to wake up back in my bed in Oceanside any moment. And then there are the days where everything seems hard. Days where survival is all you can hope for. And to the world you feel… well invisible.

After three great weeks in Israel I came back to Paris and found myself lost. Israel was a great gift and an opportunity to be once again a part of a group. To have a sense of belonging. To be around people who understood me, laughed with me, and to work with people together as a team. Once upon returning to Paris- my normal office of about 30 people, has now dwindled down to 3 plus me. Most people are back in the states visiting family and at a large conference held each year. The friends I have in Paris- have skipped off on vacations of their own- and I was left feeling completely alone- unseen to the world around me.

After stuck in the ugly rut the last few days I was determined to get myself out of my apartment and into the city today. My main mission was to make it to the “la Marais Dance Center.” I had been here once before in passing and it seemed magical. I would love to take classes here but they charge 18 Euros a class and that is a bit too much for me. However, I thought if I made it to this place today, I would once again feel inspired. When I discovered this center the first time, the courtyard was filled with people sitting out and drinking mojitos, and a variety of music coming from all around the square of different classes in secession from jazz, to hip hop, and even bollywood.

This is the courtyard of the dance center. In the upper part of the building is where all of the dance classes are held.

Today when I arrived, the atmosphere was quite different. The once full café in the courtyard, was now an empty patio with three couples lingering over their brunch. The music that was once encompassing the entire quarter was muted with the sole sound of classical piano music. I turned around and looked up to see a ballet bar class taking place. Each girl was dressed in a black leotard with their hair pinned back in a perfectly neat bun. With a wide smile spread across my face, I watched the girls lift their arms and demi-plié and was taken to a place filled with joy and peace.

Entranced by their movement, I stood in awe of their beauty and grace. I wondered how long each girl had been dancing, and what brought them to this place today. Was it because it was what they have always done? Are they coming to the famous dance center for instruction from a special teacher? Or are they beginners, trying to learn and discover something new?

While watching the girl in the center of the class, the instructor approached her to adjust her body and movements. The instructor then peered out the window, smiled, and waved at me. Unsure if the wave was actually to me – or the girl standing on the stairs behind me, I simply nodded and smiled back. A few moments later the girl behind me was now gone and the instructor again looked at me and said, “Ca va?” To which I replied, “Ca va .”

I continued to watch the class as they danced- studying their movements and appreciating their dedication. But also part of me wanted to linger to be recognized by the instructor once again. It may seem like a small gesture to say hello but there really is power within it. She may not have realized it, but by saying hello while she tweaked and instructed the ballerina’s, she taught me something too. She helped me today for the first time in a while, realize that in this big city, I too am visible.

Friday, July 24, 2009


Being in Israel especially Jerusalem you were able to witness and be apart of many very religious rituals. While walking the streets five times a day you would hear the Muslims call to prayer echoing throughout the city and villages. Both Jewish and Muslim women were covered just in different attire. And little boys and men daily wore the kippa, some wore robes that would have tassels on their sides to remind them to pray. For the most part you would notice and pass the religious observances but the Shabbat even if you didn’t practice it would somehow affect your day.

Shabbat is the Jewish observation of the Sabbath. Now in the U.S. other than in churches talking about needing to take a day of rest- nothing was really affected and we even can get into grocery stores on the most holy of days like Christmas and Easter if need be. Here in France everything closes down on Sundays. If you need anything be sure to pick it up on Saturday because you will be tough out of luck on a Sunday and this and grossly thrown me off track many weeks.

In Israel and in all Jewish societies Shabbat is observed starting on the evening of Friday (today) and then through Saturday, giving one full day of rest. Now if only all the stores would be closed it may be a bother but you get over it and move on with your day. However- in my case it seemed like the first night of Shabbat was never ending. Probably because I didn’t realize the observance had started- and was confused why everything was turning out to be so strange.

After a long day of work many of us returned to the hotel wanting to go for a refreshing swim. We hurried up to our rooms changed our into our bathing suites. We jumped into the pool only to be pulled out five minutes later. The pool was being closed in observation of the Shabbat. Except they didn’t say it was because of Shabbat they said it was closing- thus I still didn’t catch on what was happening. Our group then decides we should once again change and just head down to dinner.
At dinner there is no hot food. There are loads of delicious salads but to use a stove would be considered work and in strict violation of practicing Shabbat. Now in my mind- yes a stove is hard work, but many of these yummy salads required quite a bit of chopping and I am sure that if they are not allowed to swim that extreme chopping also should but on the no, no list.

After dinner the girls and I started to get a little goofy- as I said it had been a long day. At this hotel there were four elevators. We walked into the first one with an open door. Elizabeth goes to push the button for floor four but all of the buttons are blacked out. Confused she keeps trying to push the buttons and then the door begins beeping. The two other girls and I start freaking out saying, “Oh my goodness, what is going on here? Our elevator is going to break. We need to get off, or we are going to get stuck.” Right as the doors close a cute little Jewish boy comes running through the doors.

The elevator takes us not up, but down, one floor. Okaaaaay we think, then the beeping restarts, the doors are closing and I begin laughing hysterically so confused on what is actually going on. Once again we go down one level. Doors open, we all are cracking up laughing and the little Jewish boy I am sure is thinking we are all crazy. Doors beep, doors close and the elevator suddenly shoots us up to the 11th floor! Whoa! How did we go from the basement to the very top of the hotel? And the 11th floor is being renovated so it basically looks like a bomb went off upstairs and only freaks us out more.

We realize that it’s Shabbat and you cannot push buttons during Shabbat. Thus the elevator is going to all of the floors. We are on floor 11 needing to get to floor four.

Door beeps. Door closes. Door opens on floor 9. We realize that the elevator we are on is only going to the odd number floors. Too bad we realized this at floor number 3. So we jump out of our elevator in hopes to join the even floor Shabbat elevator. But we are on an odd number floor? How is this going to work? Standing there contemplating and laughing, we realize that two of the elevators are for Shabbat and then there are another two elevators for those who are not following Shabbat and will push buttons on Fridays and Saturdays.

It took us 10 minutes to figure out the elevator situation and get to the fourth floor. The best part was when we stepped out to the fourth floor the little Jewish boy who switched tracks and left us at floor seven was standing there with his family. I won’t tell that I know he skipped the elevator and used the stairs because I am pretty sure that is forbidden as well. Nevertheless, we survived the Shabbat elevator experience.

In the end there was a small posting on the elevator outside the doors letting the user know what elevators were used for Shabbat. If you are ever in a place that is respecting the Jewish Shabbat I highly recommend you look for these signs first.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Yummy delights from Israel

I am continually amazed that each place in the world has come up with new and creative ways to combine spices and ingredients that make the most wonderful meals. The Middle East is no different and their food there was surprisingly irresistible. Other than Pita and Hummus I was not sure what I would be served, but if I was only going to eat Pita and Hummus for almost three weeks I was perfectly happy. So for your enjoyment I have some delicious new finds for you.

For breakfast in the morning they tend to like a more salty breakfast than generally found in the states and would eat cheeses, veggies, and this thick spread called labneh. I was told that you cannot have breakfast in a home in Israel without having labneh. One thing I learned is they love their yougurt here. There was yougurt served at breakfast, lunch and dinner and labneh is essentially a thicker version of yougurt, almost like Greek yougurt.

Sadly in our hotels the coffee was VERY hit or miss. I can honestly say I had some of the worst cup of coffee ever made while in Israel- but other times it was quite nice. I even came to enjoy a few cups of Arabic coffee which is the first time I have ever finished a cup of plain espresso. My favorite though was at this placed called Aroma. Aroma is like an Arabic starbucks but… Better (gasp*) I cannot explain why – other than you would have to experience it all on your own.

Lunch was the biggest meal of the day- though to me it seemed very similar to dinner. Once the outreach started we had schwarma everyday with either falafel or carved meat.

One day we had grape leaves and stuffed zucchini and squash called Kousa. Both were stuffed with a rice and hamburger meat mixture.

This was a very beautiful and tasty appetizer plate. I am sorry I cannot remember the names of all the little appetizers- but I assure you they were all quite good.

My favorite meal though by far was this. Sadly I do not know the name of it but it was wonderful. It was a mixture of Chicken, onions, and mushrooms stir fried together and served on this baked bread. I was sad I only found this one time- but that one time was worth every bite.

Desserts! The most common dessert was baklava. In Turkey the baklava was usually fully saturated in honey. I really liked the baklava in Israel because it wasn't quite as sweet and was stuffed with pistachios.

However- the baklava was nothing compared to this amazing new find. This dessert was like nothing I have ever tasted before. The dessert is called Knafa and if you are ever in a Middle Eastern restaurant this is a must have. Served warm the outside shell is a crispy crunchy perfection and the inside in filled with a delicious mild cheese and somewhere in between the shell and filling is this amazing sweetness. It’s actually oozing out of the crispy shell so a fork is recommended, cause the stickier the better. My oh My this was my favorite. I wish I could have you taste through my blog- but all I can leave you with is this picture and an assurance that it is fabulous!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

What's the weather like?

The following is a conversation I had with my new friend Rama, I thought her perception and understanding was hilarious and had to share. Thanks Hollywood.

Rama: "Where are you from?"

Me: "California."

Rama: "What's the weather like there?"

Me: "Actually very similar to here, except not quite as hot."

Rama: "Really?" (looking quite confused)

Me: "yah."

Rama: "So the weather doesn't just continually change instantly all the time?"

Me: "No... Why?"

Rama: "Cause on all the movies it will be sunny and then suddenly start raining out of no where, so I thought that was how the weather was all the time in California."

Monday, July 20, 2009

Learning bits of Israel

Prior to coming to Israel I knew very few things but here is what I knew:

1. It was God’s chosen land.
2. Jesus lived and did ministry in Israel.
3. People are at war often.
4. It was supposed to be hot.

Getting off the plane in Tel Aviv I had no idea what to expect out of my time in Israel. I was going to be working with people whom I had never met and being staying in places still not yet confirmed. But I knew one thing- this was a once in a life time opportunity. After grabbing my luggage there was a taxi man holding a sign scripted with my name- our destination was Nazareth a two hour car ride from the airport.

Pulling away from the airport my eyes were bright with excitement. Many of the views we passed reminded me of home in Southern California, lots of palm trees and dry hills brought me visions of the hills that run through Camp Pendleton. The skies were clear and the weather was 95 degrees- perfect hot weather an escape from the many rainy months I have spent in France.

As we headed down the highway the driver would often point out areas where large boarders had been placed to mark the territory difference between Israel and Palestine. I was told the boarders are created to keep the Palestinians out and from bombing the roads, it is for the protection of the people and land. Later I was informed that Israel and Palestine are divided into three zones: A, B, and C.

A: The Palestinian (Arab) territory. The Government, boarders and community are run by the Arabs.

B: Roads and land shared between the territories of Israeli and Palestine. The Roads are then governed and monitored by the Israeli’s while the community is presided over by the Arabs.

C: The Israeli territory where all land and people are governed by the Israelis.

Throughout my time in Israel there would be many times when it would be necessary to go through check points where it was normal for a man with a machine gun to approach your vehicle and inspect your car and question your reasons for being in the country. It seems so abnormal for this to be a normal process.

Throughout my time in Israel, I had many conversations with different people on their perspective on the feuds that have continued for so many generations, and each person came to me with a different perspective. Some Arabs living in Israel still strongly identify with their Palestinian roots, while others believe that because they live in Israel, that they are Israeli, and therefore support the Israeli government.

I was speaking to one girl who was an Arab who finds it difficult to understand why God was allowing her people to suffer. The only comfort she said she is able to find in not understanding is from scripture where it talks about not knowing the plans of the Lord but through trials and hardships He will be glorified and work to the good of those who follow Him.

The most interesting person I spoke with on this topic was with a young guy named Dima. Dima was born in Uzbekistan and fled to Israel when the Berlin wall fell. He is Jewish and was thus required to join the Israeli army for three years. Dima was dispatched from the army one month ago and is now trying to figure out what the next step in life holds for him. In the army he was a tracker and had many interesting stories to share from his time in the service. Dima dreams of being a doctor but the wages of being a doctor in Israel are initially equivalent to working minimum wage until about the age of 40. This does not appeal to him, though being a doctor has been his dream since he was a young child. He has thought about going to the U.S. for schooling but has too much pride and love for Israel that he could not possibly leave the country, it would hurt him too much to do so.

After speaking to both Dima and Arab girl I saw many similarities between the two and found it so sad that neither person would ever recognize the pain they both share. Truth be told (by an outsider), unless you are in a strict religious area you cannot really tell the difference between the Jews and the Arabs. To me they looked the same. I often hung out in the evening at a coffee shop called Aroma, where you would often find a mix between Arabs and Jews. One night a group of about 15 people went to Aroma and each person told the guy at the counter Shukran (thank you in Arabic) while collecting their order. The guy remembered me from the night before and said, “they all tell me Shukran but I am not Arabic.” Inside I laughed because he really looked no different than his Arabic co-workers so how was a person to know the difference? But responded to him with a smile and said, “Toda” (thank you in Hebrew).

Before leaving for Paris I had a brief conversation with someone who works in Congress and he told me that if I always wanted to have work to do, then to work on “Peace in the Middle East.” He followed that by saying that the problems would always exist and that I should set a time limit no longer than 5 years and then continue working on something else. When I was older I could return to working with the Middle East and use those skills I gained, along with the knowledge I had previously acquired to work once again on “Peace in the Middle East.” I don’t think I fully understood him at the time, and I am sure my understanding is still on a surface level. But I do believe he was correct- there are so many intricacies to uncover before you can even begin to identify where the real root of these issues lie. That these problems go deeper than Land, they go deeper than religion, they go to thousands of years of unrest and until you can uncover thousands of years of issues you cannot begin to resolve the issue of the day.

My perspective on understanding anything of Israel is minute, and I am no scholar to be cited as a source of information- but these are my perspectives and insights gathered in the short time I was lucky enough to spend there. What I do know, is that I love both the Jews and the Arabs and that God does have a plan for these people and their land, and that I have much to learn and uncover from those who live in this region of the world.

Friday, July 17, 2009

I'm Alive!

I'm Alive! After 17 days in the wonderful land of Israel I have returned to Paris. While in Israel I had access to the internet, two out of the 17 days- neither of which allowed for a lot of time on the world wide web. But alas, I have returned to my apartment, have over 70 facebook updates, and 9 are you missing? Are you okay? emails from my mother.

One new and exciting addition that has taken place in my absence, is the transformation of my blog. For my beautiful new header I must thank Mrs. Kimberly. I was very excited to return and see that while I was away it had been posted. She did such a great job- I love it greatly! She worked very hard to help me make this adorable header and I am in love with her creation. You should check out her page here.

After almost three weeks of hot hot hot weather (between 95-100 degree’s daily), and crystal blue skys that reminded me of home, it was only befitting that Paris welcomed me back with it pouring rain. Ah it’s good to be back.

I’ll write more fun stories later. I just wanted to check in before I crashed for the night and got stuck under my enormous pile of laundry that may take me three weeks to get clean once again.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Happy 4th of July

For some strange reason, when I am overseas, it happens to be over the great American holiday, The 4th of July. One year I was in Russia celebrating our independence by going to a local Baskin Robbins for an ice cream. The year I was in Swaziland, they put on a fire works extravaganza for us, and this year I am in Israel and have no idea what the day will hold.

But my favorite fourth of July’s are the ones I remember from my childhood. This is probably what makes the 4th of July my favorite holiday. Every year we would rent a camping spot on the beach on Camp Pendleton and have a front row slot for camping.

The fourth of July was always the highlight of our two week camping extravaganza. I remember waking up in the morning to people spreading out all around the sand. Dad’s and husbands coming early in the morning to pick out the perfect spot and hauling all of their coolers and tents to set up for the long day ahead. While everyone hurried down, my family sat and enjoyed the view of the ocean.

By ten in the morning the beach was fully packed and the day was in full swing. My family would be down at the water all day. If you didn’t know where we were sitting, because you were lost in the crazy crowds, all you had to do was look for the kite flying high my Aunt Debbie always sets up as compass to our seats.

The day would be filled with building sand castles, boogie boarding, playing catch, and soaking in the sun with all of the other families who have gather here to celebrate the day. My mom would make sure I was lathered up in sun screen though I always managed to get burnt to a crisp. And my fingers would be covered in orange from stuffing cheetos in my face while drinking a Pepsi that no doubt was filled with bits of sand.

At night my dad would grill up some all American Hamburgers and Hot Dogs asking about 15 times whether or not you wanted cheese on your burger. While the food was cooking my cousins and I ran off playing tag or playing cops and robbers on our bikes.

The special treat of the evening would be the glow sticks given to us to crack, shake, and then scamper off to glow into the night.

My brother and I would fight over who got to help build the fire. Because he is stronger, he usually won; otherwise I would have ended up being the wood for the fire and doused in kerosene and set ablaze. Once the fire was started we would gather in our chairs sit around the fire and wait for the fire works to begin. To help pass the time that seemed to be endless till the fireworks commenced we pulled out the wire hangers, chocolate, graham crackers, and marshmallows and indulged in S’mores.

Once the fire works began we would “ew and ah” with the rest of the crowds and applaud at the amazing display, shot off from the nearby bay. Once the show was over, the drunken crazy crowds would try to make their way back to the vehicles and homes while waiting in the long traffic lines to get off the base. My family would watch and laugh the scene unfold while we had the freedom to sit, relax, and enjoy the rest of the night.

The morning after the fourth of July the beach is a complete mess. (so please clean up after yourself today) My brother who always sleeps in, would make this the one day a year he would wake up early. He would go out and try to collect as many empty cans as possibly before the dump truck collected them. No, he was not worried about saving our planet and green conscious at a very young age; he was always looking for ways to make money and wanted to collect all the cans to help boost up his piggy bank account.

I love the fourth of July for all the fun family memories it holds. This year after not being in the U.S. for such a long time I can honestly say I have never had so much pride for my country and family. I love them both dearly and will be celebrating them here with me today.