Tuesday, July 26, 2011

What's your name again?

(this is a little rushed, I'm trying to be part of the Cheesy Blogger's weekly challenge before my husband packs up the mac.)

Most of you know me as Ashes. A few of you know me as Rem. And even fewer of you know exactly why I have so many names.

I name everything, and most of the stories are short and lame. For example Rocky the Mountain Bike, and Rinky our dinky red car, those don't even need a story as self explanatory as they are. The story of how I got my nickname however is long and slightly hilarious as it is full of the ridiculousness of high school.

My maiden name was Redd. Growing up in a military society most people know you by your last name. My first name is Ashley, I've been called Ashes ever since I was tiny, and shortened it to Ash shortly before the advent of Pokemon. Yeah. With all of this I discovered that what others called you could greatly effect your high school experience.

There were too many Ashley's in my school. I'm not kidding, there were only 300 or so students and at least 15% of them were Ashley's. Going by Ash was out of the question; the first time I introduced myself that way I got the lovely "like from Pokemon?" complete with the distasteful scrunching of the nose. It was logical to just go by my last name, it was a military school after all, easy. Or not, turns out my last name was some super popular girl's nick name and so I couldn't be called that. Didn't matter that it was actually my name she scared enough people that no one was willing to take the easy route.

Lucky for me I had a two really good friends, Kai and Melanie. We were dorks, no not just regular dorks, flaming dorks. We wrote fan fiction at lunch, played Gaia online before it sold it's soul to consumerism, talked about ytmnd.com and watched red vs blue before they made t-shirts, comics and anime stacks sat next to our idea for our next role play. Dorks I say! As flaming dorks we had to get japanese nicknames just like Kai's!

So here's where it gets a little more interesting... or long depending on your tastes. I was in love with the movie Hero that had come out that year, Jet Li rocked the 'no name' character straight into my dorky heart. My nick name was easy I'd be 'no name'. Using a handy little online translation sight that came out to be Nanashi. Easy, simple, no fuss. Melanie however was harder to please.

Melanie wanted us to find her a name that sounded cool. Kai and I did, but the kanji looked stupid. Okay, we found a few more names with more interesting kanji, but they sounded lame or too long or the kanji was too complicated or didn't mean the right thing. She was as finicky as a pampered cat! In a fit of frustration I announced, after a weekend spent searching the corners of ever japanese dictionary, website, and person for just the right name for my friend, that she no longer deserved a name. She was 'no name' and she could say nothing about it! Argh!
After the initial rage I then realized that I'd just given away my nickname. D'Oh!

Kai assured me that the newly christened Nanashi and she would find me a good japanese nickname. Weeks went by and nothing happened, no names were presented to me so I started to bring up my own. Each one of my ideas was shot down by my friends. For a while I thought that I was just going to have to go back to Ashes and leave it at that. There would be no 'reinventing myself' in high school for me.
When I'd given up hope Kai and Nana came running up to me to announce that they'd found the perfect name for me: Rem! I was really confused because as far as I knew that wasn't a japanese name. They assured me that it was, and even if it wasn't that they were my friends and they were going to call me that forever regardless. Eventually I found out that they'd named me after a character from a series called 'Trigun" but I'd gotten so used to the name I didn't bother railing against it. I didn't find out till I moved to Japan that it is a japanese name, a boy name typically translated as 'Ren', and it means 'lotus'.

And that is how Ashes turned into a Lotus. *haha... okay, fine, it's not funny*

The Gypsy Wife moves again!

Since I've been married I've lived in 5 states, 3 houses, and 3 extended stay hotels... did I mention that I've only been married for nearly 2 years?
The time has come again to move back to South Carolina. All this week until Sunday Jex and I will be breathing fire at our copious amount of stuff or each other while we get everything ready for the move. I probably won't have internet, but by batman's pointed helmet I'm going to do my best to keep tally of the not-so-funny-at-the-time stuff that will make me laugh later.
Sunday is driving day. Monday is fill the apartment with boxes day! I've already been promised awesomeness if I can get everything unpacked and in a logical 'home' within a week of filling the place with boxes.
Think I can do it? *shifty eyes*
Ja ne! At least until I can get the internet hooked up in our new home.

Sunday, July 24, 2011


Identity is a big thing. It's how you get a job, credit, how people see you, and how you see yourself. The word is loaded with so much emotion: contentment, happiness, frustration, and so on depending on where you are in life or who help up their own mirror to your face.

My identity was secure; despite the statistics of home schooled military brats. Eventually I learned that your outward appearance is such a huge part of one's identity. More than my little introverted brain ever considered. I didn't learn this till I cut my hip length hair to my shoulders and went to school only to have a great deal of people not recognize me.
My dad had always said to never slap anyone in the face because 'it's an attack on the person not just the body'.

My identity got challenged when moving back to the states, and then nearly shattered after getting married. Growing up as I had my place in the family was a HUGE part of how I defined who I was. Now that had all changed. I was living with some one else, with different (for lack of a better word) duties and concerns. I even had a different name!

In then end, though modified, I'm still Ashes.
I'm still a dork. I still read way more than is healthy. I watch cartoons and get too loud when I get excited or over joyed. Part of me wishes I could be badass but the other half of me is resigned to the fact that I'm 'cute'. I have the same scars. The same fears still stalk me (I'm working on beating them into submission). To this day I confuse the crap out of people with my clothing, yet some how pull it off.
I'm still a flower bud, changing colors as she blooms in the garden of life with my sisters, brothers, and the thorns that pop up around us.

What makes you 'you'? What do you see when you look at yourself?

Friday, July 22, 2011

An Epiphany- 22 july 11

I think a lot, and deeply. Often times this thoughts come and go like the ebb and flow of the sea, normal, daily, beautiful but ultimately nothing noteworthy. Today though I happened to catch a snap shot of something I hadn't noticed before, where my waters gravitate.

For the most part my peers make me nervous. I've never really fit in here, be it when I was a teenager, now, even when I was a small child. I gravitate towards those wiser than me. Maybe it's because my grandparents are the age of most my friends great grandparents. (My Grandpa is with God, and my Grandma is 85, yeah) The cousins I spent the most time with are 14 years older than me. Maybe it's because I had so much responsibility as a kid. Whatever reason I feel more at ease listening to an older woman than trying to key up a conversation with some 20 something woman.

Maybe it's because they have so much more to say. Not more as in quantity (oh god no) but everything they say is seasoned with time and the deepness that comes from fighting back at everything life threw at them so that they could stand were they are now. These women, with their battle scarred hearts, faces lined with laughter and the ghosts of frustration, and eyes so full of a kind of understanding I can't fathom at this point in my life are my hope, my heroines.

To see them I know that I don't have to become my mother, or my aunt, or any other female relative that I can get through this as Ashes. That whatever grips me in the middle of the night and doesn't let go will one day be little more than a brief annoyance. As they stand their ground and tell their stories I have hope that one day I can stand with them in that glowing grace that wiser older women have about them. Maybe I can be some young woman's hope when she feels like the world is going to eat her alive no matter how hard she tries or how fast she runs. When all the personal hell has been trudged through, step by burning step, I'll stand on the other side like high quality gold.

I've been kind of lonely lately. After moving back to the states I've had a lot of transitions to make, and maybe I won't be able to let go of some of the things I miss most. One of them being the inclusion the older women on the Airbase gave me while over seas.

Mrs. Hillary Detmers, Mrs. Rhonda, Mrs. Maisha, Akiko-san, Grandma, Cyme, I miss you guys.
Chicken, Queen, Dazee, and Mama Fargo thanks for being on the internet and sharing your stories with the rest of us. God knows us confused little girls need some one worth looking up to for the important things.

I haven't completely tuned out the awesome bloggers close to my age group, I love you blogger chicks too! But this was mostly an ode to our 'big sisters' on blogger.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Of Apartment Hunting and Government Websites

Of Apartment Hunting...

I'm in South Carolina right now, hunting for a place to live come August 1st. I really enjoy the mobility of the Military, I mean where else do you get two weeks notice to pack your life up into the back of a truck and find a new pad? *laughs*

This leads me to find the joys of hunting for the right place to live. I'm used to base housing; one size fits most and usually a few years out of date but good. The commander of personnel says: "Hmmm you and your dependent are authorized up to a two bedroom." And you go pick the least abused flat available.
I'm not used to lists of amenities, pet fees, security deposits, paying 3 months rent up front (yeah, I thought that was a little much, too) and application fees. Nor renting a place that has less space in the kitchen than the little extended stay hotel room I find myself typing from for nearly 1,000 a month (including internet, television, and utilities).
While listening to hyped up reasons why whatever apartment I was standing in was the one for me I kept trying to think of the right questions to ask. I nearly made a cultural blunder and luckily caught myself in time (though I probably looked a little special as I stared at the ceiling for a moment half way through my sentence).
After hearing the price I almost asked: Hot or Cold? In Germany that phrase means: Hot= All utilities are included in the rent price or Cold= none of the utilities are covered in the rent price you have to get that squared away yourself. Hehe.
I think we've found a good place. It's open, though small, and close enough to base that we can ride our bikes everywhere we need to go. AND it's right across the street from a little Korean market! My next adventure will be getting electricity turned on! yay?

... and Government Websites.

When we get up here I want to have a job within a few weeks. I've been going stir crazy being home all by my lonely without much to take care of. So it would be great if I could get a job on base so that I could drive to work with Jex when the weather was bad or we just didn't feel like riding bikes (because Americans will TAKE YOU OUT if you ride on the street).
To get a job on base I have to go to this website and make a profile so they can make sure I'm not a terrorist and stuff.
Problem: Stupid website only accepts phone numbers in American format... most all my work experience is overseas.
More Problems: It wants me to have a current employer... unless you count my dictator (I love you hunny) husband I don't have one.

So I've decided to try and find my old resume and type it up (because dangit I want to work at the library!) and for current employer I'm going to stick "husband". And when the guy/gal interviewing me asks why all the phone numbers are hollywood numbers (you know 555-XXXX) I'm just going to tell him/her that the website made me do it.

I might just start using that on a regular basis to get a rise out of people. Hehe.
Cop: "Why are you taping ribbon dancers to all the car antennae?"
Ashes: *cute innocent face* "The website made me do it." *smile*

.... yeah, I think I'd just get arrested, too.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011


Every time the 4th comes around, and I avoid watermelon like the plague, it's fun. With sparklers and beer, and friends, and the taste of smoke on all my food.

After the 4th I'm usually really contemplative.

I became an adult on military bases overseas, in two of the three countries that were once called the Axis powers. So after being all 'American' I always feel a little weird. My first job paid half in Dollars and half in Euros. American money looks weird to me still(why is it all green?! Do you know how hard it is to find the right bill when they're all the same size and color after living in countries that do differently?! Gah!) sometimes.
Sitting here enjoying left over Japanese potato salad (recipe here for anyone who wants a nice change in the potato salad routine. I add a dollop of sour cream or mayo to make it smoother) it occurs to me that I both hate and enjoy being a third culture kid. I made JAPANESE potato salad for an AMERICAN celebration. (everyone together now: d'oh!)

Sometimes I don't know what it means to be American. I know what it meant to my host cultures while growing up. It meant being loud, rich, stubborn, and hopelessly prideful, but ultimately good despite all our glaring faults.

I think being an American might mean this:
1. Constantly messing with the English language. (with words like Epicosity, gnarly, and using things like 'bad' to express things that are 'good')
2. Competition, or a competitive spirit in some area. I think this is something our ancestors passed on to us.
3. Television. I dare anyone to disagree with this. It's a huge cultural thing to talk about what we saw on TV. Whether it's some drama, scifi, or news scoop, we probably didn't read about it or hear it on the radio.

So, what do you guys think makes America what it is and it's people who they are?