I am now selling select photos on Shutterstock. I would be amazing if you could spread the word. You can also always check out my YouTube Channel. A lot of my under water adventures are on there.
Since I have been volunteering at NOAA doing reef monitoring, I spend a lot of time in the water. As long as I am on the reef swimming anyway, I may as well snap some pictures for myself, right? So here are some of my favorites. I hope you enjoy them!
Green sea turtle diving.
I don’t take a lot of pictures on land anymore. I am sure that will change in Oahu. It’ll be cooler, so hiking won’t be as unpleasant.
A lot of people rely on Facebook to keep in touch these days. They think that it’s a safe way to keep in touch with family and friends even when they are far apart.
I want to tell you my story as a cautionary tale, because Facebook is full of arbitrary rules that mean you can get blocked or banned just because a group of people decide to start attacking you. And if that happens, you may lose your account forever. Here’s my story.
I joined Facebook in 2009 after having had a Myspace page when I was younger. As the platform has become more monetized, I have been less and less enthusiastic about it. But, since I live overseas, I kept the account as a way to keep in touch with people that I was geographically separated from. After all, when I lived in Korea it would have cost a fortune to keep in touch with people back home by phone or in-person. And that is still true in Guam.
The first time it was a problem was in 2015. I was on a military spouse page and everyone was talking about how the locals were thieves and would steal your stuff if you left it alone for even a moment. They were also claiming that the locals will break into your house and that they are all criminals.
I said this wasn’t true, and that I left my sandals and towel on the beach all the time when I went snorkeling and never had a problem.
That little comment lead to a torrent of harassment and bullying from several people who called me a lot of very bad names that I won’t repeat here. In addition to the awful names they called me, they said that I was lying, that I was disloyal, and that I deserved to get robbed and killed. Then they started reporting everything on my account to Facebook, and I was locked out.
That is when I discovered that there is no appeal process. If you are locked out of your account, there is no one that you can protest to. You cannot explain that you were just being bullied and haven’t done anything wrong. In fact, you have no recourse at all.
There is not even a phone number or an e-mail address. If you get banned for an arbitrary thing, Facebook’s policy is: Fuck you.
So, that scared me, since I am far away from people and I don’t like to feel isolated.
After the 30 day ban was up, I contacted my friends and reminded them about this blog, my YouTube Channel, and my second Facebook page as J.D. DeLemont for promoting The Jamie Johnson Trilogy, (a series of romance novels that I wrote.)
I hoped that everyone would save my contact information, since I had discovered that I could not trust Facebook. They are bias, and often let the victims of bullies be attacked while they do nothing. I had been bullied by racist military spouses, and they let it happen because there were more of them than me, and I didn’t report them first so obviously I was wrong.
My second encounter with Facebook being bias was just last month, in July of 2018. I had seen a video attacking FLDS Mormons for being a cult. As a person who grew up in Arizona around Mormons, I have seen a lot of sad stories of children being abused and women being kept from having any freedom or hope.
I simply said: “Don’t separate the FLDS out. I have never met a nice Mormon of any description.”
That is true, and I stand by it. I have had to help too many women out of abusive situations and help raise too many kids. I have seen what it does to teach women that they are inferior and deserve to be abused, and I don’t agree with it. I will not be shamed for that opinion.
A Mormon saw my comment, and it turns out that they are bullies just like military spouses. They reported it as “hate speech” and got all their friends to do the same. They also went to my page and started reporting every photo, post, and video. I will probably never be able to get back onto that Facebook page because of it.
And again, there is no appeal process.
However, I assumed that my friends would find me on my other page which I use to promote my romance novels, since I had posted a lot about it.
They did not.
Then, I thought I would try to add them with the new page that I made to promote my latest book, The New Testament of The Flying Spaghetti Monster; Dinner 2.0. (which you should definitely by because I am a starving artist.) It’s under a different name because I thought starting a religion under my real name might be a bit much, so I used the pen name “Violet Johnson.”
However, most of them denied the friend request and some even blocked me, in spite of my posting since April 2018 about my new book and the pen name I wrote it under.
(By the way, the page I made to promote the new book is here. Please “like” it. )
Will I ever talk to the people who did not follow me from my old account again?
I don’t have any way to get in touch with them. I gave everyone my contact information, but no one gave me theirs. It is possible that we’ll just never be in touch again. It would be a shame if that were the case, but you can’t say I don’t put myself out there. I am all over the internet, and you only need to search my name to find me. It’s not like I worry about my digital footprint being too big.
I would like to point out though (for the record) that neither my defense of the Chamorro people of Guam or my dislike of Mormons should be against Facebook’s “community standards.” Their policy of banning you if enough people report you is ludicrous, and it makes me wonder how all that racist and sexist stuff stays up. Clearly people support that stuff while reporting far less awful things.
It is worth noting that I have had plenty of people attack my Unitarian Church of Pasta page and say horrible things. I reported them to Facebook, but it does not violate their “community standards” to call Pastafarians “ignorant cunts” or “dumbshit libtards.” So you should all know where you stand. You can get banned forever if you say that you never met a nice Mormon, but if you say something bad about Pastafarians you’re fine. Apparently it’s only hate speech if it is against people who want to take away women’s rights and move society back 200 years.
Anyway, my e-mail is still email@example.com and you can still always reach me on Skype on any of my social media for The Unitarian Church of Pasta. The Unitarian Church of Pasta which is, you’ll note, not protected under Facebook’s “community standards.”
It’s only six weeks until the move, and I can feel myself getting more and more nervous as we get closer. I am looking through photos of our time here on the island, and feeling more nostalgic than I thought I would.
I think the big takeaway for me is that anywhere can feel like home if you live there long enough.
Anyway, I thought I would put together some of my favorite pictures so you can see what these last four years on Guam have been like. Being away from friend and family like we are, I know that pictures are one of the only things that makes anyone feel connected to us anymore. It’s hard to believe I left my home ten years ago after graduating ASU, and I have been so many places since…
I miss you all.
It’s hard to believe that it’s been four years since we moved to Guam for what started as a two-year tour (and then got extended twice.) It feels like such a short time since I was packing up to leave South Korea and stay with my mom in Oregon while Rich went to school in Mississippi.
Somehow, four years flew by, and it’s time for us to move on. As I sort through all our clothes and possessions and get them ready to be packed, I remember all the things we have learned since we moved here.
For example, we hardly knew how to swim when we moved to Guam. Now, we’re both great swimmers.We learned to scuba dive, too. After much study, I think we know the names of all the fish on our reef, and a lot of the coral as well.
I learned about coconut grabs, huntsman spiders, and tropical flowers. I also got to find out a lot about the Chamorro people who are native to Guam. I watched Proa boat races and learned to eat reef fish.
We did some volunteer work painting the local animal shelter. I’m allergic to dogs and cats, but I still care about them. We learned a lot about the unique challenges that islands face when it comes to ecosystems. (We also got to pet lots of animals.)
Guam has been fun. We’re really going to miss it. However, I am sure that Hawaii is going to be great, too! I can’t wait to love it.
We are moving this year, and we sure are going to miss our place in Guam! I know we’ll never get a beachfront condo again (where else could we afford such a thing?)
It has been amazing to wake up and see the ocean each day, but it’s time to go back to seeing a fence and more houses behind it. Setting aside how much I will miss our home here in Tumon Bay, moving with the military involves a lot of paperwork and red tape. I thought I would write about what it is like, for those who don’t know.
People keep asking “Have you started packing yet?”
The answer is no. We aren’t allowed to pack our stuff, because then we could hide drugs or guns in it. They pack it for us (like we’re children.) We have no say over how things are wrapped or boxed. Movers come, pack our things, and take them away. We get a receipt and the vague hope that we’ll see any of it again one day.
I have also had many people ask “Are you throwing away all the trash in your house?”
Again, no. Both of us are so used to moving that we don’t keep things that we don’t need in our house anymore. Sometimes this means regretting that I threw away something that could have been useful later. However, I have moved more than twenty times in the last twenty years. Rich has moved six times in the last ten years. At this point, we just re-gift or throw away pretty much everything (I say this with the sincerest apologies to my mother, who likes to get me things like artificial snowballs.)
I feel bad, since I know that the reason people ask this stuff is because they want to relate to us and say “Oh yeah, I know what that is like.”
Believe me: I appreciate every single one of you. Thank you for trying to relate to me and make connections with me. It means so much! But the truth is that it’s this whole different world when you live a nomad lifestyle. And with the military, it’s a whole different world, plus red tape. It’s just not an easy life to relate to.
Now, I may not have to worry about packing or throwing away trash. But, there are a lot of things that I do have to worry about. With the military, we are required to fill out more paperwork than you can imagine.
We have to have a PCS (Permanent Change of Station) binder. They require special forms and appraisal information for my paintings. They require very thorough medical checks for both of us. Then there is the power of attorney forms we have to get so we can sign for each other (since he’s going to school in Japan and I am going straight to our next duty station in Hawaii.) There is also the checklist to make sure that our phones, cars, etc are all sorted, and that has to be turned in to the command. Not to mention all the paperwork we have to turn in to housing.
As to the cars: Yes, the military would pay for us to ship one vehicle. A lot of you have said that we should take what is owed to us and ship one of our cars. However, I have never owned a car nice enough that I think your tax dollars should be used to ship it. We buy beater cars because we’ll only have them for a couple years, and then we sell them when I go. It’s just easier that way, and means we don’t have to wait months on the other end for our car to show up.
There are two shipments of our stuff: Household goods and express. Both will probably take 16 weeks to get from Guam to Hawaii, so we’ll get to live without our stuff for quite awhile. As to why they call one of them “express,” many jokes are made about that in the military, but the real answer is that no one knows.
Another fun thing is that they aren’t really going to give me enough money to stay in a hotel while I house-hunt. Rich will be off at school and they will be paying for him to have a hotel and per diem as well. But me? All I get is the housing allowance for Hawaii (enough for a two week hotel stay.) I either get to make friends to stay with really fast, or try to make it work staying in the youth hostel in Waikiki with all my stuff.
I suppose normal couples get to look at houses together, but they are not in the military. In the military, they just send the spouses ahead with a boatload of paperwork and not enough resources, and expect us to set everything up for our active duty spouses. (Then find a job and help with the mortgage because BAH -or Basic Housing Allowance- is way too low in Hawaii.)
I have been asked why we don’t just rent, and I get that. I am sure it seems like it would be easier. However, most people build personal wealth over the course of their lives by owning and paying off property. If we just rent everywhere we go for the rest of our lives (with rents everywhere being higher than mortgage payments), we’ll have nothing when we are old.
A mortgage costs less than rent in Hawaii, and that money is going to equity in the home (meaning we can get it back by selling.) Since housing will take up 70% of our total income in Hawaii, it sure would be nice to get some of it back, don’t you think?
Also, even though no one has asked: Yes, I’m nervous.
I’m scared of job hunting and house hunting and starting all over again. I am scared of having to make new friends and learn new street names. I am scared of having to buy us a house, get us two cars, set up our utilities, and get furniture off craigslist all without help. I am scared of having to deal with all the military red tape and paperwork without Rich to sort it out. I am scared that something will happen to him in Japan (he did get hit by a car the one night I left him alone in Korea- so I worry!)
But, I am also excited. This is our next adventure! Will we have a house as nice as the one in Guam? No! We really won’t. But I am hopeful that I will find a great job with fun co-workers, and that we’ll make awesome friends and find all new beaches to enjoy. I am always looking forward, and I am sure we’ll make our next adventure a good one. It just might take a while to settle in.
As you know, I spend most of my time volunteering for NOAA doing reef monitoring, and writing books.
The reef monitoring is because we need to protect our oceans, and I encourage you to please avoid using plastic of any kind, and to lower your carbon footprint as much as you can. What you do does effect the oceans! Here on Guam we have seen a huge loss in coral due to climate change, and everything you an do to help matters.
As for writing books; that is because of my friend Dave Strand. He wrote an app called Multi-Path Audio Books for Apple, and he needed stories to go in the app. I had been a journalist, and I had written textbooks. However, I had never written fiction before. I considered it an exciting challenge, and I wrote a book called The Vampire’s Sister.
This made me realize that it was possible to write a full-length novel. I guess you could say I “got the bug” from The Vampire’s Sister, and I went on from there. I don’t think I was very good at first, but I would like to think that I have gotten better as time went on.
I wrote The Teenager’s Guide to life, which is a collection of short stories about life as a young person. This book has illustrations by Anthony Black, and has been a fun collaboration.
I also wrote a series of romance novels called The Jamie Johnson Trilogy. This was meant as a counter to the negative books about BDSM like 50 Shades of Grey, which portray kink as abuse.
And then I wrote the book that ruined it all: The New Testament of The Flying Spaghetti Monster; Dinner 2.0.
I wrote it under the pen name Violet Johnson, and I was intending to use it to try to start a movement towards kindness and unity. After all, the main problem in politics and society these days is that artificial divisions are causing people to loose sight of real human values.
I worked for a year on The New Testament of The Flying Spaghetti Monster. I read all kinds of modern philosophy and listened to podcasts of people talking about comparative morality in the digital age. Rich helped me come up with ideas here and there. I took all my old vacation photos and Photo-shopped a Spaghetti Monster Rich made into them for the social media. We had fun, but it was a lot of work.
After a year of hard work, I published my book through Createspace. This is an Amazon company that my friend Chris Backe recommended to me. He thought it would be easier than wasting years trying to sell it to a publisher, and pointed out that I could control my own distribution and pricing. It sounded perfect.
However, less than a day after the book came out, Bobby Henderson reported it to Amazon for copyright infringement. You may wonder how this could be possible, since I wrote the entire book myself and I created all the images for it out of my own photos.
The thing is this:
The burden of proof is on me.
In other words: You can create an original work and it can bear no resemblance to anything else that has ever been created before. But if someone has a copyright on something similar (say the image of a flying spaghetti monster that I did NOT use) then they can report you. They do not have to prove that you infringed on their copyright.
1. Robert Henderson contacts Amazon and tells them that he reported my book in error, and asks them to please release it.
2. I hire a lawyer to prove that the work is original and protected by parody law, and they force Amazon to release it.
Now as you know, I spend most of my time writing or volunteering. I don’t have money for a lawyer. So here is what I am asking of you, my fellow humans:
Write to Robert Henderson and ask him to contact Amazon and straighten this out. I have already written to him myself, but I have not gotten a response. However, maybe a few more voices will change things.
His e-mail is: firstname.lastname@example.org
What he needs to do to resolve the matter is write to BOTH:
email@example.com AND firstname.lastname@example.org
He needs to tell them what he admitted to me in private, which is that he reported my book in error, and that he rescinds his report of copyright infringement.
Please download the book and read it. Give it to your friends and ask them to read it. Spread it far and wide because I put my heart and soul into my books and having them be censored like this is so painful for me. I would mean the world to me if you could help out.
And e-mail Bobby because he already admitted he made a mistake in reporting my book, but if he doesn’t take the next step and tell Amazon that, it will be years before I can get my book back from them.
There are several popular places for tourists to go on Guam. One of them is Two Lover’s Point. As many of you probably know, Guam was invaded by Spain in 1565, and the peaceful Chamorro people who lived on the island were subject to a fairly brutal rule by Spanish conquerors.
During the time of the Spanish occupation of Guam, a ship’s captain took a fancy to a pretty island girl. Unfortunately, this girl was in love with a island boy. When it became clear that she would be married to the Spanish captain against her will, she and her lover jumped off the point together. They felt they would rather die together than live apart.
This brutal story is an odd inspiration for a tourist destination. However, the Japanese and Korean tourists that frequent Guam find it romantic. In fact, many tourists have been married at Two Lover’s Point. Others go to place “love locks” there to declare their undying love for each other.
Before I lived in Guam, I spent a little over three years living in South Korea. During that time, I learned to read and write Hangul, which is the Korean written language. That is why I can tell you that this fruit stand is advertising Mango Smoothies, and also the fact that they are Korean people. I assume that is so that the Korean tourists will buy from them instead of from other shops at the point.
In South Korea, I was impressed to find that all the fruit juices were made from real fruit that was blended with ice to make a drink. I had hoped that this stand would be the same, but fresh fruits and vegetables are hard to get on this island. It is made of coral rather than being a volcanic island, and so the soil is not very fertile. As such, all the smoothies are a disappointing blend of ice and flavoring powder.
The statue here is of two Carabao. A caraboa is an Asian Oxen which was brought to Guam by the very first settlers, the Chamorro people. They are not indigenous, since that title is reserved for animals who evolved on the island. However, they have been on Guam so long that they are considered to be indigenous in the eyes of the locals.
Guam has actually been fighting to get rid of brown tree snakes, toads, rats and other invasive species. However, it is very hard to eliminate a population of animals once they have been introduced. New Zealand wants to try a new gene editing technology, but that is fairly terrifying since containing genetically modified animals is impossible.
Whatever the solution, the caraboa has a safe place on Guam and is seen as part of the cultural heritage of the people. You can find statues of them all over the island.
These are the love locks I mentioned earlier. This tradition of putting love locks in various places it common in many countries across the world. It seems to me that they are always in places like Two Lover’s Point, where there is a little bit of sadness to the location.
Take, for example, the town of Lovelock Nevada. This tiny town is in the middle of the Nevada desert, and really only exists to sustain the strip mine and the prison. The majority of people who travel to Lovelock Nevada are there to see a relative or loved one who is in the prison.
Rather than couples leaving rocks with two sets of handwriting, it is mostly mothers and wives leaving love locks in Nevada, in hopes that they will see their loved ones again some day.
I don’t know how I feel about this tradition, but my husband and I didn’t put our names on a heart and lock it to the point. It seemed morbid somehow, and like it would be a bad omen for our marriage.
The main reason to go to Two Lover’s Point is for the views. There are several places that are intended to be good photo spots, such as the Two Lovers Point sign (above) and the sign reading “Hafa Adai,” which means “hello” in the local language.
There are a lot of good photo opportunities that are free of charge, and if you do them all, you will have a pretty good album to show off. However, the highest point is behind a pay wall, and you will need to give $5 (or $2 with Guam ID) to the gatekeeper if you want to see that view.
In case you don’t want to spend the money, I have included a picture (later in this post) of what it looks like. You can actually see my house in the picture if you look real close! (We spent the last several years in a building in Tumon Bay called Blue Lagoon.)
If you are already going to Two Lover’s Point, you may as well check out Tanguissen Beach as well. However, I should warn you that it is not something to do in just any car. It is best if you can get a truck or a Jeep, because the road is dangerous and at the bottom, there is quite a bit of driving on dirt.
The turn for Two Lover’s Point off Marine Corpse Drive is marked, and you can easily see the sign. It’s almost directly across the street from Micronesia Mall. You turn, and go down a long road through the jungle. However, there is a second turn that you must make to get to Two Lover’s Point. It’s a left, and there is a HUGE sign to let you know to turn.
In order to get to Tanguissen, just follow that road straight instead of making the right-hand turn. Slow down to about 10 MPR because there is a fair amount of traffic that comes around the blind corners a little too fast, and the potholes seem to jump out of nowhere (and those potholes could shollow up a Smart Car.)
You follow the road until you get to the bottom of the hill. There, you have two choices: You can turn left and continue along some pavement to a power plant, or you can leave the pavement and go straight.
The power plant has been recently retired by the Guam Power Authority, but it is still closed to the public and not safe to explore. It is also not recommended that you swim in the spillway coming from the plant, which no longer dumps hot water into the ocean, but which has dangerous currents and sharp rocks around it.
I like to take pictures around the plant because I think it looks neat, but I have never gotten in the water there.
However, there is a great place to go swimming- it’s just a little tricky. See, the beaches here on Guam are all public property. You cannot actually own a beach. However, you can own the land that a beach is attached to. Tanguissen itself is public, but it is not a good place to swim. However, it is attached to a beach that is nice for swimming, and that beach is attached to private property.
What you do is this: To the right of the beach is a small path along the water. It looks dangerous and like it doesn’t go anywhere, but it does. Just follow that path through the rocks. Make sure you have coral shoes or some other kind of sturdy water shoe.
You’ll come out of the jungle and see a long beach in front of you. If it is high tide, some of your walk will need to be through the water. Do not swim as soon as you get out of the jungle. The water is shallow there and full of very sharp rocks. Just keep walking.
As you walk along the beach, you may want to pick up sea glass. This is a good place to find it, and people tend to use sea glass in all kinds of art projects. There are sometimes shells on the beach as well, but remember: most shells on Guam have animals living in them! Hermit crabs are everywhere on Guam, and it’s best to leave the shells for them.
Tanguissen used to have some beautiful stag corals, but they bleached in 2017 and have not grown back. Now, it is mostly algae. However, it is also a good place to see sea urchins and puffer fish.
Fins are not recommended at all if you swim. The water it too shallow and it is best to float while keeping your feet on the ground and walking. This way you will not bump into any of the coral and damage it.
Of course, most people don’t go to Tanguissen to swim; they go for the rocks. The rocks at Tanguissen were once part of the imposing cliffs the line the beach. However, they broke off and fell into the water. They have been eroded by the ocean and watered by the rain, and they have become quite beautiful.
Please remember that if you plan to climb onto turtle rock (the one with a shelf for standing on) that you should walk out in coral shoes, and try to avoid stepping on the coral. Keep your eyes on the ground and move carefully. There are tiny clumbs of coral here and there which are home to many fish, and they will not thank you for stepping on them.
Climbing on the rocks is (of course) not recommended. You won’t have cell service there and emergency services couldn’t reach you anyway, so if you hurt yourself you will still have to walk back to your car. In other words: maybe just take a picture of you standing in front of them?
You can walk past the rocks and follow a path up into the trees that will take you to one more tiny beach, but it’s not really safe to swim there, as there are more sharp rocks. Tanguissen is actually off-limits to the military because it has so many dangerous spots, but you can frequently see a tourist of two swimming there.
As with most spots on Guam, people sometimes die there. The island doesn’t have much in the way of safety nets or guard rails, so you need to use common sense when going places and always be aware of the fact that the coral and the rocks are sharp and will cut you open.
If you swim, stay inside the reef and away from the coral, and you should be okay. It is a wonderful chance to see baby fish who come and hide in the shallow water from sharks and other predators.
Also keep in mind that you really shouldn’t go up onto the land. It is owned by a local who is sometimes there on weekends. If he is, he may invite you to come up and say hello. Otherwise, remember that it is private property and be respectful of that.
As long as you are careful and respectful, Tanguissen is a wonderful place to get some breath-taking pictures and to spend a relaxing evening enjoying the sun and the sand. It is best to go after noon, as the cliffs cause the area to be in shadow in the mornings (making it impossible to get good pictures.)
If you are just coming to Guam, I cannot recommend a Jeep or truck to you enough. Don’t buy anything nice that you will love, because it will get scratched up and end up covered in rust from the salt and the sand. Get an old beater that you can fix up a little and take everywhere.
We got a Jeep Liberty which we bought cheaply because it needed work. We ordered all the parts through Rock Auto and had them delivered, and it’s been a good vehicle for the island. We’ll be selling it soon, and it will be hard to part with. It’s a good car, and now that we replaced all the parts in the suspension, it’s even a smooth ride.
Anyway, if you are visiting: rent a truck. If you are moving here: buy a truck. Most of the best spots on Guam are very dangerous to take a car to.