Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Babies and spouses groups

I love babies. I'm really looking forward to the day when Einstein and I decide it is time to have babies. Unfortunately, that day is not coming anytime soon.

Luckily, Einstein is in the Air Force. Babies, babies everywhere!!! I've decided that the thing I like the most about the spouse's group is that it gives me a non-creepy (or at least less creepy) way of approaching mother's of young children and saying "Do you want a mother's helper for your PCS/TDY/housecleaning? Someone to watch the munchkin(s) while you head to the commissary/hair salon/doctor's office/date with your hubby?"

Before I married into the AF, my only opportunity to ask this question was in church, and even then it came off slightly stalkerish. Now I have the spouses' group, and it is turning out better than I could have possibly guessed it would. I have a great way to make friends with some fantastic women, get my baby fix, and look like a really altruistic person, because, you know, I'm willing to hang out with their kids for free.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

When not to share

Einstein is in pilot training right now. Two facts about AF pilot training. Most people are single. And most of those single people are guys. One of my best friends here is also in pilot training. Since she (Elvira) is often the only female surrounded by scads and scads of men, and it seems as though I am always cooking and cleaning and entertaining the scores of single men who view my house as a place of wonder, cleanliness, and home cooking, we like to get together for girl time. This is all just set up for the main part of the story, mainly that:

This weekend, as we were scarfing down our mint chocolate chip ice cream and discussing what color to get our toenails painted, I asked Elvira how her week had gone.

"Well, other than almost dying on Friday, great!"

"What?!?" Mouth oozing green ice cream.

Now, as my husband later pointed out, almost dying is not exactly uncommon in the military. But honestly, this is a training base, so I don't hear about things like what happened very often. What did happen was an awful horrible could-have-been-fatal incident involving a faulty oxygen regulator and a solo flight. Now you have to understand that Elvira has that sense of humor I've found that most pilots have. I think it might be military wide. So naturally, the story ended up being the funniest thing I'd heard all week. There were ambulances, flight medicine, forms, helmet bags, worried coworkers, psychic mothers and plenty of laughter and hand waving in her recitation.

So naturally, I had to share the story. Everyone I told it to reacted with horror first (of course), worry second (naturally) and then laughter, eye rolling and rueful head shaking when I got into all of the details.

Until I decided to tell my mother-and-father-in-law. Somehow they didn't find Elvira's story as funny as I and my military friends had. I see the planes every day. I know what Einstein is doing when he heads in to work. I realize that it is dangerous. But his parents are very isolated from that. I don't think they want to accept it. They were very, very upset, and it took me half an hour to get them convinced that, really, the planes are safe. Really, training is safe. Really, it is more dangerous for him on the drive to work than when he is flying.

So next time I have a "great" story to share, I'm going to stop and think about my audience before I launch into it.

Monday, November 12, 2007


Einstein's little section of the Air Force is superstitious and traditional in the extreme. Every time I turn around I hear about some new tradition, from what to drink to how to welcome a new commander to music to uniform alterations.

Before we were married, I read a lot. I've read pretty much every spouse's handbook out there. I sought out military spouses to quiz them. I read Spousebuzz and lurked on blogs. I read stuff online. I followed message boards.

And apparently, none of it was adequate preparation. Sure, I'm futher ahead on the curve than some: I knew what Tricare was, how much to tip baggers at the commissary, what to do during Retreat, etc. But all of these "traditions" ?? No clue. Also, no one seems to know why they are traditions.

I should write a book. But since I am assuming that every "little" section of the miitary (not just service by service) has its own traditions, quirks and superstitions, it would only really be helpful to a few people. Although, if I wrote some sort of anthropological survey instead of a guidebook, it might draw in a wider readership.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Should I be concerned?

Tomorrow will be my first real healthcare experience since marrying into the military. So far, I've only been a spectator to Tricare woes. I haven't heard too many horrible things from the other spouses here, so I'm hoping for the best. *knocks on wood* After all, how bad can it be?

Sunday, October 21, 2007

I love watching planes!

Einstein is home from his TDY, hooray! We've been settling in, trying to establish a rhythym, since we didn't quite find one before he left. So far, so good, although I had an incredibly full week of work, which put a crimp in my plans, but life is never perfect.

We went to an airshow this weekend, and it was such a blast! I love love love watching planes. I realize this is highly ironic, since I am absolutely petrified of flying. When I fly commercially I am a wreck. I'm only moderately better when Einstein is along, since I trust his pilot sense (ie, if he isn't worried, we're not going to die).

But anyway, watching planes! We had a great time and it was fun to walk around and poke at the planes and watch the show and just basically enjoy a relaxing afternoon.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Addicted to planning

I can't stop!! Maybe it is residual from so much time spent planning a wedding, honeymoon, move and job hunt in short order, but now that things are more or less settled here (still no curtains, but that's another story) I cannot stop thinking about what is "next." Einstein is at this base until at least January of 2009, and with TDY's and what not, we probably won't be PCSing again until June of '09.

Depending on how things go, we could be here another 3 or 4 years, if he ends up with a slot to stay here (which wouldn't be horrible, but as of right now is not what he wants). Or we could be at one of eight other bases, only six of which are even likely.

Honestly, though, how do I stop myself? I have been on base websites, checking out the places we are most likely to go. I've been comparing base housing situations. I've been checking out the various Services websites. I've even gone so far as to see what is on sale this week at their commissaries. *side note: I obsessively check the sales online for our commissary so I don't buy something that is on sale there at Wal-mart or wherever*

It is really insane, honestly. We're not going anywhere (barring something really horrible happening) for at least fourteen months. I do not need to plan that far ahead. Also, I have no control over where we head next, since it is all up to plane availability and how Einstein does in the rack and stack.

I hope other folks do this too, otherwise I've just put my neurosis out there for the world to see...

Sunday, October 7, 2007

I forgot how much this stinks

When Einstein and I were living a thousand miles apart, I came to a very deep understanding about how I reacted to him being gone. I actually wrote it all out on a sheet, so that I could look at it and be reminded that I wasn't crazy. My emotions had happened before and would happen again. Years of living apart taught me that I could pretty much handle it without tears, tremors or overwhelming loneliness, except for three points in our separation:

1) Immediately after we were apart. The first 2-4 days suck, no matter what.

2) The space between 2-3 weeks post separation. This is when I start to argue with him and snipe at him (if we are able to call eachother) or just start to plain resent him. I know it is just a defense mechanism; I'm angry with him, yes, but my reasons are ridiculous. Usually. There was this one time...but honestly, I pick fights (real or only in my head) in an attempt to make myself miss him less. Too bad it never works. I usually end up missing him AND being angry.

3) The last two weeks. I know from reading other folks' blogs that this isn't true for everyone. And while I feel the relief that this separation is almost over, I am too impatient! I want him home NOW! I get fidgety and uncomfortable and if we are talking on the phone our conversations become peppered with awkward pauses.

Einstein will be home in less than a week, now! So I am in full "try not to flip out" mode. My short little TDY to-do list is no where near done, and I've accepted that it is not going to get done. This is fine. I am trying to concentrate on doing a few things that will make it a little more homey around here...hopefully it will work!!

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Banned Books Week

This week (through 06 October) is the American Library Association's Banned Books Week. I can only quote children's librarian Jan Bojda, who once said: "A good library collection should have something to offend everyone. If they don’t, they [librarians] are not doing their job."

From the ALA's "Freedom to Read" Statement:

"The freedom to read is essential to our democracy. It is continuously under attack. Private groups and public authorities in various parts of the country are working to remove or limit access to reading materials, to censor content in schools, to label "controversial" views, to distribute lists of "objectionable" books or authors, and to purge libraries. These actions apparently rise from a view that our national tradition of free expression is no longer valid; that censorship and suppression are needed to counter threats to safety or national security, as well as to avoid the subversion of politics and the corruption of morals. We, as individuals devoted to reading and as librarians and publishers responsible for disseminating ideas, wish to assert the public interest in the preservation of the freedom to read.

Most attempts at suppression rest on a denial of the fundamental premise of democracy: that the ordinary individual, by exercising critical judgment, will select the good and reject the bad. We trust Americans to recognize propaganda and misinformation, and to make their own decisions about what they read and believe. We do not believe they are prepared to sacrifice their heritage of a free press in order to be "protected" against what others think may be bad for them. We believe they still favor free enterprise in ideas and expression."

So go take a look at the ALA's list of the 100 most frequently challenged books here:

My dearest hope is that you look at this list and see a few books that changed your life. Books you couldn't have lived without. Books you want your children to read. I think seeing our own "turning point" books on lists like these encourages us to fight for intellectual freedom and against censorship. The book that did this for me, way back in high school, is number 14 on the list, "The Giver" by Lois Lowry. It is the story of a dystopian society that appears utopian, at first glance. It was one of the foundations of my views on the world and I was horrified to find that it was banned from thousand of American libraries.

Support the right of all American's to be free to read as they wish, this week and always.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Commissary Etiquette

I'm wondering about some aspects of commissary etiquette. Today, I was in an aisle where three seniors, two with carts and one with one of those electronic scooter things, were all facing the same direction. Then they rounded the bend into the next aisle over and I "passed them on the inside" because really I just wanted to get some olives and be on my way, and out of theirs.

What is the etiquette in this sort of situation? I've done it before...I feel bad, but I'm not cutting them off or pushing them out of the way. I just don't know.

I think another large part of it is that the commissary still weirds me out. I went there with Einstein a couple of times while we were engaged and felt like an interloper, and even though I now have a shiny tan ID that says I can shop there, I still don't like going on my own.

Which is pretty much my only option, right now. Is it bizarre that I find the commissary so uncomfortable? I hope I get used to it soon...

Monday, September 24, 2007

I feel like I just got a medal...

Retired mil-spouse co-worker: So I hear your husband is TDY?

Me: Yep. He's off doing xyz at ABC Base.

Co-worker: Oh. How long is he gone for?

Me: Only six weeks.

Co-worker: *laughs* You can always tell when you've been in awhile. You say things like "Only six weeks."

*long pause*

Me: Actually, we've only been married three months.

*long pause*

Co-worker: Well, bless your heart!

I'm glad I come off so nonchalant. I don't feel that way. I've been jumping in with both feet, trying to meet other people, get involved in the spouse group stuff for Einstein's squadron, working, job-hunting, trying to decide how much I actually want to work, obsessing about job interviews, weighing the merits of an enjoyable job vs. one that pays more and is better professionally, trying to hang curtains by myself, etc. Which means I've been busy. It also means that my biggest wish is that Einstein would come home, hug me and say "Stop stressing out! Let's get ice cream!" Which is what he would say, if he were home.

But a compliment from a coworker will work, in the interim.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Food and gardening

Einstein and I were raised in the sticks. We liked it then, and our families continue to enjoy it. There are times when I am annoyed by being from the sticks. Like when we are home over holidays and the sidewalks roll up at 5PM. Or when I realize that there is no real coffee shop. Or every time I am forced to drive from my family home to Einstein's (a nearly hour long drive, although we have the same "hometown").

But it is only after the past six years of being "away" from home that I begin to truly appreciate the thing that I miss the most about being home: the food.

I don't mean the actual dishes that are cooked. I love love love being exposed to all of the new dishes and produce-Einstein and I had green chiles for the first time last year, and okra for the first time this year. The food we grew up on was standard Midwestern fare, for the most part, with some tasty Scandanavian ethnic dishes thrown in.

What I miss is knowing where my food comes from. While no one in my family has farmed in three generations, my grandfather worked for John Deere. We ate grass-fed beef raised by some folks from our church. Our bacon was grown and processed locally. Our neighbors provided our milk (dairy and goat), chicken and eggs. Einstein's family is much the same, although most of their meat comes from the deer that he, his father and his siblings hunted (and continue to hunt) each year on their own land. They process the deer themselves. Their venison steaks are amazing.

Wild rice (which they now have to ship to us because I refuse to pay boutique prices for rice that isn't Uncle Ben's) is harvested from the lake that lies off the back of Einstein's family's property. Raspberries, strawberries, apples, rhubarb and just about every vegetable imaginable came straight from the garden. I remember being confused the first time I realized that my friends ate vegetables that came out of metal cans; ours were in glass jars. Frozen I was fine with, after all, I had helped Mom and Dad freeze a whole deep freeze full of veggies!

I know how much work that food was; I have a few clear memories of planting, weeding, watering, picking and sweltering August days spent canning. And canning. And canning. Lots of canning. But what I remember best is how sweet that corn was, how juicy the raspberries were and how crisp the green beans were.

When I was in college, I didn't miss this type of food much; part of the time I was living with a bunch of people raised much like I was, so we had a huge backyard garden and frequented the farmer's market. We were the only college kids I knew who made their own jam. Besides which, college kids are supposed to eat crappy food. It's a rite of passage. But now Einstein and I are a family, and I want to have real family food. And I can't, because:

The military is messing with my food. I feel really lucky to have the military community; after 4 years of unofficial membership and three months with an i.d. card, I know to appreciate the vitality, resilience and friendliness of those in my new community.

But there don't seem to be many farmers. Or even gardeners. I would give my eyeteeth for some farm fresh eggs.

So I've spent most of the time since we PCS'd looking for good food. I'm growing some fall tomatoes, and of course my little kitchen herb garden is thriving. I also have chives, mmmm. I found a farmer's market, but the last one of the growing season was two weeks after we arrived. Without the contacts that I had growing up, I'm not sure how to find a farmer to sell me eggs, meat and dairy. My super-librarian-research-skills have helped me locate some things (grass fed meat!!), and the commissary is pinch hitting with some cage free vegetarian eggs, but I'm exhausted at the thought of having to do this every time we move.

It was a lot easier when I was eight and could go across the road to collect our fresh batch of "golden" eggs and goat milk from our elderly neighbors.

Also, I'm used to being able to garden-not always a given if we are in base housing or an apartment (like now!). And even if I do find someone to buy bushels of tomatoes and whatnot from, do I really want to haul all of that home canned food with me when we move? What about produce that I freeze? Eat it up, I guess, but I'm paranoid about moving in the summer (highly likely) and ending up in this situation again-ie, facing a whole year with no home preserved anything because I was moving during growing season.

I'll just have to keep looking, and hope for the best.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Disclaimer: I suck at remembering important dates

Einstein called while I was watching the Oilers/Colts game with some other folks.

He called to wish me a happy 3-month anniversary.

Woops. I had completely forgotten. Completely. This was partially due to the fact that we were dating/engaged for so long that "month" anniversaries long ago ceased to be something I kept track of. We have "celebrated" the last two months (quiet, reasonably priced dinners out) but it is a lot easier to remember when he is here.

The other cause of my forgetfulness? I'm not good at romance. Einstein is (when he is on his A game, which is the vast majority of the time) incredibly romantic. Letters every day, flowers just because, post it love notes all over the house, stuffed animals and candelight dinners romantic. Don't get me wrong; he's not like that all the time. He is constantly telling me that he's not "good at romantic stuff" but that is just his own perfectionism talking.

I, on the other hand, struggle to remember even those most basic parts of relationship maintenance. Like, oh, say, the day we got married. Or the fact that it was 3 months ago today.

Hmmm. If we're going to be doing the month-by-month thing, maybe I should write it in on my calendar.

Friday, September 14, 2007

High School Musical

One great thing about Einstein being gone on TDY is that it means I have the netflix queue all to myself. This is exciting, since we rarely agree on movies since he, unsuprisingly, loves movies with lots of planes, explosions and watches Lord of the Rings repeatedly, and I am more into documentaries, "girl" movies and movies made of books that I've read. Since this includes LotR, we have been able to compromise. Neither of us are totally against the other's genres; I loved Transformers (seeing it on an Air Force base was definitely the way to go!) and he is a fan of The Devil Wears Prada. I like it because it is a well done version of a superb book, and he loves it because "It's a really great story about leadership styles." I kid you not. He actually said that. He wanted to show it to his squadron, and do a little presentation on leadership styles and teamwork. I talked him out of it, but maybe I should have let him run with it.

At any rate, it was kind of nice to get that little envelope in the mail and not have to listen to his complaints about having to watch High School Musical. I would like to take a moment to say that I would never have watched this movie if it weren't for the fact that I've been substitute teaching and every middle schooler I've met is obsessed with the movie. It made me feel old that I'd never even heard of it, so I put it in the queue.

And it was actually really fun. I love musicals, so it wasn't a huge shock that I enjoyed it. Also, after two weeks of eating meals by myself, going to my first ever squadron function (by myself), going to my first spouses group meeting, trying to "make friends", applying for jobs and substitute teaching the aforementioned middle schoolers, I have to say I think I deserved something escapist. And High School Musical certainly fit the bill!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Happily unemployed?

With employment looming on the horizon, I look back at all of the my angst about getting a job and feel a bit ridiculous. As much as I love libraries, and hated to leave the last one I worked at, I've enjoyed these in between days of setting up our home, settling in and trying to relax into married life.

On the other hand, I realize that the only reason that these days seem enjoyable now is that I have prospects (no guarentees, but prospects, which is better than I've been hoping for lately) of steady, full time work in my chosen field. I definitely appreciate the insight, though, and I'm writing about it mainly so that I have a record to remind myself to treasure the looser days without a job when we move on to the next duty post.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Preparing for TDY

My husband, Einstein, is busily preparing for his first TDY since our very recent marriage. My feelings about this big event are somewhat mixed. Einstein and I, though newlyweds, grew up in the same very, very small town and have thus known each other for quite some time. On the other hand, we had a long distance relationship for four years, while I and he were away at college and last year we lived in the same general area, but since he was living on base and was very busy most days, we saw each other for a few hours a week at most. This was still heaven compared to the proceeding four years, but you can still imagine my shock when I sat down with a calendar and realized that the upcoming six week TDY will be the longest amount of time we have spent apart in over a year.

This boggles my mind. I know that last year, when he was constantly busy and barely had time for the occasional meet up at Starbucks or Panera, I certainly didn't feel like we were spending much time together, but clearly we were. I'm not sure that I know how to do apartness, anymore. It feels strange and odd and I can't picture what I will do with myself.

This is partially due to the fact that we spent most of the summer at home, since he was on leave, and were never apart for more than a few hours, and this has held true since PCS'ing to our new home, since his training doesn't officially start until November, and he has this upcoming TDY. So he goes to work, checks his email, hangs about the squad room for a bit, does any miscellaneous filing or what not, and then comes home. Since I am still at loose ends, we've ended up doing all of the moving in tasks and errands together, for the most part.

I'm not complaining. I realize that this will probably never, ever happen again. So I'm appreciating it while I can. But it is making it impossible to visualize what it will be like to be alone. I know that I'm going to miss him something fierce.

But there is also a part of me that is excited to prove that I can to do this, that I haven't "lost my touch" with being apart, and that I still have what it takes to survive without him around.

There is also the pragmatic part of me that realizes that this is just the beginning, and I had best get used to it again, because it is going to be like this for a long, long time.