Monday, December 1, 2008

I don't understand

My mother has made a very strange request.

She wants a picture of Einstein and I for the family Christmas letter.

She wants a picture of Einstein and I where he ISN'T in uniform.


I'm trying to understand this request. It wouldn't be a problem, except for the unfortunate fact that other than pictures where he is in uniform, the only pictures we have of the past year are ones where either one of us (or both of us) is inebriated or where I look hideous. Truly awful.

So I told her I didn't have a photo of us that fit her requirements, and asked if I could just send her one with him in uniform.

She said no, she wanted one that was about "our" life and not "his" life.

WHAT? This IS my life. This is OUR life. The military is not some strange hobby of his; it is our life. Yes, I have my own career, my own hobbies. But seriously...I just don't get it.

My mom is not anti-military. She has never seemed to have a problem like this one in the past. I know she is frustrated because most of the pictures that I send are of him with planes, but honestly, that's what we take pictures of! Sorry! That and cheesy shots of my Christmas tree, but whatever.

I don't know if anyone has any insights; I'm not sure what to think.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Holidays...and other ramblings

Is it just me, or does mandatory fun seem to increase exponentially the closer we get to Christmas??

If I have to go to one more tea, coffee, lunch, brunch, reception, party, event or bbq (or plan one more!!!) I may scream. It probably just seems worse because not only are there are the various levels of parties to attend for Einstein, but my own obligations are in full swing.

Frankly, I loathe holiday parties. I know, Scrooge-y of me, but I don't care. I love Christmas, but I like staying at home, baking, decorating, etc. I hate buying useless white elephant gifts. It seems so...wasteful.

Why yes, I am that person who opts out of the secret santa/office gift exchange/whatever and makes everyone else feel gluttonous by suggesting we donate to charity instead. Sorry.

I like entertaining...but paying $$ for tickets to the squadron holiday party...not so much. I like going to people's houses for dinners, chill hanging out, etc...but not forced festivity. So sue me.

I swear, my real name is not Ebeneezer!

Thanks for the comments on the last post; I'm feeling much better about it. Mostly because I looked at pay scales for other parts of the country and remembered just how far below average the pay is here, haha. :-D

In happier holiday news, Einstein and I have all of our Advent provisions (ie, wreath and calendar) laid in. I am planning to make Chex mix and put up the tree next weekend (after my second favorite holiday, Thanksgiving, yay!!). Also, I finally managed to order my lefse (Norwegian food, can't have a holiday without it!) and it should be arriving pre-Thanksgiving.

Ooooh! An out-take from my day today!

The setting: Having lunch midday at a (library) conference, sitting with coworker: I peer into my boxed lunch (which was sadly inadequate, btw).

Me: Hmmm...salad, chips, fork...*roots around* WHERE IS THE COOKIE??
Coworker: What? You don't have a cookie?? Wait, *I* don't have a cookie, EITHER!
Me (looking around at other's lunches with a growing sense of foreboding): I don't think anyone has a cookie.
Coworker: No way. Did they not realize this was a library conference??
Me: There had better be cookies during the afternoon breakout, or I am pulling ALA membership cards and taking names.

Thankfully, we emerged at the middle of the afternoon session to find trays of brownies and cookies. It was close, though. Because no way would my boss have given me my professional development credits for a conference without cookies. They are mandatory at any event involving librarians.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Somehow this time of year always manages to depress me...

And by this time of year, I mean the time of year when most public libraries give out stability pay/retention bonuses/whatever they want to call it. Basically, the longer you've worked there, the more money you get. It is also the time of year when I look over the pay charts for the next year and contemplate the simple fact that I will never work in one place long enough to make decent money.

The key to being well paid as a librarian is 1) find a job in a non-public library and then 2) work there until you die or retire, whichever comes first.

I have failed on both counts.

But even public libraries pay decently if you've worked there for a few years. Unfortunately, the likelihood that I will ever work anywhere for more than three years is decidedly small. I hate always having to start at the bottom. I hate not being considered for promotions or more responsibility because I'm going to be moving on in a few years, and my employers know it. I hate feeling underpaid (and undervalued).

In the end I'm doing work that I really love, and so is Einstein. It doesn't get much better than that, even though I'll never have the earning potential of my non-nomadic colleagues.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Best Patron Interaction EVER

Earlier this week an incredibly cute child came into the library looking for Curious George books. I am a huge fan of C. George; seriously, my love knows no bounds. So I was happy to show this little guy (four years old, I'm guessing) where "George" hangs out in the library.

He was ecstatic. He couldn't believe how many Curious George books we had. His dad patiently helped him select six of them, which he then walked over to the youth desk (one book at a time) to show me. I grabbed some of the Curious George stickers I had in my office to give to him; he gave three to his dad for safekeeping and carefully applied the fourth one to his shirt. Then he turned to me, and with true devotion on his face, said:

"You turned my shirt into a Curious George shirt. Thank you!"

Then, as they walked out the door, I overheard this conversation:

Dad: These librarians sure are nice, aren't they?

Little Boy: Yeah!

Dad: Do you like the library?

Little Boy: OH YES!

And that, my friends, is why I love my job.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

An ode to the new fiscal year

Okay, I'm not actually sure about the poetic conventions of an ode, so I'm just going to write.


New budget. New money. Vendors (book vendors, mostly) wining and dining me, trying to get their hands on some of that glorious new-fiscal-year largesse. Librarians don't get wined and dined much. We mostly get free pens. Sometimes a note pad. OH! And free stickers (sometimes scratch-and-sniffs!) when you order a certain amount of stuff from Upstart. But the new fiscal year brings the vultures (I mean, book vendors) running.

And it is GLORIOUS.

I mean, a couple of free lunches is not really that big of a deal. I used to work for a huge district, where we regularly got comped for meals, etc. But its been awhile. Also, when vendors pay for lunch, I don't have to worry about turning in receipts. So yeah.

Most importantly, though, vendors bring me books. So what happens when a vendor visits, other than the fact that they take me to lunch? Well, they usually bring PILES AND PILES (literally) of books. I spend all morning (sometimes all day) going through their books, picking the ones I like. I give them back to the vendor in yes and no piles. And then, magically, a week later, I receive boxes of books. And C comes to me and says "Nomad! You have books! Piles of them!" And I am happy.

Also, the vendors who don't come in person will just SEND you the books. You sort through them, and then ship back what you don't want, which is actually a lot of fun.

Let's be honest here. I like shopping. My favorite thing to shop for? Books!

My job, for the past week or so? Nothing but book shopping, baby. Yet another reason I love being a librarian.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Banned Books Week

Intellectual freedom is important. Information should flow freely. Censorship is always lurking around the corner (and no, I'm not being sarcastic).

Now that I've discharged my duties as a card carrying member of the American Library Association, a funny story about banned books week.

Every library I have EVER worked at has done the same display for Banned Books Week: A bunch of books on the ALA's most challenged list surrounded by crime scene tape. It's a pretty cool looking display, if a tad overdone.

So I dutifully gathered up a bunch of books to put on the display this week, only to be told by one of my coworkers (the aforementioned C) that we don't like to draw attention to Banned Books Week at my current library.

Apparently, the last time they did a display of frequently challenged books, they had patrons lodge challenges against half of the books in the display by the end of the week. I sort of didn't believe him, but hey, it saved me looking for crime scene tape- I just put out some "Read Banned Books" bookmarks and called it a day.

One final story...two kids were discussing the bookmarks today:

Kid 1: You can BAN BOOKS??

Kid 2: Sweet. We should ban *insert name of frequently maligned classic work here*, and just watch the movie instead.

Kid 1: Totally! That is such a great idea!

I didn't have the heart to tell them that the movie is nowhere near as good as the book. :-D

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Pilot Training, Part IV


The number one thing I wish I'd had a heads up on ahead of time.

The college I attended for my undergrad was fraternity/sorority free, but there was still PLENTY of booze. Trust me. My friends and I drank. A lot. I'd seen keg stands, power hours and just about every other bit of asinine drinking tomfoolery standard to the American college experience.

Then I went out, got a job (I did grad school while working, the beauty of mostly online classes!) and found out that, as I'd often suspected, people in the real world didn't start off the evening by doing shots. Since I had never been a huge fan of the binge drinking I'd encountered in college, it was easy to adjust my expectations to a glass of wine with dinner and cocktails on Friday nights.

Einstein was not a drinker. While he would occasionally drink a beer or have a rum and coke with something, he found my fondness for vodka tonics strange to say the least. (Although my love of peppermint schnapps was easier to understand, apparently!) So when we married, I assumed my life would continue on much as it had in my new grown-up world, with the occasional glass of wine, and a bottle of rum lasting months while gathering dust in my cupboard.

And then we arrived at pilot training.

I will spare you the urban legends about various forms of liquor, bar rules and other idiocy I've encountered. Suffice it to say, I have now attended "mandatory fun" parties where people did shots until everyone was absolutely falling down drunk. No event is complete- or even started- without liquor. And I don't just mean a bbq with some cold brewskies. I mean out and out, frat boy, "Animal House" style, shots until you puke drinking.

**Quick note: I have NEVER seen anyone FORCED to drink. I know a lot of people who are non-drinkers are often worried that they will be forced to drink. On the contrary, the people I know who do not drink (mostly for religious reasons) are never given guff about not drinking. They are often in the unenviable position of being sober around a bunch of drunk people, but that's another story...

So yeah. I was surprised, to say the least. I wish I had known ahead of time, not so much because I am anti-drinking, but because it is so central to the culture. It was a huge shock the first time I walked into an Assignment Night and saw the hordes of drunks in flight suits. Also, I should have included WAY more money in our budget for liquor, especially since there are a number of flights in the syllabus where it is customary to buy your Instructor Pilot a bottle of their favorite liquor.

Oooh, and there is definitely a wife=DD frame of mind. I cannot tell you the number of Fridays I have driven back on base with a car full of drunk LTs. The gate guards are usually hugely sympathetic when I fork over a handful of LT ID's with my dependent one. I even get the occasional "good luck Ma'am" when they are being especially rowdy. And Einstein's class is considered to be tame and practically anti-partying, compared to the norm!

But yeah. I now negotiate nights off of DDing, because hey, I'm planning (at some point) to give up drinking entirely for pregnancy and breastfeeding, so I figure I deserve a few nights off of DD duty now!

Saturday, September 13, 2008


Most good libraries keep statistics. We have counters at the door to count the number of people in and out. We count the number of books checked out. And, in every library I've worked in, we've counted the questions we're asked. There are usually different types of questions: directional (where's the bathroom/where are the audio books), computer (how do I print), ready reference (What's the capital of Hungary), title (do you have Skippyjon Jones) and reference (I need information about asthma).

I'm proposing a new category. I'm going to call it "Yelling" or perhaps "Chastising" but let's be honest, mostly I yell. All summer long the library was packed with kids, and well we did have the occasional behavioral problem, it was mostly great. Now that school is back in session, it is pretty quiet during the day...but after school hours are a DISASTER. The little monsters are everywhere, tearing down displays, running (literally) rampant through the stacks and knocking over senior citizens, destroying my toddler toys, STEALING things out of the youth desk when there isn't anyone there (we're short handed, this month).

I am going crazy. I've been getting ready to do some redecorating and put in some cool (and cheap) literacy activiities, some new toy type things, etc. But I can't because they will destroy them!

The next time I have to tell a child more than ten times "No running in the library" I'm going to make them sit next to me and cut out stickers.

No, there are no parents with these children. After all, the library is merely a source of free after school child care.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Pilot Training, Part III

As I've mentioned before, I got a ton of unasked for advice about how busy Einstein would be, how much my life would suck, etc.

Before I move on to the subject of today's post, I am going to go ahead and say, yes, Einstein is busy. Yes, some nights (like tonight) I come home and make dinner and know that he won't eat it with me. Boo hoo. I don't think pilot training is anyone's ideal of newlywed life, but it is not horrible. He gets weekends off, even if he does spend most of the weekend studying. We live amongst a super close community of people our age all dealing with the same issues. Also, the noise of jets overhead is just plain (plane?? haha pun!) cool. But yes. The rumors are true. Expect that of the 13 months of training, your spouse will spend at least 6 of them (if not more) working full 12 hour days, and studying most of the other 12 per day. Accept the long hours, see "Pilot Training, Post II", stock up on Lean Cuisines, and move on.

Now, on to address what I consider to be the most difficult part of pilot training. The emotional work. And I do mean work. Pilot training is mentally and physically exhausting, but the emotional exhaustion that the students struggle with is harder. The always hanging overhead knowledge that you are in direct competition with the other students in your class. The "tough love" or really, just tough, teaching methods of some of the Instructor Pilots. The fact that the pace never lets up- there is always something coming up that must be studied for and prepared. I thought that Einstein had the market cornered on mental (and emotional) toughness. I still think he does, in comparison to some of the dudes we know here.

BUT. It is so hard to find the emotional reserves to be his supporter and cheerleader. Especially on days like today, when I would like a little attention myself. It is hard to maintain the "Hey, you can do it!" attitude when you know that your location and lifestyle depend on how well he does in training. His frustration, mostly with himself, can be hard to deal with. The pressure is intense, and emotions run high.

So that is what I struggle with the most: keeping my own emotions on an even keel and helping him deal with the ups and downs of UPT. I've come to accept the highs and lows, and mostly just focus on reminding him how much I love him and how much faith I have in him.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Absent friends

Earlier this year one of our friends died. I posted about it then, and then took the post down because it was too soon, and it hurt too much and I just....didn't feel like talking about it.

It was a very different sort of grief then I had ever experienced before...unlike any loss I had known before.

For a variety of reasons- people moving on and feeling ready to talk about him, Einstein being at the same place in training, talking about things that we did with him, hearing songs on the radio that make me think of him, whatever- our friend has come up in conversation more and more in the past few weeks.

And suddenly, it's like it just happened, all over again. It scares me. I've never felt this before; always before, when I've lost some one, I've gone through all the stages of grief sequentially and neatly, like a good little girl.

The other night, lying in bed, I asked my husband if he had noticed it too. I asked him if it was causing the same fears it was in me; fears of plane crashes and knocks on the door. He said it was. I still don't know if I'm relieved or horrified that my husband is just as scared of that as I am.

But I do know that we miss you, my friend.

So I propose a toast: To absent friends.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Why I love storytime

Today we had storytime. It was fantastic. One of the books I read was "When Dinosaurs Came with Everything" by Elise Broach. One of the things I like the best about working as a children's librarian is the sheer enthusiasm that little kids have. When I worked with teens, they never got that excited. About anything.

So the excitement of my crowd of preschoolers as I read this cute picture book about a little boy who sets out with his mom on a day of boring errands and discovers (to his delight and his mother's dismay) that today, they are giving out dinosaurs- real ones- with everything, was pretty much overwhelming. They LOVED it. And I loved them, with their open smiley faces and eyes that drank in every illustration.

This is the reason that I will continue looking for youth librarian jobs everywhere we move. It would be much easier to get a job as an information broker or database indexer (very portable, work from home options for those with an MLS). The job search at each new locale is worth it though, to see those happy little faces.

Why, yes, I am a huge sucker for kids. Why do you ask?

Also, I am planning to get back to my pilot training series. I swear. Also, I'm thinking about a post about why being a librarian is the ideal milspouse career...stay tuned.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Does this bother anyone else?

If you listen to country music, you've heard them. What I like to call the "death songs". They never fail to make me cry.

They're about men and women in uniform dying. (Usually men, but we'll save the rant on sexism for later.) "If You're Reading This" by Tim McGraw. "Bagpipes Cryin'" by Rushlow Harris. You get the idea. The other day driving to work I heard "Just a Dream" by Carrie Underwood.

If you've heard the song you know its about the same as all the others, with the difference that it is a woman singing. Anyway, a few days later I was working out at the gym, watching CMT. The video for the song came on. Objectively, it is a pretty good video, other than the crappy computer graphics when they are turning her wedding dress into a black mourning dress.

Subjectively, it pisses me off. The whole feel of the video is "old"- definitely very forties/fifties- and it makes me feel like they (whoever they are) are trying to deny that people in the military are dying today, while still trying to cash in on public awareness and sympathy for those killed in action. Maybe I feel that way because I know for a fact that most people in the US have no real sympathy for the military and their sacrifices; I often feel like the articles in PEOPLE and songs like the ones above are the manifestation of an obsession much like the one with Britney Spears:

People are willing to watch, and chide, and offer opinions and condemnation that do not one single helpful thing. They want to see each gory detail played out; see the tears on each widow's face, watch endless video of a soldier hugging her kids as she leaves on her third deployment in five years, sigh and shake their heads sadly at the Memorial Day newspaper with photos of young widows crying in Arlington. What they DON'T want to do is take any responsibility for the situation. Nor do they want to do constructive things to help.

Now, I'm not saying everyone is like this. But I honestly think that the vast majority of people like to pretend they are entitled to be voyeurs and users of military grief without ever giving back. It is sort of like when people come up to Einstein and thank him for his service. This drives him crazy, because he's never been deployed. Also, because right now the Air Force is paying him to do his favorite thing in the world: fly. While he is busy trying to come up with a coherent response ("You're welcome" is usually what he settles for, but we both agree that it feels a little brusque), I'm usually trying really hard not to ask that person if they ever do anything for our troops. Do you write letters? Send cards to deployed service members? Take a casserole to the house of that National Guard wife? Fine, you saw my husband in Walgreens or whatever and thanked him, but do you ever go out of your way to do something for military folks?

Ditto to those folks with the little yellow Support Our Troops magnets- I used to joke with Einstein that I was going to go around with a little pre-printed note with real ways to support the troops to stick under the magnets every time I saw them in a parking lot. But I decided that the paper waste would be too much for the environment to take, so I nixed the idea.

Wow. This turned into a huge rant. Sorry about that. But it still pisses me off.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Pilot Training, Part II

The best advice I have for coping with pilot training:

Find a job/hobby/volunteer gig/start a home business.

Doesn't matter what you do, but you need your own thing. Maybe it is because so many of the spouses are newly married and just out of undergrad, but that seems to be a hard one for people to follow. People are also hesitant to look for jobs because they will be moving soon (keep in mind, UPT is thirteen months long, so you'll most likely be there at LEAST that long! And don't get me started on how the pipeline is backed up right now coming out of UPT).

Don't get me wrong. I understand that the cities where UPT bases are located are not exactly metropolises (also, why is it metropolises? shouldn't it be metropoli? I digress...) but if you can't find a job in your field, you can find something that will at least engage your brain and give you something to look forward to while your spouse is gone 12 hrs a day and studying another 6 on top of that.

I have a full time job. This keeps me more than occupied. But if a full time job is not your style (for whatever reason) or just not in the cards, here are some other things I've seen people do successfully:
-Start a business (Mary Kay/whatever or something of your making)
-Volunteer (on base or off)
-Offer to run spouse groups
-Train for a triathlon (seriously, the girl I know who does this is SO BUFF)
-Take a class- online courses are your friend! There are so many legit schools with awesome programs, look around!
-Take a class- community ed! check out you local library! Cooking, languages, ballet for adults oh my!
-Part time/substitute gig
-Write (and publish!) a book
-Work on reading through the literary canon (The woman who does this is so cool, she is always reading something totally awesome and looking to talk about it).

I'm not saying you have to go overboard. But find something that is just yours, even if it is only a couple hours a week and then OWN it. Be excited about it, talk about it, enjoy it, make your spouse learn at least something about it. You'll be a lot happier, trust me. All the people I've met who are happy and dealing well with the stress of a spouse in UPT have something of their own that keeps them occupied. I hate to be all "just think positive" but seriously, find something that at least adds to your happiness and then focus on that.

**Disclaimer: I have no children. My advice is for people who also have no kids. If you have kids and your spouse is in UPT, you are a better soul than I. But from observation I can tell you that it is very doable whether you work outside the home or not. I know lots of ladies who manage it with style and grace.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Pilot Training, Part I

Before Einstein and I married, we knew he was headed to pilot training. Air Force UPT (Undergraduate Pilot Training) is 13 months of twelve hour duty days, endless studying and emotional exhaustion.

In other words, it is like most military training.

Amongst my Air Force friends (and I had a lot, even without that fancy brown card!) UPT had gathered a mystique. Whether or not their husbands were pilots, my friends gleefully gave me a metric ton of unasked for advice:

"Don't plan on talking to him for a year!"

"My husband was too busy to hug me. It was the worst year of my life, and of our marriage."

"You shouldn't even bother moving there. It's not like you will see him anyway."

The last bit of advice was one that I heard from numerous sources. Obviously, I didn't follow it. Looking back now, at roughly the halfway point (almost!!) I have to say that it was hands down the worst piece of advice that I was given. I'm going to try to write a little series on pilot training, with my advice for those wives/girlfriends/fiancees who are headed into those dreaded 13 months. I hope that my advice is more reassuring than any of the advice I received.

I'm planning to concentrate on different aspects and problems we've faced. I have a feeling most of it will be applicable across the military, not just to AF pilots. I will probably end up repeating things that most of my reader's already know. But maybe it will be handy for that scared, research and internet dependent woman like me, who was hoping for some ray of sunshine and practical advice in the sea of negativity.

Friday, July 25, 2008

My motivation is gone

I love my job.

I love my job.

I love my job.

(Seriously, I do.)

Summer, however, kills me. My public school childhood hardwired the three month vacation into me and I am SO DONE with working during the summer. I want to sleep in, lay by the pool, take afternoon naps, eat picnic lunches and swim all day. And I have not had a single spare moment to do any of those things. I want my summer!!!

The obvious solution is to become a school librarian *insert hysterical laughter here*.

Honestly, I have this sneaking suspicion that summer isn't half as relaxing as a grown-up, even if you don't have to go to work. It's just that a lot of my IRL friends are not working outside the home right now and they seem to be having so much fun this summer. I want to have some too!

*Note: I really appreciate school librarians. I think they are amazing people, and I wouldn't do their job for a million dollars...which is obviously far far higher than the average librarian's salary. Literally, the thought of working in a school library makes me ill. Even with three months "off" in the summer.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Collection development

Librarian post ahead.

So one of the main parts of my job is ordering books and other materials for my library. Specifically, since I am a children's librarian, for people ages 0-12. This is really really hard.

Why? Because I used to be a teen librarian. I know what is appropriate for teens. I know what they like. I know what's new, which authors are cool, which one's teachers like (and assign!) and what is so last week. Kids? Not so much. Library school (and general library work) have given me a pretty decent clue about picture books and a few chapter books, but most of the time I am adrift, trying to learn a whole new age group.

It's good. It's broadening my horizons.

It makes me take FOREVER to complete one stupid order. After the fifth inquiry about when I would have an order list completed, I finally broke down and confessed to our collections librarian today. It went something like this:

"C, I have to look up every book to read reviews,"

"What? You mean to check if we have it already? The system will auto-notify you!"

"No. Because I have no idea what these books are about. I look up review for every single one."

It was hard. It was ugly. But it bought me a few days on my order. (Also C wasn't mad, just amused that I hadn't confessed earlier.)

Also, spending tens of thousands of dollars on books makes me want to go to the bookstore for myself really, really badly. Since, you know, it is definitely NOT ethical to sneak my own book wants into a purchase order.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Unending Anticipatory Grief

Okay. I spend enough time on Spousebuzz to realize that anticipatory grief is a pretty normal thing in the milspouse world.

My problem is that I can't turn it off, and there is no end in sight. Any day that Einstein flies is one where I fear for his safety. This isn't a problem with rational thought; trust me when I say that I know flying is safe, that Einstein is a good pilot (for a student, anyway!), that really pilot is a pretty safe job when all things are considered, and that in a training environment everyone is on their toes, etc etc etc. I get it.

I think about his death every single day. Several times each day. On the way to work. When I get to work. On my lunch break (what if they were looking for me while I was at McDonald's???). When I get home. While I wait for him to come home. I rehearse the knock, how it would happen if I was at work. It is to the point where I pick up the house before I leave in case he dies while I'm at work and I have people all over our house that night. I think about my clothes, and whether that is what I want to be wearing when they tell me my husband is dead.

The past few nights Einstein has gotten home later than anticipated for various reasons. I go into panic mode immediately, calling other wives to see if any of his flight mates are home. I'm not a is just always there.

And I can't live like this for the rest of my life. If he were deployed, I could rationalize it. I would expect this level of obsession. But he is going to be flying nearly every day for the next ten years (hopefully! he's a grouch when he doesn't fly!) and I can't sustain this that long. I really can't. And I can't turn it off.

Seriously, how do other people cope?

Monday, July 14, 2008

Maybe you can help me...

"Maybe you can help me" is seriously my least favorite phrase to hear from a patron.

Dude, I get paid to help you. It is the main component of my job. I went to freaking grad school so that I could help you.

I'm pretty sure I can help you.

Also, what do you say to that? I mean, what do you say that is friendly and customer service oriented? "Yes, I can help you" with a perky smile is my usual reply, but even I get sick of that after awhile.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Oh, Family Gatherings

Sometimes I feel bad for relatives of military people. I can slot pretty much all of our extended family (and the extended family of our military friends) into four categories:

1) Military relatives. Obviously they "get it." While you may not like their JalepeƱo Apple Pie, you don't have to worry about dumb questions from them (usually).

2) Endless Questioners. "So do you really move that much? Can't you just tell them you don't want to deploy? What types of planes are those again? How long is your commitment? Do you think...." The worst form of this is the relatives who don't understand "I can't tell you what I know about that" or "I can't talk about that." I am always embarrassed for them (after all, I know how it feels to be told that Einstein can't tell me something) but I am also constantly shocked at how people try to get around it by continuing to ask questions about a topic he has told them is off limits!!! What is that about??

3) The Know-it-Alls. This type of relative (I have a LOT of this type) are the ones who never served a day in the military in their lives, but know all about the military. They seem to honestly believe that they know it all and are constantly trying to impress Einstein (and whatever other poor souls are sitting on the deck with him) with their encyclopedic "knowledge." Some of these types are fairly harmless, and can even be amusing (the uncle who always tries to finish Einstein's sentences and is crestfallen when he is wrong). Some of them (my uncle) are annoying, patronizing and dead wrong about pretty much everything. ("You'll see how it is after you've been in awhile" Um, excuse me? You were never IN the military!) Also, this type tends to think they know more than me (the little wifey). Naturally, this makes them my least favorite.

4) The Oblivious. These range from those who have no understanding/experience with the military, and who have so little concept of what the lifestyle is like that they do not even realize the differences from their own lives. Some of these are the apathetic relatives, who also tend to be narcissistic. My least favorite is this type are those who actively dismiss you after they hear about the military affiliation. That drives me crazy!

My revelation for the weekend is this: it is hard for the "civilian" relatives to break free from these categories, because if you don't ask a million questions or act like you know it all, I am liable to think you are Oblivious. So what is my perfect relative like?

They are as interested in asking questions about Einstein's life as they are in asking questions about his cousin's med school antics. They never assume they know more than he does. And they don't dwell on it overlong (for instance, trapping Einstein in a corner the entire night of a family barbecue and grilling him about military life) before moving on to other topics.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

A quote from ALA past

To make up for my own dissaointment over missing ALA (the American Library Associations monster yearly conference) this year, I am going to post my favorite quote from ALA's past.

In 1937, Frances Clarke Sayers gave an impassioned address entitled The Nightingale, which focused on how children's librarians needed to combat the tendency to give children books that were dumbed down, that focused on the mundane and easy to understand. Every day I struggle against this same issue. Collection development (which books to buy), reference interviews (which books to recommend), reader's advisory, etc, they all lead me back to this one issue. So I try to keep this quote in mind throughout my day.

She said:

“Of what are we afraid? Of words, of emotion, of experience? We are very tender, it seems to me, of the young,
and tenderness is no preparation for a world half mad and savage. "

Sunday, June 29, 2008

So, can we talk about something besides flying now?

After spending the ENTIRE weekend as the only civilian with a bunch of military pilots-in-training, I can safely say that I really would rather not talk about anything flying related for, oh, hmmm, well, you know, at LEAST a month.

The chances of this are slim to none.

Don't get me wrong. Einstein has wanted to be a pilot as long as I've known him (really, since he was five and went on his first helicopter flight). And he loves flying so much. And I love him so much. He spent years thinking his dream of flying in the military was impossible, and then it was a long process of maybes, and "if this works out" and now he is finally doing what he has always wanted to do and I don't begrudge him a second of it.

I'm only saying that it might be nice to talk about other topics, from time to time. We don't even have to talk about books or libraries or anything like that. We could talk about how Spain defeated Germany today in the EuroCup (hooray!). We could talk about cooking. Or the rising price of gas...but that would lead to talk of jet fuel...

I know lots of families that don't discuss religion or politics at the dinner table. I'm thinking maybe no flying at the dinner table? Just for a few days?

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Stop! No hitting in the library!

Today I had to stop a six year old boy from mauling his sister. I was walking over to the information desk from the back of the stacks (that's shelves, in librarianese) and made the turn just in time to see the young man tackle his slightly older sister to the ground (hard enough that he caused my computer monitor to spin like a top!) and begin to beat the living tar out of her.

And yes, I can say living tar. I live in the South. Deal with it.

So I rushed over and started with the "Stop! We don't hit people in the library!" spiel. I would have added that we don't hit people at all, but I got taken to task once for telling a patron's child that "We don't hit other people EVER" , so now I limit myself to saying "in the library."

I seriously though I was going to have to pry the kid off of his sister. It was out of control. He finally stopped and ran off to destroy one of my display racks. His parents? Nowhere in sight. Sigh.

Also, a conversation between Einstein and I at dinner:

E: And then so and so said "Well, it sure sounds like *insert mysogynistic/anti-woman comment here*"
Me: REALLY? I totally can't believe he said that, he doesn't seem the type.
E: Well, I think he's just like doesn't matter if you believe it, it is just easier to say it once and awhile, you know, to fit in...
Me: OH REALLY? So what kind of things do you say?
E: uhhhhhhhhh. Nothing. I don't say anything at work. Ever.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Conversation with a coworker

"Wait, your husband is an officer?"


"Wow. So, why are you working here?"

What I said "Well, *random lame ramblings about my love of libraries and massive student debt*"

What I was thinking, "I really have no idea."

Disclaimer: I love my job. But this was at the end of a looooooooong day.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Yes, we go to bed that early

Most of my non-military affiliated friends live the life of the young and upwardly mobile or the young and well-trust-funded (tough, I feel for them). This leads to a fair amount of dissonance between our lives and world views. It always has; after all, I could never afford to hire a maid or send my laundry out. (Yes I had friends in college who did those things.)

But the sticking point lately is less about political debates about the necessity of the military or inability to cope with the idea of frequent and seemingly pointless moves around the country.

The sticking point is our bed time. My friends cannot handle the fact that any call to us after 9 PM will not be answered.

Now, I grew up in a house where if you were calling after 9 PM you had better be 1) dead 2) dying or 3) calling about someone else in one of the previous two conditions. This was non-negotiable. My parents are hardcore about very few things, but the 9 PM phone cut off was sacrosanct. I never thought much about it (other than a brief interlude in college where the jealous ex of my roomate's new boyfriend called EVERY NIGHT at 3 AM) and I certainly didn't follow it. But with Einstein's flying schedule and my own work schedule, it makes sense to go to bed at around 9:30. And I need a half and hour of quiet time before I can fall asleep. So if the call comes in after 9, I don't even see it (oh the wonder of cell phones!) until the next morning. Obnoxious? Perhaps. Ornery? Maybe. Ridiculous? No.

Frankly, if you want to talk to me that badly, call me before 9 PM.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

I like Summer Reading

For those of you who don't have a double major in library-ese to go with your major in military-ese, Summer Reading=Summer Reading Program (commonly abbreviated SRP)=a reading program for library patrons (usually kids) that involves some equation of time spent reading/number of books read with prizes.

And guess what, I like it! I like having kids in the library! I like that they are reading (even if the little darlings are probably fudging the number of hours they are reading for). I like all of the kitschy programming. I like doing storytime for 200+ kids. This has made me odd person out at work.

There is actually a countdown on a bulletin board in the staff break room- the number of days until the end of summer reading. Since we are only about a week in, I think it is more depressing than motivating, but hey, at least it gives my coworkers something to complain about!

I'm really having a hard time dealing with the bad attitude about it, though...I mean, seriously, it is a PUBLIC LIBRARY. The more people who know we exist means the more people who might vote yes the next time we have some sort of levy.

Although to be fair, most of their angst seems to stem from the fact that the SRP snuck up on them! How dastardly, a whole season sneaking up on you!

Friday, May 30, 2008

Oh, little garden!

Einstein and I live in an apartment. Since we don't have a yard for gardening, I have turned to container gardening. This year's crops include (drumroll, please!):

Basil (yum!)
Lemon Thyme

So far they seem to be thriving, although I worry a little bit that they will not survive the summer. I grew up in the North, and summer below the Mason-Dixon line seems a little, well, harsh. Like, soul sucking heat that is out to kill all living things, me and my baby plants included. Technically, half of them aren't babies, they are perennials from last year, but still.

There are few things that make me happier than coming home and picking things right off the vine for dinner! If you've never tried gardening of any sort and are interested in starting a few pots of tomatoes (or being even more ambitious!) check out The Edible Container Garden by Michael Guerra. It has great photos and excellent blow by blow instructions for all types of plants and containers. It is excellent for all levels of gardener, from the complete neophyte to the experienced gardener who is new to containers, or just looking to branch out from tomatoes!

Also, I love the farmers market. I went to the commissary today and didn't have to buy ANY produce. (Our commissary has the nastiest produce ever). Hooray!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Note to random parent

Dear Madam,

Thank you for bringing your son into the library. We are so happy to have him in the children's section, and I sincerely hope that your visits to our fine library inspire him to a lifelong love of books.

I'd also like to point out that leaving your child unsupervised in a public place is technically child abandonment and you are so freaking lucky that I didn't call the cops. Since you apparently think that your son is young enough to wander around with a pacifier in his mouth (even though he can walk and talk, although he is hard to understand around the binky!) I am at a loss as to why you think it is okay to leave him all alone in a 40,000 square foot building while you are on the other side of it, completely immersed in your internet surfing.

Just because I am sitting at the desk in the children's area does not mean I am watching your son. Luckily for you, I am a fairly patient person who loves children, and didn't mind him following me around or providing him with some books to look through or things to color with.

BUT. I could have been a child molester. Your son has no sense of stranger danger or where to go or not to go, since he is three. Leaving him unsupervised for over an hour is not only unwise, it is also criminal. Also, looking at me contemptuously when I walked over to you (since you hollered for him from the circulation desk, instead of coming to the children's area to fetch him) and reminded you politely that according to library policy all children under seven must be with an adult at all times did not help your case with me. What really sealed the deal was the "little bitch" comment you made under your breath when I told you that if it happened again, I would call the police.

So I've changed my mind. If you do it again, I will go ninja librarian on your ass.

Nomad Librarian

Friday, May 2, 2008

I don't have words of my own, for this

Dirge without music by Edna St. Vincent Millay

I am not resigned to the shutting away of loving hearts in the hard ground.
So it is, and so it will be, for so it has been, time out of mind:
Into the darkness they go, the wise and the lovely. Crowned
With lilies and with laurel they go; but I am not resigned.
Lovers and thinkers, into the earth with you.
Be one with the dull, the indiscriminate dust.
A fragment of what you felt, of what you knew,
A formula, a phrase remains, --- but the best is lost.

The answers quick & keen, the honest look, the laughter, the love,
They are gone. They have gone to feed the roses. Elegant and curled
Is the blossom. Fragrant is the blossom. I know. But I do not approve.
More precious was the light in your eyes than all the roses in the world.

Down, down, down into the darkness of the grave
Gently they go, the beautiful, the tender, the kind;
Quietly they go, the intelligent, the witty, the brave.
I know. But I do not approve. And I am not resigned.

We'll miss you, dear friend.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Overheard at work today

"Jimmy, let's go! You've got enough books already!"

"But look, Mom, books on sharks!!!"

"Jimmy, we still have to go to the grocery store. Let's go!"

"Why do we need groceries??? We should get more books instead!"

While books over groceries is not exactly practical, I couldn't help but smile at the little boy's enthusiasm for books and the library. The whole thing made me smile, and in my head I was agreeing with him!

Monday, April 14, 2008

Happy National Library Week!!

Go visit your library!

Libraries are so much more than just storehouses for books! This last weekend I had a frustrating discussion with a new acquaintance that started like this "So you're a librarian, huh? Isn't that kind of a dying profession? I mean, there's the internet..."

Libraries are essential to the American way of life. Not only because they are collect information and make it available to the public, but because one of the primary missions of any library is to equip its patrons with the ability to discern which information sources are reliable, which contributes to the informed citizenry necessary for truly democratic government. Another vital aspect of democracy is a literate citizenry, and I think most people would be hard pressed to find a group of people more dedicated to literacy than librarians. Whether it is adult literacy classes and book sections or children's storytimes and summer reading programs, literacy is obviously a priority of libraries. So no, I don't think libraries are dying. I think that my profession is one of the most necessary of this century.

Plus, you know, libraries have DVD's and free computers, too.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

An email from my MIL

My mother-in-law is amazing. Every time I hear stories about other people's awful in-law experiences, I become even more thankful for my fantastic in-laws, who I love as much as my own parents. Einstein and I are lucky as hell for a lot of reasons, but having two fantastic sets of parents is where we really hit the lottery.

Gushing aside, though, for the first three or so years that Einstein and I were dating, I thought his mother was a little bit of a flake. She tends to come off a little absent minded (okay, more than a little!) and I was like, "OMG! Does this woman not see the way her family pushes her around?!? And she never even says anything to them!" Keep in mind that my family was definitely run on the lines of "if momma ain't happy ain't nobody happy", so a woman who seemed to let her family push her around was way out of my comfort zone.

And then, one day I suddenly realized that all of her ditzy comments? Complete and utter sarcasm! The woman had been making fun of everything, including herself, since I'd met her. So this week she finished off an email filled with family news with this little gem:

"I put some vases of sik flowers on the deck to have the wind blow the dust off on Saturday. Now they are just under a foot of snow. At least they are not dusty."

She slays me. Seriously.

Friday, April 4, 2008

You're gonna miss this...

I listen to country music.

Mostly because I switch back and forth between VH1 and CMT at the gym in the morning so I never have to watch a commercial, but that is a little beside the point.

The point is that there is a song by Trace Adkins that talks about how you can spend your whole life wishing away your present, thinking about the future. The chorus, for those who don't listen to country, goes:

"You're gonna miss this. You're gonna want this back. You're gonna wish these days hadn't gone by so fast. These are some good times, so take a good look may not know it now, but you're gonna miss this."

The song has gotten me thinking a lot lately about how much time I spend thinking about the future, wishing that things were "different"...and listening to others I think it is especially common among milspouses to wish away the present selectively. For instance, no one sincerely believes that deployments and remote tours should be enjoyed and savored. And yet, at the same time, there are always things happening that we are going to miss. When I think about the years that Einstein and I spent apart, I remember how much it sucked. Believe me, I do. But I also remember awesome friends, learning to live on my own, being independent and impulsive and having sushi for dinner (Einstein hates it).

Which brings me to now. If I had a dollar for every time that some well meaning (military pilot spouse) soul has said "Pilot training is awful! My husband never even had time to hug me!" or "I don't know why you are even moving there with him, you'll never see him!" or "Just get through it, thirteen months and then its over!" I could buy myself a really nice dinner. With as much sushi as I could eat.

It's not fun. I mean, I look at friends who's significant others come home from work at the same time they do and they cuddle and cook together and go for walks, blahblahblah, and it makes me sad, because Einstein comes home, refuses to hug me (more on that story later!), studies and goes to bed. But seriously. Some of the women I spend time with every day think it is going to get better after pilot training. Reality check! It's not. First squadrons, deployments, TDY's, etc etc etc. Which while depressing, begs the question: why aren't we all looking for the things that we enjoy about where we are right now? I'm not talking about being Polly Perky, I'm talking about having good days and bad days and trying to look at the glass half full, not half empty.

So, since Einstein won't be home tonight...SUSHI!!!

Monday, March 24, 2008

Reading books makes me happy

I love books. I love reading books.

I work all day in a place filled with books. Which means I accumulate them faster than I can read them. My all time high was when I once had 92 books checked out. I never did read them all, I ended up doing a sort of book triage and only reading the ones I really really wanted to. Which was roughly 50 of them.

It hasn't been that bad lately, but it has started to get close. I was down to five (5!!!) books. Okay, really, eight, but two were borrowed from friends and one was purchased, so I really only had five checked out from work. And one of them was a gardening book, which barely even counts! Right.

And then today I went crazy. Book after book after book went into my pile of must-reads. Luckily sanity returned before quitting time and I ended up leaving one at work to read during lunch and brining the other one home.

So now I'm trying to be good and read my "old" books (since they are due in two days!) instead of the shiny new fun one. I'm not sure I have enough willpower left, honestly.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Sometimes I forget

I was talking with a good friend from undergrad today. After we had gotten caught up on her news (she is recently engaged, yay!) and were just chatting, it came up in conversation that Einstein has what is basically a 12 year commitment to the AF (roughly 2 years pre pilot training + 10 years after). I've known this was how it was going to be for a long time-at least the last 2 years, but apparently my friend either a) never knew or b) forgot this little tidbit.

She was shocked. Once she finished choking on her water she said "Are you going to be in (insert city name) for 12 years, then?"

It was my turn to be shocked.

Uhm, no. We will not be here for 12 years (please, God). Another year or so, then 9 months in another locale, and then on to Einstein's "first" "permanent" station. For four years or so. When I told her that in the next twelve years I am planning on moving at least 4-5 times (at least!!!), there was silence. When I reeled off place names of a couple of the bases we would love to be stationed at, she got even quieter.

It was so strange to have someone who I consider a great friend be so ignorant about the basics of the military lifestyle I live and breathe every day. She was shocked that we hoped to move abroad, shocked that I am fine with moving("Can't you just stay if you like it someplace?"), shocked about everything.

And I was shocked to realize that to her way of thinking, the military is just a job. I wonder how many people think like that?

Friday, March 7, 2008

I found a new snack!

I have an addiction to potato chips. It's a little sad, actually. Show me a bag and I have no self control. I'm not an advocate of completely cutting a food out, but I have HAD to do that with chips. Even if I have a little snack bag, the next time I see them I can't resist.

And while I like potato chips in general, I really like chips and dip. Especially French Onion dip. I used to eat an entire bag of chips with one (or two) containers of dip for a meal. Or for all my meals for a day. It was disgusting, and I am glad that I don't do it anymore. Although I have to admit I did have some while Einstein was TDY this last fall, but I ate fruits and veggies too! :-)

At any rate, I found a great new snack that gives me the crunch and the yum of my favorite snack without the calories and greasiness! Whole wheat Ritz crackers with Laughing Cow Light French Onion cheese!! Oh my gosh, I had some this morning and it made my day!!

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

What is it with spring time?!?

To my Minnesota raised mind, it is very strange indeed to think that March is actually a spring month. But it is! What I really mean by spring, however, is Spring Semester- or at least that time frame, January to May.

For a long, long time (high school for sure, possibly earlier) I have overbooked myself in the spring. Doesn't matter that I have supposedly "learned my lesson" and that I know better- I always end up running around frantically like a chicken with my head cut off, with no time to do anything that needs to get done.

This year is no different. I feel as if I am constantly running from one thing to the next, with a massive list of things left undone trailing behind me like a banner that says "Over-committed! Bad time manager!" I also feel bad because pilot training is completely sucking up Einstein's free time, which means that no one is doing the dishes, laundry or cleaning. And while I don't like living in squalor, I can cope with it. But Einstein has a little Air Force supplied chip in his brain that sees a pile of (clean!) laundry or a floor in need of vacuuming and completely melts down. He can't study in our house. So I struggle to keep things tidy and mostly clean (and he helps a lot, don't get me wrong!) but during the week-especially by Thursday, the house looks like rampaging monsters have hit it.

I think what is really making this spring overbooking harder to deal with than usual is the fact that I don't see an end in sight- at least not until after next spring. But you know what? It will be okay! I will persevere!

Monday, February 4, 2008

True confessions of a children's librarian/milspouse

1) I haven't read Twilight.
2) I don't make Einstein's lunch.
3) When he's on late rotations, I don't even make dinner. I figure he can make himself toast and eggs as well as I can.
4) I secretly hate when parents come to me for help finding some kind of book "rating" system, or when they request books with only "moral" themes. The real world is not the Christy Miller series, much as I enjoyed them growing up. Let your kids read the classics. I promise it won't scar them for life.
5) I sir and ma'am everyone (enlisted/officer/civilian, doesn't matter) unless they are the same rank as Einstein. It is just too awkward to sir/ma'am someone his rank.
6) I actually like shelf reading. In college, I used to go in to work during finals just to shelf read because I find it a very relaxing/zen way to spend time.
7) Half of the time when I go to spouse functions, I buy cookies at the commissary instead of bringing homemade.
8) I loathe story times. I like the idea, I like storytelling, but planning it all out makes me want to throw up sometimes.
9) I worry that people in my new mil-spouse world are judging me because I work full time, instead of being a homemaker.
10) I worry that people from my old, comfortable activist librarian world think I've sold out to The Man for a man.

Luckily, Einstein knows all of this and doesn't care. And frankly, neither do I, other than some lingering guilt about selling out/not being a good enough wife. It seems like I'm sort of damned if I do, damned if I don't.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Traveling with Einstein

Earlier this month I had to go to a library conference (and no, it wasn't ALA Midwinter *sniff*). Since it was only a few hours from home, Einstein followed me there once his duty day was over on Friday and spent the weekend in a hotel with me.

Before I say anything else, let me say this: it was absolutely glorious to get away, just the two of us, for a couple of days. I know, we don't have kids. But the social "whirl" around here can get to be a bit much and it was nice to have time to just sit around and be a couple: no cooking, no dishes, no making the bed!

But there were a few memorable things about the experience: this was the first time that I've been "outside" the military bubble since moving here. We went home for the Christmas holidays, but other than that I haven't interacted with non-military people that much. I was really surprised by how much military things crop up in my normal speech...I was using milspeak! Acronyms! Abbreviations! Bizarre wording!

It was strange. I often feel like Alice after going through the looking glass here on base, but I felt even stranger interacting with all the non-military folks during the conference. It wasn't anything blatant, just odd reactions to finding out Einstein is AF or weird comments, like one presenter who made a joke about nuclear war, and another about plane crashes. I find neither of those to be funny in the least, thanks. But everyone else seemed to.

Since Einstein has been so busy with training that I sometimes wonder if he even notices we live in the same house I have really missed getting to hear all of his hilarious observations on life. We went out for dinner and then decided to stop and pick up some beer to have with our chips and homemade salsa (which was a failure, oh well). He told the guy at the counter we didn't need a bag. As we walked out, I questioned his logic, since we would have to walk through the lobby of our very nice hotel with a six pack of beer. This is a transcript of our conversation from that point on:

Einstein: Is it bad to walk through the lobby with beer?
Me: No, it's just a little strange, don't you think? It would be nice to have a bag, is all I'm saying.
Einstein: Whatever. It's weird they don't sell beer in the lobby.
Me (befuddled): Have you ever stayed someplace that sold beer in the lobby?
Einstein: Sure! When I was TDY in Korea, New Mexico, etc etc etc

So apparently the AF sells beer in the lobby. Einstein eventually figured out that this was the first time he'd stayed in a hotel that didn't sell beer in the lobby (other than our honeymoon) in over four years. And just to clarify, he doesn't mean a bar; these hotels apparently had little sundries shops that also sold six packs.