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 wreck...it 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. "