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.