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.