Friday, July 17, 2009

Flexibility is the key to milspouse power

Tonight is not the first time that I have had to back out of plans at the last minute because Einstein's schedule changed.

It is not even the first time that I have had to call people to cancel an event that we were supposed to host.

So when he called to tell me to cancel our plans for tonight, I did. I didn't ask why, I merely said "No problem" and asked if he would be home tonight at all. While I wouldn't say that I'm a pro, I definitely know that his "work schedule" is a fluid thing, subject to change without notice. I've learned not to ask "why" because honestly, even when I can decode the acronyms, I rarely understand the reasoning. And, frankly, they "why" doesn't matter.

After I had called our guests to reschedule, stored the food, pulled out the wine I had started to chill, I stopped for a moment. I looked around the house, which while not exactly up to Martha Stewart standards, was clearly ready for a dinner party and I thought to myself: Taco Bell or McDonald's?

And then it struck me that maybe, just maybe, despite all the aspects of military life that I struggle with, I might be starting to get a handle on that key ingredient in the life of a military spouse: flexibility. Because honestly, despite a moments irritation at having to call my guests, I am fine with postponing our party. I'm fine with going to get some fast food, curling up on the couch to watch a chick flick, and going to bed alone. Not exactly what I had planned for the evening, but I'm actually okay with it. Two years ago, I definitely would have been way more put out by all of this.

So yeah. I'm going to co-opt one of the Air Force's favorite tag lines, and say (with some authority) that just as (or even more than) "flexibility is the key to airpower" , flexibility is the key to maintaining sanity in a military household.

Monday, July 13, 2009

I love having time to read

I read a lot.

I know, you are all shocked. Me, too.

When I am working, I spend approximately 70% of my reading time on professional stuff: professional journals like School Library Journal, American Libraries, Booklist and Publisher's Weekly; advanced reader's copies, review copies, picture books for storytimes, novels and nonfiction books for book talks, books that are challenged by patrons or that a coworker asks me to read.

Another 20% of my reading is what I like to call "practical" non-fiction: cookbooks, gardening books, self-help books (I'm a sucker for books on "Making Your Marriage work" or similar topics, sad I know!), religious books, etc.

Those of you who are good with math already know that means I have 10% of my reading time left to devote to: fiction and "not very practical" non-fiction (like this amazing book I once read on the history of string! Fascinating!). The amount of fiction versus non-fiction that makes up this 10% fluctuates pretty wildly from month to month.

Not having a job right now, I find that my ratios have changed pretty significantly. While I still read some of my professional journals, not having to make purchasing decisions cuts down on the amount of time I spend looking at reviews. I haven't read a picture book since the move. I've read some young adult stuff, but that was for fun, not for "work". I've gone from 70% professional stuff to about 10% professional stuff. And I've been making up for it in fun reading. I'm finally making a significant dent in my depressingly long list of books to read "someday". Well, someday is now, and I'm trying to plow through as much as I can.

I haven't read anything that has made me say "Oh, wow! This is my new favorite book!" but I have read quite a few books that are fun, interesting, and well written. This morning I finished The Commoner by John Burnham Schwartz, a novel narrated by the fictional Empress of Japan. It tells the story of her movement from commoner to Crown Princess. It has a smooth pace and clean details. Another winner: Keep your mouth shut and wear beige by Kathleen Gilles Seidel, which is a mother-of-the-groom story. My own wedding was an act of theater that played out around me, so I always find wedding stories cathartic, and this one had a great angle: the problem is not the bride, or the mother-of-the-bride, but rather the new girlfriend of the groom's father. It had a unique perspective, and best of all, it dealt with blogging! The Martha Stewart-esque girlfriend is an avid blogger, and the narrator's reaction to reading the blog was the exact same one I would have if I were to meet some too-perfect-to-be-true Big Name Blogger in real life.

Thank you for listening to my book recommendations. When I'm working, I talk about books all day. I miss recommending them and discussing them, but it is nice to have more time to read them!

Also, any My Sister's Keeper fans out there? I love that book, and I enjoyed the movie, but...well. If you've read the book and seen the movie, you'll know why I felt betrayed. BETRAYED. And I am extremely non-judgemental about movie adaptations of books. Luckily, I have Harry Potter to look forward to this week.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

PCS...kind of rhymes with depressed, doesn't it?

I am an extrovert. It's taken me a LONG time to come to grips with that. After all, I love to read! I would spend all day curled up with a book if I could. That must mean that I'm an introvert, right? Wrong. Other than the year before Einstein and I married, I've never lived alone. I had my family, then roommates (I was always lucky in having fantastic ones). I didn't so much as go to the grocery store alone.

I hate being alone. Being around people energizes me. Strangers, friends, whatever, I love the interaction. I do need quiet time by myself, don't get me wrong, but nothing makes me happier than spending time talking and just being with other people.

Our new locale is great. I love the weather, the scenery, the whole nine yards. What I don't love is not knowing anyone. The great irony of all of this is that we've had a ton of visitors since we arrived; more than we ever had at our last base. But now that our stream of visitors has started to dry up, I find myself feeling depressed.

I haven't made any friends here yet. We know quite a few people here (it's a small Air Force, after all) but all of them are single dudes, or active duty ladies. Now, some of my best friends fall into these two qualities, but I would really like to be able to take a break from a morning of cold calling libraries to ask about job/volunteer opportunities to have coffee with someone who is in the same boat. The spouse's group is currently non-existent, and not in a "if you want to start one, go for it!" kind of way. What I've been able to piece together leads me to believe that the lack of spouse support has to do with a personality conflict amongst some commander's wives. Nice.

Alright, I'm sick of my own whining.

Things I am happy about:

1) Lots of time to read!
2) Having a backyard to garden in. Mmmmm, tomatoes!
3) Finally having my house all set up.
4) Being able to experiment with cooking new things.
5) I found a place to get my hair cut!

I think the key is to get out of the house more: go to the gym, go to the coffee shop to read, go hang out at the library and read magazines. I'm not going to meet new people sitting in my house.