Madness

I picked up the book Madness by Marya Hornbacher recently.  I’ve been feeling horrible and isolated and was looking for something when a patron returned it and said it was one of the best books they’ve read in a long time.  It’s a memoir of a bipolar life, and I took it home to see if it did the subject of mental illness justice.

I’ve read depression memoirs before, notably William Styron’s Darkness Visible, and was disappointed.  I always searched for the words I couldn’t put to my own feelings.  I guess I thought professional authors or at least someone who wrote well enough to get published could articulate the struggle better than myself.  I was wrong.  It’s never the right words unless they’re yours.  Anyway, I was willing to give Madness a try.

I’ve only just started, but I’m impressed and honestly a little scared by the book.  The book is good.  Really good.  So good that the feelings Hornbacher describes feel a bit too real.  I feel like my current lowness is feeding off the emotions in the book, and I’m not sure that’s so good right now.  There’s a few songs that I used the last time through this, and I still can’t listen to them without being sent back to the bottom of the pit.  This book might hit too close to home like that.

I don’t know if people who haven’t been through this fully grasp that we don’t know.  We don’t always know why we’re feeling this way or what will make us feel worse.  We don’t always understand what we need from others.  We’re hurting and we just want to feel better.  I get that from Madness, and I’m already getting the sense that she doesn’t have answers either.  I need to quit looking for them, I know, but I’m always surprised at how little I find comfort in knowing that others feel just as isolated inside themselves as I do.

I know I’m not giving a very good image of the book right now, but I really am enjoying it.  My mood just isn’t cooperating right now.

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Hot And Colds

The in-laws just left this morning, and the hubs and I are glued to the couch sick.  It’s been a busy week.

There’s been no air conditioning at work for over a week and a half, and the summer reading program for kids just started.  It’s like a race between me and three hundred kids to see who can get the crankiest the fastest.

I’ve been wrestling with TriCare on getting a referral for a therapist.  As always, the referral process is cumbersome and slow, but you know, I will be going to a person eventually.  A friend of mine pays out of pocket for her therapist, and I hate hearing her struggle with her mental health versus the cost of care.  It shouldn’t be a factor, and it makes me so thankful for my frustrating, stupid TriCare referral system.  I originally wanted to talk more about that now, but this cold is taking over.

DH surprised me by coming home a couple days early, which was lovely and unexpected.  I don’t know about you, but after a long absence when the phone calls start to drop off, I sometimes daydream that he can’t answer his phone because he’s on a plane coming to see me.  Now that he’s actually delivered once, my daydreams are going to go wild.  Speaking of absences, we got notice for the next deployment.  Boo.

Now back to my kleenex box.  At least there’s AC at home.

Review: The Corruptible

Another mil spouse blogger was talking about a really cool sounding program that I decided to check out.  It’s called Blogging for Books, and it’s done by Multnomah Press.  I’ll be honest, I was initially intrigued by the opportunity for free books, and I decided to give it a try.

Multnomah Press is primarily a Christian publisher, but there are a range of books if those don’t pique your interest.  You selected a book that is mailed to you free, and you then have 90 days to read and review it.  As soon as you’ve posted a review to your blog, their site, and a commercial site like Amazon, you can request another one.  That’s it.  There’s a rating system on their site that I haven’t gotten very far into yet since this is my first review for Multnomah Press, but there are prizes for top rated reviews.  Personally, free books alone are enough to motivate me, but the prizes look pretty nice.  Anyway, that’s what I’m trying.  I’ll have to let you know how it goes.

The first title I chose is the Corruptible by Mark Mynheir.  It is the second in a series of books based on a character named Ray Quinn.  Ray Quinn, a new private investigator and ex-cop, takes a seemingly easy job retrieving stolen corporate information for a company that is into more than it lets on. Battling a bad leg and alcoholism, Quinn relies on his sidekick Crevis to help untangle the case that quickly involves a motorcycle gang, druggie ex-girlfriends, and a dead suspect. The further he goes into the case, the less Quinn is sure what side of the case he should really be on.

Even though The Corruptible is the second book in the series, I didn’t feel like missed anything and could easily jump right into the action—action that is likened to just about everything under the sun. The author overloads you with similes on almost every page. The book is extremely easy to read and entertaining, but his descriptions get a bit funny at times. An ex-cop himself, Mynheir knows his police procedure and lingo. It’s a lot like reading an episode of Law & Order. You feel like it’s authentic, there are a few twists, but it all neatly wraps up by the end and you feel good about the characters. Crevis, his sidekick, was my favorite character and added some depth to the story as did the sideline about catching the internet spammer. It was fun to read and I’d be interested to see where Mynheir takes the series, but I wouldn’t call it high literature by any means.

Quickie

Two things:

1.  I just got my Target gift card in the mail from when I won Me and My Soldier Man’s giveaway.  Thank you Rachel and JG!  I have off work tomorrow so you know where you can find me.

2.  DH and I got memory foam for our mattress.  Seriously….best purchase I have ever made.  I got a $300 topper at Kohl’s for $100.  Love. It. To. Death. Twice.

To FRG Or Not To FRG

For my civi friends, FRG stands for Family Readiness Group and it is definitely part of the Axis of Evil.  It is meant to act as a go between for the families left at home and the unit.  It is supposed to answer questions, provide comradery, help out in emergencies, and overall be the point of contact if anything happens while the soldiers are gone.  The group meets regularly to provide outside stimulation, conversation, and distribute the lack of information.  All services have something like this, although FRG is an Army term.

I am so happy for those people out there who have found help and friendship in their FRG.  I have heard it is possible.  My FRG is pathetic, annoying, gossipy, and completely useless.  Very few people attend meetings.  It is totally and completely stay-at-home-mom focused.  It is friendship based, so if you aren’t in the “in” crowd, you don’t get phone calls or even notified when the homecoming plane is landing.  I loath FRG.  The mere mention of it makes my skin crawl.

The FRG has levels.  It roughly relates to the level you fall at in the Army rank and unit wise.  So, to make things complicated, you have different level FRG meetings.  They are almost completely volunteer run, the kicker being that as you get up in rank, your spouse is expected to volunteer.  I absolutely detest the Army’s practice of mandatory volunteerism by the way.

Here are my issues:

  • DH is approaching the rank of mandatory volunteerism.  I should probably make some attempt to see how to things run before I’m thrown in the deep end without my arm floaties. I really don’t want to though.
  • I hate how FRG seems to be structured like the officer wives provide this help to enlisted wives.  Why do officer wives seem to be the only one who are required to volunteer?  Don’t we need help to?  And what about being an officer equals a ton of free time to spend planning fundraisers?
  • Mandatory volunteerism does not take into account the volunteer at all.  I work a full-time job.  I can’t make 2 pm teas on a Wednesday.  I really hesitate to commit myself because big things like this can quickly start to overwhelm me when my mental state deteriorates.  Deployments, when FRGs are super active, are (surprise, surprise) mentally rough.  Not a good combo.
  • My issues mean a whole lotta nutin to the Army.

I can hear every counter-argument to my complaints.  Join and try to make it better for everyone else who hates it.  Join and try and make friends.  Blah, blah, blah.  I try and support all the Army’s hooah-ness, but this part just blows.

Potpourri Episode 1

I read Tina Fey’s book Bossypants recently, and I had to share.  I usually stay away from all celebrity books.  Just because they are famous for something doesn’t mean they can write or even have something interesting to say.  I don’t find how to deal with my “momager” or how to make my skin look great by eating only sprouts and cottage cheese useful information anyway.  Tina Fey’s book is none of those things.  It’s hilarious, and her writing experience really shines through.  I would put it on your summer reading list if you have time.

DH is gone on TDY (army lingo-temporary duty-away on business…catch up civies!).  It’s sleep diagonally and holding the remote time!

Oh, and with my newly acquired free time I’ve drug out an old project that I had barely gotten started on.  I’m making the picnic blouse from Sew Liberated.  I’ve put away the yarn and hook for awhile.  I’ve made three baby hats and a blanket and have two more hats to go for my coworker, but I wanted to capitalize on the empty dining room table while DH was gone.  I’m seriously thinking about getting some super nice (expensive) bamboo yarn and working on a big blanket.  I really enjoy keeping my hands busy while I watch tv in the evenings.  Maybe after I get done with the blouse.

I met an old friend from school for supper.  She’s down here for school before she gets stationed overseas.  We did our bachelor’s and master’s together, and she’s really cool.  She did her law degree and her master’s at the same time. I know…wha?!?

My annual vacation with Red got canceled this year due to a sudden babysitter cancellation.  We’re so bummed.  We currently have no plans to reschedule, but I’m looking at my summer plans to see if I can go visit her anyway.  It all depends on DH’s training schedule, which has yet to be nailed down more firmly than just “in and out all fall.”  Thanks.  In other Red news, she’s having baby #2!!

I found this super sweet  framed art of three lighthouse prints at the local thrift mall.  $15 and it’s already framed and matted to match my living room!  I looked up the artist (Doug Brega), and he’s very well known for doing coastline prints of New England.  I got these prints for a steal compared to what galleries were selling them for.  He has one in fog that looked great too and is going on the wish list.

So that’s what’ I’ve been up to.  I’ve had a hiccup the last week or two and have been feeling really low.  I’m not exactly sure what triggered it, but it’s been really significant and worrying.  We’re trying to keep tabs on it, but we’re also considering therapy again.  If I have time while DH is gone, maybe I can delve into that further.  We’ll see.

Book Review: Treason on the Airwaves

The University of Nebraska Press was wonderful enough to send me another book to read and comment on.  Judith Keene’s Treason on the Airwaves:  Three Allied Broadcasters on Axis Radio during World War II initially appealed to me because, well, why wouldn’t it with a title like that?

The author teaches in Australia, and I think it definitely added a worldly attitude toward the topic.  American authors really struggle to approach world events outside of themselves.  This text was free of the basis and American flavor that can distract from solid facts.

I thought Keene established very clear, distinct chapters but to a fault.  There was very little segue and transition between the three case studies.  It also felt like instead of explaining why these three people were particularly important treason cases during World War II, Keene merely illustrated wartime propaganda through these specific individuals.  She could have done so much more with the topic.  That being said, I learned a ton that I hadn’t known before.  Her writing is clear, although I found she made some assumptions with terminology that made it obvious it wasn’t an introductory text.

Keene says on page x of the preface that writing the book “made [her] aware of the strain in the relationship between the individual, the citizen and the nation.”  I loved this quote!  I can’t think of a more succinct way of expressing how it sometimes feels to be part of a military family.  Sometimes it’s difficult to balance your self and your personal wants/opinions/needs with the job and lifestyle.  I’ve heard several people talk out in the bloggity world about being conflicted about wearing peace signs while being a mil spouse for example.  And we’re all told to hold our tongues a bit when it comes to politics because our big boss is the President and whether or not we agree, that’s where our orders are coming from.  As deployments and long work days stack up, even the most dedicated to the military get cranky and want a break.  We’re strained, but we do our best.

I think Keene attempted to show how her three examples were trying to do their best too.  As POWs, they thought they were doing something with their limited means.  Perhaps the individual slice of the pie started to outweigh the citizen and nation slices, or at least that’s how the courts decided.  The circle of individual, citizen, and nation is fluid and continually changing.  I don’t know if the same decision would be made today.  Look at the WikiLeaks guy for instance.

As part of my military history degree, I looked a lot at the relationship of the citizen soldier, and I think Keene’s statement speaks to that a lot too.  Every person is all three entities at once regardless of their connection with the military.  We have the potential and duty to fulfill all roles at some point.  Soldiers and their families have to do that a bit more consciously and way more often, but we are all here working toward a better country and community.