My Stuff

DH and I’s last house (not counting the hotel room during his training) was a one bedroom apartment.  It would be a stretch to call it 600 square feet.  It had one closet in the living room, one bathroom in the kitchen, and one bedroom with no windows or heat vents.  We lived an hour from Canada.  The heat vents were critical.  I had four different piece of linoleum and bright orange countertops in the kitchen.  We lived above the pharmacy, and the view from our living room was of the Chinese restaurant in town.  Clearly, we weren’t living in style, but the little place was ours.  It was the first place we got together after we got married, and we could afford it all on our own.  I’ll always think of it fondly because we both did a lot of learning in that little home.

The place was so snug, though, that we needed very little furniture.  We knew we were going to be entering military life soon, so we opted for cheap, semi-disposable pieces rather than decent furniture that we couldn’t get into the little place anyway.  The result was that DH and I are closing in on anniversary #3, and we don’t have much “stuff.”  This house is so empty.  We had to do a lot of our big, just-married purchasing now, and we don’t really have the funds to fully furnish a house this size.  We got the basics, but many things will have to wait.  We’re fine with this, but it does feel like our home is more than a little bare.

Coincidentally, my parents are downsizing right now.  They’re moving into a condo to reduce their yard responsibilities and to be able to travel more before they’re oldies.  They want to get rid of some things and (bless them) are willing to haul it all down to us when they come at Christmas.  We’re acquiring a grill, living room chair, dresser, bookcase, lawn mower, fake Christmas tree, and dog among other things.

This is a huge help to us and our budget because we don’t have to buy so many things right now but our home feels more lived in.  I’m worried that our home is going to feel hodge-podged though.  I want it to feel like it’s all meant to be in our home and not picked up from a garage sale.  Some things need serious painting, but I want to paint a few other things anyway.  I also worry that DH won’t feel like it’s his stuff.  I’m kind of looking forward to having some comforting furniture around me.  Some of these pieces have moved with me since I was a tiny kid.  When it’s the only consistency you have, seeing the same bookcase or dining room hutch no matter where you live means a lot.  These things don’t hold the same feelings for DH though.  I don’t want him to look at them and see my parents’ home.  I want him to see our home.

Do men even care, or are these just worries of a crazy woman?  I’m just thankful that we’re collecting furniture for our home cheaply, and that this stuff can continue being used by someone who loves it.

Getting Down to Business

I officially started my research for my big thesis today.  I’ve been working on brainstorming and stuff, but today was my first day in the archives researching and digging through the files.  Man, it’s so much fun!  I’m letting out my inner nerd…it’s making me a little self conscious.  🙂  Anyway, it wasn’t a bad start.  I went with a list, some gems, some total busts.  It’s what I expected because any seasoned researcher can tell you that you never know what you’ll find when you open up files.  There weren’t quite as many useful things as I hoped for, but I’m not disappointed.  You’ve always gotta hope for the best, right?

It really made me miss my old job.  Remember…way before all this moving, training, reassigning, and separation happened?  You remember.  I worked in an archive and a museum.  This is what I did for people.  I helped them do research and did smaller research projects for people who called or wrote to me.  Man, I could have done that job forever.  It was in a little archive, only room for about four researchers comfortably, but up to eight if they didn’t mind sacrificing elbow room.  It was on a university’s campus, so I did a lot of teaching too.  I taught classes to undergrads about how to research and how to work with primary sources.  I also worked with faculty, grad students, book writers, genealogists, and even the History Channel once.  I did lots of other stuff too, and that was only half my day.  I worked in a museum too, cleaning objects, designing exhibits, giving tours…the works.  It was a wonderful experience, but I don’t miss it as much.  I’ll save that for another day, laddies.  The archives, though, that was a cool job.  I had a lot of fun, and I got to do what I really enjoy.  It was good to get back into my groove.  Ah, nostalgia…

While I was doing my business, I also stopped by the Smithsonian National Postal Museum.  (And since a group of rather loud, semi-crude employees were there lamenting the lack of traffic to their online presence while I was trying to quietly research, I’ll link to their site.)  I’ve always wanted to go visit because I’ve heard lots of things about it.  First, it’s in an absolutely beautiful building right next to Union Station.  It used to be the post office for the Capitol, so there are tons of marble and old, bronze mailboxes inside.  The exhibits don’t even come close to overpowering the architecture.  The exhibits themselves were fairly brief in my opinion.  Having worked in museums, I know all the stress that goes into writing exhibit labels and designing something interesting and educational for all age groups at once, but the overall feel of the museum was rather young.  That being said, I did learn something and parts were really cool.  The stamps were by far the coolest aspect of the museum (and clearly the central focus as well), and little nuggets of stamp exhibits dotted the museum outside of the larger philatelic exhibit.  The interactive postcard station was pretty cool too.  I got two to send to Super Rad and DH!  If you don’t mind getting past the rather trivial exhibits like those on mail cars and corner post office boxes, it’s a cute little museum.  I don’t know if I’d make a special trip for it, but if you’re looking for a change of pace away from the central National Mall area attractions, it’s a good alternative.

If you’re going all the way up to the Postal Museum, I highly recommend checking out Union Station right next door.  It’s a metro stop and the Amtrak station all in one, but don’t overlook it.  It’s three floors of gorgeous marble, vaulted ceilings, and massive staircases.  It has tons of shopping, touristy to high end.  There are sit down, nice restaurants and cafés and bistros on the top two floors with the shopping.  For being an active train station, it’s actually a very quiet, serene place.  It’s kind of a long, skinny building and there is tons to take in if you walk from end to end.  A ginormous food court that actually has super good food is in the basement with the bathrooms (always good to know) and a movie theater.  The food court is the way to go, in my opinion.  You can get UNO’s pizza anytime, but eating with D.C.’s masses is way better.  You come down this curved, reddish marble staircase, and the fancy quiet of upstairs fades away.  You’d never know it was up there.  Downstairs is all white tile with these bright, kind of tropical looking flowers on the walls.  The food court is the whole length of the building, and you’ll have multiple choices of whatever you’re hungry for.  But then you’re sitting with Federal employees in suits on the their lunch break, and sunscreen smelling tourists, luggage toting travelers in transit, kids on a school trip, and a few hobos all down there looking for good food.  It just kills me that this is all underneath such a beautiful and orderly life that’s going on above you.  I didn’t intend to just brag about the food because Union Station is so much more than that, but that’s my shtick for today.

As a side note, while I was at the Postal Museum, Smithsonian interns were having their annual ice cream social there.  Ha!  I laughed.  I was one of those interns two summers ago.  My social was at the National Portrait Gallery next to Chinatown (both good spots to check out), but it did make me smile.

Driving

As I’ve said several different times, I don’t drive.  I don’t have a driver’s license and don’t have a big desire to get one.  It’s just not my thing.  When everyone was 16 and dreaming about cars and cruising with friends, I never felt the need to join.  I also assumed that I just wasn’t ready, and someday the urge would hit me.  I resented other people constantly asking when I was going to do it and why I wasn’t already.  I get it.  It’s weird that a twenty-something person doesn’t drive, but it’s not that weird.  Come on!  I had a Resident Adviser in college that had epilepsy and wasn’t allowed to drive.  No one thought that was weird, but no one assumes I have a medical condition prohibiting me from driving.  Anyway, the more I felt rushed to drive the more I resisted it.

Since I haven’t been a driver, I’ve found other ways to do the stuff I want.  I’m an avid walker.  I enjoy or at least not peeved by public transit.  I carpool occasionally.  Those are things that I don’t just tolerate; I really and truely like.  The big but here though is that DH will be deploying in the near future.  That will leave me by myself for a long time.  In the past if he had to be gone I happened to be with family or we stocked up on necessities to get me through a few weeks alone.  We can’t exactly stock up on a year to a year and a half’s worth of groceries, dog food, and toilet paper.  Our future duty station does have public transit, but I can’t realistically haul dog food home on the bus.  Sigh…all signs point toward getting a license.

I technically can drive.  DH has made sure I can piddle around the neighborhood.  He says my safety zone is 35 mph or under.  Traffic and everything that comes with city driving just makes me so nervous!  I really, really don’t like doing it at all, and since I don’t have a license, I don’t really do it often because that’s sort of illegal.  I’m here at my parents’ right now, taking care of the Bag Lady, and she had this brilliant idea to get me officially licensed so I can meet up with DH and don’t have to worry about it.  Yay?

I have mixed feelings about the whole deal.  I don’t want to lose the qualities about being a non-driver that I like.  I want to keep walking and taking the bus/train.  I don’t want to have to get another car.  Right now we’re a one car family, and I like not having to pay for double insurance and car payments and oil changes.  That’s a lot of extra money that we are currently funneling to student loans.  I am glad that as long as I keep it from expiring, I’ll never, ever, ever have to deal with this again.  I do feel a little rushed into this, and I feel like if I had more time, I could find a way to make everything work without having to drive.  I don’t know…could I finally be ready for this?  I kind of liked being labeled a non-driver.  I hated dealing with inquiring, stupid people, but I was proud of my decision.  I made it solely based on my situation, abilities, and feelings.  In a way it feels like I’m caving on my principles because I’ve always maintained that it is possible to be a non-driver.

I think that’s it.  I might be ready to accept that I have to do this, and that makes me sad and nervous.  I don’t want to drive on base and potentially harm DH’s career because I get caught driving unlicensed and uninsured.  But this really does make me sad.  I’m putting this part of myself away, and it was a part of me that I really liked.  Will I possibly be the only person to be sad and grieving when I get my driver’s license?

Military libraries and those that love them

The mental gravity of being apart from DH and being away from my home for such a long time is finally catching up with me.  I’ve been rather sluggish and tired.  It’s so hard to get motivated for even a daily routine.  I have some ideas about ways to combat this, but I’m not in the mood to sort them out today.

I did want to mention a really cool blog I just found.  Forget Google searching, the best place I have found for good blogs is either indexes or favorited links from other people’s blogs.  I’ve been slowly trying to amass a small list myself, but I’m rather picky.  That was one reason I was so excited to find Nomad Librarian.  She’s a military spouse but also sound like a very fun, passionate librarian.  I follow several blogs by librarians but haven’t yet added them to my links list (so don’t go looking).  To find one that also grumbles about military life is such a treat!

To explain my passion for libraries, outside my intense love for books, you’ll need a little background info.  As my undergraduate graduation was approaching, I decided that I wanted to work in museums and/or libraries with my history degree.  I always loved both and set my sights on eventually working in one as a career goal.  My university was just opening up a brand new building for the university museum, so I volunteered there.  I figured it was the one of the few ways I could be proactive about getting into the field.  I volunteered  at a great time; they needed a lot of help, and I got to learn a lot more than I would have otherwise.

After graduation I got an exciting opportunity to be an intern at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum.  It was the coolest thing I’ve ever done!  I actually got to pick whether I worked as a museum tech intern or an archives intern.  I chose to work in the archives because I thought it would help me learn another set of skills since I had some museum ones already.  It’s so cool to go the website and recognize the people!  It was a great experience.  I would totally recommend interning there.  They have a great program set up that really encourages learning as much as possible not only about the department you are working in but the whole Smithsonian organization.

I had just gotten married to DH before graduation, but he had a year left of school, so I had to find a decent job to support us both while he focused on school.  I got lucky and was hired at my university’s archives and museum (two different departments).  It was a very tricky job, but I learned so much and got to do everything I love.  I got to help visitors with their research using objects, rare books, or archival documents.  It was so much fun and I love and miss my coworkers tons.  I had to quit that job once DH was commissioned and we had to PCS.  As anyone in the field can tell you, even though archives or libraries and museums seem alike, they are not.  School for both are radically different.  You kind of have to commit to one or the other, which made me so lucky to get to do both at once.  I still can’t decide, since I had such a great time doing both.  Finding a kindred spirit in Nomad Librarian was such a lovely surprise.  Maybe we’ll run into each other in our military travels one day.  I’ll certainly be following hers for as long as she’s willing to share.

Hello world!

Hello everyone,

This is the first of what I hope to be many (and consistent) posts.  The about page sums up what I hope to accomplish here and gives a little background info, so I’m not going to waste too much time on that now.  Quite frankly, I don’t have the time.  I’m in the process of moving.  If it sounds like I’m jumping in mid-stream, that’s how I feel.  Dear Husband (DH from here on out), is newly commissioned in the military, so he still has a lot of training to do before he’s officially “in.”  That being said, he’s prior enlisted, and when his training dates were over 10 months away from when he commissioned, he looked for a unit that would take him early.  Hence the first move of our military career halfway across the country last Thanksgiving.  We had ten days to quit our jobs, pack up, and drive over 3,000 miles.  So, to sum up, DH is working on active duty at a job that’s not his official one while he waits for the training for his real job to start.

We found an apartment and moved in, all over the holidays, and I found a job close by.  Then last week DH got new orders saying his training was pushed up to the first week in March.  Two and a half weeks notice to repack, re-quit another job, and drive back the direction we came from.  Two homes in two states in less than four months.  Oh I’m thrilled.  It’s not that I mind, it’s just so soon!  I was really starting to like the people I work with, starting to decorate, and filling up my cupboards again.  Arg.

Another reason I’m less than thrilled is that I’m kind of in limbo for the next nine months until DH is finished.  He has several training locations, so I don’t want to follow him and keep moving every few months.  I can’t quite go to our final duty station and wait for him just yet either.  My solution is to travel and family hop for awhile.  I’m not really looking forward to living out of suitcase for that long, but I have little choice right now.  To make matters worse I’m on the downhill side of my Masters degree.  I have to start working on my huge final thesis shortly.  That’s on top of my usual coursework.  I just seems daunting.  The degree is an online program, so I can travel without worrying about being physically present for class, but that doesn’t help me when I need to spend days upon days in a dusty archive researching.  (That’s actually a misnomer…I have worked in several archives before and they are far from dusty.  Because I’m such a nerd I needed to point that out.)

This is going to be no fun.  At least you get to start at the beginning with me. J