Milwaukee!

I just got back from an amazing vacation.  DH is on block leave before things pick up for the fall, and we decided to take a much-needed vacation…to Milwaukee!  Our criteria was for the plane tickets to be reasonable and for the weather to be less hot than here.  Neither of us had ever been there before, and essentially we threw a dart and landed on Wisconsin.

We had an amazing time.  I love it there!!  I highly recommend visiting Milwaukee even if you’re not a Midwesterner.  The city is beautiful and old.  There’s tons and tons of stuff to do.  Culturally it’s super diverse and funky and traditional all at the same time.

Day one– We landed mid afternoon and found our hotel.  We stayed just outside the city itself, closer to the airport.  It was only about a fifteen to twenty minute drive into the city.  It was cheaper for us, but the city is super walkable and you can rent little Vespas if you stayed closer to downtown.  Anyway, we found a little gastropub downtown at a place that’s been in magazines (actually just Maxim…) for being bad ass and had real Milwaukee sausage.  I took a picture but it’s on DH’s phone.  I should have known I’d never get it off.  Anyway, after that we ended up at the big casino in town.  We had dessert and watched at sketch comedy bit before calling it a night.

Day two– We got an early start and spent the morning at the Harley Davidson museum.  They do the self-guided audio tours with the headphones, which I think is super cool.  More and more museums are going to them, and I think it’s great.  No one wants to listen to a boring docent while they lead you around.  It’s more fun to roam as you please and listen to only the parts that are of interest to you.  I took a ton of pictures and spent an obscene amount of money in the gift shop.

One of the oldest motorcycles in existence.

I thought this was so cute.  It is an early rain suit.  Anyone care for the smell of wet wool?

Evil Kenievel?


Elvis’ bike!

It was used for mining I think.  Anyway, it was cool.

After the HD museum, we stopped by the lakefront so I could put my feet in my third Great Lake.  We had lunch at a yummy Mexican restaurant that Diner, Drive-ins, and Dives has visited, although I haven’t looked up yet what they ate.  Probably their beans because they were out of this world.  We went back to casino (totally DH’s idea) until supper.  We walked around the historic Third Ward neighborhood downtown and ended up eating at the Benelux Cafe.  Oh. My. Gosh.  It had food from the Lowlands region of Europe and it was seriously some of the best food I’ve ever had.  It was totally authentic and exactly what I remember from visiting there.  They had a ton of local and European alcohols, although we didn’t try any.  Seriously, make it a stop on your bucket list.  We also stopped in the Public Market with tons of local, fresh products.

Day three– We started our third day by going a little south of Milwaukee to the Jelly Belly factory.

It was a cute little tour, and I again spent way, way too much in the gift shop.  We had to stop by the casino again after that (ugh), and then we went to German Fest.  Milwaukee has a huge German population, which is who brought over the beer and brewing culture that is so big there.  I heard that this fest was the largest German Fest in the US, and there were legit German acts from Europe performing.  Milwaukee has some great fests!!  They are festing all the time up there.  But yeah, more great food along the lakefront.

Day four–  We were starting to feel it on day four.  We spent the morning going through the city’s art museum because there was a big China exhibit I wanted to see.  That place is huge!  I was very surprised to find they had an extensive collection of pre-Renaissance art and sculpture.  Again, the gift shop was not my friend.

This was the view from the museum lobby.  It looked right out over the lake.  The modern architecture was breathtaking.  We left there and spend the afternoon on Brady Street at the local fest.  Brady Street is fun, young, and funky.  It has a lot of multi-cultural restaurants and weird, quirky shops.  The fest had so much food!  There was a lot of live music and local vendors.  I got cheese!!  DH and I got tattoos at a little shop there just because we could.  On the way home we swung by German Fest again to ride the gondolas and enjoy the night air.

Day five– Our last day in Milwaukee we spent on the lake.  We rented paddle boats and enjoyed the sunshine.  It was so gorgeous.  Milwaukee has a great park and trail system that runs along the lakefront.  We were so jealous of the people who where running along the beach… mostly because I think we were both feeling the large amount of food we had over the last few days.  We found the coolest local bookstore downtown and wandered through the dusty stacks for awhile after that.  We ended the day with some of Milwaukee’s famous frozen custard at Kopp’s.  It’s a bit outside the city itself, but it is totally worth the drive.

We got back yesterday evening, and I so didn’t want to resume my normal life.  My Milwaukee life was so much more glamorous.

Cruel And Unusual Punishment

If you didn’t know already, February is Black History Month, and the librarians at work decided to do a display.  This year has a theme (I didn’t know it was a themed event in the past, but anywhoo…) of the Civil War I’m assuming because of the sesquicentennial (150 yrs, people).

One of the librarians had a Civil War uniform, belt, and ammo pouch, which she kept calling his purse, that she was going to display along with the books she had pulled.

She pulled the FOLDED uniform out of a CARDBOARD BOX.  The leather belt and ammo pouch came out from UNDERNEATH a mannequin.  I could not believe what I was seeing.  Her and another librarian decided to put it in full view of the  WALL OF WINDOWS and SLIDING DOOR.  And it’s freaking raining!!

It hurt to see these objects treated like that.  They were putting the hats ON THEIR OWN HEADS after taking them out of ordinary PLASTIC shopping bags.  There were no padded hangers.  There were no cotton gloves.  There wasn’t acid free tissue or acid free boxes anywhere.  It was a horrible, horrible sight.

They put the uniform on the mannequin and attempted to put the belt on as well.  It was too big for the mannequin (as they usually are), so they tried to ADJUST IT!  That’s like the quickest way to rip and destroy fragile leather, which looses its suppleness as it ages and dries out.  When that didn’t work, THEY TOOK TAPE AND TAPED IT TO THE UNIFORM instead of padding the mannequin out to support the belt!!!

I got up and walked away.  I couldn’t watch them destroy those pieces.  It turns out the items were loaned from a local museum.  I was shocked.  Either the museum has no funding or no professional staff with any shred of professional ethics/common sense, but I couldn’t be there to find out.  I’m scarred for life.

The Value Of Unpaid Work

I don’t know if I’ve said anything about it yet, but I started volunteering at two different places in town.  Before we  moved down here, I started looking at the job market.  Since I’m my career interest lie in historical preservation, that meant museums and archives.  No jobs have come up yet, at least that I am qualified for, but as always, they needed good, reliable volunteers.  I remain adamant that the best way to make contacts in this field and showcase your abilities is by volunteering.  Sometimes it’s tedious, and most often you don’t get to do exciting work that’s at your experience level.  On the positive side though, it shows that you’re remaining active in the field even if you don’t have a paying job and sometimes, especially with smaller organizations who desperately need help, you can get great mentorship and training that will help you later on.  Plus your name is at the top of their list if someone needs contract work quickly or a position becomes available.  All that aside, I just love doing this stuff and it keeps me busy while I’m hunting for that perfect job.

The first volunteer opportunity is like a historical society but it focuses on maintaining the historical buildings and landmarks in the local area.  Their archives are woefully under-kept.  They have stuff that needs filing, and their past volunteers have not had the experience to make judgement calls on what’s relevant and what’s out of scope.  They have files like “Smith Historical District–and others,” “Mount Vernon” (we’re not even bordering Virginia), and “Restaurants.”  It’s a mess.  I’ve been making new files, weeding and re-processing existing files, and overall making sense of lots of newspaper clippings that have been stacking up around them.  As a way to meet people, it’s not very helpful.  I’m suck in a back closet all alone, but I very much enjoy what I’m doing.

The second opportunity is at a local museum, one of the biggest in the whole state, and although it is a history  museum, it’s emphasis is in art.  They need a library reference person to help patrons, re-shelve books, and file away magazines as they come in.  I’m also creating a searchable database for their magazine collection.  They also have a separate library of educational materials that needs maintaining, so I’m keeping up with checking in materials as they come and inputting new items into the database.  It’s also a fairly solitary activity because they don’t get a lot of visitors, but library experience is so hard to get.

It’s paid off already.  The art museum also offers internships, which of course I applied for right away.  The Educational Director got my materials and said he’d look for a project for me way before the June start date of most internships.  Yay!  The only down side is I don’t think I’ll get one of those coveted paid internships because I’m already volunteering there, but you can’t put a price on great training.  Plus it’s an art museum, which tends to segregate itself from the rest of the museum world since it requires specialized knowledge.  This is my last chance for a student internship and I could get experience with art.  Bonus!

The only problem I’m facing is that the Educational Director is pretty flaky and unorganized.  This process is taking forever because he can’t get his poop in a group.  I’ll gladly deal with it though because I’m loving what I’m doing, and it looks like I’m going to be getting great nuggets for my resume.

Status Report: Overloaded

I didn’t make it to the first yoga class.  I didn’t sleep well on the first night.  I would have appreciated my first night in the bed alone to not also be the first night of a vicious cold snap–Thanks Mother Nature.  I finally got deep, restful sleep early in the morning and did not want to get up and about early enough to make it to yoga.  I’m not bummed though.  Missing this class doesn’t mean I’m never going to go.  It just means I need to try extra hard to make it to the next one.  I am so excited about being able to do yoga at the gym, but maybe I’m a little nervous too about joining a class with people I don’t know.  But how can I expect to be busy and have friends if I don’t go somewhere to meet them?  I have made it to the gym for a regular work out though, so I feel good about that.

I emailed the local museum about volunteering in their reference library and met with the local historical society about helping out in their archives.  I ultimately want to work in the museum/archives field, but I’m trying to be realistic about my current job prospects.  It’s hard to get those jobs, and volunteering is an excellent way to make connections and stay relevant to the field when you can’t find a job.  Smaller museum often get grant money for projects as well, and you might be able to be paid for temporary work.  Plus I thought it would get me out of the house a few hours a week and I could meet people who were also interested in the same stuff I’m into.  The museum sounds mostly art related, which I have little experience with, but I’m interested in learning.  Art is usually it’s own special area of museum stuff, so any experience I get would be great.  They also have internships that I would love to get to help with  my museum credentials, and if they know me as a volunteer I might have a better shot.  The historical society is more of a solitary project.  As with any historical society, they have little funding and are just happy to have someone to help.  I’ll have total freedom but probably won’t be meeting lots of people.  They were so excited to have someone with “experience” want to volunteer.  Ha!  Ego stoker…

I had my first therapy appointment too.  It was disappointing, but it was the first meeting so I’m trying to stay open-minded.  She doesn’t seem like she’s going to be a good fit for me.  I’ve had five different counselors over four years, so I’ve figured out what kind of style I like.  I’ve already done some serious foundational work that I don’t want to rehash.  No matter what I seem like now, I’ve come a looonng way.  I know the main areas I want to work on, and I’m not sure if this lady is going to be open to that.  She seems more interested in driving the appointment rather than letting me dictate where I want to explore or discovering things with me.  My biggest turn off was 1. she repeatedly interrupted me and wouldn’t let me finish and 2. she gave me a big packet of “homework” for me to write down all my background narrative.  I know it’s slow, but I want to be able to decide when and if I share some of this stuff with her as we develop a relationship.  I certainly don’t want to describe any sexual abuse in two short sentences or check a box if I’ve thought about suicide.  How impersonal, insensitive, and inconsiderate of the gravity that these statements mean to a person, and frankly, I think as a therapist she should know better.  I want to give her some time because the first meeting is always weird, but she really gave me a bad impression of her.

I’ve been running errands all over the place and am so proud of myself of driving.  I still don’t like to do it and wish that I could walk more, but at least I’m managing on my own.  I’m actually out and about more now than when DH was home.

My best friend Red called the other day and said she’s struggling with postpartum.  I was so sad for her.  I would never wish depression on anyone.  I was so frustrated that I couldn’t be near her to offer her more support, but I packed up a box and sent it to her to let her know I was thinking of her.  I packed comfy sweats, a chick flick, chocolate, and popcorn.  I hope she curls up and takes an afternoon to herself without feeling guilty.

I’ve also started my star banner.  I have all the pieces cut out.  I’m ready to set up my sewing machine and get them put together, but I’m waiting on fusing that my mom is sending me.  I needed like two inches to tack the star to the center while I sew it on and totally forgot.  Luckily my mom was already mailing me something, and the mail only takes a few days to get her from her house.

After recounting all that, I see how I’m feeling like I need to do it all before he’s even truly gone.  He’s only gone for a quick train-up and will be home in a few days.  I don’t need to start everything on my list on the first day I’m alone.  I’ll run out of things in the first month if I do that.  I was just so worried about preventing my weird slump and excited to do things that I’ve been looking forward to for months.  I can cut myself some slack about not doing yoga already and save it for when he’s officially gone.  I think I should be super proud of all the stuff I have done in just a few short days.  In no way do I currently feel homebound.  Actually, I’m feeling like I don’t have enough hours in the day to do everything I want, so I need to pace myself and not get burned out from being overly perky and optimistic before he’s even gone.  I think it’s a symptom of being checked out too early.  I’d mentally prepared myself for this part of things way in advance, and now I’m feeling the effects.  Time to scale it back some.

Back To Business

I’m back! I got back from my marathon vacation two days ago. It was hands down the best time I’ve had in a long, long time. Red and her new family are doing well. It tore my heart out to leave them. I think it’s so unfair that one of the rare people in this world that completely accept me for all my weird, dented, malfunctioning glory lives so far away. We’ve only ever had one fight in the 13 years we’ve been friends. I can say or do the oddest thing, and she’ll shake her head and laugh but not in a mean, condescending way. Nothing but acceptance. I don’t get that a lot. In her voice, in her actions, I only see her concern and care for me. I wish I could have that more than every few years when we visit for a few days. I don’t know what to do with that yet. Am I lucky or am I being denied what everyone else gets? More thoughts on that later.

The rest of my family in Prairieville was equally as great. I had the best time with my grandparents. It was slow and easy. I got to see both my cousins’ new babies, Thing 1 and Thing 2. They’re both girls and cute as a button. Everything about my trip just felt like home. I was so sad to leave. As I was saying goodbye, my grandfather hugged me and said “You always know where home is.” I couldn’t hold back the waterworks after that. My grandpa is absolutely one of my favorite people. He is a wonderful man, and I always wanted to marry someone just like him.

While I was there, I bought the cutest sweater. Not newsworthy really, but I’m so excited for it to get cooler so I can wear it. 🙂

My grandma and I took a trip and went to see the incredible house of the guy who started Arbor Day. He really was a remarkable man, and his home is fabulous. It was a beautiful day for it, and we got some fresh blueberries to make blueberry pound cake. All around, it was a neat trip. The house is on a state park now, so it’s a good day trip to take where you can picnic and be outside. There are tons of orchards around it with activities for all ages, so I would recommend going later in the summer when the apples are in season.

It’s not often when you go on a vacation that was so awesome that you regret seeing your own bed again, but mine was that way. It was so long that it feels a little strange to be back here. I have yet to unpack. That’s not going to be fun at all. Boo. I’ve been catching up with all my blog friends instead. Waayyyy more fun. I’m starting to have assignments due for my thesis for school. I spent all day today putting together an 8 page bibliography. It was insane. I never want to do that again. While out gallivanting around I finished all my research, and I’m sitting down to write. To be honest, it’s scary. I’m so not looking forward to sitting and typing for the next two months straight. Ugh…

I finally talked to Super Rad yesterday too. Oh yeah!! I missed him like crazy. He’s got a tentative time to be coming home. It is probably the most inconvenient time for me, but as long as he’s home for good I’ll be happy.

My mind is racing 900 miles per hour because it’s 39 days until DH is done and we can be together again. Sigh… I can’t sit still!! I’ve been planning my new house every night as I try to fall asleep, and I don’t even know what it looks like yet. I’ve been collecting small things that I’m going to need and freaking out because I’m afraid I’m going to forget something else. Number 1 on Sis B’s list made me laugh but is also freaking me out! I’m in list making mode. I’m in crap, I need to apply for jobs mode. I’m groaning because there’s no way I’m going to fit half of my stuff back in our car. Speaking of our car, DH says it’s on its last leg so we’re going to have to squeeze in buying a new one before he leaves. That also puts me into money worry mode. I’ve been collecting projects that I can work on while DH is deployed (which unfortunately is coming up just as quickly). I’m in too antsy to wait anymore mode. Eight months!! I’m so excited this is finally ending, but I’m getting pretty stressed too. That with the looming mountain of thesisness and leaving my bestest friend in the world is inching me closer to instability.

So I’m hoping to make a plan. I need to get my butt out of bed in the morning while it’s still morning. I need to exercise—yoga, walking, the gym. I need to sit down and work my fingers down to nubbins while my parents are at work. I need to get a resume put together and apply for any job that will pay me reasonably well. I need to make all my calls, send in all my forms, and all around tie up loose ends.

 

 

It’s ok if I can’t get it all done early. There will be time once we get there.

Breathe.

Again.

Quit procrastinating but take breaks. It all doesn’t have to be done today.

But seriously, you’ve got a lot to do so get your ass out of bed.

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.