March madness & military life

March has been a wildly busy month – but I think I say that about every month!

It has been a month filled with learning, new projects, stepping out of my comfort zone, lots of coffee, family visits, & goodbyes to good friends.

Graduation & goodbyes

One of the main highlights of the month was B graduating from the Air Force Institute of Technology with a Masters in Electrical Engineering this past week! He has spent the last 18 months working so hard & learning SO much. His next assignment is {luckily} at this base so we don’t have to move. We realized last week how settled into our tiny house we’ve become. Moving is going to be hard whenever we have to do it next!

The graduation of this class of students from AFIT also means that many many many of my military spouse friends are moving to their next assignments all over the country this week.

It breaks my lil heart to see them go, but I keep reminding myself that, as people say, “it’s a small Air Force” and it’s likely we will be stationed with these same friends in the future. And for the ones going to the DC area, I can visit with them when I return to Virginia to see my family!

Friends moving away is something that is still new to me, seeing as I’ve only been an Air Force spouse for, well, 18 months or so. The more “seasoned” spouses have dealt with this for years, but I can imagine that it doesn’t get much easier to say farewell.

Being a military spouse means leaning hard on the community around you, making fast friendships, and sharing a special kind of bond with those who you might never have spoken to if it wasn’t for your spouse’s career. I don’t exactly know how to explain this connection to people who haven’t experienced it before. Being a military spouse is beautiful & terrible all at the same time.

You have to open your heart fully, knowing that it’ll be broken a little bit every time the PCS orders arrive.

But I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

In photo news…

I’ve been snapping away lately, as a few friends have asked me to take photos for them & their families this month. I’ve done head shots, a newborn session, a couple session {which I’m currently editing}, & countless test shots around the house with a new lens.

The newborn session was definitely stepping out of my comfort zone, as I had never done anything quite like it. I’m so grateful to my sweet friend for trusting me to take photos of her little one! & happy two week birthday, Ember!

My friend Elisa needed some head shots for her professional portfolio – she’s getting her PhD in English and is a professor! – and asked me to help out. We went “on location” to a coffee shop that has some good backgrounds – lots of brick & colorfully painted walls. Of course, the weather was rude to us and decided to be barely above freezing, but Elisa was an amazing sport and braved the cold!

For the love of books

Life update: I think I want to be a librarian. I don’t know what kind yet {school, children’s, YA?} but since taking this job at my local library, it feels like a pretty great career for me.

I’m working in the Youth Services department as an associate, which means I help the actual librarians in the department prep events, I do teacher collections, & random tasks like bulletin boards.

But it also means that I work the desk in the Children’s department, and answer patron questions all day long! It feels like the coolest treasure hunt ever to be given a random search criteria & come out with just the right book for the kid or a parent.

It’s not so great when a child asks you to find “the book I was reading a few weeks ago with stick drawings but I don’t remember what it’s about or the name of the book or the author but there was a gun in it.” I wasn’t so successful there!!

Alas, grad school is the next step if I really want to pursue this, and I don’t quite have the funds at the moment – but I am learning a TON in this job.

Goal setting missteps

Remember how I wrote that big long post about how excited I was about my new planner and using it to set TONS of goals and meet them all?

Yeah… more on that later.

April showers

Looking forward to April, it feels like it’ll be a bit of a calmer month for me. I may be jinxing myself just by saying that!

B starts his new job next week, so he’ll be going back to a regular work day, while I mainly work evenings at the library & weekends at the coffee bar. It’ll be interesting to see how we work this out and make time to see each other!!

I’m excited to slow down a bit and re-focus on my goals and on self-care. I also may have a giant pile of laundry I need to catch up on… #adultingishard

Feelings on friendship

It’s hard to make friends.

It’s hard to make friends when you’re an introvert, a generally awkward person, a young & childless military spouse in a place that is new to you, and a liberal & not religious military spouse at that.

I have learned so. dang. much. about adulting in the past year since we moved to Ohio. I’m in that post-grad identity crisis stage still, which is weird enough on its own, but pile on the desire to make friends in a completely new environment where you don’t know anyone, and still being a newlywed, and you’ve got a LOT OF FEELINGS ALL THE TIME.

When I say that I’m not great at making friends, I mean long-lasting, deep friendships. I’m the kind of person who has a lot of acquaintances and people that I can talk to, chat with, enjoy spending time with at social events. Don’t get me wrong, I love getting to know people on this level, but sometimes I want something more complete. I often end up with just a few close friends, and unless I’m living near those friends, those friendships tend to be more distant than I’d like. I’m not the best at keeping up communication – just ask my mom when I last called her! 😫

Some people are so lucky to be able to form fast friendships that last and have depth, closeness, and heavy meaning, no matter where they go. I envy religious people who can connect through their faith to people and use that as a basis to form friendships, and develop those deeply through fellowship and study. I think that is a beautiful thing, but I’m not a part of a faith that allows me to have that right now. Mothers also instantly have something in common, a shared experience of giving life & raising children, and that can help form fast friendships. I don’t have kids yet, and understand that having kids majorly changes your life, your focus and your priorities, and that it might be harder to become friends with women that don’t yet share those experiences. I can still keep my fingers crossed that I’m just making up that idea though!!

I put such a focus on military spouses because that’s one of the most prominent parts of my identity at the moment. I don’t have a life-defining career, so the main way that I can find and make friends is through the group of Air Force spouses that I am a part of here in Dayton. There’s a shared experience that military spouses have that gives us a way to feel instantly connected to each other, and allows us to explore friendship – but many of us have big differences! I am a liberal, pro-choice feminist, and just by typing those few words, I might instantly alienate a lot of military spouses that I’d hope to be close friends with. I don’t generally have a problem being friends with people who don’t share all of my views, but I know that other people might find it more difficult, and that the closeness I’m looking for sometimes comes from sharing those types of views and ideals. Of course, maybe it’s not “worth it” to pursue friendships with people that would be turned off by big parts of my identity, but it still feels so discouraging to mentally cross more names off the list of potential friends.

Lately, I’ve been putting myself out there a little more, have been more active in these groups, and have been putting more of an effort into the chances that I do have to connect with other women and make friends. And I think it could be starting to pay off! I’m continuing to meet more women that I’m excited to get to know better and to see more often, and I think that feeling is mutual with some of them! I know that building lasting friendships takes work, a spark, effort, and that it won’t always work out the way I might hope – but here’s to hoping.

Also, I am totally aware of how freaking cheesy this whole post sounds, but sometimes my brain just really likes to write cheesy-ass things. #sorrynotsorry

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Our Dayton Bucket List!

My husband, Ben, is an officer in the Air Force, which means we’ll be moving every few years as he gets new assignments. His last base was Hanscom AFB, right outside of Boston, and it was a perfect place for him to be stationed as a young officer when we were first dating. Boston is a city filled with young people and lots to do in the downtown and surrounding areas. We packed so much into those 4 years while he was stationed there and while I was in college at Wheaton. We even made a Boston Bucket List, but not until we had about a year left in the area, and between me finishing up college and us planning our wedding and move, we definitely didn’t check off as many places as we had hoped.

During the winter of 2014, we found out where he would be headed next – or should I say we, since we were engaged and planning our wedding. He had applied to AFIT, the Air Force Institute of Technology, what seemed like AGES ago, and got the call one evening that he had been accepted to a program to get his Masters in Engineering! We were thrilled! But then came the realization that we would be moving to Dayton, Ohio.

I’ve grown up on the East Coast and near big cities my whole life, so when I heard “Ohio” my mind immediately went to: Midwest, cornfields, empty, sad cities past their prime, economically depressed, old houses, no fun, nothing to do!

And while there are plenty of cornfields out here, I could not have been more wrong about Dayton. Continue reading “Our Dayton Bucket List!”

A buttload of nostalgia

I know I’m really lucky to have so many places and experiences I can look back on and miss, but wow, does it suck sometimes.

Moving is hard. Relocating and attempting to start a “career” (whatever that is) and being newly married and trying to make friends are all kind of hard on their own, but throw on top of that a butt-load of nostalgia, and you’ve got yourself a fun mix of emotions!

This is the first September since I was 5 where I have not experienced the start of school. Being a student has been a gigantic part of my life for, well, most of my life, and finding myself missing that piece of my identity is more to grasp than I expected.

I miss the excitement of the first few weeks of school, where you’re beginning new classes and figuring out your workload for the year, getting to know your classmates, planning out your goals for the next months. Daresay I miss the homework and the readings??

I miss Wheaton – I miss the people. It was an amazing thing to be able to walk around campus at any given time of the day and run into at least two people who know who you are and who you can chat with. I miss feeling like a feminist. So much of my feminist identity over the past four to six years has been tied up with my involvement in clubs, with campus activism, with tabling, with event planning, with 2 am common room chats about feminist theory. I don’t totally know how to be a feminist outside of that context, especially in this new world of the military and midwest living.

I miss being able to travel all over New England any given weekend. Ben and I had so much fun exploring Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard, Maine, Newport, and lots of little towns right around us. There’s so much to see and do in Massachusetts and the surrounding states. I know there’s plenty to see and do in Ohio, but with new jobs and the move, we aren’t as able to get out there and find it all. We were so lucky to be able to travel as much as we did.

I miss feeling organized and put together and feeling like I have a plan. When I was in college, I felt like I knew what I was doing. I knew what my major was, when I would graduate, and by the time senior year rolled around, I knew that after graduation, I would get married and move. It all seemed so straight-forward and comfortably challenging. Now here I am in Ohio, so happy to be married and with Ben and in a new place to start post-grad life, but post-grad life is a little scarier than I thought it would be! I just started a new job, but it’s part-time and not in the career field I spent the last four years preparing for. I’m glad to be employed and to be meeting new people through it and to learn lots of new things, but I always had a picture in my mind that after college, I would easily find a non-profit or teaching job that I could settle into comfortably and feel successful in.

Heck, it’s only September, so all those things can still come. I’m sure in a few months I’ll feel more settled and happy with Ohio living. I’m also sure I’ll always miss the past, since I’m prone to getting hit by waves of nostalgia more often than I’d like. I am so so lucky to have this much to miss.

I’ve just got to learn to be patient and keep an eye towards the future but my mind in the present.

Thanks for reading! ~Margaret

Today’s thoughts: I can’t wait to move

This evening, I learned the hard way that you cannot turn on the faucet in the kitchen and take a hot shower at the same time.

I can’t wait to move.

I’m quickly learning that as a military spouse, there’s a lot of jargon and acronyms to learn and remember – TLF being one of those. TLF stands for Temporary Living Facility, which is where Ben and I have been living since we got to Dayton. When you’re PCSing (moving to a different base) you usually get to stay in the TLF for a few days on the military’s dime, which is what we’re doing for a few more days. Since we can’t move into our house until September 4th, we’re extending our stay until then.


At Wright-Patt, the TLF for us (married couple, no kids) ended up being a duplex which used to be base housing. Two bedrooms, one bathroom, a full kitchen, and laundry. It also comes with a heat lamp in the bathroom that glows red and makes the room look like a murder room! Doesn’t every house need one of those?

It’s been really great to have a home base while we’ve been exploring the area, and it feels super safe here. It’s nice to have the kitchen even though the pots and pans they provide are ooooold and kinda crusty. Ben is awesome at making it work, and even cooked us some insanely delicious pan roasted brussel sprouts with garlic and bacon. He’s an amazing chef!!

Anyways, while we are so lucky to have this space while we wait for our house, some parts of it are getting a little frustrating!! For one, I’m really looking forward to being able to shower and do dishes at the same time.

Also, there’s no wifi. Boo.

 

Thanks for reading! ~Margaret

HEY THIS HAPPENED

WE GOT MARRIED!!!!!!!!!!!!!

August 9, 2015 ranks pretty damn high as one of the best days of my life. Ben and I exchanged vows (that we wrote ourselves) in front of 100 of our closest friends and family members. We got married and had the reception at Whitehall Manor in Bluemont, Virginia. Everything came together wonderfully and we are so happy – it’s been a week and a half and we still can’t stop grinning ear-to-ear!

Four days after the wedding, we moved out to Dayton, Ohio, which is where we will be for the next few years. Ben is currently stationed at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base and is attending graduate school with the Air Force Institute of Technology here for a year and a half. His next assignment might be here in Ohio as well, so we’re excited to start putting down some roots. We’re staying in temporary housing on base (and counting the days) until we can move into the perfectawesomebeautifulamazing house in Kettering, Ohio that we just signed the lease on yesterday! I’m still looking for a job, but I know I’ll find something I enjoy doing soon enough. We are quickly finding our favorite parts of Dayton and already have coffee shops we’re planning on being regulars at. Before we moved here, people kept mentioning how nice Ohioans (Buckeyes?? I don’t know what to call them) are, and that is definitely true so far. We are being welcomed with open arms and I’m really looking forward to the next few years here!

I’ll write a more in-depth post about the details of our wedding and the vendors we worked with when we get the rest of the pictures back from our photographer! By the way, our photographer is the best photographer in the world and everyone should hire her. All photo credit goes to her!

Thanks for reading! ~Margaret