24 Ways You Know You’re an Adult Military Brat

1. You get that “deer in the headlights” look for a minute when someone asks you where you’re from.
2. You have to remind yourself that you’re not supposed to tip civilian baggers at the commissary grocery store.
3. You may or may not have called the liquor store the “Class Six”.
4. You know all the words to “Taps”, and you kind of miss not hearing it at 5pm on the dot every day.
5. You’ve bonded with other former military or military brats over your shared love/hate of AFN commercials.
6. You could probably fold an American flag with your eyes closed.
7. It takes you months to convince yourself to paint or put stuff up on the walls, because that TOTALLY wouldn’t pass inspection.
8. You still think of downsizing your stuff before a move in terms of meeting your “weight allowance”.
9. You knew at least one kid growing up who was American but had a foreign accent from living abroad for so long.
10. Your own accent/vocabulary is a melting pot of different regional slang and military lingo.
11. Your hand goes instantly to your heart whenever the national anthem starts playing anywhere.
12. You think any food court without a Popeye’s and a Taco Bell is basically a waste of time.
13. You can’t help but think your neighborhood would be much improved by adding an MWR.
14. You couldn’t wait to finally get your dependent ID card so you could buy candy from the Mini Mart.
15. And you mourned a little when your dependent ID card expired.
16. The smell of bilge water, gunmetal, and diesel fuel reminds you of your childhood.
17. You’re completely befuddled by civilian medical insurance. Like, more than usual.
18. You think the term “permanent address” is an oxymoron.
19. You’ve felt “the itch”.
20. You have actually moved to a new place because of “the itch”.
21. You’ve gotten on a hop after waiting hours on a space-A.
22. You know what #21 means.
23. The biggest culture shock wasn’t moving to a different country, but having to live off base.
24.  You never really finish unpacking. Honestly, what’s the point?

What say you, fellow military brats? Have anything to add?

Make Something

On my Google calendar on Tuesday nights, I have a recurring event: Make Something.

And unless I’m not home, I normally try to oblige. Maybe I’ll make dinner that’s more than just a pot of rice and steamed veggies. Maybe I’ll put a few more stitches in a scarf I’ve been neglecting. Maybe I’ll doodle while watching TV. And hey, maybe I will just do nothing. But I do try to do SOMETHING.

It is so easy just to not make something. Life and inertia has a spectacular way of making it much easier to just binge watch “Bob’s Burgers” and fall asleep upon returning home from work rather than drag out your art supplies and go to town. And hey, “Bob’s Burgers” is awesome, and sometimes you need that sweet, sweet TV time to rest and recuperate; this is not a rebuke against a good Netflix binge.

But too often, I think a lot of people don’t make things because they think you have to be a capital-A Artist to make things. Or maybe they get “blank page paralysis” and can’t get a thing onto the page. For whatever reason, there are a lot of people out there who are not making things simply because they think they can’t or they shouldn’t.

Amanda Palmer’s “Ukulele Anthem” puts this better than I ever could: stop pretending art is hard.

Obviously it takes years of study and no small amount of natural aptitude to paint/draw/knit/play something that is objectively “good”. Making art that requires real technical skill is definitely something that is learned through endless repetition, practice, and improvement.

But just making art? Putting a pen to paper, stringing a bead on a wire, brainstorming a short story? Making art is for everyone. Whether it’s the first time you’re ever picking up a paintbrush or the five-hundredth, you’re making a thing that didn’t exist before with only your imagination and some tools.

That’s pretty awesome!

So maybe next time you’re at home and feeling a little bored, think about making an art. You’ll probably be glad that you did.

Perfect Self vs Real Self: A Study in Disconnects

Let’s talk for a moment about something I’m sure we’ve all faced at one time or another.

You’re walking through a store and you see a book/vintage hat/knick-knack/kitchen gadget/craft supply/dice block/nerdy coffee cup/whatever.

You look at it. You want it. You think, “Wow, if I only had that awesome whatsit, I would use it all the time, and I would be the most optimal and amazing reader/vintage clothing wearer/quirky decorator/kitchen maven/craftster/gamer/nerd who drinks coffee I can possibly be.”

And what do you do then? Maybe you buy it and take it home, because it’s awesome, and because it lends credence to this image of yourself that you have in your head.

And then maybe it promptly sits untouched, unused, and unloved on a shelf or in a drawer for months or even years because that image of you in your head is not necessarily the person who lives your life for you.

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Let’s Try This Again

Since 2012, I’ve been writing a sentence a day on an index card summing up what I did that day so I can look back on it later and go, “Oh yeah! That! I remember that!” It’s like a low tech TimeHop. I had been doing a pretty good job with this until 2015.

2015 just didn’t get logged. It was a big year for me; a few triumphs, a few losses, but none of it really got written down. (At least not on those index cards.)

I realized as 2016 got underway that I missed being able to look back as I go forward. I know the prevailing wisdom now is to concern yourself only with being present or “mindful” and to only look forward, but as a history wonk, I find that uninspired. I like to be able to write down what I did that day, look back at what I did on past days, and see how far I’ve come.

Everything new becomes status quo so quickly, and I want to remind myself constantly of how much change is possible in such a relatively short amount of time.

Anyway, on that note, I’m going to give this blogging thing another go. At least a little bit. Haven’t decided yet if there’s going to be a theme or if it’s just going to be rambling, but I’d rather it be here than not.

Either way, I’ll keep you posted.

Happy 2016, everybody.