Friday, September 28, 2007

A Mental Clean Slate

brain dump
In anticipation of our next move (yes, still nine or ten months away) I've been trying to get my thoughts arranged in a neat and orderly fashion. Thoughts of this, our temporary home, our daughter's temporary school, this temporary time that my husband will actually be "mostly" home with us instead of deployed or going TDY hither and yon...this temporary time I'm away from a classroom. I operate well under stress, as long as it doesn't overstay its welcome by more than oh, let's say, a YEAR, but once the crisis is over, I require down-time to sort, examine, re-examine, file, and toss whatever fuzzy stuff remains from the experiences, trials, mistakes, and surprises that have kept me on my toes for so long. Even though our next move is ten months away, I'm trying to get my mind in order, get a clean slate, because of all of the other goodies Life is certain to throw our way in the months before we relocate. Long-term mental and physical exhaustion is never fun, at least not for me.

Moving from Alaska to New Mexico to Kansas to Texas in five years has been exciting yet has contributed to my extended fatigue. If you're the type of person who hates to move, don't join the military or marry anyone in it. I'd like to think I've gotten good at the routine: yard-saling a month prior to the packers showing up; researching the new post and outlying towns/cities; packing up my classroom and hauling everything home; making sure every member of the family has a traveling tub or suitcase already packed and stashed in the truck for use on the road; making sure the packers are happy (sodas, water, pizza, and cookies help tremendously); going through the house with a fine-tooth comb when the packers THINK they're done; providing movers with pizza, water and Gatorade and making sure that they put a sticker on every single box and item before packing it all tighter than a Tetris Master could dream of on an eighteen-wheeler truck; cleaning the house for inspection; and finally, trying to keep everyone sane as we drive for hours on end with a toddler, a sleepy teenager, and a screaming cat. Our last move was even more fun as my husband had the Army equivalent of LASIK eye surgery two days after returning from his deployment to Iraq. He drove as if he were still in Iraq (looking for bad guys and things that "go boom" on the side of the road) with fuzzy vision. No folks, we're not aiming for a repeat of that situation in Summer '08!

Once we arrive at our new home, we have to sign for housing, check out our daughter's school, inventory the house (yes, PRIOR to our household goods arriving) for damage, repairs, etc. so we won't be charged for them, and get the floorplan set in our minds before the UN-packers arrive with our furniture. We check over every sticker on every item (oh it was fun this year, many items had two, even three stickers so we had to cross-reference the items on three separate lists), sort, unpack the necessary stuff, and thank our lucky stars if we have enough storage closets to keep my classroom stash safe from the elements. Set up the rooms, get the kitchen in working order, have the house decorated so it feels more like home, and then on to the task of finding a job, daycare for the baby, and activities for the family once we know what my husband's schedule will be. Our lives accomodate upheaval.

All of this moving, evaluation, research, preparation (not-so-successful attempts in some cases) and readjustment generates an excessive amount of information in my mind, and I'm not able to do a brain dump with it as efficiently as I'd like. Yes, I'm one of those perhaps annoying women who cleans her kitchen before starting a baking project. I clean my workspace before scrapbooking, I clear room in the middle of the floor before wrapping a pile of Christmas presents. But I haven't been able to reach a state of mental tabula rosa lately. Too much information about school/teaching/administrative practices in Alaska, New Mexico, Kansas and Texas is floating around in my head, and I dread knowing that I get to add another state (possibly another country) to that list in a year's time. I haven't been in one place long enough to be able to get out of this compare/contrast mode so that I can operate within the new rules and put them on autopilot as I experience other things. Cultural differences, political differences, social differences, religious differences, environmental and climate differences all provide me with much-appreciated lessons on diversity but also overwhelm me. I suppose I've just figured out I don't downshift as quickly as I'd like to be able to, and I question what it is I'm supposed to be doing with all of this information.

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