Wednesday, July 28, 2010

No news yet

How long does it take for a school to tell you that you are/are not what they are looking for? I guess it's only been a few weeks, but I'm dyin'.  And the (only) other application he's been talking about isn't due for over a month. I spoke with him about sending emails to schools who are doing research in his area, but he's so reluctant.  I told him it can't hurt-- looking a little desperate for a job (and I do NOT think this looks desperate) especially in this economy can not possibly count against anyone. Especially in his field.  This isn't a cool contest.  I read some stuff about waiting for openings vs. cold-calling on the PhD Comics forum and sent the thread to him.  It didn't really move him.  Which aggitated me a little.

He is, fortunately, staying at work later. I know, a PhD who you have to cry to get them to spend time IN their office? Maybe I'm lucky.  It's kind of cute* that he thinks he's putting me out by spending time in the office, because I really do think he believes all the little time we spend together is important.

My job at the university is heavily affected by the return of the students, and I'm in full-time grimace mode right now.  At least it gives me more to do (the doldrums of this summer were driving me bonkers).

*It puts me out, though, to think that every sci-fi episode we watch at night is one more 44-minute chunk of life we could have been closer to moving on.  I am afraid to do the math.

p.s. I do not hate my dog. But I come close. She looks like this poor little guy:

Monday, July 26, 2010

One more thing to worry about

Here is where I lose what few readers I have. I have a dog.  But I do not want to own a dog.

We got the dog when there were more people who pledged to take care of it. They left, now we're left with a dog who looks cute but has so many social/emotional problems and seemingly small physical problems that add up to a whole lotta money.  I know I'd never be able to forgive myself for taking an animal back to the shelter (even after almost 5 years!) but the husband loves it so, so, so much.  The dog reminds me often that I am not sure I want children.

How does this have to do with the blog? Other than sharing a "whining" tag? Like an infant, the dog has killed our nightlife, weekend trips, day trips, everything.  We have very few people who can watch the dog because it has so many things that may go wrong, and we can't afford to board too much.  I've always wanted a fence to leave the dog in (and maybe a hole in the fence? with a trail of cheese leading far, far away?) but we thought we wouldn't be around very long.  And building a fence is a committment! And then winter would approach, so what was the point of building it now? And another 6 months would pass, and we'd still be shackled to man's best friend.  This was not my best friend.

There was a nice day in spring, a neighbor had some fencing material, and over a period of a week, we got a makeshift fence up.  I was elated.  We could leave the house for more than three hours.  My husband wouldn't be shackled to the couch to do his research. Maybe we could save the money we spent each week for her "social day" at the dog place.  I thought maybe we could have the romantic little day trips we used to enjoy so much when we first got together. 

But she was itchy, so the vet gave her a shot and I spent a day mowing, clearing brush, spraying the yard, etc.  Still itchy. More baths, more shots, now some antibiotics, more spraying, more trips to Lowe's for pesticides (that I NEVER in my life thought I would buy), more bald spots and infections.

So, I'm looking forward to going home to the new bald spot and constantly scratching dog, and in a few days I'll probably have to take her to the vet after work and drop $60 on a visit and some pills. Should I buy some more pesticide to spray? Or should I just tear down the fence with my bare hands and have a breakdown?

[UPDATE] I have taken a deep breath, and am looking forward to my sewing class.  It's all I can do.

Friday, July 23, 2010

"I think you'll really love NewTownX"

Yesterday, after too much time by myself in my dismal job, and too much time spent navel-gazing, I had a serious case of the blues as I walked home. I got in the door, saw my husband sleeping on the couch (when I left, he was sleeping in the bed) and went straight to the bedroom and got in my cocoon. By the time he woke up and realized I'd gotten home, I couldn't even verbalize why I was so sad.

I just told him I was sad, and I needed some love and attention. Not in a guilting kind of way, just being honest. He cuddled me for a while, until I could start to make words. Anxiety, identity, it all came out in civil words for once. I asked him if he had any other applications he was planning on sending in. He told me about a job in NewTownX.

The title of the post is the first thing he said about it, before he even described the job. He said I'd love it, and got on Google Maps to show me where it was, and how far away from places I was familiar with. He's been there before for a summer job, so he knows the good stuff and some of the bad.

We spent the night eating pizza and cuddling into each other as hard as a human can cuddle. He explained the job to me, and we looked at the website. I felt tired from so much worry, and though he hasn't actually applied yet, the plan gives me some relief.

In the spirit of Asking Questions, I asked how many postdocs he thought he'd do before trying to land a tenure track (TT) position.  He said, hopefully one, maybe two.  I asked him if he'd kindly move his mobile office (on the couch) back into his actual office.  He said he would, but when I get home today we'll see.  It's for the best, and will help my sanity to have a place to sit, but it's an ugly couch and he makes the sight of it more bearable.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

This in place of the teary rant I was writing earlier.

Thank you, PhD comics.

Spending too much time reading while my boss is gone gave me time to take a wrong turn into Sad-town.  I started to write about how I didn't see the harried, never-at-home academic in my own spouse: I often saw procrastination and time wasted on the internet that could have gone towards one of the joyful things they we dont' do anymore so he can "focus".  I'm glad it was lunch, because I had to off-load a few tears.  Some old frustrations came up in that, and one new one I'd say to him if it didn't sound so mean: when you waste your time, you're wasting my time.  I'm going to try to let this comic make me feel better.


I tried out the venues suggested on Notorious PhD, and I've listed them in my resources section:

Love and Academia on Livejournal: not updated very often, and mostly from the academic's side, but could be helpful.

PhD Comics Forum: There's a lot here. The Vortex seems to be the specific area for my concerns, but I'm still digging through it.  It's very upbeat!

Current Status: OK

I started a sewing class on Monday, so I am officially on my way to learning a skill that will make me useful and perhaps someday be a job/creativity outlet.  And since tailors exist everywhere, I can easily carry this on my back to Whereverland.

The spouse seems pretty happy right now, and not as stressed.  Getting that application in definitely gave him some renewed confidence.  He gets down this time of year because his advisor goes on a long vacation, and he often feels like he can't move forward as fast as he'd like. 

On the depression/anxiety front, I've decided to increase my dosage (doc says it's alright). This is good, since I hurt my knee and can't go running.  I don't know how long that will last, but after only a few days my body issues (which are rare) have come back.  I don't think about that stuff when I can go out a few times a week and run around.  But I feel really even, and I asked the spouse if he'd noticed any change in my temperment, and said I'd been really even.  Maybe it's the medication, or maybe it's my attempts at productivity/meaning.  I'm not going to test either one, but just be happy about it.

A friend is taking the GRE in 6 weeks, and I've decided to join her for that.  I don't have any plans for grad school currently, but it would be a good thing to get out of the way, and an accomplishment that could help my self-esteem.

Being selfish is helping me.  I'm filling my space and trying not to say "I'm sorry" so much.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Don't be afraid to ask questions

Fear of asking questions/fear of knowing the answer is probably my biggest fault, but it's a victimless crime.  If you don't ask, no one can say no-- this cowardly philosophy has been at the center of some of the worst stories in my life.  I get upset sometimes when I see how many years I've put my life on hold for my spouse, like it was some great secret that a PhD is a drawn-out process.  I never would just straight-out ask, "How many years do you think this will take?" "Have you actually applied for any jobs yet?"

Sometimes I'm afraid to ask a question because someone may have already told me the answer, but I've forgotten.

But today, after fruitless searching for blogs to reassure or guide me, I was still finding nada.  It's still all academic couples and moms.  No offense to either group, but that's not the voice I need-- at least not right now.  I started following a few blogs that are written by post-doc scientists, mostly women, to see if I could glean anything from that perspective.  For science, feminism, and ladies round-about my age who are kicking ass in real careers, and role models, this list has been great:

Academic Jungle
The Adventures of Notorious PhD, Girl Scholar
Canadian GirlPostdoc in America
Female Science Professor
Liberal Arts  Lady
The Two Body Problem

I emailed the Notorious PhD and asked a question: have you heard of anyone out there like me, and do they have a blog?  I felt a little forward doing that, but it's not like I was going to run into her at a party and be embarrassed.  Later in the day, I saw a new post from that blog show up in my RSS, and it was my letter!

Notorious herself didn't have any ideas, but she posed the question for her readers, and there was a good response.  People wanted to know where my blog was!  I got my question answered, and I won't lie and say I wasn't excited that someone besides me could be reading my posts.

I haven't had a chance yet to look through the suggestions, but I'll post about them once I do.  This was a good day.  One said that maybe I couldn't find the right stuff because I wasn't technically a trailing spouse yet.  (An issue of not having the right vocabulary-- or maybe it doesn't exist?)

p.s. A well-known librarian, who I work with, let me know he would give me his full support if I wanted to go to library school, and he would write me a rec letter.  That made me feel genuinely good, and I tried to take the comment without effacing myself.  I just wish that people believing in me equalled me believing in myself.  I'm getting there.

Friday, July 16, 2010

In which I try to explain my ire

The emphasis on women following men really gets under my skin, and that's the majority of these articles I'm compiling. I guess I'm rankled in general about how un-unique my situation is, and if it wasn't so common, maybe I'd feel differently and would have better/different resources. How can I properly articulate this?

I am a person. I'm nearing 30, with a degree, a good job (but not necessarily a career yet) and a spouse. I like my house and my town.  I like to cook and ride my bike.

But since I'm a female person, my resources and advice aren't the same as a man. And there really isn't as much to tell a man (sorry dudes, that really is the short end of the stick) because it's mostly women following men to a new place.  And there really isn't that much of an infrastructure to counsel us, because it's just expected that we follow.  So what's the fuss?

I have a fuss!  This isn't easy.  I'm not just following blythely. I'm not even following completely happily. There should be books on this, obvious answers/counsel.  But there's not, and it's because of shitty expectations. 

If this is a post-feminist world, then I'm Shirley Maclaine*.

*Maybe in another life?

Sad little links

Most of the blogs and articles written about my situation are about two-career spouses or one-income households.  We're neither!  But every thing I find that might shed light into this life change, I'll post here.  I'll also keep these articles linked in the sidebar.

Moving Cross-Country for Spouse's Job - Any Regrets?

How to find a job in Switzerland - Advice from a trailing spouse (we aren't going to Switzerland, but anything helps)

Supporting a Spouse or Partner who has moved for your career

And this article, "Should you move for love?" is in most ways ridiculous, but brings up something that makes me feel good:
How will you like your new location?- Whether married or single, this is a big question that many women don’t spend enough time considering. They learn all about their man’s new job, they learn about schools for the kids, but they never take a look at how they will like their new location. This is a big reasons why so many women are ready to pack their bags a year or two after a move. Whether it is landing your dream job, taking classes or joining a social group, you need to have a plan for how you will adjust once the moving dust has settled. If the area that you are considering does not seem to offer any of the things that will make you happy, then you either need to look harder or reconsider moving before you agree to go.
What I've been trying to do with my journaling, classes and new friends is ground myself, in a place where I'm already quite grounded. But as these things are new*, I'm preparing myself to do it again, for real**, in a new and unexplored place.

*I used to journal like crazy, but stopped when I met my to-be husband and my life settled down from the crazy paliatives of my early 20s. Made for interesting writing, though.

**I don't mean my new friends aren't made in earnest, but when I move, I can't just be lazy and rely on who I already know. I won't know anyone.  I made these friends because I genuinely enjoy their company and am glad I know them.  I may have to hang with people who I don't really line up with, until I can make some connections.

Ways to get by

don't want to use this blog as a platform to complain about my job, but dang. [redacted].  Instead, I will use this negative to come up with the first item on my list of Ways I Get By.

1) People being unreasonable at work?   Call them out on it. Nicely. When they say something that doesn't make sense? Ask questions until they realize they are acting loony and emotional and stop the bad behavior.  This worked today, and I felt pretty proud of myself.  The hope of moving on has given me some courage.

2) Throw yourself headfirst into a new hobby.  I have chosen sewing, and am going to start a class on Monday.  I know people in the local fashion world, so I've called on them for advice.

3) Make new friends.  I've made two new friends in the past 6 months that I hang out with at least once a week. Once a week means a lot to me, because everyone is so busy these days. I felt apathetic about meeting new people during my "We're just going to move as soon as something good happens so why even try waaaaaah" phase.  This didn't help things. 

4) Relax. I am not really good at this, but I'm making a point of being selfish and sitting on the couch to read while the spouse does house things.  I used to think if I sat down, not as much would get done, but now I don't care as much.  If I relax, I'm happier.  If I'm happier, I don't feel like I have to have an iron fist around the house.

5) Remember that the spouse is amazing and you love him/her.  Being sweet to someone makes you feel good.  And then they're sweet back.  And then you remember that though life seems like a huge stressor, at the middle of it all (well, from your perspective) is you and him.

6) Exercise.  Yeah, that sucks right now, but you know you always feel better when it's done. But yeah, lots of suckage.

Flowers help, also penpals, walks with no purpose and beers.


(There's no read video, but good song)

Monday, July 12, 2010

Getting myself all excited

Did you know that in England, fanny and bum do not mean the same thing?  Not that I say either of those things, but it's just blowing my mind how many language differences exist between Americans and Brits. I shouldn't be reading this stuff instead of working, but daydreaming about moving to another country is so much better than my boring job in a basement. Especially on a day when it is raining.

But maybe I'll just have a boring job in a basement in rainy England?

Or maybe I'll be stuck here indefinitely.  It's a doldrums day.

I did make some resolutions last night, of the mid-year variety. One is to start journaling again (in a real journal), to write a few entries here per week, run more, and learn to sew.  I'm going to the fabric store after work today and I'm going to find an easy pattern and just throw myself in. I need something pretty to wear to make me feel good.  That works sometimes.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Into the blue!

Ok, not yet, but the spouse completed and sent his first real application for a post-doc today.  I have allowed myself to get excited and look up insane details about a location before, so these feelings are nothing new. I am not going overboard, I am not getting myself too excited.  I am genuinely proud of him and what this means for his self-confidence and attitude towards his life right now.  It doesn't hurt that it gives me hope, also.

Even if he doesn't get this one (hell, it's the first one, I'm not crazy) it'll make it easier for him to make more attempts.  Yay!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

What suffers in limbo, Part I

oday I'd like to write about my job.  I started my current job thinking I'd only be here a year or two, but it's now past three years.  At the beginning, when I found that my boss and I were not a good work match, I was constantly looking for other jobs.  I applied for a few, in the same company, but was given the run-around. I applied outside of the company.  I got nothing.

I can't complain-- it pays me well and I have benefits.  I am very close to work, and really it isn't very hard.  Sometimes the hardest part about the job is how boring it is.

The spouse seems confident that The Move will happen in the next 6 months, or at least he'll have landed a job.  Though that's what he's been saying for a while, he only has a year left of funding, so he's got a fire under him.  With the hope of half a year left, three years of struggling to communicate with my boss and a job that sporadically challenges me, I am having a lot of trouble caring.

A lot.

I get really good evaluations, so if I think I'm slipping, my boss doesn't seem to think so. (Which I think is sad, in a way.)  I want to leave this position better than when I came in, but I also want to give my notice and happily flounce away two weeks later.  I won't do that, but I fantasize about it.

Watching this clip gives me a feeling of lightness and peace.

[Edited for negative boss-commentary]

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Who I was then =/= Who I am now

I moved a lot as a kid, so I don't really have "roots" and get confused in answering the "Where ya from?" question.  Moving was fun, though, and I got to reinvent myself (as much as one can do at a young age) every few years.  It never bothered me until my wedding, when my spouse had childhood friends on his side and the only non-college friend I had was one from high school (the best friend, who is worth more than a whole bride's side). I felt deficient, like I couldn't hold on to friends.  The moves were for a short number of years, and I had my fair share of "friends forever" girlfriends, the friendships didn't last much after departure.  It didn't bother me for too long, and I quickly made new friends.

With this history in mind, I have tried to think about The Move as if it was just another one of my dad's job transfers, and I'll be fine because I always am.  But the last time I moved was almost a decade ago for college, and before that I'd lived with my parents.  There were people and institutions to cushion my fall and integrate me into the new environment.  What I guess I'm getting at, is I'm not a child any more.  I need to realize that the resilience of childhood is not going to be the magic bullet I'd like it to be as I'm reaching 30 and following someone who I'm not dependent on.

Now I'm in my mother's position.  She too had to move around every time my dad got a job.  Everytime I got transplanted, she did too.  So, I guess I should consider the four blogs (for four moves) that she might have written. 

But it's different? She's a homemaker, straight up, from a generation when women were still supposed to be the helpers but not the leaders.  She still believes that women shouldn't be heads of a church, and that feminism wasn't something she wanted to be a part of in the 70s.  I'm afraid if I asked her for advice, she'd just tell me I should stand by my man and go with the flow, let him take care of me.  Ok, she's not that old school, but the way she treats my dad is NOTHING like I treat my spouse.

Or is it?  Here we go back down that gender-roles slip-n-slide.

The Process Begins?

The spouse found a job listing that actually matches up to the incredibly specific field he's been working in, is in a foreign (but English-speaking) country, and for more than one year.  He is actually applying!  I will admit, I'm really fucking horrified that this is the first thing he's applied for.  I know that throwing out resumes willy-nilly isn't the best strategy, but it sure does make your spouse feel good.  I need to see/hear progress, even if it's not really anything.  But I shouldn't get excited until he actually sends it off.  I'm married to Hamlet-- think, think, think! I wish he was a little more do, do, do! but I love who I married. 

The end date for applications is really soon (end of the week) but he found out they are looking for someone at least before mid-spring.  That gives him plenty of time to finish up his PhD.

Have I explained this problem? You have a person who could finish a degree, but once he's got his degree, he loses the income from his teaching assistantship.  So he persists, languishing a bit, until he can get his hooks into a job and quickly defend.  It's a horrid limbo for him, too. Not yet finished with his degree and not yet job-holding, but having to do both at the same time.  Lucky for me, an English degree is an automatic launch into the same waitressing job you've been holding down. Voila!

I have freaked out about prospective job prospectives before. I thought we were moving to the East Coast and started looking at apartment prices, then California, more East Coast.  For a long time I was so sure we'd be going to Europe.  I look up jobs, housing, how people dress. It's just a coping mechanism, though, I don't get my feelings hurt.

Because he never actually applied anywhere.  I hope this is his slumpbuster and it gives him some renewed confidence.  It's hard to see the person you love and admire start to burn out.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Who am I? How do I live?

I usually skip over feminism topics that include the word "anarchy", but this one really made me think in terms of how I saw myself in a relationship, especially when discussing control issues.  Feminism and Anarchy, a guest post on the From Austin to A&M blog, talks about the gentle coercion that happens in even the best relationships between men and women:
 Power makes property out of its object, and, in our society, women are still claimed every day without irony. As much as the poor are demonized and brushed aside, women are just as keenly judged, sought out, or pushed aside as either necessary, desirable, or neither. The laborer seeks out an equal contract with an employer with just as much disillusionment as a woman that seeks out an equal understanding with a potential partner. Regardless of each entity's mien, once behind closed doors, gentle social manipulation turns into emotional and physical coercion. Companies and employers are no more gentle with their workers than are men and women that have "won their prize" and then seek to use it for their lifelong benefit without equal consideration.
I am absolutely not saying I am a victim of physic or emotional coercion by my spouse.  He's fucking fantastic.  But do I sometimes get the niggling feeling that we both have subconscious leanings towards certain thoughts and behaviors that make true equality impossible? Yes.  That's the "gentle social manipulation" that makes me more likely to clean things up and him more likely to sit on the couch surfing on his computer while I run around.  But I can't fight it and sit down too. I'm programmed for service, in a way. And that's fucking weird.  Does he take advantage of that?  I don't think he does consciously.  But he also hasn't changed his patterns much after many many talks about equity in duties at home. 

That has changed, but not at a rate you'd expect when you tell someone that it gives you major emotional pain to think of yourself as a housewife.  Identity problems.  Depression.  I am too quick to get back in line and start the cycle all over again after these conversations, because I was raised to do all these things.  And he was raised not to see a problem.

I want to make all of this right now, when we're still on equal footing in a town we've lived in for a while.  I don't want these issues to be extra weight when we're moving to wherever he gets a job after school. To the place where I might not have a job yet, no friends, no identity.  It's going to be more important than ever.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

I need voices of other trailing spouses!

Most of the blogs I've found that focus on trailing (I wish there was a different term) are now defunct.  The most commentary I've found was in the comments on the Broadsheet article.  It was good to see that men were commenting on being the TS.  I was really surprised this topic didn't already have 20 successful blogs.

One of the things that stick in my craw is that it seems like I'm forgoing my own identity to follow my spouse. Here's where my gender-neutrality is going to bust.  I'm a lady.  A lady who said she'd never change her name or be under anyone's thumb.  And though I love my spouse and am genuinely excited about the prospect of a new place, I feel like I've slowly slid into a traditional role and can't get out. I am angry at myself for not having a career that would give me some power in this.  I know that trying to both get jobs with advanced degrees would make this harder, but I am mad at myself for being so easy and directionless and way too good at keeping a house.

I was fucking raised to clean and cook and manage a home.  I can't not do it. I can't not clean up a mess or finish a project.  I can't just wait until 8pm and glance in the fridge and throw something together.  I do all the meal planning and grocery shopping, much of the cooking, much of the cleanup.  Dishes are pretty equal between us, but I'm the one mopping up the counters and making sure nothing is growing in the fridge. All the little details that really do matter, but that he never sees.  It probably doesn't help that my mom also passed down some control issues to me.  Don't get me started on towel-folding.  I'm making major progress in that area, actually.

I have an image of my spouse in a wood-paneled room with academics, sniffing brandy and all that "man talk" jazz.  And then I see me in the living room or kitchen talking to all the wives.  Why do I always assume that the academics are men?  My spouse's field is very man-heavy.  Which could still mean some men in the kitchen with me.  I do not dislike women! I just dislike the idea of being known as "the wife of an academic" and him being known as "an academic".  I don't want that life.  I want to be me.

In a new place, my social contacts will, at first, be primarily people I meet through him.  I am sure these will be nice people.  But I've been the new kid so many times before, with my parents' friends introducing me to their kids.  Who will I be introduced to now?

I'll just need to introduce myself.

What makes me crazy

is wanting to at one time make a home where I am comfortable and also not wanting to sink my time and energy into building something that I might be asked to demolish soon after.

Sometimes it's hard to convince myself to pull weeds from the garden or do a really good job cleaning the bathroom. But seeing the messes makes me feel so apathetic.

Sometimes I wish I lived in the rooms you see in magazines, with a single lamp on the table and a neat bookshelf. Maybe a pair of slippers by the bed. This is when I start throwing/giving shit away. How it is that I still have things after years of these fits and starts?

Internet Anonymity? Well, hi Internet.

I haven't written a blog in a long time, and it's been quite a while since I seriously felt important enough for some free bandwidth. I'd like to hope I'm anonymous, as some of the things I'd like to talk about on this blog might hurt some people's feelings.

It does feel good to do this.

I am 27, and I hold a bachelor degree in a liberal art. It is somewhat worthless, but I have a job that pays well and doesn't put me in danger. On a day like today, I really should be so thankful for the air conditioning. I got married some years ago, and my spouse is in grad school. Ze(I'll attempt to stay gender-neutral*) are very close to finishing up a PhD and already looking for jobs. This blog is about being the one without a career path yet, married to one on zes way.

For the past few years, I've been in a limbo waiting to see if I'd be here for a while, or moving on. This limbo has caused me to make excuses about not doing things that will take a commitment and feeling resentment against my spouse. I knew what I was getting into when I said I'd follow zem everywhere. But I didn't. This was my first real relationship, one that lasted longer than the initial flares of passion and went into truly getting to know someone territory. But this wasn't a lesson that could be learned by thinking really hard about it. The reality has been hard on me.

When we got married, I was under the impression that ze was almost done. We told our relatives (somewhat jokingly) about moving to another country. My biggest problem in life has always been my fear of asking questions. The questions that would get me where I need to go and let me know where I stand. I guess I never straight-out asked how long this could take, and so I lived for years thinking "I'll be gone in 6 months". I packed boxes every once in a while. I sold boxes of books. I quit a non-work activity because I thought I couldn't commit for the term necessary. I put off looking for a better job, even though the one I had was killing me. For a while I even shied away from making new friends, thinking it wasn't worth the effort.

It wasn't until last year that my facade of faithful sidekick crumbled and I told zem all about how unhappy I was with not knowing. Ze wasn't happy about it either, and my telling zem didn't help. I knew it was my right to talk about my feelings, but I felt horrible that I'd put more pressure on zem than ze already had. (This is my first time writing with these pronouns, and I feel clunky, but I feel it's for the greater good). I had and have a right to be happy and a right to be unhappy. Playing the part of a loyal and uncomplaining spouse was a great way to go crazy. Believe me, I went a little crazy.

Advice for the "trailing" spouse (though this usually refers to a two-career household) is usually not to complain, though this is usually only directed at women. There's some truth to that, but it's only to not complain all the damn time. If you've told zem you're unhappy and why, and try to fix it or ask them to help you fix it, that is totally ok. But if you're letting zem know at every turn that they need to pick up the speed and get done already, that may be edging into some non-productive territory.

So, here I am, at a middling job, with a bachelor's degree in uselessness, married to a wonderful person who really is trying as hard as ze can.

It is a job. And I am thankful for that.

And my degree, while seemingly useless, is a stepping stone and helped me get said job.

And my spouse is my favorite person in the world.

And if I try to write down everything I've thought about for the past three years, this will be a terrible blob of a post and no one will reach the end of it before they perish.

I hope this can be a resource or a voice in the dark for other people, married or not, who need an outlet for the fear and helplessness that this situation can make you feel. I learned that it's totally ok to feel this way, but it's not ok to keep it all inside. If you can talk about it, you can figure a way out. I'm stilling digging myself out of this pit, but I could use some company.

*For a good guide to this, if you care:

[UPDATE 1-8-11] Lots of you are coming here reading this post, but rest assured this was the first one and I've come a long way, including dropping the badly-done gender-neutral pronouns.  Thanks to Drug Monkey for the good press.