Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Old Neighborhood

This is the coldest day of fall this year.  So cold, that I actually wore my long johns*. This was an excellent decision, because after work today I'm helping a new friend with a class assignment.  She is supposed to walk around with someone in a place that is very familiar to them, and ask questions about their memories and emotions associated with specific places.  I lived in a few places very close to my workplace back in my single days, so we'll just meet at 5pm and take off.  I was nervous at first trying to choose the proper place, thinking I had to choose a location that afforded me a steady stream of stories.  Luckily she will ask me questions and get the ball rolling.  Otherwise it was bound to be an awkward tour of places I got drunk.

The white line is the shoe polish boundary between me and my girlfriend's apartments.
We decided to spice up apartment life by starting an old-timey feud.
Yeah, the apartment manager didn't like it either.

After that I am going to blow some cash at the craft store and try to realize some more of my tiny sculptures.  I took a large pad of yellowed paper from work (it was old!) and drew lots of ideas while watching Fringe.  Can I make a diorama of Saturn and its 63 moons?  I'll at least try!  A tiny hill covered in pea vines leading down to a mysterious cave?  A cake exploding with birds?  A trash-filled park?  Winter is such a good time for sitting still and having ideas.  I tried to go to bed three times because I kept jumping up to write stuff down.  At one point I shushed my husband quite harshly because I was trying to hold onto a very fleeting idea.

He's doing his thing, letters will go out soon, and I am focusing on things that are mine and mine only and can travel anywhere.  I hope wherever we go has decent craft supplies.  A.B. must have a steady supply of mini stags and decorative jars!

*I have always hated long johns.

Monday, November 29, 2010

The results are in! Down with Trailing, Up with Traveling!

The results of my highly scientific and well-read poll are in:

First Place: Traveling Spouse
Second Place: Sidecar
Honorable Mention: Accompanying Spouse

Granted, there were only 9 votes.  I've now changed my blog title. Unfortunately, "trailing spouse" is still the go-to keyword in searches.

Good news too!  My husband wrote three letters to researches in his field, and is having his advisor help him fine-tune them.  That means this week, there will the THREE irons in our fire, and I am so happy about it.  He seems way more upbeat than usual, and that makes the whole house brighter.  Where, you may ask? Well, I won't get too specific, but France, Wisconsin and Ohio.  I've only been to one of these places, and it was at a rest stop (no, it wasn't France).

My boss is gone the first two days of this week, and though that may seem like time to drool on my keyboard, I got a few hours of major stuff done this morning.  I'm hoping to have enough stuff done while she's gone to make her ok with the fact that she had to come back.

Only two days left in November! December is my birthday month, as well as my father's. I make a big to-do about my birthday.  My excuse is that so many people don't care about their birthday, so their latent birthday excitement is pulled into mine by it's strong gravitational pull.  I've got a dress to wear, but for some reason beyond me my heart is asking for a tiara.  I am going to honor that need.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Windy day, stayed indoors.

For the first time on this glorious 4-day holiday, we got up before 10am, which gave us time to watch an episode of Fringe (our new obsession) and me a whole lotta day to do crafts.  Here's my workspace:

My workspace/dining room table.

I started off wanting to visualize my idea for fabric sculpture: specifically, a fake terrarium.  A friend and I tried our hands at mini moss gardens, but couldn't keep them alive.  I decided to make one that wouldn't die.  Unfortunately, I think my moss (green velvet) is too dark.  Looks a bit drab.

My wire-sculpture skills suck, so I thought I'd try my almost non-existent soldering expertise.  Did you know that soldering is not the same as welding, no matter how much you try?  I ended up with little bits of wire with what looked like garden bells on the ends.  Very industrial Dr. Seuss (see last two pics).  Verdict: they'll make a good addition to more abstract pieces, and I didn't burn myself on my iron.

After inhaling traces of metal, I tried to make some tiny flowers from fabric, but for some reason I had chosen felt.  As soon as I tried to cut the small 4-petal flowers, everything was fraying.  So, I painted the uncut pieces lightly with Modge Podge to see if that would toughen them enough to keep together.  Still haven't checked on that project.

An old favorite: frightened broccoli. Next to that are some sweet pea tendrils and a little snake.
I'd made a pea pod ornament before, so I took it to the next level: super tiny.  The picture below shows them at about 5X actual size. Each pea is about 1/3 the size of a black peppercorn.  The flowers you can sort of see are attached to small dressmaker's pins.  I'm not so proud of those.

Pea pods
I tried working with the felt some more, sewing little flowers together (look like pansies maybe?) and tried to make sweet pea blossoms from clay.  Those are hard!  I found some solutions to making the stems by wrapping thread around the wire, french staircase-style.  Takes a while, but I think it will work.

Good thing to know: baking Sculpey at 275F will not cause bits of thread to combust in your oven.  Success!

The first of my earnest xmas crafts.  Fabric terrariums.  I knew I'd use those miniature stags I just HAD TO HAVE one day!

I think this one is for my sister-in-law.  I think she likes stags, definitely silver, looks creepy/pretty. Perfect!  I tried to stain the inside of the jar a lightish transparent blue, but I don't know if it will work in the long run.  Originally, there was a tiny turtle in place of the stag.  Why did I change it?  I must have gotten distracted, knocked off the tiny turtle, and remembered buying a packet of tiny deer at a yard sale.  It always feels great when you find a use for something you were pretty sure would be useless.

My rustic/rusty windowsill
Next, I'll see how I will arrange the pea pods.  I may go find some pretty twigs and make a bean bower, like in a garden, and attach the pods to wires, scatter lone peas on the ground.  Have I found my calling?

[Update: I gave the dog a bath.  I bet you were wondering.]

"Where you go, I will go"

If I'd have been drinking while reading this e-book I just downloaded, my keyboard would be fried.  I turned up Veenstrateam.com in a search for "trailing spouse" on twitter, and found an e-book called We're moving where? ...Surviving Life as a Trailing Spouse.   From the cover, I am guessing this book may be a little outdated:

They are moving to a place where they cannot buy edible eyewear! Or turtlenecks!  It is also (and not to offend religious people, it was surprising) slanted towards "Godly career women" of the Christian faith.  I had no idea, I thought it was just a Kalamazoo real estate website!
Godly business women know that if their husbands’ job transfers are in God’s will, then they will follow Ruth’s example and say, “Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay” (Ruth 1:16). Yet faith never comes without risk, and leaving a successful career behind to become a “trailing spouse” is always a step of faith.
I had to sign up for a download and get to it through my email, so hopefully I don't have a bunch of Kalamazoo spam.  But you know what?  Maybe I'll look through it and see if there are any helpful tidbits I can share.  Love that jacket, Ruth.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Things I Make: An Introduction

tiny robots

bird eggs of Arkansas bracelet

shrinky-dink necklace for SARPA fundraiser

birthday decorations for a friend

KISS angel

cherry hat

Friday, November 26, 2010

Eff this anonymity noise. I'm Amy.

In one of my first posts, I wrote
"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.  ....Who will I be introduced to now?  I'll just need to introduce myself."
Who was I kidding? I can't imagine meeting people this way.   I've made a plan to go to a karaoke bar within one week of moving into town and sing something horribly dramatic and thus cement my new identity.  Then I will sign up for a book club at the library, chat up people in grocery store lines, and THEN I'll meet up with whoever is assigned to show me around.  People, I am not demur.

My name is Amy, I work in a library, and I live in Arkansas.  Margarita at Global Coach Center suggested I look at the pros and cons of my need for anonymity, and the more I thought about keeping something that has become so important to me from my spouse, I started to feel downright guilty!  I share every success with him, so it felt pretty weird not to tell him about my blog.

Tonight, after we got back from our Thanksgiving with his parents, and maybe after too many truthful discussions on the ride back, I told him I needed to tell him a secret.  He looked a little frightened, but let out a sigh when I told him I had an anonymous blog where I kvetched about work problems and tried to sort though my issues with moving.  I asked him, "Haven't you noticed me being secretive about my internet activities?" and he said he just thought I was writing emails.  Such a trusting spouse! Good thing he's a physicist and not a detective.

I told him I'm going to go back through my posts and make sure I didn't say anything I'd regret.  Though I try to make this a constructive space, I have had some bad days.  He says he doesn't have to know the name of my blog, and he won't read it if I don't want him to.  That kind of attitude and trust makes me feel comfortable letting him.  I really am so, so lucky.

Some details may have to be edited to protect my husband's job prospects, but I'm looking forward sharing some more specific details than I have in the past.  I can finally post pictures of the awesome costumes we made at Halloween, and I won't have to worry about "getting found out". It really was kind of self-centered to think that in the entire internet, without actually knowing I was writing, he would stumble upon this and say, "What the heck??"

So, thanks to everyone who is reading and commenting, and I hope the addition of more specific details about my life will be helpful and not obnoxious.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Why does the trailing/ following/ accompanying/ traveling situation even need a name?

Alanpaul*, from the comments of Traveling Spouse!:

I don't see why we can't just say husband or wife. If one spouse works and the other does not in an on-expat setting, they don't need to be differentiated to this degree. 

"Trailing spouse" is absolutely a horrid term.  I've just already renamed my blog twice, and it took me a long time on the internet to even find that one term, so horrid as it is, it's a keyword beacon for other frustrated souls.

I think there's more problems in not naming it.  Before I came across these terms, I felt very alone that had all these thoughts/feelings about my identity if I leave my job/town and go somewhere with my spouse once he gets his post-doc job.  Once I found the term "trailing spouse", even after recoiling at the name, it felt good to know that I wasn't imagining things.  Like when I found out "lie bumps" were just inflamed taste buds, not tongue cancer.

If there's not a word for it, and it's mostly women who are in this position then we're implicitly saying that it's just a normal female role.  "Why give it a name? Isn't that what you're supposed to do?" And even though the "you" in this situation could be male or female, if it was mostly men, there'd be less demeaning name.

Betty Friedan opened the door for a more comprehensive vocabulary about these issues in The Feminine Mystique, where she wrote about "The Problem That Has No Name" (women's ennui with traditional feminine roles).  Hello Feminism!  I can't imagine what it felt like to read those words back in the 60s.  As a twenty-something in 2010, I am conscious of the long road we still have to travel as women, but cannot even pretend to know what it was like for my grandmothers, or my mother.  And I thank them for saving me from those experiences.  And so, when I hear that differentiation isn't necessary, I would rather err on the side of too many names than not enough.

I hope this post doesn't come off as too aggressive, but I am a fan of words, and an obnoxious baby feminist to boot. I'm sure reading one or two posts made that last point obvious.  I still can't believe anyone is even reading this.

*I've linked to a post he wrote about his work/life/marriage situation.  Good to hear from a male perspective on this!  He is now on my blog roll! (and I know he's just thrilled).

How secret are my confessions?

This is a problem I'm sure all anonymous bloggers have: how anonymous am I? Who is that I don't want reading this?  Am I writing something I should be ashamed of if caught?

In my case, I would not like my husband reading this.  The anonymity makes it easier for me to get my feelings out.  Plus, since my name is not associated with the writing, I can use this as a therapeutic tool and not worry about the quality of the writing as much.  Attaching my name would give me instant writer's block.

In the beginning, when I was getting my head together and figuring out this new vocabulary, I said negative things about our situation.  But I also mention frequently that my husband is my best friend and a fantastic person. This blog is my outlet, and it keeps me from being mean to him when I'm feeling down.  So, does that cancel out the meanness in my posts?

I'd be heartbroken if he found this and felt bad (especially over issues we've worked through).  People have started commenting, and I feel like this blog may be accomplishing its purpose-- I wish I could tell him about it!  On some down days, people's comments have really perked me up and made me feel like, at least online, I am a positive force.  But I can't just say, "Hey, I started a blog, you can't read it, but it's a good thing".  It's natural to have some little secrets for yourself, but that's an implicit rule.  It defeats the purpose to tell your significant other, "I have a big secret I can't tell you!" and leave it.  

But it is also hard to keep it anonymous.  I do things I'm proud of, that I'd like to include in my blog.  I write about possibly losing my identity? I can't even talk about that identity!  I'm afraid he'll connect me to this, or vice versa.  Luckily, he hasn't seemed to interested in "trailing spouse" issues or reading any of Robin Pascoe's books (though I've suggested he might peruse one)*.  I started finding resources for this blog by reading lots of new scientist blogs, and we've started to overlap a little on that.  But what are the odds?

Other anonymous bloggers who came out, what made you finally do it?  

Deep down, I don't want to keep this a secret from him. Truthfully, I'd like secrets a whole lot better if you didn't have to keep them to yourself.  I'm not terribly mysterious.

*Why am I always reading little books here and there about relationship issues and he isn't? Blargh.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


I have to work tomorrow, but the boss won't be there, so I'll be working.  No, seriously, I will be able to get  some good work done without lots of people and hostility to distract me.  And some friends have promised to come by and be silly.

We just had drinks and holiday snacks with friends at a bar, and I'm nicely lubed for the fall break.  I'm slugging water right now in an attempt to not be damaged for work tomorrow.  I can hear my husband in the back yard playing with the dogs and finalizing food plans on the phone with his mom.  It's not too cold here, we got a little tiny (real) Christmas tree, and things seem really good.  I'm gonna finish this water and pack a little bag for our trip.  I am genuinely happy.
My boss may be cursing out loud in her office, but we've got a holiday coming up, and my husband is officially done with research and in THESIS MODE!!!1!!!!!1111!!!! :)))))))))))  He will be writing, not doing any crazy new things for his advisor, just working on getting done!

But hopefully, he is not feeling like this:

PhD Comics

Monday, November 22, 2010

Address change?

I'm thinking about changing my blog url to travelingspouseconfessions.blogspot.com, but I don't know if that'll mess things up. Anyone else have experience changing their blogger address? What precautions should I take?

Is this a lady problem?

You know you have a problem, but no words to describe it.  Time goes by, and you tell yourself it's all in your head.  Then, when someone else says they have the same problem, thus validating it, you feel better! The problem is still there, but now you know you're not crazy.  This is for all the commenters who have assured me I"m not crazy. And I do feel a whole lot better.

Now I just need to find more blogs about domestic movers!  If I drop everything to follow my husband to Iowa, it's not quite the same as going to Borneo or something. At least with an international move, I'll have an air of worldliness and perhaps a new language.  No offense to Iowa, but you understand?  You take away the glamor of international travel (yeah, yeah, I'm reading all about that glamor) and it's just me schlepping around without a job.  Help prove me wrong! Where are you guys?

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Traveling Spouse!

It was staring us in the face!  You're always an accompanying spouse (they are too), a trailing spouse sounds fucking dreary, but if you are going from one place to another, you are a TRAVELING SPOUSE. What bad connotations does that have?  I just started reading Robin Pascoe's Culture Shock this morning, and when she said "traveling wife", it just clicked (after crossing out "wife" and adding in "spouse").

I'm reading the 1992 version, and though there's a 2000 edition, I am still amazed that in this day and age, wives are still the majority in traveling "with".  What is with this frigging world?  I know I'd still have issues with my situation, but if it wasn't so common for the woman to be accompanying, I think I'd feel less neurotic about it.  Let's all take a moment and hope/pray really hard that our children/our friends' children will have to look back on us and wonder why we were all so weird, divided and unequal.  I want them to squint in frustration trying to understand the things we did and the world we had to live through.

But, anyway, I am happy with traveling spouse.  But should we take a poll?  I've added one on the right, so have at it.  Hopefully there are as many readers as there are choices.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Unspecific Saturday

I wish I could write about the specifics of my incredibly productive Saturday, but that'd be writing my full name.  Let's just say it was the good kind of cooking (fun stuff) and the good kind of cleaning (re-arranging, pitching).  Sadly, the week did not end with any letters written, so I was a little more irked than usual when the husband piddled on the internet this morning.  I tried to prod him out the door and got the usual, "But I want to spend this time with you!"  I told him he was spending time with his RSS feed, and to scoot.  Luckily, he's been gone for hours, I've gotten lots done, and we have definite plans tonight with no end-time.

I got really sad one day last week, trying to get a friend to do something with me, but everyone was busy.  I get sad about this sometimes and have to remind myself that adult life just doesn't include as much free time.  But what really got me a little choked up was how hard it would be to find someone to do things with when I knew nobody.  I know everyone here, I know where everything is.  I get huge satisfaction in being a sometimes-maven and always knowing where someone can get anything.  I'm a connector.  I will lose all of that soon.  Meaning, if I'm not careful, I could lose my identity.

Too melodramatic?

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

"Trailing Spouse" and "Resentment"

Those are the search terms that are raking in all my page views! That's kind of sad, but heck, maybe I'm helping?

We had a good talk last night about who he was going to write to first, and he told me about a researcher he'd never mentioned before, in a town he'd never really set down as something he wanted to do. But he was genuinely interested in working with this person, had met them, told me about the town. It started sounding good-- really good, especially since he looked happy about it.  It's a city! I've never lived in a real city. And it's one that is affordable. The new wardrobe may come into play.

I started reading Diplomatic Baggage by Brigid Keenan yesterday.  No, I'm not the spouse of a diplomat, but we've got some of the same issues. Ok, I have not been the editor of a popular newsmagazine in England, but I'm not just lolling about.  Luckily, it's really funny.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Jobs Update

Semper Augustus - Virus Tulip!

The spouse should be sending out some letters this week.  I am trying not to hold my breath.

We're working on next semester's schedule, and I keep wondering if I'll be here when our hours change from Spring to Summer.  It would have been best to leave now-ish, as all the employees are good 'n trained, and my boss would have a semester and a summer to find, train and establish someone before the blitz of next August.  Summer isn't a good time to come in, because it's slow and you get no experience.  But that's when I came in, and I did an OK job during that first crazy season.

Should I plant more bulbs for the spring? Yes.

Your work-Our life Balance

I realize that it is hard for my husband to have to make decisions between being a good husband and being a good grad student.  I don't think he's having trouble being a good husband (it's the latter I worry about sometimes).   I need to tell him more often what a good job he's doing being my best friend and husband.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Foot in Mouth Disease

[Rant warning-- sometimes these things need to come out]

You don't have time? Then why are you hanging out with me?  File this under graduate student marital difficulties.  Maybe I'm over-reacting, but when we're out having a good time, don't start jawing about how you should have come home sooner on the car ride back.  It makes me feel like 1) you didn't want to go in the first place (remember it was your idea, though), 2) I'm the reason you're not getting enough work done, 3) you don't have the gumption to speak up for your own time line and feel it's easier to make it seem like my fault.

It isn't.

I was under the impression that I was making a lot of choices that benefit my spouse and his future career, and that he could figure his own schedule out.  If he doesn't have time to go out, a date, come home for dinner, go grocery shopping, he should say something before instead of after the fact.  It's even worse when we were having a really good time out, and that retro-actively ruins it all. I have been planning my life around this person and he won't take responsibility for his daily schedule? Really?

This is something that has happened before.  Maybe you've gotten this impression from my blog, but I don't keep things bottled up and speak up if someone is doing me wrong.  I don't let things explode.  Since we've had this discussion before, I wish he would just realize that responding to me in a hurt voice when I'm speaking my mind at a normal inside-voice level makes me feel like some kind of monster. A monster who is working a job she hates and has her life pretty much on hold so he can pursue his dreams.  I am so scary!

I'd rather he just spend much less time with me, and save up the time he REALLY has to spend doing it in earnest, not worrying the whole time how he's going to catch up. Because that doesn't really count as being there.  Even worse, after these fights* he has to hang around the house until he feels like things are better between us, which makes me insane because the argument started because he needed to get to work. GET OUT OF THE HOUSE THEN.  I know he doesn't want to leave with bad feelings between us, but it makes me nuts!

So, I hope he gets a lot accomplished today, because my Sunday is ruined.

*Luckily, and I realize how lucky I am every day, these are the only things we fight about,  other than some tiffs over cleaning.  He has never raised his voice at me.  Once he looked angry at me, and that made me so sad.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Truth bombs away!

On the London Relocation blog (which I didn't check out initially thinking it was just ads for flats) there's another great post about the need for a new name for trailing spouses, and about the resentment that happens in that strange, topsy-turvy world:

Tackling the first issue is primarily psychological—mind over matter, as they say.  It’s not to say that your concerns aren’t legitimate and you shouldn’t assert your viewpoints to ensure your side is understood and that your spouse will similarly make concessions to maintain the balance of power in the relationship.  However, it’s also imperative to recognize when maybe your side is understood and your spouse will and does make concessions, in which case the problem may rest largely in your mind, so requires a shift in outlook.
I put this in big because it's really important. Now, there probably are horrid power imbalances in some relationships, but if you've got a good one now, you can probably have a good one when things get crazy.  In my case, this is true. I've got a feminist husband. He's worth like, 20,000 heads of cattle. And 10 Cadillacs. But do I get some resentment brewing my head about this? Oh, hell yeah. Luckily I spotted it before it was too late.  Thank you blog, ye olde time-suck and navel-gazing cure-all.

Trailer Trash, and a need for better vocabulary

Am I a sidecar?

No, I never liked the term trailing spouse, but I was damned glad to find there was a word for what I was stepping into.  The Smart Expat has a post about a friend who referred to herself as "trailer trash", a cheeky reference to the limiting (and ill-fitting) trailing spouse.   "Accompanying spouse" was suggested, but damn if that doesn't strangle the tongue. It's hard to find a word that properly respects but describes that position. Why is it so hard to make it sound important, necessary and incredibly complicated?  Probably because all the things a TS does in the move is typically considered women's work.  And even though this refers to the complicated business of setting up a new home base, it isn't respected as it should be. (Look at the salaries of child care workers and teachers, and tell me this world ain't a little screwed.)  If crazy people hadn't coined it, I'd say "help meet" was a good term, but it gives me the shivers.

Trailing spouse seems like a grim self-fulfilling prophecy, wherein you start to drag behind and lose your identity because that's what you're calling yourself.  Because your title doesn't imply independence or acknowledge what you do, only what you're following behind.  This is why words are so important.  Words can totally hurt people, or give them the idea that they aren't held to high expectations (I feel this every time someone says "girl" when they mean "woman").

We need something that implies a parallel partnership.  I wish sidecar didn't sound so damn ridiculous, because I kind of love it.

 Les Vins Georges Duboeuf (This is not us)

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Calling all Trailing Spouses!

I checked out my blog stats, and it looks like people from other countries are reading this. Neat! I don't know if they are trailing spouses from these places, or expats.  Either way, we are in the same boat. Please comment, or let me know if you'd like to do a guest post.  The more voices, the more support.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Girl-crush revealed: Courtney and Adrienne of From Austin to A&M

My definition of girl-crush is less "have my babies" and more "I wanna try your clothes on".   From Austin to A&M is about being a transplanted grad student (somewhat pertinent to my interests) and about what happens after you lose your bullshit filter and can't stop seeing the madness around you.  These ladies pierce my heart with the intensity of their what-the-fuck-ness.  The latest post was about a highly anticipated AMC show about zombies totally failing the Bechdel Test*, before that a light skewering of the university paper.  I think I found this blog through Feministe, and it was just at a time when I needed a little feminist voice on sci-fi.  Really good criticism of misogyny in geek culture, which is really good to hear articulated because it's super confusing and upsetting.  From Austin to A&M reminds me of my first real adult female friend, who tried to instill some boy-sense into me before my freshman year of college, got me into cool music, and made me feel better by telling me that no, Virginia, this is not a post-feminist world.

*Be careful with the Bechdel Test. It may ruin your world (at least your movie/TV watching world).

Frustration: Somewhat satisfied!

Photo by Joeywan on Flickr
I had that drink, and I re-directed my ire.  I talked to a friend, who had read my blog (support is really all I'm going for) and she bought me a beer, heard me out on my frustration and sent me home in a much better frame of mind. AND she is web-savvy and told me how to better optimize the blog so people can find it.  I felt kind of weird trying to wiggle my way closer to the top of Google searches, but when I needed support from other trailing spouse blogs, most of what I found were dead sites.  Maybe there are more out there, just not visible?

I probably wouldn't have any readers if The Notorious PhD, Girl Scholar hadn't posted my question about trailing spouse blogs on her own site.  I had sent an email, and she just posted the whole thing!  I felt absolutely loved that day, and it really inspired me to keep going when not many people could pinpoint resources.  Since then, I've started reading a lot of academic blogs by female scientists, since they deal with the career and focus on their work-life balance, gender issues and are generally safe places to comment.

Here's my list of people who have been helping me get through my days, whether they know it or not:

The Notorious PhD, Girl Scholar
Canadian GirlPostdoc in America
Female Science Professor
The Two-Body Problem
A Natural Scientist
Academic Jungle

Through these women I've learned more about what my husband is going through/will go through, how ladies have to navigate the world differently, and what all these acronyms stand for.

The wine glass pictured not only describes my after-work activity, but that my husband and I actually sat down at a table and had dinner last night.  I did not touch my computer after I got off work. We spent time reading/him in his office (IN HIS OFFICE!) working. Then he made me dinner, and we hung out. The night seemed so much longer. No TV, no internet.  We had a talk about what's going on.  I'll get to more of that later. It was good.

I've fallen off the wagon on some of my new hobbies and pursuits. The GRE did not happen, but only because I didn't see the point of taking a test to go to grad school when I was more interested in a new undergrad major.  The sewing had to take a backseat to the yard sale and Halloween (how I wish I could post pictures of our costumes!) but I was plateauing a little anyhow.  I need to do some independent practice before I start throwing out $20 each week.  We came into some free musical instruments, which means we lost a room to that pursuit.  Running/yoga has also been sitting in the backseat (it's really roomy back there).  Now that the house is empty/clean again, I don't know what I'll do.  Registration for Spring classes starts soon, so maybe I'll do something new.  Or just sit around in my empty/clean house and read.  Maybe do some work today?

Monday, November 1, 2010

Test post

I finally realized I didn't have any meta tags, so maybe there was someone like me out there looking for a blog like this, but they couldn't find it!  Hopefully I am now another light in the darkness.

[Edit] My blog still doesn't come up when typing the words "trailing spouse", blog, academia, marriage, etc.  I mean, not even in the first 15 pages. I'm not looking to be famous, but I'd like to be visible if someone is looking for this exact resource. Anyone out there know what I'm doing wrong? I followed the instructions for adding meta tags to my basic post template. I don't know if it's retroactive, so that's why I did the test post.

And here's some animated cat crap, because otherwise this is a very dreary blog:

Jobs/Applications/Rejections/Moving Update

No news yet. The application to NewTownX hasn't been sent, as the husband is waiting to finish a paper with his adviser and get it published. (Sometimes I doubt the existence of this paper .)  And once that paper is done, he'll send letters to the people in his field who are more likely to have jobs for him.  We've talked about the places we might go, but I can't let myself get too excited until I see an application.  Proof of an application, or intent. My google alerts for keywords in his field are starting to annoy me.  He has sent in one application, but that was rejected three months ago. I almost wish he'd just lie to me, sometimes. I am not as patient as I wish I could be.

What will my 2:30 feel like? The second shift and my ABD

I wanted to start this post with a horrible commercial that pops up on Hulu: 5-hour Energy. The "busy moms" version to be specific.  I hate the commercials for obvious reasons (they're commercials) but this one rubs my eyebrows the wrong way.  The woman gets home from work with grocery bags, and says she needs energy for her second job (kids, home, husband).  Her husband has suggested she take energy shots to stay peppy, and we see him sitting on the couch reading the paper (ostensibly after work also?).  Does he have a second job? It doesn't look like it. Why does she have a second job and he's maxin' and relaxin'?

The Husband is thinking about not teaching a class next semester, in order to focus on his thesis.  Excellent! He is ABD (all but dissertation). Though this will be the first time he's ever done this, so I'm horrified at the great expanses of time ahead of him.  Do I love him? Do I admire him? Do I believe in him? Yes, yes and yes. Do I believe he is incredibly susceptible to the call of the internet, Oh Great Time Suck? Big yes.  He is on his laptop from the time he gets up till the time he goes to bed. Now that he has an iPhone, he reads his news in bed*.  I'm looking around on the internet for the program that locks you out of your favorite sites for blocks of time, but I can't summon the proper keywords. Hell, I could use it too.

WARNING: Rant alert!

He wastes so much time on the internet! He claims he is looking at his RSS to see if jobs have popped up, but it really looks like he's reading the Times or webcomics or some other completely non-job/science related piece of animated cat crap**.  On the days where I can fully take care of the house and he can go off and focus solely on his work, I still have to shove him out of the house and tell him to stop reading LifeHacker.  And he acts hurt when I do this.  The truth is, he has tried to blame me for him not getting enough work done, and I say BULLSHIT to that.  That has hurt my feelings more than anything he has ever done to me.***  So when I make him breakfast, tell him I'll take care of things at home, even sometimes offer to make him a little lunch so he doesn't have to interrupt his writing and he is still futzing on the internet and acting slighted when I tell him he really needs to get going, it drives me insane.  I start thinking I am overreacting. When really I just want to get the hell out of this town, my shitty job, and any chance he has to think that I am the one who is holding all this up.  Hello? I'm holding someone's life up? I'm in the way? Oh no you didn't.

/end rant

Him not teaching means no income on his side.  He has considerable savings, so we won't go poor, but I'll still be the only one bringing in income.  He'll be completely at his own leisure to get things done, and I'll still be working my two jobs and shouldered with the responsibility for income.  He'll be sipping coffee all day and I'll still be coming home to cleaning.  I'm getting upset just writing about this.

I need to talk to him. Like, tonight. We need to figure out how long he can do this. I'm saying a semester, and then we'd better be out of here.  He'll need to make hours for himself, and he will need to make a schedule for working and not surf.  He doesn't need to make our living room couch his office, because that is my space too.  If he is working, he needs to be somewhere he can close a door.  If he is not working, he needs to spend less time on the internet in the first place.  Mostly because if he is not working, he really should be helping out around the house more.

For myself, I am going to stop using the internet so much at home. I'm going to clear a space for my laptop, put it there and turn it off.  We are eating at the table, no more struggling to find something good to watch during meals and settling with Running Wilde. That's a really terrible show, which is a shame.  I need to re-direct the white-hot ire I am feeling right now from my husband (who really is my favorite person in the world) to the internet.  So I don't go home and smash his computer and lock him in a room.

I am going to get a drink first, though.

*Not allowed to use the iPhone in bed unless we're doing something together. It's distracting for me to have that stuff in the bedroom. It's where I sleep!
**Ok, I love that stuff. But in its place.
***He never hurts my feelings, so I guess it's not really that bad.