Has there ever been a more depressing job title than “Trailing Spouse”? I think not. Perhaps “Dog Doo Scooper in the Park Who Follows Behind Crap Owners” or “Social Worker who finds Children Locked in Basement for Months with Pet Rat and 2 Can of Del Monte Green Beans”. But it is a legitimate title, it’s written in relocation guide books and hand-outs for people who are sent on assignments outside their home country. It is a well-known term in ex-pat circles. But, Good Gravy, the picture it conjures up of just the faintest shadow of a wife or, in many cases these days, a husband, languishing in the dust ten paces behind their uber-successful spouse who is briskly striding across the street into a new and wonderful adventure sporting a Burberry trench, a Blackberry Storm and the complete volume set of the Rosetta Stone on their iPod.
So, if Trailing Spouse it is, then, by God, I am going to be a good one. I don’t quite know what that entails, but I am going to master the necessary skillset, whatever that may be, plus give myself something to do! (More later about scrounging for things to take up time). I am going to drag my trailing butt out of the shadows and try to provide insight and inspiration to Trailing Spouses everywhere! And if not inspiration, perhaps just a list of Things Not To Do. I am usually quite good at screwing things up and I have no reason to believe that aspect has changed just because I switched continents. I will be the guinea pig and the rest of you potential TS’s can benefit from my experiences.
First, though, a word about this whole blog thing. Let me be the first to stand up and say that I don’t have a clue what I am doing. I am so inept with electronic devices that I am scared of my own cell phone. I’m not kidding. When my cell phone rings, a)I have to actually hear it; b)I have to attempt to find it; c)once found, I have to answer it. You think that is easy! Well, I am here to tell you it is not. The durned thing is usually either dead or turned off. The charger is usually in an unknown place, like the clothes hamper. If I am frantically rummaging through the brown pocketbook, the phone is in the black one, or vice versa. Sometimes I find the evil thing dangling from its’ charger in some random place like the guest bedroom. Huh? On the rare occasion when the stars are aligned and the above mentioned points a, b and c all come together, the screen on the front of the phone invariably says “Number Unavailable” or “Caller Unidentified” or some such nonsense. So, I ignore the ringing. It eventually stops, right? Of course, the next time I check my email, there will be a message from one of my children from 8,000 miles away telling me to “PICK UP YR PHONE MOTHER!” Ooops. I am telling you, this whole cell phone thing just traumatizes me. Truly.
So, the blog. I started, out of boredom (one of the hazards of the job title), emailing my friends and family back home about my (mis)adventures during the Great Move from the US to CH (that is Eurospeak for Switzerland). Soon, other people who were not on the email list started emailing ME, asking why they were not on the list, and could I send them the “backlist” dispatches, etc. and the whole thing was just getting completely out of control. Then, I noticed that the people on the list who were under 35-or-so were telling me I should “blog”. I had to look it up. What do I know from blogging? They could have been telling me to do something nasty. You don’t know my friends. That is not outside the realm of possibility. So, I find out it is simply keeping an online diary with pictures. Easy Peasy, Sneezy! So, for five months, I think about doing a blog. Not four, five. Unfortunately, I come to the realization, that I am hemming and hawing because I don’t have a great grasp, (OK, no grasp whatsoever), of the administrative stuff that goes with a blog and it will turn into yet another project that I abandon half way through, like the 400 Swiss franc worth of oil paints currently collecting dust in the upstairs closet, (future blog entry).
I do, however, have one thing going for me. I’ve got a baby sister back in the States who is very internet savvy and who is a stay-at-home Mom and who is addicted to Facebook and all things online. I do not know how much this is going to cost me, possibly a college tuition or two, but it is well worth whatever she eventually charges, (thank God she only has the two kids and my sister is not named Kate Gosselin which could get really expensive), to spare me the angst of making the blog “pretty” or “cool” or “search-worthy” or whatever it is that one does to administer a blog.
To end this little intro, (I know it’s too long already and y’all are saying, “Wrap it up, lady, some of us have actual lives to get back to here”), let me just insert that I learned a thing or two while researching the ins and outs of blogging. Apparently, I am not supposed to reveal my personal info, (married, three grown kids), age, (47), location, (Switzerland), prior location, (South Carolina, USA), so I won’t. Also, I want this to appeal to the widest audience possible, so I am not supposed to get too specific about the trials and tribulations of moving as a Trailing Spouse to one particular place, but since I don’t know anything about being transferred to Moldova or Bangladesh, I will probably not be able to follow that rule very closely. This means that you will, in all likelihood, be subjected to more pictures of the Alps than you can stand as well as the recipe for authentic fondue. You will also have to join me in a never-ending search for things that I miss from home like Goo Gone, but if you are an ex-pat from the UK or Australia you can just substitute “Colman’s Mustard” or “Vegemite” or whatever you are pining away for in place of my Goo Gone and then we will be right back on track! One thing I do promise, this is not going to be a downer blog with a bunch of rants and whines. It’s going to be a survivor blog as I strive to be Trailing Spouse of the Year. (I just made that up, I don’t think there really is such a thing). Enjoy the pix.