Several people have asked me what I intend to do with this blog now that we are out of the Foreign Service. The FSO’s last official day on the job was September 30, so now we really are out. I’m thinking about where I want to go with WTWD. But meanwhile, a little update from the Other Side.
The Last Day Ever passed with barely a ripple. The FSO had been in the Job Search Seminar for the previous month. This is a period in which FSOs are paid to go out and find a new job, while having access to resumé coaching and other resources. In truth, I think it’s more a debriefing and decompression period for them. Leaving an all-consuming career like the Foreign Service is a delicate process at any age.
However, the Job Search seminar along with the preceding Retirement Seminar, are largely geared to people who are at least ten years older than we are. So, that was kind of weird. We are not so much “retiring” as “departing.” How to stay busy during retirement is not something we are terribly worried about: my husband because he is planning to work for another decade or so, and myself because I’m pretty much used to it!
A spouses-only session was held during the job search seminar. I foolishly thought it would be about searching for jobs. Again, because most people were a lot older than we are, that was not the case. It was about staying busy in retirement—while not killing your newly retired spouse. OK, that may be a slight exaggeration. But it wasn’t entirely not about that.
I do see more of my husband these days. Right now, that’s a good thing. The last few years have been incredibly hectic and the last tour, unsustainable. We needed a break. The goal for the Other Side is to find a better balance. I think we’ll accomplish that.
Meanwhile, we’re getting a little trial run for retirement. I have some wisdom to offer on that subject, having been underemployed for decades. Get dressed. Get busy. Schedule things. Go for a walk. Join a gym. Volunteer. He listens. This is a good sign. I probably won’t have to kill him. 🙂
We are both job-hunting. Again. But with some welcome changes. No bid lists! No researching posts! As far as I am concerned he can do whatever he likes. I have only one requirement: we stay in the DC area. Because I am unpacked now. House and yard projects are well underway. I’ve even planted trees.
The job hunt has changed. But one thing has not changed: he is looking for full-time, while I am looking for part-time. One reason is that he clearly has much better earning potential than I do. Does that bother me? A little. But it is what it is. I can’t change my resumé now.
I honestly prefer working part-time if I can get away with it. I may end up with two or three different gigs at once. I always have a lot of projects going on, and I go a little nuts sitting at a desk all day. If having variety and physical activity in my life means that I’m in charge of laundry and getting dinner on the table, that’s a bargain I can easily live with.
Coming home was easier than transferring to another country. We know how things work here. Most things are the same. The usual moving craziness aside, the stress level is unquestionably lower. I am mentally and physically healthier than I have been for some time. I love being able to get outdoors more, and I certainly do not miss Warsaw’s smog.
Our little blue corner of America doesn’t feel like it has changed much. It still seems pretty sane to me. But, watching the news, I feel more or less like I did for the last year in Warsaw: that I am viewing a slow-motion train wreck from a distance. I feel that I am helpless to change the situation. It isn’t entirely rational, I know, and it certainly hasn’t kept me from donating, emailing, texting and voting, but I’m just putting it out there. Existential dread is the new normal.
I hope that I will never have to move again unless I really want to. But, I am thankful that both my kids have potential opportunities to live abroad. I am also thankful that we will have the mad expat skillz to follow them should things get really bad in the States.
I put those thoughts in a safe place and keep them there. Just in case. Meanwhile, I keep watering my new trees, putting down roots and hoping they’ll take.