Sunday, December 26, 2010

"Whatever will your husband do while you are gone?"

My invite came on Monday the 20th.  It was all very exciting.  I had been expecting a knock on the door at any time because I thought I would have to sign for the invite.  By 6:00, I was giving up and thinking that it would have to wait until the next day.  Colin got home from work around 6:30 and we decided to run out to the video store after we ate dinner.  When he opened the door, there the package was, sitting on the stoop!  Colin asked if I wanted him to open it and read it to me, but by the time he had finished asking the question, I was tearing the box out of his hand and trying to get it open with my teeth/claws/car keys.  I read the first line and got to the word "Botswana" and screamed.  I was so excited.  Colin even jumped up and down with me to humor me.  He feigns excitement so well.  Then we ran to the video store and I called a bunch of people to tell them the good news.  It was received well by most, but my mother and mother-in-law struggled to be excited.  Lots of "I'm happy that you got what you wanted" and "I'm happy for you, sad for me" type stuff.  My program is HIV/AIDS Community Capacity Building and my job title is Community Capacity Builder.  Staging dates: April 1st to 3rd (in Philadelphia, to my knowledge).  Pre-service training in Botswana: April 1st through June 6th, 2011.  Dates of Service: June 6th, 2011 through June 6th, 2013. 

I read through all of the materials sent and absorbed just about none of it.  I sent my official acceptance email on Wednesday and then started filling out the passport forms, etc.  I also downloaded the Setswana lessons and started freaking out because the language involves clicks and a sound that is described as "the sound that you make when you hawk a lougie".  I almost peed when I saw that, because a. I've never seen the phrase written before and b. It actually is that sound.  At least now I know how to spell "lougie." 

I also read the "A Few Minor Adjustments" booklet that came in the invitation package.  It is a little bit scary.  To summarize, "You'll probably hate your life but just be patient and flexible and you'll probably survive."  It's a well-known fact that I'm really great at patience and flexibility.  And sarcasm.

The last week has been pretty crazy.  One of our other cats, Molly, was in the hospital Monday through Thursday.  He's home now, but we had to do the whole ultrasound thing again and we have some lovely vet bills to pay.  It's Christmas, so we were also running around like crazy trying to finish shopping/wrapping and we have had visitors, too.  I still have not mailed our Christmas, I mean New Year's cards.  Needless to say, I haven't started re-working my resume to PC standards or writing my aspiration statement thinger.

I have started making lists.  Actually, I've been making Peace Corps lists for 2 years now, but these are getting more serious.  I have lists of lists.  My packing list is about a million items long.  I have a list of items in our house that Colin will probably not be able to locate without a map.  I have started a calendar for him of things he needs to do while I'm gone, such as replace furnace filters, renew our cars' registrations, and pay the water bill.  I'm planning to make a sort of Instruction Manual for living without me.  This may sound like I don't think very highly of Colin's level of independence, but really it's just that I like to think that he needs me more than he actually does.  One thing that has bothered me about this process is that whenever I tell people that I am joining the Peace Corps and then they ask about whether or not my husband is coming with me, I always get this sort of shaming look and the question, "What's he going to do without you?" as if he isn't capable of feeding himself or something.  They always manage to convey some feelings of doubt about our relationship, our fidelity, or our commitment to our marriage.  I guess it's (sort of) understandable that people would be concerned and a little judgey, but when Colin was deploying both times, no one ever asked, "What's your wife going to do while you're gone?".  It was always assumed that it was sort of my duty to sit back and wait for him and that maybe I would have trouble using power tools by myself or opening jars, but that I'd probably be ok.  Apparently for a wife to leave her husband on purpose, there must be something wrong with me or with us.  Then there's the whole "He didn't choose to deploy" argument that sometimes gets brought up, but it's not as if anyone forced him to join the Army and forced us to get married despite the fact that he might get deployed.  We both went into those decisions knowing the possibilities.  The same goes for this Peace Corps thing.  It wasn't entered into lightly, and though we have no fantasies about it being easy or fun to be apart for so long, it's something we're accustomed to, and it's something that he understands I need to do.  *Removes self from soap-box*

This blog needs some work.  I need to Botswana-ize it and stuff.  I'm also looking for other invitees to Botswana.  If you're out there, let me know!

Merry belated Christmas, PC blog world! This is the best Christmas I've ever had.  I got everything I wanted: three healthy/recovering kitties, a Peace Corps invitation, a dance party on Christmas morning, a Christmas afternoon nap, and a day full of people I love.  All of the gifts were extra bonuses.


  1. Congratulations and thank you for addressing this serving without spouse (SWOS) subject.
    I am awaiting an invitation. Expected/hoped for it before Christmas. I, too, will be SWOS and get the same question regarding my wife. We didn't have the military deployment experiences that you two had, but my wife had been transferred by her employer to work in Europe for a year, so we did learn 1st-hand that we can deal with the issues inherent in such long time and great distance separation.
    Best wishes to you for all that you will be experiencing in the coming New Year.

  2. Stumbled upon your blog and althoughg I am not nominated for Botswana, I will most likely be going to North Africa (Morocco) in March! Congrats to you! I just wanted to comment that your post above is very inspiring and sheds light on the remaining prejudice regarding women who want to serve their country, be it military, Peace Corps, or whatever. It is also refreshing to hear how commited you and your husband are to eachother and pursuing each of your own life goals. Best wishes to you both, and your cats. Good luck in Peace Corps and beyond.


  3. Thank you, Lew & Natalie! Lew, I'm glad to find someone else SWOS- you're the first I've met! I hope you get your invitation soon! I know the wait is maddening. Natalie, best of luck to you, too! I'm following your blog now, so I'm excited to see where and when you end up going. Best to you both!

  4. Hi Tracy,
    You,too, are the first person SWOS I have met. Not only are we both SWOS, but we have some other generalities common in our backgrounds (I have a masters degree in social work and a doctorate in behavioral studies). Your professional work probably has a lot of overlap with mine in that I do a lot of individual and family therapy, including relationship issues.
    So, I will continue following your blog even though we will be serving in different parts of the world (I am nominated for Youth/Community Development in the Caribbean/Central America).
    Best wishes to both of you, too!

  5. Hi Tracy! & Lew!
    I am also going to be serving without my spouse and have been googling for months trying to find someone else like me (and you)! I have been nominated for Youth Development in Central & South America for Feb 2011, but have just been informed that the program is full, so your blog entries ended up giving me a lot of comfort, insight and overall relief :) Thanks for your address of the whole without-your-spouse guilt/doubt trips-it definitely adds another layer and challenge to the whole PC experience. Anyway, I am really excited to find other future PC volunteers SWOS!! I am planning to start a blog soon and will definitely follow your blogs in the meantime :)COngratulations on your invite!!!

  6. Hey Jeanne - - - Thanks for your comments. I am especially interested in your statement that the Youth Development Program for C/S America is full. That is part of my nomination. I was also nominated for that Program in the Caribbean, but that staging is on January 27th and I have not received an invite for that one, so it is beginning to look as though I will be among those applicants who get an invitation to something completely different from the nomination (if I get an invitation at all).
    If you, or Tracy, or anyone else SWOS wants to communicate directly, my email addy is
    Best wishes to all for the coming New Year!

  7. Hi Jeanne, thanks for your comment. It's nice to meet you! I look forward to hearing about where you end up going.

    SWOS unite!

  8. Hey Lew & Tracy! Lew-I am honestly still a little confused about all the details of how program nominations and placements work, but will now have a little more free time to stalk the YD placement specialist!! So, as soon I know more, I'll let you know, too. She did mention that it might be possible to get in another program (not YD) leaving in late we'll see! Tracy-it is so nice to meet you, too :) I have already read all your entries-very helpful and entertaining!! I was so pumped that I went ahead and created my blog ( It is a lil all over the place :P but hopefully will get more interesting if and once a PC invite is in hand! Congrats again!! can't wait to hear more updates!

  9. Glad to see this extra resource & support group develop. Hopefully it will grow.
    Jeanne - - - I looked at Wandering Belka in Tumblr. It is an appealing posting, but how, or more importantly, why did you do this through Tumbler?
    As the calendar continues to creep along, it is beginning to look as though some of us, if not all, will be in for some surprises from PC. The coming weeks should be interesting to say the least. I fear that this process is harder on our spouses in some ways.
    Best wishes to you, Jeanne and Tracy and any other applicants out there reading these blogs in search of PC activity and clues for their own situations.
    I hope that the New Year will be one of terrific positive experiences for everyone!

  10. Yeah we should definitely keep in touch :) Lew-I work with teens and are all on tumblr and were showin it off to me, I really liked the designs offered and so decided to give it a try. It is still a little clunky in terms of normal blog functions-like commenting & whatnot, but I figure I can sort through all that while I wait for an invitation! On the PC app front, I've decided to take a more assertive approach (aka phone/email stalking) and call back for more details on what the possible alternate programs are and when!?! the anticipation is killin me!!

  11. Hi Jeanne - - - I,too, worked with teens, but they had diagnoses on the spectrum of autistic disorders and therefore were not involved with the Internet too much. I might give Tumblr a try now that I have seen what you have started for yourself. I have been considering Wordpress, it does not seem to offer many advantages over Blogger.

    Contacting PC-Placement for a little enlightenment is what I tried to do after feeling bold because of previous similar emails to my Recruiter and my Medical Review Nurse. However, when I attempted it via an email to my Placement Review Assistant, I received a curt response that implied that I would now be judged according to the lack of patience I displayed. (gulp)

    RAS is one thing, and I think that I dealt with it quite well since applying last spring. Now, I think I am suffering from Invitation Anticipation Anxiety, which I have assigned the acronym IAA to add to the PC's long list of acronyms.

    If you and/or Tracy want to take continued correspondence off-line, feel free to contact me at

    If you would like to review my on-going blogs, feel free to look at

    There is an explanation on each regarding why I have two and I welcome help to fix the mix-up I created.

    Continued best wishes to you, Jeanne, and Tracy, as well as all other applicants hoping to SWOS.