Also author of graphic novels set in Shenzhen, Pyongyang, and Jerusalem

August 17, 2014 I landed in Yangon, Myanmar to start a new life. Well, not really. It was actually so I could continue with a major component of my former life. After a year with Matt in Myanmar (or “Mattamar” as a former colleague of mine called him) and me in DC, we’re under the same roof again. Considering it’s been over two years since I last posted to this blog, it was only through the sweet and effective guilt trips of My Favorite Aunt Nancy that I’m taking it up again. I’ll try my best with it, even though I won’t be able to give the level of craft and humor Guy Delisle delivers in his graphic novel Burma Chronicles.

But, I’m not going to beat myself up about not presenting the same type of “infotainment” as a professional cartoonist and animator that has his own Wikipedia page. The book contains fantastic snapshots of life and times in Burma/Myanmar, such as the snapshot below on Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), or Doctors Without Borders, in getting approval to open a clinic (hint: it’s not very straight forward).


“A proposal to open a village clinic has to pass through a long chain of bureaucrats.”

His knowledge on MSF trials and tribulations in the country comes from his wife’s position as an MSF program manager. This puts Guy in the position that has become known as the “trailing spouse.” The term was coined back in the 80’s to describe the spouse who either gives up their career or finds one that allows the other person with the international career to relocate the family as needed. This is inherently denigrating to the “trailer,” because it implies a high degree of passivity. It’s often also been attributed to the woman in the relationship


NGO-yadi-yada… “The only news I have to share is that City Mart just received a new shipment of Japanese diapers.”

Anyway, the internet is just brimming with people who have already put in their two cents, so I’ll just say that it’s good to see a man that is putting himself front and center in the fray. Clearly his career fits perfectly in the opportunities he is afforded as a “trailing spouse.” As well, no offense to people in this situation, I am very glad not to be a typical “trailer,” since my work has just shifted my HR category from a home office staff to a global telecommuter. We’ve got what’s considered really good internet in these parts and a view of Inya Lake, so not a shabby spot for a home office. There are a small handful of coffee shops with internet for me to rotate through when cabin fever sets in after full days at home that are only then followed up by nights in (usually with more work). So, it’s strange to live someplace and not work in it (our one project in Myanmar that was starting up fell through, but that’s another story); and I’m stuck inside working all day instead of out exploring this new city in-depth; and half the time so far I’ve actually been working in Indonesia… but by god, I’m not a trailing spouse… in the full sense of the word anyway, maybe. In any case, I’m back on the blog, but not (as you can tell from the number of times I used the word “work” just now) due to any increase in luxury time.