Tag Archives: shallow thoughts

Blurring Borders

I was just thinking about how last time I was in Korea no one was using Twitter yet and people I knew were just starting to use Facebook. Instagram wasn’t a thing. Tumblr was, but I didn’t know anyone using it.

No one had a smartphone. Or a tablet. Wifi wasn’t everywhere because there was no need for it to be everywhere. We weren’t nearly as connected in 2007 as we are now.

My blog, emails and Skype calls of the shittiest quality (so bad that video was pretty much useless then) were the only ways I could share my experiences. It usually meant taking photos and notes and waiting for a block of time when I felt like uploading photos from my camera and sitting down to write out blog posts lengthy enough to actually be blog posts.

Now, I can share on the fly. In real time. And with pictures or videos, no less! Quickly, easily, and from just about anywhere as Korea is rocking the WIFI IN ALL THE PLACES thing.

It’s both wonderful and strange.

There is a bit of a downside to all this sharing shizzle though, I think. Even when I was here in Asia seven years ago, I was thinking then about how much of the mystery – the romance, if you will – of travel has dissipated. With how much easier it is to get a flight these days than it was 50 years ago, it’s much less strange to know someone who’s travelled most of the way around the world.

And now with the changes to how we communicate, I feel as though we’ve lost even more of that mystery. Gone are the hand-written journals. The long letters sent home that would take months to arrive. You might still get a postcard these days, if you are lucky, but you’re more likely to get a Snapchat of someone pulling a duck face on a beach somewhere.

Borders are blurring as more people share their experiences more often, with more immediacy, with a much broader audience.

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Five years

>It was never meant to be this long. I had only intended to go teach in Korea for one year and come home.

But one year was so fun it turned into two. But part way through the second year, I realised that it was wearing thin for me and I wasn’t keen to stay for a third year. The big question for me is: Why didn’t I go home at that point?

I get asked “Why Korea?” a lot. And “Why London?” a lot. But only a few people have asked why I didn’t go home at the end of the second year. I think other than my moms, I am the only other person who really questions that.

Let’s start with “Why Korea?”. It was more the case of “Why NOT Korea?”. I didn’t really mean to go to Korea… I just meant to leave Canada and there Korea was, providing and easy out. Someone else sorted my paperwork, flights, job and accommodations. My new life prepackaged. I just had to show up.

So that’s “Why Korea?” answered. Easy breezy lemon squeezy. Now, “Why London?”…. that’s not nearly as easy to answer. Difficult difficult lemon difficult.

As I said, I knew I didn’t want to stay in Korea beyond my second year. But I wasn’t feeling the go-home feeling either. So I started looking at other options.

At first, things weren’t looking so good. I may be educated and good at what I do, but I definitely do not classify as a “skilled worker”. I was also past the magic “holiday makers” visa age already. I had already decided that if I was leaving Korea, I was leaving Asia, so teaching in another country around there wasn’t really an option.

That’s when I discovered that my dad’s mom was actually born in Scotland, not Saskatchewan as I had always thought. Suddenly, I was eligible for a five-year ancestry visa in the UK. So I applied for that and started scheming.

My schemes had nothing to do with what life would be like in the UK. I was too busy thinking about how I was going to get here (the blog entries regarding the Epic Train Journey of Epicness haven’t moved to this blog yet – as soon as I get that done I’ll link) and not so much what I would do when I got here. Because I honestly had no clue. I didn’t even have it in my head yet which city I was going to live in, or what I would do for a job, or anything, really. No freaking clue.

So… that’s “Why the UK?” answered, I suppose; but not so much “Why London?”.

I suppose I chose London because it felt right. I also really like Belfast and Glasgow, but I was pulled here. And I’m (most days) happy that I was. I’ve met amazing people, have had great experiences and I’ve been able to live in one of the greatest cities on the planet. As your man (Samuel Johnson) said: “Why, Sir, you find no man, at all intellectual, who is willing to leave London. No, Sir, when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford.” I ain’t tired of it yet.

I’ve got just over two years left on my visa, and that means I have a decision to make fairly soon. I get the feeling that I’ll stay in London for the remainder of that time… although I’m aware that, as the consummate opportunist, I’ll move if compelled to move.

After that? Who knows. Depending on how life is in the autumn of 2012, I’ve been thinking of another year teaching in Asia (I did miss seeing Japan, after all) and then re-applying for another visa and returning to the UK. If I do that, I doubt I’ll come back to London though. It may be Ireland or Scotland that has to learn to love me upon my return.

What I can’t imagine right now is going back home at that time.

I left Canada because I was miserable. No need to go into detail. I wasn’t happy. So I left. I needed to change, so I changed… everything. Flair for the dramatic, me.

Am I happier now? Well, hard to say. Things aren’t great right now, to be honest. But I feel more in control of it. I’m a different person in a million different little ways now, so I guess I feel differently about the situation that I’m in. I guess I know now that if I want to, I can make a huge change and survive. Fuck. Survive? More than that. I can rip that shit up and roll with whatever the changes bring – good or bad. And knowing that you can handle it is a powerful thing.

And although I am not perfectly content here and I need to work on some changes (and I AM working on some changes); I know that being back home wouldn’t make any of it better. It’s the only thing I’m certain about.

Besides, a wise woman once told me that it is never worth taking a step if it is taking a step back. So I don’t plan on moving backwards at this point; I’m going to keep looking forward and stare down my future.

>Life Currency

>I just finished reading a book called “Errornomics – Why we make mistakes and what we can do to avoid them” by Joseph T. Hallinan. Hallinan is a Pulitzer Price Winner and I wonder if he knows that he shares his surname with the cook in The Shining.

The book was good. Some interesting information. Like all books that deal with micro-economics (and moreso those that deal with people’s brains) you have to be wary of their bias towards, you know… proving their point. Still, interesting.

There was something at the end of the book that I found particularly interesting. I just completely killed the spine of the book (iz mine, I pwn it, I can haz spine bust if I want) in order to share with you guys the last bit of the book. It is paraphrased from pages 220 and 221:

“The currency of life isn’t money, it’s time. When people make major life changes, like moving ot a new city or retiring from work, one of their biggest mistakes is not changing the way they use their time.

It takes determination and discipline to re-craft a life — which is why … so many retired people end up going back to work. The mistake they make is that they spend their time doing the same old things they’ve always done and not the new things they thought they were going to do. [I]n the end … it’s not where you live that makes you happy; it’s how you use your time.”

I think I’ll blog about this more later. I’m thinking about this right now though. About time. You can always earn more money, but time is in limited supply. Am I doing the most with what I have?

>Signs of (in)compatibility

>I could never be close to someone who couldn’t at least be slightly amused at the juvenile humour of your average bumper sticker. Even though they are the lowest form of wit (sitting well below both ‘yer ma’ jokes and puns), sometimes it feel good to laugh at things that aren’t supposed to be funny unless you are ten (see also: farts).

Then again, I can’t imagine having much in common with someone who could unironically attach a “Horn broken – watch for finger” bumper sticker to their vehicle either. What would you talk to them about?

The ironing is delicious*

I was walking along Bethnal Green Street (first impression: Dodgy. But in a very cool way) on my way to view a flat when I saw the fattest kid in the universe** playing a Nintendo DS and facing a Weight Watchers advert that was not a foot away from him . That kid was awesome.

See, this kid is fatter than the one I saw.
And infinitely grumpier.

*I’m deeply in love with you as a person if you got the title of the post without having to look it up. You are obviously one of my favourite people.

**This is probably not true. He was a porker***, but I’m sure he wasn’t the fattest kid in the universe.

***Heh heh. Porker.

>Push the button

>Last week I was told a story about a guy at work who pushed a large, red button… knowing full-well what the button did and that he would lose his job if he pushed it.

He pushed it anyway.

When later asked why, the button-pusher said that he knew what the implications where of pushing that button… and he pushed it anyway.

I fully understand why this guy had to push that button. I think that every day, at least once, I get the urge to do something completely irrational and potentially destructive. I have trouble walking past cars without thinking about running my key along them. I get the urge to randomly punch strangers. I’m not afraid of heights but I do tend to avoid them because I have difficulty thinking about anything but jumping even though I know the consequences of doing so. I get the urge to throw my wallet into the river. Sometimes I want to hold up a bank. Make a crank call. Tell someone important off (for no reason, mind you). And so on.

But I don’t. Or perhaps: I haven’t yet. But perhaps there will come a day when I will do something completely irrational and entirely self-destructive. Because maybe everyone has a snapping point. Perhaps some people snap sooner than others.

I wonder if a lot people get those irrational urges, and I wonder why. Is it because we are innately self-destructive? Or because there is some kind of (albeit twisted) power in acts of random violence and/or destruction?

Regardless of why, I’m just happy I haven’t had my “gotta push the red button” day yet. And I hope that if I do come to that day before I die, whatever my “push the red button” act turns out to be, hopefully it gets me featured on Fox News.

>But being hard on myself is what I do best!

>Someone at the pub on Friday night brought it to my attention that I run myself down a lot. Which I do. And I know I do. I’m good at it. In fact, I’m better at that than I am at anything else, really.

Since someone else thought it worth mentioning it to me, I’ve been thinking about it over the weekend. And I’ve come to the conclusion that it is no big deal, as I know exactly why I do it.

First, if I’m making fun of me, chances are no one else is. And if I’m doing it, I control what is being made fun of. I never go after my *real* flaws, I go after the ones that I can handle being mocked. There’s control in being the one to make jokes about oneself. And if other people make fun of me too… again, at least I’ve started it and can usually control what is being mocked. This way I distract people from my real flaws… and trust me – there are a lot of the freaking things.

Secondly, if I didn’t make fun of myself, chances are I would make fun of other people. Now granted: I already make fun of other people. But I would probably do it more often and to a much more hurtful extent if I wasn’t constantly making fun of myself. Nature has given me a safety-valve, and I think everyone should be thankful for that. I know I’m thankful for it: if I was as mean to other people as I was to myself, I wouldn’t have any friends.

Lastly, I deserve it. I mean, being 99.5% pure turbotastic awesomeness could go to my head if I didn’t bring myself down every once in a while. Could you imagine if I didn’t run myself down all the time? Then I would have a caustic personality AND be thoroughly (instead of just “mostly”) highly conceited. Ew! There would go the few friends I would have left after I made fun of everyone else.

I’m just happy that this particular person doesn’t read my blog. If he thinks I’m hard on myself in real life (as it were), he should see me at the keyboard. That’s where I shine at kicking my own ass.