Monday, 2 January 2012

Departure depression

I love going places, but I hate the leaving. This is true even of home, mostly because of the dog. This post is about leaving my other home; my original home.

Leaving Hong Kong is different than leaving any other place. Perhaps its because it was the first place I really knew; my original home. My uncle Hay, his wife, and little girl live in the apartment I was brought home to from the hospital. The hotel I stay at when I'm in town is just down the street from that building. The smell of the MTR (HK's subway) is my exemplar for what underground transit is supposed to smell like. The most common flavours of ice cream here are (in addition to vanilla), mango and coconut (which is what I wish was the case everywhere).

Something in me changes when I'm in this city. I walk faster. My tolerance for shopping increases (though is still low, compared to my shopper friends). I'm impatient with tourists behaving dumbly as pedestrians (another post about this is in the works). For a brief time, I live an approximation of the life I would have had if we had not immigrated to Canada.

I don't think I would enjoy living here for any prolonged period of time, but I always get departure depression. It's probably because I really adore dad's side of the family; even at age 32, all my uncles and aunts (and even many of my younger cousins) spoil me to pieces. My desires become the primary decision-making influence when it comes to meals (and my family really loves eating).

It may well be easier if I ever had the opportunity to see even a few of these people over the rest of the year (Cecelia, Stanley, Doris: COME VISIT ME ALREADY!!!! Yes, I'm calling you out publicly!!!!), but no one from my dad's family has come visiting since 2002 when my dad was in Edmonton for my wedding. Admittedly, when I'm actually in Edmonton I don't think about my HK family that much; but when I'm about to leave town and not see them again for at least a year, it's hard not to be a big ball of teary mush about it.

The thing is, there's nothing that can be done (other than try to guilt-trip people into coming to see me). I have a life in Edmonton, one that I enjoy and is full of friends I love, not to mention 1.5 dogs who I miss the second I leave the city.

So there is nothing to be done, other than to accept that a little piece of myself will always and forever be tied to this place. The mini-heartbreak of coming and going will simply be a part of my life experience on a regular basis. Unless we develop transporter technology.

Sunday, 1 January 2012

New Year's resolutions: a totally self-indulgent post

New Years resolutions feel often like a procrastinator's desperate attempt to appear non-procrastinaty once a year.

Well, I'm pretty darn good at procrastinating, so perhaps an annual ritual of pretending not to be such a person might actually be a good thing. Besides, perhaps thinking a bit about what I might want to do over the upcoming year is good exercise given the year of changes 2011 unexpectedly turned out to be...

Back in September, I turned 32. According to this random life expectancy calculator Google found me, I can expect to live until I am 85 (longer if I get my butt off the couch more frequently, by far my biggest health issue is that I am not active enough). So lets just assume I have 53 years left to go, give or take.

That's a lot of time. But I've also lived a lot of years (my apologies to those who have been around longer, this isn't meant to be a slight), and on this first day of 2012, I find myself without a job, and much more significantly, without a clear sense of what meaning I want to bring to my existence on this planet in terms of how I might contribute professionally.

So, a few days ago, I decided that given that I have the means and a safety net, it's time to stop seeking traditional employment. I'm kinda sick of being told "you're great, but we don't want to hire you". I am confident enough in my abilities (thanks to the lovely reassurances of friends, this must be acknowledged), that I would have decent odds of being successful being self-employed. So with my lovely father's support, I have decided I will go get a realtor's license.

I struggle a little with the idea of reinventing myself professionally in a field that isn't exactly known for its activism and social justice contributions. That said, I know that for me, money does buy a significant degree of happiness (mostly in terms of my desire to convert financial resources into food-related experiences). As many writers of books on happiness point out, sure, money certainly does not guarantee happiness, however, it does make its achievement significantly more likely. Also, my involvement with activism and working in non-profit has left a bit of a bad taste in my mouth (and apparently, on shitloads of email lists that I don't want to be on), so I am okay with selling out. I'll worry about fixing the world once I've got my own life in order. I think I'd be pretty darn good at real estate, and I love the idea of a successful day being that I helped find someone a space to make a home.

Resolution #1: Get a real estate license. 
Commitment: aiming for license in six months.

Speaking of homes, mine is a disaster. Some advice: if you ever split with your partner, you may want to think about the advantages of being the one that moves out; the most significant one being that when you're the one leaving, you simply take what you actually want and leave the rest. When you're the one that keeps the space, you also end up with all the stuff that NEITHER of you wanted. I need to purge, purge, purge. So, when I'm back in the country, I will be starting a weekly online garage sale/giveaway.

Resolution #2: Reduce materialistic burden by not owning so much crap. 
Commitment: weekly purging of at least 3 items (and I will try not to cheat by getting rid of three tiny things just to make my quota).

Resolution #2a: When something comes in to my possession, something must go out.
Commitment: treat the ownership of material things like eating and pooping.

I love books, and I love reading. This one will be easy, as its something I suspect I do at this approximate scale anyways:

Resolution #3: Read every day; finish a book a week.
Commitment: post reviews, share with others.

And as always, attempt to write more:

Resolution #4: Blog twice a week; attempt to write daily (blog or otherwise).
Commitment: actually post shit on my blog twice a week.

Taking care of myself: needs improvement.

Resolution #5: Increase activity level over time. This is deliberate vague yet unidirectional to encourage actually being able to accomplish such a thing. 
Commitment: do shit that will make me die later rather than sooner.

Related to taking care of myself:

Resolution #6: Care less. Seriously. Especially about people and things who, in the end, doesn't really matter in the context of my life and my values.
Commitment: care less about things beyond my control, and things that even if are in my control, aren't worth the effort. Summarized by "fuck it"!

So... anyone want to be on my accountability team? (This means nagging an appropriate amount if you catch me failing to stick with the six items above). I pay in cookies.