Tag Archives: Life

Another year gone.

Well, if that was 2011, then I guess we’re done with that. Nothing like another year flying by to make you feel that little bit older, eh? And it’s strange too, because 2011 was a jam packed year. I made up something facetious and irreverent (who me?) for the New Year and my Facebook update, but it really is weird.

So what does this year bring? If the Mayans are right (And they were so right about everything else that they MUST be…) then this year is the last one. Ever. The end of everything, the spinning down of the universe and the final establishment of entropy over this universe and every other. What is it with humans and numbers? There is something about calendars clicking over that makes us go all fuzzy and stupid.

Remember Y2K? Remember the Y2K bug and how basically everything was going to collapse in a giant technological black-out? How we were going to be reduced to savagery and eating beans out of tins? (Assuming that we weren’t reliant on electric can openers, of course.) Well, I am not sure about you, but there always seemed to be something vaguely fishy about the Y2K scenario. I mean, I am not trying to be funny, but when my Windows calendar goes out of whack, it prompts me to reset the date and time, but still lets me listen to music while I do it.

Last year was a big year for doom prophets. Well, just the one notable one really, but he did successfully predict the end of the world TWICE. In the same year. To my recollection, neither of them happened. I may be wrong though, I don’t get out much. (Although I do think that I might have noticed a lack of new content on YouTube. Not immediately, you realise, but certainly by now.) Yes, I am talking about Harold Camping, a man who has finally given up on his day job of doom-mongering, and has retired to a (hopefully) quiet dotage of disappointed living.

It’s not a religious thing, either. It seems to be a human condition. It is as though we feel that the entire universe needs to recognise in some spectacular fashion the ability of just one planetary species to count very slowly to 2000ish. And you may be scoffing, along with me, at the millions of morons that whole-heartedly fall for this crud every time. And then, well… you have to answer a few questions. Do you observe your birthday? Do you celebrate in some fashion a relatively arbitrary count of 365 rotations of our planet? Do you count anniversaries? Did you make New Year resolutions? It’s stupid really. Why 365 days? Because it represents a complete orbit of our sun? But it doesn’t, not really. 365.25 (Or thereabouts) is a much better measurement of an entire Earth orbit. And really, who cares about Earth and our piffling little Sun? What about our galaxy? Or our galactic rotation? Or the celebration of shifting another standard galactic unit of distance from our neighbouring galaxies? Nope. These will not do. Intelligent apes that we are, everything revolves around our ability to count steadily upwards.

But I digress… So how was your 2011? Did it bring you everything that you wished? Is there any chance of 2012 treating you any differently? Or are you relying on the fact that the calendar has clicked over to bring you a change of fate? My guess is that like me, you’re going to complacently sit back and allow the world to happen around you. It’s no big deal, we all do it. Or do we? We live in a world of plastic celebrities and sentiment. We watch our plastic TV shows, all stamped from the same mold, all relying on the same plastic jokes, gimmicks and situations. We live our plastic lives, in our plastic worlds, with all our plastic friends. And the only good thing about plastic is that it is cheaply recycled. Aren’t you getting tired of the same rubbish on TV? The same tired repeats and reboots of classic movies? Honestly… is there any real difference between X-Factor and something like Britain’s Got Talent? Is there any need to film another ‘Transformers’ movie? Are you satisfied with what you are watching? Are you satisfied with what you are paying for? Are you satisfied?

This year, I am celebrating the counting ability of my race by making one final resolution. I am going to make a change. Not to the world, hell… probably not even to the people around me… but I am going to make a change for myself. If nothing else, the start of this year marks a decision for me to improve myself. Lots of little things that I have been ignoring and putting off are going to be dealt with. I’m going to get into shape. I am going to write. I want to study something. I am going to make the time in my day to devote a portion of my energies to the pursuit of my dreams.

Will I succeed? Will I make a difference? Perhaps. Perhaps not. But without trying, the answer is a certainty.

One of my favourite movie quotes is from the Terminator series. It was one of those things that I heard as a kid, remembered, and somehow still has meaning.

“No fate but what we make.” It’s true, you know?

So my question to you is this. How are you planning to live this year?


Stress is for the week…

I’m not going to be rocking any boats or rattling any cages when I observe that we live in an increasingly stress-filled world. (Apologies about the mixed metaphors… I love using them, it’s like having my cake on cloud nine.)

So it seems that our lifestyles are out to get us. I look about my collection of friends, some of whom are relatively well-adjusted, and I see a lot of tired faces. A lot of tired and stressed out people. And it is all our fault. Like the scene from Trainspotting, we choose life. We choose the job, the mortgage and the big-screen TV. We choose massive amounts of credit and we choose to live beyond our means. What they don’t show in the movie is that going straight and living a life of “Joneses” means accepting a giant dollop of stress with every scoop of living. And the vast majority of that stress comes from our jobs.

People (and by people, I mean men) like to say how marriage is an unnatural institution, that staying with the same mate for longer than seven years is somehow counter-evolutionary. And there is a fair amount of debate both ways about that. But what we never consider is the naturalness of reporting to a dimly cubicle in uncomfortable clothing and shoes, there to sit for basically all the hours of daylight. We’ll spend upwards of forty years of our lives working. Forty years! In our instant culture, it’s a number that really has no meaning. How are we to judge at the age of twenty five what will suit our sixty year old selves? I’m in my thirties now, and I STILL haven’t the slightest idea what sort of work I would like to be doing when I retire. What I can tell you is the work that I would like to be doing now. And this I think is the way forward.

We need to plan for the future financially. No mistake about it. We’re living longer and longer, and nobody wants to be a burden to their children. I’m happy to accept that I need to save today for tomorrow. But aside from the financial aspect forward planning is pointless. When I was at school, I was constantly told that I absolutely HAD to do Mathematics, absolutely HAD to study Science, that the skills and logical thought I learned at school would stand me in good stead for the rest of my life. And it’s GARBAGE. It is tripe of the most trite and sanctimonious sort. To this day I have not yet been forced into a situation where trigonometry or calculus have saved the day. I have yet to use ANY of the Chemistry I learned. Mr Ball, Mrs Mendelski… I could safely have made it through my life thus far without your classes.

But the push to advance subjects continues at university. From the moment you enroll, lecturers push for their subject. Psychology teaches valuable life skills, History teaches research techniques and reasoned arguing. And unfortunately, most of the Arts subjects are really rather worthless in the real world. (I’m speaking as a Bachelor of Arts myself.) Any one of the teaching subjects are utterly useless for 99% of the people graduating, unless of course they intend teaching. The Commerce subjects tend to have a higher relevancy to real life, but let’s face it… who wants to study Commercial Law? No… honestly. You might like practicing law, but studying it is a pain in the ass.

And so it is that we emerge newly minted degreed job-seekers, the end product of lots of advice, and with hundreds of hours of “essential” instruction under our belts. And almost immediately, we become barmen and waiters. Besides basic arithmetic and some social skills, we’re doing something your average nine-year old can do. And it doesn’t end there. Eventually, we prevail upon an interviewer that our degree, whilst not really practical in the real world, DOES mean that we are at least “trainable”. And so the forty year office cycle begins. While at work, we will be told to study various courses, to further our qualifications. Do they have real-life applications? Honestly? No. But now we are in the rat-race. We’re jostling with our cohorts, fighting for that promotion, for the corner office. We’re lurking around the water-cooler, we’re drinking crappy coffee and we’re taking orders from someone who has in all likelihood not received the same education we have.

For people from my father’s generation, and the generation before, there was such a thing as company loyalty. This was a two-way street where every employee was taken care of, where the company appreciated the sacrifice of its minions. Sadly, the grey suits and bottom-liners have taken over, and that is not really the case anymore. My generation changes jobs more often than any other. We flit from job to job, company to company. We do two years here, three years there. And this gives us the best opportunity for a chance at life.

(See… I do eventually come to the point.)

If you are unhappy in your work… If you find yourself talking, wondering and worrying about your work on the weekends… If you find yourself on edge at home because there is something going on at work… For the love of yourself, change your job! Find another career, or find another position. But don’t ruin your Real Life for a paycheck. If we work to support our lifestyle, what point is there in allowing our work to kill our lifestyle? Without a life, is there any need for a high-stress job? No. Leave the work at work. Stress is for the week! And the week stops at my front door. When I get home, I change out of the clothes of the oppressor, and into casual home clothes. I don’t bring work home with me. Not because I don’t care about my job, but because I care about my wife and my life more.

Hunched shoulders and last-minute reports are for work-time. Your family and your life are waiting for you when you get home. More than half of your life is given away to the companies and the suits. Why volunteer more? And remember… like every other authority figure in your entire life, your boss does not have “Truth”. Your boss has “Opinion”. And just like every other authority figure in your life, your boss is going to use his position to further his ends. (Think about it…when last did you hear any teacher say the words, “My subject? Nah… you’d be better off taking something useful”. )

At the end of my day, and at the end of my life, I want to look back on my work and be able to smile. Not because I got the promotion, not because I got the plaque on the door. I want to be able to be happy with myself because I did good. Because my job supported my life, and not the other way around.


Friends, Enemies and the Little People…

When I was a kid, I remember reading something along the lines of this. “Only a fool can go through life without making enemies.” I remember thinking at the time that there was something fundamentally wrong with the statement, and that it was perfectly possible to get through life without making enemies. Of course, I was in my teens, and could reliably assume that I knew everything. (Some things haven’t changed, I know.)

Flash forward a decade or so, and I know different. I’ve made some enemies, and made even more “fucquainances”. Thankfully, I have more friends than those categories combined.

You’re wondering what the hell a “Fuquaintance” is…. and I guess that I owe you an explanation. I’m quite sure that I am not alone in stating that there are some people on this planet that seem put here by a higher power. A higher power with a malevolent bent, and a penchant for testing my patience. Fuquaintances are those people that you meet during your day, the other half of the random encounters that define our lives. You’ll know them when you see them. YOu’ll smile in greeting and prepare to exchange banalities and small talk, and you’ll be cringing inside. For whatever reason, fuquaintances are disliked, encounters with them are dreaded and any contact with them is barely tolerated. The sins of a fuquaintance are legion, and petty. They pick their nose in your house. They eat far too much garlic. They stand too close. They always talk to you when you’re late. You know who I mean. Fuquaintances are a fact of life.

The good thing about a fuquaintance is that they are survivable. There is nothing really sinister about them, nothing calculated in their transgressions. There is a little old lady in my building that is a particularly dreaded fuquaintance. Her sin is that she is old, she lives several floors above me, and she takes forever to get into and out of the elevator. Oh. And she seems to keep the same hours I do. Whenever I am running late for work, whenever I am desperate need to get on with my commute, the elevator heads for the 13th floor. There it stays… slowly minutes ticking by in the winking floor indicator light. Finally, it descends, and I am free to step onto the elevator. The next problem of course is that we alight on the same floor. I stand aside to let her off first. I can’t help it, I’m polite that way. (Polite and weak!) This means that I have to walk behind her to the door, have to help her open the door, and have to wait while she shuffles through. An encounter with her adds a minimum of six minutes to my ten minute commute. And I’m a last-minute arrival employee. Which makes her a fuquaintance. You understand? Chances are that you have many fuquiantances, chances are better that you are someone else’s fuquaintance… it’s just an inevitability of life.

Enemies. These are different creatures entirely. Far from the pleasant/irritating banality of a fuquaintance, an enemy is an active frustration. My teen aged self thought it possible to get through life without making any of these. Of course, my teen aged self was an apathetic sort, more inclined to slink away from confrontation than to take it head on. But we grow up. And part of that process is the formation of opinion and principle. We draw lines in the sands of our psyche, lines beyond which there is no retreat, lines beyond which there is no compromise. When someone tries to muscle past those lines, confrontation is inevitable and lasting. There are certain things that to me are unforgivable… acts which resign the offending party to a lifetime of enmity. Speaking with the new-found wisdom of an impending mid-life crisis (I’m getting towards the “Harley Davidson and comb-over” stage.), the trick is to identify those lines before they are crossed, if only to maintain your dignity.

Making enemies is not a pleasant experience.  Nonetheless, I believe that it is vital to our growth, our mental health. Without enemies, we cast through life blindly, no principles to guide us, reduced to public opinion. Every enemy that I have made has been made for good reason. It’s human nature to believe that. Of course we were wronged, of course we were the just defendant, and they the aggressive party. I think the challenge in life is to accept that sometimes…. just sometimes… YOU are the asshole. Sometimes, it is your fault.

Enemies find their redemption in what they offer to teach us, what their nature shows us about ourselves. They are the darkened mirrors, the shadowed reflections of our inner selves. Think about each of them carefully. There is no point to an enemy that has taught you nothing. There is no point to an enemy for whom you have no reason. Identify what it is that they do or don’t do that riles you, and know yourself better for it. I know, thanks to Sarah and Frank that I have little patience for small people. Small of mind, that is. Petty politicking and shallow manipulation leave me cold. When they come from someone in a position of authority, they are worse. I know it now, and hopefully in the future, I’ll be able to head off any situations before they escalate into hostilities. My challenge to you? Make a list of your enemies. Figure out the core reason behind the altercation. Be honest, nobody else is going to look at your list. It may give you closure, it may give you growth. You may make the miserable bastards useful to you!

Lastly, the Little People.

Not dwarves or midgets or pygmies or gnomes… The Little People are the people that live around you, that work around you, perhaps even work for you. They are the often anonymous people that make your life possible. I spent a lot of time working as a waiter for a series of restaurants. And I was constantly amazed by the ignorant arrogance of a lot of people. (Normally wealthy white kids.) Any good waiter will tell you that the power in the restaurant is NOT the manager, is NOT the hostess or your waiter. Everything rests on the shoulders of the kitchen. Everything. Waiters with a good relationship with the kitchen staff were more successful than waiters who did not, or waiters that shouted. Later, when I managed a restaurant myself, it was obvious to see. Waiters who were polite, who passed on compliments, who said please and thank you, basically acknowledged the kitchen staff as humans and equals, they got great service from the kitchen. Wrong item ordered? Rush job required? No worries. The Little People are on it.

It’s a lesson that I have taken to heart. I go out of my way to acknowledge the receptionists, the co-teachers, the security guards, the “kitchen staff” in my life. Simple courtesy goes a long way. It’s a proven fact that remembering your waiter’s name and using it leads to better service. It’s not because they’re impressed by your memory. It’s because they are pleased to be acknowledged, to be given a face, to move from “Hey you…” to “Excuse me, John?”.  I am not advocating being polite to the Little People out of some desire for better service. The fact that their often menial jobs can have a direct impact on your life is simply a by-product.

I’m saying that being nice to the Little People is in and of itself a good thing.

And nobody wants to be a Fuquaintance.

Massive Missive – Getting older means being happier with less.

My Jesus year is done. This is not an official name for some random year, so don’t go googling it.

But until a few days ago, I was thirty-three years old. If we are to believe the Bible, well, Jesus had done pretty much all of his earthly stuff including dying and then undying. I am done with the year though.

This has some bearing on my life. It means that I am unlikely to become the focus of my own religion. It means that as much as I would like to believe it, I, like Brian, am not the Messiah. And there are a host of things that I will not be doing in my life. I realise that now. I’m unlikely to ever run a marathon. (Pause for derisive laughter here.) That rock band that I joined in school? We’re never going to make an album. Hell, given how far away from one another we are now… we’re unlikely to ever play together again. I’m probably never going to go sky-diving. I am most likely never going to own the car of my dreams.

And here’s the funny thing. You’d expect them to grate, to weigh down on me, these unfulfilled aspirations. But they don’t. Instead, I find myself free of them. I am never going to front a band, I am never going to trade riffs with Slash or stand clad mainly in leather in front of an audience dancing to my music. Nobody is going to sing along to my songs, quote my lyrics on their Facebook page or get my band symbol tattooed on their shoulder. Sixteen year old Yeti would be crushed by this realisation. But thirty-four year old Yeti is happy. If I am never going to be a famous musician, then I can stop pushing myself to learn the guitar, stop feeling guilty when a week goes by without me playing the thing. I can chill, learn the songs I want to sing along to, surprise my wife by playing some Leonard Cohen for her. (At the very least, I sing better than he ever did.) Guitar playing becomes a fun activity, something I do for joy, guilt-free.

The same goes for my chances of ever playing sport at a national level. Much as I enjoy thrashing friends at table-tennis, there is no chance of ever playing seriously. Golf? I can safely leave that to the executives and the pro’s. Who cares if I shift my feet in my swing? Who cares that I’m holding the clubs incorrectly, or using the wrong one? Who cares that every now and then I still take a run-up when nobody is watching? I played hockey as a kid. Taking a step or two before the swing just feels good. And that’s what I am getting at. We carry so much baggage. We shoulder so much guilt as a function of our everyday routine. And why?

Let. It. Go.

You’re never going to be a model. Eat the Snickers bar. You’re unlikely to become anyone important politically. Tell the jokes you want to tell. Your photos are never going to win a Pulitzer. Relax and enjoy the view for yourself.

You get what I am saying?

We all do it. Everyone I know has a chip of varying sizes on their shoulder. Some unrequited dream that plagues them, that tints every moment of every day with a disappointed shadow. We get those chips from a range of places. Parental expectation, peer pressure, the media. It is their responsibility, their FAULT for pushing us in directions. But that is what parents do. It is what friends do. And it is all that the media ever does. It is YOUR responsibility for collecting the chips. For carrying them for years. For allowing them to colour your every action.

Maybe it’s laughable coming from someone barely old enough for a mid-life crisis. Maybe I am wrong. I don’t think so though. This year is my year. Succeed or fail, this is the year that I drop my pretensions of lofty ideals. This is the year that I slough the little dreams that I have clung to for years. Dreams that honestly, I am not really even interested in any more. I don’t want to have a glamorous jet set life. I don’t want a fancy mansion. I don’t need a collection of vintage guitars. I have no intention of climbing a mountain, ANY mountain. I’m not going to join Green Peace. I think that PETA is often too extreme. I’m never going to be a religious person, I have no inclination to continue studying religions. I don’t intend ever getting myself an office job again. I never want to wear a tie again.

What I have been doing is looking at my life, and evaluating each of my dreams and hopes on their own merits. There are many that I am no longer really interested in. There are others that are beyond me simply because of my age, location or abilities. There are some that are possible, that can be done, but that clash with the life that lead. I’d love to race cars. With a wife that I intend getting old with, this is not going to happen. You see how it works? There are some goals that I do not intend to compromise on. These are the goals that are still attainable, still possible, albeit with a ton of work and sacrifice. And I think that it is the job of every human being to find those core goals, and then to get them done.

I want to be an author. I would love at some point in the future to be able to fill in “author” in that little square on the tax-return. I want to be self-employed. Until that happens, I want to teach. I enjoy teaching. I’m good at it. And it is the only job that I have found where every day IS different, where every single class brings with it challenges and difficulties uniquely its own. I will own a Porsche. Nothing fancy. I just want the car, I want to drive with the top down, and listen to a flat six growl through a mountain pass. I want to see Europe. I want to walk in the Black Forest, and uncover Roman mosaics. I want to see the Sewer systems of London. I want to walk on the abandoned platforms of the Underground. I want to see Moscow. I want to see the Northern Lights. I want to fly a plane. I want a Doctorate in something, but I’ll settle for my Masters.

These are my goals. These are the things to which I am going to work. And yes, it is going to require some sacrifice, and some planning, and most of all… a lot of luck.

But I have my friends, and I have my family. I have time. I believe I have the talent.

I have no excuse for failure.

And neither do you. Drop your baggage. Embrace yourself, your own goals and hopes. And make it happen for yourself.




Massive Missive – The Ideas of March

Apologies to the Bard.

Not really. He cracked more than a few puns in his career, and took more liberties with the language than a texting teen on a cellphone. Of course, Shakespeare’s material was imminently more readable than the traditional “c u l8er m8, good crack 2nite, your gr8!” garbage that passes for communication amongst the IQ deprived. So, the Ideas of March.

They say that things come in threes. Obviously, most people have never submitted short stories for publication. Rejection letters don’t come in threes. They come in droves. All of them politely worded and politically correct, and ultimately, saying the same thing. “No.” In my experience, things don’t come in threes. They come until you stop making them come. Which is why March is looking to be a busy month for my wife and I.

You see, we’ve known for some time that Taiwan wasn’t going to hold us for long. Granted, every time we come to Taiwan, it holds us for a lot longer than we ever anticipate. But even so, the time is drawing near when we will once again be leaving the island. I first came to Taiwan in 2002, an over-sized and pretty much ignorant foreigner with no Chinese speaking ability and no real idea of Chinese culture past a chicken chow mein and bad kung fu movies. I’ll be leaving Taiwan in 2011, an over-sized and still pretty much ignorant foreigner with a smattering of Chinese and a much better idea of Chinese culture. (Still like Chicken Chow Mein and bad kung fu movies though!)

Taiwan is the ultimate comfort zone. If you are able to get beyond the mild xenophobia that exists in Taiwan, you are going to lead an excellent and interesting life. Incidentally, I MEAN xenophobia. The Taiwanese are no more racist or classist than any other nation I have known. And while they might get embarrassed when speaking to foreigners, or feign a lack of understanding to avoid a potentially embarrassing situation, it is far more usual to hear negative comments levelled at the Taiwanese by foreigners living here. One big plus for the Taiwanese is that they are uniformly tolerant of all religions. I have received far more criticism for my atheism in the west than I ever have in the east. Perhaps it is that Islam and Christianity are young religions (As compared to most of the Eastern religions) and are still focusing on proselytizing. Whatever the reason, the Taiwanese are relaxed about virtually everything except work and the traffic.

The “Chinese work ethic” is something that gets bandied about by managerial types over mocha-frappe-choco-lattes and power meetings. And in every case, the speaker has little or no idea of what they are talking about. I am not saying that western people don’t work hard, far from it… I have a father who nearly worked himself to a standstill to provide for us, but by and large, the sheer dedication and amount of hours put in by the average Taiwanese shames western workers. I believe that most of it stems from an inherently Confucian societal work ethic. It can get swiftly frustrating as a foreigner working in that environment. My first instinct when asked to take work home over the weekend is “No.” It certainly isn’t that way for them.

Traffic is, however, the greatest failing of modern Taiwanese culture. Traffic lights are not optional, but they ARE open to negotiation. In a metropolitan area with over 5 million residents, Kaohsiung has some pretty hairy traffic snarls. And scooters, well, they are legion. It is not uncommon to come around a blind corner on a busy road, scooters ahead, behind and around you… only to find some hapless moron driving against the traffic on his own scooter. And the usual suspects are to blame…youngsters and drunks. Youngsters are a particular problem here. Instead of driving a crappy Honda Civic with more plastic skirting than a collection of Goth Barbies, they drive souped up scooters. And of course… there is the issue of hair. The current trend for Taiwanese youngsters is a hair-style akin to a manga series. Spiky, and omni-directional. Said style requires a monstrous amount of hair-gel and time to apply, and thus, they tend to be hideously afraid of wearing helmets. Fast driving and a lack of helmets… well, there is an argument of Darwinism.

But I digress. I was saying that Taiwan was a comfort zone. And it is. In terms of salary percentage, a full-time foreign teacher is sitting pretty. The average salary for a full-time teacher runs anywhere between NT$55,000 and NT$65,000. (If you’re earning less, change jobs… you’re being taken advantage of.) Let’s call it NT$60,000. My wife and I live in a nice part of town, in a four bedroomed, two bathroomed, twin balconied, furnished apartment. We pay NT$ 16500 per month, including all guard and door fees. (That included garbage removal, building cleaners and security BTW) That’s 44k left over to eat and play with. Very comfortable indeed. We know that our move to the UK is going to result in a big change to that standard of living. Taiwan is a great stepping stone to Asia, and with return flights to Hong Kong starting at 10K, well, there is plenty of opportunity to play.

And yet… we are moving to the UK. Why? And the answer is family.

There is no better destination in life than to be with family. (Assuming that you like yours, of course.) My family has done a fairly good portion of the globe over the last few years, and this move will mean that everyone is permanently on the same continent for the first time in nearly a decade. Which is awesome.

To make our move a little easier, the wife and I are beginning studies in TEFL. Nothing serious, but it would be nice to have a UK recognised diploma that reflects the experience that we have gained over the last 8 years. That entails part-time study over the next 3 months. Which is the same time period where we are trying to

a) Emigrate

b) ship a household full of stuff to the UK

c) apply for jobs in the UK

d) wrap up everything here and

e) arbitrarily relaunch a personal blog.

Yeah. Perhaps that Chinese work ethic has rubbed off a little. Or perhaps I am just a sucker for punishment.

Is it all going to last? I hope so. If nothing else, the next Missive will be a little more personal, and a little more immersive.

If you have any comments or questions, observations or grumblings, leave a comment.

– Yeti

(Written on March 17th, 2011.)

Stamps in my passport. People I have been. Places I have known.

When somebody says that life is a journey, not a destination, they’re only partially correct.

There is a lot of life to be had in the in-between spaces, certainly. Some of my most interesting years are what prospective employers like to call “gaps in your CV”. And it’s quite true, in terms of careers and the satisfaction of pen-pushing employers, the gaps are useless. But to anyone who has had a gap, stood outside of the rat race for a while… the perception is different. Likewise, some of my most amazing moments in life have come not in the journey, but as a series of destinations. Physical and figurative destinations. For a balanced life, strive for both.

I want to be a published author. Strike that. I’ve been published. I want to be a full-time, making-enough-money-that-I-have-no-other-job author. And that’s a little harder. What’s the difference between a writer and an author? An author has contacts in the publishing industry. Which makes me a writer. I have a great online writing group, a wonderful bunch of people to whom I never donate enough time, and I have a Constant Reader in the form of my wife. (Who literally reads constantly… it’s just a case of making sure she gets to my stuff!) This is more than many aspiring writers, and I consider myself lucky.  The destination of Author beckons, and I am on my way there.

But life is about taking more than just one trip, right? And so it is that I have already arrived at another destination. I am a teacher. And although I doubted it, and tried to get back into office work, well… I am a teacher. It was a long road to make that discovery, and involved more than six years of “temporary” teaching. It involved four countries, a six-figure air miles total, and the ability to speak a new and exotic language. (New for me, the Chinese would rightly contend that there is nothing new about their language.  And sadly, given the conservative mindset of the Mainland Chinese, they’d be right.) The journey looms once more, and I am not far from changing countries once again. This time, it’ll be the United Kingdom, where Marmite and Jelly Tots are more easily come by, but the job market is harder to break into.

I guess once you’re through all the preamble, I’d like you to enjoy this blog for what it is; A commentary on the journey and the destinations. A (hopefully well presented) slice of my life, and the invitation to embark on journeys of your own. There will be a few different sections, and I am throwing this open for public consumption. Enjoy, reflect and never stand still.

– Yeti