As The Year Begins To End

I sit down alone with myself and think over the things I should have done, the things I have done, the things I wish I hadn’t done, the things I want to do. I do this around this time every year, a cup of coffee in one hand, a pencil for doodling in the other. The doodling has nothing to do with memories, regrets, or hopes. It’s just something to do with my hands while I think.

I’m not going to write all of my reflections here, because what I think is more important is the trend of the thing.

In general, I feel the following pulls and pushes. I need less movies, less internet, more time dedicated to my creative pursuits. I need to actually schedule writing time, reading time, a little blogging time. And I’m thinking of reorchestrating one of the first pieces of music I ever wrote. The manuscript, it seems, is unfortunately lost forever, but most of it’s still there in my head and I am hoping I shall soon be able to get the DAT recordings I have transferred to digital audio, not only for reference but also for download here on my page.

I need to develop a little more social life. Because of one or two friends, I’ve had a more satisfying social life in 2005 than I had in 2004, but still my trend has been to pretty much sequester myself and only hang out with Lime and a very few others — which I suspect may not be the best thing for Lime, the others, or myself. While I still have much better things to do than socialize with people who have nothing much to say, people who aren’t readers can sometimes be very interesting and if nothing else remind me of the way most real people are. (Frustrating as this can be, it’s also grounding.) I may remain choosy but I may not sequester myself quite so much in the coming year.

I made it through a major job search, and got the very job I wanted. I’m still waiting for the processing of paperwork to start, but I can smile to myself and say, “I did it!” happily. I am much less nervous about my skills and background, my ability to find work, my credibility as a teacher. And I rediscovered that I actually look good in a suit, whatever my misgivings about that kind of attire.

I will be living in Seoul — well, close to it, along the main subway/commuter train lines, anyway — from March (or rather late February) onward. Lime’s going to be working in a hospital as an intern, and I’ll be in a really good teaching position. Good students, good school, interesting courses, and living within reach of the capital. This means real music, English bookshops, proper cafes, non-Korean restaurants that don’t have burgers anywhere on the menu, live music — jazz, man, jazz! — and, I hope, by the end of 2006, I’ll have a baritone saxophone in hand and be on my way to playing a little bit of that jazz myself.

I don’t have any grandiose plans about things, though. I am not vowing to myself about publications, but I am vowing to myself about sending stories out. I have too many finished pieces that are just sitting here gathering dust, or whatever unpublished stories gather when they sit on hard drives. I am going to send them out. I’m going to subscribe to the SF magazines, especially Interzone. I’m going to send stories to other periodicals that seem like they might be open or receptive, too. I am not swearing that I’ll publish any novel or even any short stories next year, but it’s time to get a start on at least trying.

Things with Lime are good. They’re not good in that, “Ah, they’re okay, nothing new,” kind of stagnant-pond way that some people I know take as a good sign. We’ve had our difference occasionally. But we have learned more about the nature of those differences, learned to listen and understand and trust one another better. We’ve grown closer and every cruddy circumstance we’ve stood through side-by-side, hand-in-hand, has made us discover a deeper trust and more profound respect for one another. When I say things with Lime are good, I mean that the process of our relationship is good… that instead of a stable product, something I would have thought the best ideal when I was younger. No, we’re not stable, in the sense of static, in one place; we’re fluid, adapting, always moving somewhere. “We” is a process. This is what things should be, and should remain.

I miss my family. I have regrets about things I have missed, things I should have done and things I wish I’d done differently, and I have wishes I won’t be able to carry out, time I want to spend with them but won’t be able to. I’m sure many people experience the same thing. But I think they know that I love them, all the same. I’ve felt what family feels like, the strange bloodtie in the gut, looking into the eyes of this little nephew. I have heard another child is on the way, this time the other sister, and though it sounds silly, I’ve felt pride in that: it feels like some strange critter inside me is overjoyed at the expansion of his clan. Even though I will likely be the faraway, mostly-absent, barely known uncle, and even though I have nothing to do with their naissance, I still feel connected to these children, and it reminds me of the connections I have to my sisters, my parents, my parents’ parents, all those strange and winding hidden lines back through time to the foggiest of human remembrances.

I am old enough that I don’t find much significant at the changing of the date. The number affixed to this or that year matters less and less to me as time goes by. After the year 2001, I think I just stopped actively counting. Me, I’ve found myself more and more thinking on these intermediate technosocial timescales; how long till the record companies are harpooned and offed by the internet? How long till the interactive compupaper book comesout? How long till X-rated virtual reality hits the schoolkids home systems? I am pretty amused, and amazed, watching our society in the throes of a massive change. ATMs were only the beginning of what networked computng will do to our civilization, believe you me.

I have grown a little weary of energetic blogging. I think I may do this less often, and develop a somewhat less dedicated-routine, and I think this will be good for me, and (via the payoff in more productive work in fiction) it’ll be good for all of the rest of you, too. Wouldn’t you rather see, “ANOTHER STORY PUBLISHED!” on your RSS feed instead of another rant about EFL teaching or the rude fellow upstairs? Yeah, I thought so. I may, just may, re-focus this blog to some area of specific interest. Probably no hiatus is in the works, but a reworking of concept just might be.

I have grown weary, also, of typing today. So off I go to a little reading and then sweet, blessed sleep.

One thought on “As The Year Begins To End

  1. Nice, Gord.
    Happy New Year!

    Your feelings about being away from family really resonate with me. I’ve been overseas for about 8 years now.

    I’m interested in where you’re going to be teaching 2006. Gald your job search worked out for you.

    I agree about living in Seoul. I really like having access to proper books stores, coffee shops, restuarants and subways stations/buses, etc. Live is a lot more interesting and convenient.

    My girlfriend asked me the other day if I could live in the country again and, after talking with her, we both came to the conclusion that after living in places like Seoul, Tokyo, Bangkok and Taipei that it just would be too tough for us.

    We have actually talked about moving back to Japan and my getting a job in a university there. But some of the schools are out in the sticks. So, in the end, we decided that we’ll stay put in Taipei for now.

    I’m getting ready to go back to Australia next week. It’ll be a nice break from Taipei.

    Fred Shannon

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