The Travel Limbo

Funny thing about this post is that it was posted before I finished writing it. No title, no tags, not even a complete thought, and all kinds of editing mistakes, and it’s had more traffic than most of my posts. Go figure. This is the completed post with an ending and a new title- well an actual title.

A couple of days ago I had to contact both of the schools I had applied to (one in South Korea and the other in China) that I was not able to attend the upcoming school year. It wasn’t because I had changed my mind and things are falling into place here in Portland. Things are exactly as they have always been for me here in Portland; nice, but I’m not doing anything that gives me call to stay put. No, it’s all because of the parts of life that I can’t control. Visas. Well, not even my visa, because I haven’t been able to apply for my visas because I don’t have the documents. I’m waiting for my Criminal Background Check from the FBI and some health insurance so I can take the necessary health test that China requires. In a funny way they’re both kind of silly things to have to wait around for. Oh, I get it, I’m going to work with children and obviously people want their children to be safe, but it is only required that I have an FBI check from the United States, a country in which I have not lived for the past two years. So, of course my record is clean, but all those crimes I committed in Europe are not even on the radar. I didn’t commit any crimes in Europe, I’m not that exciting. Czech Republic had a funny visa rule too. If I had come directly from the United States, I had no need to do a criminal background check from the U.S., but since I came from China, I had to get a criminal background check from China. So, again, I could be a criminal from the U.S., but not in China or any other country I had been living in for six months or longer. In a weird way, China of all places is easier in that sense then the Czech Republic because I just have to wait for the FBI, but to get a background check from China- is absolutely impossible. I mean, the Chinese people at the police station tell you, “Not Possible.” A fairly typical response in all areas of requesting necessary information for any kind of government paperwork.

The FBI’s been backed up. Seems that many people are trying to leave the country, and get jobs that require Federal Background checks. What in the past took 10 to 12 weeks has now been pushed back to 12 to 15 weeks. Three months has now turned to 4 months. This is difficult for an impulsive person like myself. It’s kind of like China, “not possible” to plan a trip in less than three months. Now I’m wondering what to do with my time and how much time I have here actually.

Now what? Well, it’s waiting time. Once the background check comes in then I can reapply for jobs and I’ll see from there. In the meantime, I’ll need to look for some work. A part-time noncommittal job in a city where it is difficult to find work in unless, of course, I was in the tech industry. It certainly gives me more time to research travel blogs. In a brief update, I’ve gone through 23 of 42 blogs, and really only managed to cut out two blogs. I have put them into categories, but I’ve slowed down in my research, which is totally my style.

Update: I finally got on the Oregon Health Care plan which means I can get the health check I need for the Chinese visa application.

Advertisements

Making Plans While Waiting for Plans to Come Through

As the window to getting my visa in time to start work and return to Asia closes, I’ve started deliberating on what to do next or where to go next. A friend of mine once said, that I always have a plan B and a plan C. I didn’t know this about myself, since I rarely think I have a plan A. I mean, I think or imagine or talk about possibilities, but actual planning… I’m not so sure. I do believe I have a think B and a possibility C, but that’s as far as most of my planning goes. Then again, maybe I have a sense of terrible self-awareness.

I’ll just call them plans for connotation. Asia, was plan A, and I was pretty set on China, and this all had to do with a job teaching at a drama academy which would be so awesome (in my mind), but my major hesitation is that the pollution in China is deadly. I’m not real excited about breathing in Red Alert air, since I already did it for one year, and that’s one year less of my lung life without ever smoking a cigarette, that I’d rather not add to an already short life ( I mean with all there is to experience in the world). When I received a Facebook message from my wanderlust friend Keiko telling me to come to South Korea, I seriously considered it. I considered it enough to apply, and to do two interviews, plus get offered a position. Yet, I’ve been talking to the school in China for quite awhile, and they offered me more money than originally offered. I’d been on the fence, but it looks like the United States will be making the decision for me. As I wait for the necessary Criminal Background Check, and health insurance in order to get the necessary (and too expensive to pay out of pocket) health check for China, my entry time to the new semester is getting smaller. Also, China is looking like less of a possibility without the health check. But, I could miss out on both because of the semester starting before I can get there. I’ll have to apply later, and look for positions where they didn’t get enough teachers or teachers bailed, and that’s fine, but involves more waiting. It will be a mystery to even myself where I will end up next.

As I’ve been waiting here in Portland, kind of not doing anything, at all, I’ve been wondering what I’m going to do with the remaining half of my life (I’ve got a birthday approaching). I’ve been watching all of my friends settle into their lives, and I’m really proud of them. I know a bunch of small business owners, people living life the way they want, having families, and getting their homes, and people who seem to be really happy, which makes me happy. On a really selfish side it’s good to surround yourself with happy people because happiness is like a rabbit- it keeps breeding. Still, I’ve been thinking, “wait, but what am I doing, really?” The answer right now is “not much”. Right now, as of today, I have a good excuse since I’m waiting, but with this delay in getting my documents, the waiting will be moving into the depths of needing to do something, and oh my god I’m wasting my life and the common feeling of being lost. I know this because I know how I think. I’ve been asking myself all the questions from all the positivity blogs and websites or the big motivational sites: HOW TO LIVE THE LIFE YOU LOVE. BE THE ONE YOU DREAM TO BE. You know the ones they’re everywhere. I do believe it is good to reflect on yourself and your life, and to ask yourself the important questions because one day you’ll ask yourself the most important question: “if you are going to die right now, can you say to yourself that you truly made the most of your life? Did you live the life you wanted?” And, of course, I think all of us would like to say yes because it is our one precious life on this earth right now, and no matter what your beliefs you will never be this person in this body in this place in this time again- so hopefully it is a good place.

I had been playing it over in my mind; the mantra of do what you love, and asking myself what do I love? I’ve given up before on the thing I loved because of fear and low-selfworth, and I don’t want to do that again, so I asked myself, “what do I love? what makes me happy?” What really makes me happy, not the idea of what makes me happy, but the reality of what makes me happy. I created a short list:

Dancing; when I was on stage; snowboarding; teaching (not prepping for class- I don’t like that part); writing; reading; going to art museums; being out in nature; and just talking with people- lots of chatting and learning about people’s lives; and a ton of laughing; learning new things; and traveling- in fact the actual travel part- especially on trains (my favorite).

I wondered if it was possible to combine all of these things and still make a sustainable living especially since there isn’t a lot of “jobs” in the list at list not obvious work except teaching, but I’m not going to be a teacher in America. It’s not going to happen for a lot of reasons. The most obvious thing to me, but I don’t think it’s all that easy, is to become a travel writer. Travel writing, to me, almost seems similar to trying to make it as a performer: A lot of people want to do it, and you have to know how to sell and market yourself, and few actually make money at it. Even so, I feel like it’s probably the best way for me to combine all my loves (snowboarding by the way can be replaced by any number of sports or activities. I just have really fond memories of my snowboarding life in Germany). So that’s what I’m going to set as my future life goal, and I’ve started the process.

I read somewhere that it is important that once you set a goal to immediately jump into action. Not crazy action, of course, like if you want you run a marathon you try to run 26 miles in your first day, unless you already run marathons, that’s just stupid, and a great way to hurt yourself, and to quit. This action can be small, as long as it is an action in the direction toward your goal. So, that’s what I did. I made a decision to have my goal to be a travel writer. I’m starting small here, I’m not thinking making tons of money, and getting paid to travel, but I am thinking professional. I’m open to making money and having it take care of me, but I’m not thinking I’m going to take the internet by storm tomorrow. God, knows that’s the truth, I’ve had this blog for eight years’ and it has not caused any earthquakes. I have a lot to learn. A lot. So I’ve set my goal as a realistic accomplishable goal. It is very possible for me be a travel writer. I just set up a website, travel, take good pictures, and write about it: done. Making money, and sustaining your life as a travel writer is something else. The extra part I added about doing it in a professional way is to set me up for goal number two which is to make income as a professional travel writer. Right now I can’t focus on the actual goal of money because when I look at travel writers’ blogs, I think to myself, “Oh, god, I’ll never be able to get a following enough to make money.” I’ll never write like them or take pictures like them and their backgrounds are so geared for that life not mine, and on and on I’ll go. I have to keep my goals reachable. So right now it’s just a travel writer with a website set up, prepared, and open to receive income when the time is right. I sound like The Secret or something. Anyway, speaking of other travel writers, that is where I took my first steps of action.

I went to several travel sites and collected a list of the best travel blogs, and the best blogs to read for 2016. I found 57, there are more than that, but I wrote down the 57, and that was my action day 1. Then the next day I browsed 23 of them, and removed any that I didn’t think were my style or my scene. Unfortunately, I didn’t cut out that many. The following day, I went through the remaining 34, and made my final picks of travel blogs that I want to research for content, ideas, and inspiration. Again, unfortunately, I only managed to reduce a few from my original list of 57 to 42.  My next part of the “action” (process) is actually reading these blogs which is why 42 is not exactly the ideal number. I have to read them. How am I to know the content, and to see what readers are reading, and what niche may be missing that only little ol’ me can fill if I don’t read them? So I’ve decide to create a little criteria that I’ll share later (because I haven’t made the list yet) to bring the list down to a reasonable number that I can actually follow and still manage to live my life.

Maybe you are wondering what the cut off was from the first round of traveler writers. Well, since you asked, I’ll tell you. Posh. I cut out the posh blogs or the blogs for rich folks. I know people without money like these blogs too just like they look at Goop by Gwyneth Paltrow or follow the Kardashians, but come on that’s fantasyland. I need to look at something I can actually do. There’s no way I can go to fancy posh hotels and top ten ritzy restaurants. That would basically make my travels last about one day. I need reasonable goals. I also cut out the crazy adventure extreme blogs. I’m not going to sustain myself on bugs of the Amazon, and jump from a helicopter to sandboard down a Namibian sand dune. Reasonable goals. There were a couple other blogs non-posey and non-extreme adventure that I was on the fence about because they just seemed like a little too pretty and too perfect, but I decided to put aside my initial judgements, and read through them a bit. As far as who I already gravitate to in the travel writing blog world I do have a few that I like even with only a small browse, and I’ll share those guys now:

I am Aileen
The Blog Abroad
Hole in the Donut
Nomadic Matt.

I’ve already noticed a couple of themes in language use amongst almost all of the blogs: Digital nomad being a huge one and Lifestyle creator. I find them a little cheesy, but that’s marketing- it’s all kind of cheesy. I also noticed that most people seemed to have changed their lives and quit their office jobs to began their travel blogs in 2008. I don’t know why this time exactly- the economy maybe? That was when the market crashed. It’s just something I noticed.

There you go. So as I sit and watch my window of opportunity close to a couple of jobs in Asia, and then wait for a couple windows to open for new jobs in Asia, I’ll work on building a door and then opening it myself.

CIMG0120
Every one’s trying to get in to get their visa.

Two years and Nine Countries.

It’s been quite some time since I have posted here. There’s no point in apologizing or promising to be more dedicated in my postings because I’ve done that before, and these are only promises to myself. Truth of it, the reason I haven’t posted photos or poems or updates is because I haven’t had the desire. In the past two year’s I barely have even journaled. I hadn’t thought much about it or even missed it, but after I returned to the states and opened my boxes, that had been stored at a friends house  while I was gone, I found at least 50 to 75 journals. I had written in these journals over the course of the past 26 years, and it occurred to me that I actually did write. I imagine there was some reason inside me that I’ve decided to remain quiet. Perhaps it has to do with my mom’s death and absorbing all of those feelings, and existential crises that I still am unable to grasp to a level of applying words. No matter. They’ll come if they want to. I did get the writer bug back again. Thank god. I did miss it. I said I didn’t, but obviously, I was lying. I missed having a project and a drive. I don’t feel like sharing my ideas here because I find that it is just a form of procrastination that I have created. I talk about what I’m going to write, and then that’s where all of the energy goes. This time I’ll just keep it to the actual project.

As for a recap of 2013-2015 it goes a bit like this- in a timeline:

July 2013, leave Portland Oregon; visit mom in Chico, visit Paradise, then San Francisco for visa, and Fremont to see dad; August 25th, 2013: Arrive in Zhengzhou, China and become a literature teacher; Go to Shaolin Temple; Jan-Feb, 2014: holiday- it’s vacation time, Go to Vietnam, Go to Australia, return to Zhengzhou and four days letter get a message that my mother is dead. Mother’s time of death; Feb, 19, 2014 two weeks after her 64th birthday, six days before my 41st; fly to California: Chico, Paradise, Trinidad, Eureka, San Francisco-all to carry her ashes. Return to Zhengzhou for work. May, 2014 finally get the death certificate and report: mother died from a methamphetamine overdose. July: Kaifeng, Xi’an. August 25th 2014, leave China and spend one day in Seoul; August 26 arrive in Prague. Begin TEFL program in September; Trip to Switzerland. October; Ceske Budejovice, Cesky Krumluv, back to Prague to work for a visa; Berlin to apply, Berlin to pick up; work in Brno, Czech Republic, then to Warsaw for a day and volunteer in Zabuze, Poland; return to Prague; work in Malacky, Slovakia, work in Tercianske Stankovce, Slovakia, work in Surany, Slovakia, work in Bratislava, Slovakia, work in Bratislava again- all small country towns and small villages. Christmas in Poland. New Year’s in Prague. January 2015 work in Prague all over the city; work in Beroun, Czech Republic; visit to Jablonce, Czech Republic; back to Warsaw, to Zawidowice, Poland; Wisniew, Poland- all for volunteer; to Olomouce, Czech Republic, to Vyskov, Czech Republic (for work), and the visa is over and to Brno to begin travels. Robbed in Brno return to Prague; Karlovy Vary, Czech Republic, one last weekend in the Czech mountains, Rokytnice; to Poland one last time: Warsaw, and Zabuze, and Ostrów Mazowiecka, then Krakow, and Auschwitz, then to Prague. September 22nd, fly to Germany, fly to Portland, Or. October 2nd, 2015 one week in California to pick up the last of my mother’s things. The last of her life in two small boxes. To Ashland, Redding, Santa Cruz, San Francisco, The Russian River, to Portland. Already a lifetime ago.

Here now, back in Portland, and it is a full month and 3 days that I have been in the states, and it all ready feels like forever, and it feels like forever since I’ve had a job, and Prague life seems year’s ago, and China feels as if it never happened, and I’m still waiting for my mom to call. We had always talked on Sundays.

And, that’s it for the past two years. I never went to Kunta Hora. Damn.

CIMG5590 CIMG5603