Job Hunt

Even though I know I’ll have a job in Sydney, I can’t help but wonder what else is out there.

So I start job hunting for the first time in 4 years. I can’t fathom why it’s much more stressful than I remember.

I mean–if anything, it should feel easier, shouldn’t it? I’m older, I have more work experience, and I know what I want.

But that’s just it. Knowing exactly what type of job I want and knowing what I’m worth are the exactly why job hunting is more stressful than I remember.

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When I was younger, I believed in my own skills less. I felt young and hopeless and I was willing to believe anyone else’s estimations of me. Job hunting in my twenties felt just like Halloween–I’m going from job to job, dressed up like an adult when I feel like a kid. I’m holding out my empty bag of hopes and dreams and just asking random strangers to give me something I normally don’t deserve.

Yet another aspect of why job hunting now is more stressful: I am more of a realist now. Four years ago, I was looking for ANY job. I didn’t care what job I had, because in my mind, I was a writer. I was going to be a writer on my own and whatever job I got to pay the bills really didn’t matter, because I didn’t have to care about enjoying it. I blindly believed I could do both; I could work in a professional field for a living and still accomplish the personal writing goals I set out to do.

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But… four years later, I haven’t made much progress, writing-wise. I do my daily word limits like a good little self-starter. I’ve created some interesting short stories in this time. Overall though, my big writing projects haven’t gone very far. There are a million excuses when you work a day job.

  • I’m too tired thinking about my work that I actually get paid for.
  • My brain is frazzled from my paid work.
  • I need down time from my paid work.

The excuses for not having completed personal writing goals are endless when you actually care about your day job.

It’s depressing, because now that I’m (kind of) an adult, I know better. I know that caring about one’s day job is impossible to avoid. Being a kid, even a young adult, you really have no accurate understanding of what might happened to you if you quit your day job. You have no one counting on you to put food on the table at the end of the day.

So here is where I admit: it’s not possible to care less about my day job. I have to care. Caring means more stress. And that’s okay. Being an adult means I have to stress. Maybe having all these things to stress about will make me a better writer.

Caring about my day job doesn’t have to mean that I just throw in the towel on what I want to achieve with writing; it just means that it’ll be more difficult for me to do, but it’s not impossible. I just have to push myself harder.

Perhaps this is why J.M. Barrie wrote Peter Pan–to help him (or others) deal with the realities of adulthood.

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I, ____

I have two hometowns. I identify with 2 cultures, and I’m married into to a third. I hold two–soon to be three–citizenships.

I have two names.

This is how my next writing project begins. I plan for it to be the most truthful account of my experiences. By truthful, I mean to say it will be written without any attempt to make anything sound more interesting than it actually is; it will be written without any intention to make myself more likable.

I’ve been writing for roughly 18 years now. I made up stories about fictional characters, and I wrote about my life and experiences in various blogs.

But this is something I’ve never tried: writing something without worrying about what the eventual reader will think.

Sure, I’ve kept personal (hand-written) diaries. I have 6 notebooks of it so far, the oldest entry dating back to 1999. When I go back and read these diary entries, I realised something: even when I write in paper notebooks that I assume no one will ever read, I’ve actually been writing to impress my future self.

So the new writing project, I, ____, is my attempt at writing about myself, my past, my beliefs, without bias, or expectation.

I’m only a few pages in, and already I am afraid. Here is some of what I wrote on the first page:

I worry that by putting all of this down on paper and one day actually publishing this, I will lose everyone. My family will disown me, my husband will divorce me, and our future children would never speak to me again.

Whether this thing will ever see the light of day, I have no idea. It’s something I really should try at least once, though–writing a piece of work with complete honesty.

Perhaps that’s why some writers only write fiction; they put their horrid thoughts and feelings and pin them on some innocent fictional character, just so they can get their thoughts out there somewhere without being directly associated with having those thoughts.

And really, I tried that. I started the story of my family many times, in fictional format. Over the years, I shed my childhood fears and sorrows all over the pages as if they were happening to someone else. There are many versions of my story in the shorts and poems I’ve generated, but none of them were actually me.

What I found? Invariably the characters themselves grew their own sense of independence. They end up entirely different than I am, and forcing my own thoughts and beliefs upon them would no longer feel right. I let them veer off in the directions they wanted to go, and that’s usually when I end up with a story I like. A story about an actually fictional character with a completely different life than mine.

That reminds me of a quote from another great writer:

“This is the beauty of fiction. Giving your characters what you never had, which then comes around and is a vicarious gift to yourself.”

— David Wong Louie.

But I’ve had enough of “vicarious gifts”. Instead I think it’s time to write about the things I’ve been afraid to put down on paper. Maybe by committing past atrocities and childhood memories to paper will make them smaller and more bearable.

There’s a Chinese expression that I was taught to adopt; swallow bitterness. It’s something Chinese girls have always been encouraged to do in order to keep our families happy. Today I’m deciding to do the opposite of that. I’ll spit out all the things that poisoned me in one place, and move on.

 

End of the Glorious 20’s – Monday

I’m turning 30 this coming Sunday. I plan to reflect upon my 20’s from today, all the way through Friday. If pointless old person rambling about the past is not your piece of birthday cake, then at least you’ve been warned.

Summer 2005 – Summer 2007

The first 2 years of my twenties, here is where we saw some early stages of internet trolling. I wasn’t that much of a troll. I didn’t do anything or say anything that would hurt anyone. I mainly just stuck with the vanilla trolls like lame gaming jokes.

I moved out of my parent’s home in February, 2006. My mom thought I was leaving home to be a “floozy” (or whatever the Chinese word was for floozy), so I spent the rest of 2006 being “shunned” by my family.

I went to school in the day, and worked at Subway at night. I needed full time hours for bills and tuition. I lived in New West, my classes were up on Burnaby Mountain. And I worked in Coquitlam. I didn’t drive. The transit from home to school was roughly 1 hour. Then 1 hour to commute from school to work. Finally, about 1.5 hours from work to home. Most nights I got home at at 1 int he morning after closing shifts of 11 pm. On weekends I got the early opening shifts, so it was often that I closed up at 11 pm on Friday night, only to return to work at 5:30 am on Saturday morning. I used to wonder why I didn’t just sleep over night at work…

Thinking back on that now, I wonder why I ever bothered with such a hassle. Up to 4 hours a day on public transit. Coming home smelling like old bread and just passing out on a single bed. But for some reason, I remember those first year of my twenties with fondness. My new life then was full of challenges, but it was exciting at the same time.

By 2007, my roommate and I moved into a bigger place. It was closer to my school as well as my job, so the commute wasn’t that much of a bother anymore.

When I think of those first 2 years, I realise that is the most free I have ever felt. It’s probably the most free I will ever feel. I didn’t have my parents to fall back on (they cut me off completely), but it also meant I didn’t have anyone to answer to. I worked like a dog for a shitty wage, went to school tired and cranky… but it was fun nonetheless. I had fun, fell in love, spent days off adventuring with friends.

Those were some good years.

November

It’s finally November! Jamie and I are leaving for Australia in a couple of days.

We argued pretty harshly last Friday. All started with him starting a ranked match RTS game while I was half way through getting dinner ready. Now? I feel more mellow. I feel like I just adjusted my expectations. I get a certain schedule in my head and I feel angry when something doesn’t go along on my schedule.

But that’s too much to expect of another human being, I think. When I’m co-existing with somebody, I need to have buffer room for their own timeline. I give buffer room to our developers at work so that we can all get things done on time. I should do the same for people I love. I can’t expect everyone to operate on my time schedule. I need to remember that I can’t control everything.

Adjusting

It definitely takes some adjusting to now that I’m back in Stamford.

Things are quite a bit more complicated now that we’re married. When I look at our taxes and visas, it seems like such a big mess.

Reporting my Canadian taxes seems easy. There’s just one spouse section on which I report that he is not a Canadian citizen/resident and then I just report his income in Canadian dollars.

Reporting our US taxes is going to be  giant pain, and here’s why

  1. We’re both foreign nationals living in USA. He’s Australian and I’m Canadian. So we have to figure out what status to report our taxes under. Technically we’re considered non-immigrants when it comes to our Visas, but for Tax purposes, we are considered resident aliens.
  2. Work. We don’t know how to report income from my work.

I didn’t realise that being married was such a big headache. I suppose it isn’t usually until you marry an Australian and a Canadian together in the USA.

We need an accountant. I’m going to find one that actually doesn’t suck. Hmm. I wonder where I can find a good accountant. Probably through immigration services?

Ever After

Every person has one piece of art that they identify with so deeply that it becomes their major inspiration. For me, this movie is it. I have a VHS copy as well as a DVD copy. I watched this movie over and over again–so much that my little brother (who adored me when he was toddler and wanted to do everything I did) and I were able to play out the entire movie, line for line.

While the movie in its entirety is wonderful in itself, the scene that drew me in was the moment Danielle asked her step mother whether she’s ever loved her at all. The step mother’s response? “How can anyone love a pebble in their shoe?”

My New Name

My New Name

I have a married name now. It’s weird that I didn’t feel married until I saw the name on this envelope, addressed by my HUSBAND.

I’m so married.