Saturday, June 13, 2015

Mid-Year Updates

Tokyo
The months since my last post have flown by. But, slowly. Time moves slowly here. Perhaps it's due to the newness of everyday encounters? Or, maybe my lack of any routine occupation?

I read somewhere about a trick for slowing down time because, as adults, time seems to move quickly but, as kids, time was seemingly endless. For example, as a kid the three months of summer vacation lasted For. Ever. But, as an adult, a year can pass seemingly unnoticed. The article's conclusion was that in order to slow time down one needs to adopt a child's perspective.

Most things children experience are new. Thus, the newness of everything creates a memory or experience which, in turn, simulates more time. As an adult these new memories or experiences occur less often, making each day blend into the next, simulating less time. Therefore, one must experience new things, or old things in a new way, in order to seemingly slow time down. Accordingly, because our lives abroad, especially in a Chinese speaking country, provides ample opportunities for experiencing new things, or old things in a new way, time moves slowly for us. An illustration of this would be the fact that it's only been 5 years since we left Seattle yet it seems like much longer because of all the things we've experienced in the interim. Conversely, because our 11-years spent in Seattle were routine, that time seems to have flown by.

With friends in Tokyo
But, I digress. My last update was regarding March and here we sit in June. Since that last update we've celebrated our birthday month (April), started Chinese lessons with a private tutor, been to Tokyo, and had a friend from London visit. I also wrote a short story and submitted it to two competitions and started a language exchange with a friend while Mike applied for an artist's residency program housed in Kaohsiung's Pier-2 Art Center. I find out in August how my short story fared and Mike should find out shortly as to how his application fared.

We were looking forward to a couple more international trips in the coming months but while buying tickets for a trip in November I was rejected because my passport expires in January 2016. Apparently, one needs at least 6 months validity on their passport in order to purchase international flights. So, instead of visiting new countries, we'll be waiting for a new passport for me (4-8 weeks). Definitely not as cool.

Surrounded by locals at a bar in Tokyo
Since I'm without a passport for the next few weeks, we hope to focus our travel time on Taiwan, which we have neglected since our arrival last year. Our deterrent has been that, much like the UK, intra-island travel is often more expensive than traveling abroad. But, with no other choice available, this might be the impetus we needed to stay on the island, but get out of Kaohsiung.

With June nearly half over, and my first year as a lady of leisure coming to an end, I'm in the process of assessing the status of my goals and, sadly, my Chinese skills are not where I had hoped they would be at this point. Though I'm able to maintain a simple conversation and read simple sentences, my writing skills are definitely lacking. Moving forward I'll be focusing more on those but, otherwise, I'll just continue as I have and hope I reach the tipping point soon, when learning becomes easier.

Shrimping with visiting friends in Kaohsiung
My writing goals have mostly been achieved, though I'm disappointed that the act of writing doesn't come easier for me. It's an absolute effort to write every day and often times I don't. Because I am inherently lazy. But, despite my laziness, I have completed a novel-length manuscript, which I'm currently editing, and a short story, as previously mentioned. I haven't been published yet but I have an article I'm kicking around in my head and I hope to get that to someone before the end of July for possible publication, meeting my goal. I've also been paid during the year, though not for my writing.

Looking forward, I'm not sure how much longer I'll be a lady of leisure. I'm beginning to miss working, especially for a cause, and Mike is beginning to loathe teaching. Both of these developments portend a shorter stay in Taiwan than originally anticipated. We're withholding any final decisions until later this year but, assuming an end is nigh, I hope to use my remaining months as a lady of leisure to finish my writing projects, accomplish my goals, and lounge by a pool, preferably with a drink in my hand at all times. 乾杯 (gan1bei1 / cheers) to that!
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