Tuesday, January 6, 2009

So, yeah... it's 2009 now.

Happy New Year!

Now that my vacation is over and I'm starting to get back into the groove, it's time to do a little navel gazing about 2008. Kind of a big year for me. ;)

If you'll recall, about this time last year I was still just exploring the idea of taking the CELTA and moving abroad to teach English as a foreign language. I got a very fortuitous fortune cookie. That fortune is currently under my left wrist... taped to my laptop, which is sitting on my bed, in my apartment, down the street from the school where I teach English, in Rayong fucking THAILAND. =) And yes, I am actually enjoying this trip to Asia.... not every second, but overall - very much so.

Let's look more specifically at what I had hoped to accomplish in 2008.

1. Study a foreign language (or two, or more), learn enough to handle basic greetings, shopping or travel.
2. Travel outside the United States, for a vacation if not for a new job.
3. Leave my current job for a more satisfying one.
4. Find an enjoyable & non painful form of exercise or physical activity.
5. Finish my Flying Geese quilt.
6. Learn a new craft or skill.

Obviously goals 1, 2, and 3 were meant to go together ... and honestly 4, 5, & 6 were my back-up goals in case the moving abroad thing didn't happen... so let's go in reverse order.

6. Learn a new craft or skill.
I meant this as a practical skill or craft (wood-working / pottery) it didn't happen, and I don't really care. Grade: We'll call this a W for 'withdrawal'

5. Finish my Flying Geese quilt.
Nope, this lovely UFO is sitting in Castle5000 patiently awaiting my return, I actually don't think I did a single thing to it in 2008. Grade: F

4. Find an enjoyable & non-painful form of exercise or physical activity.
I joined a bowling team, and although it's not exactly high-impact cardio, it is a form of physical activity and I really enjoyed it. Unfortunately, I've only gone a few times since moving here. I have gone swimming quite a bit though... and love it here. My proximity to the ocean will allow me to make swimming a semi-regular part of my life, which is awesome. Grade: B+

3. Leave my current job for a more satisfying one.
Yay!!!!!!! I finally quit that job that I hated with a blinding passion for so long. That was a gigantic step for me. My current job is far from perfect, and I don't feel comfortable enough with my teaching skills to be particularly satisfied yet.... but I think I'm heading in the right direction. Grade: A

2. Travel outside the United States, for vacation if not for a new job.
Yeah baby! Not only did I move my whole life to another country and manage to get a new job and everything.... I threw in a bonus country at the end of the year, 'cause that's how I roll! Grade: A+

1. Study a foreign language; learn enough for basic greetings, shopping or travel. I haven't been formally studying Thai, but I have picked up enough for basic greetings and shopping (and more importantly EATING) - the travel part not so much. I can say "I want to go...." wherever, but I don't know how to say 'ticket' or 'train' or 'late' or any of those really helpful phrases. I really thought it would be easier to take a language class here, and that I would be more motivated to do so. But honestly, I've been slacking off, I've been here over four months and I still don't have the alphabet memorized. Grade: B

But wait! I'm gonna give myself a little extra credit here.

Although I haven't really learned a skill that I'll be able to take back to the states with me, I have learned to haggle for prices in the market. I'm not great at it, but I don't pay the first price they offer. Also, I've learned how to ride side-saddle on the back of a motorbike - 'cause I'm classy. Two bonus points for #6.

And while I barely touched my flying geese quilt, I did finish a few other small projects. Santa Squares, Pink Lemonade, Broken Dishes (from entirely free materials), and Thousand Pyramids. I think that earns me 4 bonus points for #5.

Then, you know, there's the fact that I live in Thailand, and I had to use a squat toilet (while drunk) on my birthday... so I get about 80 billion bonus points for that.

Overall grade for 2008: A+

Although I've been wanting to go abroad for a while, making these resolutions and putting them out there where the world (and I) could see them in black & white really helped me to accomplish them. I had more than a few roadblocks along the way... or rather the same roadblock repeatedly (that non-existent CELTA course I kept trying to take). And when everything fell apart back in April/May it was the fact that I'd resolved to leave the country that really kept me going. Towards the end of May I was thinking "We're almost half way through the year and if I don't make something happen *now* I might not make it out of the country by the end of the year." All hail the power of the resolution!*

So that brings me to this year... what exactly do I want to accomplish in 2009?

1. Say yes more and continue to have new experiences.

This will be tough to quantify, but in general I want to keep this in mind all year, to say yes more, to try new things and have new experiences. But in all this experimentation the goal will be to find things that I enjoy, that make me happy. So, you know, no sticking my hand in the crocodile cage just because being bitten would be a new experience. ;)

2. Replenish my savings account.

I'm feeling a lot of anxiety about my lack of a safety net. I make plenty of money to live nicely in Thailand, but in $US it's less than half of what I used to make. I'm going to try to save about 10,000 baht a month (<$300)

3. Develop an exit strategy.

My plan continues to be to stay in Thailand as long as I'm happy, but my contract will be up on October 1. I want to actually think about what I want to do next and really research my options. This is an area I really need to work on (6+ years in a job I hated - why???). So when my contract is up, do I go look at another school, another country, am I ready to go back to the States? I need to spend a little time thinking this through, so that if I stay here it will be by choice and not by default.

4. Research, plan and go on one last trip before leaving SE Asia.

Honestly, I've never been especially interested in Asian history or culture (aside from the FOOD!), but I'm here and there is a lot to see. I'm going to devote some serious time and energy learning what there is to see & do around here and figuring out what I'd really enjoy / what I'd regret not seeing once I left.

5. Improve the quality of my blog.

If you can't tell, I rather enjoy blogging. It's mostly a journal for myself, but I like it when other people read it (and comment!), and it makes me really happy when people say it was helpful in some way or other. So I'm going to participate in Sophisticated Dorkiness' Blog Improvement Project, and see how that goes. I may even start editing down my posts to something shorter than a Russian novel. ;)

6. Get my head sorted out.

More on this one later... or maybe not.

These goals are not quite as earth shattering and exciting as last year's... but I think they'll keep me headed in a good direction. Wish me luck! =)

* But I think it has to be something you really want to do and have been meaning to do for a while. Resolving to eat more rutabegas is not going to make me eat more rutabegas.


IamSusie said...

It looks like you had a great year and the future looks bright! Happy New Year!

Kaye said...

Damnit, now I'm craving rutabegas. Maybe I'll resolve to plant some in my pot garden this year!

mlle b said...

Looks like a good plan -- you should see my (insane) resolutions!! I'm sure that 2009 is going to be unexpected and amazing for you. Bisous!

Alex Case said...

Good plans. It's worth having a plan for Oct even if you are almost certain you'd like to stay, as being sick of a place can come on suddenly!

If you want to continue in Asia but sort out the savings, must be even further East

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Doug Anderson said...

RE: Exit Strategy

You will probably find, as I did and several other people I know did, that if or when you go back to the States, you will undergo reverse culture shock. Everything looks the same as it did, sidewalks are flat and can be walked on, there are no tuk tuks, people politely ask where you've been but when you get excited and try to tell them, they tune out. Thailand changed me, but I didn't really understand that until I went back home to Canada. I have half a dozen friends, some of who are ESL teachers, who say the same thing. I can't live in Canada any more.

Having said that, it's a big world out there and ESL teachers are in demand everywhere. You could be teaching in French Polynesia, Bulgaria, or China, who knows?

jovaliquilts said...

I followed links and discovered your blog, which I read because I liked your quilts. Now I still come back to it for your descriptions of your experiences in Thailand. All your changes have been so impressive! Congratulations on a great year.

Karin said...

You're my hero!

Rebel said...

Ok - I thought I responded to all your comments but I guess not!

Susie - thanks! I hope so.

K/B - you totally should!

mlle B - I would totally read your insane list if you would post them on your blog missy! ;)

Alex - I know, I know, but I'm kind of lovin' the lifestyle here. I need to find the right balance somehow.

Doug - yeah, I'm sure reverse culture shock will hit me, already I know I would freak out if I went back.

Jovial - thanks I hope you also have a fantastic year!

Karin - you, like M5K need to get some better heros. =P

Jonathan said...

In the fall, I made a list of five goals that I wanted to accomplish in the next 5 years, and going abroad either to volunteer or work was one of them!

Congratulations on your great score ;)

Michael5000 said...

As the Possesser Regent of the Flying Geese Quilt, I hereby change your "F" to an "I".