Eye of the Optimist-Parting ways

Posted on December 7, 2016 at 6:03 AM
I am well into a life transition. I am packing some things and discarding others. I am closing up my life here in Korea in increments, according to a calendar. 

As I have taught my students, life transitions are processes with their typical stages of emotions. It can be a roller coaster ride. As the end of my present contract has been getting nearer and nearer, the more often I go through ups and downs: fear, anxiety, butterflies, joy, excitement and grief. Since I have been planning my escape for over a year, I have already come to terms with the fact of separation and the anticipation  and perils of change. I have been experiencing waves of loss, sadness, anger, spite, wistfulness, and jubilance. It seems to happen in cycles of excitement and happiness followed by fear and sadness. The point at which I said "Yes" to the winter house-sitting gig brought home the reality of saying good-bye to this life. I procrastinated at booking my flight for several weeks, but was forced to go through with the booking so as to satisfy my host abroad and coordinate things with her. I knew that buying the ticket would initiate a process of relocation, and it was therefore a dramatic moment.

The calendar of my planning hinges on two dates: my December pay day, which is Christmas, and the date on which my departing flight for Vancouver is booked. I feel it will be safe to put in my notice and announce it after Christmas. To give notice too soon might result in an premature closing of my employee file and cost me a final month or two of salary, even though the expiration of my contract is dated February 28, 2017, January is normally time for winter work, and February for vacation travel. The employer likes to be told 4 months in advance, but they have been known to pay out two months later and deny severance pay and return airfare when they have gotten such an early notice. We have learned to delay giving notice until about two months before the end of the contract so as to get our due.

I suppose many are not expecting my decision. They just ask what I'm doing this winter. I have therefore merely told the curious that I intend to fly back to Vancouver mid-January because a friend wants me to house-and pet-sit at that time, which is the truth. I just don't inform them that I do not intend to return. When loving students say they will look me up next semester, I say something like, "Good and have a good winter break." Well, I know it is not a promise and the reality is that only occasionally does any student look me up the following semester, and only occasionally do students manage to enroll in one of my classes for the consecutive time because of conflicting schedules and program restraints. I don't feel bad about being discreet. They're young; though they may retain some memory of their teachers, they move on quickly and the teacher is soon out of mind. I prefer to think that anyway, and I prefer to be businesslike about it all. I do not want big farewells, anyway. I would rather be discreet and avoid the drama. I can get way to emotional, and have been known to start sobbing at times, which probably comes across as exaggerated or inappropriate, but I cannot help it. I just start gushing tears. 

Not wishing my employer to learn of my decision to leave too soon, I am being discreet about giving up the possessions I don't wish to cart off to Canada, which is inhibiting. I have as yet refrained from posting a list of things I wish to sell or give away, and have instead chosen, for the time being, to pick away at my belongings and carry away small amounts of items in innocuous looking shopping bags to the charitable collection bins or garbage bins, or pass along the odd item to a friend or neighbour. I have invited colleagues and members of social network groups to take or buy a few odd items, explaining that I am just housekeeping and getting rid of things that I no longer use. It is true that the first items I parted ways with were things that had been lying around unused for some time, and responders were hot to grab free offers such as a bike, a folding table, Korean language study materials and hand weights. The priced items are still with me; everyone tries to hold out to get freebies, I guess. It is amazing the amount of communication it can take to coordinate a simple pick-up. There is only so much labour I am willing to do to unload some item without payment, so I have gotten impatient with the procrastinators. I can hold out, too; there is time. I'll announce open houses at my apartment and my office between Dec. 25 and Jan. 1, when I hope to dispense with the bulk of the stuff up for grabs, and I hope to get some cash in exchange for it.

I have made inquiries to airline cargo services and shipping agents. The airlines charge too much and the agents deal with container-sized shipments. As I am only thinking of including a couple of suitcases and a few boxes in a shipment, my order is too small. Unfortunate, because I might be able to have my TV and printer moved by that means. However, I am in university paid and furnished housing, so I only have small articles. I will have to give up the TV and the printer, and make do by using the government postal service in order to keep a minimum quantity of my stuff. I have already sent off to shoe-boxes with documents and odd articles like sewing notions and stationery stuff, and a cost of almost $40. I have an extra piece of luggage that would cost $200 to check in on the day of the flight, so I am thinking of doing without it and instead filling one largish box with mostly mixed clothing and linens to be delivered as parcel post, and risking the extra weight baggage fee by trying to stuff all remaining excess materials into the two bags I will check in. That method seems to be my best and most cost efficient option with respect to moving my possessions.  

The only thing is the birds. I must broaden my search for a good new home for them right away. I took pictures for a posting today; I can post the information to a network of animal rescuers and pet lovers where I would have the best chance of finding a suitable stranger to take them on. So far, my word by mouth among a few acquaintances has not produced any serious interest. I need to resolve the problem soon so that I can assist with the move and transition of my little friends' lives. 

I really must start to put out the call for a new home for my little flock tomorrow morning. It pains me, though. I will miss them. They have brightened up my life in this small dull apartment. They have been very amusing. I have loved taking care of them and getting to know them, but the long voyage would be too risky and certainly very stressful. Their health and skills at flight and play have come along well and I don't want to trigger a setback. The newest to the family, the tiny mottled Society finch, has turned out to be the most adventurous and playful. He sure can sing, too! Parting with them is a big step and just the thought of it has been affecting me already. They will have a better chance at adjusting to a new home around hear than taking that epic and uncomfortable lengthy journey abroad, especially as I would have no place to keep them until I get settled.

Actually, I realised how emotional I have been getting about the move as I taped up the parcels in the post office and requested documents from my medical file after my last medical appointment. I found myself getting quite annoyed, then felt almost teary afterward. "Ah-hah!" I thought. It was apparent that the difficulty of making this change is getting to me. Around the time I was taking care of these matters, I was also going through the last week of classes for the semester, which is the last week of classes I'll teach in Korea. Some days I think this is the last time I'm seeing this person, or buy this item or use this service. It can verge on morbidity. Each time I even think about closing my bank accounts, or canceling my internet service and whatnot, I experience emotional twinges. I have also circulated an invitation to celebrations of my birthday, my "big fat" 60ieth, in fact. That is another milestone, isn't it?--the biggest reason why I feel I should get out of Korea and make a change now in my life. I guess this event is at the root of my conflict over the departure, as well as the act of departure itself. The transition would only get harder and harder the longer and longer I waited. It is nonetheless quite an emotional time to make the move now.

Overall, I feel good about doing it now. I know that there are a lot of options for me now, and opportunities opening up now that could be missed by waiting too long. I feel happy about what could happen for me at this turning point. I am hot to get into new work and other activities back in Canada. I am happy to be embarking upon a renewed life in a phase of positive upswing, at least personally (though certainly not in terms of the world situation! Characteristically, I have waited way to long to move on before. I have learned that lesson well. I intend to save myself time and grief in the future by getting out while things are going well. This way, I have far more control of my life and can get a grip on far more choices.

Categories: communication, living, positive thinking, depression, relationships

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7:29 AM on April 6, 2017 
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Thinking and Doing It Positively

Household Treasures

11 January 2021

I heard an interviewee speaking over the radio talk about cherishing items in the home. It is one way to explore and enjoy surroundings without traveling, he said​I'll try it.

A lot of objects on display in my apartment are artifacts from my travels, ironically. They refresh my most poignant memories of precious and mind-opening explorations.

Sitting atop the filing cabinet next to my desk are to souvenirs from South Korea, where I worked and resided for 10 years. After such a lengthy stay, I have loads of memories prompted by numerous artifacts of my experiences in that country. These two are among the best reflections of cultural and historical particularities of South Korea. They are a framed photo of a hero central to the labour and national democratic struggles and an ornament from folk culture in the countryside of the southern part of South Korea.

Jun Tae-Il was a courageous student activist leading actions against the last dictatorship in his country. He represents the heart of the movement and the victory for democracy. He became a martyr when the police fatally shot him while he was demonstrating in the street in Seoul, the capitol. The ornament is an ceramic fertility fetish, an image of a penis from one of several such parks in the southern region where I used to live. This part of the country remained tribal longer than other parts, so folk traditions such as shamanism and superstitions have endured. Fertility monuments were erected (pun intended), of course, bring about more healthy children. The foreigner exploring such parks giggle at the sights. 

Next to the filing cabinet is a bookshelf. One of the most noticeable objects near the top of this piece of furniture is a tacky, plastic, white alarm clock. It is significant because I bought it to ensure I woke up on time on my last morning living in South Korea. I had an early flight. As a small travel alarm clock had recently failed, and I was not sure my phone alarm would wake me fully, I picked up a cheap clock at a local general store. I don't use it as its ticking is noisy, but I have not thought to give it away. It remains perched on the shelf, deprived of a battery, as a reminder of my departure from the ex-pat life and return to Canada. 

I also have items saved from two trips to Cuba, one in 2003 and one in 2019. Both trips were organized political events. The first took me there with a political choral group to meet Cuban choirs, learn some of their songs, perform with Cubans, attend the May 1st rally, meet labour associations and tour the island for two weeks. I am looking at a typical replication of a sketch of Che Gevarra which one can find easily in street markets. Our choir, supportive of the Cuban revolution, valued the Cuban revolutionary democracy, social arrangements and political principals which that image, the most famous in all the world, represents to millions of people. It inspires and gives hope. I remember strolling through the streets, visiting markets and restaurants, chatting with locals and attending all the meetings on our hectic schedule. I have other little treasures such as a ceramic, hand painted ashtray, photos of our Cuban comrades, and an African-Cuban, wooden statuette.

Above my desk hang a pair of water colour paintings in wood frames. They portray sites in southern Manitoba in the general area where my grandparents met, married and bore my mother. They feature two views of the banks of the Red River, a river highly important to Canadian history. There were battles against invading Americans launched there and a key struggle of the Métis nation. The city of Winnipeg lies nearby, which used to be the industrial hub of Canada until the Panama Canal opened up and undermined the Canadian railway system. I have only passed through Winnipeg by car. This area is not one I remember, for I have never visited it. 

On the floor near my desk lies a wicker hamper. I have mixed feelings about it, but it has been very useful, so I have kept it. You see, it belonged to my father's second wife. My father remarried this odd, older person rather quickly after my mother passed, which denied her children necessary time to adjust. I carried resentment about her, but chose to avoid them rather than say anything or show my negative feelings. As I said, it is a practical item for it holds linens and Christmas stuff and allows aeration through the woven stems.

I originally bought the filing cabinet to organize research, not academic information but information found in the course of activism and stabs at political journalism. It therefore stores records of several international and regional conferences. Though I purge it once in awhile, there are still clippings, leaflets and pamphlets. They cover issues such as Canadian mining firms abroad, human rights cases, privacy rights, student concerns and transportation. I have been replacing old articles and folders with my own writing pieces. Among them are also old, self-published newsletters addressing local and international issues, some of my published articles and unpublished poems. 

Conversational News

10 January 2021

It is so good to be able to express myself and have contact with readers through this blog again. The loss of the access to my blog along with other aspects of confinement and restrictions really affected me. There were added unsettling restrictions due to circumstances, even including access to my games when Adobe Flash Player was removed. I was feeling the mounting stress of rising COVID cases and the awareness of the damages inflicted by this disease as well as the damage inflicted by states that remain focused on helping profitable enterprises more than addressing the disease and health care and financial interventions fully and equitably. Most such as Canada are handing the responsibility of pandemic management to individuals. Very unjust!

I had been handling the conditions of the pandemic fairly well, but emotions were catching up to me in December as I personally began to feel tired and stressed. I started to feel irritable and alarmed. I looked forward to two weekends at home over Christmas and New Years, but the employer wanted me to work on the Saturdays. Saturday being the heaviest work day for me with five hours straight teaching and two hours travel, I had been wanting relief to get a chance to rest and calm down. I ended up taking the Saturday following NY Day off, which certainly helped. I am much better now.

I did not carry through with my usual practice of personal assessment and planning in December as is my habit. I was too agitated. I did not want to reflect on this past year, actually. Not then.

Anyway, there is not any change in my goals. I generally carried through with financial, livelihood, social, family, health and growth goals. However, the social and family goals were frustrated by Covid-19 rules. However, there are elder relatives with multiple health problems whose mental health was being upset by the situation, so I have been visiting with them in cafes and such. They are better now. I have also been aiding an elderly neighbour whose health, already in decline this year, was getting worse partially because of Covid-related restraints. (Her degrading sight and hearing, as well as shaking and loss of balance, caused her to stop driving permanently, and skeletal issues caused her to stop regular exercise. She is worried she will be forced to consider entering a facility while many care homes are in crisis!) My exercise regime was also compromised. The local fitness center remains open but I perceive it as risky, so I do not go there. Aside from some hiking and walking to accomplish transit and errands, I haven't been exercising much until recently. Now I do some yoga, lunging, stretching and weighted arm raises sometimes. I am prevented this week because of an inflammation (hemorrhoid caused by lengthy sitting!).

 One big factor affecting stress and anxiety levels is news reportage. State and private corporate news services, like most enterprises today, try to streamline by relying more on tech and web browsing to find news topics. There are fewer reporters and there is less extended, investigative reporting. For the past decade at least, such services have resorted to "conversational journalism." It is an adjustment to distrust of news and official authorities during a trend of democratization, I feel. However, it tends to keep popularity and viewer or reader stats in mind. Topics can be sensationalized by rehashing events and speculation. Commentators are brought in to discuss as are senior reporters, but the discussion is not very productive in that it does not lead to increased knowledge. Rather, it keeps generating more questions. Conversations often entertain unanswerable questions, particularly because there can be no resolution. They just push the topic and stimulate possible answers to stir up controversy and alarm in order to improve ratings. Pertinent information might be omitted if it actually answers a question. Once audiences abandon a thread, they turn to some other topic and start over. It is really unconscionable because of the innuendo, speculation, rumour, omission, lack of investigation, assumptions and biases.

The COVID coverage is a clear case in point. Partial information is supplied, such as a medical official's announcement that is partly based in some truth. The announcement is questioned. Opponents are recruited to present the false arguments. Sideline topics are raised to create more friction. Proper sources are ignored. Questions are recycled and spin round and round with no conclusion. The affect is understandable: alarm, anxiety, fear, stress, accusations, complaints, etc.

I follow a couple of doctors who produce daily videos to update viewers on scientific developments and explore reasoning behind government and medical decisions regarding the pandemic. I rely on Dr. John Campble and Doctor Moran. Find them on Youtube. Campbell is the most digestable, for he uses plain English, which Moran is more technical. The latter seems to be addressing people in the medical field. By following Campbell, in particular, I can see the gaps in the regional and national news reporting. I can see that they are lagging behind the news by ignoring or failing to search for reliable information.

We're Back

07 January 2021

Apologies to my followers and viewers. You have been very supportive and encouraging for many years. I might have disappointed some of you who were looking for new entries from me. 

Let me explain. VISTAPRINT changed its platform last year. When they did that, the method for making blog entries changed. I had no information from them about what to do. It simply appeared that I know longer had any blogging service. 

However, I just spoke to a VISTAPRINT rep who guided me. I can now write blog entries, as you can see.

It was a strange year all the way around. Things seemed kind of more chaotic than usual. I felt agitated and stressed last month for no definite reason. I had trouble sleeping. I felt exhausted.

My general astrology reading asserted that the pulling away of Jupiter, one of my planets and a very powerful one, from Saturn would make Sagitarians feel exhausted by the end of December. Despite the restrictions imposed because of the pandemic, it does indeed feel like I worked and accomplished a lot (activism, teaching, writing). Things are supposed to get easier for us Sagges. 

There was added stress because of the effects of the pandemic. Not only that but worse, state aggression seemed to increased around the world, causing civilian mass responses. Though I had handled it pretty well until the end of 2020, I guess it finally got to me and I started soaking up some of the stress and anxiety emitting from my region and beyond.

2021 is starting out a bit weird, too. Just look at yesterday's events. U.S. Whitehouse invasion. Solar flare sending rays that caused several storms, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. More lockdowns. 

I wish all my readers well. I will resume entering focused pieces when I have more time. Please stick with me. Thank you for your comments to date.

Ed Wise


15 January 2020