Why I don’t write much anymore

I used to write a lot here. I wrote most days, even when I worked full-time or was a full-time student and bartender. I found the moments to carve out and sit own in front of my computer, ready to share what was on my mind and make this “self-portrait in the form of the mundane” move ahead.

I really haven’t been writing for about a year.

A lot is to do with the feelings I had after Trump, but there are plenty of other reasons. I decided that I have two New Year’s Resolutions in 2018.

WRITE MORE

DON’T EVEN ATTEMPT TO TALK OVER MY STUDENTS

Those are the two. My fingertips and my vocal cords thank me, for the exercise and the lack thereof respectively.

I’ve been intermittently writing a novella about the destruction of worlds, but that will just have to wait. I want to make a list of why I’m not writing. Unedited bulletpoints ahead.

I’m not writing because….

  • My POTUS is acting like a child on twitter
  • My country might have completely lost the plot
  • Trump is still President
  • Oh god, Trump is still President
  • I think that maybe travel blogging has hit its high point and is a dying art, replaced by endless Instagram posts
  • I have Instagram to post on now
  • I have camera and lens envy of basically all travel bloggers and my own equipment seems really underpowered these days
  • I’ve been struggling a lot with anxious thoughts about being ‘good enough’ in the last year
  • I simply didn’t have the energy when I worked in Busan after 46 class periods per week every week
  • I was busy
  • I was lazy
  • I was bored of writing
  • I was too tired when we arrived in Vietnam and kept falling asleep on the couch at 19:30
  • I don’t really think that my travelling life is all that interesting sometimes (who wants to hear about a grocery store visit? even if it is in Vietnam or Korea or Iceland, it’s still a damn supermarket)
  • Not enough whiskey
  • Not enough coffee
  • Too much covfefe
  • Trump’s tweeting doesn’t warrant a response
  • Other people have responded enough
  • Writing about North Korean missile launches like I did in 2013 has lost its lustre somewhat now that WWIII seems to be in the pipeline
  • I’ve been working on offline skills such as macrame, cooking, dealing with norovirus epidemics, and colouring mandalas
  • I’ve been busy with family and friends
  • I’ve been reading too much
  • Writing requires something to say and I’ve simply been unable to find the words since about October 2016
  • I’ve been listening to too many podcasts
  • I’ve been trying to write a podcast
  • I’ve failed at writing a podcast, because that, too, is writing (Damn!)
  • I’ve been decorating our new apartment(s)
  • It was Christmas
  • It was New Year’s
  • It was the solstice
  • It was Tuesday
  • I was napping ( I do live in Vietnam now after all)
  • I was doing laundry
  • I was cleaning
  • I was sick with food poisoning and unable to rise from bed except to go to the toilet
  • I was lighting candles
  • I was lighting votives
  • Step down
  • Step down
  • Wait, this is REM’s End of the World As We Know It
  • Oh, shit, Trump might end the world as we know it

Annnnnnnnnnd….repeat for 13 months.

I’m going to try to put that stuff aside for writing in 2018.

2017: Without Comment

Presented without comment: My favourite photographs from 2017. I’m working on a post about the year, but this is a good start. 2017 was packed with great stuff, and had opportunities for some of the best photographs I’ve ever taken. I’m ready to explore some more in 2018.

For reference:

  • January-April 12 = Busan and Seoul, South Korea
  • April 13th-23rd = Vietnam
  • April 23-June 13th = USA (Colorado and North Carolina)
  • June 13th – September 9th = Iceland
  • September 15th – Present = Vietnam

January

February

March

April

May

June

July

August

September

October

November

December

 

Me No English

“Me no English,” states the girl with enough grammar to ape Tarzan. She does this in spite of speaking full sentences and writing them in her book. I’ve heard her say fluent and complete ones before. She and the others use this as a joke.

“I’m not asking you to speak English,” I growl. “I’m asking you to repeat. I say, you say.”

That’s one of my teaching mantras. I use it in every single class. At least five times a class. Approximately once every seven minutes. All day long. Every weekday since the 17th of September 2017.

“Me no…”

“Nope. I say, you say. May….”

“Me…”

“No. Say. Say. May…” Pointing to my mouth. Counting on my fingers.

This girl is eleven. She’s been in English classes for 2.5 years. Today’s lesson is about future tense. Or was. It is 16:07 and class ends at 16:10. I took her notebook off her at 15:35. It’s taken 32 minutes to get through the bullshit this class has been putting me through. Incessantly talking. Frustrating meanness. A total lack of respect. It’s not that they can’t do what I’m asking them to. I’ve seen it happen.

“Let’s help her out, guys.”

Half the class had to come up and ask me nicely to return their stuff. I took it because at the start of class, I wrote the list of supplies needed for English class. I’ve been writing it on the board for the whole month of December, after a kid tried to get out of taking the English semester test by claiming he didn’t know he needed a pencil. The list reads:

YOU NEED:
– A pencil
-Your English Book (closed)

I added the ‘your,’ the ‘English,’ and the ‘(closed)’ due to students claiming that the instructions were too ambiguous. Given that my students still repeatedly interrupt classes to say, “What’s your name?” after having me in their school every single day for the whole semester, I believe that they might just forget that I exist when I step out of the room and go to my next lesson. After all, they say that six month old babies think you die when you leave the room. Maybe my fifth graders have arrested development.

“What is it that we have to say, in order to get our things back?”

This student is the fifteenth in line. I’ve repeated the line with every last one of them. I’ve sent people to the back of the line to contemplate their sins for being a jerk and/or picking their nose while they politely asked for their book.

I took the books because I waited for five minutes for my students to comply with the instructions that do not change and have always been the instructions. That’s the limit. I watch the clocks and count the seconds. I punctuate the moments with points for those who are doing as I ask (In this class, there was but one. One, out of 35, who was ready for class after five minutes of waiting.). Once it reaches five minutes, I start to take books.

I put them on the teacher’s desk, and there they stay until I call the students up to ask me politely for their things back. In this class, I’ve created a pile of rulers, notebooks, vietnamese language homework, several open English books, pens, leaking fountain pens, and a book about no-bake desserts.

I pointed out that even the first graders don’t normally have this much of a failure-to-comply-with-basic-instructions mountain. The line to receive the stuff stretched all the way to the back of the room, the final ten minutes of a 35-minute class in which we did exactly zero of the work they are supposed to complete filled with repetitive, immediately-forgotten, false politeness. The last notebook sat in my hands for two minutes, with me repeatedly threatening to eat it (no titters, usually gold material for primary students).

Only when I opened my backpack and put the notebook inside did the eleven-year-old girl race forward, shouting in Vietnamese, “HEY! THAT’S MINE!!!!!!!”

In this class two weeks ago, I rapped my own knuckle on the board so hard trying to emphasise that I was not asking them to generate the words from the ether so much as read the things off the board in a zombified tone. My left ring finger cracked open. I bled. My students laughed at that. It was probably the first time they actually laughed at something I did all month. Haha. Look at that idiot bleed.

“Me n…”

“Let’s all help her, yes? May…….” The class joins in, or rather the few who noticed that I’m asking them to help a girl out.

“May…..” She repeats.

Counting on my fingers to indicate the second word. The two best students in the class chime in with, “I…..”

“I….”

Counting three fingers. Third word.

“Have….”

“Have…”

Fourth finger.

“My….”

“Me….”  I let it slide, this minor mistake. Let this girl’s English persona be from England or something. That’s what I tell myself.

I have to prompt about three times with my face contorted and pulling my own finger for comedic effect, emphasizing how much a want them to just god damnit say the fucking next shit-arsed word in this sentence of only six words total. The class has wandered in the 20 seconds since we began chanting “May I have my…” I wonder what they chat about constantly. Probably, “Remember how her knuckle bled? huhuhuhuihuh, Yeah that was the best….”

“Book…” Relief. Thank you, one kid paying attention. Thank you, 2% of the class.

“Pook…”

Close enough. It’s a notebook but close the fuck enough. 16:09.

“Please.”

“Piss.”

I pass it over, feigning relief.

“That was easy, no? See, you can speak English! You can!”

Under my black blazer, my shirt is soaked through with the perspiration of a six-word question.

With that, the giant drum rings out and the students instantly start running out the door.