March is almost over, which means that we are well into our second year here in Hong Kong. On this Friday, the 28th of March morning, the sky is gray and a cool breeze blows into the office. The temperature is 22˚C (71˚F) and the humidity is at 93%.
Unlike this morning, yesterday was warm, clear, and sunny. Before we went to sleep, we turned on the air conditioner for the first time this year. A lot of memories came back to me when I pressed the buttons on the remote. I’ve never thought about it before, but when you do something for the first time in a while, you’re likely to think back to the last time that you did that thing. I thought back to the summer and fall of 2013 when it was still hot, when we were living upside-down, going to bed at dawn and waking up at dusk. At midnight, we’d have our main meal of the day and watch Iron Chef. Later, we’d play Emperor and Civilization for hours. All the while, the soft hum of our A/C unit would be going on in the background. Man, those were some good times. I wonder if other people in Hong Kong go through the same thing when they do their annual A/C restart?
Also happening yesterday was the first job interview scheduled through the recruiting firm that I’ve been working with. I suppose I “officially” started looking for work at the end of February, as I mentioned in the One Year Update. I first met with the recruiter on the 28th of last month, so it’s been about a month. In between I had the interview with the school, and then I got sick for two weeks, so overall I’ve had a couple of interviews without too much hustling on my part. Not too bad.
I touched on my lack of hustle a little bit in the I Got Nothin’ post. Since that post I’ve been trying to figure out why I’m so unmotivated to find work, why I seem to have no ambition. I read some interesting perspectives from different sources on the web. One perspective is that I do have ambition, just not for the typical things associated with that word such as BMWs, a large house, social status, etc. My ambition is to live the life I want, to use my time in the way that I want to, to be content with what I have. If I think about it that way, then it makes sense why I would be unmotivated to find work. I’m very content right now, probably the most content I have ever been in my life. My stress level is at an all-time low. Why would I want to stir the pot now?
The one and only reason, of course, is money. It’s actually quite simple: no one is going to hand you anything if you don’t pull your own weight. In life, nothing is free. Everything has a cost. Download a “free” game from the app store? Nope, sorry, it’s got ads, or worse, it secretly mines Bitcoins. Of course, it goes the other way, too: I understand that the life I’m living now might be costing me some (traditional) career advancement (hello 2-year employment gap!) and my retirement money, but I also believe that the knowledge about myself and the confidence that I’ve gained is worth that cost. But, even more basic than that, my landlady isn’t going to let me live here for free.
I know I need money, which is why I’m now searching for work. The hardest thing is now that I’ve found this place of contentment, I find it very difficult to leave. I’ve thought about looking for a part-time job so that I can still have one foot in it. I know that once I work full time, everything will be different. There’s no escaping it. 50 to 60 hours a week of what used to be my time will be devoted to work. And that’s just the temporal cost. The energy cost will be significant as well.
Perhaps, after two years of break, it will be easier to accept some sacrifices. In Hong Kong, there is a notion that any shit you take at work, whether it be a berating boss or a rude customer, is covered by your salary. I’m not sure I agree with that, and I’m not sure I’m willing to make that particular sacrifice. What I am willing to do is work. I love doing a good job and becoming good at what I do. I want to be interested in what I do. I do not want to wear a suit and tie while I’m doing it. I want to sleep well every night. I want to refill my coffers and then figure out how I can use that capital to sustain the kind of life I am living now. Is that asking too much and sacrificing too little? I don’t know, but again I’m going to keep looking. I know there’s something out there for me. Take it slow.
In the News
I’ve been trying to cut back my intake of news (is there any news that’s not negative?) but I did notice a couple of stories this week. The first was about a pair of construction workers who fell 500 feet to their deaths after their gondola broke apart (HK Standard – Tregunter pair in death fall). My heart goes out to these workers and the people who care about them. Unlike accidental deaths that happen quickly and suddenly, these workers had time to comprehend what was happening to them. I can only imagine what would be going through my mind and how I would feel as I fell, knowing that the end was seconds away, and that there was nothing I could do about it. I’d probably think of JC and tell her that I love her. I’d hope that it would be quick and not too painful. I hope that’s how it was for them.
The other story has to do with a clip of a debate I saw on TV news. Currently there are two free-to-air television stations in Hong Kong, with one of them being completely dominant over the other one. A third player is trying to make its way into the market but the government won’t give it a license, citing market saturation and other specious reasons. It’s been a big deal over here, with people going out on the streets to protest and the chairman of the third station accusing the government of taking sides. Anyhow, in the debate the government representative was saying how the broadcasting laws protect kids and morality. I almost spit out my coffee when I heard that. Every single night for the past few decades, the dominant station has been putting out dramas with recurring themes and stereotypes. Men drink beer, play video games, and place work above all else. Women wear 5-inch heels and skirts with hemlines that’ll make you blush, are drama queens, and get together with their girlfriends to gossip all day long. Extreme black-and-white and irrational behavior is the norm. Dishonesty is a way of life. Watching these dramas day in and day out, decade after decade, fucks people up in the head and affects how they behave. It’s become a part of Hong Kong culture, and culture
propaganda affects people, especially when it’s consumed in large amounts.
Well, it’s no longer morning now, but there’s still a nice breeze going. Apparently, in some places in Hong Kong it’s now 29˚C (84˚F), but luckily it’s still pretty cool over here. Good night, good afternoon, good morning, wherever you are!