It is 2016 all of a sudden and we’ve survived our first year in China. Recently, as in yesterday, I did a little self-assessment about what I’ve learned and done over the past year and then made a list of things that I would like to accomplish before we leave in a year or so. Since one of my goals for this year (as it seems to be every year) is to post more on this blog, I figured I would tell you all about it – sort of catching up, if you will. Also, I will pepper in a few new photos just in case this bulls__t bores you.
2015, a Summary
1). Travel. My god, we have racked up the airline miles this year. Since arriving here in China we have visited Hong Kong (numerous times), Southern India, South Korea, Japan, Thailand, Fiji, Czech Republic, the US and of course a few interesting spots here in China – we even peeked over the border into North Korea. I suppose I owe you a blog post about most of those, eh?
2). I have read nearly 70 books of varying lengths – the most remarkable being Infinite Jest, by David Foster Wallace, and a five-volume biography of Ernest Hemingway by Michael Reynolds. I was also turned on to Haruki Murakami this year by a super-friend and now I am obsessed.
3). Although you haven’t seen much evidence of it here, I have been writing. A good friend of mine is the editor-in-chief of a local English Language magazine called Focus on Dalian. Their former travel writer left the magazine a few months back and I have been filling in ever since. Along with the travel articles I also get invited on other magazine adventures – like this past weekend when we went strawberry picking and ended up on the local news.
4). I am going to sound a little like a twat here but the photos are getting better, aren’t they? I have been studying composition, technique, and editing practices in order to waste fewer shots and bring you the quality shit. To add to my obsession I recently purchased a Polaroid 600 instant camera as well as a Pentax K-1000 film camera – sort of a photographic regression but I enjoy using them often (and film processing in China is cheap).
5). I have been taking traditional painting classes from a nice woman here every Tuesday. Even though neither of us can speak the other’s language very well we seem to click and I have learned some interesting techniques .
6). Along with the art classes I have taken quite a few hours of Chinese language instruction – I am garbage at it but I can muddle my way through the basic things like ordering a beer or asking for a kilo of ground pork at the store – you know, the important shit.
7). This one is sort of weird to put into words but I have become a more confident, assertive, and much less grouchy person. I’d say the reason for the changes are from a combination of exercise, less drinking, meditation, and not focusing on the negative in life (Read The Book, by Alan Watts – it’s good for you). Blondie, on the other hand, says that I am finally starting to grow up at 40 – I hope she’s wrong because I have no plans to ever grow up, but I do like the way things have been going inside my head.
2016, To Do List
1). Continue to write better articles for Focus on Dalian. I am hoping that this experience can parlay itself into something fulfilling once I get back to the States.
2). Travel Excessively. If this year is anything like last year then I don’t think there is any problem getting this task done. Right now there are definite plans to visit The Maldives, Hong Kong (again – it’s my favorite town), Tokyo and elsewhere in Japan, Viet Nam, Cambodia, Singapore, Indonesia, and of course, the US and points in mainland China. By the time this overseas stint is finished my passport will be brimming with stamps.
3). Post on Afield weekly. One of my biggest obstacles when posting to this here page has been pure and unadulterated laziness. My current plan is to not only write long form posts but also post more day-to-day items so I can keep you all up to date with the weirdness that goes on over here.
4). Write more in general. Along with articles and blog posts I have kept a pretty damned detailed journal while abroad – hopefully someday I can combine everything into a book that someone might find useful and entertaining.
5). Shoot more photos. This is an easy one because I usually always have at least one camera on me at all times – the true task is to take more good pictures and fewer throwaway shots. Shooting with film helps with this because I only have 36 shots and every one of them needs to count because even though film processing is cheaper here it still isn’t free.
6). Continue my education in photography. Going out and shooting photos is one thing but once I get them home there is the whole process of editing and displaying to consider. I’ve done well to find various resources online to help me learn the ins and outs of Photoshop and all of the tiddly bits that go along with it. I have a long way to go on this task and that pleases me because I’m assured that I will have an interesting task to do on those boring/polluted/inside days that we seem to have often in China.
7). Read more books – again, a super easy task that I probably need not list but, well, reading is sexy.
8). Lastly, my biggest goal is to remain loving, positive, grateful, and busy throughout the year. As long as I do these things then stuff ought to work out.
Check back again every Monday and I should have a little something new for you – If for some reason I don’t, then I blame it in advance on the internet in China.