Monthly Archives: June 2014

Job qualifications and accommodation options

Sometimes you wonder whether you are on the right path, or whether you have strayed from your path so far that you are lost for good, or at least for a very long time.

When I think about what my plans looked like when I was younger, I certainly have not gone the path I planned to take – which was a path that would have taken me to a secure job and a reasonably good income as a teacher.

I know that some people think teachers earn a pitiful amount of money, but for me it would have been plenty.

When I was younger, I thought that I would never be one of those people who don’t have a proper job by the time they were 25 years old. I wanted to have my degree, do my trainee teacher years, and then try to find a job overseas, maybe teaching in China or Japan.

Preferably Japan. I was always sure that I would find my true friends in Japan. That they would be the people who would understand me, and respect my values.

Now I am 31 years old. I did not finish my studies (neither in Germany nor in New Zealand – for different reasons), and I don’t have any professional job training behind me. I can’t say I’m a teacher, a manager, a leader, a human resource manager, a barista, a chicken carer, or anything else. I don’t even have any paper work to prove that I’m a translator and writer. I have become one of those people. I collected experiences in many jobs – some I truly loved and wanted to pursue, wanted to gain a proper qualification, but it never happened.

Sometimes it was because I was too young, sometimes because women weren’t respected in the particular profession (a female captain, you can forget about that in certain parts of the world), other times it was because I simply was not the person they wanted, and other times it was because I did not have enough money to pay for the qualification. And other times they wanted qualifications before you could get qualified (great logic behind that, right?).

Yes, I get many jobs as a writer and sometimes also as a translator – but when people ask me what my qualifications are, I can only tell them the truth. I don’t have any formal qualifications. I’m a nobody when it comes to job titles.

I receive 5 star ratings on Elance, and my rating on Fiverr is 100% positive. Not one single negative review. Yet I am not happy, because I just write what other people want me to write, there’s not much creativity involved, and sometimes I just write rubbish for SEO purposes. I feel like I don’t have my writing energy left – or energy in general. I haven’t written anything on my novel for over two weeks. Since I left the other place, my motivation levels have dropped close to zero in many aspects of life.

I had a look at a variety of accommodation options in the UK – like becoming a property guardian (you pay a cheap rent in a property that is on the market, and you have to move out within 2 weeks’ notice), or living with an elderly person, helping them out 10 hours a week in exchange for a cheap room. It all comes with the disadvantage of probably being short-term solutions. So it would not be very different from helpx.net or wwoof.co.uk.

But when I look at the cost of renting a room or a single bedroom flat, then I simply know that I cannot afford it (plus bills and the cost of food) with the little money I earn as a writer.

Do you know of any other options that would be quite affordable in the long run? I would love to live somewhere for a longer time, make friends. It would be so important for me to have friends. Just one or two would be so much better than nobody.

 

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Filed under Random thoughts

24 hours in a day – now and in the past

Time does not change…

20 years ago, we had 24 hours each day. Today, our days are still filled with 24 hours. The hours that are available to us do not change. The length of our days is ruled by our planet’s location in the solar system. The sun rises and falls on our sky as the Earth travels around the centre of our system. We cannot change anything about that. All that is left to us is to use the time given to us (as said by Gandalf in Lord of the Rings – not a precise quote, but close enough).

… but how we use it does

But when you compare a typical day 20 years ago with a typical day today, you can’t help but notice one thing: we seem to have less time, especially when it comes to finding time for other people. Technology is supposed to make our lives easier – that’s always kind of the slogan of modern technology. Organize your life with this and that app, keep track of your friends, share more, do more in less time. But to me, it feels like we have less time for proper and meaningful interactions with others.

When I was young(er)

When I was a child and teenager, the internet was only slowly spreading, and the speeds were just as slow. The internet itself was quite small compared to the millions of websites today. I always enjoyed reading and writing, so it was natural to me to be interested in having pen friends – and I had many of them. I usually received 4-5 letters each week, often from a variety of different countries. I enjoyed reading those letters, and I loved writing back. I enjoyed creating lovely looking letters. Each letter was different, and I always looked forward to receiving letters from my favourite pen pals. Some letters were 20-30 pages long! Writing and receiving letters made me feel connected to the world – and it made me feel like there are people out there who would be my friends if only we lived closer together. But then things changed.

Changes – from letters to emails…. from emails to nothing

When the internet became more popular, the popularity of letters shrank. And I did not like it. I wanted to continue writing letters, but many pen pals said that they would prefer using the new technology now. It was so new and exciting. As I did not want to lose my contacts, I agreed, but said maybe we could still write some letters. After a few years of the internet, I had only one pen pal left (fortunately she was my favourite – from Japan, with very long and interesting letters). The ones who were so keen on writing emails stopped at some stage. And then my Japanese pen pal graduated from university, moved to Tokyo, started a job, and had no more time for long letters. We are friends on Facebook now. But that era of long letters has ended years ago.

Handwritten letters today

I can’t remember when I received the last handwritten, meaningful letter. I tried to find new pen pals via internet sites – but nothing truly worked out. Most people wrote 1-2 letters, then nothing else came. Sometimes they wrote excuses via email  – but it seems like nobody has time for writing a proper letter any more. Imagine a stranger, somewhere in another country, or even in the same country, sitting down at a table with pen and paper, willing to spend some time just for writing a letter to YOU. It is a present. And nothing is more valuable than a person’s time – but less and less people are willing to give that present.

The present of time

Even people you know find it hard to give away their time.  When I left the last place I stayed at, I left hand-written letters for two people. It took me some time, and I thought maybe at least one of them would reply. Even if it was just a short email, or even a Facebook message to just say thank you for the letter. Maybe even reply a little to it – but nothing. After two weeks, nothing. Do we live in a world in which time is so rare that people are not willing to give it to others any more?

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Filed under Morning hours

When you are waiting for that one message….

Hope vs doubt

Do you know the feeling when you turn on your computer every half hour just to check your emails to see whether a certain person finally sent you an email, just to see nothing new in your inbox (apart from the usual newsletters)? Do you know what it’s like to wait for a certain email for one and a half weeks and counting? Then you might know the mix of hope and disappointment that I’m currently going through. The hope whispers something along the lines: “A decision like that is not made in a short time, the email will come soon.” But the voice of doubt becomes louder after every passing day, it tells me: “If they can’t even find five minutes to send you a brief update, even just a short note they’d be in touch soon, then they will most likely not ever reply to you at all. You’re simply not worth their time. Hope is a traitor.”

Is hope a traitor?

Do you think that hope is a traitor? Is there a point in actually hoping, esp. after being disappointed many times? Is there a point in believing in ideals, and trying to live them?
Even though I wish I would soon receive the email that will solve my accommodation problem in August and for a big part of next year, my hope is slowly fading. The negative voice becomes stronger – and maybe it is the realistic voice. Asking why those people should choose me, saying that maybe they were quite happy that they got to see the last of me when I left there one and a half weeks ago. After all, none of the ones who said they’d keep in touch kept in touch. I was filled with so much hope, wanting to believe that I made some friends, even if it were only work friends, hoping that they could become proper friends if I was allowed to come back. But the hope is fading.

Good things come to those who wait?

This is probably one of the most annoying sayings I’ve had to listen to in the past – often coming from people who never had to  wait for a real friend to turn up, people who can say they have a home, a family, a place they belong, and maybe even a saving account with a good sum of money on it. Often sayings like that come from people who don’t know what it is like to lose hope, to feel lonely, and to feel too free. They do not understand. When they are sad, they don’t have to go blogging. They can meet a friend, a partner, a family member. When they need a hug, they can get one.
What am I doing wrong? I always help people, I try to be the best person I can personally be – and yet, there is nobody there to talk to. And when hope appears, it soon becomes extinguished again. What’s the point in living if you don’t matter to anyone? If nobody would actually notice when you’re gone?

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Dreams, no Facebook, and watching birds

Dreams and dream journals

During the last few days, I noticed that I have some more vivid dreams again – and I am tempted to start a dream journal again. It’s one of those days I wished I never burnt or otherwise destroyed my old diaries and dream journals – so many ideas have been lost. I wonder whether I would do the same thing again in the future if I now started with a new dream journal.

When I wake up from nice dreams, I always wish I would not have to return to the real world – but there’s no way around it. However, how do we know whether our living life isn’t just another type of dream, and our dreams are our reality? But how could it be that I have such an exciting life with proper friends in the dream world, and the “real” world looks so bleak?

Do you ever write down your dreams? Do you see any patterns? Which of your dreams did you like best?

The no Facebook experiment day 1

I haven’t posted anything on Facebook for one and a half days now. Sometimes I think about what I would post. I have a thought and think “Oh, I have to put that on Facebook later.” Then I catch myself and remind myself that I am not posting on Facebook at all – until someone notices. In the case nobody notices, then that also tells me quite a lot about how much people care about keeping in touch with me. How much Facebook is really worth. Whether it’s more than just “liking” somebody’s post. It’s not much of a surprise that no one hasn’t noticed anything yet. It has only been around 36 hours. Let’s see how the next few days will go.

Watching birds – and what other people may think

I was visiting a little town today (it is a day off), and as some of you might remember I love birds very much. When I walked along a river and heard the familiar sound of Jackdaw’s singing and squeaking, I had to scout the area for where they are. I found a group of trees nestled along the river, and they were full of Jackdaws, including young ones that have only just recently left their nests. It was a fantastic sight – though it was a bit of an odd place to stand and watch birds. People who walked past on the normal path probably wondered why someone would stand there for minute after minute, just watching birds – birds that other people just ignore, or even dislike. In the past, I would have cared about other people’s opinion a lot more. I might simply have walked on, wishing there was a peaceful spot to watch those lovely creatures. I would not have wanted to stand out. At least in this point I have changed a lot. These days I simply don’t care about what people think that much. It’s their problem if they can’t understand how someone can enjoy watching those birds, not mine. That’s one thing I have understood now. It IS their problem, right? There’s nothing wrong with peacefully watching birds. I’m not harming anyone.

Did you ever care too much about other people’s opinions, and let it keep you from something you would have loved to do? If so, did you change your mind about it? What holds you back?

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Filed under About writing

Always the same questions…

As I am currently helping out in a Bed & Breakfast, I have to deal with new guests almost every day. I’ve only been here for about a week now, yet it already gets to me. 90% of the guests are married couples, the other 10% either unmarried couples or mother/daughter, father/son teams.  On the four days I’m on the job, I also have to spend time with the guests, e.g. during breakfast, as it’s a B&B with a personal touch. You might think this isn’t the best choice for me, but when you’re basically a person without a home, you often only have limited options. So I’m in a B&B for the next five weeks, working in exchange for full board.

The problem is that new guests always ask the same questions. Where am I from? Why do I live in Scotland now? Do I miss my family? Do I ever go back home? And so on. What do you answer when you have no home, when you are glad the people you’re officially related to are quite far away? I always paint a picture of me being very independent, travelling to different parts of Scotland to find out which part I like best, and then settle down in that part. But that’s not it. I travel around because I have no home, I travel around because I don’t have the money to afford a home. I can’t go back to my home because I don’t have one.  And every day I get reminded of it. Every day, I have to think about it, answer questions about it, pretend to be positive about it, bend the truth a little.

When I still worked on the organic gardening farm, I could at least pretend that I belong. I was able to get to know some of the people, even though it was only during work hours. I told myself not to get attached to anyone, after all none of them cared enough to spend time with me outside work. And none of them got in touch with me after I left there. I would like to send someone a message, but now I’m worried I’d just annoy him. He’s been a good “friend” during work, but maybe being friendly was just part of the job. I doubt that any of the workers actually miss me at all. I wish at least one did. I wish I would mean something to just one of them.

And I wish I had a home. At the moment I don’t know where I’ll be in August – and that is a bit scary. I would like to be around Edinburgh because Haruki Murakami and George R.R. Martin will be at the book festival in August, but who knows. Money is the problem. And by now I doubt that the farm will take me back in August. I asked but did not get a reply, so I can probably write that off.

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The Facebook experiment

I have been in a new place for a few days. I’m currently on the North Coast of Scotland, where they still have fires during June because it’s usually cold. I will be here for a total of five and a half weeks, and then – who knows… I have plans for September and October, but nothing for August. But never mind that.

When I left the organic farm I was working on as a volunteer for almost three months, many people made quite a big deal out of me leaving, acting as if they were sad, saying that they would stay in touch and so on, and so on. I say “acting” because after one week of not being there, not one of them got in touch with me, and only one responded to a message I left her on Facebook. Someone else even received a written letter, and a longer email from me (as I wanted to come back to the place as an apprentice). But even to that I have not received a reply, not even a short “sorry, but no, thank you”.

So, for a while, I will try an experiment on Facebook. I often post photos, share interesting articles etc. Someone said that it would be unusual not to see me on Facebook, and that they’d be “worried” if my posts were missing. I will put that to the test in the next couple of weeks. I will not post a single thing on Facebook, not “like” anything, not comment on things. I wonder whether anyone will truly notice that I’m not active on FB, whether even just one single person would truly notice. I’m afraid nobody will.

Real friends would be in touch on other channels, too, anyway. I guess I just don’t have any real friends. I’m not the kind of person people “like”. I’m someone you only get to know after quite a bit of time – for most people that’s just too much effort. Or maybe I’m just a hopeless case – something like the manure you put in your garden. It’s needed to grow really good vegetables, but nobody wants to spend too much time with it. And once it’s where it’s needed, it’s out of your mind.

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Filed under Random thoughts, When there is nobody to talk to