Thursday, 25 July 2013

You can never go home again

Sometimes this blog seems like the airing out of my dirty laundry. Actually, that's exactly what it is. The difference is that some people actually read this crap (for which I'm grateful that I have an audience and they actually like to read what I write) and it's not a private diary I keep locked away at the bottom of my hope chest or whatever it is guys use to keep cherished mementos (is there such a thing for men?).

After my adventures in Korea, I had few choices. I had no money and I was in limbo in a detention center in a foreign country. I had three choices to be exact. I could sit there and wait it out indefinitely until the Korean government got tired of me and sent me home, however unlikely since the policy of Korean Immigration is to only repatriate foreigners from poor countries. Maybe they would never get tired of me and I would still be sitting there waiting to this day.

I could wait until my friends managed to raise some money to send me back. I'm not exactly a well liked person. There are lots of people I know, but people either seem to really like me a lot, which there are admittedly few of, or they really dislike me a lot, of which they are many. I've tried to change my attitude lately, but whereas I have incentive and desire to change, those many are not quite so forgiving. It could also take a long time to raise a couple thousand dollars in this scenario, and I might still be sitting in a detention centre waiting.

The third option was to accept help from my mother. This was the option I eventually went with after much hand-wringing and initial refusal since it was the least desirable. My mom has helped me out many, many times over the years. Sometimes, I ask for it (and she doesn't always agree to help), and sometimes she offers (to which I don't always agree to accept her help). Whenever she offers, it's because I never asked her for her help. With good reason. First off, I can probably take care of it myself, and second, there's the tendency of it being used against me in the future.

The latter is my biggest motivation to NOT ask for help. The stress of the any situation, whatever it may be, is usually easier to deal with than the stress of an angry person using shit against you. It's like getting into a fight with your girlfriend. A guy can never win an argument with a woman. It doesn't matter if it's your wife, girlfriend or even your mother, because men don't remember that date 2 years, 3 months, 19 days, 6 hours and 20 minutes ago. And if we do remember that date, it was a usually because there was good memory somewhere in there(great sex), not a bad one (left a crappy tip for the waitress because of poor service (she was lucky to get one at all), the girlfriend was embarrassed-- another quirk I'll never understand-- why be embarrassed about the actions of another person that have no reflection whatsoever on you? Who are you actually embarrassed for and why?).

Girls on the other hand, are like human VCRs. They remember every bad thing that's ever happened in your relationship and when the timing is right, they throw it in your face. I'm convinced this is a major cause of domestic violence. I'm not trying to justify anything here, don't jump the gun just yet. However, when a couple get into an argument, a woman will bring up the past with scary accuracy (a commendable trait, but a waste of brain power IMO-- why not take all that ability to remember the laws of physics or some other beneficial knowledge for humankind?). A man, who devotes his memory space to remembering things like baseball statistics or Star Wars trivia (an equally great waste of brain power IMO) will get frustrated with this and his lack of witty comeback repertoire. Yelling and swearing starts and doors get slammed. We express ourselves with violent posturing, not analytical reasoning of forgotten memories and in extreme cases, we lash out at the object of our frustration instead of inanimate objects or simply walking away (in which case, we get accused of ignoring the problem).

Now, what has this to do with my mother or coming home? If you have read my book (or all of this blog), you will know I never wanted to return to Canada. I had plans-- things to do, people to see. Coming back to Canada was in the opposite direction both physically and mentally. My prospects of finding a job in a job market I have been 10 years absent from were slim. I needed money and not just a couple of bucks, but a lot of it. I had nowhere to live or anywhere I wanted to live. My support network of friends and family was 10 years old. They all had marriages and families of their own to worry about it, let alone a 40 year old, divorced, unemployed, international ex-convict. It took some convincing and ultimately, I had no other choice, thanks to the Korean government. I was forced to come back to Canada kicking and screaming.

How I got to Canada was the next thing. I could either wait it out or accept my mom's voluntary offer. I never asked for her help, but I agreed to it. Flying to Canada from South Korea ain't cheap. Nor is living when you get there. I would need a place to stay and food in my belly. With no job or job prospects, the cards were stacked against me. Nonetheless, after discussing all these concerns, we worked it out (I thought).

I wanted to continue on my travels, starting in Thailand. The living is cheap and I can find work easily by teaching English if I really had to. I don't like teaching English much, but I know how and I'm good at it. It's not something I can do in Canada, but it's something I can do in a crunch everywhere else. In exchange for a ticket back to Thailand, my mom suggested I help her with her home renovations over the summer, which I readily agreed to do. In exchange for living under her roof and eating her food, I would look for a job and contribute when I could. Both of which I did/am doing. The jobs are far and few between, but I have picked up a couple of odd jobs here and there-- designing a brochure, a t-shirt and fixing a couple of computers-- my mom's 7 year old laptop included. Meanwhile, I also transcribed 3 books that I wrote, published one of them and created more than a few new artworks that I offered for sale online. In addition, I was able to get a new driver's license, open a new bank account, get a new credit card and synchronize them with my online stores and payment accounts. I set myself up so I could work from my computer and get paid for it anywhere in the world in anticipation of my return to travelling the world. I made my own job when I couldn't find one and made sure I could keep it no matter where I was. Coming back to Canada wasn't a total loss. I got a lot of personal business done that I was unable to do with a Korean bank account and my mom got free labour that was not just limited to house renovations, but included vacuuming her house, cutting the lawn (she has done neither in the entire time I have been here) and keeping the rest of the house tidy enough to suit her standards.

The point is, even faced with a stacked deck, I made the best of the situation. I did everything I was asked to do and more. I worked hard to get myself out of unemployment (semi-unsuccessfully) and I made plans to guarantee my future.

What did I get in return? A fight. I got yelled at for being an ungrateful bastard, told I was a terrible writer and wrote a stupid book. Why? Because I was wondering why all the formating had been changed and where all the pictures I had embedded in my book had disappeared to. When I asked my (mom) editor about it, she got really upset and asked me to prove it. I didn't accuse her of changing the formatting or deleting the pictures, I asked what happened. How do I know she had some responsibility? I had the "track changes" feature turned on in MS Word. I could tell exactly who, the date, and the time the alleged offences happened. It's marked in red in my document. When she edits things on her computer, it shows me everything.

When faced with unquestionable proof, she moved on to the thousands of dollars she spent bring me back to Canada and sending me to Thailand, living rent free in her house (She lives rent free, too. She has no mortgage since she paid off the house. She pays yearly property taxes and the usual utility bills) and eating her food (my grocery list is about $50 a week. I buy the same things every week and keep to raw ingredients that are cheaper and provide many combinations for preparation). There is no doubt I am a drain on her income. I don't deny it, but I'm not just mooching off her. Any income I have made, I've used to take care of my own miscellaneous expenses beyond just room & board such as my cell-phone service. She also gets things in exchange that she agreed to. I do everything she asks without question or complaint (if you know me, you'll realize how difficult that is for me). I go out of my way to give her space until those first couple of coffees in the morning and I keep my impact in her lifestyle to a minimum. I have thanked her for everything she has done, especially reading and editing my books more times than I can keep track of (too busy remembering Star Wars trivia...). However, the end result is the same. It's an argument I can't win even if I remembered what I was arguing about in the first place.

I'm an ungrateful bastard and a shitty writer with no skills or job who sits around the house all day doing nothing on the computer. I guess I should just accept it. I been told so many times, it must be true. Mommy knows best, after all.

I'm packed and ready to go, but I have to wait this out for one more month until my scheduled flight departs. Thanks for the ticket, mom. I am truly grateful for all your help even if you don't see it.