The Season of the Dying

Bellwort: HopelessnessThe days are growing colder, shorter – crueler. I forgot just how difficult and hurtful the cooler seasons are during the warm, protective months of summer. Summer – the height of life – allowed me to breathe (recover) and recollect myself. I’d spent my days inside – outside – reading, Tumbling, shopping, eating – being.

I watched the Gay Pride Parade, for the very first time. I attended the Asian Food Festival, for the very first time. I got a manicure, for the very first time. I even started a Chinese course in reading Chinese characters!

But autumn.

Autumn is the season of the dying.

I should’ve known better.

After being laid off from my job, I’d thought I’d take the months of the aftermath for some time for myself. I hadn’t enjoyed working 9-5, and even sometimes during the weekend. I hadn’t enjoyed how cliquey the work environment had been, and knowing that I hadn’t been “in.” I hadn’t enjoyed working at a business that had very little to do with publishing, which is what I’m trained for. I hadn’t enjoyed it – period, but the money was life-sustaining.

Now, three months later, I thought it’d be so easy to get a job – a career – in the field I’ve been pursuing for almost a decade. I, foolishly, thought that my one-year stint at working full-time would put me ahead of others. I, naively, thought that I shouldn’t have to sacrifice my dreams to earn enough to live by – not after that year of waking up to a job that drained me each and every single day.

But no.

Autumn is the month of the dying.

In a bout of good luck at the end of the summer days, I’ve obtained a part-time position at a real estate office doing administration work. Not publishing, but I wanted the experience and it was exciting. Then, unbelievably, I got an interview at a major publishing company for a full-time position! To round it off, I got another interview for an internship at a major magazine!

But the first breath of autumn signaled heartbreak.

Autumn is the season of the dying, remember?

The full-time publishing position went to another girl I know. This is the same girl who I introduced to my old company (the one that “terminated” [their words] me) as an intern. This is the same girl who stayed at the company long after I “left.” This is the same girl who I have to meet up with on occasion because one of her friends is one of my best friends.

It hurts even more because the woman who could’ve been my boss was also the woman I once job-shadowed.

She even vaguely remembered me.

But not enough to hire me.

As a very bitter second place, I got the internship at the magazine. It’s cold and grating, and it sometimes makes me writhe in agony when I remember the job – the career – that could’ve been. My only consolation is that I do not dread going to my internship every morning. (Nor do I dread heading off to the night shift at the real estate office after working 9-4 at my internship – followed by 5-9 at the real estate office.) No one is cliquey – as everyone at my internship are full-grown, mature adults. The magazine is obviously the publishing environment.

But I’m working almost twelve hours and getting paid for only four of them.

But it’s not a career.

Autumn is the season of the dying, and I feel like I’m drowning. This suffocation is prolonged only by the unfortunate (fortunate) habit of still breathing.

As I’m sitting in my cubicle at the magazine, I realize that this is my fourth internship. Third in publishing. This should – must – be a sign. It should be that the third unpaid internship in publishing is the last unpaid internship in publishing, or last internship in publishing – period.

I’m ready to fold. I’m ready to give up, let go, move on. I dashed into this industry with such high hopes and expectations and dreams, not realizing that the magic surrounding the publishing industry is the media’s doing. The Devil Wears Prada. The September Issue. Cashmere Mafia.

It’s all magic.

Movie magic.

Publishing magic.

And magic’s not real.

Autumn is the season of the dying.

(I am dying.)

I am looking forward to my winter. (I am waiting for death.) Because after winter is spring. (After death is rebirth.)

I just don’t know what my rebirth will look like.

I don’t know what starting over would mean for me.

Bellwort | Hopelessness

甄雪清

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Seeing Crossroads

Bindweed | UncertaintyLet me tell you a story.

Once upon a time, a wise man told a woman that her niece will not be able to hold onto her job for much longer. In fact, he gave the job a deadline of before the Ninth Month. He told the woman that her niece will have a hard time afterwards, but that the girl’s fate lies in China. In China, she will meet her destined partner. They will cross paths during work and think fondly of each other. He comes from a good background, a holder of a PhD from America whose family is full of scholars and university graduates. But soon afterwards, his job would be relocated to Hong Kong and they will be divided, briefly. A few years later, the girl and the boy will meet again, fall in love and get married. After a while, the girl (now a woman) will bring the boy (now a man) back to Canada to live and work. He will be the Canadian representative of his company and she will make $100, 000 CDN a year.

That girl, apparently, is me.

Or so my aunt told me one night.

After I told her I’ve been laid off.

It happened a month ago. My vice president said that they were changing business models and that he honestly couldn’t see a position for me in the company in the future. He told me to start applying for jobs and that he would give me a good reference letter. Then, a month later (a few days ago), I came to work one morning and he told me that I was terminated – immediately. I left that morning no later than 10-15 minutes of walking in. Then I went to the mall. Then I got my bra fitted. Then I spend over $50 on a bra. (Fuck my life.)

The strange thing about all of this is that I’m not sad. I’m not sad. In fact, a month ago when my VP sat me down to tell me that my job would be over soon, my first thought was: “Where should I travel first?” This is, after all, not my ideal job and the people were not exactly my good friends. I feel rather liberated, but I know that this calm would not last long before I panic and start begging for jobs again…

But then my aunt told me about the man with the Sight. Of how, if I go to China, I would have a chance for my best life possible – perfect man, perfect job, perfect life. But what the man didn’t foresee was the sacrifices (and there will be sacrifices) I would have to make for that “perfect” man, “perfect” job and “perfect” life.

Now the question is: Do I take that chance?

Do I go to China?

Do I run forward chasing this fate?

I can’t read Chinese. I can speak Cantonese and desecrate Mandarin. If I was going to go, I’d go and study Chinese. I’d go, for a year or two, to one of the universities as a foreigner and learn to read Chinese. I’d go and explore. I’d go and play. I’d go and understand the people and place where my forefathers and foremothers had lived, breathed and died. I would go to have fun and discover because for the past two decades, all I’ve been doing is work. All I’ve been doing is being serious, serious enough to have overreaching anxiety.

But the questions will always be: Do I take that chance?

Do I want to spend one to two years in China?

Do I want to risk my health?

Do I want to attempt something that may give me little reward?

Him be damned. That fated man. He may not even appear in my life. (Who knows what paths he will take?)

But my aunt made a point: This is only one path for me. There are other paths I can take. As a mortal, I can choose.

China?

Or everything else?

Bindweed | Uncertainty

甄雪清

Watch Your Habits

For They Become Your Happiness

Lao TzuAs I grow older, my perception of happiness has changed. It’s easy to dream of fame and fortune when you’re young and eager. It’s even easier when you grew up in a small town where everyone knows you for your achievements and good character. You’ve been trained in an incubator where you expect things to come easy. You’ve become a dreamer, not a doer.

Everything changes when you grow up. Once you move to the big city, once you understand that you are not special, once you realize that the majority of the human race is prettier, cleverer and better than you: It’s not fame and fortune you want.

It’s happiness.

For myself, happiness comes in small spurts and doses. The issue is that, when the world looks so bleak and you are so small, you want that happiness quick and fast. You want to relieve the pain, however momentarily, in the most simplest of ways. You listen to music. You watch TV. You eat chocolate.

You become dependent on outside forces.

For me, I’m slowly becoming aware of my shopping habits. I rarely shop when I’m not happy. This is a problem because, as Sorelliena explained it to me, I’m conditioning myself to associate happiness with buying things. I shop when I’m happy. Soon, I will be happy when I shop. Shopping, buying and coveting will soon by my music, TV and chocolate. This is the same idea as when I associated happiness to reviews and readership.

And it troubles me, very deeply, to be one of those people. Those people who go shopping, become materialistic and dull to the shiny things. It troubles me because I remember the time when I did not depend on outside forces for my happiness. I did not depend on music, TV, chocolate and shopping for happiness. I depended on myself. I depended on my own imagination, creativity and worlds.

Worlds inside my head and heart.

It’s all about conditioning. It’s all about self-discipline. It’s all about habits.

Just like how I hang my coat up when I walk through the door or exchange my shoes for slippers inside the house, I have to train myself to be happy when I’m writing. This way – and only this way – will I be happy for being myself. Because my writing is myself.

It’s a sad day when I’ve bought a beautiful new trench coat and feel nothing.

Nothing.

Even at 30% off.

I have to change my bad habits.

甄雪清