Saturday, September 2, 2006
Summer is coming to an end, school is back in session, and I'm feeling blue. I just got my new schedule for the fall semester from the cram school where I work (my main source of income), and I have fewer hours compared to before the start of summer vacation. Pamela will be leaving her job at the end of September to take care of Amber full-time (thus saying goodbye to a quarter of our income), so our financial situation is going to get tight in the months ahead.
What's really depressing is that I'm 43, and here I am teaching English part-time at several locations. Not much of a career to boast about, is it? I've been doing this for longer than I care to remember, and I still don't have much to show for it. Most of my friends from my teaching days in Japan have since moved on to bigger and better things, but I seem to be moving backwards.
Up until the spring of 1998, I had it pretty good. I was enjoying a good lifestyle in Tokyo, I was working at a job that was more challenging and had more responsibilities than the usual teaching gigs, and I had a healthy bank account. All of that disappeared very quickly, however, and the eight years since have been an endless series of disappointments, failures and setbacks. From Tokyo to Fengyuan, it's been a long, downhill slide.
Of course, during this period I have gotten (re)married, and have become a father for the first time, and I am truly, truly grateful for that. However, being responsible for the welfare of a family does serve to make an uncertain future even more so. What will I do? What can I do? Where will I end up? Twice I've tried to leave Taiwan to go back to Japan, and twice I've had to come back here. Taiwan isn't a bad place, and I've met a lot of great people here, but am I truly cut out for life on this island? Trying to be a good person who attempts to do what is right for all concerned does not bring any rewards in Taiwanese society. It's a dog-eat-dog world here, and I'm the mutt that's always getting a bite taken out of it.
I've been in Taiwan off and on since October 1999, and while I've had some very good experiences during this time, the bad days have outnumbered the good, and continue to do so. It just seems to be a never-ending series of embarrassments, humiliations and losses of face, with the only respites coming when I spend time with Amber, and make the occasional trip back to Japan or the USA. And now I'm not sure how often I can afford to do the latter.
Oh well, as long as Amber still believes in her daddy...