I found myself with a few minutes and quite resistant to delve into one of my many ongoing projects. Perhaps my recent prolonged cold/flu illness has caught up with me. Simply put, I’m just plain out of energy. Therefore, I felt I should take this opportunity to do a little update on my happenings. Obviously, time constraints do not allow a detailed relation of events, nor would anyone want to read a long drawn-out account of my goings-on, so I will confine myself to a brief outline of the recent past.
I have now been living in Taiwan for quite awhile, three months shy of four years. Still, I do not speak Chinese. Yes, I have picked up a few phrases here and there, but nothing to be proud of. The reason I haven’t learned to speak the language? I have not felt the need to. There have been other, more pressing, matters to attend to. I did not feel it necessary to take the time to study the language. I still intend to, but haven’t set a timetable to do so. It just isn’t that important to me, I guess.
What has been important to me? Being good at what I do, teaching, for one. I came to this country not knowing anything about teaching. Through my management experience, I had learned some things about dealing with groups of people. That helped a little bit when I began teaching, but was a drop in the bucket to the amount of knowledge I would need to do the job right. I turned to some books and the internet, a vast resource of information, for the support I needed. I studied quite a bit (and still do).
I feel it is vital to always be one or two steps ahead of my students. To that end, I have actually been studying the English language. And what a crazy language it is! Being a native English speaker, I thought I had the cat by the tail when it came to understanding my own language. Nothing could be farther from the truth. To comprehend the various nuances of the English language, I discovered there was a whole lot of learning to be done. I am still studying the language daily. Funny how moving to a foreign country, where a foreign language is predominantly spoken, has brought me to the necessity of studying my own native tongue.
In all of my life I have never had such great satisfaction as I have experienced from teaching. To see the immediate results of my teaching upon the students in my class gives me great joy. I feel I am making a lasting impact in peoples’ lives. That is something I haven’t felt since my days as an LDS missionary. That was for a two-year period. Now, as I stated earlier, this has been a time period nearly double to that.
As a side note here, one of my regrets from living here is with regards to the LDS church. I felt, and stated at the time of moving here, that I could impact the small church branch that exists here. I had aspirations of doing great missionary work again. I saw myself as a service-oriented person, spending all of my free time in “the service of the Lord” by helping in the missionary effort any way I could. Sadly, that has not happened, at all. I was even called to be the Branch Mission Leader and had great dreams of fulfilling that calling like nobody before me. That didn’t happen either. Regretfully, life got in the way of all of it. Day-to-day obligations took precedence over my desires to do things of a spiritual nature. I found myself too exhausted after work, which was a day and night thing, to do anything but fall into a “vegetative state”. To this day, I am worthless after 8 o’clock in the evening. Long gone are the days of burning the candle at both ends. I’m lucky to get it ignited at one end.
At around 35 years old, I began to experience a slow down in my metabolic state. My body quit growing up and started growing out. Stupidly, I did nothing to curtail the damaging effects of aging. I continued to eat great quantities of junk food (and still do). I continued to avoid exercise like the plaque (and still do). My body has seen better days and I am ashamed to admit that I do not care much about it at this time. Like church work, I have put my physical well-being on the backburner. I intend to get involved with the church work in the future, as I do with exercising and eating right. When? I cannot say. Common sense tells me that it may never happen, given my inability to even set a goal, but I still maintain hope that something will happen that will bring the necessity of both of these important things to the forefront. One might be thinking a near-death experience would be in order, like a heart attack, but I certainly hope not. I hope that the wind will blow in something far less serious than cardiac arrest.
That is where I’ve been recently, blowing in the wind. I have had a problematic relationship with my wife since the beginning of our marriage. We have bickered and argued about nearly everything. It seems that we seldom have agreed upon much of anything. I don’t like the arguing at all. Therefore, I have swallowed my pride and always given in, putting her wishes above my own. This has caused me much grief, not being “the head” of the household. I have always believed in each partner playing his or her role in a marriage. It has seemed to me that there are no roles in mine. My wife has aspirations of establishing a business venture that will ensure a nest egg for the whole family. She conducts her actions accordingly. I, on the other hand, had a business plan of my own, but have been unable to pursue it, due to it’s confliction with hers. Someone has to take care of the two boys while she is out and about attending all of her various meetings. Needless to say, I have been spending a lot of time with them.
I thoroughly enjoy the time I spend with my youngest two sons. Billy and Tyley are my lifeblood. As teaching gives me great joy at work, they give me great joy at home. One has to have gone through what I have to really know what I’m talking about. Fourteen years ago, I was kept from seeing my first son, Cameron. This was due to his mother creating illusions of me in her mind that I was some terrible monster or something. For some reason unknown to me (still), she felt she had to protect him from me. Yes, I was a horrible husband to her, getting into frequent arguments that often resulted in out-and-out brawls on both our parts. I have no excuse for my behavior then. Simply put, it was the wrong way to act. However, aside from how I mistreated his mother, there was never anything I did against Cameron. On the contrary, I tried my best to be the kind of father he could be proud of. I feel that his mother has painted quite a different picture of me in the years that followed, so much so that he doesn’t even answer my phone calls anymore. What I did to her during the 3 years of our marriage cannot compare in the least to what she has done to me in the 14 years since. As one can tell, I still harbor ill feelings about the whole situation. Anyone walking in my shoes would probably feel the same way.
My longing for Cameron has only served to make me a better parent to Billy and Tyley. Because I never got to spend the time with Cameron during those all-important years of his upbringing, I am even more focused on spending an exorbitant amount of time with my other two sons, perhaps to the point of ad nauseum. Whenever I can, I play with Billy and Tyley. For instance, I love playing cars with them. When I was a little boy, I used to collect Matchbox cars. When I am with Billy and Tyley, I sort of relive those days and play along with them and their cars. They have a pretty good collection. Their mother thinks I buy them too many cars, but I think that a boy can never have enough of them.
I am proud of how hard Billy and Tyley try to be good boys. I can tell they have great big hearts. Billy, at three years old, is very careful around Tyley, being the best a big brother could be. Tyley, in turn, is very accommodating of Billy. At just over 1 year old, Tyley’s understanding of how things work is limited, but he tries his best. He wants Billy to like him and conducts himself accordingly. Obviously, Billy does like Tyley. In fact, they are both great for each other. I’m so thankful that I can be a part of their lives and experience their warmth and concern for each another… and for my wife and me.
Currently, I am heavily involved with a student video project. I have taken it upon myself to make a student video, using members of the two English clubs I conduct once a week. Between my classes each day, I do a lot of hands-on work in preparation for the shooting of the video. I have designed and made costumes, papier-mâché rocks, a miniature backdrop, clay jewelry, hand puppets, and more. There is a lot left to do, before shooting, and I hope that it will all get done. That depends not just on my efforts, but on the students’ as well. We’ll see.