Blogging Blues

My heart just isn’t in it lately, sorry. I know I can do better, but I’m having serious concerns about work — I’m doing fine at my job, it’s just that I know this isn’t what I’m supposed to be doing for the rest of my life. I’m looking for alternatives, for other answers, and until I’ve figured things out I may not meet expectations. Sorry about that, but I know it’s a short-term thing. There’s just something terribly unrewarding about being the PR manager for a company that hates PR. Every time I think about going back to Asia, I get such a pang in my heart, such a yearning, I can’t even describe it. I have to face the fact I don’t want to be here, in Arizona, in high tech — I should be teaching somewhere and making a contribution to others, instead of focusing on “spin” and “staying on message” and making things look different than they really are for the sake of appearances. How did I end up here? Is it too late to change? Please give me a day or two to sort things out. Thanks for your patience! And if any of you know of some decent jobs in Asia, let me know!

The Discussion: 26 Comments

Define “decent”!

Korea’s not a bad place to be if:

1. You’ve got an MA.
2. You’ve got at least $5000-10000 on hand for use as “key money.”
3. You like Korean food.

If you meet the above requirements, I highly, highly recommend looking for a decent university job here, teaching English. Hours won’t be long, pay won’t be stellar, but it won’t be PR work, either. With $5000-10000 down as a deposit, you can get some splendid digs right in Seoul or just outside of it. If you choose to teach somewhere besides Seoul, the deals can often be even sweeter.

Just a thought. If you’re heart’s set on going back to China, then I hope some other commenters can give you good suggestions.

Good luck as you navigate the rough waters,

Kevin

May 15, 2005 @ 12:59 am | Comment

You are not alone thinking those thoughts….

It’s never too late to change! ๐Ÿ™‚

May 15, 2005 @ 1:12 am | Comment

Richard, I totally understand your work related frustration. My job is sort of a “do no harm” proposition. It’s interesting a lot of the time, I’m not doing things I despise for the most part, it supports me and it leaves me with the energy to do the stuff I care about outside of it. But it’s not exactly life-fulfilling. Most jobs aren’t. You have to look to the rest of your life to find the things that really nourish you.

If you like to teach, why not go back to China? You can easily get a job there. You know what it’s like, you’re not all starry-eyed, and you still love the place, in spite of the less lovable aspects. You could use your PR expertise there – I think you linked to an article about how that whole field is opening up in China. Or not, if you want to leave it behind.

Every time I go back to China, I feel like I’m in my second home. I’ve got too many things holding me here right now; I’m not ready to make that move again. But I think about it a lot (my latest obsession is to find the place in China where I’d really like to live. In spite of my familiarity with Beijing and the small social network I have there, I’m thinking I’d rather be someplace smaller and less frenetic).

I’d personally choose China over, say, Japan, because I think China is more welcoming to foreigners. But there are other places in Asia, certainly…Thailand…Vietnam…

If that’s where your heart is telling you to go, is there any real reason not to?

May 15, 2005 @ 1:29 am | Comment

No offense intended…. but I was just thinking..

I bet there are quite a few chinese who’d love to switch places with you. He/She takes your PR job, and you go teach in China.

I assume you don’t look chinese, so you’re human rights won’t likely be messed with, so you’re safe in China. …

but really, why would you go live in a totalitarian state? why would you not choose a ‘freer’ country?

just curious,
take care,

May 15, 2005 @ 1:52 am | Comment

Joann, I can kind of sort of answer part of that question. When I lived in China (79), it really was a totalitarian state. People had very little freedom in their personal lives, let alone political/public. Nowadays, things are very different. I’d call China an authoritarian state. It’s sort of where Taiwan was in the seventies, more or less. There are areas where you are not free to express your opinions or to act, but in the larger private spheres of peoples’ lives, this isn’t the case any more. there are restrictions and there are problems, but it’s a more or less normal place to live, if that makes any sense.

I think a lot about leaving the US and where I might want to go (Canada is also on my list). Living in the US right now, I’m finding it painful to be an American. Living in another country does give you a certain amount of distance from that sort of psychic pain.

Also, I don’t know why, I like being in China. I like the people, I like the food…I find that I tend to enjoy my days when I’m there.

Okay, I like California a lot too…I’m personally not ready to leave just quite yet. But I do think about it, alot.

May 15, 2005 @ 2:04 am | Comment

Dear Richard,

You need to be here. There are a couple of universities I work with that have openings for next September. E-mail me.

Ellen and I miss you greatly.

Joseph

May 15, 2005 @ 2:19 am | Comment

As mentioned, it doesn’t have to be China. I spent a year in Taiwan and loved it (the people are so refreshingly tolerant, non-nationalistic and with not a hint of a victim-mentality complex!

I also thought Thailand and Vietnam were both great. I also passed through Laos once and that place is just starting to open up. Vienetian has loads of mainlanders mind.

Still, if it’s a return to the glorious motherland you’re after, Mr Bosco’s potential opportunities above sound quite promising.

Sounds like you’ve already made your mind up re US, so the sooner you start cracking on with finding your next location and job the better.

May 15, 2005 @ 3:01 am | Comment

Richard:

One flack to another, for what its worth, PR as an art ain’t much different here, linguistic differences notwithstanding. You’ll still end up browbeating people to stay on message and working out novel ways of clouding reality for your employer or for clients for whom you have only a remote emotional connection, if any. If you don’t like it there, I’d wager you won’t like it here. (If you worked in PR when you were still here, then you’ll know this already, and my apologies.)

On the other hand, it’s still more interesting being in Asia than Arizona, I’d guess, regardless of what you are doing. Not to bag too hard on Arizona (home of many fine BBQ restaurants, I am told), but several of my friends have moved there from my home state of California in the past few years, attracted by the cheaper housing. I’ve visited them on occasion. Every time another one goes, I thank the powers-that-be that I still live in Asia.

One final thought, heretical though it may be: Neither PR nor blogging is life.

Will

May 15, 2005 @ 4:52 am | Comment

I feel your pain…

May 15, 2005 @ 11:41 am | Comment

Will, I worked in PR in Beijing for a year so I know what it’s all about. I have a job offer in Shanghai and Beijing from the same agency, but I don’t think I can do it. The source of all this anxiety is a conviction that I simply don’t belong in PR, especially high-tech. Somehow I can do it and please the boss and the clients, but it’s something I fell into by accident. It took me away from my real goals, writing and journalism. So time to get out, right now.

Devi, I read your own post about workplace blues. Don’t worry, I won’t tell anyone you and I work at the same company.

I really appreciate the other comments, and I plan to go back to this topic in a new post later today, because I want to get more opinions and understand all my options. Joseph, I’ll email you soon – I’ve been avoiding it because, qiute frankly, I’m afraid of making such a big decision. But after what I went through at work this week, feeling so demoralized as I saw most of my efforts wasted — it was a turning point. I need to get out while I still can.

Thanks again for all the comments and this topic is not over yet!

May 15, 2005 @ 2:10 pm | Comment

Richard, there is just as much B.S. in the higher educational system (and even more in media) in China as there is in PR in Arizona and you can easily descend into an equivalant state of cynicism and frustration. It is very true that Joseph and I miss you dearly, but I suspect that relocating won’t soothe your soul because “wherever you go, there you are.” This sounds more like an internal crossroad. Those are never fun, but growing pains are some of life’s most illuminating teachers. You don’t need to be here; you need to be clear. It will come. Happiness is cherishing what you have.

May 15, 2005 @ 3:46 pm | Comment

Ellen, as Mephistopholes says to Faust,
“Du bist am Ende, wer du bist.” You take yourself with you, and I have no illusions of finding Shangri-La in Beijing or anywhere else. And no one know better than I do the frustrations life in China can bring.

It’s not really about geography, it’s about the question I’ve tried to deal with more than once here: What should I do with my life? I do feel I took some wrong turns, lured by the wealth of the 1990s in technology and PR, and I can’t deny that for a long time it was a veryexciting and fulfilling life. But as I get older I’m hit with a true sense of dread, that I’ve become trapped in an area I really hate. (And now I do hate it; it isn’t what it used to be. I can’t cherish doing PR for a computer distribution company in the heart of America’s gun country, try as I might.) The times in my life when I’ve felt most fulfilled and complete were times when I was giving back, contributing something and not just going after the paycheck. People who have known me for decades tell me they are amazed I’m in Arizona doing high-tech PR; I should be teaching, they tell me, or writing or — well, something that encompasses a bit more humanity. The times I really enjoyed in Beijing were when I led classes in writing and other aspects of the trade. I even taught a seminar on classical music, which my old colleagues in Beijing still send me emails about, thanking me. That made it worthwhile, seeing even one person get excited about something new you’ve shown them…. They called me “the teacher.” My very closest friend in the US is a professor in New York, and he, too, tells me he is amazed I haven’t jumped on the chance to go to China and teach. The main thing that was missing from my life there was a community. Now I actually have lots of friends in Beijing — mainly because of this blog — like you and Joseph and so many others. And that’s why I believe this time I would have a very different experience. Since I moved away, I returned four separate times to China, and each time I was amazed at how good my time there was. The difference was the people I had come to know. I had only one friend when I lived in Beijing and communication between us was limited. And that was always the greatest heartache for me, being so alone in a place that I had a hard time understanding, and which I didn’t truly appreciate until after I left. But withjin a few weeks of landing in Singapore, all I ever wanted to do was get back. One of the oddest mysteries of my entire life.

I seem to have gone on at unjustifiable lengths, getting more personal than I usually do on this site. Pardon me, and I hope you know that I know, Ellen, that when I step off the plane I will be the same person I was when I stepped on, with all my literal and metaphorical baggage weighing me down as it does today in Phoenix.

May 15, 2005 @ 6:12 pm | Comment

Richard, a number of years ago, a good friend of mine was having this huge internal debate. She had a relatively secure, relatively decent paying job which she was growing to hate. She was seriously considering going to grad school but was afraid of the financial commitment and the financial risk. She was really freaked out that she’d go to all this time and trouble and wrenching life change and then not get a job after all of that.

She actually went and talked to a shrink about it. And the shrink very wisely said: “What are you risking if you stay where you are?”

She went to grad school and has been steadily employed doing what she’d always dreamed of doing.

Not that things always work out that way, of course. But…

May 15, 2005 @ 7:54 pm | Comment

Living in Phoenix would get anyone down. I lived there for 2 years and always felt like I was on the set of COPS.

Out of curiosity, how is your Chinese? There is obviously a different set of jobs available in China to you if your Chinese is really good.

May 15, 2005 @ 11:04 pm | Comment

Lisa, “What are you risking” is a good question. Unfortunately, in my case the answer is, a lot. I’m in a 20-year committed relationship, and my partner refuses to go to China. Now that’s a tough choice, love or success. Ideally there will be a compromise, but it’s not going to be an easy negotiation.

May 16, 2005 @ 5:21 pm | Comment

How about Taiwan? It’s not as oppressive as China is.

May 17, 2005 @ 12:38 am | Comment

Richard,

Argh. I feel your pain. Why isn’t your SO able/willing to go to China? I can understand if career considerations make this impossible, but otherwise…is this a case of not lliking China? or not willing to try something different? Or…?

Boy, that’s a touigh one.

Could you do China/Asia for a while and kind of meet half-way? shared vacations? huge long distance bills? thank god for email?

May 17, 2005 @ 1:25 am | Comment

Is it only china or Asia/overseas in general the partner refuses to go to Richard?

That sort of changes things a lot but I was going to give you a tip about Vietnam. Oh hell, I’ll do it anyway.

From an established journo to a potential journo, China is now getting very close to being “yesterday’s news”. 5 years ago maybe, but now every man and his dog have read about china, just look at the multiple articles currently available about the place.

Everything re china has been already done, and nowadays correspondents in china number in the thousands.

One word: Vietnam. The govt here have learnt their lesson since reversing the tentative reforms of the early nineties and are now on a one-way street to WTO membership and econmic reform.

WTO will be a reality in a couple of years and then the country will seriously dent china’s status as manufacturer to the world and one of china’s biggest economic secrets (the cash of the diaspora in HK/Taiwan) is shared by Vietnam as a result of the war.

Vietnam stories also sell well because of the interest created by the war.

Also, you’re a bus ride from Cambodia, Laos, Thailand.

The partner problem is a biggie but please give Vietnam a thought.

May 17, 2005 @ 4:13 am | Comment

Richard,

I could really care less if you are gay or straight, but I am curious.

Why do you make it a point to blog on such issues so frequently?

May 17, 2005 @ 10:10 am | Comment

Gordon,

Why are you asking that question on a thread about blogging blues and relocating to Asia?

Just wondering…

May 17, 2005 @ 10:30 am | Comment

other lisa, he’s asking because of the above mentioned ‘partner problem’ and because Richard frequently blogs aqbout such issues.

Since when is being curious and asking a question a crime?

Just wondering…

May 17, 2005 @ 11:31 am | Comment

To my way of reading things, a “partner” problem is a relationship problem, regardless of gender of said partner. I would have understood Gordon’s comment on one of the posts that is specifically dealing with homosexuality; on this one I found the question odd. Not criminal, just odd.

May 17, 2005 @ 11:47 am | Comment

Now this thread is getting real and moving. Just to let you know: you are not alone.

BTW: Gondon and Joe,
Paparazzi are not criminal for sure, they are worse than that. Why are you so curious about other guy’s parnter? As Lisa said, this is odd!!!

May 17, 2005 @ 4:38 pm | Comment

Ron, I really appreciate your post about Vietnam. It’s one of the places I’d like to go to most — once I figure out how to have my cake and eat it too (i.e., hold onto my partner but leave America for a long period of time).

To those who recommended Taiwan, I can’t thank you enough; the more I hear, the more intrigued I become. I’m thinking about it hard.

May 17, 2005 @ 5:09 pm | Comment

If only they’d pronounce all their consonants in Taiwan…. ๐Ÿ˜‰

May 17, 2005 @ 5:41 pm | Comment

Richard, if you are thinking of Taiwan seriously then feel free to drop me a line – I’d be happy to describe life out here a bit! I’m sure it’d be a fascinating contrast to your experiences in China (and Singapore). Taipei’s a pretty cosmopolitan place nowadays – easy access to most Western comforts without losing it’s own style. Probably not quite the exciting roller-coaster ride you’d get from Beijing/Shanghai, but also a more open/easy place to live.

I suggest browsing around: http://forumosa.com/taiwan/index.php?c=2
to get a feel for life out here.

p.s. other lisa – what’s the issue with Taiwanese and consonants? I’ve always thought their difficulties in pronunciation were pretty generic problems for anyone whose 1st language is Chinese?

May 19, 2005 @ 3:50 am | Comment

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