Third job

My third job, after family and work, continues.

That of trying to find a new job. It’s ups and downs. I want to do it properly, but finding the time to that is hard after the other two. It’s also stressful for a few different reasons. One of which is it means our family will be moving, definitely to a new city but potentially a new country too. The other is that I just struggle with the whole process. Of crafting my cv and cover letter appropriately and being happy with it. Of, already worrying about interviews when that’s not even on the horizon. I just find it a lot.

I teach because I enjoy teaching and this is not! I’m good at the teaching part and find it difficult selling myself, highlighting my good attributes.

I undo my shoe laces.

I have a single resolution this year. Just that one. I will endeavour to complete this task regardless. I won’t avoid it when I’m tired or anxious. When I’m stressed or angry. I will always do it. I can’t not, really. It takes seconds. If I can’t do this then I can’t do anything. But in my head I will remember the converse. I I can do this, I can do anything. So I do this thing so that I can do anything. I have a thousand more resolutions. I pick them up from the ground. I borrow them from friends and family who give them with love. I steal them from strangers whom I silently give thanks to. I do them until they become habit or until I let them fall because they didn’t work. They are not resolutions for the year but for-ever and ever or for just this moment. Both work. I have many, but one that matters.

These are the things bouncing around in my head.

I’ve got all these things floating around in my head.

Anne Mueller’s piece about pain. This Ask Metafilter for it’s discussion about the line between pushing our children too hard and not hard enough (is that a thing?) and how when we put our children first, we become a not even close second.

This won’t be the last time you’re faced with options that are good for your kid and bad for you;

And how I do get pretty decent sleep and exercise regularly and eat ok(ish) and that these things are keep me sane despite feeling overwhelmed constantly. Sabrina Benhaim’s Poem - Explaining My Depression To My Mother.

“Mom, I am the party, only I am a party I don’t want to be at” is boucing around my head.

That I heard sampled on Fred Again..’s New Year Mix on Apple Music. Which I did because there’s only so much I can listen to his Boiler Room mix before it becomes a problem. But seriously, I do love his Actual Life albums. This Oatmel comic on compliments.

He used to find it hard to take a compliment. It was easier once he thought of them as borrowed, instead. Tucked away for the next person who needed one.

Steve Makofsky’s Makoism newsletter too, for being one of the few things or places on the Internet I actually read instead of letting my screen-adled brain skim over. See also Kottke. I keep meaning to donate something but I’m too busy spending my money on things that aren’t important to me. He posted a link to this article Humans Need Play and that’s in my head too recently.

Under stress, we focus on what we need to do: submit the project, feed the kid. Perhaps we find time for what we should do: answer the email, clean the counters. But under pressure, we tend to drop the things that feel… optional. Frivolous perhaps. In particular, play.

And how the regular-ish games of table tennis I play with a colleague is probably also keeping me saner than I realise.

The opposite of play is not work – the opposite of play is depression. Dr Stuart Brown.

Say goodbye to the ‘tiger mom’. Welcome to the school of jellyfish parenting

I feel this. In China too, so many of the students in my class have countless after school lessons/clubs/activities.

I read it in Alfie Kohn’s Unconditional Parenting too, which I really need to get around to finishing.

“Few parents have the courage and independence to care more for their children’s happiness than for their success.”2 In extreme cases, the “press for success” can reach a fever pitch, such that the child’s present is essentially mortgaged to the future. Activities that might bring meaning or enjoyment are sacrificed in a ceaseless effort to prepare for Harvard (I’ve come to refer to this process as “Preparation H”). The bottom line is never far from the minds of such parents, who weigh every decision about what their children do in school, or even after school, against the yardstick of how it might contribute to future glories. They are not raising children so much as living résumés, and by the time high school arrives, the kids have learned to sign up for activities strictly to impress college admissions committees, ignoring (or, eventually, losing sight of) what they personally find interesting in the here-and-now.

Looking at old photos of the kids. I have two thoughts…

  1. They’ve grown so much.
  2. I still wear that.

Really think about it. What’s the smallest number of hours you could work per week and keep your boss happy?

Funny this came up because we had a conversation at work and a colleague told me they felt bored. After a moment, I realized that I don’t ever feel bored. There’s always more I feel like I should be doing. That if I dared to feel bored it was because I wasn’t working hard enough or doing my job properly.

Sitting at my desk at 7am feels both better than being grumpy at home but also, overall, worse.

Some things

  • Since the kids started school they are both falling asleep so much faster. Bedtime is still stressful, but less so and I am grateful for that. However, they rise, refreshed and raring to go at 6am.
  • We had an earthquake yesterday, but I didn’t feel it, I never do. Colleagues inside did though. We were reasonably far from it.
  • The whole school is being COVID tested today, so story-mapping Where The Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak will likely be pushed to tomorrow. Did you know that book is 60 years old next year?
  • Still settling into working with new people and students and still feeling unsettled by it. Forever finding things to worry about. Forever feeling not good enough.
  • Which ties nicely into just feeling overwhelmed at the moment because work and home and being forever ‘on’. Well at least between 6am and 8pm. Have been going to bed before 9:30pm, which I know is good for me but it’s a battle mentally even if physically I fall asleep within seconds. Feeling like I need more time. Ain’t never enough time.


I had a headache, just a dull ache. I think it’s related to being stressed about going back to work on Monday after the summer holiday. Combined with the kids being themselves and me losing my patience twice yesterday that I’ve been beating myself up over. Maybe it’s the heat.

So, we went for massages this morning. I talked Lyra into coming since my confidence in my Chinese and my general anxiety over interacting with people always drops like a stone when I’m stressed.

A friend recommended the place a year or so back. From the outside it does not look like somewhere you should go. A small boxed sized room off the street that is clean but not upmarket in any, way, shapre of form.. 6 or 7 massage beds and while there are curtains they aren’t normally used since they massage you through the clothes you’re wearing. Don’t come expecting privacy. They chat amongst themselves while they give you the massage too. The masseurs who are not working, sit in the room using their phones and just hang out. So, the masseurs are all blind or nearly blind so they interact with their phones by their phones speaking out to them. Honestly, I tune it out so that’s not a big thing for me. If you want relaxing music and diffusers with nice smells you’re not gonna have a good time.

With that said. Sometimes I’ve walked out feeling… I think I told friends once that it felt like I had a new neck. The massages have always been incredible. Today, the headache was gone and I felt so much better. And it’s only 70rmb ($10ish) for an hour. Bargain.

Today is 10 years, to the day, that I arrived in China and the path my life too forever changed.
Though the whole moving to a new country and marrying a local is something I got from Dad (thanks Dad!).

Adult exercise

Found this interesting. We want people doing exercise, especially as adults, but how do we get there?

As well, it’s currently the CrossFit Games currently and it reminds me that what the top, top, TOP athletes do in a given sport is nothing like what a ‘normal’ person who does that sport for fun/health does.

My Take on “Gladwell’s Law” That Elite Athletic Achievement Comes at the Expense of Mass Participation - Meta Bulletin

Packed lunch dinners

Elise has always had school lunch but with Yumo joining soon, we will soon be paying for 3 school lunches probably. With that in mind, last night we trialed packed lunch for dinner. Actually, surprisingly, improbably, it was a huge success. I did ham and cheese pin wheels with added broccoli.

Elise gave it a two thumbs up and her comment was that it didn’t need 2 biscuits, one was enough.

evenings and weekends

Yes to this, I don’t know how people can put the kids to bed and then do more work. I just can’t. As well, after working for 45 hours, I don’t have more work in me at the weekend.

I do not put the kids to bed and then crack my laptop to write. The gates of my brain roll down at 7 p.m. like a mall food court Chik-Fil-A on Sunday. time freedom and brainpower and then I had that additional kid.

If I’m on deadline, then I remove myself from the house to do it. Usually a bar on a weekday evening, because I struggle to bring professional energy of any kind to a weekend.

Everything Happened - vol. 215 - by Evie Ebert

It feels like,
It’s not just getting
To yourself .
It’s having time,
With the right
Frame of mind.

Which is where I fall down.

Regret and my new exercise mantra

So here’s what you do. When you’re faced with a tough decision, picture yourself in the future looking back on it. Whichever one you’d regret not choosing, that’s the one you should choose.

I breeze through my feeds sometimes, starring things or even marking unread things I know I should go back to, but it will surprise you to hear that I often don’t. Often, though things will rattle around in my head like an earworm (thoughtworm?) and I will go back to them.

Like this one.

And so I’ll push it forward, sometimes just to a collection I have in Notes, sometimes here on my blog or more often to individual friends.

Then, it has me thinking about my new exercise mantras that I picked up from Street Parking an at home workout plan with, apparently a great community feel. My exercise will never be what I wish it to be. For a few different reasons. I go backwards and forwards with my feelings towards this. Sometimes, I can accept that it and other times…

From the Street Parking intro video they say, be consistent and more than nothing.

I like that. So i’m going with that, for now!

Quote source - The regret minimization framework – Mike Crittenden

, again

Packing up lives

Promises to keep

I realised that twice last week that I talked to people about some of the things that are constantly spinning in my head. Living in China and being a Dad. Like, I know I should do it more but…

One of them

In bed…
One of them barely moves
One of them is doing interpretive dance

In the morning…
One of them is reluctant to rise
One of them rises as early as I do (which is a problem when I try to eke out some time to myself before work)

Kate Bush trending

Glad that Kate Bush is trending again.
For me it brings back memories of our old Volvo estate. The one with the seats in the boot and a back seat that would fold down. Listening to the album on a cassette deck, obviously. It’s intermingled with memories of driving to France to go camping.

Grateful to @patrickrhone for writing this post about friendship because it has spurred me to arrange to meet some friends online.

I struggle because of distance, as well China’s current travel restrictions, which limits options a little. But also because I find calling difficult. Where calling feels like a synonym for video calling now. Which is a change from when I was young. Difficult because, despite being so connected by messaging apps and social media, calling feels intrusive and ironcially lacks connection. Plus, you don’t really do it without an appointment, right? Except mum, obviously.

Like I said, I’m thinking a lot about this and plan to make a concerted effort to not only prioritize my friendships but to make thinking about them as an option a habit. To be intentional about giving time to the people I love.

Yeah, I’m going to make an effort to do this too.

each haircut
each set of outgrown clothes
each start of a new school year

moves us closer to that thing we dread
our kids growing up
our kids leaving

this is not to depress you
it’s to help you enjoy now
while it’s here
while they are

the past is past
put our mistakes behind us
stop being distracted or too busy
rededicate ourselves — to parenting
our most important job

let us begin afresh, afresh, afresh
today is the very last time
they will be this age

Paraphrased from Daily Dad

This post about being a father and a teacher is basically me. Strange to read something that so perfectly describes your own life. Describes the struggles I feel I have trying to be a good father and teacher while not giving myself enough time.

I love teaching but on the days you’re not feeling it it’s hard work. And it’s not the acting enthusiastic, it’s how drained I feel at the end of it.

  1. Nintendo won’t accept my new credit card.
  2. Oh. It’s not activated. That must be it. Activate.
  3. That’s not it.
  4. I should use Paypal…
  5. I haven’t used Paypal in so long, they have an old phone number.
  6. I’ll use Amazon to buy a gift voucher.
  7. Amazon account locked. Please wait up to 24 hours for an email to unlock.
  8. Great.

Spent some time with just our eldest today. The difference between being with both of them is just night and day.

It was almost relaxing going for lunch!