Tet à Tet: Reflecting before the Year of the Pig

pink paper origami

Photo by Miguel Á. Padriñán on Pexels.com

By Harry Hodge

One thing about the holidays in Vietnam: You always have a lot of free time.

Gyms are closed. Coffee shops closed. Hotels and flights are all booked. Your kids’ daycare is closed. You may as well try to relax because… What else is there?

Since New Year in the West is typically a day off, two weeks seems to me like an eternity every year. Why so long? I used to get frustrated and angry about it, but no point in getting upset, since there’s nothing I can do about it.

This year, I feared I’d be watching my kids solo for two weeks with my wife working at the hotel. Once they saw they’d be paying a manager double salary through the holidays, they scrapped her remaining days. This was good as I’d not be solo for two full weeks (it has been a week already, though) but bad they decided to do it so late it’s difficult to really go anywhere.

Staycation it is.


Reflection time and looking ahead

I had a few things that ended up disappointing me in 2018 and I just rolled with them, knowing good things would be happening as well. Canada for the first time in four years was a high point. Some minor things like a longstanding book deal being squashed became an annoyance, but it had been pushed so far back it seemed inevitable anyway.

As the (Lunar) New Year was drawing to a close, a new business opportunity has presented itself. I’ll provide more detail on that one when it becomes more concrete, but it could change my day-to-day drastically. Last year was about me proving to myself I could still make a buck and not be tied to any one employer, in so doing having more free time for other pursuits without taking a major financial hit. That calculation didn’t include all the driving I had to do, of course. It’s a work in progress.

Hopefully this year, I can make use of this flexibility and work on the new opportunity before me. I’m also going back to a former employer, Ton Duc Thang University, so as to be a short drive from my place two days a week, half the distance as was on my previous schedule.

Avoiding the trolls

I’m trying to make my time online more practical when possible, and not get myself drawn into useless arguments with keyboard warriors I’m unlikely to ever meet in person. I’ve taken myself off pages that trigger me, and generally give Twitter a miss these days anyway.

Being physically present with my children when I play with them is increasingly important as they become more aware of day-to-day things, so this past year of spending much more time with them has helped our relationship. They’re both getting pretty quick on their mini-scooters, and are super-inquisitive. Questions, questions, questions.

I turn 44 this year, and can see my window to generate revenue starting to narrow. For some people, they’d say that their working days are half-over. Making a decent profit off a recent land sale was exciting, although I still find real estate transactions ridiculously old school in Vietnam. But money’s money; even if you have to drive with 40 large in cash through the dark in the Vietnamese countryside!

Positivity. Streamline stresses and commutes. Avoiding triggers. Showing some gumption and taking some risks, and worrying about the outcome later.

photo of fireworks

Photo by Anna-Louise on Pexels.com

About hodgedude

I'm a Canadian journalist and teacher, most recently living in Edmonton and Toronto, now located in Ho Chi Minh City. Graduate of Concordia University in Montreal. I've taught English in S. Korea, pulled rickshaws in Canada, taught at a Taiwanese language boot camp, edited newspapers in China and played a French-speaking Spanish colonel on Vietnamese TV. I also play Australian football. Pick up a copy of issue one of my independent comic, "Getting Lucky," at Happy Harbor Comics in Edmonton, the Comic Hunter in Moncton, New Brunswick, and the Spotted Cow Pub, 111 Bui Vien, District 1, Saigon.
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