notes from the road

Change o’ plans

07/31/09 Friday

This morning I got up at a spritely 8:00 and as soon as I had eaten breakfast and then had a second breakfast down the street where there was a ‘free breakfast’ celebration for the 25th birthday of a soul food restaurant, I went over to see Nir at the Jazz Hostel. I handed him my resume but didn’t have a printed copy of the application as I had though it sufficient to just send it in online as I also did my resume. To be honest I didn’t even think I needed to bring a hard copy of my resume – lucky I did! He said I had the gig and welcomed me to the team. I would join some Dutch and Eastern European fellas and some Jamaican and Scottish girls as the work exchange staff. I had a think about this concept last night and I couldn’t quite make up my mind who was getting the better deal. I’d be working three shifts (about 24 hours) for my stay which equates to around $240 if I was getting paid an ok wage. Now to stay at the Hostel that I’m at currently, I’m paying around $115 per week. So it doesn’t look like I’m the winner. But on the other hand, if I were to spell the story out in numbers I would be paying nothing for accommodation – which is a good thing, when you are not in the strongest financial situation. One thing that Nir said the day before had been simmering in the back of my mind. I asked a question to confirm that he would prefer it if we didn’t have a job before organizing the shift, and he replied ‘If you have a job already then stay with it, they are hard to come by’. Hmmm, I didn’t have a job and would have to face that problem next.

My next stop was the library and I was actually looking forward to the wait for the computer so that I could get re-acquainted with my mate Magic again. As I went to pick up the book I noticed sitting next to it another book that said ‘the last career guide you will ever need to read’, I thought it might be helpful for me in finding a part time job – but thinking now, I’m glad I picked up Magic. The lesson that I learned today was about strengths and weaknesses. Magic when he was a basketball player had pretty slow foot work and a poor long range shot, he worked on them to make them acceptable, but that was not what made him one of the greatest players ever. Magic had a skill for getting around players and scoring points close in and making crafty passes – and that is what he focused on and perfected. Magic says that the same can be applied to business, and I’d like to think to life in general. It struck me then that what I was doing now was not my strength. As of last night I have been feeling very very alone and I haven’t felt boyant, conversational or cherpy – which I can be. A combination of missing my family after a great trip with Mum and Dad, worrying about my financial situation and wanting to stay independent, not really enjoying the hostel experience when viewed from a permanent residence perspective (I would only have a microwave to cook food in at the hostel – no hot plate) and being scared of my business idea and what it would involve me doing. This last one is a difficult problem for me to deal with. I’ve had those two quotes in my head stirring me on to do this since I got the idea “Never, ever, ever give up” and “Always take the harder option”. Well I’m giving up and I’m taking the easier option, so perhaps I have failed, and anything that I say from now on is just an excuse to try and save face. But I’m going to say it anyway. I realized that I don’t have the skills that I need at this moment to do the job right, and that at this time and place I am not prepared to do it. I don’t have any experience in business, or entrepreneurship but even more importantly, (perhaps I should put this bit to poetry?) I’m not in an emotional position to do it – primarily due to the lack of community and money surrounding me. Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to be a spoilt rich kid whinging that he has no money. I’ve probably got access to more than a lot of people I see do – money my parents have sat in my account and money friends want to give me. But it’s not my money, and at this point in time, I’m not prepared to borrow even more money than I have in the past to buff up my financial position.

So after my magical new insight I was unconsciously tossing up ideas in my head, making calculations about the best way to sort out my predicament; just get a full time job anywhere; work part time and give your idea a shot, then at least you’ll cover bases and the three months will fly by. And just like a slightly slow and not paying attention calculator, I finally reassessed some options that I had ruled out. Going back to Los Angeles and working for TOMS and extending my visa. This would mean changing my initial plan (one year in America, one year in France), but they were not solid to begin with; I would not be in Europe when Dru was there for the first half of the year but even if I was we’d be in separate countries and I would still get to meet her off the plane and hang out; and I’d be putting off the French trip even further – but this actually has some appeal to it. See I was talking to a French guy downstairs for a little while who didn’t speak much English, and when I say talking, I mean, saying words and then acting out stuff. It was slow and it was hard work. Then yesterday the French girl at the Jazz hostel recommended that I learn as much French as I can because even if I was fruit picking I would ‘not find it funny’ if I could only speak English. On top of that, I’m in a place now where I feel terribly lonely and I speak the language of everyone (apart from the French guy) around me. So perhaps I should really get my act together with learning the language before I go over there.

This experience has been good as I have realized my own weaknesses and that I am not master of all emotions and feelings. A bit like when I rolled my ankle really badly playing netball. Prior to that I felt invincible on the court, I’d jump, hustle, leap and throw myself at every ball I could and couldn’t go for. After the accident though, I took things a bit slower, still went balls out fairly often, but chose my times more carefully. I think that is what I will do now. I now know that when I’m put in isolated places I can feel lonely, and that being lonely sucks. I have never been more homesick in my whole life than I was last night and today. It was like I was trapped in an elevater shaft and couldn’t get out. The more I thought about my family and where they were and where I was, the worse I felt. I’m sure this was brought on by recently seeing my parents and then having to say goodbye to them for about a year, and I was expecting it to come at some time. After talking to my family on the phone I now feel better especially in conjunciton with my decision to go back to LA. I am already emotionally on a different path, an easier, nicer, happier one.

So on paper it looks like I had an idea but turned away before I could give it a proper shot because of my weak emotions. Bahh, so be it. I’m learning a lot about humility then, and will better be able to relate to other people who have done similar things which I formally would have looked down upon. Plus my TOMS experience is going to be an adventure too, only one with friends, and financial security. And without giving this a shot I always would have wondered what could have been and thought the grass just might be greener, but now I no that in my current position it just isn’t viable. I might even try to do some work for the public relations team while I am there, to really develop my skills for the future. Ahh the possibilities that await…

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