- Bit of a stretch -

13th September '17

Get up, go to the gym, come home, play video games. Rinse and repeat.

This has been the best holiday ever.

On only one day since I signed-up have I not gone to the gym, and on the vast majority of those I've done a yoga class. I'm enjoying exercising again, and as yet I haven't lost the motivation to do the things that are challenging, and that I don't find easy.

I'll be honest, I don't quite understand my body. I don't understand how I can find running 20km easy, but touching my toes is a challenge.

It's probably related actually. All these years of running but not bothering to stretch afterwards is perhaps why I have horrendous flexibility in my knees.

In other parts of my body I'm fine. These otherwise scarily flexible people in my yoga classes struggle to clasp their hands behind their back, if one arm goes behind their head, and the other behind their back. For some reason I find that easy. But anything that requires flexibility in my legs...

It's like I'm a pensioner already.

I won't be deterred though. At least with the free-time I have now, I'm relishing the challenge of doing things that my body just isn't comfortable with. Who knows if I'll stay so motivated once work starts again, but for the time being, I have absolutely no regrets about joining the gym.

Then once I've finished, I'll normally sit in the sauna for a while because... well I'm yet to find any reputable information that saunas are beneficial, I just rather like them because when you get so hot that you're light-headed, you don't have the energy to be stressed or angry about anything, so they make you relaxed as fuck.

I'll usually then make use of the complementary tea at my gym, then run any errands that I have for the day; supermarkets and alike. Once I'm home I'll cook lunch, and when I have free-time, I always gain a passion for cooking. And then finally once my day's all finished, the time that remains is spent with my PS4, which you can scoff at if you like, I don't care.

I've never understood the arguments that video games are bad for you, you should read a book instead.

How's that any better?

They both require you to be sedentary, but at least I'm interacting with a video game, using hand-eye coordination, and being forced to think things through.

Books are what should be outlawed; that shit's bad for you. Staring at black and white pages twelve inches from your face for hours on end... no wonder so many people have bad eyes. Get some colour.

But that, has pretty much been it. I haven't been away anywhere, I've only been out socially a couple of times. And it's been the best holiday ever.

It's going to be such a shame when I have to start work again next week, and my beautiful routine of yoga, PS4, bed gets interrupted but alas, if work was something I wanted to do, then they wouldn't have to give me money to do it.

I'm just looking forward to retiring so I can do chair yoga in the mornings at my retirement home, then play my PS10 for the rest of the day everyday until I die. That shit's going to be awesome. I've just got to figure-out how to retire now.

I started talking about that in the last blog; how I'm giving myself one year to figure-out the rest of my life. And at least as of now, when still of the clarity of mind void of work, it's still what I'm thinking about.

For years I've wanted this iOS app called 'Mindnode'; it's a brain-storming or "mind-mapping" app. I just didn't want it enough to pay actual money for it. Luckily for me, after three years of waiting, it was temporarily free recently. And perhaps motivated more by having to find a reason to use this app than that I thought it would be useful, I just started brain-storming the rest of my life.

Not answers yet, just questions. Things to think about. How I can create a path so that thirty years from now, I'm not a broken English teacher without a penny to his name.

There are more of them around than I'd like to admit.

But at this stage, and for the coming weeks and probably months, that's all I want to do. Whenever a question pops into my mind that I need to find the answer to, I'll pop it down on my mind-map somewhere, and then maybe come the new year I'll start figuring-out some of the answers.

But being tied to Thailand until next September now, any applications for jobs or for further education won't need to be sent until 2018, so for now I can just think.

And a few things that have made it onto my mind-map so far:

Am I actually able to buy property in Thailand? Do I want to go back into education? Can I turn into a German?

At the time of the referendum, I really didn't give Brexit too much attention, because at that stage, we didn't really know what it meant.

The UK is leaving the EU, sure, but that doesn't necessarily rob me of my right to live and work in Europe.

Well now it's clear that it does, like many people seem to be, I'm exploring my ancestry in the hope of overcoming Brexit by being able to secure another passport elsewhere.

Afterall, removing all the politics, my black and white view of Brexit is that pre-Brexit, I have the right to live, work and retire in an area of more than 4 million km² and more than half a billion people, without a visa.

On Brexit, that becomes less than 250,000km² and 70 million people.

On 29th March 2019, the area of the world that I can live and work without restriction will be about a twentieth of the size it was on the 28th and... well that kind of sucks.

Especially for someone who plys their trade as an English teacher. There's not much demand for us within the UK.

And so one of the first things for me, in figuring-out my future, is to figure-out exactly how and where I actually can live and work. And that means exploring if my ancestry leaves me eligible for a German passport.

I found-out what I could online, but that information was lacking. Luckily for me, the German embassy in Bangkok is a two-minute walk from my gym, so I wandered in on the way to a yoga class. And as with most embassies, after getting through security and having my phone and even my watch taken off me, I got to a man, sat behind some glass, who asked me what I wanted.

'I want to apply for a German passport.'

"Are you German?" he asked me.

'No.'

"Where are you from?" he asked.

'England.'

"And you want to apply for a German passport?"

'Yes.'

For about the next three seconds there was silence as he stared at me like I was a crazy person. Maintaining that look, he reluctantly said "ok, I can send you up to the passport office."

Of which I was thankful that he did. Showing my ticket I got directed to a nice air-conditioned room at the back of the embassy. Everyone who was applying for visas was being made to wait out in the sun.

There were only about five other people in this room at the back, and everything was written in German. It was weird.

I was the last to arrive, so the last to get called to a window, and the first thing I asked the German woman was 'Do you speak English?'

She got all nervous, telling me that she never has to speak English in this job.

Understandable. I imagine that most people who apply for German passports are actually German.

So I explained my predicament to her, telling her I wanted to become a German, and saying why I thought I might be eligible. Still looking a bit scared, she told me that she knew nothing about this, and so had to get the passport manager to speak to me instead.

"Do you have any identification with your name on, so that he can call you by name?" she asked.

All I had was my passport, so I handed that over.

I keep my passport in a leather sleeve that I got on eBay for 99p years ago. And a habit that I got into when backpacking was to keep some passport photos and some US dollars within this sleeve; they can be no end of use when you're trying to cross at less-visited border posts.

A couple of minutes later I got called back up to the window by the passport manager. "I should just warn you," he said to me in a German accent, "you should be careful handing-over money like this. It may be considered that you are trying to bribe me."

Luckily there was only a couple of dollars left in there from my backpacking days, so he considered it a menial enough sum that it wasn't an attempted bribe, but... well that was a good start.

We talked for five or ten minutes though, and it was quite productive. Applying for German citizenship under the grounds that I want to isn't the black-and-white bureaucratic process that I'm used to, so... well time will tell how far I can get with this.

He told me they've had a spike in citizenship applications since Brexit, and they're ok with that, so I wasn't having to feign being a closet-German or anything like that, I was very up front about my reasoning.

He gave me his email address to save coming into the embassy in the future and... we'll see what happens. I'm not especially optimistic that it pans-out, but if it gets me out of Brexit, it's worth a shot. I mean, having the entirety of Europe to be able to work in, makes a world of difference to someone who works as an English teacher.

In fact, post-Brexit, being a native English speaker eligible to work in Europe without a visa could make me very employable all of a sudden.

So that was the first tangible step that I actually took towards figuring-out my future. Then a couple of days ago I got an email which piqued my interest.

It was sent to all teachers of the nationwide network of my school, advertising for an assistant manager at my branch and... well that's interesting.

Ever since, my mind's flip-flopped about if I'm going to put-in an application because... well for a start, I'm realistic.

For the last two years since I started this job, I've been actively trying to do as little work as possible. I'd be working underneath my current manager, who probably at this very moment is making the schedule for next term, based on my preference of doing very, very little work.

It's going to be kind of a hard-sell for me to convince anyone that I'm an ambitious, driven individual.

Work just kind of gets in the way of going to the gym and playing on my PS4.

So what are my chances of getting this job? Virtually zero. Especially when it says 'Some prior management or supervisory experience preferred.'

And then, would I actually want this job?

Fuck no. Instead of being paid hourly, like I am now, I'd be on a monthly salary with a set amount of annual leave each year, as opposed to the sixteen weeks I take-off each year at the moment. Plus, my job right now is just teaching, and I don't have to worry about anything else.

In the email that they sent-out, responsibilities listed included scheduling, teacher support and training, recruitment, class observations, handling complaints... and teaching.

The fuck would I want to do all of that for? Especially when the salary would be barely any higher (only about £10 per month) than I got in my first teaching job in Bangkok.

My pay per hour would almost certainly be lower than I'm on right now.

There's literally nothing good about this position. More responsibility, harder work, more stress, all things that I hate... except that I am supposed to be thinking about the future, and wouldn't it look good to be able to write 'Assistant manager' on my CV?

And it could, in theory, lead to an actual managers' position in the future, which might actually have a semi-decent salary. Enough to put some savings away to retire on?

Probably not knowing this school. And seeing the stress that my current manager is under, would I even want it?

So I'm pondering it in my mind. As I think more about the future, I'm almost accepting that whatever path I choose, things are going to get worse before they get better.

What I mean by that, is my next step, whatever it is, it likely to leave me in a worse predicament than I currently find myself. I'm not going to be able to afford a city-centre condo with a swimming pool in London anytime soon, and if that were the route I decided to go, then my quality of life would take a hit while climbing some career ladder.

Or if I want to advance in my current career then... well it might take me having a kind-of shitty position in the hope that it leads to something better in the future. So right now I'm mulling it over.

Can I really bring myself to apply for a position that I almost certainly won't get, and if I do will only lead to more stress and less holiday? Time will tell. But probably not. I like my life too much right now to ruin it by trying to advance my career and improve myself.

That's really about it for me since I've been back though. I wasn't joking when I said yoga, PS4, sleep, rinse and repeat. It's been the best three weeks ever. And I wanted to write this blog today, because as early as tomorrow, I'll get my schedule for next term, and that's just going to ruin everything.

Suddenly I'll have to go to work again and plan classes and... what the fuck man?

My gym, particularly at the time I go (late morning/early afternoon) seems to have a lot of housewife-looking women, who I assume come to the gym everyday while their husband goes to work.

All these feiminist types might look at that and think less of them for it.

I completely understand it. I'd love it if I could just go to the gym everyday and never have to work. It's a great life. Who cares about ambition or achievement or worth?

I have four more days. Four more days of being a housewife, before reality comes back to bite me in the ass, and I have to work six whole weeks without a holiday. All while thinking about the future: