It’s definitely been a mind trip since purchasing my one way ticket to Da Nang, Vietnam. Yeah. Vietnam. Three years ago I said I would like to travel Jamaica. I still want to go. I had researched the history and culture, including the Rastafarians, but It was the United States economy that truly determined the fate of that that ever happening. My best friend had also moved onto bigger opportunities. I missed out on what would have been a hella cool experience.
K was laid off Valentine’s Day 2009. I was laid off Christmas Eve 2009. Leading up to my lay off I watched my wife, at first, struggle, and then flourish in her (f)unemployment. No longer able to google chat with her during the day, I spent some time during breaks searching the web. For months, before being laid off, I was biding my time, paid to look busy. I was really grateful to have that job as long as I did. At the same time it became harder and harder for me to make that early commute to Coliseum BART and a shuttle to an industrial park. During my commute hours I would sort out what I would do when I eventually got laid off, because It was just a matter of time.
Week after week if was the conference of the office as to what I would put on my time card. I couldn’t put down that I searched the web about teaching English overseas. The day was so void of actual CAD work that I would watch a movie on a monitor facing away from my office door and keep a drawing template open on the second monitor. Every few minutes I would move the screen and then zoom in and out. I tried to learn the 3D features of Auto CAD, but my mind was somewhere else.
I wasn’t happy about being laid off, but I was happy being laid off. I began to get real sleep without my CPAP machine. I no longer had anxiety about sleeping past my commute. K said I stopped snoring heavily. My eyes cleared of any hemorrhages blocking my vision. I finally had bunion surgery, which ended up being a waste, but it was still covered, because I left with a tiny severance. Tiny. Being laid off was good for my health.
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Now, close to two years later, zion.free.johnson is ready to go international. Back in August 2010, I found an informational meeting about teaching abroad. LCC A young, dynamic man from Santa Barbara presented to me a palette of possibilities. Before going this route I researched going into graduate school, gender, FTM focused and realized I still wouldn’t be able to write what I wanted. I was also lost in academic vocabulary which, at times, feels astringent.
I completed my TEFL course in February 2011. It had a lively and diverse class. I appreciated all personalities, but one. They were a cast of characters I hope to wrangle into a meaningful story, one day. After completing the course I have nothing positive to say about the school itself. Two of the three instructors were amazing. My problem is that the school does’t do what they say, like their bullshit placement statement. If you’re into teaching then I highly recommend going this route but you need to be an independently minded individual and motivated. Let’s face it. I’m not getting any younger.
So, that’s how I found myself going to Vietnam. Why Vietnam?…It’s the only country, other than Saudi Arabia, that responded. K also seemed excited about it. That’s where I have been putting my energy and it’s paid off. I am ready to have my mind blown and after living in San Francisco for thirteen years you have to leave to country for that.
I leave August 30th. K will follow me in the new year. I feel overwhelmed, forgetful, excited, ecstatic, imaginative and brave. I confess to feeling like I won’t be homesick. I’ve been wanting to leave here for a long ass time now. I’ll miss certain conveniences, but I won’t miss MUNI. I’ll miss my friends, but hey, I’m going international. I’ll make more. Not replacements, just more support. I’ll miss my cats, but I will feel better not stressing them with 40 hours of travel, nor will they be poisoned or eaten by some animal from the jungle. I know that’s a bit dramatic, but I think of these things. It’s also just too blasted hot for these felines to feel comfy. They are too fluffy for heat and humidity. They are wonderful souls and we will find good homes for them.
I will miss my wife, but I hope to learn as much as I can to help her feel better in her transition. I will miss my wife, but I am really looking forward to taking this career leap after having been shut out of success in other paths. Sometimes I feel that I am forever starting new. I will miss my wife, but I am reminded of how gracious she is to uproot herself and go on this adventure with me. I will miss our apartment,( which we cannot sublet 😦 ) with it’s cheap rent. On the other hand I WILL NOT miss another cold ass winter in that flat…
I believe I’ve left enough of a mark on this city that I can move on. I’ve left my name and initials in wet cement . I was a leader in the transgender community. I’ve wired a few buildings in San Francisco, including the Ferry Building, as an electrical apprentice.
I finished writing a novel. I am very excited about it. It’s a mystery set in San Francisco. Murders are occurring in Dolores Park. The victims are transgender males. The cast of characters must must deal with the fact that one of them had been wickedly beaten and he might not be the last. The protagonist also must deal with changing attractions, gender fluidity, and her past. It’s the first in a series. So now the query letter must be written. I think I have a winner.
I would like to think that living abroad is more of a family tradition. My mother lived in Japan. My father has been all over the world while he was in the Air Force. I was born overseas… I look forward to so many things, including my departure, but more so my return into foggy loving arms of San Francisco and the people I love.