This page and update will remain just a few days and is an attempt to chronicle things that have been happening.
Thank you to everyone for the nice birthday wishes! My apologies for not being able to write back in more detail, but I have been working full-time between tarot, tutoring/consulting, and the housekeeping hotel/hostel job I have going right now. Where possible I will write more individualized responses, but in the meantime I can give a quick review of what has been happening the last year. Actually, I should tell what has been happening the last two because the context makes more sense.
I have now lived in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada for just over a year. Many people seem to be under the impression I came here for political purposes or something to that effect. I had never even heard of the University of British Columbia until 2009. The way I came to be here was that in November 2009, I was sitting in a cafe in suburban Seoul, South Korea and realized – okay, I am 26, I may want to be a librarian at some point and I do not want to be burdened with school in my 30s or 40s. People in that age group, especially if they have kids, are the most efficient students, but I don’t want this strain. Therefore, I had to pick a school. UBC had the right price (around $8,000 per year for the graduate program as an international student) and no GRE requirement. I threw together the documents using the right terminology and buzzwords, got the references. I never applied anywhere else. My contract with the last school in Korea ended in March 2010. I had notification of acceptances and scholarships to UBC before I left.
2010 was the best and worst year. It began in Japan where I got to ring a Shinto bell at the moment of New Year’s. When flying back from Korea, I managed to get two free vacations to Hawaii and San Francisco because I manipulated the ticket to “multiple destinations” from my employer… and had to hide it because she would have suspected something underhanded, when in fact, it saved her $300 by my doing this. In April, and then June through August, I was so lucky to catch up with family again and re-learn aspects of North American culture after three absent years. In May, I went to Jalisco, Mexico to get a second ESL certificate and found out when I arrived that the class had been canceled. I negotiated with the school and ended up with 12 free classes and a free online version of the course I came to take. On the way flying out, an emergency seat was needed, and I was offered $300 in vouchers and a direct flight to the US – a ticket which later allowed me to travel twice on.
In May after all this, I attempted to live in San Francisco for the summer. Do not ever go there unless you have a very lucrative business reason for doing so, because it is the most desirable city in the US, but not a place suited for short-term, easy-entry and exit living with very high rent and people seeking long-term tenants.
Concurrently, I was writing a book. I wrote a book of essays, poems, and political commentary which I self-released called Value$: A Mixed Economy. This was not really that successful, but I made connections with about 1,000 people I had never met personally who had found me and I know some very lucrative business deals passed between them, which was my goal. It was trying but very rewarding. The Facebook page for this still exists but I let it run out of steam this summer.
In the summer of 2010 I also got to work in online sales as a contractor, which was a nice experience and let me put some of my Korean consulting work to good use.
Finally, I arrived in Vancouver in August 2010. This is another city like San Francisco in terms of living cost and such, but I would say it is about 25% easier than the Bay Area. I entered the program of Library, Archival and Information Studies. This is a very divided camp. There are those who want to maintain the cozy image of libraries and sort of help everyone who walks in the door in a very personal way, and there are others who are more interested in the information architecture and management side of things, with less public interaction. Socially this place has been better for me than anywhere else has ever been (and bear in mind I have lived in four countries at this point) but I find writing papers and theory to be quite archaic. If you are getting the urge to go to graduate school, I urge you to think twice, and only do it if you have the cash on hand (I have avoided debt but could have alternatively bought a house rather than come here). In general, the last year has been a battle to remain creative and have a clear head, as the university system does its work to indoctrinate and wipe out any dissent (I have written about this before: A Tarot View). Do not feel that you have to go to university in order to be a complete person – you cannot buy status in this way and the true elites only go there to study US; their connections have already been made years before. If you want to succeed in academia, you are going to have to blind yourself to a lot of very obvious things and agree with propaganda or be forever blacklisted.
Anyhow, while there have been nuggets of discovery in the program, for the most part, it has been just checking boxes for credits and I’m now 39 out of 48 units complete.
The main highlights of this past year have been outside of school or with people from school but not in a class context. For instance, a contact had a really crazy story about Aleister Crowley. Business has been very interesting with tarot across the globe and helping with things such as writing a Letter of Provenance to Sotheby’s on behalf of an ESL client.
The most striking thing has been watching some unbelievable events take place that are completely unprecedented but seem to not be interesting to the public for very long. During this period, there was that very bizarre market “blip” in May 2010 where stocks lost 10% of their value and then returned – in effect wiping out a bunch of small-time investors and the big ones got an amazing windfall. All the hope that came with Obama never really materialized and we have had ineffective bailouts and stimulus packages that even caused deflation in the US for a while (I was stunned to return to the US and find that prices were lower than in 2009). Fukushima is perhaps the biggest event of recent times, as I can still clearly remember the day the radiation hit Vancouver. Perhaps it is healthier that we all stay focused on our entertainment and diversions.
In the last two months I have been counting down the time in my program and looking forward to a creative future that may or may not include libraries. While traveling and living in other countries is great, it definitely adjusts your paradigm so much that people will not understand you as most maintain a more fixed state of reality in their home regions. Expats form a weird clique of their own, and are tormented by all the places they have lived, are never completely satisfied anywhere, and yet will jump to do it all over again in order to get that initial high once again and keep themselves stimulated. A good compromise for me has been living in Canada and working at a hotel-hostel where there are people in and out every day from all continents. You are always sad to see people go but it helps you realize that you cannot bottle moments or stop time. You will never see a person enough, so you might as well surrender to the fleeting nature of everything and not be tied to any particular place or condition, as it is temporary and visceral.
Thank you all once again for putting up with my scatterbrained ways and sharing your experiences and time.
– John (Readings)
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