I have a friend called Dora. No, Dora is not her real name and when she reads this she may kill me. LOL. But anyway, Dora and I met while I was living overseas. Our friendship was cemented in time however, when we decided to visit the border of a country that doesn’t much like visitors. Our other friends – Americans – were like “noooo!!!”, “Don’t do it!” and “you might not come back!”. But we’re not Americans so we went anyway. And – except for that one thing that happened with that guard – it was great! We have an awesome story to tell our kids (if we ever have any!) and we also have a great friendship that has survived years and distance.
But for a moment in time this summer the distance will disappear when I go to visit Dora. I can’t wait for our adventures! Hopefully I will get to share some when I get back. But if I don’t get back, well, at lease you can probably guess what happened. Haha!
A friend loves at all times, And a brother is born for adversity. – Prov 17:17
*I love good friendships and I love writing about good friendships. Check out my favorite besties, Naomi and Natasha in Under Covers.
At the job I do to support my writing habit, I meet a lot of international students. They arrive on the shores of the Great White North with designer luggage in their hands and dreams in their eyes.
Okay, so they don’t all have designer luggage (but a lot of them do).
Anyway, they arrive with the hopes of mastering the English language and achieving their college-education-in-an-English-speaking-country goals. What they don’t arrive with, is the expectation that the reality may be far from the dream. They don’t expect to be stuck in a house with bedbugs, or to be locked out at midnight, or have 10-12 housemates. But that is the reality they experience. One student, who kept scratching her legs in class told me that she had barely slept because she would wake up with bites on her arms and legs from the bedbugs at the place she was staying. The landlords told her she was too sensetive. Another student, while trying to keep from falling asleep in class, told me that her landlord ran the washing machine every morning. And by every morning she meant 3am. With the laundry room right beside her bedroom, she was barely getting any sleep. Another student was only allowed one load of laundry a week and was bullied by her landlord.
It sucks to be taken advantage of when you are alone in another country. I should know, because it happened to me too while I was living overseas. Living quarters that don’t look like the pictures. Pay that was half of what was in your contract. Expectations that you should work even when you are so tired you can’t stand up straight. If you have lived abroad and not experienced anything like this, count yourself one of the lucky few.
I thought for a long time that this only happened to westerners in the East. But now I think it happens everywhere. I also used to think that most Asians who came to school in the West were on that Crazy-Rich-Asians life. But now I know that this is also not true. There are so many stereotypes we can hold about people without even realizing that we do hold them. Africans in North America must have money. Brazilians all love football. Men always cheat. Pretty people don’t have problems. I thought I was a free thinking person, but I realized recently that there were still some unproven beliefs that I was courting myself. I guess you are never too old to uncover your biases. And you’re also never too old to change them either. Anyone else got some weird assumptions?
…“Looks aren’t everything. Don’t be impressed with his looks and stature. I’ve already eliminated him. God judges persons differently than humans do. Men and women look at the face; God looks into the heart.” – 1 Samuel 16:7
I love travelling. The nervous anxiety of preparing for a trip; the picking out of the travel outfit; even the airport food. I love it. What I don’t love is booking accommodation. I don’t love the games these booking sites play with my emotions; the way they tease me with these reasonable prices, make me add them to my list of favorites, then turn around and jack up the prices the moment I am actually ready to book. Now I am out here juggling browsers, using incognito windows, creating alternate profiles, just so I can get to the truth. It feels like stalking an ex on social media. Which, of course, I would never ever do. Ever.
But yeah, I hate the booking part, which is why I have been procrastinating on booking rooms for my next trip. It doesn’t help that I am on a shoe string budget either. After a week of checking and searching almost every day, I feel like my eyes are about to fall out.
Then today, after work, I checked again and suddenly all the prices at half a dozen of the links I saved had dropped; some of them slashed in half. Thank God! Because I and my pocket had been praying. But it reminded me of how sometimes we give up too easily. Sometimes that thing we are hoping, working and going for is right there, right beyond the tips of our fingers but we stop reaching too soon.
I’ve been reaching for some things for a while now. The opportunity to write commercially again; my dream job; the healing of some friendships; some Isaac-Rebecca style love. And sometimes, I feel like giving up. Sometimes I do give up momentarily. But this simple thing today reminded me to keep reaching, because like my underpriced hotel booking, what I am reaching for might be right beyond my fingertips. And if I reach out a little more, it might be mine.
“Most of the important things in the world have been accomplished by people who have kept on trying when there seemed to be no hope at all.” – Dale Carnegie
When I was a teenager (eons ago) I worked at the local power company one summer. My boss was this amazing super-cool girl boss who I totally wanted to be when I grew up. She taught me many insightful things about writing and the corporate world. Then I went back to the boring world of high school. Next summer, I came back to work for her and showed up to find my shero sporting a huge belly. She saw the shock on my face and laughed and said “We are doing new things.” I have loved that phrase ever since, and today I get to use it.
We’re doing new things over here!
And by we I really mean God. I’m just along for the ride. But it sure is exciting and not that different from making a baby. I guess it could be called, making a book baby. After several submissions to several publishers and several polite and sometimes detailed rejections, there is finally light at the end of the tunnel for my most recent Work In Progress. It is a story I started writing long ago therapeutically that I finally finished late last year. And while I haven’t gotten “the call” yet, I have gotten through the first round of selection. It is enough to make me hopeful. Something new may be coming around the corner, and when it does I will let you know more.
In the meantime, if you haven’t seen any of my previous books, you can view the list here. And if you want to same one, check out Morgan’s story, on sale for $0.99 at Amazon.com.
“Forget about what’s happened; don’t keep going over old history. Be alert, be present. I’m about to do something brand-new. It’s bursting out! Don’t you see it? There it is! I’m making a road through the desert, rivers in the badlands. – Isaiah 43:19, The Message