I’ve reached the half-way point, NaBloPoMo day 15. Honestly, I wasn’t sure that I would make it this far, but here I am. Last night, I almost didn’t make it. I posted at 11:55pm, and then returned after midnight to edit my post. I’m taking this blogging thing quite seriously, you see. It feels good to get into the routine of writing everyday. It feels good to get into another routine. I like routines – they ground me.
I’ve continued my routines in three different countries. Although my routines have varied, they have most definitely been established. Even when I travel, I like to create somewhat of a routine, and do things that I might do, if I lived there, like eating croissants, sipping on cappuccinos, and staying ‘home‘. I like the consistency of routine; I like having an element of predictability in my life. I like knowing that I have a plan, and that there are certain things that I do on certain days. Life is filled with uncertainties, and having elements that I can count on, brings me a sense of peace. And with routine, I am the engineer. I’m not leaving it up to chance. I’m the one creating my own habits and rituals; I’m creating my balance. However, at times, routine has crept into my life, and it wasn’t all my own engineering.
As a student in Salaya, routine crept into my life. First, I started wearing a school uniform, then I offered a ‘wai’ twice a day after the national anthem, and stood at attention in the movie theatre to show respect for His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej. I also started creating my own routines – Monday to Friday aerobics to ’80s music, Friday lunch in the market, Saturday morning in the campus pool, and Sunday temple outings and dinner with Thai friends. When I returned to Thailand to work, I created more routines. Although I no longer wore my school uniform, I wore the appropriate colour for everyday of the week. (Mondays are yellow, Tuesdays are pink, Wednesdays are green, Thursdays are orange, Fridays are blue, Saturdays are purple, and Sundays are red.) During mourning periods, I blended in with the Thais and wore black, grey, and navy for three months. And I still did aerobics to ’80s music, but this time it was in Bangkok, and my Sundays were reserved for laundry and somtam. Near the end of my five years in Thailand, I was an office worker at the university where I was once a student, and I resumed my routine of Friday market lunches. When I tell people I lived in Thailand for six years, they assume I must miss the food and the people. I do, but more than that, I miss the routine, which made it my home.
As a teacher in Uijeongbu, routine was something I created in my life over time. I also chose to opt out of some ‘routines’. With odd working hours, 2:30pm to 9:30pm, I let myself fall into some laziness in the beginning, but I soon realized that I could do a lot in the morning hours. I reconnected with my love of running, and went for morning runs along the Jungnangcheon River, and took Korean lessons at my Canadian friend’s hagwon. After work, I would join friends at Kimbap Heaven for a late dinner, and then head home to bed. As time went on, I started volunteering one morning a week with North Korean refugees, and going on Seoul excursions, and out-of-town hiking trips on the weekends. I never fell into the after-work drinking and socializing with co-workers routine, because it didn’t mesh with the rest of my routine.
Back in Victoria, my routine is still evolving, but it’s not so different from my routines in my other countries. I am studying Arabic every Tuesday night, I go to the market and volunteer every Saturday, I do laundry every Sunday, and I’m trying to develop a daily exercise routine. Actually, routine seems more difficult to sustain in my home country. I’m not sure why. For a long time, I think it was because I felt unsettled here, and didn’t have a stable job. Now, I think it is because I’m still adjusting to a fulltime job, which isn’t always predictable, and a side job, that has it’s own set of demands. Like I said, routine is grounding for me, and I know I need it to weather the changes, and become more settled in my life. For me, writing is my new routine, and I hope to continue writing, even after NaBloPoMo ends.