Oh, another yawn-inducing year-end reflective post from a self-righteous blogger foolishly believing that the internet world actually cares about their resolution to drink more water in 2013?
As everyone on WordPress, Blogger, and those poor souls still hanging on to their outdated Angelfire account review their year in writing (and due to their consistent scheduling of posts, can rightfully brag about their increase in readership), I regale my plateauing stats and shameful admittance that I could barely (just barely) conjure up a single post approximately every other month.
Relishing in the fact that my mother and perhaps even a second cousin or two still read this site, it becomes all too tempting to ruminate over the last 365 days. And as a matter of consequence, I then search through my catalogue of long-term memories and pinpoint exactly what I was doing for a good 315 of them.
The answer to which I am certain, includes absolutely nothing about the sport of hockey.
Way back in September 2012, the National Hockey League declared its fourth lockout in 20 years. This was due to financial buzz-words like revenue, salary caps, and peculation. (Yes, I realize this is a generous oversimplification to a rather complex blur of sports and business. But I’m pretty sure both my mom and cousin aren’t much of hockey fans. And it’s all about keeping the audience engaged, right?)
Now even if you don’t really care about the likes of Gary Bettman and Bill Daly (and the reasons to which I believe they’re both selfish jerks), I’m still willing to waste the word count.
Well, through a stretching analogy which really just involved the discovery of hockey players’ Twitter accounts, the NHL lockout sort of paralleled my last year as an expat.
Here are a few highlights from the 2012 season:
For starters, way back in the summer, hockey players sort of expected to play hockey. And I, through complete fault of my own, sort of expected to be productive. Writing for Vagabundo Magazine, contributing to a couple of Seoul publications, volunteering with an organization based on the human rights of North Korean defectors. One would assume my output efforts would soar into the realm of implausible.
Instead, a concrete wall inevitably constructed itself. A proverbial partition of repetitive lesson plans, similar bars, and the constant disappointment in myself for failing (yet again) to properly communicate “I don’t eat meat” in Korean. Sure, at times I was industrious (or maybe I mean industrial?), but it hardly felt prolific.
Disjointedly, this leads into the next topic of management, and the difficulties both myself and the big guns within the NHL experience in this field. A gleaming example of both follows.
At the end of 2011, almost fearless did something pretty ridiculous and spoke nonsense about this site being one of the best new travel blogs on the web. (Reiterating the idea that undeserved recognition is awesome because it acknowledges something you didn’t even think existed in the first place.) The point is, on top of search terms like ‘decisions not to make while hungover’, that mention drove a lot of traffic to this site.
I could have taken that increase in readership seriously and wrote the most obvious of points about say, that beach in El Nido, Philippines being an all-out stunner. Instead, I talked about what makes a shitty travel partner. (Evidently, I’m extremely qualified for this position.) I didn’t manage this opportunity properly. It became a toothbrush miss.
It’s not so lonely in this realm of mismanagement, though. Gary Bettman, the NHL commissioner, has all kinds of difficulties managing his own personal interests and that of the league, often believing that they are one in the same. His financial irrationality means a continuous stream of missed opportunities for both the league and the players.
When it comes to blunders over mismanagement, Bettman and I have a lot in common. The only difference being a faint Filipino flip-flop tan.
As the lockout closed in on month three, players started to realize that what they expected to be doing this year, was in fact far different from their actual daily activities. So the boys left town. They went back to their roots in the juniors, declared semi-permanent residency in places like Russia and Switzerland, or participated in small-town charity matches (inert games basically comparable to that of a scrimmage with your Dad’s Sunday afternoon beer league).
Without declaring permanency anywhere, I too left Seoul when results were less than straightforward. I visited six countries in 2012; one of which was new to me. Although still in its newness, I now have a gut-wrenching crush on Burma. I’m only assuming Rick Nash can say the same about Switzerland.
And just recently, future plans changed for both myself and the NHL. In less than a week, the hockey season will start. In less than two months, the Peace Boat will start.
The Peace Boat is exactly what it sounds like…but better. Travelling to over 20 countries, a massive boat full of participants, volunteers, interpreters, and English teachers (me!) will promote positive social and political change on a worldwide scale. (I’m not exaggerating with the worldwide scale thing. The route literally circles the Earth.)
From Japan to Venezuela, I’ll have the opportunity to learn, teach, change, develop, and take part in a boatload (ha!) of other positive verbs.
As is often the case in hockey, the NHL could not have written a better story, even if they tried.
And I, could not have dreamed of a better opportunity for curious (and contributing) travel, even if I wrote on a more consistent bi-monthly schedule in 2012.
And the players, now returning to hockey rinks across North America within the limitations of 140 characters, could not have tweeted a better ending.