Beach or mountain?

Beach.

But Hong Kong doesn’t make you choose.

Long ago, when a grey cloud seemed to be taking over Broom’s life, I commented on her blog that she needs a patronus. And she said her patronus would be an island, I forget where. But I remember thinking, a patronus should be animal, not a place.

But now I know a patronus can be a place. It can be a stretch of beach not that far from home, nothing fancy, the water temperature just right, the waves not too choppy, the sound of the wind and the squeals of your children, with a buffalo strolling by for good measure to show you how it’s done. It’s a place that can literally wash your worries away.

My patronus is Lower Cheung Sha Beach, Lantau.

This has been the year – dare I say it – when things settled down.

The job.

The marriage.

The sex.

The job is no longer in the honeymoon period. People get on my nerves, my boss gets on my nerves sometimes. But I like the job. I enjoy it. The people I can deal with, even if they make me roll my eyes. They’re not the worst.

The wisdom these days is that you need to learn to cope with situations. True, you can’t run at the first boo. But sometimes, you need to get out. Cut your losses and run.

That’s what I did with the teaching gigs. My principle with work is that I don’t get out before I have something else lined up. Which can take time and is stressful, but I need an escape route not a new situation to fester in.

And yes, I was lucky. But also, I kept at it. Sometimes applying to jobs was so painful, I eased off, and sometimes V edged me back in and I hated him for it, but it had to be done.

But I do feel like I have the job that is the best fit for me. And I thank my stars for that second chance every day. Okay, every other day.

The job helped me calm the eff down and the extra money helped V calm the eff down and that helped our overall situation. Ironically, I work longer hours, I work public holidays, I have less time with my kids and it’s not ideal. But the time I have, I’m not in a mindfuck and that matters.

One of the girls I met on the first academic conference I ever went to wrote a post about how regardless of whether she ends up working at a make-up counter after her PhD, she did a PhD because she wants to be a philosopher, and that’s what she will be regardless of her actual job. That’s the way I’m coming to feel too. I know people in academia won’t see it like that – that you can’t be a thinker unless you’re surrounded by people who are paid to think. And I get it, academia is different, I don’t deny it. Different good and different bad. Too much for me, I guess.

I have been told that 40 is the best age. My colleague told me that 40 is the year you stop giving a fuck. The fucks I give have been slowing to a trickle – literally, ha! – but I still get riled up by people and situations. There’s definitely an element of ‘this is me, take it or leave it’, not quite the full on aunty quality of saying the first thing that comes out of your mouth not shits given, which I don’t necessarily want to be, but there’s only so far I’m going to change. I can also spot people’s defensive BS a mile off and it just makes me shake my head that people older that me still have stupid hang-ups, still trying to be too cool for school by being a bitch.

I’m not quite 40, so I have some way to go, but I’ve stopped caring. I have more grey hair and I’m pretty sure I’m not going to dye it, though I still occasionally want to get some cray hair colour, so I’ve not grown up enitrely.

I think I’m better at staying alone. I look forward to being alone. Because I’m not.