Ok, so here I am on a plane again, bound for Taiwan. It’s 5:30PM ET; the plane left at 11:10AM – we’re just about halfway to Tokyo Narita. I should probably be (or have been) studying up on my presentation materials, but instead I’ve been watching movies. The time has passed relatively quickly. So far, I’ve watched Red (Bruce Willis flick about retired CIA peeps), Blades of Glory (Will Ferrell figure skating spoof) and Percy Jackson and the Olympians AND the fucking Lightning Thief (PG-13 YA lit flick). I have David Foster Wallace’s book Infinite Jest sitting next to me, as well as The Heroes by Joe Abercrombie (a gift from one of my co-workers for the flight; fantasy novel), but I haven’t picked up either of them. Which, I think, is just as well. While I’d like to read DFW’s book because of the hipster cred I’ll achieve by finishing it, and I’d like to read the Abercrombie novel because I’m pretty sure I’ll be able to get lost in the story, I just don’t feel much like reading. Heck, I’m really only writing right now to give my ears a break – they’re a little sore from having the headphones on for so long (lol).
So yeah, I don’t really have much to say right now: nothing’s all that pressing that I’m dying to write about. Life is good. I’m a bit nervous for this trip, but only when I project into the future. I’m pretty sure I’ll do fine, but I’m totally walking the tightrope without a net on this one. The President of my firm is on the trip with me, but he’s not all that familiar with what we’ll be presenting – oh, he’s worked in Asia before in the same industry, but the specialized nature of my experience makes me the only one who really knows the services we’re selling.
I’m currently in direct competition with my old employer. Shortly after I left the old firm, a few other guys left as well and the owner closed that branch of the business. A couple of other departments at that firm ended up dissolving, and the owner sold what was left to another firm; he brought the portion of the business I was responsible for with him, so I’ll be back out in Taiwan selling my new firm (and my services) to the clients I used to service at the old firm (and I’ll be trying to pick up new clients). The owner of the old firm will be in Taiwan in a couple of weeks, pitching to some of the same companies. I don’t plan on badmouthing him or his firm, and I hope he doesn’t badmouth me, but this is business, so I almost expect it. Matter of fact, I’m kind of nervous about talking about this stuff at all because one or two people from my old firm know about this blog (almost none of my co-workers know about this blog or are friends with me on facebook – or any other social media site, for that matter – my work and cyber egos are separate). So hi Tom and Jen if you’re reading this. I trust our friendship outweighs your loyalty to Ken and his business and that everybody in the industry isn’t reading this right now.
But if you are in my industry and you’re reading this, welcome, I guess. It’s always nice to have new readers. Say hello in the comments or shoot me an email if you like: maybe we can network and help each other out.
So yeah: tightrope without a net:
At the old place, I did all the work for these clients, but the owner of the company was the one who made the trips to Taiwan and did all the selling. Now it’s all me. I’ll be selling and servicing. I have no doubts about my ability to service my clients well, and I’m probably the most qualified person in the industry (boutique though it might be) to provide the services we do. Which is kind of a scary thought. Not that I don’t know what I’m doing, but rather because I’m just used to there being someone else around who knows at least a little more than I do. While there are certainly many many people who know more than I do about different aspects of things, I don’t think there’s anyone out there with the kind of comprehensive knowledge I have – thankfully, there are people I can learn from, but that learning means acquiring bits of others’ knowledge about aspects of the process which relate to what I do. I know I’m being vague: that’s partly because I don’t want any of the keywords to pop up in a Google search, but also partly because if I started throwing around esoteric concepts and phrases, I’d lose you right away. Anyway, this stuff’s all me right now: there’s nobody I can really turn to when I don’t have the answer. Which is fine: I don’t have any issues with saying “I don’t know”, and I’m pretty good about finding out the answer. I mean shit, my title is Director of Research: finding answers is what I do.
I met a girl.
I mean, we’ve met before plenty of times, but our relationship has taken a romantic turn. One that is pretty much indescribably wonderful. I want to tell you all about it, but I really don’t know that I have the words to do so. And fuck me, my vocabulary’s big. I just don’t know that I can do it justice with mere words on a screen. Plus, I almost want to keep it to myself – lolz, I’m still worried about jinxing it, even though that’s doubtfully even a remote possibility. Still, I’d kind of rather not say too much.
Her name is Valerie and I’ve spoken of her before. We met in the woods – well, we “met” on the Upper West Side of NYC when Scott and I picked her and Debbie up to go hiking back in October, but that was mostly a “hi howya doin’”; we didn’t really talk until we were on the trail (and probably 6 miles into the hike, at that). She’s a fucken wood nymph. More of a backpacker than a peakbagger, though she’d identify herself as simply a hiker. She moves like a dancer through the forest and it’s a joy to watch.
After hiking together (in a group) a few times, we had a good date back in November (the Friday before I left for Taiwan the last time), and she sent me the “just friends” email that Saturday. I headed off to Taiwan with my chin on my chest, wondering what went wrong and spent the next couple of weeks in relative discomfort, self-esteem-wise. (That’s the opposite of hyperbole, btw.) We both continued to flirt with each other on the trail and date other people, playing Scrabble on our iPhones with one another during the week. She stayed over my house a couple of times before a hike and I cursed myself for a coward each time I didn’t make a move.
I finally did and it’s been goddamned fireworks ever since. Truly. We’ve spent the last three weekends together, Friday evening through Monday morning, and it’s been just fucking joyous. Hiking during the days with our regular crew and some really nice Friday night dates, just the two of us. I can’t wait to see her when I get back. What a flip from my last trip to Taiwan.
So that’s 1,260 words for now and my ears aren’t nearly as tender as they were a few minutes ago. I’m going to hit play on the X-Men Origins: Wolverine movie and zonk out for another couple of hours. Maybe next time I choose my seats on a flight I’ll keep my neighbors in mind and book myself an aisle seat: I’ve had to hop over the poor bastard sitting next to me three or four times now in order to go pee. Too much coffee and water. Well, not too much, but enough to make me a pain in this guy’s ass, I’m sure.
Ok: two hours left till Tokyo. It’s now 11:16 ET (the time my body is still on) and I haven’t slept yet. I’m not sure if I’m going to be able to stay up for this whole trip, though that would be ideal. So it’ll be about 1:15AM when we get to Narita; add another 4 hours for the layover and it’s 5AM tomorrow, plus the couple/three hours from Tokyo to Taipei. Yeah, I’m not gonna make it. I keep looking over at the galley, expecting them to come around with more food and maybe coffee, but no dice. Damn, but a cup of coffee and a cigarette would be nice right now.
On the up side, Narita has a very nice smoking lounge – and I’m pretty sure there’ll be a Starbucks in the terminal. Or at least a Mr. Brown’s – their coffee’s good as well. Another couple of hours and I’ll get my fix, lol.
Watched the Wolverine movie, plus Due Date (Robert Downey Jr. and Zach Galiflanakis) – which I thought would be MUCH better (some funny parts, but overall pretty meh. Seriously. I really expected it to be much better than that. Galiflanakis had a real chance to shine and kind of didn’t – oh, he was funny, but I almost think his character should have been more of caricature than it was. Downey did ok, but I think pretty much anybody could have played the asshole that the script set his character out to be. He’s a good actor, but I’d rather see him ACT – not just play a run-of-the-mill character – I’m almost tempted to queue up Tropic Thunder just so I can watch him play a black dude for a little while. That’s acting. Oh, and I watched Surrogates after that (Bruce Willis flick – not sure if it ever made it to the theaters; not great, but it passed the time (90 mins)).