Thursday, June 2, 2011

Where Has Anal Girl Gone?

"They used to call me Anal Girl. Because I was neat and organized."  

Yes, I used to be neat and organized just like Zooey Deschanel's title character in "500 Days of Summer" (a GREAT film if you haven't already seen it). Back in New York, my desk at work was always strategically filed (chronologically and then alphabetically), dirty dishes in the dishwasher were always stacked in tight near-military formation, my dresses hung in my closet by order of sleeve length followed by skirt length.

However, since moving to Hong Kong and starting full-time work again, I can't find the time to make my bed, I can't piece together words often enough to continue blogging at my regular rate, I can't even balance my checkbook! This is a pretty HUGE failing coming from me, the girl that keeps an Excel spreadsheet (a very detailed one at that!) of her DAILY travel spendings. Daily. For over a year!

A snapshot of my expense spreadsheet. Click to see just how anal I was!

Anal Girl, that's who I used to be.  

What in the world happened???

Over two years of not working a full time job? Long afternoons spent drinking Turkish tea in the streets of Istanbul, head buried in a good book? Meandering across Southeast Asia with a carefree attitude for over a year?

Most likely all of the above!

But in reality, it's because I'm no longer "just a traveler."

I'm in the midst of shifting into expat mode and free time is no longer my constant companion.

I honestly don't know how expats all over the world do it!

Hong Kong is supposed to be easy! I'm half Chinese so I'm familiar with the food and culture here in Hong Kong. I can speak intermediate Cantonese so I can communicate with just about everyone I run into. Hong Kong's British influence makes it one of the easiest cities for a Westerner to adjust to in terms of language and street signs, but yet, even after six months (yes, it's already been six months!), I am still floundering to find my place here.

Don't get me wrong, I LOVE living in Hong Kong, but there are moments where I just want to stop in the middle of the street somewhere among the crowd and scream at the top of my lungs, "WHAT IS THE MATTER WITH ALL YOU PEOPLE??!!??" I'm about thisclose to going on a murderous rampage every day when I walk to work. 

Try to navigate YOUR way through this without murderous thoughts

Every expat has these same feelings right? RIGHT???

I already know my life in Hong Kong isn't a permanent one and that one day, not too far in the future, I'll be back in my element as a traveler again, but for the time being, I am determined to make the most out of my life here. And I'm not going to let anyone or anything, even Hong Kong, get in the way of that!

Could this just be Hong Kong's way of ripping me another one? After all, I did used to be Anal Girl and maybe, as a Hong Kong expat, I just need to loosen up? 

Now it's YOUR turn to rip me another one! What's YOUR best expat advice for me to loosen up?

© Connie Hum 2011


  1. Recall what you learned at your recent meditation retreat.

  2. Seriously. I'm with you. After spending a year blissfully work-free, it's been a struggle getting back into full-time-work-mode. I thought having responsibilities and obligations and work hours would make me better at managing my time, but, nope. I don't even work THAT much! But it seems like I never have enough time to do all my outside stuff that I love -- like blog and read and meet people and go places. When can I just be the lady who lunches again?! :)
    (Oh, and my closet in the States was organized in the exact same way. Woah.)

  3. My ex used to keep a daily spreadsheet like that. As soon as we'd come home he'd head into the office, fire up the computer, and document every dime. He also used to vacuum the bathtub. That's probably why he's my ex... :)

  4. Stop beating yourself up!I know exactly how you feel, but the thing is working in Hong Kong is not the same as it was in New York. You are living a completely different life, and because of your travel experiences you are a different person. I used to be very organised (no excel sheet though)but after you travel and enjoy living free, having everything exactly categorized just doesn't seem important anymore. That is because it isn't - enjoy your time and stop worrying - you don't really need to make your bed!!

  5. And here I thought I was the only person who has a detailed Excel spreadsheet of my spendings. I agree with some of the comments - stop beating yourself up. Its hard to change who you are, and you shouldn't have to for anybody or anything. even though you are in a totally different group dynamic, you should always just be yourself.

  6. I always try to but it's SO hard! Maybe I need to attend another one?

    @Sally Sally, I could have written that exact comment! I think the workforce is really some sort of skewed time-machine that just sucks away the hours of the day. Ah, I too long for the days when I can just sit down for a three hour lunch. =)

    @Man On The Lam Being detailed and anal-retentive definitely has a bad rep. I may have some ahem, eccentricities but I've never vacuumed the bathtub!

    @fifi I wouldn't say that I was beating myself up exactly. Of course I'm a different person and of course HK isn't the same as NYC. I merely meant to say that I'm ready for the "transition" period to be over. Good advice on enjoying my time! I'm definitely trying! =)

    @colorfulfootsteps No worries there, I don't think I'll ever NOT be true to myself or try to change who I am. I just wish I had more time in Hong Kong to be me! =)

  7. Just gotta enjoy all the little time you have off whether it's 5 mins or 1 hour. I think it's important to make time for yourself, no matter how busy you get. Hot bath before bedtime? Attend yoga? Massage? pedicure? cook a nice dinner? i always found cooking therapeutic. :)

  8. Oh gosh...just enjoy Hong Kong. You'll get over the crowd, the bad air, etc and fall in love with the city before you know it :D

  9. @milania dela cruz, md. Great advice! I'll definitely be treating myself more! =)

    @Mochachocolata Rita Yeah, I'd say that the crowds were the big disgruntler for me in HK. Some days I'm cool with it, others not so much. =) And don't worry, Rita, I'm already in love with Hong Kong!

  10. That spreadsheet is hardcore Connie! I used to be an organized person and then travel got in the way - it's about trying to find the right balance -I'll let you know when I get there!

  11. late to this party, Connie, but I ask myself this every day... well in reality it's one or the other. I either ask myself where the anal girl has gone ... or ask myself where the laidback and chillax girl has gone ...

    Is it just the expat lifestyle?

  12. @Jayne Tell me about it, Jayne! I look at that spreadsheet now and I can't even begin to imagine doing that now. How's that balancing thing coming along?

    @Delhibound I think it's a mix of all three combined. Four months later, I can say that I'm much better adjusted and very happy with my life in HK. How about yourself? Loving or hating expat life?


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