Here’s the Plan

It’s been a while. A lot has happened since the last time I posted. My Conversations in Korea series is probably finished because I’m no longer in Korea.

I wish the Conversations in Korea series had come to a more pleasant ending. I interviewed a friend of mine in Seoul who also happens to be a North Korean refugee. Unfortunately, the founder of the organization we met through asked me very strongly to take the interview down. It’s a long story, but in short: a guy I always suspected of being a drama bomb bombed his drama all over my parade.

That’s what happened to my last post in the Conversations in Korea series. And I haven’t posted again because I’ve been busy moving to Thailand.

I made some predictions in my first blog post at the start of my year in Korea, but I sure as hell didn’t predict moving to Thailand.

map sk t copy

Here’s the plan.

I spent my year in Korea teaching full time and building a writing portfolio during my off time. Writing is a tough thing to get into because you have to have a portfolio to get any sort of paid writing gig, and  you have to do writing to build a portfolio. So at the start, you simply have to write for free. I did that during my off time, then slowly built my way up to paid writing assignments.

I had a few interviews for full time writing jobs during my last couple months in Korea. I lost one because I wasn’t currently in the US. I lost a couple others because of that bullshit where they ask a vague question and then infer huge meaning from some minor nuance in your answer.

No joke, I asked them for feedback when they told me I didn’t get the job. It was the nuance thing. One of them was a gaming company back in the US. They told me that I must not be the kind of person who integrates well with local cultures because I play their game on an American server rather than playing on the Korean server.

If they had simply asked about it directly, they would have learned that I was working with a 100% Korean staff, wrote in depth cultural analysis pieces on Korea, and hardly even spoke to any non-Koreans during my whole time of living in Seoul.

I hate job interviews. They’re like a test in small talk.

It was only a month before my teaching contract finished and I didn’t have much of a plan. But the top item on the list of that half-assed plan was written in bold font with all caps:

no more teaching copy

I had a conversation about the cost of living with a friend who lives in Fayetteville, Arkansas. Down there, it’s about half of what it costs to exist in Los Angeles. I asked if it’d be possible to move in with him while I figure my life out.

He said that’d be fine.

I told him I’d like to take advantage of how cheap it is there to try freelance writing for a bit, though I’d still be looking for full time work as well.

He said that’d also be fine. He’s an easy going guy. His name is also Michael. We were going to be Mike and Mike. 

One night I was looking up how much money I’d have to make to survive in Arkansas. The site I was using had a US map with little colored dots from green to yellow to red, depending on the cost of living. Fayetteville was greenish-yellow. Los Angeles was dark red.

Then I had an inspired moment. I zoomed out to see the world map. I realized that if I just wanted a cheap place to live, I could do way cheaper than Arkansas. I’m a young (ish), single (ish), man (ish) and the writing I do is all online. I could go anywhere.

That, my friends, brings me to Chiang Mai, Thailand. A city among the world’s lowest cost of living for a modern place. Most meals are about $1-2 USD and my rent is $135 per month, ~$205 after bills. The plan is to be here for three months, but I’ve already demonstrated how poorly I do at sticking to a plan.

I came here prepared to write or starve, but it turns out that I saved a lot more money from Korea than I expected and I can live in Chiang Mai a lot cheaper than I expected. This is good for my peace of mind, not as good for lighting a fire under my ass and making me write.

fire under the butt copy

There’s the plan. A good plan? I’ve never been able to tell. But it is in fact a plan. Now the story of the next three months will be the battle against my kryptonite: self-motivation.

And who knows. Maybe we’ll see a new interview series. “Talks in Thailand” has a nice ring to it.


Illustrated by: Melissa Beth Rose 
Written by: Michael Smit

7 thoughts on “Here’s the Plan

  • You forgot to mention Fayetteville is rated the third best place to live in the US by US News and World Report (behind Denver and Austin), and the number one budget city.

    • Oh yeah, and I like you’re writing, you’re awesome, way to be adventurous, I’m not hurt at all you chose Thailand over living with me and getting drunk every night and sharing writing and kayaking the rivers and hiking the Ozarks and road trips to New Orleans and Denver. Whatever, man.

  • well I love reading what you write and find it fresh and entertaining and real. just wanted you to know some of us back in the states actually are reading this stuff (currently as I sit outside eating breakfast -home cooked pancakes topped with peanut butter and rainier cherries and a side of maple sausage with strong dark coffee- enjoying the blazing and carefree sunshine in bend Oregon- first day of vacation). Sorry- setting important bc THIS paired with ur blog made it even better. :)

  • Lol @ man (ish)

    And you’re absolutely right about interviews; they suck! You’re a brave soul for doing what you’re doing. Keep it up. You could always play it safe and move back to the states where you can find a job that barely pays the bills and makes you slowly hate yourself.

    • The best jokes are the honest jokes, right?

      Anyhow, the way you describe life back home sounds dreary, but I am honestly looking forward to it. The flipside to being a long term traveler is setting the rest of life away on long term intermission.

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