Off The Wagon: Hosts, Migration And The Learning Curve

Photo credit: Base Camp Baker / Foter / CC BY-ND

Wow. I mean, what in the name of Jaysus have I been doing for the last couple of weeks? I’m pulling these words out with the same amount of effort as it takes removing a thirty-foot tapeworm (possibly NSFW). This is probably because I’ve been using the limited time recently available to me to pack up one life and make a start on a new one, virtually, figuratively and literally. This means I’ve lost the easy access to words, as my writing muscles have started to atrophy, and my head has been addled with all the planning and obstacles.

I’m going to do a virtual version of playing a sad song on the violin for myself so I can cheer myself, after the fashion of happy hardship that this blog seems to have. If anyone has encountered the same situations here and overcome similar problems, be sure to share in the comments below.

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filament ivy screenshot

Moving House Photo credit - splityarn

Moving house can be stressful enough. Cleaning up all the crap that you left on the side and forgot about; sorting through all your possessions; scouring the stains and marks around the house; checking the burial site in the garden to make sure nothing will be discovered until you’re long gone…

Now, imagine that you’re not only moving house, but changing country with a significant other whose immigration status is less than certain, and self-imposed stress levels start to rise. You know that you have to pack everything that you want to take, because your relationship with the landlord and various creditors means you’re taking the last goddamned chopper out of Saigon and you’re not coming back.

last chopper out of saigon fall of saigon

Posting home what you can’t fit in the bags you paid an exorbitant fee to travel with is just another expense involved. Cancellation charges for your utilities and services squeeze a few more bucks out of your pockets, making them look like a time-lapse video from a weight loss commercial. Even though these contracts were running out before or on the date you leave, signed in good faith that common sense would win out and that when it’s over, it’s over. Yeah, best of luck with that.

If you are the type of person who is organised, this shouldn’t be as harrowing an experience as it was for us. Even if we did have our shit together though, it probably wouldn’t have made much of a difference. Goodbyes were made over the course of a few days, each of those days involving amounts of drink that needed recovery time that we didn’t have. Something that I’ve realised is that the older I get, not only do hangovers get worse with less alcohol imbibed, but that they can carry over like a horrible lottery jackpot. Trying to get your brain in gear while the stink of bleach and dusty luggage fills your aching, hungover nostrils is a challenge. Remembering all the things you have to do and bring with you becomes a trial.

Host Migration Photo credit - MattysFlicks

“Fair enough,” you might say to yourself, “but people uproot and move across the world with freighters’ worth of stuff. It can be done, even if it might cost you time and money. That’s the price of a new life!”

Those are some well-articulated points, Hypothetical Harry, but you’re assuming that moving your material life is all you are doing. That wasn’t enough hardship for me, though. I’m Irish, as in “actually born and raised in Ireland” Irish, not “my great-great-grandpappy once saw a drawing of Ireland on a map and now I tell everyone I’m Irish” Irish. That means that I enjoy misery almost as much as enjoyable things.

wb yeats irish tragedy quote

In that spirit, I chose this time to change website hosts. I jumped at the chance when I saw an offer that was promising twice the quality of service at half the price. The problem is, I didn’t look at the instructions in detail on how website migration worked, and made a hames of it. I didn’t point the DNS to the new host, I didn’t have a database downloaded before I switched, I messed up the permalinks, and so on. Which led to the site switching between being offline and awful-looking.

Like my approach to a lot of things in life, I did the deed and then went looking for help, walkthroughs and support pages. This means that I had to go through all the necessary files and posts and code after the fact. So take it from me, if you don’t know what you’re doing, at the very least have a fecking glance at the manual. It could save you a week or so of wanting to headbutt yourself.

I was trying to do all this while closing my account with my already unreliable internet provider and organise my life into bags and boxes, sort out accommodation on the trips I have to take before I settle down again for a while, and search for some way to earn money while on the move.

Will Work For Money Photo credit - mpb

I’m going back to the looming issue of relocation and migration that hung over everything I did like a cardboard shroud with a postal sticker on it. Ask anyone what they would like more of when they are moving, and chances are they will say the same thing that people say when you ask what they want more of in general:

100 dollar bill

Hint: it’s not the hairline. Photo – Tilley441

Yah. That stuff helps when you’re doing anything, except maybe dodging taxes or alimony. When you don’t have a lot, you have to take a budget approach to a lot of the process. Boxes are sourced from local shops; clothes become packing materials when the discount bubble wrap runs out; you take shitty prices on the second-hand sale of furniture and electronics that you can’t take with you because otherwise it’s a complete loss, and you begrudge the next tenant having them because the place was a shithole when you moved in and now it has loads of nice clean stuff in it.

definition of begrudgery ireland

“So what?” I hear you say, even though you didn’t actually say it, “go do like everyone lots of people do and earn a gorram living.” Well, I did, and I have, but it’s hard to keep the same job when the building you work in stays in the same place while you fly away to another country. I’ve recently began writing freelance, but it’s an uphill march for beginners, especially when you can’t commit to any more than a couple of intermittent hours a day. Clients usually want someone reliable, and I didn’t want to commit to anything that I couldn’t be sure of delivering. Professional pride aside, if you start to get a reputation for non-completion, it becomes majorly difficult to get future gigs. In addition, chicks aren’t great fans of non-completion either.

danger bad jokes sign

from DangerSigns

Granted, I can always try and find some regular work when I land at the next destination. I have years of experience working and running bars all over the world in various languages. The problem is, that’s what I’ve been doing for the last couple of years: getting a local job so I can afford to live, which ends up taking huge lumps of time for the hours at work, the time being tired afterwards and the rest of my free time dreading the coming work week. Then it becomes easy for an undisciplined gent like myself to put writing and creative endeavours on the backburner. Again, you might say, “Tough shit, everybody has to work, that’s just the way it is. Suck it up.” I say to you, no they don’t, it doesn’t have to be that way, and I’m not sucking a goddamned thing. Where does that mantra come from? Just the way we’ve been conditioned over time. Also, I’m tired of depending on someone else’s success so I can afford to pay for ridiculous rent and food that’s three times the price it should be, just because it doesn’t make you sick.

Book It Anyway Photo credit - Dave Heuts

Speaking of non-completion, remember that book, the one I keep promising to soon have in front of your eyes? Yeah, still not done. The editor is on retainer, I’m sourcing artwork, reaching out to other writers to pick their brains and gradually building a network and audience. The only thing I’m not doing is getting the final draft together. My computer is littered with notes, backstory, clipped bits, plot rewrites, and different drafts that are ready to collate into a coherent and enjoyable story that I’m planning to breed into a series. I just keep telling myself that I don’t have time, but I just disproved that by typing all this out, formatting it and sourcing a load of lovely images. So who’s the asshole now?

I'm the asshole now look at me meme

All I can do is promise that it is coming, and I’m sure that at least some of you will enjoy it.

So what can you do? Well, from here on out, the sailing should be a little smoother. The scrubbing and the packing and the running and the waking up early and the money suck should either be over or reduced, and the travelling from now on should be a bit more structured. Obviously, I can’t guarantee anything, but if you want to get pedantic about it, nobody can really guarantee anything. All I, you, we and they can do is keep on trucking, put the head to the grindstone, and stuff as many cliches into things as I can stomach.

Anyone out there ever have thoughts or problems like this? Think I’m just trumpeting about a load of non-issues? Let me know, click “Speak Your Mind” below and then keep scrolling to follow/harass me on social media!

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About Neil

Neil Rochford is a writer from Ireland and has lived in various places around the world. He loves fiction where bad things happen, is trying to feed himself with his words and he is available for freelance writing gigs and wakes. His book, The Blue Ridge Project, is available NOW on Amazon.