Tuesday, September 9, 2008

A New Life & A New Blog

As I head off into my new life as a dive instructor, I've decided to start another blog chronicaling the journey and telling the story as I go. This one was almost full anyway because of all the dive pictures, so it was an appropriate time to retire it. The new address is http://www.harryblalock.blogspot.com/ Feel free to follow along as we try to figure out what the next stop in our journey is, and where we'll fit.

Friday, September 5, 2008

An Ending And A New Beginning

Once upon a time, I couldn't wait to get to the computer to tell my dive stories and share my pictures with the world. I have to say that much of that joy for me was taken away when my underwater camera was stolen. I just felt so violated and disgusted that I didn't even want to look at the blog or write anything. I haven't stopped diving, in fact I've been doing more diving than ever, having gotten in 30 dives during the month of August. Yes, 200 this year is a sure thing, and 250 is a distinct possibility.

It's with mixed emotions that I write this post as it will officially begin to close the door on a major chapter in our lives. Kelli and I have been struggling with the decision of whether to stay or leave the island of Saipan for some time now. I had planned on making this my final stop, it felt like home to me and I absolutely loved the diving. Having my camera stolen was the beginning of the end for me, it stole my reason for staying here and for feeling like I was contributing something significant here. Yes, I could buy another camera, but with the way things are going here, I'm afraid that crime and theft will be a very common occurrence very quickly.

My son Josh, and his wife Regis moved to Florida the first of this year and have bought a home in St. Petersburgh and have been rather vocal about the fact that they want us to live closer to them so that their future children will get a chance to know their crazy grandparents. That's a pretty tough thing to argue with. But at the same time, I wasn't ready to move back and become a Wal-Mart greeter. I felt like I was still too young for that and still had a few worthwhile things to offer.

Then a good friend of mine (who shall be publicly acknowledged at a later date) talked me into furthering my diving certifications, getting my Rescue Diver and Dive Master certifications. I argued with him for a while, but I finally decided to go ahead and do it. I realized after doing the Dive Master class that I was only one class away from becoming a Dive Instructor. Anyone who knows me realizes that I've been in radio for a very long time, 26 years, but diving is my true passion and where my heart lies. I realized that if I just took the Instructors Course that I could then be a professional dive instructor and work any number of jobs in the dive industry. I decided it was time for phase 2 of my life, I was ready to put radio behind me and become a full time dive professional. I went ahead and signed up for the next IDC which will take place in Guam the first two weeks of November. The plan is to then come back to Saipan and work for a few months, selling everything we have (except dive gear of course), save up some money and then move to Florida and look for a job in the dive industry. I'm not sure yet whether I'll wind up working on cruise ships, out of a dive shop, or at a Carribean resort, but frankly any of them sound just fine to me.

The power outages, the exorbitant cost of living, the political stupidity and the quality of life all influenced our decision, mainly just affirming that it was the right decision and that it is the right time to go. The decision to finally leave Saipan was one of the hardest I've ever made in my life though. This has been my whole life for the past 12 1/2 years, all of my friends are here and it's going to really hurt to walk away from it and all of you. This is my "Cheers", a place where everybody knows your name. They obviously don't all like me, but I never set out to win any popularity contests. Good thing huh?

It's very strange to think of starting over from scratch, having to meet all new friends and develop a whole new network, but that's what we did when we moved out here, and we can do it again. I think that with my background in radio, sales, public relations and business it will make for a unique package when combined with my new Dive Instructor status. So if you know of anyone looking for a dive instructor with a wealth of business experience and other experience who lives in a tropical dive destination, please let them know about me, or give me their name, I'd like to have a little chat with them. Who knows, I may even wind up leading dive trips out to Saipan from Florida for divers looking for a unique diving destination.

But because this blog was http://www.saipandiver.blogspot.com/ and I will no longer be a Saipan diver coming up in 6 months or so, this will be the end of this blog. I will leave it up and hopefully there are those who will enjoy reading the archives and looking through some of my pictures. I will start a new blog once I get a new camera and figure out where my new life is headed.

If there are any of you who have always thought about trying diving or have wanted to get certified, I'll be all ready to teach and certify you after the middle of November until February or March, so just let me know. And if you're one of those who have always said, one of these days I'm going to have to make a dive with the old Axe Murderer, the clock is running, let me know and let's get wet.

Thanks to all my friends and all those who have been there with me through thick and thin in the past, and I pray that things improve and the quality of life improves for you on Saipan.