Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Jess as Producer

Just signed a new contract this week to product three short videos for an international NGO. I put together a little movie as an experiment and it turns out that some folks in this NGO liked what I had done and decided to hire me to make more over the next month or so. I feel a bit like an impostor given that I have no previous experience with video editing, shooting... production, but I'm going to do my best and see where that takes me.

Things have been rough at the local NGO. The project I was working on was abruptly cancelled, leaving much of our staff (including myself, the expensive consultant) in limbo for the past couple of months. Without burdening this (small but elite) audience with boring details, the project's death was a basically the perfect case-study of all the things that can go wrong in development (project-based funding meaning salary insecurity for local staff; petty corruption; international NGOs making ridiculous requests and bullying local NGOs).

Thankfully, yesterday we got two pieces of really good news which have lightened up the atmosphere in the office considerably and mean that I'll probably be able to continue this video gig until I leave. Pretty spiffy.

Kitty's growing up

She's looking downright purty...

Life ADD

8:54 p.m. this Monday night, it's post-shower and I'm slathered with skin-so-soft, sprawled out on my bed like a beached porpoise.

Despite an unfortunate interruption of my shower -- suddenly no more water from the showerhead, or the faucet, or in the other bathroom, OR THE KITCHEN SINK -- I was finally able to rinse off some of the suds by emptying out my water filter. I guess all the effort put me in a contemplative mood.

The brief period of mourning over losing my friends is coming to an end and I'm starting to get busy again. I realize that my habit of wanting to do everything (KAPE work, BSDA, this new American club, photography, cooking experiments, parties, travel, blogs, emails, reading tons, figuring out what to do with myself post-December) often means the peanut butter gets spread too thin. I, for one, HATE my bread with too little spread. Yet (to draw out the analogy in an agonizing fashion) I not have figured out how to achieve a balance -- more peanut butter (energy! motivation! passion!) spread over a smaller slice. (I could go on to talk about cutting empty carbs, but that might be going too far).

Writing seems to be essential to keeping my sanity; emails, to keeping my connection with the outside world. KAPE work's necessary for the salary, plus the experience I'm now getting with the video stuff. Cooking/travel/hanging out/taking pictures/reading are all just fun.

But where am I supposed to fit in my "life's work", my big project that will define my life and change the world? I'm always taking on these new small projects: Learn Khmer, make a video, keep a record of the books I read... but I seem sort of short on the follow-through. My attention span wavers after about 3 mos (maybe 6 mo to a year for things that are less monotonous) and I'm on to something different. I've been searching for something to inspire me, so I can dedicate my life to its pursuit, but it seems to me that life is just so full and varied that I'll always be distracted by something new.

Not that I pretend these feelings are original, I know a few 20somethings of my generation with similar angst, but that only makes me feel marginally better.

In this respect, seems like I need to lock myself into some pattern (med school?) that forces me to stick with something for awhile. Perhaps passion at first sight of my true life's path is a bit much to ask and I need to stick things out a bit more rather than hope for an instant "click" and quick gratification.

On the other hand, what better time to explore than when you're young? I only feel like I'm losing time -- like I should have done more exploring and less "achieving" when I was still in high school and college. Alas, something to think about when I have children of my very own.'

Bye Bye July (and August)

The blog suffered in the last month, but thankfully my posting frequency had a direct negative relationship with FUN over the last 5 weeks.

Jaime arrived on the 19 July and stayed for 3 weeks. No need to replicate the play-by-play from my journal, but here are some highlights:

Biking the big temple circuit, sunrise at Bayon temple & Indiana Jonesing around Beng Melea

Sunsets and a raucous all-day, all-night party weekend in Kampong Cham

Plus a 2-day dive trip in Sihanoukville -- including great coral and some awesome seafood spaghetti

And... unsticking an unstickable traffic jam and joining the road repair crew to rescue our bus.

Unfortunately, my camera suffered an injury and will be out of commission until further notice.

On 8 August, we headed out of Phnom Penh airport for Seattle. We finally made it after some $20 bowls of ramen and a 7 hour stopover in Taipei. My family met us at the airport. Jaime headed home to Bellingham and I had my first burrito in 4 months (heaven!) and fell asleep in the plush white linens of the swanky downtown "W" hotel.

Me, mum & dad, Cameron and Beck headed to Bellingham a couple days later for a rousing game of kickball and delicious brats with Jaime and crew. Then we headed out to the San Juan islands for a gorgeous week of biking, hiking and kayaking. It was the most exercise I've had in 4 months for certain, and it felt GOOD.

Needless to say, the trip left me missing the states, but I'm keeping myself busy and am settling back in nicely.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Won-weey, so won-weey

It's 8:01 Saturday morning and it's been a bit over half-an-hour since my lovely friends Clara and Nico left. So far I've washed some dishes, started some packing, fed the cat, discovered a big cut on my right foot.

But now, before I commence with moving all my stuff downstairs (my landlord recently decided to let my flat to a German woman and has decided that I have to move)... I'm going to indulge myself and give in to the sadness and the slow-moving violin accompaniment in my head.

Last night the three of us had a last hurrah at Frank's bar, with cocktails, a bottle of wine, and some beouf bouignon, just like France. This morning, I sent them off with coffee, omlettes and potatoes to Siem Reap. And now I'm sitting in my half-emptied house alone, contemplating what to do with myself this weekend, this month, and in life.

Being by myself generally suits me just fine. I must have a limited store of social energy and all my solitary time lets me bottle it up in reserve for times when I need to be at my scintillating best. But having just come off of a three-week tour with Jaime, a flurry of merry-making with my new French friends, and ten exhilarating days hiking, biking, and generally living it up with my own family, this sudden isolation is startling and sad.

Sure, all good things must come to an end, but why must they all end at once and so abruptly?

(on a random note, the folks at the Expat Women Blog Directory asked me to submit my blog to their site. It's weird to consider myself an "expat" still. For some reason it conjures up images of old white men with Cambodian girlfriends. But anyway...)