What keeps you going?
In the past, I’ve found traveling abroad re-energizes my writing and provides a renewed sense of motivation to create. In recent years, I’ve had so many opportunities to explore the world: I went to Korea with my mother on a research grant to meet my extended family for the first time and to see the city where I was born. In Turkey, my husband and I did a four-city trek from the ancient mountain ranges of Cappadocia to the cosmopolitan, multicultural mix of Istanbul. Most recently, we journeyed to Belize, where we hiked and rode horseback through the jungle, waded in knee-high rivers, and did some light-duty climbing through caves adorned with Mayan relics. (We also attended the Annual All-County Belizean Rodeo in the capital city of Belmopan—one of the unexpected highlights of our trip.)
These journeys were such an incredible high, and each time I returned to my Chicago home starry-eyed, alight with creative possibilities and full of a conqueror’s spirit! There’s so much to learn! We could live anywhere in the world! I can climb this urban tree and probably not die! But of course, just weeks later, idealism begins to sag. River-wading in the jungle becomes puddle-wading on Michigan Avenue and I think longingly of eating fresh, piping hot kahl-goog-soo noodles in a tiny diner in Seoul as I stand in my own kitchen and drop a block of ramen noodles and freeze-dried seaweed into a pot of boiling water.
I recently ran across an article in The Onion titled, “Nine Things Introverts Do All The Time.” It starts off innocently enough with some harmless long-lens photography and emphatic fan-letter-writing, but soon spins it into a dark, sociopathic narrative of stalking and abduction that ends in a fiery crescendo of homicide and regret! (Spoiler Alert, Introverts: We kill a beloved celebrity with our obsessive and apparently, flammable, love.) If you missed: http://www.theonion.com/articles/9-things-introverts-do-all-the-time,33683/
Now I hope it goes without saying I take no issue with The Onion. (I seek them out regularly and I know what to expect!) But this piece made me wonder if we’re still a society that secretly considers introverts to be oddballs, outsiders, or in someway inferior to our extroverted counterparts—perhaps less socially developed or evolved.
HBO’s Enlightened is on the chopping block. Despite a flood of Emmy nominations and critical praise, the series has not garnered the viewership it needs to be safe from cancellation. In an interview with The Huffington Post, the show’s writer and co-star, Mike White, says Enlightened’s fate will be decided within the next week as the Season Two finale approaches on Sunday, March 3. If you’ll give me a blog’s worth of your attention, I’ll tell you why this matters.
The opening scene of HBO’s Enlightened finds Amy Jellicoe at her corporate workplace in the midst of an emotional meltdown. After being demoted for sleeping with her married boss, a tearful Amy blazes forth from a bathroom stall, spewing profanity in a foot-stomping, mascara-stained spectacle that, at its peak, evokes an uncomfortable blend of horror, sympathy, hilarity, and sadness. The sadness is what lingers though, as you’re certain you’ve just witnessed an event so destructive and unforgettable that surely no career, no reputation, and no sense of sanity could be salvaged from its aftermath. But Amy Jellicoe is no ordinary woman.
Just the other day I received a letter in the mail from my friend James who, at the time, was completing a writing fellowship in Moveen, Ireland–a remote town that from what I’ve been told boasts scenic green pastures, writerly solitude (with the exception of an occasional peeping-tom-type visit from the neighborhood goat), and complete radio silence. That’s right… it’s a technological freezone… a place to escape the quick and easy distractions of cell phones and the internet so you can focus on reading and writing. As I read James’ letter, I realized something: It was the first real letter I’d received in years. It wasn’t mail sent for an occasion, not a birthday card or a baby announcement. It was just an honest to goodness, hand-written letter to say, “Hey. What’s up? I’m in this great place doing this and that. What are you doing?” Granted, the letter was written on 3rd of the month and I didn’t receive it until the 19th, so “this and that” probably changed quite a bit. But as I held the paper in my hand, I knew it was something I’d keep forever–not an email that would get filed away into the virtual abyss–but a paper letter marked with a culturally relevant stamp redeemed at the Cork Mail Centre, flown across the Atlantic Ocean and hand-delivered to my Chicago address. It’s a painstakingly slow process–but I think this time makes the writing and sending of letters precious and it’s sad to think that the fast-moving electronic age may be putting an end to this careful, age-old craft.
Hello from Turkey! My husband and I have made our second stop of our Turkish travels in the region of Cappadocia, which is famous for its ancient cave ruins and fairy chimney rock formations (see photo above.) During our daylong hike of the cave cities with our guide, Kezban, I learned something surprising… something that makes me feel a bit ashamed for some of my past attitudes, beliefs and actions. (Oh, my actions!) In order to explain this fully, I’ll have to backtrack to December 2011, where, from my Ann Arbor apartment, I waged a war of territory with one very stubborn pigeon.