Posts Tagged ‘Life’
It almost feels as though 2014 didn’t happen at all. Though it was a tumultuous year around the globe, with the return of Ebola and the continuing epidemic, the unjust killings of innocent American citizens by unpunished American police officers, natural disasters and the bizarre disappearance of two airplanes, my world seemed to stand still. So much was happening all over the world, but as I observed my immediate surroundings, it felt as though things were happening in slow motion to the point where I witnessed decay rather than progress. In the movie of my life, I was the one character caught standing still, almost frozen, as the rest of the picture moved around me, colors swirling and whooshing and encircling me while violins played over the picture. I haven’t been able to breathe comfortably in more than a year, struggling to tread the waters and stay afloat in a house filled with all of my earthly possessions. I have been drowning.
I had plans to move to Beirut in September 2013 to begin working with Transterra Media, but quickly nixed those plans when I faced the reality of becoming a homeowner, a recent college graduate with mounting debt and having accepted a position within a company that wasn’t willing to offer me a salary, or even a position beyond an internship.
Those post-graduation plans began in Boston, while I was still enrolled as an undergraduate student at Northeastern University. Then I returned to New York from Boston in the middle of the summer of 2013, and the house I came home to has been in a constant state of disorder since then. My brother and I began a major renovation due to water damage and moldy beams shortly after my father relocated back to Europe, and shortly after my return to New York. All of my belongings from five collective years at university in Boston packed away in boxes for a year and a half, three suitcases filled with clothing I haven’t worn in almost two years, and boxes of books I haven’t been able to access, let alone read, occupy most of the area that used to be my bedroom. Compounding all of my shit into my bedroom at the end of the hallway are all of my brother and father’s things, including two dining room sets, three couches, two full bedroom sets, two sets of kitchenware and appliances, etc. It was a struggle living that way, without any order, not too dissimilar than a season of A&E’s Hoarders. I managed to reach the end of 2013 hopeful that, in 2014, I would be able to achieve all of the things I had to put on hold in 2013, and that I would see the end result of the renovation early on in the year.
Well, unfortunately for me, 2014 came and went, just like that.
In the blink of an eye, twelve months somehow managed to elapse. I now find myself cooped up with my dog and my brother, living in my Aunt Andrea and Uncle Jimmy’s house somewhat uncomfortably for almost three months now, still waiting for my home to be livable again. Somehow, our house is actually in worse condition than it was at the beginning of the year. Since returning home, all I have done is wait for incompetent people to do jobs they are incapable of doing well. It began with one asshole contractor in 2013 and now involves three separate teams of contractors, all equally irritating in their own right. Over the course of the last twelve months, I have been jerked around by a number of people, offered too many platitudes and false promises, and treated like shit. Honestly, the time since August 2013 feels like it has been one dark, long, inescapable nightmare. It’s fitting, then, that I spent the final hours of the NO YEAR that was 2014 in bed sweating out a nasty virus and plowing through a box of tissues alone and with only a bottle of Vicks Vaporub and a mug of hot tea on my bedside table. The virus is seemingly the direct result of a rough year. As I sweat in bed through four blankets and two sweatshirts, waiting for the imminent end of the year, it feels as though my body is ridding itself of more than just a virus; my body is fervently fighting to endure the virus and the end of the nightmare.
I have lost, effectively, a year and a half of my life. I have a lot to catch up on in 2015. Thank God I had my brother by my side to suffer through the bullshit year with me, for if anyone knows what a shitty year it has been, it’s him. Thank God 2014 is over. I’ll always looks back on the past year as one of the worst of my life, for nothing seemed to go the way I hoped it would. As a matter of fact, nothing seemed to happen at all.
It was nice to wake up this morning, on the first day of a new year. I rolled out of bed, popped two more Tylenol capsules, and took a look outside. The sun is shining brightly in a clear blue sky, the wind moving the barren arms of the trees and the few brown leaves left rustle up and down the roads. It’s a fresh start.
Happy new year, everybody. Here’s to making shit happen this year.
“Sometimes you find yourself in the middle of nowhere,
and sometimes, in the middle of nowhere,
you find yourself.“
People say that you only get one chance at a first impression. A year ago, at this time, I was blown away by the city of Amman and the Jordanian people, who welcomed me with open arms into their country, their lives, their homes. In just two weeks’ time, Amman- and the entire Jordanian nation, for that matter- exceeded all of my wildest dreams. Now that I am back, I think my first impressions were accurate. I love it here, and I love that I had the opportunity to return here.
I had the privilege and honor of traveling with and working alongside a fantastic group of reporters who have become dear friends of mine since our journey to Jordan and Turkey ended in June of last year. Michele, Erin, Erin, Hanna, Ally, Fernanda, Emily, Rob, Ryan, Val, Catherine, Lauryn, Joe, Morgan, Kaileigh, Jessica, Katie, Charles and I developed a strong bond that means so much to me, still, to this day. I actually find myself yearning for their company, insight, and support this time around. It’s a strange feeling, to be back here in this amazing city, without them. They were such an intrinsic and central part of my experience last year that it’s almost incomplete without them here. But, alas, you never step in the same river twice, as Heraclitus of Ephesus once said. I’m excited about the adventure on the horizon, and I hope that the coming five weeks will prove as invaluable and worthwhile as last year.
This year, I came back to Jordan with a dose of hesitation. I applied to the program, way back in October of 2011, because it was life changing last year. I learned more about myself and my own limitations as a journalist, and more importantly, as a person. I was pushed to my limits, and beyond, forced to challenge myself and all I had learned to that point. My writing style developed more over the course of five weeks in Jordan and Turkey than it had over three years of “traditional” college courses. Carlene Hempel, a Northeastern professor with whom I have taken three courses, also played a big part in my decision to return on another journey to the Middle East. She has always pushed me, but not in an intimidating way. She’s been doing this for many years, and I am always eager to continue to learn from her. When I interviewed with her, in November I think, I remember her saying something along the lines of, “Aren’t you sick of me yet?” I’m not. I was always told by my mother to pick teachers’ brains, and learn as much from them as possible, no matter how mean or difficult they are. I came back to Jordan not only because I loved the experience, but also because I feel I still have more to learn about working as an international reporter in the Middle East.
On another, sort of related note, yesterday was Mother’s Day back in the good old U.S. of A. I miss my mother dearly, and always strive to continue to make her proud. I miss you, mom, and I love you. I always will.
And now, I’ll sign off with a quote that I love:
“You know more of a road by having traveled it than by all the conjectures and descriptions in the world.” -William Hazlitt
And how about one more, for good measure:
“A good traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving.” -Lao-Tzu