In January, stepping off this continent

Big news: This winter I’m headed back to Cambodia. Last March, Janelle and I traveled there together for her spring break from teaching. We adventured. And I wanted to go back.

Over the summer, Kevin gave me a copy of Einstein’s Dreams, a book by physicist Alan Lightman that investigates theories of time and possibility — basically everything you need to hear in the midst of an existential crisis. When I mentioned to Caitlin that I was reading it, she said, “Oh, I interviewed the author for a story once… he founded an organization in Cambodia.”

A spark. But I didn’t act, and I didn’t look it up… and then, circling around and around a cemetery in Cincinnati for my 30th birthday with two of my oldest friends, I mentioned this strange happenstance. Kirsten and Amanda both told me to see if I could go there — in that patient but probing way that good friends make us better versions of ourselves.

And so one brave afternoon in November, I applied for a residency at Alan Lightman’s organization, a two-month position mentoring young college women who live in a dorm in Phnom Penh.

Things fell (quickly) into place. An e-mail exchange, a Skype interview. So now it’s happening, I’m really going, mid-January.

I’ve been overwhelmed by the speedy financial support for my fundraising campaign. Like, I’ve spent an inordinate amount of time with happy tears in my eyes; every time a new donation comes in. The women of my writing group rallied quickly, and a few big donations and a lot of small ones from friends/family added up to almost the entire total in less than a week.

I’ve felt jaded this year — knocked by a few hard knocks. But my surprise birthday bike and this campaign have severely diminished my taste for apathy. I’ve seen, firsthand, that despite the suckitude of the quotidienne and the unpredictability of the everyday, our human networks can form powerful weapons against chaos and despair. I’ve come to believe that, in a time when we’re so electronically connected, money is speech — and even a few bucks says where you stand and who you stand up for. A lot of people have already stood up for me this year. And I can’t say thanks enough.

More info, and to support my (almost finished!) fundraising campaign for airfare/expenses:

2 thoughts on “In January, stepping off this continent

  1. Dude. “despite the suckitude of the quotidienne and the unpredictability of the everyday” = BEST PHRASE EVER.

    I am excited to read this year’s Cambodian moments. I would so give you some $$ if I could. But living on no income whatsoever is making donations impossible allround. But I’ll be supporting you in spirit for sure! 🙂

    (Yes I’m kindof a lurker. But I always read your posts!)

  2. CAROLYN! Thank you so much for the thoughts. Everything helps! Knowing that you’re supporting in spirit (and reading) helps. Because then I’m not spilling sentences into a void, and that makes everything better. Thank you for the good words.

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