Going in the right direction

I have so much to catch up on here — visitors in Chiang Mai, whitewater rafting, various trips overseas — and I’ll get to those in upcoming posts. Today I wanted to start off by sharing some great news I received by email yesterday:

“I’m writing with an update about Creative Nonfiction’s upcoming “Food” issue and the essay contest. We received more than 350 submissions, and I’m delighted to be writing with the news that your essay is among the 30 finalists. Congratulations! Our editors will make the final selections over the next month, and will be in touch as soon as possible.”

I had almost forgotten all about this piece, which I submitted to Creative Nonfiction (CNF) at the end of August. It was one of those stories that had been at the back of my mind for a long time, and when I came across CNF’s call-out, I got the push I needed to commit pen to paper, so to speak. The resulting piece is a rather sad and affecting story about my friendship with Sarah, who passed away in 2009, and throughout the piece I weave in details of various meals and celebrations we shared, particularly Thanksgiving. It will be so amazing if the story got chosen for publication, and in the lead up to Thanksgiving this year, I’ll send it out to all of Sarah’s family and friends so that they get a chance to read what I wrote about her.

It’s actually the second piece of good news I have gotten about my creative output lately, which is funny because I actually feel like it’s dried up due to a seemingly endless run of back luck that has made it hard for me to find the energy to be creative. I guess I’m currently reaping the rewards of earlier efforts. A producer at ABC Radio National has been listening to my various audio pieces online (go to my Pool page) and thinks that I have promise. So she got in touch to see if I am interested in having a go at putting together a radio piece about going to Vietnam for the first time next month. Short answer: yes! If it’s eventually good enough, it will be broadcast on ABC RN. I’ve started working on my piece already but haven’t had time to go much further with it at the moment — and most of the material will be based on what happens next month when I go to Vietnam. But whether or not I can get onto ABC radio this way, I’ve suddenly had my eyes open to the possibility of writing for radio. Why have I never thought of this before? It would make so much sense for me to pursue this type of writing. So in the next year I will write more audio pieces as well as think about writing radio drama. I’ve already thought of a great idea for a play that could work well as a half hour production.

In the flurry of things that have happened over the past few months, it’s been hard to sit down and find the headspace to write anything, let alone blog posts. Every time I thought I had made it over a bump, another one would come along. Ex-landlord refusing to give back my money without me having to practically beg for it. Bump! Windscreen getting smashed in a storm. Bump! Oops, no car insurance. Bump! Car battery dying. Bump! More conflict at work. Bump! Family proving to be hard work to entertain on holidays. Bump! The latest ‘bump’ is my brand new camera, the replacement for the two that were stolen in August. I finally took the plunge and bought a new camera in Hong Kong a few weeks ago — and now it’s turned out to have all kinds of mechnical errors. So now I am sending back the Nikon Coolpix P7000 to Hong Kong to get a replacement. I am unbelievably disappointed with the P7000; I wish I had bought the Canon G12 now, which comes with an international warranty. So now I have to pay for postage to send it off and any savings I made buying it in Hong Kong will be cancelled out. And I will be going to Vietnam in December for the first time in my life without a camera around my neck. A real shame.

Thankfully it’s not as though I’ve had a horrible time all the way through; I’ve had lots of great times and am still very grateful for my nice life in Chiang Mai with my comfortable apartment, ever supportive boyfriend and wonderful friends. But I’ve had a lot of life lessons of late, and renewed appreciation for what “all that glitters is not gold” means. Despite all the problems, I’m currently concluding that coming here has been incredibly worthwhile. Okay, so the universe has been pushing me pretty damn hard, but I feel like I’m finally listening now and going in the right direction.

Now that 2010 is drawing to a close, I think I’ve fulfilled some of my important goals. I’ve slowed down a lot, though there’s still a long way to go — if it’s even possible for me to live like a normal person, which I’m afraid may not be. I can’t help but make plans to do more and more, but I’ve been good! I’ve consciously stayed away from starting a book group, taking acting classes, going out all the time…the main thing I have on my plate in coming months is a couple of writing pieces, finishing my website and organising a big event. Hmm. That still sounds like an awful lot. One thing I would actually like to drop but can’t is learning Thai three hours a week. I’ll be honest; I really don’t love learning it in the big scheme of things. It’s kind of fun but when will I ever use it again after here? But it’s nice to be able to understand more and more of what goes around me. Besides which, I would never get over my own shame of living here and just being a typical foreigner who can barely say anything in Thai, so this is something I’m going to stick with come hell or high water!

One small success I’ve had this past half year is that I’ve stuck to being a “mostly” vegetarian, though it really isn’t hard for me to live this way since I have never been a huge meat eater and love tofu and all kinds of weird vegetables. This consciously chosen diet has made me feel great about my relationship to food. I’ve finally started reading The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan, which I know will confirm my food choices. Although I’m largely happy with the way I eat now, between stress, insomnia and a total lack of exercise, I need to get on top of my fitness again. But I’ll do it. And once I get back on top of my health, I will be in the right state to have some truly kick-ass adventures next year.

I’m really looking forward to 2011.

3 thoughts on “Going in the right direction

  1. Hi Sheils!

    Glad to hear all is back on track and you’ve had a few successes despite the various hiccups along the way. That’s life ay?

    Have missed the posts too, so keep ’em coming :-)


    1. Thanks Damo, yeah that’s definitely life — something we have appreciated more and more as the years have gone on. I will try and enjoy the good times while they’re here! :-)

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