“Oscar Wilde said that if you know what you want to be, then you inevitably become it - that is your punishment, but if you never know, then you can be anything. There is a truth to that. We are not nouns, we are verbs. I am not a thing - an actor, a writer - I am a person who does things - I write, I act - and I never know what I am going to do next. I think you can be imprisoned if you think of yourself as a noun.”—Stephen Fry (via rochelledelaroche)
I was apprehensive about Jason from the start. I had moved to Chicago from Los Angeles to pursue a graduate degree and to escape a painful relationship gone sour. I had not intended to meet anyone new. In fact, a big part of me didn’t want to. I began writing a future memoir titled, “Why I Chose Cats.”
Our first meeting was inauspicious. A friend at school liked him for about 10 minutes. She was drunk and told him that she had a crush on him after he had let her borrow his laptop after hers had crashed. She later claimed that she actually didn’t like him, insisting that the confession was, rather, the insane ramblings of an alcohol-addled conscience.
She was embarrassed, nonetheless, and would avoid eye contact with him for the remainder of the year. A short time later, another friend would confess that she had been hooking-up with him for a while, “but it meant nothing.” After all, she was a practicing bisexual, and “it was all very caz…”
I wondered what was so special about this gangly boy from Rhode Island who looked more like an econ professor than a heartthrob. But, as an avid girl code abider, I realized that this boy was off limits— at least for the standard six-month mourning moratorium.
Jason was 6’3 ½”, blond, green-eyed and an identical twin. His twin, John, was two minutes older and looked nothing like him. John’s face was rounder and his hair was longer. John lived in Boston, while Jason lived in Chicago. Their remoteness, however, did not mitigate my fascination for their birthing anomaly.
“Do you guys experience full feelings or only half feelings?”
“Did you sleep on top of each other or side-by-side, during your womb-stay?”
“If you fall and scrape your knee, does your brother bleed?”
“Do you feel slighted by singular actors who portray twins on film and television?”
Jason answered all of these questions.
“Half feelings only. I don’t even know what a full feeling is.”
“We had a bunk bed arrangement. I slept on top. I think it’s why I have back problems today.”
“Internal bleeding only. He doesn’t see it, but he feels it, and calls me immediately to check if I’m okay.”
“I take it as a compliment that you ‘normies’ want to be like us, so no, I don’t take offense.”
We never talked during those six months, except once. Our conversation occurred when he showed me a photograph of a woman he had interviewed for a story and asked me to look at her teeth. It was horrific. Her central incisor was growing a twin incisor right in front of it, though the new one was yellow.
Though not a dentist, I was somewhat proficient with Photoshop. I extracted the additional tooth and turned the photograph into a highly offensive animated gif, which blinked from pre-doctored to post-doctored image.
I e-mailed the improved photo to Jason and wrote in the subject line: “What do you think of the surgery?” He never responded.
So it came as quite a surprise when a month later, I was at his apartment for a Fourth of July barbeque, and he began drunkenly hitting on me.
As I was no longer in my early 20s, I was not as susceptible to lascivious one-night stands contingent upon intoxication and droopy eyelids.
In other words, I clung to sobriety, as he caressed my shoulder and kissed my neck— incoherently slurring that I was “really purty” and “the smartest person in the room.” I batted him away like a fly, dismissing him as a mild and inconsequential annoyance.
Perhaps, somewhere in the crevices of my mind though, I was attracted to him— I liked the attention, even if it was sloppy.
“Can I kiss you?” He asked me several times throughout the course of the night.
“Absolutely not. Get the fuck away from me.” I responded with affectionate zest.
Jason looked at me incredulously. It seemed he had never heard the word, ‘no.’
“I don’t do drunken first kisses.” I told him. “I might consider it if you took me out on a proper date, but we must be sober.”
I figured that his male translator would hear: “Marry me. I want to bear 500 of your children.” He would scurry away. Problem solved.
Instead, he replied, “I think you and I should spend some time together.”
The next morning, he called me (which I screened and promptly ignored) and then wrote me an e-mail.
“I had fun with you last night. (I’m not just talking about the time I kissed your neck, which most likely was inappropriate.)
And I was serious when I said that I think you and I should spend some time together. (Without the drinks.)”
So we did. Four months later, while on top of me on a hotel bed, he told me, “I am 100 percent, without a doubt, madly in love with you.” It was a declaration I had never heard before, filled with absolutes usually reserved for fiction. It was that good.
Later, I met up with my friend Theo who has always displayed a healthy interest in my love life. Theo was a good friend of Daniel, my former infatuation in Los Angeles—the one I had been trying to escape.
“Tell me about this guy,” Theo’s interrogation began. “Is he tall?”
“Yeah. 6’3 ½”
“Yeah, I knew he’d be tall. He’s smart right?”
“Is he funny? I bet he’s funny, you wouldn’t be with someone who wasn’t funny.”
“What kind of funny?”
“He knows Arrested Development forwards and backwards. Better than me even.”
One of the most impressive qualities about Jason was his ability to quote supporting characters from Arrested Development. Referencing Buster or Job is a piece of cake, but quoting Carl Weathers requires talent.
“Is he kind of dorky?”
“What do you mean dorky?” I did not date dorks.
“You know, like Daniel. Daniel’s got this dorky vibe about him.”
Theo and I rarely talked about Daniel. I made it a point never to ask questions about Daniel, except for generalities (Is he still alive?), and even that was rare.
Daniel and I also shared an inauspicious beginning. When we first met, he harbored both a girlfriend and an inexplicable attraction to me. Though Daniel and I dated for only a short time, I believed he was my soul mate. When he broke it off, Daniel reasoned that he didn’t want anything serious. I had never asked him for anything, not even love. The truth was, he just didn’t want me.
“I guess he is kind of dorky, but not really,” I replied, with some hesitation.
“Yeah. I know what your type is.”
Theo was implying something that I didn’t want to admit. Daniel and Jason were eerily similar, almost twins.
“Shut up, Theo. You don’t know me,” I protested.
But the truth was, Theo was onto something. I had a pattern of dating the same type of men. Didn’t we all?
The significant difference, however, between Daniel and Jason, was that Jason wanted to be available for me. He wanted to love me. He wanted me. Daniel, on the other hand, did not.
I had not spoken to Daniel for nearly half a year, so when he randomly signed onto Skype, right after I saw Theo, I figured it was fate.
I called him and we video chatted like old friends. We discussed the holidays, our current work and gazed at each other when the other wasn’t looking, hoping to find a semblance of familiarity, of comfort, of ease.
We did not talk about our personal lives. We never did. Do we really want to know the details of each others’ sex lives? No. That was the stuff of romantic comedies starring Jennifer Aniston, not me.
“What do you want now?” Daniel asked, suddenly serious.
“I want stability. I want to belong somewhere,” I told him, wistfully. The only thing missing was Sophia Coppola and her film crew.
I caught myself before spurting out, “But one thing I no longer want is you.”
It didn’t matter if it was true or not, no one wants to hear that. No one wants to be the recipient of, “I just don’t want you.” Just like, no one wants to hear, “I don’t want anything serious.” Even if it is years later.
I told Jason about my complicated feelings for Daniel and how as a result, I was wary of relationships, including ours. Jason listened, stroked my hair and told me that anyone who didn’t fall in love with me was a complete moron.
For so long, I felt like I had to stop myself from wanting a secure love. It wasn’t that I didn’t deserve it— I just never thought it existed. In my future lurked only ephemeral bouts of passion and maybe, cats.
It was six months into our relationship, while Jason was a continent away, and trying to video chat with me via Skype, that my apprehension faded away. We had spent the last hour and a half getting signed off by his shoddy Internet connection, but instead of getting frustrated and giving up, he continued trying. And we eventually were able to communicate, albeit, in brief five-minute increments.
The conversation was banal— just day-to-day nonsense, sprinkled with jokes and silly observations. But it was effortless. Loving him was effortless.
No. Jason was not Daniel’s twin, not even John’s. Jason was 100 percent, without a doubt, madly one of a kind. An ocean away, and I had never felt closer to anyone.
What a relief when the same kind beginning can have a different kind of ending.
[I’m not sure any of this actually happened. But there is a good chance it did.]
It’s 2013. I’ve felt weird about it since it happened.
The most notable reason being that I wasn’t prepared. I was really banking on the end of the world on the 21st. I can’t believe the Mayans got it wrong. There are so many people to blame. I don’t know where to start.
It’s 2013 and I haven’t made any resolutions except to be more honest with my life and to not make it all about me as much. It is always about me, so this is a lot more difficult than you might think. Other less interesting resolutions include: (1) write something good (2) quit something bad (3) get engaged.
These are lofty goals, particularly the third one. There is a candidate or two, but neither of them know they are candidates, and honestly, it’s not my responsibility to tell them.
I ‘ve whined my way through my 20s - I don’t want to begin (or continue) my 30s in the same way.
I remember feeling beautiful and effortless once. It was in 7th grade, and it was because all the attention was on me - not that everyone was staring or anything like that… but they were all calling me. I was the one they wanted. Now, that was a perfect moment.
I haven’t had a perfect moment since, but that is what I’d like to write about. Those little special ephemeral moments that happen in an instant, but you remember two decades later.
“Where does that fantasy world exist?” Joe was curious.
“No where. It doesn’t exist anywhere” stuttered Mel. “I don’t even know what you’re talking about.”
Joe grabbed her wrist, not forcefully, but close enough and pleaded.
“Look, Mel. I need this. I know you may think I don’t. But I do. Just…”
“I’m sorry…” Mel began.
“I really need this.” Joe trailed off. He was unaccustomed to begging. His life had always been somewhat charmed to the outside observer. He was a relatively attractive young man, who was bred from a respectable family. He knew the difference between a salad fork and a fish fork, and ultimately always got what he wanted. That is, until this particular encounter with Mel.
Mel was skeptical. She had developed a terrible crush on Joe ever since the first day she started work at his company ten months ago. He brought her an ice cream sundae, a ritual he celebrated with all of his new hires. The practice was later banned after a lactose intolerant hire was hospitalized. When Joe later asked his new employee why he didn’t tell him he was lactose intolerant in the first place, the man said, “No one wants to disappoint the boss on the first day of work.”
It was true. No one ever wanted to disappoint Joe, including Mel, but Mel had no choice.
If she let him in to this new world, he would see everything that she felt about him. The family she created for them, the home they lived in, the memories that did not exist in their current, tactile flesh. Indubitably, she would look like an insane person to the person she cared most about. Mel could not let that happen. Never.
She’d rather have him think she was a horrible person in real life than sully one fragment of her perfect fantasy with him.
He wouldn’t understand – he couldn’t understand. In fact, she couldn’t even understand why he wanted to go to her world. Wasn’t his world (the one they currently occupied) good enough? He had everything he could ever want. She couldn’t even fathom what he was missing, and she didn’t want to.
He had everything that she was working so hard for. He already had so much power over her. It would be unfair for him to infiltrate her fantasy too.
“I’m sorry, but I can’t let you in.” Mel softly replied.
“Why not?” Joe acquiesced
“It’s all I have.” Mel said wistfully.
And it was this truth which promptly ended their conversation.
"how many times have i had the same converasations with potential boy adventures? the whole- laughter, what makes me tick, my favorite hobbies, my little act… i wondered how many times im going to have to flirt it up with all the same stuff. with how many people will we have to engage in those delightful, but ordinary first flirty conversations where we decide that we connect or we should flee from one another."
Ever since I saw these boots, I knew I wanted… to make them!
So, I did:
Get all your materials: Mod Podge (glossy), paint brush, glitter (I used different sizes), shoes, and masking tape (not pictured)
Tape your shoes on the part that you DO NOT want glitter on. Do not skip this step. It’s just like painting a room, you really need to make sure to cover the rest of the shoe.
Mix roughly equal parts Mod Podge and glitter in a bowl.
Paint an even coat of the glitter mixture onto the shoe. It will look white and creamy. Wait an hour, then paint again. Make sure the coats are as smooth and even as possible. Continue to wait an hour before each coat. My shoes have five coats of paint.
Let dry for a few hours. Then do a final coat of only Mod Podge over the shoe to seal it in. Let dry completely. Remove the tape.
When it’s not writer’s block, you should write a letter
Why haven’t I written in you for so long? Is it that I have lost the will to write? Am I so used to typing my messages in 140-characters and curtailed status updates that I no longer require the vast white abyss of Microsoft Word to coagulate all my thoughts?
It’s not just this blog that I have neglected—I have “forgotten” to respond to emails, cards and letters for months. I, who used to keep three journals in my possession at any given time (regular, funny thoughts, book notes), can now barely muster a single blog entry a month.
Well, it’s not Writer’s Block. WB implies that you have tried to start writing, but something blocks that ability. My friends, I have had yet to even attempt a single piece of prose (except for the one you are currently reading).
The truth: It is that I have nothing to say. No passionate stories to tell or meaningful moments to analyze to death. The news and the events of the world that used to affect me deeply no longer make any impact, except for a simple scan or a retweet.
It’s as if my greatest fantasy and worst nightmare have met in one lucid dream—where I am so utterly content in my personal life (finally!) that I am engulfed by a dull complacency, robbing me of any deeper introspective thoughts.
Have you ever felt like that? I know it sounds a little crazy, but I feel that when I’m doing well, I lose the urge to write. Instead, I completely dismiss the fact that I’m a writer and pretend to be someone else. Writing has helped me get over so many hardships, that when I am not really in one, it feels… almost unnecessary.
I tell the blank page: “Sorry, dude—you got the wrong guy. I don’t need you anymore.”
That’s not even all of it. I still think about writing all the time… mostly because I am highly aware that I’m not writing anything. And that I am a terrible blogger for that very reason; since, the No.1 rule of blogging is, after all, consistency!
I feel bad about it— almost like it’s a break up or something. I miss writing a lot. So I’ve gone and done something that I usually reserve for my broken heart only (which I suppose, in a way, I currently have) I’ve written a letter of which the contents you have been privy to so far.
I am bearing my feelings on the matter, which actually feels therapeutic. The keys are slowly beginning to feel familiar after months of dormancy. My eyes start to embrace the text upon the screen. Maybe I do have something to say after all.
It’s been 10 years since we officially never met, and I just wanted to tell you how thrilled I am that our relationship is still going so strong.
I want to assure you that my commitment to virtually stalking you and obsessing about what bathroom products you use has not waned one iota in the last 3,650 days since I first learned of your existence.
Sure, Eric and I are no longer together—that joke of a relationship lasted only three years— but you and me? We’ve lasted the longest out of all my relationships. And that means something.
I still remember the first time I heard about you. One of Eric’s friends mentioned you briefly— but I was curious about you, so naturally, I googled you and found a link to your LiveJournal. Thanks to your regular chronicling of intimate details from your personal life, I was able to figure out your class schedule (MWF mornings), learn your shoe size (7.5) and dissect the sexual nature of your and Eric’s relationship (“It hurt cuz he’s so big!!! LOL!”)
But you had trust issues, Eric’s ex girlfriend. And after a year, you made your journal “Friends Only,” despite my silent protests. Suddenly, I was shut out of your private life, just like that!
Even though you hurt me, I forgave you for that breach of trust, when you opted for a public profile on MySpace. We rekindled our affair shortly thereafter. Frantically refreshing your profile, scanning your pictures and getting your insights on “Greg’s Halloween party” and the process in which you named your new Maltese puppy (“Albert Einstein”) was dessert for my starving stalker soul.
Soon after, you switched gears to Facebook, and naturally, I followed. I cried with you when you divulged that your mom was sick. And felt the same excitement you had when you got your Mini Cooper! And I totally agree— the racing stripe is “soooooo cute!”
It’s been a while, since I’ve checked up on you (two weeks), but I’ve been busy with insignificant things (i.e., new boyfriend and work), but I just found out through LinkedIn that you’re moving to NY! So congrats!
I think your new career in sales is a perfect fit— and I know how long you’ve wanted to quit your old job. I can’t wait to see photos of you and Albert Einstein in your new two-bedroom apartment on the Upper West Side.
And, if you are concerned about us, don’t worry. Just because you’re leaving the city, doesn’t mean you’re leaving my heart. In fact, nothing will change. You still won’t notice a thing.
Step 1: Announce to all your friends that you are considering taking the great leap forward and deleting your Facebook account. Explain to them that it’s become a wasteland of fakers, phonies and bipolar megalomaniacs.
Step 2: Copy and paste Step 1 into your status update. Share with friends.
Step 3: “Like” your status.
Step 4: Stare at screen waiting for imminent comments and “likes.” Respond to each comment with a sad face emoticon and dramatic declarations regarding your exodus.
Step 5: Visit Facebook pages of all friends and acquaintances who have not replied to your status update. Copy and paste Step 1 onto their walls.
Step 6: Stalk your crush, ex-boyfriend, ex-girlfriend or current love interest’s Facebook page one last time. Right click and save any incriminating photographs of loved ones in compromising situations.
Step 7: Google “how to delete your Facebook profile.” Learn the difference between deactivating your account (temporary) and permanently deleting it (permanent, no take-backs).
Step 8. Visit the Facebook account deletion page here:
Step 9. Click the “submit” button.
Step 10. Ask yourself, “Are you sure?” Respond accordingly.
Step 11. Take a deep breath. Press “Okay.”
Step 12. Rejoin humanity: Call someone on the phone. Regain use of your voice. High-five someone. Give your mom a hug. Enjoy a meal without taking a photo of it, etc.
You can get away with shit. Start screaming in public, fighting children, stealing food from the market. All excusable if you’re a loony. Sometimes, you don’t even need to apologize. Other times, a simple “I sorry” will ameliorate even the most heinous of crimes. Just make sure to roll your eyes around and wag your tongue like a dog, as you do it.
Constant attention. This is good if you like attention, bad if you don’t. Ultimately, attention can be good a thing if you know how to use it toward your advantage. There are perks to being showered with concern and worry, which leads us to…
Drugs. Pills, Anti-depressants. Uppers, downers, Novocain for the soul. Suddenly, everyone who’s worried about you just wants to inject you with “things that will make you feel better.” If you’re lucky, you become a pharmaceutical piñata.
I always thought fiction was some stylized version of non-fiction. You know, those moments that really happened, but you fantasize in your head as something greater than it was. Maybe, you had your first kiss in the rain, but in your fictionalized version, it becomes the prince of a faraway kingdom— “it was a kiss that awoke your soul— the kiss that made you realize you were alive…”
Junk like that. But lately, I’m thinking that fiction comes from somewhere else. It comes from the very back corners of the mind— buried deep in the filing cabinets of your most trivial and empty memories. Hidden in some blank manilla folders that look like every other manilla folder, there’s a story that you didn’t even know you thought of, because there is just too much clutter everywhere else to get organized.
You need to hire a fastidious secretary to find that folder, but all you have is your lazy pot-smoking self, who would rather watch reruns of Twin Peaks (and other people’s fiction) than make up your own.
Have you ever set yourself up for failure? Like deciding to run a marathon, when your three-month training consists only of eating sausage deep dish and watching the entire season of “Khloe and Lamar”? Or in my case, attempting to partake in my first National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo).
For those of you who don’t run in literary circles, NaNoWriMo is a writing challenge where authors try to pen an entire novel during the month of November. The goal for each writer is to reach 50,000 words without killing themselves and or others.
Before you protest that writing a novel in such a short amount of time is impossible, think again. Some of the world’s most beloved books were written in less time I wait in line at Hot Doug.
Charles Dickens allegedly finished A Christmas Carol in just two weeks, whereas Richard Carlson wrote most of Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff during a transatlantic flight.
Still, I have to admit that the vast majority of writers who begin their novels, rarely finish them— just three percent, to be exact.
Will I come out of this Battle Royale of aspiring New York Times bestselling authors as victor?
Only time will tell—actually, less than two weeks, as I just passed the halfway point on the 15th. And let’s do a quick check to how I’m faring on my word count:
Just 48,811 more words to go. In other words, I have written less than 3 percent of my goal word count and am more than 25,000 words behind from where I should be.
Things are not looking too great. But I have a plan, a brilliant plan in which I will channel the sparkly and cultish power of Stephanie Meyer. Simply put, I am going to give up on trying to write anything good and just straight diarrhea words onto the page as fast as I can.
After all, the goal is to write something—no one said it had to be any good. Right Steph?
Lack of literary merit didn’t prevent her from becoming one of the best-selling authors (and film franchise creators) of all time.
In fact, all struggling mediocre authors should be grateful to Meyers. Not only does she give us hope that we, too, can be billionaires for writing crap books, but we can also go to Hollywood movie premieres infested by rabidly forgiving fans who love our books so much that they are willing to deform their bodies with tattoos of our poorly fleshed out, one-dimensional fictional characters that sparkle for no rational reason.
Yes. I foresee this same glittery destiny for my own nascent novel.
No more foolishly devoting hours and hours to crafting the perfect juxtaposition, searching for the most evocative metaphors or creating the most compelling and charming characters:
Instead, I’m just going to channel my inner 13-year old girl and start writing. Whether it’s about starfish, the color yellow or potato people from Mars—as long as I throw in a cameo by a sparkly vampire, I know I can’t fail.
This morning, I woke up with one thing on my mind: eating quesadillas with mushrooms and watching Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers.
As Theodin, King of Rohan is finally woken up from Saruman’s evil curse, I felt this sudden urge to call in sick at work, and instead, watch the entire trilogy for the next nine hours.
Few movies make me want to give up on my own life and enter into a fantasy dreamworld with talking ents, hairy-foot hobbits and magic loaves of bread that fill you up in a way that Cheeze-Its never can.
But I pressed pause. Even though my life is not as adventurous, and it’s raining outside— I have decided to forego Tolkien’s epic for my own watered-down version.
Time and time again, I find myself writing letters to you good people urging you to stop the corruption and ineptitude within the municipal parking enforcement.
If tax paying citizens are paying for anything, aren’t we paying for fair treatment and justice? If we cannot trust our own local government, how can we be expected to take seriously anything that the American judicial and political systems preach as our basic freedom and rights?
While I am all too familiar with the cruel realities of parking in Los Angeles, I still find myself shocked at the behavior of immoral city workers who subject drivers to their mood swings and believe they have the right to obstruct justice, simply because they must fill a quota.
When is this madness going to stop?
At approximately 10:30 am on October 19th on Yucca St., I parked at a failed matter. I knew this, because it was flashing “failed” over and over again. Being a person who speaks and reads english fluently, I deduced this to mean it was a failed meter.
As a resident of the City of Angels, I know that parking at a failed meter is not a crime. I have never seen it on a yellow citation sheet, nor does it does it appear on any transportation website.
So, I leave for an hour, with confidence that I have not broken the law and that I am a good citizen. When I return, I discover a yellow citation on my windshield.
My first instinct is to run to the meter, which now, has been miraculously fixed. Instead of seeing “failed,” the word, “expired” flashes over and over again, taunting me. I am charged with a $40 meter violation for parking at an expired meter.
But I do not believe in miracles. God did not suddenly decide to fix the meter after it had failed, failed, failed… I know the truth. The only people who repair the meteres are their keepers: parking enforcement.
Obviously, [citation officer name] saw an easy opportunity to help fill his quota and unjustly ticket an innocent victim (me). He fixed the meter, and promptly issued a citation, because the owner of the vehicle (me) was obviously not present to insert money into the meter.
This kind of behavior is unacceptable and fraudulent. Frankly, it must be stopped. As citizens, we all need to follow certain rules of conduct. Just because you have a modicum of power does not mean you should abuse that power by wrongly issuing tickets for your own personal benefit.
$40 may not be a lot of money to you, but it is too much to be throwing away to pay for a crime that never occurred, and I am not willing to part with it simply because a corrupt meter maid was having a “bad day.”
My advice to the parking services is this: Keep track of failed meters electronically, so you stop charging innocent drivers like myself. More importantly, I urge you to reprimand and remove those parking enforcers who dishonestly issue citations. It is their job to maintain order and justice, not create chaos and venality within an already flawed system.
Just found this piece of travel writing from my summer in Nepal -
My first adventure in Nepal led me to to the top of a mountain in one of the lesser known Rookum district in the Western Terai.
With my guide Budrie (we communicated successfully 50% of the time), we began with a 25 hour bus trip and then 2 days of ferocious trekking through stunning rice paddies, mountain scape, and shanty towns to arrive to the capital city of Calalinga in Rookum, a part of Nepal that no Tourist has ever heard of.
My goal was to meet, find, and potentially rescue a family of siblings who had recently been orphaned by the annual diarrhea or cholera epidemic that comes at the outset of every monsoon season (late spring). This year’s cases numbered in the thousands, and fatality rates have reached triple digits. When Papa Michael (Director of Papa’s House: volunteernepal.com) shared an article in the Himalayan Times about 6 orphans, the oldest– 13, who was left with the job of taking care of all her siblings after both parents died from cholera, I knew that I had to do something. For those of you who are pretty dumb (just kidding!, I didn’t know what it was before I came to Nepal either), cholera is a disease that is pretty much eradicated in the world, except for in developing nations like Nepal. It is a waterborne disease that causes a large amount of watery diarrhea. Treatment is relatively cheap and effective, but in rural regions of Nepal, there is little to no education, money, or outreach to help those afflicted.
Papa’s House arranged a last minute trip/rescue operation for me to try and meet the journalist who would hopefully lead me to the orphans. If it was possible, I would bring them back to Kathmandu so they could the join Papa’s House Family.
I prepared for my trip to combat cholera, bugs, by arming myself with a lot of anti bacterial sanitizer, three pairs of surgical gloves, and a laptop computer. Little did I know that none of these things would be necessary for what I encountered. After the harrowing three-day journey just to meet the journalist, I was shocked to discover that the reaching the orphans would require an additional 7-8 day hike, because they lived in a very remote part of the district.
Additionally, the journalist, who was once captured by Maoists, proved to be less than grateful for my Lord of the Rings-style efforts. He seemed wary of me and Papa’s House and informed me that a financial donation (via him) would be a more effective way to help the orphans. He also said that going into a region with such rampant cholera (where even health workers were fleeing) without medicine or money was pointless.
It was devastating. The entire time, I was thinking– This could have all been settled with a quick phone call. But we were in Nepal, a country where rolling black occur daily; why would cell phone service be any better?
However, the journalist did manage to set up a a small meet and greet with a local military official the next morning, who was able to give me some numbers and data regarding the epidemic… as well as some other interesting information:
The official had also read the same Himalayan Times article and was shocked by the story of the orphans. He was appreciative of my efforts, you know, having come all the way from America to rescue these kids. He, too, was moved by the story and told me he ordred military helicopters to undergo a search and rescue operation for the family a week prior. However, he found nothing. Yup. NOTHING. In fact, he questioned whether
or not the orphans even existed, and implied that journalists sometimes make up stories like this one to gain sympathy or make the government look bad.
Meanwhile, the journalist who wrote the article is sitting right next to me, while Budrie (my translator) is sitting on the other side, probably absorbing 50% of the conversation.
I looked at my cup of tea an wondered if I had lost my mind. Later on, I asked Budrie what could have possibly happened. The two men were completely contradicting each others’ stories… Budrie looked at me quizzically and offered, Maybe the kids disappeared? Thanks, Budrie. That’s helpful.
So that was my final explanation. A mysterious disappearance, a potentially unethical journalist, a shady government official, and me at the top of a mountain, wondering just how this story was going to end.
It turns out, that was my ending. After being asked for official documents that I didn’t have, I was then ordered to leave the district and head back down the mountain, empty handed without the orphans or answers.
As painful as it was to feel a sense of failure and confusion, it was eye opening and remarkable to learn and experience what communication is like in Nepal. With limited email, phones, cell phones, and mail, people make must make painstaking efforts to get information, which oftentimes, are still marred with inaccuracies.
What I learned from my adventure is that information is the key to solving these problems. You can rescue orphans, but the true gift is preventing them from becoming orphans in the first place. Health education (especially in rural, lower caste areas) is vital and will hopefully the aim of my next visit to Nepal.
“It’s easy to be jealous of people who are more successful than you, more beautiful than you, more rich than you. It’s easier to be jealous than to challenge yourself to become their match, to be at their level or exceed it. It’s easier to pout and be sad than to fight for something you don’t think you will ever have.”—JK