This Post is Empty

Today, the day that I have publicly proclaimed as the first official day of my life as a writer, I do not want to write.

I don’t mean that I cannot think of anything to write about. I don’t mean that I have writer’s block. I don’t even mean that I can’t get exactly what I feel onto the page and that it is frustrating. I have felt all of those things before at one time or another. Today, all I feel is resistance. My jaw is set against it. Yeah, I can feel my jaw tight and determined.

The logical part of my brain is pleading. I can feel that as well.

“It doesn’t have to be good!”

“It doesn’t have to change anyone’s life!”

“It doesn’t even have to be anything about Haiti, Nepal or the fact that you are blowing your life wide open!”

“Just get something down.”

“Just write.”

“Anything.”

But it is almost noon and I have cleaned the kitchen, finished some financial stuff that has been hanging over my head, I have made appointments and filled in more of my to do list. And all this was done with an undeniable air of defiance.

I am not your monkey.

And I don’t even know with whom I am fighting. Whose monkey am I not being exactly? There is no outside pressure on me to perform. I have no deadline pressures. I have no authority figure over me.

I am too new at this to know what to do with myself when I am actively and aggressively resisting something I want to do. How does one talk themselves down? And, seriously, what am I to do with the insolent child of myself, pouting with her ball in her arms, threatening to take it home?

Anyone?

Xo,

Kim

Advertisements

And it begins…

When do you stop doing what you should do and start doing what scares the hell out of you? For me, it’s Monday.

I have always felt called to be a writer. But there was always too much work…too much family activity…too many excused why I can’t do it yet. But, as we all know, there is always time enough to do the things you make time for. It was always just easier to explain why I couldn’t instead of figure out when and how.

Tina and I have decided that I will not go back to work for now. For now, my work will be writing. We shall see in a few months what it comes to.

I appreciate every word I get from you on this journey. You can follow me here:

www.kimcambron.com

or on Twitter at kimcambron.

I am ignoring the panicky feeling in my stomach as I post this for everyone to see, and posting it anyway.

Xo,

Kim

Battle of Vetye

Tonight it is a national holiday in celebration of the Battle of Vertieres. I am sitting in a perfectly charming, if run down, hotel in Jacmel…alone. This feels like something straight out of an Ann Rice novel. Dark, distressed brick, stifling heat, tropical plants everywhere, white flowers drop from vines which wrap around tropical trees just outside of my room in the courtyard. Mosquito netted bed in the center of a room with numerous windows, no glass, just shutters. Truly a shame to be here alone.
As I sit in the dark bar/dining room, drinking my red wine and waiting for my poisson en sauce, I consciously avoid seeing rats scurrying inches from my feet in the dark. There are mice here too. It is a place of creatures. I am in their space.
An hour ago, a crowd of Haitians strolled through the hotel bar/dining/lobby area. Today is the celebration of the final battle before Haiti found their independence. It is wildly celebrated. I imagine the march through the hotel by dozens of people was a demonstration of defiance. No place is shut off to us. If this is not what it was, I don’t want to know. I want to think of these people rising and claiming what is theirs.
I thrilled to see them wander through. Women, men, children…all ages. They walked through totally without affect. No challenge was there. This is their space…that is all.
Just now a Ra Ra band marched through the street with a crowd following. The music was primarily drumbeats and earthy…horns and other instruments accompanied, but it is the drums that drive the Ra Ra bands. Beautiful and elemental. Scores of people followed behind, moving easily within the beats of the band. I stood envious watching them move so assuredly in their space. Tonight, they own their land. They are taking what is rightfully theirs. They are beautiful and magnetic. I don’t even want to join them in their dance. To join them would take away their power. This is their night and I celebrate who they are from the sidelines. I cannot be with them in this. I am separated by the chance of my heritage. Just as they are separated from me in mine.
I love that I had a chance to see them like this. Strong…beautiful…powerful and confident. No one seeking my approval, my money, my attention. Being with each other was enough. And watching them from the sidelines was enough for me.
As I am writing this, I Love My Life comes on the radio. It plays constantly here and surprised me when I first heard the Haitians singing it. I thought they must surely be joking. Fate has dealt them a bad hand. But I get it now. In many ways, they are better off than we are in the US. In many ways, I am jealous of what they have here. And that is my biggest surprise in my time here.
I want them to feel the strength they feel today every day. I want to fight on the sidelines for them. I want to do whatever I can to make every day a celebration of the Battle of Vetye.
Xo,
Kim

Arrival and the Haitian Flop

Hi Kimberley fans. It’s Tina. With Kim’s permission I am posting a few entries in the form of notes I have received from her. I am taking out any reference to famous people and the name of the organization to comply with the media agreement she had to sign. Kim sends lots of love. She is receiving your emails and good wishes. She doesn’t have much time for personal correspondence. Being inspiring is apparently more than a full-time job. 🙂

I am sitting in the large living room area in the headquarters. I am sitting here, in the middle of everything and everyone because the room I am going to be living in for the next three months is currently full of someone else’s stuff who has not quite moved out yet. I am not upset so much as I am overwhelmed. Trying to find the fun and adventure in this. Not quite there. I feel pretty certain that everyone here thinks I am deadly serious. Maybe I am.

My room is quite a luxurious set up compared to the other accommodations here. As a long term volunteer (most are here for two weeks or so) I get my own space. A giant room upstairs has been divided into two rooms but a wood frames and partial walls of plastic tarp. I almost cried with relief when I saw it. There is a light, two electrical outlets and a small window. There is a standard issue cot there, not sure if I get that. I have my fingers crossed. There is no door, but at this point, I could not begin to care less. It feels positively palatial. I wish I could move into it right now.

It rained like crazy this evening. Wild lightning and thunder torrential downpour type stuff. I put on my swim suit to go stand in it on the deck outside of my room. There are two tents on that deck…all space is occupied here. In any case, a guy saw me go out and showed me a little secret. He has a covered front area and a bucket sitting on the ground. When it rains, you can go out and dump the water from the cover into the bucket and then pour it over your head. It is freezing and wonderful. I have done it twice already. No one is up there, and it is dark. Heavenly. I needed that.

The drive here was wild. Reminded me so much of Nepal, with beat up streets running down into winding roads with houses and buildings all over the place.

Anyway, the streets are tragic. Things for sale everywhere. Art, drinks,  something that looks like it might be cleaner…not clear. In any case, the people seem extremely friendly, just desperate. The airport was insane.

The minute I am outside of immigration, I am in the middle of a sea of people who want to be the one to help me out to whatever form of transport I need to get to. In this sea of faces, I am supposed to pick out two that are in a picture that was sent to me…a small picture. Fortunately, One of them is holding a sign with my name on it.  I have six men literally surrounding me, and more waiting to jump in if a space opens up, when I see him through the crowd. He is completely mute, and not impressive in stature, but he effectively takes over my case…though the six continue to follow us to the parking lot and will end up asking me for a tip, even though I was clearly taken care of. I totally get it. They are just trying to earn a living in a country starving for work. But I have maxed out. I silently pray for the power to shut down mentally, but it does not come.

I have been praying this prayer all day. Wanting to shut down and just barrel through. It eludes me, except in very small moments. I almost lost it when it became clear that I would not only not be getting a phone, but I would also not be getting hooked up to the internet tonight. I am breathing into everything. Breathing. Into. Everything.

I met two Haitian boys on the plane today. Early twenties. They live in Boston now and are visiting for three days. They were sitting next to me and very sweet throughout the trip.

All around me in different rooms, people are laughing and joking and chatting away. I know I should join them. I don’t want to. I don’t want to act. I don’t want to pretend like everything is peachy. I just want to disappear and process. I have decided to count the days after all.

Thing is, the people seem like people we would like to hang out with, at least at first blush. I find myself wondering what brings all these people here. So many are here for over a year.

The house is giant, but not luxurious by any stretch of the imagination. The view is stunning, so it must have been magnificent once. There are many more than 20 people here, however. Many more.

As we drove to the house from the airport, I was told about a medical condition here called “the Haitian flop” by the medical team. Apparently, people are brought in without any physical issues at all, yet they are completely unresponsive to any kind of stimulation. They do not respond to anything the medical community knows how to do to rouse a passed out patient…pricks, shots, aromas…nothing. They have found the only way to revive them is by doing something to the nose. In any case, they have experienced trauma so extreme that they are complete and in all ways incapacitated. Have lost all feeling and are in some kind of emotional coma. This brought up a conversation about PTSD (the other person who arrived with me is a therapist)…to which I eventually replied, “when do you determine it is post trauma? Seems to me it would have to end for it to be PTSD.” This produced an interesting conversation. It feels really weird. This country is so relentlessly battered. It is impossible for me to fully comprehend what that must be like. The sheer relentlessness is mystifying. 
Love,
Kim

Finally, a Personal Reason to Celebrate Independence Day.

I confess that I have not been a big fan of the Fourth of July celebration for the past decade or so.

I go through the motions. I sweat it out watching fireworks. I do the picnics. But my heart just has not been in it. I haven’t really given it that much thought until this year.

I love the fact that I live in the United States, the land of opportunity. I appreciate the freedoms we have and truly value those who have fought for them. Yesterday, I began to wonder why it is that I don’t feel connected to this holiday. Then I heard the cloying lyrics to “I’m Proud to be an American” bleating out of the speakers at the grocery store. Suddenly, it all became clear.

I have no problem at all with being proud of being an American…but I do take issue with sentiments that alienate us from everyone else. I have a problem with jingoism and national pride taken to the extreme. Those who would take our luck of the draw on being born under the government that we have been as some sort of indication of individual superiority. But there is something worth celebrating today. I had forgotten it.

235 years ago today, our founding fathers did something so wildly daring and extreme that it boggles the mind. They spoke on behalf of the colonies and said, to the most powerful government in the world at the time, “ENOUGH!” They announced their intent to separate from the oppressive rule of the British monarchy, even though we were clearly no match for their force. The odds were against us, but the colonies had the strength of their conviction. And that conviction was strong enough for them to commit to something that would certainly result in countless deaths and the likelihood of defeat. A betting man would not have picked the freshly united colonies to win this battle. But win they did. Although, the very act of writing and signing the Declaration of Independence, given those odds, is enough reason to for celebration.

So, today, I am celebrating that spirit. I celebrate the spirit of rising up and fighting for what is right, even though the odds are against you. I am celebrating those who made a pact to stand together in the face of almost certain defeat to defend their right, and each other’s, to have a voice in how they are governed. I am celebrating that union of brothers and sisters, who had so much faith in their mission that they were willing to cast aside the comfort of what they knew to pursue something more authentically representative of who they had become together. I salute those who recognized that “united we stand and divided we fall.” That is a sentiment that has the power to reach around the entire world to embrace everyone who faces tyranny of any kind.

And that is a sentiment worthy of fireworks.

Xo,

Kimberley

Strikes and Protests in Athens and Airport Delays

“Um, let’s find out where we need to check in.” I smiled sheepishly as Tina rolls her eyes.

“Uh, no coffee…no independent thinking.” I respond to her eye rolling. On two hours of sleep and no caffeine, my brain was parked. Tina had returned our rental car, and I had not moved from the place she had deposited us to wait. And, obediently (or cluelessly, depending on your perspective)adas parked. Tina was returninghavet of the world, to learn what a democracy as old as yours does with a challenge like this. I. . our motley crew, stood there still…three kids, five bags, sweaters, pillows and carry-ons.

I was thrilled to see that there were only four people in front of us in line at Cyprus Airways. In retrospect, I might have guessed that, at this time of year in Europe, this was not a good sign.

“Did no one contact you?” the woman at the counter looked incredulous. Somewhere in the blurred areas of my brain, I suddenly remembered an overheard conversation in a kiosk a couple of days ago about some kind of protests in Athens. The “what-are-you-doing-here?” look on the woman’s face was now making me nervous.

Over the next six hours, the kids surfed the internet, played games, read and bought giant packages of watermelon flavored gum (“they only had it in this size!”) while we called around and exhausted every single option available to us to make our way home.

“The very earliest flight I can get you on to Houston is July 1st at 11:20,” the woman on the phone offered me, from the Delta offices in Turkey, the only Delta number I could reach. Hours later, Haley would say to me “I can’t believe there was no way for us to get home today.” I confess that, in this moment on the phone with someone offering me a less than ideal solution, I was feeling a little…um…American indignance. Damn it, we can make anything happen! Why am I still standing here? I caught myself. Not my proudest moment.

“Yeah, ok, book us for that flight.” I say, at least in this condensed version of the story. The various permutations and options were calculated for hours. In the end, we piled back into a rental car and drove the little beach in Voroklini (just outside Larnaka) and the kiosk with the Keos and Lountza Halloumi sandwiches…and recovered ourselves.

I should end it here. It is a much more dramatic ending than the one that follows, which is a secret I will tell you that is really not that much of a secret. I do wish I were home now. I am frazzled quite to the core. I am sad for the kids who, while totally awesome about the making the most of their additional time here, are truly homesick after more than three weeks and really did want to get back. But it would be a lie by omission for me not to add that I am just a little excited that our plans were disrupted by something as truly incredible as the world’s oldest democracy demonstrating its voice in this way. That three weeks ago, I took photos of the beginnings of this, without knowing what it was, makes my heart race a little.

Something momentous and world changing is taking place and we are close to it…disrupted by it…inconvenienced and made to stand still for it. It is really no hardship for us to stay three additional days in this lovely country with our incredible hosts…but I feel honored to have my activity halted by these groups of citizens in Athens, raising their voices…because they can. I am thrilled to have our flight cancelled in response to the activity of those who have been for the past 30 days, holding vigil in front of the Parliament to make it clear where they stand on this issue, and that they stand together on it. The fact that they are not asking for anything specific…the fact that the situation is complex and overwhelming is irrelevant. The people’s dedication to being heard on this issue is inspiring to me. And I say that as someone who lives in a country heading in the same financial direction as Greece. That this has happened here first is not really a surprise. In issues of politics, they have always gone first.

If it is possible, Athens, I would like to return to my home on Friday, July 1st. But on this weekend before our own Independence Day, I don’t feel comfortable throwing about demands on this. If I am home on our holiday, however, I will be toasting you and your fight to keep the voice of the masses heard in the mix of parliamentary action.

And I will be watching, with the rest of the world, to learn what a democracy as old as yours does with a challenge like this.

Xo,

Kimberley

The Flight to Athens

(disclaimer: this entry and many of the ones that follow, were written almost two weeks ago. Finding the time and access to upload them has been difficult. But here we go.)

My eyes actually hurt as I strain to open them in response to Tina lightly brushing my leg. I am not sleeping. There will be no sleep for me during this almost 24 hours of this trip from Houston to Athens. We are off to a stunning adventure amongst history and natural beauty, but in this moment, it is hard to remember that. In this moment, all I can think about is how I miss being horizontal.
I have been on multiple international flights over the last few months on different airlines. I had set the kids expectations along the lines of what my experiences had been on each of the flights. Entertainment screens at every seat with movies, televison, video games and music…temperatures in the 60s in the cabin…snacks set up in the galleys…power outlets at the seats. We have none of this on this twelve hour flight to Athens. The kids and I peeled off jackets and still sweated as we tried in vain to sleep. Eventually, Haley did manage to eke out an hour’s rest. Grant and I have only been able to rest our eyes. I feel a little bratty complaining about this, but it has been a long 24 hours of travel and waiting in airports. And everything in the description of our flight led me to believe my expectations about the amenities were accurate. I think I’m due a little bratty.
The kids are being amazing, frankly. I am sitting between them now as they read their magazines, for the billiondth time. Tina and Ellie are two seats behind us, supplying the kids treats when they venture back there to check in. And i bless them everytime the kids come back with something delightful. Tina has offered to change seats with me, but it is really too late for sleep unfortunately. We will nap at the hotel.
Jesse and Meagan are several rows behind Ellie and Tina. We have not heard from them at all and I am hoping against hope that they have managed to sleep.
It is something of a miracle that we are sitting together like this. Our seats were all over the place when they were assigned. Twice, I elbowed my way past fairly aggressive people trying to jump my place in line to talk to beleagured gate agents accustomed to requests like ours. The joke in our little party was that I was going to go off on them when I got up there in order to get us sitting together. It wasn’t necessary. In fact, it is so rarely necessary to go off on people. Despite telling me that it was highly unlikely that we wouuld find ourselves sitting together, they managed to move people around to get us together. Others around us were not so lucky. I am not sure why this worked out for us, but I am grateful.
We are flying over Grenoble now. The kids are delighted at the information screen tracking our flight.
“Look! We are going to fly over Rome!”
“I wish we could fly over Copenhagen…I like the way that sounds.”
“It’s negative 63 degrees outside!”
I am reading an article in a magazine about a family who took their two kids out of school for a year to travel and learn. It is an overview of their travels in Peru, Africa and France…just a light touch in this brief article, and I intend to read more on their blog because I am fascinated. But right now, I am thinking now of this trip and how we can make this a more active learning experience.
More from Athens…
xo,
Kimberley