I’ve been relatively quiet here of late, but that has not been due to a lack of stuff to write about. Quite on the contrary, there’s been too much going on, and I chose to take a bit of a break. December brought a lot of changes, as well as a lot of decisions and a lot of opportunities. Due to all three, I have some announcements to make for 2011. Here you go:
1. I am delaying The Mongolian Experiment until 2012. There are a lot of reasons for this but the main reason is that I just simply ran out of time. For the project to have enough time, I need to leave no later than late April, with a preferable departure date of late March/early April. To leave in 2011 would leave me only 3 months to do all of the fundraising, equipment purchasing, and arrangement-making, all while balancing a new job and a burgeoning freelance business. For the sake of my sanity, I have chosen to take an extra year. One of my problems with journalism projects in the past has been that I have rushed into them before I was truly prepared and the projects suffered for it. This is most definitely not a project I want to risk going poorly, so I’ve chosen to take more time to prepare, both physically and organization-wise. I think that ultimately, this extra time will do a huge amount for the quality and success of the project, as well as open up the door to new aspects of the project (for instance, I’m currently in talks to potentially add in a Fair Trade portion!). The good news is that the research phase of the project is essentially done, which means I will soon be throwing myself headlong into the preparation and fundraising phase. Watch for announcements over on the official Mongolian Experiment site as well as the Facebook Page, as I’ll be posting several key bits of info over the course of January.
2. I may be going to Argentina for several months this year instead! My family has many friends and connections in Argentina, and they are quite positive that they should be able to help me arrange something. So far I’ve had three offers, some of which are more appealing to me than others. Offer #1 is to take advantage of my maritime experience and work as crew on a ship that takes tourists and research crews back and forth from Ushuaia to Antarctica. While on the face this seems awesome, it’s not as cool as it sounds. The Cape of Good Hope is known for having some of the worst ocean weather in the world, and my one of my Navy friends called it “The Vomit Patrol”. Being stuck in cold, wet, bad weather is what made me stop sailing in the first place, so I’m not sure I want to go back to that. Offer #2 is to work on a ranch somewhere in Patagonia. This is actually my preferred offer, because it would offer me the rural life and peace and quiet that I love, as well as being excellent practice for Mongolia, since I’d be working with horses and livestock in a cold, relatively desolate place. The isolation would also give me the focus necessary to really put my nose to the grindstone on The Mongolian Experiment. Offer #3 is teaching English somewhere, probably in Buenos Aires. I’m kind of apathetic about this one because it’s something I’ve done before. I’ve already done the ESL thing and while it would be neat to live in an Argentinean city, I’m really not much of a city person, and I think that I’d be tempted to spend money that I don’t have and that I would be too distracted to work on anything else. I’m still not sure which of these options I’ll choose, or if I’ll do something completely different, but those are just a few examples. In any case, I’d be gone for somewhere between 3-5 months.
3. Marc and I are likely replacing Smutyanka, our Soviet sidecar motorcycle. She has been in the shop for almost four months now and we recently got the final diagnosis: cracked cylinders. To be fixed, she needs new cylinders, pistons, and cylinder heads, as well as quite a bit of other work. Fixing her would actually cost more than she is worth. But, the good news is that the dealer she’s currently at has offered us a good deal on a 2006 model that has never been sold as well as a forgiveness on our current bill with them, in exchange for Smutyanka, which they will likely part out. I’m sad to see her go, but would really love to have a bike that actually, you know, runs for more than a couple days at a time. If we some day live somewhere with a garage, I’d love to do a restoration on an original M-72 (the bike the Ural is based on), but for right now, we just don’t have the means or location to really do major mechanical work on a bike since we live in an apartment that doesn’t have covered parking. We’re still deciding if we want to take the deal or not, or if we want to buy a different bike entirely, but I will definitely keep you folks updated.
4. I start substitute teaching in January. I really hope that the substitute teaching thing goes well for me, because I think it’s the perfect profession for someone in my position. I can go away for weeks at a time and still have a job waiting for me when I get back, and I have the summers off to go pursue work abroad or somewhere else! The pay isn’t spectacular, but it’s better than the other jobs I’ve done since coming back to the USA, and it’s as steady as I want it to be, which is good. Plus, having substitute teaching on your resume is one of those rare, “acceptable temporary jobs” that doesn’t actually hurt your job prospects in the future. I’m also now getting a rather substantial amount of web design clients, and the flexibility of schedule that subbing provides will actually allow me to get my design work done in a reasonable amount of time. Since one of my goals for this year is to get my design work up to $1000 of income per month, having the flexible schedule that subbing provides is quite crucial, but I think that it’s really quite achievable.
5. I start Mongolian lessons in January. This one is related to my delaying of The Mongolian Experiment. I finally have found a tutor and the Friends of Mongolia are starting up a beginners Mongolian class sometime this month as well. I love learning new languages, and having a year of language instruction under my belt would substantially increase the quality of The Mongolian Experiment, so I want to take as much advantage of this as possible. Through those classes I’m also hoping to make some new friends in the Mongolian community in Arlington, which will further help me with the project.
So, there you have it. Those are my five major announcements for what’s going to (hopefully) happen in the coming year and beyond. 2010 was really a whirlwind of a year for me, seeing two jobs, the start of my freelance business, an apartment move, planning for The Mongolian Experiment, the start of two new reenacting units, and all sorts of other stuff. I’m hoping that 2011 will be just as productive!
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