I've been stressing about what will happen in three weeks when I have to leave the country. I'm not so worried any more. Things will work out, although I don't think I will come back to the States after all. It really is cheaper to fly to a nearby place. I have friends in South Korea and Hong Kong that I could stay with. Zack's next vacation is the same week that I'm supposed to leave so we will probably go some place together. I really want to come back to the States but if this will save money and time, I'd rather not go all the way across the world and deal with terrible jet lag only to have to readjust a week later. But I will start saving up so that maybe I can come back sooner than later! (I really miss everyone and wish that you could all come visit and see what I get to see...)
Meanwhile, I came upon an article the other day while I was doing my daily "newspaper" reading, i.e. looking at headlines on Google News and clicking on whatever sounds interesting. The article was in The New Yorker, a publication that I don't often read, and it was 17 pages long. Called "Trial by Fire," the article intricately details the case of Cameron Todd Willingham, a man who was convicted of starting a house fire that killed his three children. You can read it here: http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2009/09/07/090907fa_fact_grann
Willingham's story touched me. He was executed in 2004 and never gave up proclaiming his innocence, right up to the moment when poison was forced into his veins. Experts now reviewing his case are appalled at how it was handled and can't believe the "evidence" used in court to prove that the fire was an arson. Willingham was poor and relied on state-appointed attorneys.
So we have this man who is almost certainly innocent (an expert panel is now reviewing the case to see if Texas made the "ultimate mistake"), but he's gone. And his life, his story could stop there. But this writer took the time to do the research and meticulously piece together the story of a man whose voice was never really hard. To help another human being receive recognition for his/her life, to leave a legacy behind.
It was reading this author's expose that made me realize what I need to do with my life. I need to use my writing to help other people, to help make the world a little less terrible. I've always thought about that path for myself, but now that I've seen the impact that telling true stories to the world, stories that never would have been told otherwise, can have, I know that this is what I'm meant to do. I have a problem staying motivated when writing fiction, but when it's something I care about, something I have a stake in, I can dive in and stay more focused. The classes that I felt I produced the best writing in were Creative Nonfiction and Advanced Creative Nonfiction.
I'm so excited now that I can't wait to go to grad school. We'll probably stay in Japan land for another year to save more money, but the next time I'm in the States I'm going ahead and taking the GRE. I want to an interdisciplinary degree: creative writing and social work, activism, or working for nonprofits or something. I'll figure it out.
So, I just wanted to let everyone know that I think I've finally figured out what I want to be when I grow up. I want to be a writer. A writer who uses her voice to help the world.