Tuesday, March 15, 2011


I need to write. There are words in my fingertips, but they won't budge, won't pour out and fill these stark white pages. And people wait.

When I worked at the Firm, I would also find myself unable to write, unable to reach for the right words to finish a pleading, a memo, or an opinion letter, fumbling for the words to appropriately punctate a line of reasoning, a thought. How did I cope then? I would close my office door, stare out the window at the rolling West Hills dotted in numerous shades of green, at the flock of birds that sat perched on the Heathman rooftop, at the slow moving traffic below, the pedestrians walking to their next destination, intent in their steps.

But in Cambodia, it feels different. For one thing, I'm plagued by a greater sense of urgency. Most of the communities I work with face imminent forced eviction, often by violent means. They face physical and economic displacement, the disassembling of their homes and lives, and, shortly after, the task of rebuilding anew. Despite my attempts to cope with these realities, I simply cannot be removed from them. And, at the risk of sounding ridiculously and unreasonably self important (and having no intention to trivialize the work of others in Western countries), I know that if I/we don't write these words, no one else will.

With that said, today, I remain distracted. There are a few reasons, and one is that my dear friend Rachel will be back in Cambodia for a few days, following my return from Bangkok. I cannot wait to catch up! Her brief return is, again, another marker of time -- I've worked in Phnom Penh for 10 months now.

I think I'll take a walk.

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