They say the devil’s in the details. And this project haunted me like a demon. (Who is “they” anyway, and why are people always quoting ‘em?)

I had planned to do some marathon editing and be done with this video project by Christmas. Of 2007.

When I think about it, plans are pretty versatile things. You can make or break a plan, and sometimes plans disintegrate, take a back seat, or change course. And plans are never lonely; Plan A is closely backed by Plan B, who are often accompanied by many others, those who are ready to jump in and try their hand, undeterred by their predecessors’ failures, determined that their one unique characteristic might pull them through.

“Man makes a plan, and God laughs.” – I forget. (Was it They?)

“Life is what happens while you’re making plans.” – J. Lennon

Anywho, enough on that. Here is where I want to blame my software’s failures for taking so long to get out this video. I want to blame being too busy studying Arabic or practicing with my Arab friends or working or reintegrating back into America or _______, but the truth is, it’s not really any of these things, and it’s all of them.

I couldn’t add subtitles without first extracting the sound, separating it from its video components, and then adding them back to the right spot later. I couldn’t help it – a lot of the audio is botched during transitions. There are shaky zooms, clips that are just a bit too short or a bit too long, and a ton of things you probably wouldn’t notice unless I pointed them out. These are the details that drove me nuts, causing me to spend unwarranted minutes or even hours on split seconds of this clip only 7 minutes long. I eventually threw up my arms and said enough. Sometimes there’s this perfectionist inside me that screams, but I shut that dude up. This time. Next time I will not use iMovie, and I will do a little more research on file conversions before asking the guys in the dusty video hut to make me a DVD of my content. Lessons learned.

I also had planned on writing in this blog much more. It was to be a connection to those who cared to read, a digital scrapbook for future times, and just plain, good-old practice writing. So remember that screaming perfectionist inside me? He was kicking my kidneys, and I couldn’t get him to shut up until just now. I have many stories I would have liked to share on this blog. I was really busy after a really good adventure I wanted to write about, then once I had some time to write, I had had another adventure, and I sat down to write about the first one (because the perfectionist wouldn’t shut up and this blog needs to be chronological and comprehensive), didn’t finish that post (has to be just right before posting), and then the tasks seemed too daunting and so I just gave up. I couldn’t do it perfectly, so I wouldn’t do it at all, and every time I thought about this blog, my stomach would turn a little bit. So instead I’ll head out for some tea and hookah with my friends, or I’ll read a book, or go for a walk, take some pictures, do anything but type up just a few words.

So I’ve left Yemen, and this incomplete blog is now closed.

I have adventures ahead. First and foremost is to finish my degree. I am excited to be done with school. I have loved my time at Stanford and feel so privileged to have been able to take a part, but now it’s time to buckle down, do my best, get a job and pay off my loans.

I am applying for some scholarships to pay me to return to the Middle East and cement my skills in Arabic. The current hope is to work as a journalist or in some other capacity that allows me to be creative and make a positive impact on the relations between my homeland and this misunderstood region of the world. I love traveling and hope that it will be a part of my future career.

I’m young and appreciative of the opportunities for growth that have come my way. My time in Yemen bolstered my confidence in my ability to do whatever it is I set my mind to, to live as a minority, an Other, one who needed to struggle daily to express himself and get his needs met. My last year in college will challenge me further, and I am optimistic for the doors my degree will open. I’m only 22 but often feel both much older and much younger than this. I do now know that if I keep an open mind and an open heart that the divine answers in ways that I need, ways that I wasn’t expecting.

I’m currently working as a wrangler in Yellowstone National Park, taking tourists on horse rides while I talk with them about the history of the park and environmental stewardship. This job is fun. I get to go on horseback rides after hours through God’s country with like-minded folk, and I’m living in a college-style dorm with many international students. Another example of a situation I never expected myself to be in, but am grateful to find myself here.

Closure’s a funny thing, so I’ll just end here. Onward. Let me know what you think of my little Yemen video.

Over and out.

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