Through a series of coincidences, I ended up having coffee with a new friend on Sunday. AP is exactly my age, and came to the US in 2003 from Kosovo. I was able to record our (almost) three-hour conversation with my macbook and a funny-looking snowball microphone, which I refer to as my spaceship mic. I didn't know what I should do prior to our conversation in terms of research, and ended up not doing that much besides figuring out (roughly) how to use the Garage Band program to record. It was a great meeting - I learned so much that I would never hear about just by reading newspapers or watching videos, and I'm full of new ideas for the direction that I want to take with the documentary.
At the end, I gave her a copy of my film treatment. It's just a page and half, and if my blog entries are any indication of my writing style, you might be able to guess that keeping something concise and brief is not my specialty (but I'm trying!). If there's one thing I learned from working at a production company, it's how necessary it is to be able to describe an entire series/film in one page, so after a bit of a struggle (and a deadline that made me do it), I finally got something down that I don't mind showing people.
That being said, it has been very, very strange for me to share my ideas on this documentary with ex-Yugoslavians. The best I can compare it to is the feeling of nervousness that happened when French people would take my (English language) walking tours of Paris. I was never more nervous about my A) pronunciation of French words and B) getting the facts completely wrong (for the record, one particular French family had such a good time on my tour of the Marais, they specifically took all the walking tours my company had to offer). So when I write a documentary treatment describing what it's like to live in a society that has been devastated by war - even though that's not something I have ever done - and I hand it over to a woman who was forced out of her apartment at gunpoint ... that's a bit nerve racking. And obviously, this topic is a lot more serious than whether or not I could properly translate French plaques correctly into English. Anyway, AP read my treatment and told me "you are in the right direction, you are talking about what we (former Yugoslavians) actually think and you are not a Yugoslavian." It meant so much to me to get that feedback, and I feel more motivated than ever to keep this project moving ahead.
Speaking of moving ahead, I came up with even more backup plans and if-this-than-that type of scenarios for my life in Europe, and I'm feeling pretty confident about everything. With just twenty-three days left in Los Angeles, I'm going to try to spend as much time as possible at the office to save up money. This upcoming weekend I'm taking a trip to REI - one of those outdoorsy type stores - for a new backpack (something that will hold my laptop and a few days worth of clothes) and sufficient rain gear for biking around Amsterdam. I have doctors appointments and haircut appointments and dinner plans on the horizon for New York City, and it does finally feel like my time in the US is winding down. That is not a bad thing.
I found a new favorite hobby - looking through "biking in the Netherlands" types of websites. I haven't been on a bicycle in over two months, and it's killing me - spinning classes are a good workout, but not the same thing. I can't wait to bike all over that country and not feel guilty for not wearing a helmet.