Happy New Year to all! 2004 was a year of tremendous change for me. I've lost touch with many old friends and made many new ones. Some people haven't heard from me in a while and don't know what I'm up to, so I've written up an FAQ and am sending this link to the many people I've failed to keep up with this year.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ): What happened to Rebecca in 2004??
Q: Where are you and what are you doing?
A: Lately I’ve been getting a lot of emails asking that question. In January 2004 I went on leave for 5 months to do a spring-semester fellowship at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. The initial plan was to return to my CNN job in Tokyo after that. But after a couple of months I decided to resign from CNN.
I have remained in Cambridge, Massachusetts and am now a Research Fellow at Harvard Law School’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society, where I am trying to figure out the future of journalism – and especially international news - in this internet age in which professionals have lost control over information. I am especially interested in weblogs.
Q: What is a weblog?
A: You're reading one now! A weblog is a kind of webpage, but is created with software that is so simple to use that it is now possible for people with no technical knowledge and very little money to publish whatever they want on the internet – quickly and easily. There are a bunch of links to definitions and information about weblogs at the top right-hand side. I think that we are at the beginning of a new communications revolution and weblogs are just the tip of the iceberg.
Q: Why did you quit CNN?
There are lots of reasons, but the deciding factor for me was when my boss told me early last year that my expertise was getting in the way of doing the kind of stories that the CNN U.S. network wants. I value my expertise…and decided I would have a much more fulfilling life if I seek out a profession that actually values the things I value most about myself. Fortunately, since I am single, have no debt, no dependents, and a little money saved up, I could afford to quit.
Q: Why didn’t you email me with your new contact information?
A: Sorry…I totally failed to send out a mass e-mail notifying everybody I wasn’t going back to Tokyo, and that my work e-mail was becoming defunct. I have no good excuses so I won’t give you any bad ones.
Q: Will you be returning to Asia any time soon?
I’ll be returning to Asia for various trips, but think I’ll live in the U.S. for a while. I haven’t lived here since college, after all. It’s time to spend a little time closer to family and old friends. I’ve also gotten a little tired of being rootless – and of always being the outsider who can never truly belong.
Q: Why don’t you go back to China, where your Chinese-language skills must be in such high demand?
A: I’ll go back if and when I’m ready to live in China again. Right now I’m just not. After all, I lived there for almost 9 years straight. China will not disappear any time soon and will always be there for me if and when I’m ready for it.
Q: Now that you’re not running around as a foreign correspondent, are you dating anybody?
A: This summer I thought I’d met “the one,” but it ended badly. If I ever date a surgeon again, please slap me. Hard.
Q: I want to set you up with my cousin/ brother/ son/ nephew/ neighbor/ classmate/ colleague/ best friend. He’s such a nice guy. Interested?
A: Only if he’s under 45, good looking, of well above-average intelligence, accomplished, witty, in decent shape, open-minded, flexible, etc…
Q: Geez. Aren’t you kind of picky?
A: Why shouldn’t I be? I’d rather live alone than live with a compromise. I get bored very easily.
Q: Ok…but aren’t you worried about your biological clock ticking and all that?
Q: Why not?
A: I’m just not. There are a lot of things to do in this lifetime and I won’t get around to half of them as it is.
Q: Are you happy?
A: My breakup in August was pretty rough, and to be honest that still leaves me with some dark moments. But I’m very happy about my newfound freedom to re-create my life as I see fit. The main thing is that I no longer feel trapped. If I am not happy about something, I feel like I have the power and ability to do something about it. This is incredibly liberating. I hope my life will continue to be this way. Most people on this planet are not in a position to escape their traps – including the gilded, luxurious, and powerful kinds. I feel very lucky.