At the end of September IÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢m moving from Portland, Oregon to Beirut, Lebanon for six months. IÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ll rent an apartment and use the city as a base to visit the rest of the region, starting with Syria, Iran, Egypt, and Jordan.
I need a break from domestic politics. So IÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢m setting out to write about The World instead. The first places IÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢m going to visit after I secure my apartment are the very places the State Department tells me not to go anywhere near: HezbollahÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s militarized state-within-a-state in BeirutÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s southern suburbs, and the wretched Palestinian refugee camps of Sabra and Shatilla. Then IÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢m going to Damascus so I can experience a real live Baath Party police state up close and in person.
I am not an unbiased observer, and I have no intention to write bloodlessly neutral ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œhe said, she saidÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚? AP-style wire pieces. But I will try with all my heart to get it right and be fair.
Tech Central Station will publish my work four times per month instead of only twice. I intend to write for other publications as well, and I already have some tentative work lined up with a handful of newspapers, magazines, and online new media.
There is still room, though, for some more assignments. If youÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢re an editor interested in Middle Eastern political reporting, travel writing, and ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œmuddy bootsÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚? analysis, please send me an email at michaeltotten001 at gmail dot com.
My blog will still be up and running the whole time. I do not intend to abandon it. Hardly anyone I know of has blogged from so many different countries, and IÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢m not going to pass up the opportunity.
If you feel so inclined, now would be a good time to hit my tip jar. IÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ve never asked for money from readers before, and I sure could use it now. My income is modest, to put it mildly, and filing stories from the Middle East is no way to get rich.
Aside from packing my bags, IÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢m ready to go. IÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ve had enough of opinionated bloviating for a while and IÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢m looking forward to adding to the worldÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s knowledge, even if ever so slightly, rather than merely adding to the worldÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s noise. Starting two weeks from now, everything I publish should be more worth writing and ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬Å“ I hope youÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ll agree ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬Å“ more worth reading, as well.