Building Something New

I once read an article which said that people should refrain from speaking about work they’re doing until it’s complete. As I remember it, there was a scientific study which suggesed that talking about doing something apparently “scratches the same itch”, neurobiologically speaking, as actually doing something.1

Talk too much about what you want to do before you act, the theory goes, and you never will.

I’m pretty sure I’ve taken that idea too far lately. There has been, in fact, a major change in my life which I haven’t written about yet. My plan was to announce it alongside some projects that I’ve been working on. But when I ended up being far, far busier than I had planned and all my work took much longer than I expected, I was still afraid to talk about things until they were almost ready to go because…

Well. You know.

This is going to take a few posts, so let me dive right in and start somewhere before any more time passes us by. After living in New York for a dozen years, my wife Lauren and I decided to make a change. A big one, frankly. So we gave up our apartment and moved from Brooklyn to Luang Prabang, Laos in December 2012.

Where?!”, you ask.



The first time Lauren and I came to Luang Prabang was in 2010 on our honeymoon. By early last year, she and I both felt like we needed to step out of our New York lives – even if just for a while – to figure out how we could use our skills in more meaningful ways. We had some money saved and we both had projects here. So we took a giant leap.

That sounds glib, I think. We were excited to do it, but I don’t mean to make it seem like this was an easy decision for us.

At times, it’s felt like all of those things that we spent years weaving into a familiar fabric of daily life are being unstitched a thread at a time in a sort of weird inversion of the ending to ‘It’s A Wonderful Life’.2 The challenges of storing almost everything we own and – quite literally – moving halfway around the world have been overwhelming. Budgets. Insurance. Nasty Landlords. Of course while you’re trying to process all of that, you’re contending with the dull ache that comes along with stepping away from family and close friends.


And this, dear friends, the challenges of departure cannot prepare you for the challenges of arrival into a place with a very different culture than your own. Where you know only a few people. Where the path to meeting your basic needs isn’t clear. Where you can’t really speak the language because your brain is absolutely full and refuses to learn even one more thing until you’ve processed what’s already there. I often find myself imagining relatives who emigrated to the United States generations ago. I have so many more resources than they did and still, most days, I still have at least one moment of complete bewilderment.

Humbling, it is.

It’s as if I’m living in two worlds simultaneously: I took the photo at the top of this post (unfiltered, I might add) one day while walking down the street. The farmers in the countryside had been burning away the grass in their fields and a heavy-hanging smoke was lingering over the town. These young monks – some as young as 7 or 8 – were scampering up bamboo ladders and scaffolds, fixing the roof of their temple in the thick, warm afternoon air.

In the U.S., a scene like this would be an OSHA Inspector’s fever dream. But here – it’s just normal. You look up, snap a photo, and go about your daily business. You aren’t a tourist, but you’re not “not a tourist”, either.

You are in between places.


I can go on and on about moments like these and, believe me, I will be doing a lot of that here very soon. But the fact of the matter is that Veritrope is in between places as well. This website is about to be split into a few different pieces and I need to focus on getting things finished. This means I will not be answering comments, bug reports, or site-related emails until after the changeover.3

  1. You’ll just have to trust me on this because my Google-fu is failing me right now []
  2. “Good bye, you old Building and Loan!” []
  3. Well – at least I’ll try to resist your charms, dear Veritropers… []