As the gaps between my blog posts will tell you, I'm somewhat out of the writing groove. It used to be I'd turn around a story or two a day, but since coming to Asia that has dropped precipitously. Working on the desk and being increasingly unwilling to work on my days off will do that, I guess.
My days off usually don't involve much more than relaxing, catching up on podcasts and maybe an errand or two. Today was different, though. Not only did I pay my water, power, cable and Internet bills (productive, no?), I spent the evening covering Indonesia's World Cup qualifier against Qatar. I used to cover soccer somewhat regularly when I was on the sports desk, but since being moved to "fireman" those opportunities have been scarce. Tonight's story was the first I've written for the paper in a while (now with a sidebar!). I did a piece on the Jakarta Bintangs in the special section we put together for their annual Grand Final function, but apparently it's not on the Web site. I also live-tweeted the match, which you can find in my timeline.
The traffic on the way to the game was awful, the weather wasn't much help, I was shvitzing like a poodle and kickoff was delayed about 15 minutes (pushing us right up against deadline), but it still felt good to get out and actually do something. If nothing else, I proved to myself I still have the ability to turn around a decent gamer in 20 minutes. All those years of covering high school football must have really stuck in my brain.
Good thing, too. In just about a month, Jakarta and Palembang are hosting the Southeast Asian Games -- basically a mini-Olympics for this region. The competition proper starts on November 11, but the soccer actually begins on the third. Odds are I'll be working the desk for most of the event, putting out the daily section and taking care of everything not related to the SEA Games, but I am on the list for credentials and will hopefully have a chance to get out and do some writing of my own. Even if the event is a massive clusterfuffle, as it appears on track to be, it'll still be great fun to cover (see: 2010 Commonwealth Games).
After that? My contract here expires on December 6, and it's hard to say what will happen. I've had people ask me (directly and indirectly) to stay, and there have been vague suggestions of chaos if I leave. I'm sure they'd be happy to offer another contract, but given that it's not always clear if the HR people are on the same team, I'm not about to assume as much. Plus, there's the nagging question of how long I want to stay in newspapers. How long will this continue to be a viable career? I've managed to save a bit of money, but do I still want to be topping out at $30,000 a year as I get into my 40s? There will come a day when newspapers and I part ways -- it's just a question of if I leave voluntarily or if I cling on to the bitter end, whenever that may come.
For now, though, I'll just enjoy dusting off my writing chops and proving (if only to myself) there's still some life in these fingers. Tomorrow I'll transcribe the whole post-match news conference and try to knock out an opinion piece for the paper.