October 31, 2007


I decided to go around the world because nothing else was working out. Despite my pretty compelling laziness, I have always been a fairly driven person, and was consequently convinced (at least in my head) that I was going to Be Something someday. I worked towards it, followed all the right things, said no to drugs, stayed in school, etc.

I got jobs, and got better jobs, and moved onwards and upwards. Until I was living in a city I did not like (what up, LA!), doing a job that I had grown beyond, and looking for a change. One protracted, disheartening and fruitless job search later, and our hero is well and truly depressed. The problem was the realization not that I was not going to get one of these jobs I was vying for, but that I didn't really...want them. The actual jobs and the actual industry were so far removed from what I was passionate about and what I wanted to do that even if I had what I was supposed to be working for, I still wouldn't be happy.

So, okay, so time to regroup and figure out what it is, instead, that is going to make me happy, since it will no longer be this path to this career, clearly. I put in notice at my apartment, and start to bandy about wild notions -- I should move to a small town and open a movie theatre; I should become a pastry chef; I should find a sugar daddy (still considering that last one, too). I should chuck it all and go around the world.

That one stuck.

When I was in college and therabouts, I was huge on travel. During those four years, I went to London enough that I actually got BORED WITH IT. Can you imagine? But one thing I always coveted about British culture was the respect for taking off. It was in London, and all of the zillions of travel agents that are everywhere, that I noticed the "Around the World" fare that was at the end of every single deal board out front. That was when I got the pipe dream of taking off for a year and just heading all around, going to every single place that I want to see. It was one of the things that I knew I was never going to do, because I had this spectacular career path all figured out in my head, and that made me sad, but it was just the way it is.

And then, suddenly, career out, travel in. So I quit my job and moved home with my parents(glamorous!). I got another job, one that also brought me back to academia a bit, which I had missed, that actually paid more. And I started to save.

The idea was, if I am going to try to figure out where I want to be, I can do it miserable and aimless in a place, both literal and figurative, that I hate, or I can do it on my own on Thai beaches and Chilean glaciers and Croatian cities. I clearly lost a bit of the original dream when it came down to it -- I could go round the world three times, and just keep coming up with places I wanted to see, and I am not going for a full year, and I am doing it on the cheap -- but the essence is the same: look out world.

So that is why I am doing this -- nothing else worked out, so I am doing something for me. Something that I know I cannot regret. Something that I never thought I would be able to do.

October 24, 2007

In defense of product

Under the best of circumstances, I am an absolute sucker for new beauty products--good smells, cute packaging, grandiose claims, whatever, I'm sold, give me the new face masque. Or lotion. Or scrub. Or all three.

So combine that with the fact that I have been under a spending embargo for pretty much a year. I have been trying my very best to save, and while success has been dubious at times, I have gotten better as my departure date draws nearer and the costs of all I want to do become more real.

Pretty much the only thing left that I can buy guilt free? Items "for the trip." OK, so maybe I played a little fast and loose with the definition of "for the trip" a time or two, but when I don't buy ANYthing but gas and asiago bagels from Panera, I go a little mad sometimes. So what if I justify a heady dash through the world of product as "for the trip?" I need to make an educated decision as to what toiletries I am taking with, don't I? I can't wind up in Patagonia with an oily face and stringy hair, can I?

I know that every RTW book, blog and forum tells chicks doing long-term travel to give up vanity and embrace the low maintenance/inner hag look. To that, I say: Pshaw and whatever, book, blog and forum clearly written by men (And yes, I regret it on the road or in hindsight, I will absolutely and publicly eat my words.). In my day-to-day life homeside, I am not very high maintenance, but what I need, I need. My hair is about 1.5 inches long at its longest. I don't need to wash it every day, I don't ever condition it, I don't need to comb it, but I also do not have the luxury of the ponytail option. So I am sorry, I need some product. I am not talking about a barrage of serums and gels and lotions and a fistful of straightening/curling/flattening ionic whatever irons, just my one beloved bottle of Bumble & Bumble. Otherwise, quite frankly, my hair will feather itself into a gigantic butt on my head. That is not a look I need to take on the road.

I've been deep in love with Lush because it really does complete me. Not only is everything so very soft and smell so very good, but they sell most things like meat at the deli -- you want a thin slice of 3 soaps, they price 'em by the pound and wrap them up. It's a dabbling shopper's dream: I get to appease my evil consumerist tendencies without getting tons of different stuff, just a bit of this and some of that. Plus, Lush has mastered the genius of solid shampoo. How great is that for travel? No liquids! Just rub a little on your scalp, and you are good to go; 8 of a pound lasts months! I was so set.

So, yeah. All of this really is my justification for going to Lush today and buying, buying, buying. But, see, they are discontinuing the shampoo I had already chosen! It's been tried and tested, does not give me butt head, does not let my hair get greasy or dry or flaky or flyaway or lifeless (when you have short hair, which I love, it sort of magnifies any of your hair's negative characteristics, which I do not), plus it even gives a little red hue. I mean, I won't be devastated if I can't buy more of it when I get back, but it had already made the cut and was on my list! In pen! And now it's a limited-time purchase? That huge chunk I bought is totally justified. It's for the trip.

October 10, 2007

testing the waters

I am taking off for nearly seven months, and I will have any sort of company for maybe…5 weeks of that time? At most? Spread out? So clearly, I need to get comfortable doing the traveling and all that it involves – the navigating, arranging, logistics, the pain in the ass stuff – all on my own.

And what better dry run than Milwaukee!

…yeah, I don’t know. But I was visiting friends in Chicago, and taking a couple of days to visit Madison, so I thought, why not? I’ve never been to Milwaukee, visited only in my most vivid Laverne & Shirley fantasies.

Turns out, Milwaukee is rather pretty:

ALSO turns out: I can up and decide to go somewhere, go there, wander some, find some lunch, and find my way out, all without a map, a plan, or any idea where I am. This bodes well for me, I think.