Archive for the 'anticipation' Category

it’s a long way ’round

Saturday, February 4th, 2006

by the time I finish writing this, my site may be down again. i posted via email, but apparently my cronjobs are not running either. any and all webhosting suggestions (or warnings) entertained.

so – to keep myself from checking my non-functional site every three seconds and obsessing while my bloodpressure soared throught the roof, i spent a very entertaining 5 hours watching “long way round”, which i originally bought for a b-day gift for andy, and then “borrowed” (cheeky, i know!) in case you haven’t had reason to see this, it’s all about ewan mcgregor and his best friend undertaking a round-the-world motorcycle journey. it’s really resonating with me as our own trip approaches. the need to just lose your head in experiencing the moments unfolding in front of you, immersion therapy. i think for me, this trip really will be a good bit of therapy. i’ve needed to challenge myself, grapple with the unknown, get a change of scenery to put it all in perspective.

I’ve mentioned this here before, but I was recently discussing it with other expats. I like the UK, and I love the opportunities I have here. And I invested a lot of time, money, and effort to get here on my own terms.

I wanted to live here for a few years. March will be 3 years I’ve been here. I think I’ve adapted well, and I don’t feel homesick. I (finally) have a small group of friends. I’m fairly content.

But: I feel very stateless. Here, I am a square peg which has forced its way into a round hole. I will always be a square peg, even if I have managed to fit. And I can’t go back to live in the US – it’d be like trying to fit a square peg into a triangular hole. I’m not sure I ever fit there to begin with.

So where do I fit? I never realised that by coming here I would change in ways that would make it impossible to go back. I always figured that would be *there* for me.

It’s a bit wierd feeling at times, being rootless. But I think that the upside of it is that I now think there are a lot of places I could be extremely content to live. I think, in a lot of ways, it makes me rather balanced – the fact that I’ve changed, means my happiness is no longer tied quite-so-tightly to something external.

For me, it’s like the idea that one has a soulmate. I don’t think people do – but I think there are lots of people I could love very deeply.

I love my hometown. I love NYC. I have lots of fond memories of other places I have lived. But I’ve “outgrown” them (for lack of a better word). There may be someplace I love passionately again. That place may be Canada. But I’ve adjusted to the idea that if there isn’t, that’s okay.

It *HAS* taken some adjustment. It takes a little mindshift to see it as a positive rather than a negative. You have to go through the feeling of losing that idea of having a place which matches how you feel. You can’t change back to who you were – but then you come to realise you really wouldn’t want to anyway.

If I had to put it in a nutshell, my happiness is now more about *how* I live, than *where* I live. I’m at peace with it, but it’s happened over time – only really in the last year have I embraced it. And now I think to myself, “I could go live in Canada.” “I could go live in South Africa”. It’s freeing.

I don’t think Ewan and Charlie are searching themselves for anything in particular on their trip. But I do think they’re surprised at what they find. I very much want that.

(as an aside, i am developing a complete crush on mr. Mcgregor. i never thought he was particularly attractive, but now that i’m watching him be himself, i am finding his sense of humour so very sexy. mmmm, mmmmm, mmmm. yes. )

the excitement that makes everything painful

Friday, February 3rd, 2006

oh happy happy happy dance! The tix are in the mail! Everything is paid and confirmed!

Work just bites, though. This is a bit of an email conversation I had with a friend recently, but I thought I’d post it here since it so succinctly captures how I am feeling lately:

Work has become insufferable. I was never the most motivated person to begin with, but now, I just resent having to leave the house every morning. I feel like standing up in the middle of my warehouse-like office and shouting, “I don’t give a shit.” Every second I spend there is a second of my life I’ll never get back, and it makes me seethe inside. I hate it with the white-hot burning intensity of a thousand suns.

So I’m wishing for a case of mono right about now – something that will get me out of the next two months of work, yet is not too painful or debilitating, and will help me drop 5 pounds or so. That’s bad: when you start praying for a communicable disease to get you out of work.

what I really want is a deus ex machina.

In the meantime, I am dilly-dallying as best I can, trying very hard not to accomplish anything. It’s getting harder, and even though J told me not to get excited until I officially hand my notice in (in three weeks), I can’t help it. But boy does it make the days drag. And drag some more. The excitement just makes everything else so painfully mundane.

still… hooray! we’re really, totally, officially going! there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

belated birthday

Thursday, January 12th, 2006

Nothing too much interesting going on these days – just waiting for spring to be sprung, so we can blow this pop stand. The rest all revolves around lots of time spent indoors, using computer time (free) and dvds (nearly free) to entertain ourselves. So it was a really nice change of pace to go out for dinner with a fellow expat last night – enjoying seafood fajitas and margaritas at one of the few (decent) mexican places in all of london. that’s something you don’t usually factor in before you make the leap across the pond – the distinct lack of the culture south of the border that americans get to take for granted. so we had a good evening chatting and drinking, and it was lovely to a) leave the apartment and b) be out with a new friend and c) have her treat me to the meal as a belated birthday present.

arrived home today to a belated birthday package! my kay bee was soooo good to me – she sent me many many peeps (including the kind you decorate with icing, [the only way you can physically make a peep *more* sugary!] ) and all sorts of funny travel knick-knacks like toilet paper, and some wonderful fancy special patagonia travel pants!! which are a pretty pretty brick red and fit me perfectly!! see?

patagonia pants

my sis is the best. that is all.

Other than that, I wish i could think of anything even remotely interesting to say about my life. i’ve been reading a lot about china – fascinating history. I’m not really a history buff, but i clearly remember reading “the last emperor” at 17. i have to say, i think i’m probably looking the most forward to china out of everywhere we’re going, just because it’s *so* different, it will be the closest thing to cultural immersion. (south east asia is very tourist friendly, and south america i already have a little knowledge of. ) i’m also really excited to see new zealand – though it will be winter and quite chilly.

eh, this post is just starting to ramble, so i’ll wind up… ciao for now.


Monday, January 9th, 2006

“working” from home today, and i have fallen into a deep well of travel blogs and rtw sites. the more i read the further away i seem to get from knowing where i want to go. i think that in order to figure out exactly what i want to get from this trip, i need to revisit the beginnings.

the roots go back to early 2002 – i was dating this guy (who, for anonymity purposes, we shall call here “p.”) who was headed on a trip to mount kilimanjaro (via london) for a month. i was incredibly jealous (and also, for reasons i can only chalk up to temporary insanity, rather attached at that point). i was missing him, and trying to pretend i wasn’t, so in a stroke of inspiration i started keeping a fictional round the world blog that i emailed to him daily. i spent hours at my work desk every day researching and writing, and scouring photographs, trying to make it as realistic as possible. i did white water rafting in the grand canyon. i went canoeing down the amazon to see the pink porpoises and trek through the rainforest. i hiked the inca trail to machu picchu. i climbed active volcanoes in hawaii. i dove in the waters of the galapagos islands and saw the worlds most ancient tortoise. i went to an elephant sanctuary in the himalayas. i went ballooning over the namib desert at sunrise. i saw the fjiords of norway, and the aurora borealis. not much *paid* work got done, but i was far too busy constructing my adventures to wallow in self-pity.

of course, i should’ve known the relationship would end in disaster when, after receiving my lovingly and painstakingly crafted project, his first comment was on how it seemed to be written from a very post-colonial point of view. and that, my friends, was the point at which he became known as “waste of space”.

however – i put so much time and effort into this little creative project that the idea of a round the world trip took deep root. but it wasn’t the kind of thing i thought could ever happen without the miracle of winning the lottery. not to mention the whole mindset is different – people in the u.s. don’t just drop out of society to go travelling. hell, people rarely take more than their allotted 2 weeks vacation to do anything. but coming over here, being surrounded by people whose raison d’etre is adventure, whose only purpose for living in london is to finance their travels… well, it’s an eye opener. these people work and save… and take off. and then work and save some more, to travel even further. suddenly, a round the world trip didn’t seem like such an impossibly difficult thing to accomplish. and meeting j… that’s when it all started to come together.

so i guess part of the purpose for this trip is to see some places before they change too irrevocably. places like cambodia and china and bolivia are quickly becoming hotspots. places like thailand and peru have already been “ruined” to some extent with the influx of western tourism. i’m not saying they’re not worth seeing – just that i believe it’s becoming impossible to view these places without the filter of the permanent influence of travellers. observing something fundamentally changes the nature of it, but add a dependence on foreign investment, and suddenly it is no longer “what it is”, but has become “what you want it to be”. you are no longer viewing that country’s native culture, but rather that country’s native culture in saleable form. globalisation is not, in and of itself, a purely evil or wonderful thing – there are both benefits and problems. but it does change things.

and the other part of this trip is to get in touch with that piece of myself that always identified with being a traveller. my first real travelling experience was as an exchange student to paraguay at 16. i knew almost nothing about the country before i arrived, and after the summer was over, i came back thinking very clearly “oh, okay, well that’s it then – i’m going to spend my life travelling.” i was certain that i would go into international development, and become a lifelong wanderer. my parents knew people who were career travellers – people who devoted their lives to the peace corps or missionary work. i thought for sure that i would finish university, do a stint in development, and then become a part of an ngo organisation that would send me to all kinds of places. it was so clear in my head that that’s how my life would be.

but alas, at first i took a liking to psychology, and then a new york boy, and “the plan” just kind of derailed from there. and in the meantime, real life has a way of intervening, and tying you down to things you never thought you’d need, but now would have a hard time doing without. but this is my chance to see the lifestyle and places i always thought i would be intimately familiar with – the adventures, the spontaneity, the languages. very few people can/choose to live that way, and this is my chance to catch a glimpse of it.

so i suppose that’s important to keep in mind as i plow through all this information, as fascinating as it is. while my trip will certainly not be complete without seeing the angkor wat, or the three toed sloths of south america, as ursula le guin once said, “it’s good to have an end to journey towards. but it’s the journey that matters, in the end.”

it’s the little things

Saturday, January 7th, 2006

an entire 6 months touring the world and what am i most excited about? getting to experience the singapore airport, where they apparently have free movies, internet, video games, open air pool, sparkling hot showers, dedicated sleeping areas (with alarm clocks), orchid gardens, free beach and river tours of the city, and get you through immigration/baggage claim/customs in a half hour flat. in fact, several people have remarked there’s absolutely no need to get a hotel room, or even leave the airport, for that matter.

what can i say? i’m easy to please.


Sunday, December 11th, 2005

I have only just now realised how very close our round the world trip is!  I mean, xmas is nearly upon us, and after the new year, there’s only three months of work left and we’re outta here! (I’ll be finishing my job at the end of March, 2 weeks before we leave…)

It’s seemed so far away for so long, that I haven’t really been thinking about it, except in a very abstract way.  I haven’t researched anything.  Obviously, a great deal of the itinerary will be flexible, but I want to at least know what things I don’t want to miss.

Also, need to figure out how to structure my blog.  Updating from the road should be simple enough, since I can blog by email.  I need to think about storage for all the zillions of photos, since I’ll have to download them at some point, and internet cafes are probably not too conducive for uploading 300MB worth of pix at a time.

Irrespective of that, though, is deciding whether to just integrate it into my existing blog, or make it a separate blog all together.  Also, changing the layout to make it easier to do stuff like maps and stuff.

So much to think about/arrange/research/buy and so little time! I have decided I really, really want this pack because it’s like carrying *air*.  And considering that no matter what kind of pack I have and no matter how little I bring, I will, at some point during the 6 months, want to throw my pack into the nearest lake, I figure if it cuts down on that impulse even a little, then it’s a good investment.  I already bought these trail shoe/sandals which just feel incredible on my feet.  I also need some of these pants for travelling and this black/green reversible skirt (I know, I am sooo not a skirt person, normally, but a long, loose skirt is sooo comfy on long flights).  Also, maybe this first aid set – I’m a bit undecided on that.  Part of me says bringing syringes is overkill – the other part of me says I don’t want to need a shot in rural Laos and not have something sterile.  I need a travel towel and a travel clothesline and a travel alarm clock and a usb card reader and a big memory card (maybe santa is reading!).  Soon we have to start getting our yellow fever and hepatitis and tetanus jabs.  decide whether or not we’ll need malaria pills, etc., etc., etc.

Anyway, in the spirit of documenting all this, I’m starting a new category… updates to follow as I start to get my shit together!

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