Category Archives: Deep thoughts

Dropping off

I’ve been out of town for the past week, and I really have not wanted to do an iota of work. Though try as I might, so much has been swirling around in my head that I’ve wanted to figure something out.

There are seldom clear-cut answers to life’s tough questions, so I have some serious mulling over to do. Being in NYC and enjoying my (probably) last trip to Philadelphia for a while helped me clear my mind a bit. But the long, stale-aired plane ride home added only a hazy fog of confusion to my psyche. So many wonderful, powerful things to consider in our future.

My apologies if I’m being cryptic (or hippy-dippy), it’s not entirely on purpose–right now. I feel a bit like I’ve been tossed into the gladiator pit of decision-making and I hardly have a sword. I’m drowsy, drunk on too much homemade pizza and baseball, but I’ll elaborate more tomorrow.



A popular theme

Saving up, quitting your job and jet setting is definitely a popular daydream circulating in a lot of our minds, sure. Do we always do it? More often than not, something gets in the way, holds us back or scares us away.

It’s funny I mention that (well, convenient, actually), because this past weekend I was watching Sam Mendes’ beautiful 1950s period piece from last year, Revolutionary Road. The story, mostly a pastiche of bickering dissonance between two adults arguing like children over not getting their way (I’ll take Mad Men over it any day), did have an interesting subplot that emerged a quarter of the way into the film that is very relevant to us would-be world citizens: Laying it all on the line and leaving it behind.

It seems that suburbia, as Mendes would have us believe, is a stifling lie we’ve bought into (not exactly forging new territory here) and that drastic measures are required to break free. For the intellectual or the artist and what have you to really, truly exist on a exquisite plane of understanding and connectivity with The Universe, we must, as the main characters do, hatch a plan to escape. In their case, it’s to Paris, since, it seems, “people are alive there” (their words) — as opposed to the walking dead of America? I digress.

While a little hackneyed in the film, the central idea (minus the inflated self-loathing of it all) stands out as an important one. In one scene, Kate Winslet’s character suggests that Leo is a true “man” to “go after what he really wants.” And though I don’t subscribe to that particularly philosophy on gender, I do think that you can accept what you have, or subvert your circumstances and try again. The age-old cliche–“you can’t fail if you don’t try”–should serve as an antithesis to all of us determined to keep moving…to keep trying.

Now, the plan they hatch is, admittedly, a tad far-fetched when you consider the excruciating social norms of the time period. Winslet’s character suggests to her neighbors’ disbelief that she will be the breadwinner in Europe, giving Lil’ Leo some time to “really figure out what he wants to do.” You can imagine their unreasonably horrified reaction, and honestly, it makes your stomach churn in a “how quaint” kind of way that leaves a bitter, disturbing aftertaste.

The neighbors, and everyone else for that matter, seem incredulous (and a tad jealous) that a pair of young Americans would want to throw away the 9-5 dream, the suburban decadence and all, to root up and mosey on to France. A place not only full of…well, French, but one with no clear prospective opportunistic nuggets. Well, you might go as far as to think that this kind of idea would be left in the dust with Howdy Doody and all, but truly, not all that much has changed.

As I slowly reveal our plan to friends and people outside of my social circle, I get a lot of the same questions (funny how analogous they are to Mendes’ characters’ as well). These seeds of doubt, perhaps tinged with jealousy or relegation to failure are interesting, to say the least. Even I, at times, in those impossibly dark hours of the night, potted on drink or whim, think of how crazy…how stupid this could all possibly be.

But those are fleeting moments, and should be dismissed as such. It takes a lot, actually. More than you think. Doubt is as powerful as you let it be, and its strength only grows in those dark recesses. It’s time to turn on the light.


Pulling the trigger

Plane tickets are on sale everywhere. Sites from Delta to Expedia are promising cheap, discounted–and in some extreme cases (STA ran a sale today offering $30 tickets to Paris from a few major American cities)–nearly free. This is our double-edged sword lately. With a flight to Rome or Paris bottoming out around $500, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to know when to buy.

Now, this is not guntocat’shead.jpeg* “pulling the trigger” urgent (sorry for the overwrought metaphor), but it’s been causing me a lot of stress. With the trip still 10 months away (yes, it’s that far AND that close), it seems like the obvious choice would be to wait it out, develop a better plan and buy tickets later this year (oh, and cheer on the demise of our financial system). Most of the doom and gloom of the economy seems to suggest that plane tickets will be cheap for a long time to come. Right?

Well, maybe. There is nothing worse than buying a $500 flight for $1200. We’ve all been there, and we all know…it sucks. So, it’s no surprise that this has been rattling around my brain a lot. The bulk of our savings is not tied up right now and could easily purchase tickets. So, do I? (That’s an existential, rhetorical and annoying question you need not answer). Excluding things that seem like an obvious racket (travel insurance), there really is no way to know what to do. It’s all in the gut, and boy, do I hate my gut.

So, let’s hear it for economic failure and the ability to buy refundable, adjustable and convenient tickets to Madrid, Spain for April, 2010. Yeah? Yeah? Yeah.

* Oh, for reference, obviously:


Countdown: 50 weeks

That’s right. Though time seems to be chugging along in slow motion right now. A lot of that probably hinges around the fact that Mia and I are still apart for another 6 or 7 weeks. With her graduation in sight, we will finally put the 14 months of long distance dating to bed and really start working toward our journey. After she moves to California, you’ll probably see a lot more of her posting.

I’ve been really glad it’s baseball season again, because at least it’s helping to bide the time. The A’s are off to a so-so start, but it’s reminded me how much I love the game. It’s definitely going to be one of the intangible elements of the States that I will miss a lot. The casual Sundays on the couch watching games will be no more, but the creature comforts we’re trading in are a lot more exciting than watching the Yankees lose (maybe).

When people ask me about how much longer until we leave, I always get a sense of shock when I tell them, “next April.” For many, they wonder why we’re looking so far into the future to plan this. Well, I don’t know that we’re trying to get every detail covered now, or even soon. But from all the firsthand and secondhand anecdotal advice I’ve been getting, many wished they had planned their journey even more in advance than a year.

Some people even plan this two years out. I guess if you have a car, a mortgage and a family, you’re going to need more time to figure out your own plan. But if you’re like us, you probably need to break away from your job for a bit and try something new. Or maybe you’re transitioning from one life to another. I think both can describe Mia and I. I’m hoping our trek will give me a renewed burst of creative energy and spirit to make me more employable (not less).

That said though, I do think two years of planning is excessive. I don’t pretend to know what will happen one year from now, and two seems like an eternity. But many of us live and die by our calendars. This journey will make our calendars obsolete and in the end, maybe it’ll make us appreciate the value of a day.