I started writing this blog post in February of 2012. Nearly two years later, I am able to look clearly at the progression of my job and see it within the larger context of my career and life. After applying for a job as a "Videographer," I am now a teacher, producer, and temporarily wearing the shoes of an ed tech coordinator. I've always believed that travel expedites growth and maturation, and if that wasn't clear to me in a professional sense before, it definitely is now.Read More
I found this idea while in Buenos Aires and used it to memorialize my little life in the Argentine capital. I tried it out again with the beautiful city and experience of Boston, MA.Read More
Thought it wasn't my first choice to attend virtually, it was my only realistic option, as I was deeply embedded in school on May 1st, the day of the event. But this was a big moment for me, a first exhibition for an art major and with deep significance in location at that. I wanted to be able to absorb these factors viscerally and emerge from the experience enriched and with the sense that I had exhibited work always meant for others' eyes.Read More
Vacation is when watery, oily, acidicjuices are plowed with crusty bread, where butter comes in clumps and goes down in littler ones, flavor bombs, when you have time to pour the second cup of honey with a punch of rose. Aimless and timeless, there might be no other method to managing a day for you.Read More
My "Spring Break 2013" does not yet resemble Harmony Korine's visions of debauchery, but I've been enjoying this week, one unlike the usual work week. I decided that during this two-week break from school, I would relax in Boston and then use the second week to get closer to the sun. During this Boston-based break week, I've been getting back in touch with this ole blog-o-mine, photography, and activities I rarely enjoy at work, like reading or going to events around the city. Though my attempt to see an advanced screening at a cool, old movie theater didn't pan out, I was successful in attending a speaker event at MIT's Media Lab.Read More
1. I was able to seize a great opportunity to hear Al Gore speak (fo' free!) at Harvard University. Always love a chance to hear troubling data about the planet in a Southern accent. That experience turned out to be the start of many great speakers in February, including two BBC World journalists, the exiled prince of Iran, and Al Gore's former domestic policy advisor. Now to make sense of it all.Read More
This exhibition entitled "Far, Far Away" is a chance for some people in Wabash, Indiana to see destinations and cultures they otherwise might never see. Additionally, all the images were taken by people who claim Wabash as their hometown, adding a layer of accessibility to the images. The other person sharing the space with me will be showing many images from Antarctica. Just amongst the two of us, our images will span all seven continents!Read More
While in Washington D.C. on a school trip, I used my moleskin notebook to record words and thoughts on speakers, visits, and work items. These are the words that repeated themselves.Read More
On Friday evening, I was captivated by the oncoming snowstorm called Nemo that blanketed the city of Boston. From a perch overlooking the State House and the Boston Common, I could watch the sky darken and the air become increasingly opaque.Read More
It's time to navigate away from Indiana again. The school year is starting, and I'm about to move to a country I've never visited. Come Tuesday, I will have some new students, new co-workers, a new home with someone else's furniture, and a new culture to study...thankfully in a language I'm already comfortable with. Last year's school locations of Ecuador, Thailand, and Germany look to be replaced by some diverse locales, all brought to you by the letter "B".Read More
One year of teaching in China and two years of Peace Corps in Malawi later, my dear friends from Semester at Sea and I finally reunited. Alexis and I flew to Burlington, Vermont within 20 hours of Garrett's homecoming, and these are the good times we enjoyed. When I'm not at work, I don't want to be continuously documenting my life in high def. That's why I played with Instagram this time around (click on the images to view in lightbox).Read More
I spent my childhood in Wabash (and took innumerable visits in the last twelve years), and this was one of my top ten favorite mornings in my hometown. Maybe it had something to do with flying above the trees with the wind in my hair. Remember, I'm a converted adrenaline junkie...when the wind is just right.
This is a promotional video for the clean-up efforts of the Wabash River Defenders.
The upcoming term in Argentina will mark my 52nd country, and every once in a while I'm perplexed that this whole world obsession and world tour started from a town of 11,000 in rural Indiana. I talk about this town often–one I haven't lived in for 12 years to the week–and it's a weekend like my last one that confirms its hold on me. I continue to have those awe-inspiring moments in a place I thought I'd adequately covered.
Clean Out The Banks! is an annual event in Wabash, Indiana conducted by a volunteer group known as the Wabash River Defenders. If you were at Paradise Spring at 7:00am last Saturday, eating free donuts and preparing to wade in the silt, you're likely a member...or a donut enthusiast.
This year's 365 participants engaged in a community event for the benefit of their environment while spending time with that environment on a beautiful day. Being a recent student on the effects of community, I was eager to witness my first River Defenders event and document it for distribution.
The river stretches 19.2 miles across Wabash County from east to west, so my fellow documentarian, Chelsea, and I didn't have to drive far to reach the many scattered clean-up crews.
Walking along the river in Lagro, we found an ATV or mountain bike track that looked like serious muddy fun. We passed by many groups of fishermen heading to the water. One of the teams had a kayak, and its slender shape reminded me of rowing sculls torpedoing down the thin and shallow river. My imagination was probably stretching the water possibilities on this Mississippi tributary, but the flanking land offered no such limitations to outdoor enjoyment.
After a couple hours of tracking teams' progress, I was extended the opportunity to admire Wabash County from above on an antique open cockpit airplane from 1927. I couldn't stop relating myself to Snoopy. It was a beautiful aircraft, and it lifted effortlessly above the forests and farms to find the snaking river.
In the past couple years, I've had some very active shoots on land, while treading water, and even underwater with wild animals. Prior to this flight, I'd never had the chance to film from the air. The 90 mph winds pulled at the camera, but I had it strapped tightly around my hand, my arm anchored to my body. It was tough to shoot around the wings and stabilize with the turbulence, but the adrenaline rush from the open cockpit helped me achieve some awesome moments on film.
I wasn't at all surprised that such a plane existed in a hangar at the Wabash airstrip. The town is full of eccentric characters who collect distinct items, create unique artwork, build hidden bars in their basements, and wrangle community support for every facet of life, culture, and sport. A trip home can be comforting in its predictability or reveal a unique opportunity unfathomable hours prior.
It was this mid-morning flight that determined the angle of my documentation, supplemented by the mini-revelations along the banks of the Wabash. I spent the majority of my childhood outdoors, but my backyard was only a small indication of what my surroundings held. I won't always have an antique airplane ride to jostle my pre-conceived expectations of a place, but this one surely helped.
I'm currently in the process of editing a promo for "Clean Out Our Banks!" and will post once live. Here's a news package from WTIU of the event.
In a Sunburned Country and had me audibly exclaiming from his brutal descriptions of small-town life. In this book, Bill attempts to charge through the over 2,100 miles of mountainous footpath called the Appalachian Trail. This is probably as close as I'll come to tackling the trail myself, and through what vehicle would this vicarious journey be better than through the eyes of an underprepared 40+ year-old journalist and his even more underprepared, undermotivated, overweight, formerly alcoholic comrade.Read More
Dear Internet, I’ve been horrible, saying I’m going to write and then rarely following through. And it’s not for lack of noteworthy developments; this was an unbelievably unpredictable and diverse 2011, with certain promise of continuation in 2012.
Upon returning to Indiana this holiday season, to a world so different from my working one, I managed to find only one word that adequately describes my baffled reflection on the year’s events: weird. How did I experience the myriad twists, obstacles, and accomplishments that plopped me into the role I'm in now? Did that all really just happen? And I didn't even really get to tell you about it...
2011 was a weird year, and I don’t consider that word to be derogatory – for the most part. Here, Internet, let me fill you in on the tidbits worth noting.
Throughout childhood, New Year’s Eve was always an event I celebrated with gusto. Though I acknowledge it’s overrated nature today, it still feels like a beautiful night where the mind receives a flushing and a chance to redirect its thoughts at something more meaningful. Landmarks in time are meant to be celebrated, for they represent the act of highlighting the realities of our present.
Balls dropping, confetti clotting up my local sewage system, fireworks speckling the famous skyline - regardless of my surrounding atmosphere, I celebrated this widely observed holiday by sitting in my first apartment in my first real residence post-graduation, writing the previous observation and feeling pretty content to be warm, well-fed, and with a clean bathroom nearby. I braced for a big year in a conservative manner, apparently feeling the necessity for taking it easy when I could. It was on track to escalate quickly.
For months, I read books, studied Creole flashcards, and followed the news to develop an informed awareness of Haiti, my February destination for documentary work for The Haiti Project. Prior, the country seemed an inaccessible shell of a nation in my mind's eye, an unfair judgement based on insufficient exposure. It also seemed a destination only frequented by journalists, politicians, and celebrities seeking humanitarian glory.
After landing in Port-au-Prince, my silver dollar eyes focused behind a camera lens at both the headline-worthy and unexpectedly average. First conversations with this traveling crew - an investment banker, a doctor, and a politician - made my research immediately relevant. Smells, rocky rides, colors, and penetrating glances brought me back to Africa. The downtown area was the front page of the New York Times, the residential acres overlooking the city representing a side of Haiti I hadn't at all conceptualized - the affluent one. The stark contrast of my documentary subjects and nightly accommodations made for a racing brain, one that saw the nation as a whole - its past and present, the potential for its future.
Haiti is small, mountainous, and in possession of more culture than many countries exponentially larger. In pursuit of stories from Project Medishare, Hollywood Unites for Haiti, Edeyo, and the Cine Institute, we traversed the capital, the central plateau, and the coastal region of the south, also managing to witness a long-awaited Kanaval, fueled by pent-up emotion and necessary release from the earthquake thirteen months prior. Intensity, aggression, jubilation, and passion were on display from a hopeful and resilient crowd. Deep layers of humanity exposed put me in awe.
With the flavors of fried platanos and unmatched rice and beans still making my own cooking taste vastly inadequate, I stewed in New York City, contemplating Haiti and all that occurred on the whirlwind trip, including the unplanned encounter with then-candidate and current president of Haiti, Michel Martelly. As if that experience wasn't shocking enough, the dude started following me on Twitter a few days later. Still follows today. Is he messing with me?
Yes, that was odd to have a then-presidential candidate following my tweets about flying with cats and traveler's diarrhea, but what really defined the month was an impromptu visit by my favorite trail-blazing lumberjack, Alexis Reller. Together, we took advantage of Astoria's open spaces and Greek delicacies, free yoga and unseasonably warm St. Patrick's Day afternoons at beer gardens.
Qatar Airways plopped me at the Bangkok airport for production in Thailand, a project I witnessed from its conception. I found myself a girl in possession of $5 pants staying at the Shangri-La Hotel (or similar accommodations), where laundry services are clearly in proportion to my wardrobe value. The mission: to distill a country down to its identifying culture for use as academic resources in global education worldwide. My additional mission: to engage in a place I've pined to have an extended visit, absorbing all things food, massage, language, and culture-related.
Swirling a camera around a Muay Thai fighter, photographing behind the scenes of a Nang Yai shadow puppet performance, devouring multi-course tasting menus - I was fortunate to enter and exit Thailand with enough absorbed information as to get the country's cultural and historical significance on the world's stage. Getting cracked in half with Thai massages, mowing $1 pad thai from popular street vendors, meeting local restauranteurs down the beach from our hotel, hearing the story of a tsunami wrecking her family - I let myself be melted and molded by surrounding experiences in a more personal fashion.
Though Thailand is close to the counterpoint of Indiana, I found myself in close proximity of a fellow Wabashian also in the country for production. Cassie was in Phuket while I was in Bangkok, in Chiang Mai while I sat on a beach near Phuket, flying elsewhere while I was coincidentally getting trucked around by her former driver in Chiang Mai. Unfortunately, I couldn't meet up with her to chat on our polar opposing experiences in production (mine being a team of five, hers well over 100 for a hit ABC show) or reminisce about our childhood home. I'm happy we grew aware of the others coordinates and subsequently recognized the shared tendency to combine travel and film.
Post-Thailand was a much-needed personal trip to Vietnam and Laos. Joined by co-worker and friend Vijaya, we floated in the mist of Ha Long Bay, found an incredibly authentic bun thit nuong in a no-sign establishment, drank the blackest and most flavorful coffee from a makeshift street diner, and were surprised by the serenity of a Laotian night market. The trip was gritty. It was active. There were terrifying moments punctuated by relief and laughter. It was a trip that reminded me of RTW joy, though that desire for long-term travel has somewhat left my being, making space for the unexplainable urge to nest.
I returned to a mild New York City and emerged in the marketplace as a freelancer of all things content. I did things I never thought I'd get the opportunity to do. I unknowingly pitched an art magazine, exhibiting my photographic portfolio and leaving with affirmation that had me bouncing through Chelsea. I began writing features for Matador, for the first time really sensing journalistic accomplishment. I also did the unthinkable and flew my cat from Indianapolis to New York City. She hyperventilated to the point of drooling a fu manchu.
And things just kept happening. It was unsolicited confirmation that without direction to do work, I still do work - feverishly - so much so that I neglect my own writing and fulfillment projects. Within two weeks of this mad hustle, I obtained a job interview with a concept previously unfathomable to me: a traveling high school. It felt like travel, education, media, and youth combined to create my ideal activity. I had a long interview and a short lapse of time between the subsequent offer to visit the school in China.
And the cherry on top, my nephew was born.
I flew to China, met this traveling high school, and my mind was blown. Previously conceived notions of education were combined in a bag, shaken not stirred, and tossed like Yahtzee! dice onto my table of consciousness.
The offer came on the table to be the media specialist for THINK Global School - a full-time content creator, manager, and occasional instructor. In the meantime, before I began this first foray into salaried employment, I wrote like a fiend, took my portrait photography to new depths, celebrated a friend's marriage as a bridesmaid, and took advantage of my location by traveling to Boston.
And within months of the big relocation, I was organizing my departure, sad to leave the city but following a job worth the sacrifice. The feline went back in flight, and a subletter was en route. I accepted my return to the nomadic lifestyle with hesitance but eventual enthusiasm.
Just as I had done in May of 2008, I filled bags with my worthwhile earthly belongings and began living out of a bag. I had a bed thanks to cat-sitting in Brooklyn and started performing my new job tasks from every Asian restaurant in its vicinity - trying to consume every food I would miss in Ecuador. In preparation for my work as a one-woman production house, I investigated the art of the film title and reflected on my trajectory sans film school experience.
With a flight to the southern hemisphere looming a week away, I frantically tackled the goal of seeing New England - one of the reasons I moved to New York initially. Inspired by my trip to Boston the month prior, I rented a car to explore the coastline. Driving directions sat in my passenger seat but were never really utilized. It was usually dark outside before I knew where I was stopping or staying, but even with this seat-of-my-pants itinerary, it was refreshing, calm, and perfectly timed to see friends en route. Van Morrison serenaded me through five states, and my camera operated for no one but myself. For the first real time in maybe years, I was documenting my own adventures just for me.
Hurricane Irene did cut my road trip a bit short, but because of this highly-publicized natural disaster, I ended up driving around Brooklyn and Queens (an experience I always considered to scary to attempt) and meeting a long-time internet friend, Sierra Anderson; thankfully before her TLC reality show aired and she became an unattainable, high-rollin' television star.
This is me leaving New York City to Ecuador. Coincidentally, every taxi I took from the moment I signed my contract was operated by a chatty Ecuadorian. From the moment I hailed this cab until December 7th, my life never paused. After shooting back to Indiana for yet another great wedding of a great friend, September eased me into my future hectic schedule surrounded by international teens and ever-stacking responsibilities, which included:
Visiting the Amazon rainforest as the first high school group at Tiputini Biodiversity Station
Standing on an emergent atop the canopy, watching spider monkeys and killer ants
Floating down a piraña/anaconda/caiman/electric eel/vampire fish-invested river in nothing but a life vest for two hours
Spending my 26th birthday flying past three active volcanoes and taking six different types of transportation through the rainforest
Straddling the Equator, both the tourist line and the GPS-specific line, watching water swirl in opposite ways on both sides of the line
Taking over the creative arts teaching position for 26 students from 15 countries
Did you notice that last bullet point? Teaching. Not occasional instruction of the digital arts but all-out educating a classroom on the entire field of creative arts. Though had I gone for my Masters in Studio Art I would have taught more complex classes than this, I had to juggle my already-intensive job with learning how to manage a classroom of 26 international and inquisitive kids. I thought I was cognizant of the difficulty in a teacher's job, but it became screamingly clear of why it's full-time and worthy of at least four years of intensive study.
Maybe six days after returning from the Amazon rainforest, I marked off a Bucket List item and flew to the Galapagos islands. My class field trips were to the zoo an hour away, but here I was filming and photography 26 kids who got to cash in on a lucky life experience at age 15.
For one week, we lived on San Cristobál island, housing classes in a local university directly opposite a white and blue beach. It was here that I stood in front of two grade levels, wrote my first non-hypothetical lesson plan, and used advanced technology to engage students on some artistic concepts. I had what the profession calls a 'teaching moment' within first three days.
Following what some would already consider an immersive and whole experience in the Galapagos, we got on a boat and went island hopping. I photographed from the top of a truck up an unpaved road, hiked the rim of the second largest crater in the world, and saw tortoises bigger than a mini fridge. By the end of this entirely satisfying journey, I was wiped out and in need of a break after 37 days on the job straight.
I began teaching a medium I never even studied in school but only self-taught and learned through experience. But, of all the courses I've taken in my life, this area is surprisingly the one I feel most confident and qualified speaking about. For three weeks, I taught cinematic storytelling and film production, a unit which concluded with a film festival of original work by the students. It was a reminder of much we can construct for ourselves instead of waiting for a structure to provide life experiences.
What seemed previously like an infinity pool of time to utilize soon became a countdown clock drawing all of us away from Ecuador. I had to squeeze in another unit on social commentary, grade an intimidating stack of written critiques, continue to film, photograph, and edit the content reflecting our experiences, and simultaneously have my 'human being' time where I enjoyed the temporary coordinates of my employment.
With time quickly unraveling, we hopped in an SUV with our eyes set on summiting a magnificent hill: Barabon. It was one of the few moments we stopped to travel and enjoy each other's company in an environment of our own choosing. It was a refreshing morning.
Two terabytes of footage were beginning to burn a hole in my desk, impatiently awaiting their eventual coagulation into films for viewing. And so I grasped my week, squeezed it like a tube of paste for any excess time, and made an iMovie teaser for a trimester unseen.
Starting from our 3-month home of Cuenca, Ecuador, we took a bus and an SUV through the foothills of the Andes en route to Chimborazo province. The kids hammered into concrete, dug the foundation for a school, and shivered happily in a highland community for three days on a volunteer trip. This was our final Ecuadorian experience, other than a farewell party that had many of us in tears by morning's end. I was a mess, saying goodbye to a woman that shares many of my oddities and knowledge of northern Indiana 'culture': María del Mar, our host city specialist and Notre Dame graduate.
I've traveled alone for school, work, or play and returned home to the threat of reverse culture shock over ten times, and this one was (relatively) an absolute piece of cake. My longest duration in one place abroad; it didn't affect me adversely. I had some domestic hiccups, and at times I was inexplicably anxious to do anything. In the first 24 hours, I snuggled with my niece and nephew, drank cold ones with my brother, and got used to English interactions with strangers and driving everywhere. It wasn't until I visited my hometown that I realized the ride 2011 took me on.
Are you still working for that one company? Or is it now that other company? Where in the world are you these days? What do you do...I can't even keep up!
I attended a family wedding with hundreds of people I grew up with and answered my work question differently every time. I'm finding it exceedingly difficult to explain myself as I continue this organically-paved career path, and the further I move away from a 'travel phase' to a lifestyle choice, the harder it is for me not to brush it off as a weird and fleeting situation, for the sake of being relatable.
This all is weird. These opportunities all happen before I'm ready, and they defy the limits of this supposedly impossible job market. I've been learning how to swim by getting tossed in the deep end, and thankfully (so far), I've managed to adapt my strokes to stay afloat and keep swimming upstream. The only way 2011 could have accomplished a more elevated status of weird - edging into surreal - would have been if National Geographic called to fulfill the quintessential travel documentarian's dream. At least that would be a relatable job description that wouldn't leave me hungering for the right words for my self-definition.
More weird on the radar?
I rang in the new year with my lumberjack, mixing drinks behind the bar and enjoying our limited but valuable time together. Shortly after that stroke of 2012, I flew to Thailand, roughly my hometown's counterpoint. This year is already bound to be off course from the expected and normal. I've got my floaties on in preparation.
The opinions stated in this post are mine and do not reflect the positions, strategies, or opinions of THINK Global School.
Living in one place for a couple months - regardless of one's experience - inevitably causes nostalgia upon leaving and for a succeeding period of time. If it was a bad time, the pleasant memories override the bad, and if it was a good time, as was Ecuador, everything habitual and endearing continues to perpetuate once home again. In my case, the lingering reflexes from previous travels usually mess me up in Indiana - sometimes big time. I tend to call these the ironies of my lifestyle, but lately I feel it's more a deficiency in domestic knowledge, exacerbated by my fondness for the last three months of international living.
I can't live up to familial expectations
Once I knew my work dates for December, my sister-in-law planned her son's baptism around my schedule - to make sure I could definitely attend. And there I was on the morning of his christening, coffee in hand doing the two-step warm-up dance outside in tights, watching my friend's husband jump my borrowed car's battery where it sat 90 miles from the church. It's not too hard to remember to turn the headlights off in the pitch black of night the evening prior, but that's assuming one gets those pangs of common sense.
...because I'm used to: cheap taxis and close proximity
When my school's transportation or my feet couldn't take me where I needed to be, I could stand on a curb in the historic center and hail a yellow car that never cost more than $5, even for a twenty minute trip. Distances traveled - in this country smaller than Nevada - were relatively miniscule compared my US of A expectations.
In my breaths between trips, I rely on my wheeling-and-dealing car salesman of a brother to have a means of getting around. Taxis in Indiana are as scattered as stars with meters that run like Michael Johnson. Not efficient, easy, or happening.
I've got plumbing confusion.
Cuenca resembles an historic European city with cobblestone streets, cloth napkin lunches, and more ornate churches than there are Sundays in a year. It is a lovely town with enjoyable nightlife and beautiful rivers flanking the walkable center. That's the necessary introduction for my dear American audience that will be disgusted with the necessary toilet paper disposal method: a trash can.
...because I'm used to: weak sauce toilets
The plumbing in Ecuador generally requires an 'exit-stage-left' strategy for used tissue. Not to divulge my rituals behind closed stall doors, but I have yet to not be confused with the protocol since my return. In the same way that I don't remember my current continent when my daily alarm rings, I have to go through a process of remembering where I am and what I'm doing every time nature summons.
The motor skills flop when cooking duty calls.
Whereas my fifteenth year was marked by an obsession with Food Network, today I chop vegetables at the speed and with the delicacy of Remy's first try. I can make a spectacular explosion of coarsely slaughtered salad ingredients, which is actually my most coveted meal when abroad, but anything involving even marginal levels of calculation and finesse isn't possible for at least a month post-trip.
I've actually got a known track record with the Indianapolis Fire Department with this issue.
...because I'm used to: $3.50 lunch specials and constant group meals
Near the end of Cuenca, I realized I hadn't cooked for myself - not a saucepan touched - in months. It was more cost-effective and timely to eat at a nearby restaurant with wifi than it was to assemble something palatable in the hotel's kitchen. I also felt like a bothersome house guest when I tried. And eating with the students meant a pre-set menu consisting of meat and potatoes, sandwiched by a creamy soup and a fruit platter curtain call.
I'm speaking the wrong language.
Ecuador presented me with daily challenges to expand my language skills, much like New York gave me the sensation of world travel the moment I left my apartment. I was able to push beyond my fluency from senior year of high school and regain the abilities swiftly lost with the apprehension of Italian.
...because I'm used to: never being able to communicate with the surrounding majority
This is nothing new. I was saying naka to my mother two months after Fiji - instead of 'thank you' - and even though my recent firings of Spanish have hit some native speakers, I am forgetting how to communicate to people at home in daily, civil settings. I am used to being a fly on the wall and observing life I don't connect with personally. In this environment, I can pop in and pop out; obligation to the place is non-existent.
With every trip abroad, the return home gets easier. I'm hoping these are the remnants of a dying reverse-culture shock trend. It's a plan to tackle one or more of these issues while in Thailand...and again when I return to the great US of A.
I've decided that, these days, if I can produce a blog post a month, I'm a lucky gal. Lucky to find breaths between beloved jobs to do similar work of my own volition. Lucky to be able to reflect on experiences and milk what value can be gathered. I doubt the cafe I edited in today for four hours felt lucky to have a table occupied by a one cappuccino gal, but I'm lucky I found that space this month to process my August road trip through New England. What was meant to be a longer trek through areas of Maine and Vermont had to be cut short due to the panic surrounding Hurricane Irene. The trip had no conclusion in real time. It felt like a rush job of a trip, even more so the documentation of it, but what resulted is a video exalting the thing I studied most - the water that I feel sources so much of the grit and character of New Englanders.
I was surprisingly unfocused on my fleeting dollars being allocated to gas, the pile of money I dropped for the rental car, or my lack of accurate driving instructions or lodging reservations. The nausea I usually reserve for typical tourist activity - the expensive kind - took a vacation as well. Instead, I felt loosely propelled by the desire to consume miles of coastline and smell a breeze conceived hemispheres away.
Like gulping sweet water in the middle of the night, driving was refreshing after my nine month car-fast, a guilty binge on air, music, and speed with a known expiration. And with this limited excursion, I caught wind of what a conventional adult vacation smells like - not bad at all, in fact pleasantly normal, if infrequent and savored for its rarity.
My entire summer was a jig-saw puzzle to assemble. Trips, subleases, weddings, births, and work were spaced out just so, as to make every two-week chunk a mystery until it was present. All flights were booked dangerously close to the week of departure, some including feline carry-ons and 12 hour durations. On top of air chaos, I often didn't know where I was going to be living or how to coordinate the housing of my cat (while she was still being a vagabond in New York). Newly cat-free and with a new job supplying accommodations for nine months out of the year, I decided against having a place in New York City and got a subletter lined up immediately.
There was a lapse of time between leaving my apartment and the start of work accommodations, leaving me temporarily homeless and living out of bags - something I tend to enjoy. During one of those weeks, I decided to rent a car and witness a region I've barely visited: New England.
Until I can whip up a fantastic video, here is a photoblog courtesy of my Blackberry.
Driving out of Queens in my first rental car
Reaching Mystic, CT at dusk to witness fishermen and draw bridges
Beautiful blue light at dusk around the marina
Stalked by a skunk while exploring Mystic at night
The woodsy Harbour Inn & Cottage in Mystic, CT where I soaked in a hot tub by the marina
French toast with apple and cheddar at Kitchen Little in Mystic, CT
Too bad I skipped the eggs
Cape Cod's Chatham coast where JAWS had some scenes filmed
First bowl of clam chowder in a fitting place - Cape Cod
Sunrise off Cape Ann, the filming location and real life setting for The Perfect Storm
Seasick while whale watching, but well worth it
Gloucester had that crusty charm I was hoping to find
Beautiful skies while driving toward Hurricane Irene and New York City
Await with bated breath the real deal documentation.
I took a vacation for myself, and it was evidence enough that the casual weekend away should be more of a priority. It was close by, surprisingly economical, and equivalent to a routine enema - a metaphorical flushing of habitual activity, not your bi-weekly bowl of Colon Blow. Here's a vignette of my weekend with friends in Boston, Massachusetts.
I'm overly focused on the long-term trip, when really there are far more people (especially in America) poised and prepared to go somewhere for a couple days than there are people raring for an RTW. Are there any weekend trips you've always wanted to take but haven't yet? Tell me about it, and then go book your Megabus ticket.
Video Editing Note: In this vignette, I wanted to play with the idea of aged, albeit timeless, summer footage, which matched perfectly with this Peanuts-reminiscent soundtrack by Jeris. Of course, I had to include the beautiful capacity of the DSLR video during most of the video clips. I also did a lot of research on how to create the 35mm slide projector look. If you're pining for the HD version, head to Vimeo. Any tips or feedback?
Empire of Illusion came into my hands over a long dinner in Astoria. The carcass of a quality tapas spread and octopus massacre lay in between myself, a New York City civil servant, and an emergency room doctor. The combination of my background and recent experience prompt many big city people to ask questions about potential conflicts of thought, action, norms, etc. They are usually on point.Read More