As You Like (To See) It, A Traveler's Melancholy

Though relatively young, and therefore jovial, and the product of a content childhood packed with humor, I've grown into someone that is constantly asked:

Are you unhappy?

Fijian Funeral Week

Fijian Funeral Week

Bawling at the table in my Italian family's home, seeming a mystery to the black and white of intercontinental correspondence, being irrationally testy at home, where the bubble is supposed to pet and nurture positivity; evidence seems to side with either insanity or discontentment. Why do I move, and therefore search, without landing on what will actually placate my soul? Am I attempting to obtain something intentional that is completely out of reach? Does no destination stop the longing to be somewhere else?

Am I carving my lifestyle with a bitter blade that hopes its creation won't win?

Whoa…I laid it on fast and deep, right into the pit of a wanderer's insatiable quandary - the unavoidable knife that static souls jab into the sides of vibrating shadows in the daylight.

What makes a person happy?

For what is a traveler traveling?

Are we unhappy, or does the world fulfill us?

And if it doesn't, what could ever hope to fulfill someone if the world cannot?

These aren't the constant thoughts in my head, as a brain with these fly-by musings would pound itself into whatever wall is closest. However, there are triggers in life that create wormholes for these trains of thought to come through. Yesterday's trigger was a movie by William Shakespeare, As You Like It.

As You Like It

As You Like It

Now, I'm aware that spouting off conceptual prose and quoting Shakespeare immediately makes me seem like an elitist with my four fingers in my buttons like a forefather. I watched this movie because it was at the library, because I'm hoping to learn more about storytelling and cinematography, and because I realized that approaching Shakesperean English the way I approach Spanish yields the same general understanding that reveals more to me of the language than I knew before.

In this play, a woman, exiled to the woods where she disguises herself as a boy for safety, spends a little time chatting with a man who is often found dragging his feet and wallowing in his own gloom. You may call him a melancholy fellow, if you talked like a 16th century Brit. I found the following passage to be amusing, hopefully not seeing my own reflection with too much clarity in the man's visage.

They say you're a melancholy fellow.

I am so. I do love it better than laughing.

Those that are an extremity of either are abominable fellows and betray themselves to every modern censure worse than drunkards.

Why? Tis good to be sad and say nothing.

Why then? Tis good to be a post.

I have neither the scholar's melancholy, which is emulation, nor the musician's, which is fantastical, nor the courtier's, which is proud, nor the soldier's, which is ambitious, nor the lawyer's, which is politic, nor the lady's, which is nice, nor the lover's, which is all these, but it is a melancholy of mine own, compounded of many simples, extracted from many objects, and indeed the sundry contemplation of my travels, in which my often rumination wraps me in a most humorous sadness.

A traveler? By my faith you have great reason to be sad. I fear you've sold your own lands to see other man's, and to have seen much and have nothing is to have rich eyes and poor hands.

…..Yes. I have gained my experience.

I'd rather have a fool to make me merry than an experience to make me sad. And to travel for it, too…

Rosalind from As You Like It

Rosalind from As You Like It

I'm no master interpreter of Old Billy Boy, and since we know smarty boys like Frost love the satisfaction of deceptive prose, I'm hesitant to think the literal meaning of this dialogue is the point he's trying to make.

Is the traveler a fool, to make himself a hobo and satisfied only by other's possessions, from which he himself runs?

Is the traveler a fool, to find richness in experiences that can be lost with a quick blow to the head, though things can be lost just as quickly?

Is the traveler a sad fool, hoping to convince everyone he has harnessed the richness of the world's best?

And so I conclude my rambling in hopes I hear from you, the reader. If it's not necessarily melancholy but a deep and pensive state, do you feel Shakespeare is making a sad observation of travelers? Is this a dated view of possessions vs. experiences? What do you think of this passage and concept?

Comment below or contact me personally. I'm interested in dialogues, and without a rebuttal or echo, I'm merely talking to myself.

Consume & Update: Tony, Mallory, and My Glory Days

Consume & Update: Tony, Mallory, and My Glory Days

For those of you who follow me on twitter, you may know my grandmother passed away two weeks ago. I apologize if my quality of work falls a bit in this next month or two, because this is one death that will keep hitting me for a while. Soon to come is a post about her and the side of her I don't yet know all about: her world traveling side. The research begins this week. She was one cool lady.

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Consume & Update: Rowing, Journey, and Carnival

Are you getting pumped for the Carnival of Blogs starting tomorrow? Yeah, I thought so. That's why you're here today to warm those eyes up and read about the rest of the online travel world, so you won't feel guilty spending all your time here next week! I can read you like a book...or a blog!

Eat, Pray, Watch

This book was borderline for me, like a Frances Mayes novel that leaves me unsure of whether I enjoyed it or not. But there's no doubt that this new movie based on Eat, Pray, Love will offer amazing visuals and a good feeling lingering. Maybe I'm excited about this movie because I can relate to the act of taking a journey that moves me and documenting its entirety. I like Elizabeth Gilbert and think she's talented at verbalizing the benefits of creativity, and so I approach this film trailer simultaneously pumped up, envious, and irked. What do you think about this new movie coming out?

The World's Biggest Pool

My internal monologue immediately said "Whoooooa" upon seeing this image. Check out this crazy spectacle, courtesy of the Intelligent Travel blog.

The Poetic Journey

This week, Chris Guillebeau brings to our attention a poem about movement, about redesigning your life against the status quo, about a mental side of travel that usually leaves you squirming if left unvocalized.

The Journey

One day you finally knew what you had to do, and began, though the voices around you kept shouting their bad advice— though the whole house began to tremble and you felt the old tug at your ankles. “Mend my life!” each voice cried. But you didn’t stop. You knew what you had to do, though the wind pried with its stiff fingers at the very foundations, though their melancholy was terrible. It was already late enough, and a wild night, and the road full of fallen branches and stones. But little by little, as you left their voices behind, the stars began to burn through the sheets of clouds, and there was a new voice which you slowly recognized as your own, that kept you company as you strode deeper and deeper into the world, determined to do the only thing you could do— determined to save the only life you could save.

~Mary Oliver

What Have You Done by 22?

This story is fantastic. If I only had the iron will and guts to do this, I think I'd like to. But nay, I don't think I'll ever accomplish something like Katie Spotz and row across the Atlantic age 22! I read about stories similar to this all the time, but this one struck a cord in me (and gave me one or two goosebumps). Check out her website, Row for Water.

Other Discoveries

Vagablogging does it again...great musing about being oblivious abroad

Cherry blossoms must emit an intoxicating odor, because for some reason, I'm amazed by them!

One thing I need to work on: letting myself pay a little more for better, authentic food elsewhere

Good question...Does every culture understand sarcasm? Man, either some don't or my jokes don't translate across borders.

Happy belated Passport Day!

Update on Nomadderwhere

Tomorrow is the big day! Can you guess what it could be? It's the Carnival of Blogs! That's right. Tomorrow marks the 1st anniversary of my domain, and though that doesn't mean much to most people, I'm turning it into a blog post party! That means starting tomorrow, I'll be publishing a post per day, including: the ultimate travel video of this year's best, giveaways, a new series, as well as the original work you come here for in the first place!

1 Minute or Less Moments: There's still so much you haven't seen from our trip to Fiji, which is why I'm on week four of posting raw video files onto my Nomadderwhere Facebook Fan page. This week, new videos are ready for your viewing eyes. Click on the icon below to watch the Fijian boys pound and mix the kava and be sure to check out the video of me harassing a guy doing bench presses. Always a good time...

Nomadderwhere's Facebook Fan Page

Nomadderwhere's Facebook Fan Page

Also, join my Facebook event highlighting the Carnival of Blogs and show your support for all the great stuff coming your way. Joining this will get you links to each day's posts and allow you to mingle with other travel fanatics!

Ten Great Ideas for Chicago

I traveled with my parents recently to Chicago, Illinois for a week of displacement and the entertainment that ensues. My time was enjoyable and low key, full of new discoveries and ample free wifi time at Borders for work. I thought I would share some of the things that made this trip stellar. Here are ten great ideas for Chicago (the order is chronological).

1. The Megabus

Megabus from Indy to Chicago

Megabus from Indy to Chicago

$1 Seats on Megabus

$1 Seats on Megabus

Instead of driving the 3+ hours along the Chicago Skyway and through the cornfields of the Region, my mom snagged us discount seats on this double-decker bus equipped with AC, free wifi, a bathroom, and a full skylight across the entire second deck. Aside from the woman talking loudly on her phone for the last 10 miles, the ride was fantastic and well worth the normal ~$20 ticket price. However, we bought ours on a special promotional deal for $1 each. You read right...

2. The Signature Room

Chicago from the Signature Room

Chicago from the Signature Room

Riding the elevator up to the 96th floor of the Hancock Building is a tad typical for an out-of-towner to do (a Chicagoan friend laughed at me later for doing this), but I think my two other friends from Chicago (who accompanied me on this excursion) would agree: the Signature Room at sunset is cliche for a valid reason.

Not only was the wait tolerable, but we snagged the best table in the house, at the very southwest edge of the building closest to the sinking sun. We ordered schmancy cocktails and took photos of ourselves with Chicago's pastel skyline. People continuously bumped my back trying to get in for that final shot of the disappearing star, and though I wanted to shout, "YOU NEED A TRIPOD!," I followed the mantra of "serenity now" and enjoyed the view for all it was worth. And ladies, note the best city view is actually from the ladies room! Just another reason why we're better...

3. The Best Tapas in Town

Cafe Ba-Ba-Reebas!

Cafe Ba-Ba-Reebas!

I received word from two different people that Cafe Ba-Ba-Reebas! in Lincoln Park had the greatest and most authentic tapas in the city. Since my cousin is a budding foodie and my other friend lived in Spain and learned to cook there, I took their advice as fast as I took down my sangria.

Rioja short ribs with manchego mashed potatoes, house meat plate with serrano, salchichon, chorizo, chicken & artichoke paella, crispy spicy potatoes with sun-dried tomato alioli, and warm potato & onion omelette - everything tasted so flavorful, even my friends who had been here before were amazed and raving. The thrill of good food doesn't get old.

4. The Blues at Kingston Mines

Duke Tumatoe's crowd

Duke Tumatoe's crowd

Though I haven't sat in a classroom for 1.5 years, I flashed my international student ID (courtesy of STA Travel, ha) for a $5 price cut off my cover into Chicago's oldest and largest real blues joint. It was an older, very relaxed crowd that felt completely opposite to the environment we'd previously been in at a local college bar.

Duke Tumatoe claimed the late shift that Saturday night and had people dancing like flopping sardines in the little space allotted just in front of the stage. I had some beers, put my hands up, and let my boots do some stompin'. I like the blues, and I love atmospheres like this one.

5. Brunch in Lincoln Park

John's Place

John's Place

Sitting on the sidewalk, orange leaves falling into my hair, I ate some high quality granola, yogurt, fruit and poached eggs with good company. Regardless of where you dine in this neighborhood, I think this is the ultimate way to take in a good weather day in Chicago. John's Place isn't a Mecca of breakfast food but it's no exception to the rule either. My advice is to find a similar place with a relaxed atmosphere, and you're guaranteed to spend the rest of your day in a fairly good mood.

6. Carnivale for the Taste Buds



This restaurant embodies the essence of the word and the party. What seems to be a massive warehouse, covered in brilliant paint with lights the size of elephants, makes up the main arena for the festive food consumption. I got on those caiprinhas without a lick of hesitation but let our waiter guide me to the best entree of the house: the pork chop.

The pork chop at Carnivale

The pork chop at Carnivale

My cousin hit the bullseye twice, once with the tapas joint and twice with this "nuevo latino" recommendation. He and his newlywed, Ashley, joined us in tackling the awesome appetizers, entrees, and the final kahuna: a three-layer, ice cream cake with chocolate syrup. I forget what it's called because I pulled a "Homer drool" upon seeing it placed on our table.

7. The Art Institute of Chicago

This is no hidden gem; this is an obvious item on on the list. The AIC is up there on the list of the nation's best art museums and truly has the ability to impress most, if not all, art lovers. Caravaggio's The Supper at Emmaus now sits in an oversized room with many of its similar style and proves itself superior to all. Caillebotte's Paris Street, Rainy Day begins the long line of impressionist works through the central galleries. I made a little video to illustrate the AIC experience. Come on along with me...

8. The Siskel Film Center

The Siskel Film Center

The Siskel Film Center

Whether this attraction is popular or not is a bit ambiguous judging from the Monday night crowd of tens, but its location lends to the idea that everyone knows about the Siskel Film Center (across from the Chicago Theater). It calls itself "Chicago's premier movie theater" and shows world-class international, independent and classic cinema.

My parents and I viewed the film Afghan Star, which is:

A sleeper hit at this year’s Sundance Film Festival...In an Afghanistan recently freed from the Taliban, the equivalent of American Idol has become the national obsession. Two men and two women make it to the finals, and the country’s first baby-steps into democracy involve voting for their favorites via cell phone. The excitement is at fever pitch, then one of the female contestants performs an unthinkable, horrifying, death-defying act: she lets her head-scarf slip a bit and she dances on national TV.

9. Three Happiness in Chinatown

"Little" Three Happiness

"Little" Three Happiness

Don't be confused by the massive restaurant of the same name that smacks you in the face upon getting to Chinatown. That's not the establishment I'm referring to. Apparently, locals refer to it as "little three happiness," as the acclaimed restaurant seems but another modest family-owned joint among many.

I had no idea what to order and hoped the lady would sense I was up for anything, even the pot-o-love created for their employees' lunches. The waitress treated me very kindly but assumed I wasn't too experienced with Chinese food (since I told her I had no preference and wanted her recommendations). I asked for spicy and got medium...along with silverware. Slap in the face! I put my ego aside and just enjoyed what she brought me: schezwan chicken with vegetables over steamed rice. I don't think I left a grain of rice on the plate, nor a drop of tea in the kettle.

It was worth it just to get away from the high rises for a few hours and see a neighborhood less visited than most. If only Indianapolis had similar 'hoods.

10. The Silver Palm and the Little Pigs

Three Little Piggys at the Silver Palm

Three Little Piggys at the Silver Palm

At a sorority sister's recommendation, I took the blue line out to The Silver Palm Restaurant, a stop on my list thanks to the Chicago episode of No Reservations. As my friends and I strolled into this train car-turned-dining room, ginger gimlets and margaritas on our lips, I felt the challenge summoning me. I ordered the house speciality: the Three Little Pigs sandwich. After Tony's rave review, I had no choice but to order:

"This is a work of genius, in an evil way.... A two-fisted symphony of pork, cheese, fat, and starch... that sandwich is the greatest sandwich in America. This is the apex of the sandwich-making art... the sandwich that dreams are made of."

I did it. I can't believe I ate the whole thing. I couldn't lie on my stomach that night, but I felt pure satisfaction after its consumptions, quickly followed by meat sweats.

Other great ideas for Chicago (courtesy of my friends):

Mahzoh ball soup at Frances on Clark Street Walk along the lake to Millennium Park Have a wine-centric meal at BIN 36 The Greek Islands restaurant in Greektown on Halstead The Museum of Contemporary Art Playing a game of Whirlyball Having lunch behind the Civic Opera Building The Violet Hour Bar Seeing Jersey Boys or the Million Dollar Quartet Going to Nookies for Omelets Staying up until the wee hours and ordering a chocolate shake at the Weiner Circle Hot Doug's for a Chicago-style hot dog The Map Room with its wild selection of craft beers Great hibachi restaurant called Ron of Japan's on Ontario

What do you think about my ten great ideas for Chicago? Any personal experience with these or do you have one to add to this ever-growing list? Comment below, and thanks for reading!

Johnny Boy's Back

Who's this Johnny fellow, you say? Why our fearless Indy native whose name evokes terror in the minds of the Great Depression bank industry. Dillinger. John Dillinger.This dude was a quintessential 1930s gangster, a ruthless gunman and bank robber, and now the subject of Hollywood's newest action-thriller starring the ever-heartthrobby Johnny Depp: Public Enemies.

Why am I interested in this? Frankly, I'm not, but there's been talk that Indianapolis may try to capitalize on this potential moment for tourism, however miniscule that influx may be. And one of those spots sure to be on the "tour" would be the Noodle that is Slippery. Yes, my second hometown hot spot from my STA application video: The Slippery Noodle Inn. Remember the bullet holes in the wall from notorious Hoosier gangsters? Yup, Johnny Boy put those there when the same building was his hide-out.When I'm traveling, I love these moments where history and reality converge in my own perception. But when I'm at home, these moments rarely occur...either because I don't look for them or they just don't pop up in Indianapolis as easily as they could in NYC, Philadelphia or pretty much anywhere. I apologize, Indianapolis, for speaking a tad poorly of you. You know I don't mean it. I'm just excited we're a setting for something on the silver screen.