Thursday, December 21, 2006

One year later.

Well, this is it. Today is the one-year anniversary of my return from My Travel Year. One year ago today I woke up in Honduras and went to sleep in Connecticut. One year ago I bid goodbye to the life of freedom I had grown accustomed to over the previous ten months. I returned home to my family and a hectic schedule of holiday visits. To cold weather and the responsibilities of a job search (admittedly I didn't jump on that too quickly) and ultimately to the 9-to-5, earning-a-salary-and-paying-bills lifestyle.

Some days, I start to wax nostalgic about my travel life. I think about the decisions I made each day: stay or go? what to see? who to talk to? where to go next? who to travel with, who to leave behind? The decisions I make these days seem so much more mundane: what to wear? which e-mails to respond to first? what to make for dinner? I am struck by the lack of control I seem to have on my day-to-day life. I have to go to work, because I have to earn money, because I have to pay my bills. Sometimes I think about the freedom I had last year and I get a sick feeling inside, because I'm afraid I'll never have that again.

But then, I remember the good things about coming back. I love being closer to my family. I love having a home to return to each day: parking lot, mailbox, house keys; familiar table, familiar bed, familiar shower. I like my job. I like being productive and sharing my ideas. I like seeing the same people each day and getting to know some of them. I like the fact that I am starting to get to know the streets and shops and landmarks of my new home, and that slowly, bit by bit, I am starting to meet people and make friends.

I would never choose to live a nomad's life forever. I loved travelling (and I definitely plan to do my fair share of it in the future) and this one-year mark is sad because those days keep moving further and further back into my past. But I need stability as much as I sometimes need adventure. As hum-drum as the daily routine can be, that's normal life and that's what I want. But I wish everybody could have the chance I had last year--to discover total freedom, and to escape from responsibilities and the demands of the modern world.

And of course, if someone offered to trade my Aeron chair in my office for a hammock on a Caribbean beach, I'd take that trade in a flash.

Saturday, December 16, 2006


Besides working and procrastinating, I also have another new hobby. Inspired by what I saw in Buenos Aires, I joined the ballroom dance club here to take tango classes. It took me a while to get into it, but I'm definitely getting better. This week I even went to a tango evening at a local bar, and will go to another one this coming week. I'm just worried that during the 3-week semester break between classes I will forget everything I've learned. Anyway, stay tuned...if I keep it up, maybe someday I'll look like the lady in this video:

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Don't I have something better to do?

A few months ago, I started using Google Reader to keep track of all the blogs and various other sites I read. One of their features are "bundles" of sites you can sign up for. For instance, they have a Sports bundle, and if you sign up for that, you get all the updates of sites like Sports Illustrated, BBC Sport, and some sports blogs. I didn't sign up for that, but I did sign up for their photography bundle, which is fun--and I added to that the feed for my friend Dave's photoblog--if you enjoyed my photos of Latin America, check out his. I just about die of nostalgia when I see them.

I also signed up for their "thinkers" bundle, which has also been fun. It includes some articles which I don't really have to think about (like some of's celebrity news), some that I do have to think about quite a bit, and some which I have to think so hard to understand that it makes my brain hurt.

Anyway, that gives me lots of reading material, which is proving to be a bad thing right now. The semester is drawing to a close, and I'm discovering that after an 8+ year hiatus from school, my procrastination habit never went away. With 5 days left until the day I have both a paper due and a final, I am beginning to panic. But speaking of which, one of those "thinkers" recently wrote an article about the potential economic benefits of procrastination. I didn't really understand exactly what it's all about, but at least it made me feel like I'm in good company. There's something ironic about it, though: instead of doing the work I should be doing, I'm reading an article about procrastination. And then instead of doing my work, I'm blogging about reading an article about procrastination. Maybe I'm a hopeless case.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

The Forbes Fictional 15

Here's something fun that I never knew existed: each year Forbes names its list of the top 15 richest fictional characters, and this year's list came out a couple of weeks ago. What a fun list! I'm especially amused by Monty Burns and Mario's appearances. I'm dismayed by the fact that only one woman made the list, but slightly consoled that at this rate, Little Orphan Annie should top it in a few short years.

Since I've missed out on previous lists, I don't know who else has been cut from the list in recent years. Where's Jay Gatsby? Are we talking constant dollars here? Or is he disqualified because he's dead? How about Midas? Who else should make the list?

The list:
1. Oliver "Daddy" Warbucks
2. C. Montgomery Burns
3. Scrooge McDuck
4. Richie Rich
5. Jed Clampett
6. Mr. Monopoly
7. Bruce Wayne
8. Tony Stark
9. Prince Abakaliki of Nigeria
10. Thurston Howell III
11. Willy Wonka
12. Lucius Malfoy
13. Tony Montana
14. Lara Croft
15. Mario