Archive for April, 2004

I had a great day. I woke up at noon and read Scientific American over a lunch of turkey and dressing at a local restaurant. Then I rode around town aimlessly for while in my Caprice Classic just seeing what there was to see.

That took up some time….I probably got back home around three. Then I watched some of the Rockets/Lakers game until I got sleepy around 4. Because I was sleepy I decided to take a nap… I did that and it turned out to be a good idea. I was very happy when I woke up around 6….but I was a little hungry.

So I went to get some more food. This time I ate a Triple Lindy Burrito from Moe’s and read this month’s issue of Fortune magazine. Scientific American was more interesting. Did you know the Universe may not have started at the big bang? Did you know that everything might be made of massless one dimensional strings vibrating at different frequencies? We’re all made of strings. Crazy.

After that I purposely got lost on the way home so I could see something new and then I watched Star Trek Andromeda, with captain Dylan Hunt. Anne thinks I have a man crush on him, but that isn’t true. We’re just friends. I don’t like him like that. I do, however, have an crush on the alien chick with red hair. The android is pretty hot too.

As I was just sitting here thinking about what a nice day it was I remembered that Sunday is the day on which most suicides occur. I learned this curious fact in Chile from my psychologist roommate who also happened to be a great drummer.

Anyway, the theory goes that during the week you are busy and, though your life may suck, you are distracted from that fact by all your busyness. Then on Saturday you are likely hungover from the drinking you do on Friday to celebrate the fact you’ve made it through another useless, mind numbing week.

But on Sunday, after things quiet down from the activities of Saturday, you are allowed some time to contemplate your state of affairs and mentally prepare for another blisteringly average week. It is at this point that the suicides occur, when one takes stock and realizes they can’t bear another week.

Well, it is Sunday and this was by far the best day of my week. Things are pretty good I guess.

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I am too tired.

Last night on the way back from the wedding in Charleston after three straight days of drinking and 7 hours on the road, my car had a blowout at 10 o’clock on a lonely stretch of highway an hour north of Atlanta.

I changed the tire on the side of the highway without a flashlight in pitch black with cars whizzing by. Then the spare went flat. And that was just the beginning. I got to bed at 3 and woke up at 7.

Needless to say, today sucked….or at least what I remember of it. Its all a little hazy. Its embarrassing to sit in meetings when you can’t hold your eyes open. You can’t look at people without squinting cause they burn so bad. That is besides the pain of actually having to sit through the meetings on their own merit.

Oh well, I’m not fishing for pity. I’m just too tired to write about anything else.

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When I moved to Atlanta I decided not to have a TV because I didn’t feel like paying for cable….too expensive.

Guess what?? I didn’t think I would really miss TV and I found out I didn’t.

I got a cable internet connection instead. Its only 30 bucks a month. I read stuff and learn stuff…its much more stimulating and interactive. I can download movies and listen to CD quality radio. I love it.

Then I got to thinking about how cable works. Basic cable is broadcast to everyone with a live cable jack.

In essence, cable doesn’t send you the channels you order….it just sends all the channels to everyone and uses filters to restrict access. The filters are extra work.

Oversimplifying, cable internet uses empty channels to surf the web. My cable modem is sort of permanently set to watch the “internet channel”.

So I plugged in a TV to watch the other channels. And now I get free cable.

I’m thinking about giving the TV back. It is a time vacuum.

Not that I have anything else to do.

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I’ve been asked this question a thousand times.

And I’ve given a thousand different answers….usually something inspiring, because that is what people want. The draw is the romance…a life you don’t have, something safe to desire because you will never get it. People dream of far off places simply because they are far off.

What would be left to dream of if one day you went there?

The danger is when you desire something attainable. Then it has the chance of becoming real.

I got this email a few day ago, and was going to give him an answer, but I’ll post it here instead. I assume he stumbled across my travel journal somehow. It happens sometimes.

— wrote:
> Date: Tue, 30 Mar 2004 01:39:29 GMT
> To:
> Subject: hello….
> From:
> i was wondering what you do for a living and how you
> are able to travel the world? I’m 18 and would love
> to have such a job and explore and see what lies
> outside of this piece of crap known as Oklahoma
> haha. thanks!
> Joel

Dear Joel,

What do I do for a living? Hmm…..I thought you were asking about travel? The two are mostly unrelated.

I’ve met some people that made a living traveling. I met a guy in Morocco who was a “movie set locator” and part time asteroid hunter. I met a girl in Turkey who wrote for Lonely Planet…but only in that region. I don’t think she traveled very much.

I met some other folks too…most of them weren’t making a living traveling, but were simply travelers who got stuck somewhere and had forgotten how to go home.

Most of these people were either a) wacked in the head or b) gone for so long they didn’t care anymore that they were wacked in the head.

So…back on topic: What do I do for a living?

If you ever decide to really make a go at traveling then that is exactly what you will be doing for a living: Traveling.

When I tell the story of what I did for the 5 years between college and graduate school (something I rarely do) I say I was a professional traveler…because that is all I really did.

If I were to measure those years any other way they would be considered an unequivocal failure. I certainly have no material possesions to show nor any career advancement to put on a resume. How do you measure a life?

So….I don’t really see that there is a link between what you do for a living (careerwise) and travel. The few people who have linked the two have simply succeeded in taking the magic out of travel. Never turn it into a task.

Next question: How did I do it? This may be the more practical part for Joel and anyone else wishing to spend some years on the road.

Most people, when they ask “how I did it”, are asking about money. The short answer, from a financial standpoint, is that it is easy.

Travel is not the same as vacation. Vacations are expensive. One pays rent and car payments…insurance, phone and cable bills while they vacation. Vacations are pre-arranged for limited periods of time at specific locations. It eliminates hassles. I admit it.

Travel maximizes hassles. Travel is not a vacation. It is a lifestyle. One pays nothing while they travel but the night’s lodging, food and whatever it costs to get drunk. Travel is spur of the moment, for an undetermined amount of time in any direction that seems appropriate. It is immediate and visceral.

I remember I lived in Israel on the Dead Sea and traveled the Middle East for 6 months for 3500 dollars. How much money will you spend in the US over the next 6 months???

The fact is that it is cheaper to live abroad than it is to order Dominos Pizza and watch cable TV every night on your broke ass sofa back home.

I paid 10 cents a night one time for a “hotel” in Nepal. I paid 50 cents a night and 13 cents a meal in Jordan. That shit don’t add up very fast. You can stay gone for a long time on next to nothing. Of course I also paid 5 dollars for a crepe one time in France and 3 dollars for a Coke in Venice. It depends on where you go.

The question isn’t the money. We all run across the money eventually and it can be made on the road if you wish. I taught English for a year in Taiwan. I made a boatload of cash…at least from a travel perspective.

It is the desire, the compulsion to go that is in question. Remember travel isn’t a vacation, or even a very long vacation. It is a lifestyle. It is a drug.

The question is why to go in the first place. What is it about your present life that is dissatisfying? What do you hope to find on the road?

I will tell you: in the end all you will find is undiscovered corners of yourself. All destinations, however exotic, tend to look the same after a while. Whatever dissatisfaction you sought to alleviate on the road will only be magnified once you return home. The change you create in yourself will be a permanent reminder that nothing else changed in your absence.

And now we diverge into the mysticism of travel. Where do we find our religion? We all have to believe in something. It all becomes more than rational sooner or later.

So do I suggest leaving Oklahoma and taking up the travel lifestyle??? I don’t know. Actually, yeah. I suggest it. I’ll tell you why in a minute.

Am I just a bitter old curmudgeon who doesn’t appreciate the fact he has lived what other people only dream of? Uhh…sometimes I guess I am. But I refer you to the second paragraph of this post: “The draw is the romance…a life you don’t have, something safe to desire because you will never get it”.

What happens when you get it? I admit regular life is sometimes a little underwhelming after years of travel. You will have changed. Your former life will seem even smaller than it did before and it will be years before you are able to make peace with that.

So why do I suggest it? The name of my website is Chasing Eden. Notice I didn’t name it Finding Eden…cause that sure as hell ain’t any fun. But I promise you the time of your life chasing it.

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