Trail of Crumbs

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… and I’m pretty okay with that.

I am conflicted and hopeful. I guess politics will do that to you.

I got home last week from my first trip ever to D.C. It was brief, yet felt monumental in all sorts of ways. Perhaps because I was surrounded by monuments.

 

It was my first trip to the nation’s capital, and my first truly solo trip. That seems strange and almost impossible – I’m a travel blogger, after all. I should go places alone (and, indeed, I spend most of my travel days by myself, roaming around the city). But the actual traveling aspect of the trip has never been solo. I’ve always flown with a friend, or Rand, or arrived somewhere and met family or loved ones. I’ve never landed in a strange city, truly on my own.

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Sign in Roseburg.

 

On the flight back from Africa, which clocked in at a momentous 21 hours and 25 minutes, with an almost-comical 8 hour layover, I finished Caitlin Moran’s How to Be a Woman at the suggestion of a friend. It is an excellent missive on feminism and growing up, altogether hilarious and at times touching. One that I highly recommend.

Many of the chapters resonated with me, but one story in particular struck a cord. She describes an article she wrote early in her writing career, in which she skewered an album by Ned’s Atomic Dustbin. She talks about how the album itself wasn’t that bad – innocuous really, and perhaps not all that interesting, but not terrible. Mediocrity is, as any writer or reviewer knows, a notoriously difficult thing to write about. “It was okay” is not that compelling of an experience. It dooms all criticism about said experience to occupy that same space. Rarely is a review about something mediocre better than the subject itself. But give a writer something truly wonderful, or, better yet, truly terrible, on which to express their opinion, and watch how they shine.

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Phew.

Being interviewed by Dave in Australia, and trying not to giggle because that’s what I tend to do while on camera.

 

Things have been a whirlwind lately. Rand and I just got back from New York yesterday, and he had to immediately fly to Vegas (like, immediately), so we got to say goodbye to one another at the gate, just like people did in the 90s. It was magical, and also garnered a few stares, which I’m sure had to do with the fact that we’re adorable (and not because we’d both gotten up at 5AM Eastern and looked like we’d been traveling for days and were now making out at Gate C11. I hope).

I’ve been on so many trips in the last few months – Australia, Oregon, California, Pennsylvania, New York, Boston, Minnesota, New Jersey. And in two weeks we’re leaving for England and then South Africa. There’s more on the calendar in the coming months. I’ve made some good progress on the book, but not as much as I’d like, and I’ve recently been so busy with other projects that I realized the only way I could get you caught up is to do a round-up. Do you remember my round-ups? I know. It’s been forever.

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“I am NOT ready for my close-up, Mr. DeMille.”

 

When my first boyfriend ever broke up with me (over the phone, on a school night, while I tried to hold back the tears), he gave me a list of reasons why. Among them: “You are immature, sarcastic, and fickle.”

I spent a good chunk of the next few years being haunted by his words, and doing my best to change. I wasn’t successful. A decade or so later, I told Rand about it.

“Um, yes,” he said, as though nothing could be more obvious. “Yes, you are. And those things make you awesome. That guy was an idiot.”

There are times when I am entirely comfortable with who I am. There are other times when I am not. Usually, it’s something I can ignore. But every now and then something happens that makes me take a long, hard look at myself. It’s excruciating. And also sort of wonderful.

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Hi!

Remember me? I know, I know – I promised I’d write two or three times a week and then I disappeared for two. In my defense, I had to go to Australia and eat Tim Tams and snorkel. This was not optional. This was something I had to do, out of moral obligation to … the cookie industry? (Okay, fine. I haven’t totally figured all of this out. Also? Seriously jet lagged. Still.)

The good news: I am getting lots of work done on other projects (mainly the book), and I’ve written four chapters in the time it would normally take me to write ZERO chapters, so that’s something.

But I have really let the blog fall to wayside, as many of you have let me know via email, tweet, and missives written on the wall of my home in frosting (props to those of you who realize that your message would get across far better using that instead of blood).


(Oh, Petra, dearest, I know. Trust me, I know. I think about it anytime I do anything that isn’t working on the book.)

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I’ve realized something: I can only write for so many hours a week.

My notes for the book (center) and my notes from Cambodia (upper right).

 

This has been a tough thing to come to terms with. I figured there are 40 hours in a standard work week, so I can write for 40 hours, right? This isn’t the case. My brain, it seems, only allows for a certain number of productive writing hours every day. After that, I stare numbly at my computer, drooling, while my brain forces me to look at shoes on Zappos that I will never, ever buy.

Or maybe I’ll buy them, but I’ll return them. Really, I will.

For the past year, I’ve been trying to maintain the blog while working on the Great American Novel Pretty Good International Memoir. This has meant two things:

  1. I’ve written fewer blog posts than I would like this year.
  2. Writing the book is taking way longer that I thought.

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I’ve been slacking lately on the blog. I’m sorry about that. Balancing travel, home, life, the blog, and the book has been harder than I thought. This last week has been particularly busy – mostly for Rand. His company’s annual conference is taking place here in Seattle, which means he’s been running around non-stop.

It also means that some of my favorite people from the around the world are all congregating in my hometown. This has made it very, very difficult to sit down and focus on the blog.

Especially when they bring me cookies all the way from Australia. Or tell me that it’s perfectly reasonable to eat key lime pie at 2 a.m. (See? This is why they are my favorite people in the world.)

So I’ll kindly ask for your patience while we are preoccupied with this very serious-type business.

 

Ahem.

Very, very serious.

 

Yup yup.

You know that part in The Princess Bride where Wesley has just become reanimated after being “mostly dead” all day, and Inigo is trying to fill him in on what happened?

“Let me explain … no. There is too much. Let me sum up.”

That’s kind of how I feel right now. There is so much to tell you guys about. I don’t even know where to begin. Chronologically, I should keep telling you about Italy, and the Amalfi coast, and then my subsequent trips to Minnesota and Boston, and then finally get to Cambodia and Vietnam, but if I do that, then you will have to wait weeks, if not months, to hear about this:

 

You guys. YOU GUYS. I met an elephant. I obviously can’t wait weeks or months to tell you about that. Hell, it was a struggle to not simply post that photo first, along with the text, “OMG ELEPHANT WAT WE ARE BESTIES” before collapsing in a puddle of my own drool.

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