Ch-ch-ch-changes

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“I watch the ripples change their size
But never leave the stream
Of warm impermanence and
So the days float through my eyes
But still the days seem the same”

-David Bowie

In the past, this blog has been mixture of an outlet for things that are on my mind and a place to track my travel adventures.  I struggled with keeping it updated as much as I should have.  Life got in the way.  That’s as simple as I can put it.  I also struggled to decide what I wanted this blog to represent; a place for my thoughts, or a blog dedicated to travel.  I wasn’t sure if I needed to make the distinction, or if secretly I just wanted them separate.

Sometimes life makes decisions for you.  And sometimes it just takes a while for you to agree with them and accept them.  But make no mistake, that decision has already been made – by life.  Change is not something to fear.  It is something to embrace.  A chance at new opportunities and new challenges.  New adventures.

In my day job, I deal with change on a constant basis.  You would think I’d be a pro at handling it my personal life.  Don’t kid yourself, no one is.  What defines me is what I do from here.  From this moment.  This open door.  This change.

And so I’m excited to announce the next adventure!

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The Northeast Expedition planning stage is in full swing and I hope to document it along the way.  While many of the details are still up in the air, I can say that this trip will take me from Delaware up through New England, over to Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Isles, and Newfoundland just to name a few places.  I’m energized and excited about this planning, the people I’ll get to met, the places off of the beaten path I’ll explore and the experiences I’ll live.

Stay tuned, as there will be some min-adventures upcoming before this trip, but I’ll be certain to up date this blog more and more each step of the way.

Allons y!

 

You shall not pass!

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Having just come home from Calgary (again), and working off a partial injury to my foot, I decided to sit down and spend a little time researching some of the Wyoming area and the back country trails in particular.  One of the things I’ve always wanted to do was Black Bear Pass.  It’s a little bit out of my way being to the southwest, but I’m still open to altering my route at this point.

In my research (read: Internet surfing), I came across this video of this retired couple who are part of a small group of Jeepers taking the backside of the Pass down towards Telluride.  The video, while providing a great look at the trail, was easily surpassed by the banter between the guy and his frantic, German/Austrian?-accented, wife.  I was trying to concentrate on the technical difficulty of the trail but found myself doubled over laughing.

Relationship goals.

I am admittedly concerned that I’m not ready for this yet.  The front side of the Pass, up the mountain to the summit is a piece of cake.  The down side is what I have reservations about.  But hey, even in the wrecked shot below, this is a beautiful picture of the town, right?  That guy is just lucky he stopped rolling there and not the bottom.

This brings me to the paradox that many Jeepers face.  We spend so much time and money outfitting our vehicles so that they are capable of doing something like this that the risk of damaging them becomes even greater when we are actually faced with doing… something like this and hesitate.

It’s the old adage of :

“I just bought a Jeep so I can go off-roading!”

“Great, let’s go!” 

“No, way, do you know how much I paid for this thing?”  

I’m desperately trying to get past that.  Insurance can replace a vehicle, but the countless hours I’ve spent in my garage with a wrench cannot be replaced.   Same goes for actually dying, of course.  No doubt that this trail is intimidating.

I’ve watched video after video and there’s no doubt in my mind that I’ll do this.  I need to do this.  I have plenty of faith in my driving skills to do this.  But if there’s one thing I’ve learned traveling the back country of the US solo, it’s to never underestimate it.  Lack of proper planning and you become a statistic.  But this has always been a bucket list item.

The other thing that’s weighing heavily on my mind is the timing of this entire trip.  I was targeting end of May as I always do, but I’m starting to realize that this is much further north (and in elevation) than I’ve ever been this early in the year.  I’m starting to come to terms with something I’ve already known but have been in denial about and that is that most of the things I want to see and do on this trip will likely be snow covered in May and impassable.  Now I’m thinking August or September.  And that throws everything up in the air.

But to experience this:

…I’d do about anything.

Self-Amplifying Feedback Loops

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Recently, I’ve made a conscious effort to restore some of the work-life balance in my life.  This comes in a variety of forms, some more challenging than others, but all seemingly worthwhile.

One part of this is the drive to continue to ensure that I’m always awestruck.  That is, something, somewhere creates a new experience that simply inspires awe.  There’s a theory that every time someone experiences something that captivates them – that causes them to stop and stare or gasp in awe – that the human body actually experiences a biological reaction that increases our ability to be more, well, human.  Basically, you see something so amazing that your brain has to grow to process that experience.  That is part of what this blog is about.  There’s an excellent video that explains this idea in ways I never could.  Take a few minutes and watch it.

The other part of this is the self-amplifying feedback loop and the power of optimism that comes from it.  This idea is that you brush fate aside and control your life doing the things that you want and building up positivity.  Again, I’m not going to explain it when Jason Silva gets paid to and make videos like this one…  Just watch it.

Both of these ideas really lend to a much healthier lifestyle and a constant mental check to think before you speak/act, and many times for me, to maybe forego something I might want to say or do because I realize it’s something negative.  It works the same conversely.  Surround yourself with negative people and you get caught up in a negative self-amplifying feedback loop.

You may be asking, why the about-face all of a sudden?  Well, I’m glad you asked.

I recently spent a very large amount of time on Facebook, on my own wall.  I went back from today all the way through the very beginning of my account and I read everything I’ve ever posted.  (Yes, it took a LONG, LONG time.)  As I took the journey back through virtual time, two things became increasingly clear to me:  It’s a great way to relive every single daily event, news story, or thought I’ve had since 2008 (good and bad), but more importantly, I started to get a very clear picture of what a negative person I was.  And it was like looking into the mirror of someone I didn’t want to be.  It was a rude wake up call.

Post after post I deleted.  I couldn’t believe how many things I complained about.  I had thought that by posting those complaints that I might be spreading news, or waking people up to something they should know about, or just generally expressing feelings of “meh” or frustration for the day.

When I got to the last post, (which would have been my first post in 2008 to Facebook), I saw that it too was negative and realized that this social media tool has been a conduit for negativity in my life, and that it was long past due to change that.  Delete.  All of them.  It was therapeutic.  It was like a purge, albeit virtually.  And in today’s world of social media, maybe that’s exactly what’s needed.

I encourage you to try it for yourself.  Take the time.  Go back through your wall and relive the ups and downs from the beginning of your account.  Some of you may be naturally positive and I applaud you for that – you can hang out with me and my new positive self-amplifying feedback loop.  But I’m sure others may experience the same thing I have.  And I can tell you, there is a better way and I’ve already noticed a difference in my own attitude.

Try it.  Or don’t.  Just don’t tell me if you don’t, because I’m trying to stay positive.

Good luck!

Project Overland

Shakedown

“Don’t ask yourself what the world needs.  Ask yourself what makes you come alive and then go and do that.  Because what the world needs is people who have come alive”  – Howard Thurman

I thought it might be time to cover the other side of preparing and planning for the 2016 road trip.  The side that doesn’t include looking at beautiful photography or reading about great vistas from people who have blazed the trail before me.  This side is called Project Overland.  My self-branded term for preparing the workhorse that’s going to serve as my transportation, my lodging, my pantry, my security, and my serenity for this journey.  This project is about taking my brand new 2015 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon and cutting it up, and bolting and drilling and wiring, and bleeding and swearing, and transforming it into a moving lifeline that is sure to become a character of its own in this adventure.

You may be thinking, “why do all of this for just one trip?”  Well, I’ll tell you why, because it’s not just one trip.  I discovered long ago that I’m happiest when I’m outdoors.  When I’m unplugged.  I’ve also come to the realization that there are so many campgrounds, state parks, national forests, etc within a few hours of me (locally) that I could literally use this vehicle every chance I get if I wanted to.

Last year when I took the trip to Alaska, we rented an RV and it was amazing.  It left me seriously asking the question, what is stopping me from selling my house and doing this full-time?  Hook up an Internet connection and I can work from anywhere.  When I got home, that thought continued to fester.  It was bugging me that work had once again taken over my life and that I was getting further and further from the balance I wanted to have.  Then it hit me:  baby steps.  If I’m not going to go full RV life, maybe I can do the next best thing and still have the best of both worlds as a daily driver.  I can be that weekend warrior – even if it just means driving to the state park that’s 10 miles away and setting up shop for the weekend to relax.  Then maybe the next weekend I could explore some other spot I haven’t been to.  Point is, I could have my home away from home, all packaged nicely into what looks like your average Jeep.

Then I took my train of thought a step further.  What if I hot spot enable this project?  I could work from anywhere.  I could take conference calls in the middle of a field!  I could send emails or review proposals while staring up at a moonlit sky!   This weekend warrior tactic might be evolving into the Road Warrior!  And the best part is, I would still have my house to come back to “base” every once in a while.This is Project Overland.  This is the new goal.  And this is it’s mission statement:

Project Overland:  To build an off-road capable, self-sufficient, adventure support vehicle that utilizes the latest technologies, innovations, and equipment to not only provide a reliable platform for exploration but also continue as a daily driver, while ensuring that each part of the build process serves as a learning experience to enhance my automotive skill set.   

So there it is.  Between now and May 2016 a transformation will take place.  And while those that know me, know that I already have a pretty good head start on this project, it’s a long way from being my end vision.  Project Overland is just getting started.  The picture below represents my starting point.  The picture at the top of this post somewhat reflects where the target is.  But that is mostly cosmetic.  Project Overland will have on-board air systems, water purification, battery banks, cook systems, the ability to tap into the power grid or run independently.  Communications, Internet, security, it’s all coming with me when I’m done.  And if I do this the way I’m envisioning, most people won’t even notice.

My zombie apocalypse vehicle waits quietly for the zombie apocalypse.

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It’s that time again

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“Without leaps of imagination, or dreaming, we lose the excitement of possibilities. Dreaming, after all, is a form of planning.” –Gloria Steinem

The second quinquennial Road Trip is no longer a dream, but is actually going to happen.  And I could not be more excited.  Actually, I could be.  I mean, I could win the lottery AND be going on another road trip. After much contemplation, the 2016 Road Trip will take me across the northern US and land me in the granddaddy of our national park system – the one that started them all – Yellowstone.

Yellowstone has been on my list for such a long time.  It’s been the proverbial unicorn – my white whale if you will.  I’ve decided that life is too short and that it needs to happen now.  So come May 2016, I’ll head back across the country, just as I did in 2011, with a new string of destinations, a new Jeep, and a whole new set of expectations to fulfill.  While Yellowstone is the focus, my planning also involves Grand Teton National Park and the surrounding areas.  The area itself is so beautiful that I’ll likely spend just as much time exploring the back country as I do inside the parks.  As I did in 2011, I picked up the best book I could find to help me do just that.

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This kind of pre-planning, the time, the research, the bookmarking, the highlighting, is now what takes up the small portion of free time that I might get in between changing planes, or waiting in traffic in the backseat of a taxi.  The Google Image Searches for iconic photography locations, the trip reviews, the forum threads – all slowly leading up to a road trip that I expect it to be.  2011 set the bar very high and I have faith I can do it again.  (And hopefully every 5 years after that.)

Part of all of this planning adds an element that most people don’t bother with – vehicle prep.  In 2011, I took my then 2010 Jeep Grand Cherokee on the journey.  Knowing the terrain I wanted to cover, I ended up slightly modifying it (a small lift, off road tires, etc) to better suit my needs of exploration.

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In 2016, the 2015 Jeep Wrangler will earn its Rubicon / Trail Rated badge and take me back into the wild.  As much more capable as this Jeep is over the last, the destinations are also much more challenging.  For that reason, in addition to all of this logistical planning, I’m also undertaking what I like to call “Project:  Overland”.  

Overlanding is self-reliant overland travel to remote destinations where the journey is the principal goal. Typically, but not exclusively, it is accomplished with mechanized off-road capable transport (from bicycles to trucks) where the principal form of lodging is camping, often lasting for extended lengths of time (months to years) and spanning international boundaries – or so says Wikipedia.  Basically, I’m going to try and live out of my Jeep the entire time.  That requires certain gizmos, gadgets, and equipment.  Project:  Overland is about my pre-adventure of making my Wrangler into that support vehicle.  And because I love to tinker, it’s has become a fun way to familiarize myself with all the engineering and nuances of this vehicle should I need to fix something on the road.

Well, that’s enough for now, but with the trip preparations picking up, I’ll be posting here much more often.  And with Project: Overland keeping me busy on the side, I’ll likely post topics about that as well.  Stay tuned and I’ll drag you through the lead up and adventure along the way.

“Don’t worry, I got this…” 

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The final countdown.

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“I seldom end up where I wanted to go, but almost always end up where I need to be.” – Douglas Adams

I’ve been working a lot lately.  The reason for that is complicated and I won’t go in to here.  But let’s just state that as fact and move on.  I can honestly say that I’ve lost sleep, and have never been so tired in my life.  Well, that’s not completely true, there was that one time.   But this is a close second.  I would argue with anyone that being mentally exhausted is just as bad, if not worse than being physically exhausted.

In just over three days I will take my first day of vacation in well over a year.  Bags are packed.  Paperwork is in hand.  I’m ready to role play as Cousin Eddie for a few weeks.

Yes, on my 37th birthday, I will be up in the air heading back across the country.  I’ve lost track of how many cups of coffee I’ve had today just to keep me awake during 5 hour conference calls, or how many more I estimate I’ll have to keep me awake to get that last proposal done before the plane actually takes off.  And somewhere along these next two weeks, for no reason at all, it will hit me that I’m actually on vacation and I’ll just start smiling.  I’ll get asked, “What are you smiling about?”  And I’ll reply, “you wouldn’t understand”.

Mind, you I’m not saying that others aren’t busy, or Joe the Plumber doesn’t work just as hard.  I’m saying that about four years ago, when I took my solo road trip across this great country, I decided that something had to give.  I would create a blueprint, a plan, for transitioning to working to live, and not living to work.  Here I am, four years later and I’m shaking my head in disbelief that I have progressed absolutely nowhere on that plan.  In fact, I’ve gone in the wrong direction.

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So it will hit me at some point over the next two weeks.  Perhaps as I’m staring down a bear, staring down a beer, or driving the RV.  That point where I just smile and shake my head and wonder if it’s really going to be another four years before I’m repeating this same inner monologue. Feeling that sense of perpetual déjà vu.  That point where I just smile and shake my head and wonder if it’s really going to be another four years before I’m repeating this same inner monologue. Feeling that sense of perpetual déjà vu.  That point where…  😛  

At least I get to become the world’s largest form of irony as I, Mr. Workaholic, will attempt to recreate the iconic photographic image of Chris McCandless, a person who renounced it all to change his life and live the way he thought true living should be.  Who knows, maybe that’s when I’ll start smiling.

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Sun, sun, sun, here we come…

vacationEach person deserves a day away in which no problems are confronted, no solutions searched for.  Each of us needs to withdraw from the cares which will not withdraw from us.” – Maya Angelou

Well, I’ll be damned, this site is still up.  That’s very convenient given that it is once again almost time for me to head west.  What was shaping up to be a nice, easy month of May that was poised to give way seamlessly to an airplane ride to Alaska has turned into the month of a tripled workload, travel to Canada, and just about every other thing that can be thrown at me between now and the 17 days left before I depart.  I’ll say this for recent events; the time I’ve been forced to spend behind a computer only intensifies my anticipation for the trip and will most certainly make each minute I’m unplugged just that much more memorable.

In 17 days I will wash off this life of stress, cleanse my shitty attitude, and soak in every bit of extended daylight that Alaska will give me.  Fifteen days of exploration, adventure, and new experiences await.  The chains of everyday life will be broken.  Smashed.  For 15 days. And finally, for the first time in a long time, I will remember what it’s like to feel alive again.

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Until you start planning for a trip to Alaska, you never really get a sense of exactly how BIG it is.  Massive.  And sparse.  And just gobs of nature oozing from around every bend.  So what better way to see as much as possible than to take your hotel with you?  And that’s just what is happening.  In a rented RV, we’ll grab some supplies in Anchorage and make for Denali National Park.    While in Denali, we’ll grab a Jeep excursion, do some hiking, and relaxing.  Did I mention relaxing?  My hammock awaits.  Someone bring me a beer.

After we’ve had our fill of Denali, the chuck wagon heads to Sarah Palin’s house for views of Russia, Whittier where we suck in our gut and squeeze that fat RV through a mountain tunnel so we can grab a glacier cruise and a little ghost hunting  if time permits.  We’ll spend some time visiting the local Iditarod teams, trying not to get bit and dry humped by champion sled dogs before heading west to the Russian River where we’ll try not to get eaten by salmon fishing bears.  Once again I’ll deploy the hammock and summon a bear beer.

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Continuing west to our destination of Homer, we’ll attempt to camp on the tail end of the Homer spit – said to be one of the best camping views in the world.  I’m told bald eagles are like New Jersey pigeons in this area.  Since I’m a bird shit magnet, I figure I can just cross off “being shit on by bald eagle” from my to-do list right now.  I’m hoping to sample some local fresh salmon or halibut while here.  Or maybe a bald eagle if they shit on me.  M’erica!

Leaving Homer (doh!), we’ll head east again toward Seward where we’ll grab a cruise of the Kenai Fjords, sample some local craft beer, chill for a while and attempt to mask the fact that none of us have been able to sleep due to the over abundance of daylight each day.  At this point we’ll turn the tenement on wheels toward Anchorage, stop and hike a glacier, and return back to Anchorage to explore the city for a bit.

At the end of day 15, I figure I’ll be so screwed up from the combination of actual fresh air, jet lag, shortened nights, beer, and strenuous hiking that I’ll likely be talked into buying a used RV and just living up there in Alaska full-time.  I’m  a sucker for the impulse buy.  How I don’t own 25 timeshares is beyond me.  In any case, it’s time once again to commune with nature.  And mosquitoes.  And bears.

Big bear chase me…

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Leavin’ on a jet plane

“Both optimists and pessimists contribute to our society.  The optimist invents the airplane and the pessimist the parachute.” ~Gil Stern

I don’t know how this 4 day week is going to pan out in terms of free time so I figured I’d go ahead and make a post now.  I also don’t know if I can or will even want to get online once I’m in country.  I’m sure parts of Iceland will have wi-fi, but I’d be surprised if the places I’m going does. And I have no intention on even turning my phone on so AT&T can bend me over with an international fee.

I also don’t picture myself having as much time to sit down and write as much as I did on my road trip.  Eight days may seem like a lot of time, but exploring a country in eight days is pretty aggressive.  Eight days in the land of fire and ice.  From the looks of the forecast, it’s going to be more like the land of rain and more rain.  That just means our rental car smells like a swamp when we turn it back in eight days later. I’m hoping the rain lets up at least some so that I can set up for some shots of the northern lights.  Iceland is a photographic dreamland and I already have certain expectations of myself in capturing what I see there.

As you may recall from past posts, Mother Nature hates me.  So eight straight days of rain would be par for the course. It makes me glad that our first stop after de-boarding the plane will be the duty-free shop in the airport to buy our alcohol for the week – tax free of course.  From there I plan on getting my camera ready to take a picture of the dude holding a little sign with my last name indicating he’s going to take us to the rental car.  I can’t imagine what that’s going to look like.  A bunch of tired, jet lagged Americans, whose first stop was the liquor store, carting as much alcohol as they can carry on top of their luggage, stumbling like zombies toward him.  Awesome stereotype.

I can never sleep on airplanes.  It’s a control issue.  I always think I’m going to end up like one of those people in The Langoliers. And I don’t like stale food.

So as a result my in-flight book will be Alas, Babylon by Pat Frank.   It’s been on my bookshelf for a while now and I’ve purposely avoided it just to read on this trip.  And since this is me, of course it’s a post-apocalyptic book so I should plow through it pretty quickly.

My bag is not packed, but at least it’s open.  (It’s the thought of packing that counts.)  I have so much to do both at work and at home in the next 4 days that it’s very possible that I may be forced to sleep on the flight simply out of exhaustion. I’m tempted to upgrade my seat if I get the opportunity.  I’m sure I’ll need it after going through security.

Johnny B. “Good”

Mine’s a tale that can’t be told, my freedom I hold dear.
How years ago in days of old, when magic filled the air.
T’was in the darkest depths of Mordor, I met a girl so fair.
But Gollum, and the evil one crept up and slipped away with her, her, her….yeah. – Led Zeppelin

(Note, the above quote has nothing to do with this post as I usually try to relate them somehow.  I just wanted to quote them.  So there.  Secondary note: I may or may not have had a few beers while I’ve been working today.)

I’ve been thinking about what I can do while I’m over in Iceland with only 8 days.  Yeah, yeah, there’s the typical tourist stuff, but this thought path was really more about what “I” can do (or not do) while I’m over there to make the best possible time had by all.

Allow me to elaborate.

10.  Use common manners.  I know they’re in me somewhere.  My mother drilled them into my head every time we went out in public as a kid.  Please, thank you, hello, goodbye and some others that will come back to me eventually. I might need to wiki those.  Maybe write them down or make some flash cards.

9.  Don’t drive angry.  Here in the states, we have gigantic parking lots superhighways that turn in to virtual race tracks with Joe Toughguy cutting off every person just because he’s a selfish prick and he can.  From what I’ve read, Icelandic drivers are laid back and overall very calm.  I’m sure some of this is due to low overall population but nonetheless, my plan is to observe and mimic.  Go with the flow.  Oh and not wreck the rental car.  At least not on the first day.

8.  Don’t become a statistic.  Many things fall  into this category.  Don’t die in a freak blizzard, don’t die from a rare fish allergy, don’t die by falling over a waterfall trying to take an awesome picture, don’t die by falling into a glacial crevasse, don’t die from having your own dog sled team turn on you, don’t get electrocuted by foreign voltage, don’t get arrested, and don’t end up in a Thai prison.  Hey, I’m just covering all my bases.

7.  Think before speaking.  Iceland has been through quite a bit in recent years, in particular an economic collapse in 2008.  From what I’ve read it’s somewhat of a sore subject and I won’t get in to the back story but the point is, I need to think about what I’m bringing up in conversations.  I’m usually pretty diplomatic.  My job, if it’s good for anything, has chiseled that into me.  Often times I’ve found that the cure for foot-in-mouth disease is to just shut the hell up.

6.  Keep my TSA remarks to myself while at the airport.  I’m just going to start this rule right now.  It’s better that way, trust me.  I’ve been flying a lot lately.

5.  Cleanse.  Living in the cancer capitol of the United States, every day I deal with factory plumes and toxic runoff from DuPont, BASF, DOW, Valero, and the list goes on.  One of the first things I noticed immediately when I visited the Rocky Mountains (and Acadia) was the difference in air quality.  I spent each moment I had with sheer admiration of the crisp, clean air and water.  Iceland is said to have some of the most naturally pure air and water resources on earth.  If only I could bottle that and bring it home with me somehow

4.  Prior to leaving, pledge to return home and not live out the rest of my life in Iceland.  F-that.

3.  Acquire male and female snakes, introduce to the ecosystem.    If the rest of the world has to put up with them, Iceland should be no different. Think of all the new exotic meals they could make!   Snakes like to travel on planes, right?

2.  Find a really cool representative souvenir.  I’ve seen that you can purchase ash from the recent volcanic eruption.  You don’t see that every day.  I could put it in an urn and claim it was a relative.  Oh who am I kidding, I already know it’s going to be an awesome Icelandic wool sweater.  The only question is, how many Icelandic wool sweaters?

1.  Don’t be the loud, rude, inconsiderate, obnoxious American stereotype.  Observe and respect Icelandic culture, customs, and practices.  Learn about them.  There’s nothing more I hate than most of the American public.  There’s a reason (well, actually many reasons) why people from other countries have a certain view of us.  Respect is earned and I’m going to do my damnedest to debunk those stereotypes.

Unless, of course, someone charges at me in viking helmet.  Then the gloves come off and I go all Philly on them.  International incident be damned.

Cry “Havoc!”

“Always gotta keep busy or the voices start telling me to do wild things.” – Steve Brown

And so crunch time begins.  I miss the days when I had no responsibility.  When I could co on vacation and not have to prepare my job for it a month in advance.  Now days, it’s a crazy game of chicken and egg with respect to stress and taking a vacation.  I take a vacation to relieve stress, but I am busier than ever preparing for said vacation only to come back to more stress.  So why even take the vacation?

There are essentially 4 weeks before I leave and I already know that 3 of those I will be traveling for work.  That leaves me one week, just one week to save the world from evil get everything in place just at work.  Somewhere in there comes actual Iceland packing.

I’ve been having a rough past few weeks.  It seems lately that there’s the normal way things happen in life, then there’s the way things seem to happen for me.  If you’re a fan of astrology, the stars would be aligned in the shape of a middle finger pointed at me.

While I drafted a proposal today for work, I had my Netflix streaming Out of the Wild:  Venezuela playing in the background.  It’s like Survivor only with actual survivors.  I caught parts of the first season in Alaska but missed the second chapter so I decided to just have it running as white noise as I typed.  So there I am, typing away and I hear one guy say “I’m here because the corporate world has ground up his life” and removed any traces of who he was or wanted to be. I instantly stopped what I was doing and looked up.  It’s like I was watching myself on TV.  I actually stood up, pointed both of my index fingers at the TV and said YES!  THAT!   THAT’S IT! That guy ended up leaving the trek before reaching the end but as part of his exit speech he again said something that I found myself thinking about on my drive back home last year.  He said he’s leaving early because he now knows what he came there for and that was to get out of the machine and back in control of his life.  He left early because he wanted to start that change in his life – right then and there.  For him it was teaching.  He had experienced enough of the world outside of what he was used to, to confirm what he had known all along:  He was dying on the inside day after day as a corporate stooge.

If only we could all go on TV and have an epiphany while eating grasshoppers and larvae.  Maybe it’s just that my situation isn’t  dire enough yet for a leap of faith.

I think this year and this trip are different because of timing.  I’m out of my natural sync.  I don’t tend to take vacations this early for a number of reasons, work being only one of them.  I’m feeling like I’m interrupting my “normal” vacation schedule which is usually carefully planned with warmer weather, no kids, and much-needed solitude.  A complete detox from my normal hectic chaotic life which allows me to continue my sanity for another year.  I’m excited to go to Iceland, but for some reason not as excited as I think I should be.  And right now, I’m not sure why that is.

It could be related to my recent string of bad luck.  It could be my 5am flight back from New York yesterday after I was forced to spend the night at the airport.  Or if could be the tiny twin-engine propeller plane they shoved me on and then forced a 6’5″ person (me) to sit next to a woman who needed not one, but TWO seat belt extensions.  The woman who tried to put her tray table down for a drink and found it wasn’t possible with her gut.  Or it could have been the lady that refused to turn her phone off after being asked 3 times to the point the flight attendant said we’re not closing the door until you put that away.

But I don’t think that’s it.

It’s just this weird feeling that I can’t quite identify yet.  I’m sure it will all be fine as long as Siri is with me.

Thanks Siri.  Now pack my bags.