Saturday, May 16, 2009

travel journal (circa 1999)

Today is Monday, and I'm on my way to Dover Priory by train. Last night I stayed in the Hyde Park Hostel in Bayswater. It was a brief visit but a bit more lively than the last hostel. The place was full of French people who played Eminem and Lauryn Hill loud and smoked cigarettes, putting them out on the floor. In my room was Stephanie from Toulouse, Danilo from Sao Paolo, and Ash from South Africa. We talked about capitalism and desire, slavery and normalcy. My Spanish was better than I expected. I can understand everything. I'm just reluctant to form sentences of my own.

Danilo and I went for a walk and coffee last night. We talked some more about leaving home, stepping outside of routine and comfort, searching and challenging ourselves. I was restless all night. Didn't sleep well.

Coming back from Paris now. Had to take the Eurostar so that I could stay longer to have a chance to see the city on Tuesday. I love speaking French. I love the food and the architecture. We had good experiences with all the people --se bon. JT and Marie met us out for dinner last night for Basque food. The water closet had no toilet. Odd. I didn't eat enough food while I was there. We went to the Picasso Museum and the Pompedou. Great views of the city. A moment alone.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009


My plan to churn something out at least once each month tanked in April. I actually crafted a little number called "Crazy Bitches" (inspired by my client), but it didn't make the cut. Truth be told, that New Year's resolution to get something published, yeah, I've only made one pitch. You have to keep pitching. It's like acting. You try out, audition, stand in long cattle call lines, usually to hear "no" at the end. My cousin-in-law chatted me up one night about what it takes to be really great at something, a Cracker Jack. Apparently, according to some 20/20 segment he saw, it requires at least four hours of dedication per day to be great. That sounds about right. Think of Olympic athletes or Dancing With The Stars contestants, to excel it takes lots of practice. Most of us dabble. You need time for all the other things. We choose many instead of just one focus.

So, I'm wondering what it takes to make you sign on the dotted line and set all other things aside in favor of one endeavor. This one endeavor could be lots of things--medical school, a start-up business, trying out for American Idol, even marriage. I think it starts simply, with the idea that you want to be something. But what if everything is going great, the status quo is treating you right? That seems to be my problem anyway. I remember the point at which I chucked the career path and went to grad school. The thing that made me do it then was that I'd hit a wall at work. The promotion wasn't coming soon enough to suit me, and I had also always wanted, intended to go on for more schooling. That was the foundation, but it was the obstacle that made me do it. And it was no small endeavor; it was one of the toughest challenges I've experienced, but I never wanted to quit. I was committed. I wonder if that was because it actually was the right thing.

I don't doubt that this little wish of mine is right, isn't something I could do or be, but I do ask myself if it's the right time. I can write whenever. I can be a writer in my 40s or 50s, later in life when I have a New England cottage and a writer's nook overlooking a snow-filled meadow, hmm, when I have something different to say, a different vantage point maybe. Why now?

For those of you who know me, you know that I'm really not talking about writing at all. The things that hold us back or make us say "yes" without wanting to take it back, what are they? In May I'm derailed, a bit.