How to Road Trip Right

I recently wrote an article over at Wander.media about how to properly prepare and execute a road-trip.  Check out the article and let me know what you think.

How to Road Trip Right

Daily Calendars and The Danger of 365 Days of Planning

On New Year’s Day, my wife and I were going to go out and do some shopping.  We just needed to get out of the house, and it was too cold to do anything truly ‘outside.’  So we ended up at Barnes and Noble, and while we had each got our share of calendars as Christmas gifts, my wife suggested I get some kind of daily calendar.  You know these calendars that you remove a sheet each day, and there is some fun joke, or fact, or word each day.  The reason she suggested it, was because I used to love these calendars.

On a few occasions, I’ve purchased for myself daily calendars mostly containing the ‘italian word or phrase of the day’ in an attempt to learn Italian.  It’s a fun way of passing the time, and I put it on my desk at work, and I always enjoy them, for the first few months at least.

When she suggested that I buy one, my response to her was “I’ve never finished a whole calendar” because I end up leaving a job and it goes in a box for ‘later’.  When I got laid off in 2016, there was just a month and a half left in the year, and we found the calendar months later.  Before that, I left a job I hated and the calendar got lost in the process.

So, in one of my rare fits of superstition, I decided not to buy a daily calendar, for fear that I would not end the year at my job.  Don’t get me wrong, there are a ton of options in which that is a great thing, and I won’t fight it if something amazing comes along, but I guess it was mostly out of a fear of losing this job.  I enjoy where I am work-wise, and while it isn’t perfect, it’s pretty damn good, one of the best atmosphere’s that I’ve been in a long time, and I don’t want to lose that.

Also, I don’t want the job to become something I hate and then lose.  That happened at my last job, it was a great job, with a great atmosphere, and then the last 6 months were terrifying, and ultimately ended in me getting laid off.  I don’t think it makes it better when the job deteriorates first.

I just realized— just now, while I’m writing this— that I’m starting 2018 from a place of fear.  Which totally isn’t what I feel like overall, I’m very excited about where I’m at, and where I think I’m going, but ultimately I just don’t want to make any plans for work that consume the next 365 days.

Happy New Years everyone!  Don’t worry like me!

A Series of False Starts

For the last few weeks, I’ve been extremely productive, writing almost every day another update for my time-travel blog, a couple articles for World’s Best Media, and some writing/editing on my other not ready to publish work.  Today wasn’t so productive.  I finished off an article for World’s Best Media, but beyond that, I had nothing.

I didn’t know what to do today. I tried working on a post for my time-travel blog but nothing came to me, so I thought about other things to write about.  Today in Microsoft Word, Google Docs, and here on WordPress (I write different things in different word processing options) I started probably four or five ideas that eventually ended like a deflating balloon.

If this were a montage in a film, it would have been me writing at a typewriter, crumpling a page up, throwing it out, and starting over again.  The only difference is that when you’re writing electronically, you don’t have the satisfaction, or visceral expression of your frustration that crumpling paper comes with.

I probably wrote five-ten solid pages of information (excluding the one article I managed to finish) that amounted to absolutely nothing.  Unfortunately, I don’t have a waste bin filled with little balls of failure.  That probably sounds good right? Why would I want those little balls reminding me that I got nothing done?  Because, ultimately failure isn’t the problem, it’s part of the process, but it can be a motivating part, it can be a satisfying part once success bleeds through, but digitally there isn’t that same feeling.

In addition to writing, this is something I miss about pre-digital photography.  Sure, it’s great that I know I got a shot of my son doing something fun, or whatever, but when site seeing or doing something else that I wanted to see or do, there was an element of surprise to photography.  There was a feeling of “oh yeah, I forgot about these” when you’d find your old rolls of film and go get them developed, along with a sense of “oh that’s a good one,” or “oh that one sucks,” or “I forgot about that!”

I know, I probably sound like one of those old people who laments all new things, but I’m not.  There are definitely a lot of great aspects of this digital world we live in, and I’m definitely a user of it, but from an achievement standpoint, there doesn’t feel like there is anymore sense of achievement as a user.  It’s no big deal to take 1000 photos to get the right one, because we have virtually unlimited space and memory.  (My first trip to Italy, I have like 15 pictures of the black Venice sky, because there was a thunderstorm and my uncle really wanted me to get a picture of the lightning.  I have kept them as a reminder.)

Truthfully, 95% of the time, I’m really happy that I can have a do-over, but days like today, I wish I had a series of crumpled paper failure balls to say “well you did something at least.”  After 10,000 attempts at creating a light bulb, Thomas Edison is quoted as saying “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”  I’ve probably had 1000 false starts in my life (totally guessing at that number) and maybe half of them are page long scribbles in notebooks, and I like going back and looking at those 500 scribbles that didn’t work.

 

Today, I feel like writing, but had no idea what to write about.  So, I decided to just write a list of things I want do, places I want to go, and other goals.  This isn’t something I feel some need to complete, just things that I really want to do.  This kind of writing exercise helps me to get my brain into a writing mode, and I thought perhaps it would be interesting for you to read.

Places (Abroad):

The place that I most want to return to outside of the US, is Italy.  I’ve written on here a few times about my love of Italy, but I really want to go back.  I went in 2009 with some family, and it was amazing, then again in 2014 on my honeymoon.  My wife and I started following our favorite place on Instagram (@colle_dellara_positano) and every time they post a picture we want to return.  The truth is, we often talk about returning, we talk about when it will be a financial possibility, and when our son will be old enough to, and as soon as those two requirements are met we plan on going back.
Italy was just a place filled with magic for us.  We loved walking around Rome, boating around Positano, and the food EVERY WHERE.  We are definitely ready to go back, just need our bank account to catch up, and our son to be a little older.

The place I haven’t been to that I want to go to most (outside of the US), is Peru.  There are a ton of places that I want to see, and the place that is at the top often changes (Spain, France, Scotland, Iceland) but currently, I want to hike up to Machu Picchu.  One of the things that I fell in love with in Positano (we actually stayed in a village called Montepertuso which was on the mountain above Positano) was the view from up high.  I’m afraid of heights, so tall buildings and bridges and things scare me.  For some reason, knowing I’m still standing on the ground and being able to look down, or across at all the beauty of a place, both the natural and constructed, is something that I absolutely love.  When you see pictures of Machu Picchu, it seems to meet this standard better than any other place that I’ve seen on, and I want to experience it in person.

Places (Domestic):

The place that I want to return to most in the United States is (and probably always will be) California.  I love California, no matter how often people tell me negative things about it.  Whenever I step off of a plane, and out those automatic doors and see palm trees, and know where I am, my chest hurts from my heart growing three sizes that day.  I’ve been four times, the most recent with my wife (our last vacation before she got pregnant, and the last time we had a week off together without the majority being in the hospital).  Even though it was my fourth time, it was the first where I just got to go do what I wanted, and also my first time up to San Francisco.  I absolutely loved driving up the PCH, and going to comedy clubs, and driving around both Los Angeles and San Francisco.

The place that I want to go that I haven’t been to in the US, is probably the Grand Canyon.  I’m sure that’s a bit cliche, but it’s a cliche for a reason.  I would ultimately love to drive across the country and see a bunch of different places, but the Grand Canyon would certainly be the highlight.

Things:

Something that I’d love to do is make a movie.  I’d love to write and direct a feature length film.  Even though I focus mainly on writing prose right now, I have dreamed about making movies since middle-school.  I worked really hard trying to make that dream a reality for many years, but it’s a collaborative medium, and I was constantly trying to do it alone because I knew that I couldn’t count on help.

Two things that I want to finish doing, are writing my first novel, and learning how to surf.  I know I’m going to finish my novel, it’s never been a question in my mind, and I even know how I’m going to end it, I just have to sit down and make myself do it.  I’ve allowed myself to write on here, and to write shorter projects, because they have kept me writing, and it’s an important muscle to stretch, but ultimately, I just need to sit down and force myself to finish.
As for surfing, I need to take another lesson.  I took one a few years ago and the instructor didn’t do much at all, so I rented a board this summer hoping to just figure it out.  Both experiences were fun, but when trying this summer, I saw people receiving real lessons, and I decided that next summer, I’m definitely going to take another lesson.

Relationships:

I enjoy my time with my wife, but I think that perhaps with the hustle and bustle of life, I haven’t shown her how much I care enough.  My hope is to reconnect in a meaningful way, not that we don’t go off and do weekend drives, and spend nearly all of our non-working time together, but I want to keep making memories with her that will sustain us when we get older and are forced to do less together.

With my son, I’ve been having the time of my life.  The fact that I was able to bond with him over 6 months of being a stay at home dad, and spending time with him at parks and playing and reading to him are great.  Soon, however, he’ll begin to form strong opinions, and interests, and my hope is that I adapt to those, so that I can not only make him feel loved, but so that we’re not just traveling through life parallel but apart.  I started a comic book collection for him, and if he gets into comics when he gets older, he’ll have no shortage, if not, I’ll figure out some other way to connect with him.  I’d love to get either a kit car, or an old sports car, and do work on it, getting it ready to be driven.  Both of us learning together about cars, and then when he is old enough taking turns driving it around.

 

Let me know what goals you have made for yourself in the comments below!

31 Day Blogging Challenge Day 14: If You Won The Lottery…

So, I skipped a couple days because I had other posts I had to post on those days.  I’m back at it today!

As of today, the Powerball jackpot is an estimated $155 million, with a $92.4 million cash value.  I would take the cash value, I know there is a lot of debate as to which is the smarter decision, and while I have an argument for why I would choose the cash value, it’s unimportant.  What is important is that at minimum when all the taxes and everything else are taken care of, I should have $40 million.  That has to be enough, if it isn’t then the money isn’t the problem, I am.

Now that we have that out of the way, how would I spend the money?  I would first have to take care of Sarah’s family, and my own.  I think that in the process of setting them all up (for life if they’re careful) I should have a minimum of $25 million.  With this money, I would set up three trust funds, one for Logan and any other children that I have, one for my sister’s daughter and any other future children she has, and one for my sister-in-law’s two sons and any others that are to come.  The trust would pay for education for each of those lines of kids, and if there is enough for their children and so one.

So now, I think there is about $20 million left.  I’m buying a house in California, nothing too big or expensive, but I want to be able to go there whenever I want, same with Italy if I can find something doable (this is less about money, and more about I’ve heard it’s difficult for American’s to buy property there).  I would also probably buy something small in Massachusetts, so that Sarah and I have somewhere to stay.

I would definitely want to do something good for others with the money, but I haven’t thought specifically about what I would do.  There are lots of little things I would do, but some of those aren’t necessarily jackpot required, so as of right now I just don’t know yet.

I am currently unemployed, and so I would probably stop looking for employment, or at least stop looking at employment that is just for a paycheck, and continue to write, and do the things I love doing anyway, but hopefully in a way that is more similar to a full time capacity.  The key balance in this part of the equation would be how to keep myself most busy and satisfied, while also burning through as little of the money as possible.  So if I could make money writing and vlogging and everything else that I do, that is what I would go for.

I think that the two big ways in which I would change is mostly in having the homes in my two favorite places, and the ability to better provide for my family/extended family.  It’s probably pretty clear that I’ve put some thought into this.

What would you do if you won the jackpot?  Comment Below…

Commune on the Mountain – World Nomad Entry

Hi everyone,

I just found out about the World Nomad travel writing scholarship, and entered to participate.  For the application, I had to write a 2500 character (about 475 words) piece for them.  So I wrote about one of the best nights I’ve ever had.  Please read it and let me know what you think!  If you like it please feel free to share the link because I think that is part of how I will be judged.

Commune on the Mountain

Enjoy!