Noi6 means "the 6 of us" in Romanian.

We are five, you are the sixth one.

We thank you for joining us in our trip around the world...

Monday, September 26, 2011

It's Quiet

It is quiet in our house right now. It's quiet this minute and it has been for the last few days. Three weeks from now we will be in three beds in a motel, the first of some hundreds nights away from home. There is peace and patience. We have been ready for the longest time, but now more then ever, we are ready.

The hardest point in all these years was the moment of making the decision. And, looking back, that wasn't hard at all. Occasionally the waiting was been tough, but we managed. Like parents going through a pregnancy, you need time to prepare for this baby.

Someone might think that we are changing our lives dramatically and we are going on a once in a lifetime adventure. What if we don't make it? What if we fail? 

How should we define failure? Asking ourselves one day at lunch, we got various answers. The children were very specific: if we don't go everywhere we want to, if we don't last as long as we plan, if we don't make it to Romania in December 2012 and so on. From a scientific point of view failure is as important as success. Maybe a first step in defining failure should be clarifying what is success. Let's do that. Again the kids gave their answers. Maria: "spanking a good college essay", the other kids said something funny too. I said: "To take off." My wife replied: "We left long ago, our minds are long gone!" We got stuck. How can you define success if you don't set a goal? We had a goal when we started to plan for this, I think we did, but it's not that clear anymore. We want to get out and experience the world. But the world is too big and at best we'll only get a glimpse of it. We don't have a theme. We talked over the last 30 months about various possible themes. We could have made a bucket list. We didn't do that. Then why do we go? "To see the world before they destroy all the trees!" Ileana, our future rockstar, quoted Bon Jovi: "Gonna live when I'm alive, I'll sleep when I'm dead." Personally, looking how we evolved since we started this, I am happy. If we wanted a trip like this to open our minds and get us ready for anything that'll come, we accomplished that. We wanted to get closer and stronger, we've done that too. We wanted a pet project, just for us? We have it. We wanted to help the children mature a bit and make them feel special? Let's not go there. In the end it's not about success or failure, it's just living our lives. And in that, we cannot fail, we've already succeeded. Talk about lack of pressure.

We started planning for this trip because we wanted to travel, we knew other people made it and - if they could - we surely can. We actually never met any family that traveled the world. In Galapagos we met a traveler that went around the world in 3 weeks, with 4 or 5 plane stops. "It was cheaper that way." We don't know anybody who met anybody that did a world tour like we plan. And still we started this knowing that others did it, we read their blogs, exchanged some emails. Everybody we talked with is very excited about what we'll do. But is there anything special after all? 

I admire people who do things that I could never do. Like saving the vacation for a whole year and spending all those three weeks in pajamas watching all the recordings on the DVR. I could never do that, I need to go, and so it's the rest of my family.
One of the most enlightening experiences of my life happened a couple of weeks before turning forty. Talking with a friend about our upcoming vacation in Peru, I said very happy "We are going to be in Machu Picchu on Ileana's 40's birthday!" The answer blew me away: "What's Machu Picchu?" I always wanted to go there. I met my wife when we were 21 and I shared this dream with her. She also always wanted to go to Machu Picchu. We didn't talk much more about this. We knew we will make it one day, no question. Somehow over the years I ended up thinking that every person in this world wants to go to Machu Picchu. I am sure I knew that some people just struggle for water or food day by day, but the rest of the world wants to go to Machu Picchu. It turns out that I was wrong, some people didn't even know about it. Learning from this experience I wasn't as surprised when I learned that not everybody wants to go around the world. For me, it is another thing that has been there forever. But there are many other people who want this, some of them resigned to the fact that they will never make it. Some of them unsure that they have what it takes. Probably everybody overestimating the cost and the challenges of such enterprise. It's simple. And it's not as expensive as people think (come on, 1 million $?), a backpacker would do it for 6 to 12 thousands and a typical family for a little more.

Imagine a world in which it is normal to do a year long round the world trip. Professionals in any field, would take their children out of school and travel for a year. In the same way as they take their kids to ballet or scouts or summer camp. It is expected from normal parents and everybody does it. The only debate is how old should the kids be.

You give your employer two months notice that you will take your year off. No problem, your job will be there when you come back. They would love to give you part of your salary, but unfortunately they cannot afford right now. They will give you one month of free medical insurance, but because you don't need it, they'll convert it in a year of travel insurance (and they'll save some money!). You register at the post office and the important mail is send to your friend. The junk mail is returned marked "RTW" and the spammers respect that and give you a break. Your government sends you a special stamp for your passport that says you are doing your RTW. All countries would honor that and waive their visa requirements. Since you're on your RTW, you are not a terrorist and you are not looking for work. No visa needed period.
You let your children's schools know that your kids are taking their "round the world year." They send you the international student card and a link for discounts. They put your kids travel info on their internal website and alert you when another student is traveling in the same area. You call your phone company and they waive the roaming fees on your iPhone for a year and hold your home phone number until you return. You call your doctor and she knows what immunizations you need and will have them ready for you in a few days. You still have medical insurance and it pays for that. American Airlines competes with Delta for the best deals on RTW fares with special financing for 36 months, just like buying a big screen TV. Your credit cards waive foreign transaction fees and since you have a great credit score, they will have no minimum payments and no interest for your year. Of course, you exercise the clause in your mortgage contract that allows you to suspend payments for the house during your RTW year. You return your car to the dealer and they will drive it weekly for you when you're gone. They'll take good care of it and you'll only have to pay some for the inspection and the fuel. You might have to postpone remodeling your kitchen or updating the hardwood floor design.

So what's left to do? You'll still need a few things and Ileana covered that in her post. You'll have to keep a blog to help prepare other families and return their emails asking for advice and information. You'll read other blogs and learn from them. After you come back, you'll continue to read and remember and re-live your memories.

It's not a fantasy, there is a world like that out there. Becoming part of it is a simple mental process. Just cross a fine line and redefine what "normal" is.  The technical details don't matter anymore. I followed Sarah and her family for her year and she graciously replied to my emails. She even wrote a post about that! I now follow Ms. Blab and she helped me secure the apartment she was renting in Kyoto. When she left, she wrote to me "It's your turn now!" I replied "Yes, it's our turn now!"

It can be your turn next. The banks, the employers, the schools and the governments can join in whenever they want, but who cares about them anyway?

Monday, September 19, 2011


 Maria: "What are we going to do today? Because according to My Schedule, I have to do this and this and this and this and—oh my God! I almost forgot! I have to do that! And then I have to write fifteen thousand words by lunch and—"
If you've read Ileana's post , then you may recall the above passage.

I feel kind of bad admitting that everything that Ileana writes in that little passage is absolutely true. Exaggerated, of course, because Ileana tends to exaggerate, but otherwise quite true.

One of the reasons that Ileana capitalizes "My Schedule" is because it really is capitalized. Better yet, at this moment, it could be in all caps, something like MY SCHEDULE.

Why? Because if I didn't have a schedule in this insanely busy month, all would be chaos. I would have no schoolwork done, no writing done, no books read, nothing.
Without a schedule to follow, I would be floating in an enormous ocean, trying to grab at flotsam and jetsam without managing to hold on for very long, because I don't know which way the shore is.
Without a schedule to follow, I would be surfing the internet all day. You cannot imagine how terrible this is when a deadline is looming and you have a Herculean amount of work to do. 
I'm not joking. I have at least 600 pages of work to outline before the end of September, and after that I have another 200 pages of history to read. This is a large amount, even if it might sound paltry to some. Correction: this is a HUGE amount.
So MY SCHEDULE is very, very important. MY SCHEDULE is currently something like this, and I'm not putting it here to brag or anything. I'm doing it to illustrate just how busy my life is right now.

I wake up at 5:30am. The alarm goes off, and I wake up. One of the reasons I'm able to do this is because I go to bed at 9 or I sleep in the car if I somehow miss an hour of sleep because of movies. By 5:40, I am downstairs, dressed, with my bed made.

I start writing at 6am. After checking my email (the emails are mostly from facebook, if at all, so this is simply a reason to procrastinate). I write at least 3000 words, usually about 4000, until 7 am. I use a timer, and the reason I write is because my goal for the trip is to write 1,600,000 words from September 1st, 2011, to January 31st, 2013. I'm at 54,000 words so far. The words that count towards this project are: brainstorms, short stories, planning, blog entries, novels, and flash fiction.

At 7am, I begin schoolwork. I generally start with something easy, like a grammar worksheet, but occasionally I'll start with Psychology.

At 8am, I take my first break. This means that I eat, unload the dishwasher (if it's my turn), brush my teeth, and read something relaxing. This might be Shakespeare, or it might be the current novel I'm working at. Sometimes, perhaps from some strange perception of fun, I sit down and start Psychology.

At 8:30am, Public School begins. This means sitting on the couch, listening to explanations of the Divine Liturgy, and then French. Time in French is spent waiting for the other classmates, or trying desperately not to look stupid as you try to pronounce le.

At 9:30am, I shut myself up in the TV room and begin school. Again. This means another 3 hours and a half of Psychology or NOX. Usually I get caught up in it and don't realize that time passes, which is very, very good.

At 1pm, Lunch! Lunch is not as interesting as it might be for the average high schooler. Lunch means a brain swimming with psychological terms (social clock, endorphins, sensation, etc.), half-thought-out plans for the rest of the day, and trying to understand Mom and Dad's conversation about… whatever country is the subject today.

2pm… free time! Free time is a strange concept. I used to understand what this meant, but MY SCHEDULE is optimistic. It does not believe for one second that I can not possibly finish what it has set out for me to do. On top of this, Psychology has tantalized me with an interesting heading that promises amazing information later. Thus "free time" means Psychology. In the rare cases when this doesn't happen, I read.

3:30pm, everyone else goes back to school. Though this time varies, it's usually 3:30pm. I'm usually already at school, so I continue doing whatever it is I do.

If no other prior engagement exists, such as Tae Kwon Do, singing lessons, etc, I might even do schoolwork until 7pm, finally finishing the Psychology pages, and feeling very, very proud of myself.

All that said, an interesting phenomenon of MY SCHEDULE is:

- I feel MUCH happier getting up at 5:30 am. The house is silent. There is no one downstairs to discuss anything with, and by the time they all come downstairs, I have enough work done to feel very productive.
Whereas everyone else's first interactions are with the other members of the family, thus promoting a general feeling of laziness, my first interactions are with myself, which means that I generally have a feeling of: "Today I will actually finish everything on my very long to-do list!"

With MY SCHEDULE having been sufficiently explained, I think that it is a good time to say:
We have exactly FOUR WEEKS left before we leave this house! And yet, I am excited about one thing. I am very excited about this, and I bet you a million dollars you cannot guess what it is. I'll let you guess now. Write it down, and then scroll down, and see if you can tell what it is.

Okay, maybe you haven't written it down yet. Maybe you just scrolled down to see what it was. I really want you to try and guess. 

Alright, ready?

The thing I am most looking forward to when we leave is:
(1) I will not have a wardrobe to worry about. There is no place I can go in the world, no matter how fancy it is, where I will have to worry about any of the following:
- Shoes
- Jewelry
- Skirts
- Stockings
- Hair
- Whether or not I've worn this outfit too many times or not.
I won't have a CHOICE! And, best of all, everyone I see will never have seen me before, and also I am traveling with a back pack, so they won't expect me to have fancy things! 
I am not joking. I am seriously most looking forward to wearing the same five clothing items for a year without having to worry about it.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Larus Occidentalis

So in 30 days, we're going to leave.

Do I feel excited?

Honest answer: No.

And why is that? you may ask, as you violently murder me in a fit of demonic rage. Why are you not frothing at the mouth at the prospect of hot Australian boys?! (Well, now that you mention it, they are pretty mouth-watering....)

But the reasons for my lack of behavior that is frighteningly similar to that of a hyper puppy are these:

1. We've always travelled. It's a pretty much taken for granted now. And the fact that we are going to travel some more is no where near as exciting as you think it would be. Especially since that's all we've been hearing at dinner, lunch, and sometimes breakfast for the past year or so.
          *In regard to breakfast: I prefer my morning hours with minimal human contact. Unfortunately, there will be many morning hours and much socializing with my, more often than not, sleep-deprived sister. The conversation will be as follows:
     Maria: "What are we going to do today? Because according to My Schedule, I have to do this and this and this and this and—oh my God! I almost forgot! I have to do that! And then I have to write fifteen thousand words by lunch and—"
          Needless to say, I am not a morning person. This is easily concluded by the fact that I clearly forgot that death by spoon is nowhere near enough to stop Maria and Her Schedule. We must also feed her tongue to various exotic birds (this will be complicated, as birds are evil and exist to ruin humanity's—for lack of a better word, peaceful—existence).

2. My friends! Where will my friends be? Here! With their friends! And they will be saying, "Oh, look at Ileana, over there in Australia with the hot surfers. She is so lucky. I wish I were Ileana. Especially because of her sexy hair. Her hair is very sexy." And at that moment I will be speaking with one of the hot Australian surfer boys when, all of a sudden, my über-flirty comment is suddenly thwarted by über-unflirty hiccups. Which is just as well, because he will assume I am cold, and give me the sexy shirt that has been warmed by his sexy abs that have been acquired through surfing and being Australian.
          *In Romania, there is a superstition/saying/whatchamacallit. When you hiccup, it's because someone's talking about you. Usually they are nice things. Alternatively, when you bite your tongue or the inside of your cheek, they're saying mean things. Do I believe this? Yes. Yes I do.

3. As a kid, I watched Scooby Do fanatically, despite the "scary monsters" (funnily enough, Disney gave me nightmares). And so, there I'd sit, gazing at the TV, thinking, "When I grow up, I want to be Daphne, because she's so pretty and so brave." It turns out, though, that I'm Velma. Not that I'm incredibly smart (that's Maria), but, like Maria, I can't see more than a eight inches from my face. So there we'll be, celebrating Chinese New Year in Hong Kong and BAM! There goes my contact! Where is it? Is it in my eye? Is it on the ground? Cue killer headache: one eye is blind and the other is fine. Did I bring spare contacts? Yes, I think I did—wait, no, they're at the hotel. Oh shizzle. So after ten minutes with tears pouring from my blind eye (it's jealous that it can't see), completely ruining my makeup, I give in and throw the other one away too. Then, regretfully, I will put on my glasses and my sight will be restored, at the very painful cost of my looks.

4. We'll still be doing school on this trip. Which is cool, I'll have something to do when I'm not reading old books in foreign languages (try to read Romeo & Juliet without Sparknotes. Chances of success are zero to none.), but this school that I'll be doing is math and physics. And I really don't like math. But if you like it, then I don't like you either. And physics are only necessary to physisists. I don't actually know what those are, and according to SpellCheck I made them up.

5. And finally, the fifth reason why I'm not jumping around like I'm on some sugar rush: the lack of internet. Oh, woe betide any addict who is removed from their internet! (Not that I'm an addict. Or attached to some ridiculous website involving a mysterious combination of books and faces.) But yes. The lack of internet. I will sorely miss it when I am off on a life-changing adventure, being attacked by vicious Larus Occidentalis* while I'm being über-flirty with hot Australian surfers (at least until I'm back at the hotel), and I'm not sure how I'll survive. I mean, they have pretty sharp claws. But until then, I will prepare myself for this scarcity of internet-socializing. (What? Spend all my time watching YouTube videos? I would never do that! Even if they involve certain British boys with names that rhyme with barley-is-so-cool-like.)

Well, that's that. I'm sure I'll look back on these fears and laugh saying, "How could I ever have thought the birds would refuse to eat Maria's tongue? They thought it was very delicious! However, they did want mine too... that was awkward...."

Ciao, until next time!

*Laridus Occidentalis is the scientific name for seagull. The reason seagulls were chosen above all others is revealed in Alfred Hitchcock's film The Birds. This explains my deep-seated belief that birds are from hell.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Our Recipe

The recipe to go around the world is a simple one; it doesn't require many ingredients, but it needs time.

The key element is the decision. Without this, you don't get anywhere. We have the desire to travel, the desire for change, the desire for new things, but until we asked ourselves how important this was for us, when we could do it, what it requires, we couldn't make a decision.

It is nice to have a partner who'll support your plans, or shares the same idea. He/she will help you through your moments of doubt, assure you you're not crazy, bring you back to Earth when you dream with your eyes open, keep you on track, remind you why you're doing what you're doing, hold you in his/her arms when everything seems to go wrong, be there for you and your accomplishments.

After that you need a plan. You can establish how much money you can save a month and find your leaving date, or go the other way: decide when you're leaving, and do everything in your power and much more to make it happen. We looked at how much we're earning, how much debt we have, and where we can make cuts.
We renounced restaurants and started cooking those fancy dinners at home
                         television (we weren't that interested in the programs and the advertising was horrible)
                         movies (we subscribed to Netflix)
                         fashionable clothes and shoes
                         gifts (we knew way ahead what we where going to get)
                         hairdresser; I'm the only one who's spoiled this way (since we moved to the States, I am the barber/ hairdresser of the entire family) and I still go for a haircut, but I dye my hair at home.
                         vacations. This is the third year that we're doing school over the summer so we will be able to finish lots of subjects and leave with as little school as possible (math and science)

The positive side is: we ate healthy, the kids were implicated in the process, and it made them open to new foods
                                we read more; many books were about the places we are going to see
                                we watched documentaries
                                we had time to understand what kind of shoes and clothes we need in this trip
                                the children became more mature; they learned to keep their eyes on the prize, to scrutinize their reasons, to express their wishes, to listen till the end the explanations of the answer NO and accept it, and to put things in perspective
                               we became a tightly-knit family

Another important thing is to be consistent, and this is the most difficult part. In time, there are many temptations and excuses for not being able to put aside that sum of money, because today you want that shirt, because you want to get out for a nice dinner that somebody else cooked, because this life of deprivation drives you crazy. I will answer your question: yes, we've strayed from time to time, but started again, convinced that it is worth it.

On top of everything else comes the patience as you're inching your way toward D-day, the effort to live your life in the present, to participate, to find happiness and satisfaction in a smile, or a hug, in things that money can't buy (for everything else, there's MasterCard).

Decision, Partner, Plan, Consistency, Patience, Time.
Now you need to put a title to your recipe; ours is called "Recipe for Going Around the World."

Saturday, September 3, 2011

The Other Thursday

I lost my job. Interesting. Sensitive subject. Among a million other things on a busy morning. I leave at noon on Thursday to drive 45 minutes to my second job. I don't work here Friday and Monday it's a holiday. My boss runs into me by accident. "When you have five minutes, we need to talk. No hurry. Some day." Why wait. I'll make five minutes. We close the door, sit down and in a few words I learn that he thinks that he might not be able to give me a leave of absence. [Translation: I will not get a leave of absence.] Immediately an immense sense of relief takes over. "So that means I don't have to come back?! I can stay longer?" I don't say it loud, I just try to understand another stupid rule that neither one of us would have imagined. It is his decision, to grant a leave of absence or not. The usual maximum is for 1 year, it can be longer in special cases. Of course, there is no pay, so the saved money should allow for a replacement. But, it's not like that. Apparently they cannot get somebody else if my position is "saved" for me. Does that mean that I will have to start over? Possibly. Five hours of vacation per month. Start at the bottom, accumulate sick hours and be on probation for several months. No way! I don't say this out loud. We don't have answers and they really want me back. I said for months that I would be happy to let go and hopefully they would replace me with someone better. Everybody laughed at that and said "There's noone better, you know that!" Yes, I know, but there is always hope and they should give their new doctor a chance.

Now it's different, it's real. I promised hundreds that I would be back. I always keep my promises, it's my word and it's enough. I fully expected that during our trip I will get a message that I am let go. No problem. Stuff happens. I wanted to resign, tell everybody that I am leaving and say goodbye. With the whole leave of absence thing the temptation to return to a secure job that I enjoy was too big and too easy. Of course, why not. A sense of betrayal takes over. Why was I lead to mislead a lot of people? Over the next 8 hours I go over many different scenarios. We could stay longer. We could go to South America. We could sell our house and move forever. We could come back sooner. The initial relief is still there mixed with the sour taste of being cheated. I will never start this over. Or maybe. There's always a price on this sort of things and negotiating my salary could bring much more that I would get otherwise. I got four raises in 9 years, always too little too late. By the time I make it home from my other job I know that I will not start over. People will never get the full story but even if they want me back they might not be able to afford me. Should I change my story now and just say a simple goodbye? Certainly I cannot take back what I already said, that's the only painful part. I will not say anymore that I will be back. I will emphasize the "maybe." I want them to let me go with a dish to pass, a song, a little card. Maybe some of my previous colleagues will come over. That would be nice.

The immediate kick is that our travel budget suddenly is $11000 less. I don't lose money, it's a technicality but it's there. The second hit is that we have to plan a much larger reentry budget. It's one thing to come back, go to work and get paid 2-3 weeks later but now I will have to prepare for 2-3 months without income while I will try to make a living.

Ileana comes home shortly after 8, she immediately senses that there is something. "A bad day?" Not really, but it's not good. It would have been so nice to know this four months ago. We did think about selling everything, but I dismissed that, I promised I would come back. "Why can't we sell everything now?" It is too late and we don't really want to do that.  As we talk we both get excited and remember how it all started. It's here: Starting it all. There might be a few months but the prospect of an independent life, a full time private practice, maybe a couple consultant gigs. It's all appealing. Thirteen weeks of vacation per year, a few years of paying all the debt, saving money and taking off again. Ileana will help. She'll be my office manager. Nobody needs to know yet, even if we talk in front of the kids, they don't really pay attention. Before I go to bed, the sense of freedom and relief takes over. It is still a let down but there is nobody to blame and even if I try, I cannot get upset about it. Just excited.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Forgetting to Shop

Dad asked me to sit down and write something that I'll be able to look back on in ten years or so, when I'm twenty six, and see what I was thinking like now, at sixteen. I imagine myself with slightly bigger hips and different clothing sitting and laughing fondly with people at the things I expected and thought and said when I was sixteen. 
I told someone at ATA on Tuesday that we had forty-seven days left, and she says, "For what?"
"We're going around the world." When I looked to see the woman's reaction her face was something like this: O_O
Whereupon I proceed with the general explanation: who is going, where we are going, and for how long. This takes two to five minutes and is generally greeted by "Oh my god," "That's so cool," "What a learning experience," or "OH MY GOD… TAKE ME TOO!" Sometimes one of the questions is a query as to my thoughts on the subject.
To be honest, it seems completely natural to go on a trip for fourteen months with only one backpack per person and no permanent residence. And actually, the non-permanent residence doesn't bother me as much as the backpack has. My logic six months ago for this was that the backpack is small, and I'll only have less than three shirts. Most girls at sixteen have thirty, it seems, so that's one of the absolute necessities I'll be missing while around the world.
While leaving with just three shirts seems very normal and natural to me, it's also a bit scary. What if one of the shirts rips or is lost? What if I stop liking it? What am I going to do when I come back and I need a completely new wardrobe? What if I forget how to shop?
(Translation of the above questions is: "What if something goes wrong? What if I stop liking to travel, or start hating people? How am I going to readjust to "real" life? What about COLLEGE?")
While absolutely every single one of those questions has a simpler or not-so-simple answer (you will not ever forget how to shop. Ever.), it's one of the things that is proccupying me.
Whereas Dad is focusing on finding transportation, location, or housing, and Mom is focusing on photography and phone calls and finishing up at home, and Ileana and Ioan are focusing on having fun and doing schoolwork (in that order), I have to focus on not only schoolwork, but life after, which is a scary prospect and is practically the only qualm I have about the trip. The other one is the basic repertoire of worries any basic traveler has: what if I get sick?
Speaking of schoolwork, I am my own teacher. Mom has tried, for both eleventh and twelfth grade, to give me a good, solid schedule for the fifty weeks or so we're doing schoolwork, but it tends to fall apart in about weeks five to ten. This is because of Standardized High School Tests, also known as the SAT and ACT. Studying for either of these two makes me drop everything else (especially math) and focus on just learning how to read again. I usually come back to schoolwork with about six weeks of back work and an increasingly shortening time frame, which after two to three weeks of inefficiency and an even SHORTER time frame, now requires a complete rethinking of how I'm going to do school.
Generally this results in learning on weekends, procrastination, and a change of location. For eleventh grade I moved from the kitchen table to a desk. For twelfth grade I moved up to sitting in my room on the floor, where I have two to three hour time blocks of one subject every day, plus Khan Academy, which is an online math course where you can win points and badges. These three to four hours of work don't sound like much, but when I'm finished with all that, I then start reading all the books I want to read before we leave. This includes The Kite Runner, A Thousand Splendid Suns, Anne Frank, The Odyssey, and the complete works of Shakespeare and Ernest Hemingway.
At the beginning of the year, I'd planned to read a hundred books in 2011, but as I caught up, I raised the bar to 150, and then to 175. I hope to read 200 by the time January 1st, 2012 comes around.
While on the trip, I'll be reading classics like Charles Dickens, Jane Austen, Alexandre Dumas, Leo Tolstoy, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Mircea Eliade, etc. Before the trip, I am focusing on reading the books that I cannot read RTW.
And of course, besides all this, in order to keep myself busy enough not to be lazy, I also set writing goals— things like "get to 80 words per minute," or "type ten thousand words today," or "write a blog entry." This not only exercises my mind, but it prevents me from watching TV, surfing the internet, or otherwise doing unproductive things, because I get caught up in the story I am writing and feel more inclined to finish reading my book or keep writing rather than laze around and do nothing. It also provides incentive for writing a Language outline. (And, surprisingly enough, writing at large speeds does not make my writing better or worse. The only thing that happens is that it comes out better than I expected, which is a confidence booster.)
One of my other goals before we leave is to finish watching the Remington Steele series, which deserves a say in this blog because at twenty six this is probably what I'll be laughing about the most. And also because it's amaaaaaaazing.
The whiteboard that we see whenever we walk in through the back door now says forty five days… we're finishing the ordering of icebreakers, and we have to organize the iTunes library, and the days are steadily creeping down and down and down… I wonder if anyone outside of the family is nervous for us at all. Or are they just excited?