it’s not a book, but it’s a start

April 16, 2010

On January 30th, 2009 I was laid off.  Consequently, I began collecting unemployment for the second time in less than 2 years.

I quickly realized the only way I could avoid situations like that again was to NOT go into another job where my success was directly tied to the purchasing power of individuals and/or businesses, especially when the economy was in the dumper.  (Sales BLOWS BIG CHUNKS in my opinion.  Some people are good at it, some are not.  I am a card carrying member of the “NOT” group.)

I started thinking about a little fantasy I’d always had of being a travel writer.  Sure, the daydream typically involved me being a freelancer off somewhere remote like Bora Bora, sitting in one of those overwater bungalow thingys sipping a delicious cocktail with an offensive umbrella and a 1.5 foot high stack of fresh fruit teetering out the side of the hurricane glass, being spritzed with Evian by an adorable cabana boy that rarely spoke, all while finishing my latest piece about Polynesian art for Condé Nast Traveler…

Seeing as how my unemployment checks weren’t about to send me off on a sweet little sandy beach vaca that could jumpstart my writing career, my brain actually switched on for a second and I remembered that year I spent in the land of kangaroos and crocodiles way back in 1995.  Why couldn’t I write about being an exchange student?  I had journals- an entire years worth of already written material- and I assumed all they would need was a little re-structuring and editing.  I couldn’t believe I’d forgotten about this goldmine I’d been sitting on for over a decade.

I told my parents the plan, and made my mother help me dig through the attic for the “Australia Box” that contained all the stuffed kangaroos and wombats, replicated aboriginal artwork, boomerangs, journals, scrapbooks, newspapers and “keepsakes” (ie, shit that a teenage girl thinks is important) collected from my time spent in Oz.

Seeing all these things for the first time in years brought back a lot of memories, and I knew I had a great story.  I started going through my journals, reading and remembering, highlighting and flagging pages. There were 4 journals that spanned about 10 1/2 months… but I was barely 3/4 of the way through the first book when I realized that what I had in my hands was not the “observations of societal differences between Australian and American cultures whilst reveling in the first experiences of being abroad” weary traveler sort of writing I had envisioned… rather, it was more the “I can’t believe I have to wear a uniform of plaid pants and polo shirts to school but ya know what? that boy in my 5th period class is pretty darn cute” 16 year old diary sort of writing.

ACK.  Would you like to revisit your 16 year old self?  Be back inside your head at that time?  If you answered yes, then I’ll agree that those little voices you’re hearing inside your noggin have some pretty great ideas, and what size jacket do you take? cause you need to be hospitalized.

These journals are not a comfortable read.  They bring back a squirmy-cringy-anxiousness that I’d rather not relive… and I certainly have no intention of sharing with the world.

A book about the entire year isn’t a great idea, but I see no reason to hold back from recounting some of the better tales here on the blog; despite the risk of making me look like an asshole or an idiot at times, it’ll be fun (I think).  There may be some general exchange student rule-breaking involved in these stories, but it’s not like they can ship me out of the country now anyway, so why hold back?  Plus, I told my parents that my intention to bartend full time again would allow me to focus and write about this stuff… and I probably should hold true to that (even though I’m pretty sure they’re happy with whatever I choose to do as long as I don’t move back home) (again).

P.S. If you are from Condé Nast Traveler (or ANY travel publication for that matter) and are looking for a gal that will go pretty much anywhere for pretty much any length of time and write about pretty much anything? Drop me a note, cause we need to chat.

  • Louis

    Condé Nast! I’ll be cheering you on! I believe that some of the wisest people on the planet are not those that realize their strengths, but their weaknesses, and how to account for them (IE leaving the sales industry like a bad habit). Your writing demostrates a prodigious intellect; moreover, it’s enjoyable to read and you deliver your thoughts in ways that us readers can relate to well.

    To make a long story short, keep it up!

  • Lisa

    I think I still have letters you sent to me from Australia if you change your mind and need more material for your book :)

  • Dad

    Keep in mind you still have some Aussies in the family to bounce ideas off of.

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