Tag Archives: travelling

The Fine Art of Full Circles: The Cunt is Back

[tap-tap-tap] Is this thing on?

Oh. Hi! You’re here. Hello.

Three or so years ago, when I last wrote on this blog, I never could’ve imagined the next time I posted would be in Crete, Greece, where dogs bark and a breeze blows under a warm sun. Life’s good in the Greek Islands.

But here I am and there you are. Much has happened in that time. Hence the whole “Crete, Greece” thing.

Why did I stop writing here? Mm. Lots of reasons, I guess. Getting stereotyped, feeling done. Being spent. Working too much. And the most cardinal sin of them all, I had nothing to say. I’d become exhausted from being angry, shouting in the wind, being a rat in a cage. There’s only so long you can be angry before you realize that maybe, just maybe, the problem is you.

So, I stopped writing at The Cunt. I kept writing. But, for money. For credibility. For a whole lot of reasons, but I no longer wrote for the hell of it.

Looking back, I wonder if I was trying to outrun myself, to leave this place in the distance. Maybe if I wasn’t this, my life wouldn’t be that. I’m not sure. But I do know I ain’t outran anything. Truth is, there’s never only one reason our life isn’t what we’d hoped it would be.

And the further I’ve gotten, the prouder I am of where I was. The big pictures is easier to see when we get space between it and us.

The Clarity of Then and Now

In the hazy light of getting older, it feels like this blog and I have been through hell and back. Hyperbole? Only a little. This place and I know where we’ve been. From getting 5,000 to 10,000 visitors a day and crashing down to 50, from being interviewed on national US radio without credit through to being stalked by would-be employers, and, later, fired from jobs. From making my dating life impossible to getting judged based on what was, at times, a persona I affected… well.

Yeah, The Cunt just stopped being fun. If it ain’t fun, man, don’t do it. And sure as shit don’t do it when it’s that hard and you’re not getting paid.

It’s fitting that, on my walk through Heraklion after writing this first draft, I passed graffiti that read “Love the life you live, live the life you love.” It’s like I called 1-800-Dial-a-Graffiti to get something special for me. The graffiti you need, when you need it.

Two and a half years of travelling the world is a hell of a long ways to go to learn a very simple lesson — that I gotta go my own way. Again. Shot by me in Albania.

Love the Thing You Do

I love being a writer, but for a while, I didn’t. I didn’t want to be your guru, your voice in the storm. I didn’t want to shout about injustices anymore.

In a way, I rediscovered some of who I was in writing a piece about Jian Ghomeshi that spread like wildfire in October 2014. By then, I’d already been not writing here for a couple years. It felt good to write that article and smack that jerk down. But because I picked up that mantle and ran with it, suddenly I became that girl. That’s what people wanted my writing. Advocacy, shouting into the storm, giving a voice for the voiceless.

Whoa. No. That’s a big load for an  unpaid blogger. I advocate, but I’m not an advocate. Verb, not noun. I write about the world, not one subject, hence writing stays fresh and fun for me when it’s going well. I loathe a one-note writing life.

There were many reasons I needed a clean break from this place… to figure out who I was again, to tap into things I am and things I’d been before I became “this” – and I’d take that break again. In a heartbeat.

Lately, though, I’ve found myself wanting a place to let loose, where writing is fun. Fun for me. Maybe fun for you. But, honestly, my enjoyment is the priority. If it’s fun for me, though, I bet it’s fun for you, too. That’d be a double-win. Yay!

My Life-Long Journey: Self-Acceptance

Nearly 13 years later, deep down, I’m still that girl who giggled mischievously upon thinking of the name “Cunting Linguist.”

I’ll always have that spitfire that makes me an acquired taste and a button-pusher. Some people will just never, ever like me, and that’s okay. I’m sure it’s mutual. Fresh out of fucks to give for people who think my brand of authenticity is jarring. Do you. I got me covered. We both fit in this world.

So, beyond the taking a break thing, in case you’ve been out to lunch or totally missed it, I’m in the middle of travelling the world for five years. At the end of this month, I roll into my 20th country in 31 months. I write about that here. I’ve twice circumnavigated the globe, yada, yada. Ditched the house and the domestic dreams. The leather furniture’s gone, the years of collecting and amassing of stuff has given way to me living out of a duffle bag with raggedy clothes. Sometimes I write for people like Washington Post and Yahoo! and Canadian Traveller. My life has become a mix of crazy and amazing and so damn tiring.

One of the problems with travelling the world for five years is that I’m always making a first impression. I’m always a guest. I’m an ambassador, a diplomat, an outsider looking in.

Sooner or later, my being a tactful, diplomatic person had to reach a breaking point, and this is that.

Now I need a place to let loose, rant, fume, grumble, snipe, mock, provoke.

I need a button to push.

Then it occurred to me: I have one. I’m The Cunting Linguist, y’all.

Been A Long Time Coming

In the nearly 13 years since I first hit “publish” here, the world’s changed. They’ve finally added the word “cunting” to dictionary. Joy! The world’s changed in other ways. We’re angrier. More divided. We’re on the cusp of bad times, if we’re not there already.

The world needs people willing to wade through shit and hold reason up to the light, pointing at it, shouting, “LOOK! REASON!”

But have you heard? The blog is dead.

I stubbornly refuse to believe that. Blogging just got boring and omnipresent, but boring never lived on The Cunt when times were good.

So, what will my resurrecting this place mean? Mm, I’m not sure. But the great thing about The Cunt was that it was my catch-all. It was anything I needed it to be, because it reflected so many parts of who I am – including my antagonistic, confrontational bits that should never, ever emerge during these travels I’m on. Writing here was comfortable, easy. I usually wrote and published something in under ninety minutes because it just exploded out of me. I wrote solely when I wanted to, but then I stopped wanting to write.

I can’t find the quote now, but I remember some passing interview with a great Canadian writer like Robertson Davies or Mordecai Richler where they said, “a writer ought not write until the thought of not writing becomes unbearable.”

Tough way to get paid, Mr. Dead Writer Guy, but I see what you’re saying.

Well, I don’t know how often I’ll post here, but I know the thought of not doing it anymore has now become unbearable. I’m fit to burst. I can’t post much; I have too much work in my life, a world to visit, things to see, a book I’m writing, travels to plan, books to read.

But The Cunt is a part of me that I’ve been missing – a big part. It’s my inner-instigator, my agent provocateur. My flame-thrower and my magnifying glass. My inquisitor.

Writing for The Cunt wasn’t ever hard. I made the rules, I didn’t have to please anyone. I had no fucks to give and didn’t acquiesce no how. I plan to unleash that again, because it’s part of who I am, I guess, and denying it isn’t doing my soul much good. In the years since I started this joint, it’s become trendy to be confrontational, to throw around words like “fuck”. But I was doing it on the web long before it was commonplace.

Look, ma. I don’t make up no words. Validation, baby. Good thing I kept the URL, eh?

To Get it Together, You Gotta Come Apart

Unfortunately for me, I had a very tumultuous, scary few years where employment was forever shaky, and life got hard, hard, hard. This blog became a liability to my lifestyle. In every way.

Somewhere along the way, between 2008 and now, I started caring what people thought. Before 2008, this was one damn fun blog. After that, in those troubled times, I lost my way, both personally and existentially, and I lost my way in writing too.

Caring what people think is no way to live. For a writer, it’s death.

In some ways, I’ve found myself again. I’ve connected with this bad-ass chick travelling the world alone, who doesn’t give a shit what conformity is supposed to be, who’s making her own way on her own time. But, somehow, that travelling bad-ass version of me doesn’t feel wholly authentic, because I’m also the ambassador first-impression-maker tip-toeing through cultures in which I’m a guest. I never feel at home in the world anymore, and that, too, is sometimes no way to live.

I love being that travelling ambassador, but I also want to be the bad-ass who says what she wants when she wants to say it. I am the queen of duality and can easily straddle being the erudite, thoughtful writer of travelogues over at FullNomad.com as well as being this, and I know now, that’s the mix I want. More importantly, it’s what I need.

The Cunt is… me. Who the hell have I been kidding?

I Had to Leave Home to Find Home

For a long time, I’ve been proud of the direction in which my writing is going. But, of late, I’m realizing I have much to be proud of where my writing’s been, too. Fuck the naysayers.

If I dig deep on this blog, I’ll realize I was a hell of a lot more brave and fearless than I give myself credit for being, and it’s time I accept that all of this – the hellion, the rebel, and the provocateur are parts of me that I don’t ever want to water down. The world needs some of us people who have no fucks to give, who speak truth to power, and who are proud to shine a light on how out of whack and weird we all are.

They say that the longer we travel, the more likely we are to come full circle, and maybe that’s what I’ve done. I may no longer have a home, but maybe this blog is my coming home in a different way.

Maybe this is all the home I’ve ever needed.

I got no promises for you, friends. There are no guarantees, no timelines, no assurances. I’m back, The Cunt is open for business, but you’ll get what you get when you get it.

But it’s something, and it’s a start. That’s the only promise I got: This is just the start.

Me and an elephant, just hanging in Thailand. Sure, he’s concrete, but he’s still got cred.

Travelling: The Writer’s Master Class

I wrote this late last Friday night and have only gotten around to editing it now. As of today, the numbers below are right — 90 days until I’m homeless and a world traveller. If you’re not following my travel blog, you should.

It’s hard to find great movies on writers. Funny, that.

But I guess it’s such an internal experience that it’s very hard to relay that visually or in any other way. It’s why a movie like Eat Pray Love can suck so hard while the book is a delight to read.

So it’s with great enjoyment that I’m watching Jane Campion’s biopic on New Zealand author Janet Frame, who I’d never even heard about, despite read. Don’t let my ignorance dissuade you of her import; her list of writing awards spans nearly six decades and would be intimidating to nearly any writer. An Angel At My Table is the name of both the film and the corresponding books.

Frame was unique, to put it lightly, and suffered mental illness in varying (but it turns out manageable) degrees. She was due for a lobotomy when word came that her first book of poems was an award-winning publication, and some wise doctor realized her malaise was also the source of her brilliance.

I’m at the point where she’s coming into her own as a writer but is still troubled by the demons of anxiety and other illnesses, and like any proper writer, she is only her complete self when writing.

 

London, England, by Unsplash on Pixabay. Creative Commons. My first stop in my travels.

London, England, by Unsplash on Pixabay. Creative Commons.

Doing what a writer’s born to do

It makes me think that a writer who isn’t writing is a person who can never be happy. Without writing, we’re haunted. If we can’t do what we are, then what are we to be, if not cursed?

I write. Boy, do I write. I can’t say I don’t write. Know how many words I’ve written since April 1st, about 90 days? Over 70,000. Maybe over 80K. Until this quarter, I never knew how much a writer I am. I set a goal, then I blew way past it, so much so that I’ll be the writer anomaly when I travel, as I’ll be completely debt-free.

Strangely though, with all that production going into paid blogging and other professional endeavours, plus some unpaid personal blogging, I have to tell you… I really wish I had some time to write.

There’s writing for the dollars, then there’s writing for the soul, and there’s very little of the latter I’ve been able to execute, only because I’m so riddled by the chase of the almighty buck that I’m too full of emotional holes to really write what I wanna.

Zagreb_1_Ilica

Creative Commons image from Sobrecroacia.com. Ilica Street, Zagreb, my second stop on my travels, and near where I’ll live for three weeks, except for a short stint in the next town — which is… see the next picture!

 

Stealing back my time

In the movie, Janet Frame has just launched herself on her first international voyage. She’s told, to be a better writer, she needs to travel and expand her horizons.

It calls to mind what I wrote about how my travels are, even if others don’t say it, essentially most writers’ dream life. Go abroad. Travel slow. Soak in the world. Record it. Process it. Love it.

That’s writing for you, it’s a writer’s master class — travel.

I’m 90 days away from that life. Travel. No appointments, no obligations, no friends, no family, nothing but a schedule to meet for work, the ability to be in some exotic place for a month or so, and enough time in the day to write for an hour or two EVERY SINGLE DAY. Maybe more! Tee-hee-hee!

Ask me if I’m more excited about the distraction-free time to chase a writing-first life or the opportunity to see the world for five years, and I would honestly struggle to choose. I love the idea of both so completely that it blows my mind I’m getting both at the same time.

Ljubljana, Slovenia, from PopSugar.com's list of 23 places to visit. And stop number three for me!

Ljubljana, Slovenia, from PopSugar.com’s list of 23 places to visit. And stop number three for me!

Writing is not a “hobby”

I’ve been through a lot in my life. It’s all gone whizzing past in a blur of survival and perseverance. Seldom have I had a chance to percolate and absorb it. I haven’t processed half the emotions I’ve felt over the years.

To some, they might say I need therapy. But the writers, they know. They know I need silence, a phone that doesn’t ring and a door that doesn’t knock. They know I need a window with a view, a desk at a good height, and fingers that won’t weary from a day or a year or a life of pounding out the truth.

It’s better than therapy, writing. It’s more honest, and it’s less selfish, in a way.* Put it down, push it into the world, and watch it resonate with others. When one taps into how fucked up they are, shares it with the world, resulting in a cacophony of voices rising to say how much it resonated with them — that’s the original therapy group session.

Something tells me, though, that landing on the far shores of the Atlantic isn’t going to be when and where I realize what a mess I am — it’ll be where I realize how together I’ve got it.

Motovun, Istria, in Croatia, where I'll be spending 4 weeks this fall -- stop number 4. And this photo's from Sobrecroacia.com.

Motovun, Istria, in Croatia, where I’ll be spending 4 weeks this fall — stop number 4. And this photo’s from Sobrecroacia.com.

Choosing passion

It doesn’t matter how I think I’ll do. My expectations don’t matter either. In about 105 days, after I’ve whirlwinded through Vancouver and London, UK, it’ll be my chance to see exactly how it unfolds. But there are no doubts in my mind about travelling improving me as a writer.

There haven’t been many opportunities in my life to spend 10 or 20 hours a week just writing for myself, let lone more, but the few times I’ve had that, my writing has been top-notch and I’ve been enormously proud of it. It’s a whole ‘nother writing level when you’ve got the time, focus, and dedication to achieve consistency.

This is what I hope to experience again. A chance to become more plugged into words and flow. I want the noise and distraction of life to evaporate, and the cadence of something exciting and new to fuel what I write.

What’s that they say about asking and receiving? 100 days.

*But therapy is awesome if you can afford it. For real.

Risks vs Reward: Travelling the World As a Single Woman

When I tell people my travelling-for-five-years plan, they’re generally really excited to hear about it, but they also question the safety. Not just of a woman travelling alone throughout all kinds of countries, but of the lack of security that comes from giving up a home.

Another thing they commonly obsess on is how my entire life is becoming an unknown. Folks seem to think is very unsettling.

I’ll confess, I’ve had a lot of these concerns myself in the last couple years as I’ve worked through confronting ‘em and screwing up my nerve to go anyhow. I’ve also been lucky to have a lot of weird little instances occur over the last two years, where I’ve had doubts washed away.

The idea that you travel “alone” is a misnomer. Some of the greatest friendships of my life have lasted less than 48 hours. For a day, we’d live and die for each other. There’s a kinship and connection that develops on the road, when you know this fleeting moment is all you got and maybe it’ll never happen again. I doubt this sense is as strong as it was in the pre-Facebook era, when the odds of staying connected were very low.

To continue reading this post, please visit my shiny travel blog, The Full Nomad, by clicking here. Thanks!

Out of Adversity Comes Awesome

Life moves quickly. I whiled my weekend sourcing luggage and committing to one. I’ve had travel inoculations. I’ve made a financial strategy re banks and credit.

I know the average blogger pulls the “Gosh, I’m so sorry I’m not writing, I’m so busy!” shit a lot, but in this instance, it’s true. In 5 months my whole life needs to have been imploded, stored, sold, paid for, or packed into a suitcase. I’ve written indepth about this over at The FullNomad.com today. Read that here.

I’d love nothing more than hours to pound on my keyboard, pontificating on Steffness and Infinity World, but things gotta get done, man.

I’m charged. Chuffed. Stoked. Whatever you wanna call it. 58 days ago I blew out my knee. This weekend is the first I’ve done stuff without having to baby my knee much. I rode my bike! I’ve photographed! I’ve felt freedom after nearly two months of feeling trapped.

CharcoalMore importantly, I feel like a victor. I coulda panicked when I blew my knee. I could’ve pushed too hard out of fear. There’s a million ways that all could’ve gone so awry.

Instead, I trusted my instinct, hoped for the best. I trusted my caregivers too, but ultimately realized I was the person in control of everything. That’s a hard place to tap into when injured because injury itself feels like loss of control.

Not so, however. I could’ve sat there and done nothing but wait for the knee to heal, but I found a happy medium. If not for the knee injury, I would not have finally realized I need shoes in the home to minimize my long-time calf problem that causes pain while walking. I wouldn’t have learned a passive approach to stretching my hip flexors, which is a huge problem-solver with low-back pain. I also wouldn’t have discovered the abductor stretch as the single-most important stretch I can do for hip stability, ending a major issue for the last year.

Without the knee injury, I’d be going to Europe with a lot less confidence in how to deal with my tricky back after travel days. I can’t tell you how much cash I’ve spent over five years to fix my body, but this knee injury gave me the most important keys I’ve learnt in all that time. Invaluable. What a gift. Hey, thanks, torn meniscus. You rocked my world in a good way.

How bizarre.

Perspective, Grasshopper

0d67403c40e1fc86b2e6156a37f5b0cbIf I had to guess my single best quality for living abroad, it’s what I’ve just described — my choice to make adversity into an advantage by learning something new about myself along the way. Adversity happens, people. Deal.

Was I born with that? I don’t think so. Maybe a bit. But I think it’s mostly a developed skill. You have to want to get something out of bad situations. It’s an attitude and a choice. Develop that skill, and hard times are never as hard again.

It’s about learning to learn. Learn everything possible, every day, every way. Question everything. Believe in yourself but also know that you don’t know shit when it comes to cosmic proportions. I leave room to doubt myself, if only because it forces me to become sure of myself. Zen, that.

The Gift of 40

These days, I feel blessed I didn’t get to see the world in my 20s. Granted, I know some freakin’ awesome 20-somethings out there travelling, but I also know how much has happened in my years since when I would’ve been travelling, had life not derailed on me, and all that perspective will temper my world-view in wonderful ways.

10950585_752150741570470_1275021983_nI’m so much more empathetic. I’m accomplished. I’ve almost managed to claw out of my debt through hard work. I’ve had a lot taken from me but a lot taught to me too.

There’s a sense of peace and invincibility that comes from all those things. They’re similar to what you learn on the road, too, but I learned them in two regional postal codes.

I love being a woman in my 40s. 42 looms. Shame in aging? Screw that. The 40s are when you understand who the hell you are, what you’re made of, and just how much you can face down. It’s the decade when you finally get past all the posturing, you grasp just what’s not worth wasting time on, and you recalibrate. Or if you’re lucky, that’s how your 40s will go down.

Is my 5-year-plan for world travel just a midlife crisis? Then I say I love midlife crises! Imma gonna have the best midlife crises EVER. Why the hell not? What’s wrong with saying I WANT WHAT I WANT AND I WANT IT NOW?

Absolutely nothing.

It’s Either This, or That

Should I be settling down, buying a home, and being conservative for my retirement? What, here, in one of the most out-of-control real estate markets on the planet? Give your head a shake, bro. I’ll have less financial burden on the road than here.

Kick-ass1-500x472Should I be married and having kids? With the planet on target for 9 billion people in 2050, I think you’re cool without my participation in the breeding program, all right?

And frankly, while I absolutely know I will always regret not having kids, I promise you, I would’ve really regretted HAVING kids. And having kids knowing full well you would resent their impact on your goals, time, and freedom pretty much makes you cruel or foolish to bring a life in the world and saddle them with your bullshit.

That “regret” of not having the family and the home and the fence comes from understanding the full potential of the human condition. I get it, man. I know family is wonderful. But I can’t have that and be the person I’ve always dreamt of becoming. That’s not selfish, that’s self-preservation.

And funny thing is, when I’ve dreamed of my future, it’s never included a spouse, a marriage, or a kid. I’m not adverse to the spouse or marriage, but I’ve never viewed it as something I require for the life of my dreams. I’ve never imagined myself as a mother. Not even once.

I chose not to have any of those things as a trade for freedom to follow my whimsy. Until now, my whimsy has been unspectacular. I’ve always been a late-bloomer. So at 42, just watch me go.

In the end, I get to travel, become the writer I know I can be, and leave a legacy of words and trips and photographs and creation. That is the choice I make. That is the trade, and it’s a fine one at that.

A Last Good Look, Then No Looking Back

These days, I enjoy reflecting a little on calendars and time, and how much falls between it all on the life/adversity spectrum. It’s fun, remembering where I’ve come from, because I’m about to leap into the great unknown and not look back anymore.

Soon, the past is prologue and the story begins anew.

That too is a choice.

I can’t help it. I’m elated to batter my keyboard, lost in thought about all the lessons I’ve learned and just how useful everything I’ve ever been through will be, once I’m ambling up old town cobblestone streets, lost in places I’ve dreamed of being since I was 15 and reading Paul Theroux on my front lawn. This writer, man, the worlds he brought me seemed like an untenable dream.

Now I’m the woman I need to be to have what I dreamt of all that time ago.

Life’s about to become one hell of a trip.

Inconvenient Lessons Are the Best Lessons

Dreaming is a luxury of the able, I sometimes find. Those able to afford it, those able to do it.

Injury and adversity flips my switch from thriving to surviving, and I find all dreams and desires vanish as a matter of necessity. All that matters is this day, this challenge, and overcoming it. After that, maybe then dreams.

This leg injury of the past week has been an interesting life-lesson for me. A Steff-lesson too, in that I’ve learned a bit about myself.

learn-64058_1280

I don’t think I’ve ever realized before now just how drastic that flip of my switch is. I go from imagining my future to having this rather dogged what-needs-to-happen one-foot-in-front-of-the-other modus operandi on basic survival. I’ve barely even thought about “Life Abroad” this week.

(Psst, you know I started a new blog, “Full Nomad,” for my travels, right? Start here.)

And it has only been nine days for me with the knee/meniscus issue, but it’s like a spotlight on why I had no “dreams” for so long when I was living in Vancouver.

I was just trying to survive, man.

I got out at the right time. Any longer and I think I might’ve crippled myself emotionally. It just wasn’t the right place for me anymore. That may sound dramatic to some, but I really don’t care. I don’t like to think of who I might’ve become had I kept ignoring the signs of what was wrong in my life.

No one should ignore what’s going wrong in their lives, though. That’s the trick of existence. There’s a certain amount we have to abide, because life isn’t a happy-happy sunshine club every day, but there’s a point where ignoring lack of contentment starts to eat at who we are. I was long past that.

Once I got to Victoria, I realized that this wasn’t my “place” either. I do love it here. I love Vancouver too. It’s just that there’s something missing for me. That “something” is likely not anything specific, but instead the excitement of travel and the drinking-in of every culture on the planet, an alternate existence I thought I’d live in my 20s and it never happened.

But this week, I stopped thinking about all that. I just wanted to be here, to enjoy this place. Victoria is gobsmackingly gorgeous as spring blooms, and I want to be a part of it.

Funnily, it’s because I was injured three times in a row last summer and worked so much during it all that I made the decision to stay until my 42nd birthday this September. One final summer in the Queen’s beloved Victoria.

Ironic then that on what we in Vancouver & Victoria have always jokingly considered the start of spring, February 21st, that I should suffer this knee injury.

Oddly, though, it’s healing faster and better than any knee injury I’ve ever had. It’s just inconvenient long enough to teach me — or remind me — about perseverance, restraint, gratitude, and dreaming.

I feel a lot of gratitude today. I’ve been pretty much walking without any support for a couple days. I last really used my crutch on Friday night. If I go for a walk tomorrow, it’ll be with a cane. I’ll be in a knee brace for a few weeks until I’m confident my knee is fully healed, but I’m so optimistic that I can get fully past this before April, leaving me nearly 6 months to get in better condition for Life Abroad.

Today’s dream involves thinking about the travel bike I’ll buy for my trip and where it might just take me once I’m in Europe. I like the idea of spending part of Spring in France, living in the countryside where I have to cycle 3 to 5km into town for a morning croissant and to buy baguette for my dinner with cheese and charcuterie and wine. Nice slow ambling over rolling hills, lavender wafting in an early morning breeze.

Nothing in this world feels as free as cycling down a new road in a new place in the sunshine with a breeze and not a care in the world. Nothing. To do that abroad, in places I’ve always dreamed of seeing, that will be a huge ingredient in the success of my travels.

To make that happen, now another gear must shift — writing for dollahs. To work, Cinderelly. To work.

In Vino Veritas: Of Writing, Reading, and Travelling

Television. I’m loving it. It’s a limited-time offer, so act now! I’ve paused during an American Masters biography about Alice Walker. Man, she kicks more ass than I thought. I love a smart, confrontational woman.

These lazy nights with movies and TV, they’re an indulgence I know I’ll be foregoing within the year. When I’m travelling, I won’t be watching much TV or film. I’m really seeking a “writer’s life” abroad. I’ll be hopefully working about 30% fewer hours in my editing dayjob, down about 50% overall since a decade ago, and that may help with reading.

There are two things I want to do more — be still, and read. Being still is self-explanatory. Put down the phone, be in the moment. Stare at whatever’s ahead of me.

Reading’s another beast altogether. My dayjob really gets in the way of wanting to read. I edit and read all day long. Between reading the day’s news on the web (which I do a lot of) and work, I don’t have books left in me.

The whole point of going abroad is that I want to try to live well for $2000 a month, not the $3000 or so it can be here. While I want to save more, I also want to work less. Work for for other people less, that is. Read more, write more for myself on projects of interest to me. As I said, the latter isn’t “work.”

The Unreading Writer

snoopy-writing1I have a lot of ideas. A murder mystery. Short fiction. Non-fiction series ideas on food and terroir. But mostly I want to journal and write about life and the people and experiences that come with. In another lifetime, they’d have called me a diarist. In this, I’m a “blogger,” for good or ill.

When I was a Duthie’s bookseller (RIP), I used to read probably three books a week and four newspapers a day. Nothing quite like the joy of a job that lets you read while you work, right?

I don’t read now. That’s not oversimplifying it. The things with pages? They don’t happen here. Every now and then that scene flashes across my brain, where Matt Damon rants at Robin Williams that he doesn’t “understand” the people who surround themselves with all these books, and they’re “the wrong fucking books.”

I have the right fucking books but they’re going unread in lieu of digital media. I used to be the kind of writer/reader who always said profound and snazzily-worded things at engagements and now I’ve become the type who needs to drink a couple glasses of water just to be sure I don’t mumble like some anti-social reject.

Ahh, the old days of being literate as a matter of course. Good times!

On the Clock

So I’ll be abroad, where I’m sure there will be many who bedazzle me with their command of English as a second language, but then there will be many who make my soul weep as the ancient language of my peoples gets bludgeoned into oblivion. I’ve taught ESL. I already know this feeling.

As an antidote to the bludgeoned lingo, I will forego filmed entertainment much more, and turn to words, words, words.

It’s pretty enthralling to think of writing abroad. I think some people travel so they’ll have something to write about later, but I’ll push “pause” and fulfill my promise of writing daily.

I have no illusions of how lucky I am to be able to do this. And by “be able to do this,” I mean simply choosing to do so. I’m not the only person who works from home, isn’t in love, and doesn’t have kids. Others could do this, they just don’t. Or it hasn’t occurred to them.

But I can. I am. I recognize that the only thing holding me back is people I see maybe a handful of times a year and some material belongings. There’s an entire planet full of amazing opportunities, cultures that are changing by the minute, landscapes that are here today maybe gone tomorrow, and my clock is ticking. My mother had 16 years left in her life when she was my age. 16 years. That’s it, man.

Aging Like a Bad-Ass

I’m a first date and a driver’s license away from her death. That’s not a lot of time. Of course, my granny died at 88, so those are the genes I’m hoping I scored. Piss, vinegar, a great smile, and persistence, my granny Mae in a nutshell.

I’d like to be one of those old ladies owning her white hair, great glasses, a caftan, and smoking a bong, laughing with similar-minded old writers and artists in some secluded community, like I’ve seen in documentaries. I love those old artist types. “Fuck you, I’ll say what I want! I’m an artist at 80. My friends are all dead and I’ve earned the right to speak for us all.”

I’m not as good of a writer I can be. I believe writing is an ever-improving craft and it’s not just about the words. It’s about all the stuff that bubbles under my skin and whether I have the guts to go in there and pop the bubbles. The stuff that scares us and provokes us and enrages us, that’s what we need to tap into. Not just _____ character in ______ setting. It’s that inner-battle that makes anything worth reading about. Give me pathos and passion.

The School of Travel

I suppose that’s what my travel plans are. Pulling back all the safety nets, distilling life down to a few tech gadgets and a single suitcase, going full-on “no fixed address,” it’s all a way to really see what lurks within. I can’t wait to see what comes out of my head when I’m in 24/7 newness, with cultures confronting my own preconceptions of the way things be. I want to see what overcoming fears, adapting to new situations, meeting people I couldn’t have imagined, and busting through personal barriers results in as a writer.

I can’t know. You can’t know. That shit’s like alchemy. You put it in the pot, melt it down, and wait. You get lucky or you don’t. I personally don’t see how this could make me a worse writer, though. That shit doesn’t compute at all. It’s not a factor. Not possible.

That’s not cockiness, that’s just reality. There isn’t a person on this planet I don’t think could benefit from travelling through other cultures and trashing their prejudices. It makes us all better — writers included.

My Not-So-Secret Life as a Recluse

It’s funny, because in some ways, it’s like I moved to Victoria in 2012 and pressed the “pause” button on life. I haven’t sought out new friends, I’ve barely lived beyond a five-square-kilometre area here.

But I mean, seriously, if you asked me five years ago how I would feel about living a life where I didn’t have to see anyone, didn’t have to go anywhere, and didn’t have to work in an office, while having the freedom to walk to a beach, downtown, or to a world-class park, all while avoiding buses and not owning a car, I would’ve laughed at you and said it was a no-brainer, sign me up.

This life I’ve led of virtually no one, no events, no obligations, no belonging — it’s been a kind of dream come true too. I may never, ever have this opportunity again. I’m sure other people would go “But how much did you miss out on? What have you NOT seen?”

I’ve seen hundreds of sunsets or sunrises. I’ve eaten great food. I’ve heard silence often, and for long stretches. I refound my love for writing. I rediscovered photography. I’ve learned more in cooking. I doubled my income. In a year where I wrote under 50 things, one was read by 200,000 people. It’s been a great ride here. It’s been the ride I needed to have.

I can’t begin to tell you how much I’ve grown here, how much wisdom I’ve gained, how much I’ve lowered my expectations on what I need back from life — in a way that makes happiness easier to have and enjoy.

No, I’m not “happy.” Not yet. I work too much, I’m tired, I long to travel, but I’ve found a creative solution to that, haven’t I? I want to “work” as much as I do, but I don’t consider writing like this to be work. This is more like waking up and being myself. That’s personal time spent in a way I love to spend it.

There’s a whole planet out there that I’ve only seen two-dimensionally. I feel like my life’s about to go from black-and-white to Technicolor.

As a writer, man… phew. That’s got me wound right up. It’s not often in life that we have the privilege of knowing when fast-paced personal growth is ahead of us, let alone what the catalyst for all of it is. Even more seldom is when our whole life becomes something that’s more play than work, for years.

I’m going to travel the world, bitches. For years. I’m going to flip the switch, become one of the most social people you’ve ever seen, and be a true woman of words on the road. I just cannot wait to see the other side of who I can be. What a fun ride is ahead.

And now, back to my scheduled program.