I’m writing again

I stopped writing for a while. It was a complicated decision, but just as much a thing that happened organically. Ironically, I’m planning on writing an essay about it, but not now, not today.

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Today I’m here to say hi and admit that I am as guilty as everyone else on the planet of abandoning a blog. To be fair, I started this blog in anticipation of my Ireland trip, which didn’t go as planned. In any case, I’ve been a writer ever since I could read The Cat in the Hat. I find it really hard to stop doing for more than a couple of months, even when I recognize that my writing habits or my relationship to writing- as a professional pursuit- are both unhealthy.

I did travel a lot. I held myself to that all year. I’m about to wrap up the year by being away for two weeks, in Wyoming of all places, and I did write an essay about that for The Billfold.

These costs do not represent gifts, treats, or holiday feasts (all three of us share a bone-deep distaste for all things Christmas, so we will not be observing). These costs exclude what we’ll spend on meals, groceries, and outings, not to mention gas between Denver, Jackson, and Lander. I’ve left out the extra warm clothing that I needed to get in order to be comfortable in a Wyoming winter. This is just what it is going to cost us to spend time—time that just happens to coincide with “the holidays”—together.

This is what it is going to cost me to sleep next to him, see his face unscrambled by spotty Wi-Fi, cook dinner and watch Pixar movies with his son, and share a pot of coffee in the morning.

Read the rest at The Billfold.

Here’s to writing more and developing a healthier relationship toward a habit I can’t break.

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Coming Home

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I came home a lot sooner than expected. My first 24 hours in Ireland were marked by meltdown after meltdown. The rug had been pulled out from under me and I sat in Dublin airport for hours, explaining the situation to my friends and family via FaceTime and iMessage before I caught my bus to Limerick, not knowing what the days ahead would bring.

All of my plans involved me being gone for a minimum of three months. I expected to come home in June at the very earliest. I thought I’d spend Bloomsday in Dublin. But I wasn’t allowed three months. I had a thirty-day limit, but within 24 hours of touching Irish soil, I knew I was going home, and soon.  Continue reading

My Apologies to Limerick

…and to all cities that don’t show well.

I’m sorry. We didn’t click. Had I been staying in Ireland for ninety days, I would have stayed in town and volunteered at the fringe festival, seen the acts and settled into the place, gotten a fuller picture of the city, but things didn’t work out that way, so I scrambled out after two nights to spend the remainder of my days in Galway. I had precious little time, and Galway was more practical, in the plainest and least judgmental way. Continue reading

Missed connection: Dublin Airport, a charming messenger for really bad news

(An explanation in brief)

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When: Monday, 19:00

You: built, dark ginger, little gap in your teeth, young and disarming with an ear-pleasing brogue, staffing the, “All Other Passports,” line at Dublin Airport passport control

Me: small, mortified American with big glasses and big hair, trying not to lose it (I also have a really cute butt that you couldn’t see from your cubicle, but trust me, my ass could start wars or bring about world peace, whichever metaphor seems more powerful to you)

I walked into your lane and cheerfully handed over my passport, relieved that I was finally in Ireland after two long days and on my way to months of adventure. Or so I thought.

You were polite, gentle, and understanding, but also firm and direct in telling me that my arrangements for my stay were illegal and that my host probably knew that and sort of fucked me. You then told me I would be given thirty days in the country, rather than the maximum allowable ninety that I had planned for, and asked me to email you proof of my departure within two weeks or I’d be at risk of arrest, deportation, and future restrictions on travel. You were so disarming and kind that I did not start crying about my massive fuck up for at least two or three hours!

Civil, direct, and diplomatic is a hard combination to nail. Are you in school to be a therapist? Maybe you should be. I feel like I’d trust you to parse my personal problems. Being a border agent probably pays better and I don’t know your life, whatever, but you have my vote of confidence to enter the mental health field.

I’m staying a week and getting out of here, lesson learned, and I’ll email you my flight info, as requested, this evening. I realize, in retrospect, that you could have turned me away (or worse) on the spot and that you made a sincere effort to read what sort of person I am and give me some kind of break commensurate with my decency. Thanks, dude! I assure you I am merely an ignorant American and not an asshole or a malicious person. I even paid taxes on all the freelance income that my clients and employers refused to document! It was a lot of money and I probably never would have gotten caught if I had taken it and run! You correctly judged that I was not out to do anything illegal and am an otherwise responsible, self-sufficient person.

I’ll be in Galway for my time here and I’m heading back to Dublin (and New York, on a flight with a much needed open bar) on the 5th. You also know, because I told you when you asked, that I don’t know anyone in Ireland, so like, wanna go hiking or something? Wicklow Mountains National Park seems dope. I’m not trying to shag you in exchange for further lenience, just trying to enjoy the time you mercifully granted me in this country. Well, you have my email address and an open file of all my personal information, so cheers, cool border agent!

(If you know me in real life, for the love of Krampus, please don’t ask me about this until I’ve gotten back to Rochester, spent two days in the woods, cleansed myself with fire, etc. and gotten over my massive humiliation. Please also provide me with beer. And don’t sign up for Workaway overseas. )

Eulogy for a Social Media Management Contract

A couple of days ago, I got the heads up- courtesy of another client of mine who works for the company- that this is likely the last month I’ll have my most lucrative contract. For over a year, I’ve been paid $500 a month, like clockwork, to post on a company’s Facebook page. I occasionally respond to messages sent to the page as well, but mostly it’s just posting, every day or so, to keep the page active.

I’m feeling a little overwhelmed this week, staring down my one-way ticket out of the country and the $1,740 I owe in taxes (due mostly to money earned on this very contract!), so I need to give myself a talking to about why I really am ready to let this contract end. I’d like to think that during a different week, I’d have shrugged this off in seconds, but this week, as I freak out about everything, it has sparked a lot of thought.  Continue reading

Not Everyone Can Travel

A few years ago, a college friend posted an article on Facebook meant to explain to millennials why all their excuses for not traveling were invalid. It detailed a series of tips on saving money, planning, and fitting travel into your supposedly impossible schedule. It had that tone that is so common in articles geared toward millennials, that aspirational, breezy Pinterest vibe, that playful yet still holier-than-thou finger-wag: having an Instagram-worthy life is totally achievable!

And I read it. And let me first say that the woman who posted the article is a brilliant, accomplished woman of color, a seasoned traveler, and extremely independent. She isn’t some trust fund baby who travels on money she never had to work for, so I really thought about biting my tongue when I read the article and badly wanted to call bullshit. I was not a traveler. My “excuses” were surmountable.

But I called bullshit. The article was hot garbage. Continue reading

How to Ask a Business for a Favor

I have mixed feelings about asking retailers and service providers for discounts/deals you didn’t claim in time/special treatment of any kind. When I was a service rep at a web-based company, I HATED 99% of the people who asked me to bend the rules for them.

But I just had a really great, “I might as well ask,” experience. And friends, there is a right way to make these types of requests, and I would like to spread the gospel of not being a jerk when asking for special treatment.

YOUR TEN COMMANDMENTS FOR ASKING FOR FAVORS LIKE THIS: Continue reading

Checking in with my New Year’s Resolution

I’m not usually one for New Year’s resolutions, but this year I made one: to travel and adventure more. My big trip to Ireland certainly makes good on that, but I’m pleased (and more than a little surprised) to report that I’ve said yes to several smaller trips already and started the year off right.

Shoplifting can get you killed

Helpful advice in Philly.

The year’s travels, great and small, thus far… Continue reading