So with my last big announcement post and my recent onslaught of posts highlighting my trips to the Bahamas and to Las Vegas, the last thing you are probably expecting from me right now is a whiny, self indulgent, me-me-me post. Consider this a bit of a brain dump!
Indulge me? Despite the great winter break I had and the amazing adventure coming up, life, at the moment, is not fun. In fact, it’s pretty much the most stressful and unsettling stretch of time I can remember.
It comes down to all the things I am juggling right now. None of these would be overwhelming on their own, but throw them all together at once and I’m struggling to keep my head above water:
• A full time school load with 15 credits, as well as a non-credit travel writing class at NYU. I could have been part time for this entire year based on my graduation requirements, but I took extra classes to be considered a full time student and maintain my scholarship.
• Two different jobs, both creative and rewarding yet demanding time wise and mentally.
• An eye surgery taking place as this post goes live (due to an infection from my last trip to Asia), which has a decently significant recovery time and has already taken hours upon hours of doctor’s appointments, phone calls to insurance, and scheduling nightmares.
• And possibly the worst of all, preparing for my move out of the country. This has been so much more time consuming than I could have ever imagined, with so many little working components. I want to write more detailed posts about each of these, but here’s a summary:
MONEY: I have to obviously save save save, but also organize my finances, create a budget, and research the best way to handle my money overseas so I don’t lose it all to banking fees. You can slash your budget by nearly 10% right off the bat with those fees and charges if you don’t do the work ahead of time, so it’s really non negotiable. Hand in hand with this I need to crack the code of frequent flier miles and figure out how I can use them to my advantage.
HEALTH: In addition to cramming this eye surgery in, I have had the rest of my body to keep me busy. I had four dentist appointments over Christmas to get my teeth in tip top shape, with one last one to come before I leave. I need to have a final eye exam and get my insurance to approve a year’s worth of contacts. I had an appointment with my general practitioner to see if I need any new vaccines (I don’t) and see if she had any advice on how to stay healthier than I did last time, and weaned myself off of a daily medication that I didn’t want to worry about finding and taking on the road. More on this later.
STUFF: Luckily my parents have quite a bit of space in our house upstate, so I don’t have to enter the sell v. storage debate many long-term travelers fixate on. Instead I’m doing a bit of both. I have been working manically to cut down on my belongings — remnants of my years of hyper consumerism that have been weighing me down physically and emotionally. But I’m a sentimental packrat at heart- so it’s not easy. I’m guessing I’ve had close to 100 sales on eBay, with another big push to come as well as some Craigslisting and a massive garage sale when the lease is up. The things I can’t part with will be moved out of my apartment, organized, and stored at home.
There are a few bright spots in this bleak semester, and not surprisingly most have to do with travel.
• The New York Times Travel show in March was just an amazing event. I met so many people, attended some great seminars and loved walking around and getting inspired.
• Beneath the Sea Dive Expo was just a few weeks later and was also a hand down fantastic time. I walked away so fired up about conservation and working in the dive industry and made some wonderful contacts.
• I somehow found the time to enter two travel contests earlier this semester that I was really excited about. One was a branding contest for Zambia, with a reward of a Zambia safari and the other was a photo contest with the prize of a Kenya safari. I didn’t win either but they were fun to enter and even more fun to daydream about. Well, the photo contest isn’t over but I got tired of bombarding my Facebook friends for votes with minimal results. Maybe next time.
• Possibly the thing that has been igniting my interest the most this semester is my Traveler to Travel Writer class at NYU. I almost didn’t sign up for this, telling myself I was insane for even thinking about taking on one more thing. But I sat there on the first day of class realizing I was more enraptured than I have been in a long time at any of my Pratt classes. I’ve enjoyed every class and look forward to sharing some of the writing here. In addition, the professor is a full time working travel writer with great stories and great advice. Once again, I’ve met so many great people through this microcosm of the travel world.
• Knowing this will be my last year in my “normal” life for a while has been bittersweet. I’ve tried to embrace every tradition (and I love my traditions) and fill my mind with happy memories of the people I’m going to miss so much. I’m a party planner at heart and one of my handful of annual parties is the Valentine’s Day bash. This year I had the idea for a photobooth and I put together this movie of the results. One of my biggest regrets of this busy time is that I feel like I’m letting my final months with family and friends slip between my fingers, but I love that I’ll be able to look back on things like this and smile. I just want to pack everyone in my suitcase.[youtube=https://youtube.com/watch?v=n21rUcb_HqU]
• I got to work on a crazy fun photoshoot! As mentioned above, this year I was lucky enough to work with two amazing small businesses, Rock Paper Scissors, an event design company, and Melangerie, a graphic design studio focusing on event invitations. With me as a sudden communal intern, a partnership was born and together we dreamed up a vintage road-trip themed wedding and photo shoot.
Photos by Jen Huang
Stylized photo shoots like these are incredibly popular in the wedding world as they allow creative professionals to really flex their imaginations and show clients just how clever they can be. And after working with these women for a good while now, I can assure you, they are an inspiration!
Since souvenirs and travel were the main motif of the shoot, I feel this is just travel related enough to be allowed on a travel blog. The shoot was published on Style Me Pretty, which is the top wedding blog for stylish brides from around the world. Check out the original posting here.
Oh, the dreams I had for this sad, semi-neglected blog. I thought that by the time graduation rolled around I would have designed a custom blog theme (ha) be writing every other day (ha ha) and have built up an enormous readership and web presence! (ha ha HA). However with everything going on listed above this space on the internet has been relegated to late Sunday nights pushing out posts for the week and a few minutes stolen here and there to stress over the new site.
Yes, this blog will soon have a new home. I’ve purchased the server space, installed WordPress, and even purchased and started tweaking themes. My indecision over my domain name was LITERALLY KILLING ME, and it didn’t help that every single person I asked for advice had a differing opinion.
Once I move myself over to my own self hosted space, there is only about 437 more steps to being a fully functioning website. And once I’m set up it doesn’t end as I’ll be working hard to post several times a week with many a project up my sleeve. I have about a ten page document on my computer with ideas for the blog and nothing excites me more than the idea of tackling them. I’ve just got to get all this other, life stuff, and set up stuff out of the way. And I couldn’t be more excited about doing it, and sharing every step of this journey I’m heading on.
Update as of June 9th!
The Traveling Turtle is no longer! From now on, let’s meet here, at Alex in Wanderland.
New features include refreshed About Me and The Plan pages, search bar, a contact form, new menus, links to my social media accounts, and a whole fresh new look. Have a look around and let me know what you think!
To end on a positive note… you know my favorite part about blogging is reading your comments, right? After my big announcement post I got a few heartfelt comments that I really appreciated. But yesterday in the mail I received a hand written note in response to my news reveal. I would say one postman-delivered hand-picked card is worth at least five digital blog comments, no?
My grandma couldn’t be cuter. It’s the ultimate blog comment!
So that’s where I am right now, The Good, The Bad, and the Blog. I guess with all that said its only polite to ask… what’s new with you these days?