A Blog Deserted: An Exercise in Honesty
November 24, 2014
Forgive me readers, for I have sinned. It has been nine weeks since my last blog post.
So where have I been?
I’ve been traveling.
A long, long time ago, back when I was still a classroom teacher and I’d just committed to doing this whole blogging thing full force, the me-of-2011 created a physical editorial calendar (I’ve long since switched to Google everything). And on that physical editorial calendar I wrote things like ‘have you traveled anywhere lately?’ to remind myself to get out into the world, so that I could return with new, fresh things to share here on The Suitcase Scholar.
The me-of-2014 thinks that’s adorable.
Some Tripit Data
According to Tripit, in the past eleven months I have traveled for 215 days to a total of 82 destinations. Tripit also tells me that I’ve only traveled 85,623 miles, but I disbelieve that. I think it is only calculating air miles and not road miles. In fact, I’m certain that’s the case. And I refuse to do the math for road miles.
Where Have I Really Been?
Since I last posted nine weeks ago, I’ve worked in DC, Boston, Baltimore, and New York City—not in that order. I’ve worked in and enjoyed one stunning sunset on the eastern shore of Maryland. I’ve both worked and played in Miami. I’ve even gone on a legitimate vacation—to Walt Disney World.
Since I last posted nine weeks ago, I took that photo up there at the top of this post. I have no idea where I was flying from or where I was flying to.
Since I last posted nine weeks ago, I did countless fabulous work-and-fun-related things, from a day spent between two quirky tourist attractions in western Colorado to enjoying amazing BBQ in a small town in Texas to checking out state parks and alien museums in Roswell, New Mexico. I’ve walked on secret beaches from New England to Key West, discovered that Baton Rouge is somewhere I’d legitimately consider moving, and spent a day alone in my favorite city in America drinking gin and chatting with Australian tourists (who invited me to join them after dinner at a strip club; I declined). It was all very fabulous. Except for when it wasn’t.
A Dose of Honesty
I recently read a blog post from a blogger whom I idolize—Jennifer over at Everyday Bright. Her site as been a source of inspiration for me for years; through my career break in 2012 and my career change in 2013. In this post, she openly and honestly addresses a part of her work/life reality that many readers—including me—did not know: she left her steady job to start a career she loves. But—here’s the secret—she doesn’t actually make any money at it. She’s being supported by her husband.
When I read that post the first time I was impressed with her honesty. And I remain impressed with her honesty. But my second and third reads were…angrier. How dare she, I mused, sell herself as this person who made an amazing life for herself—AND SO CAN YOU! Because you see, you likely can’t. Unless you have a partner willing and able to support you financially. I do not have a partner like that (nor would I want one, but that’s a different issue.) To put it mildly, I was pissed.
And I started to question everything I’ve ever read online.
And then I started to question everything I’ve ever written online.
My Travel Truth
I am always half-honest when I write about travel. Half-honest in that yes, I write about the amazing things that I get to see and do as part of this life I’ve crafted for myself. And there are amazing things. Honestly, I’d not change a thing about the decisions I’ve made in my life and career over the past two years.
But there’s the other part. The dark part. The me crying alone in a Marriott part. The never getting to see my husband (or mother or extended family or friends) part. The gaining weight because sometimes just getting food is so hard that I end up ordering takeout for three nights in a row part. The watching other people do fun weekend things on Sundays (via Facebook posts) while I’m in yet another airport or on yet another highway part. The inability to write because I’m just so damn tired part.
All of those parts happen often. Very often.
There are two things about which I am absolutely certain:
1. In planning my life and career, I’ve done a great many things right.
2. In planning my life and career, I’ve done a great many things wrong.
I never write about number two. No one ever does. But that does not make it any less true for darn near everyone.
Learning from My Mistakes
Looking back over the last few months, I tried to pinpoint where, exactly, this whole blogging thing went to crap. And I found it, right there on my Google Calendar. I’m affectionately calling August, 2014: The Month that Broke Me.
The above calendar is color coded. Yellow is vacation (slash something about which I’m planning on writing). Red is a blog trip. Blue is a work trip. Purple is travel information. And white—the empty days—those are the days I do laundry.
You’ll note that I’m not working too much, I’m not traveling for leisure too often, and I’m not taking too many blog trips. But I am doing all of those things at one time. I can’t do all of those things at one time.
I was trying to do all of those things at one time. And, worse, I was making it out to be all sunshine and roses for you, dear readers. It isn’t. It is exactly as good and as bad as any other lifestyle.
Am I going to continue to travel? Hell yes. Not just because I have to for work, but because I want to, both for work and play. Am I going to continue to write about it? Also hell yes. There are so many stories I want to tell, and so many stories yet to be discovered. There’s no way that I’m going to stop any time soon.
But I’m also going to give myself permission to take time off. To take time off from travel for work. To take time off from travel for fun (yes, I just wrote that). To take time off from writing about either of those things. And I am going to fill some of those hours and days with my husband, my mother, my family, my friends. Because that’s the thing about crafting an amazing life—it is always a work in progress.
Of course, you should totally stay tuned. My next post is a pretty fabulous one, and may feature some seriously embarrassing photos of yours truly. And, even better, it is mostly-written already and thus coming very soon!