August 5, 2010


Questions you probably want to ask me

Sometimes I overlook the most obvious things. I don’t know if this serves as a good example of that but when I was little, my mom would always get frustrated with me, because I would walk up to a shoe I liked on the display rack and try to put it on my foot, as if all shoes in the world fit my foot, just because I wanted them to.

Somehow that anecdote seems to go with the fact that I have come this far (three months, three weeks and two days, if you’re counting), since I have been openly talking about this project and I have not really sat down to discuss the details of what I am going to do and how it’s going to happen. Part of that is because much of this next year is going to be unfolding right before my eyes, so I don’t really know how to answer many of the questions any normal Type A personality might have. But the other part of that is just that I’m plain spacey, so it didn’t really occur to me till now that there might be some questions out there, you know, about how this is all going to work.

Here it is then: an FAQ with me, interviewed by me, asking questions that I have either been asked already or imagine that someone wants to ask me.

How are you going to pay for this?

I knew this was going to be your first question, and even though I have always been taught to never talk about money, I appreciate your honesty, so I am going to answer you just as honestly: I am the heir of the inventor of Post-It Notes, so cash is never an issue with me.

What? That one was already used? But I didn’t think anyone actually remembered that movie.

Fine. I’m one of those geniuses total dorks who got good enough grades in college to be able to get a degree on the state’s dollar, so I didn’t have to use my savings.

Yes, I’m one of those. Next.

But you’re not going to be working for a year

That’s not a question. But I’ll answer it anyhow. This is actually going to be a lot of work. If I end up getting to do it for a year (because one can never say anything will happen as planned), I will be driving at least 100 miles every few days, being social nearly every day for 52 straight weeks, and writing about all of it, even when there is nothing to write about. I am sure I will get a flat tire at least once. I am sure I will find myself balled up on the floor of my camper a few times. I am sure I will ask myself why I am doing this at least once a week. But I will also get to reconnect with people I have not seen in 12 to 15 years, and I will get to see parts of the country that a lot of people, including me, have never seen, and I will get to hang out with the country I have been away from for four years.

And if I am successful after all of that, maybe I’ll get to be a writer after all, which is what I want to be when I grow up.

But if you’re not working for a year, how are you going to pay for this?

You’re really stuck on this; aren’t you? I am using savings that would otherwise have gone to college tuition. Okay, and maybe my retirement fund. I am also not going to be paying rent; I have already paid for my vehicle and well, people might buy me a cup of coffee every once in awhile— not that I am counting on that. It’s just an option.

Basically, I believe that things work out as they are supposed to work out, so if I get about six months into this and see that it’s a miserable failure, I can always stop. That said, I am not going to give up easily. I usually don’t.

What if you meet up with someone and don’t like them?

I don’t know. I mean, I will try to handle it with as much discretion and grace as possible, because it’s bound to happen, but I also like to think that I will just get through it and that I will do so without covering up the fact that there is a problem but also without making a huge deal out of it. I don’t want to smear anyone in this project; I don’t want it to be some sensational reality show. But I also don’t want to push negative things under the carpet and in the end, I want it to be as truthful an account as possible, even if that means facing some ugly realities.

How long are you going to stay with people?

Well, I don’t want to stay with anyone more than three days but I am also not planning on making a huge stop out of every Facebook friend I visit. I recognize that some people are busy or have moved on with their lives since high school, so if some people just have time for a cup of coffee, that’s fine. I am not going to push myself on anyone. I am also not expecting (nor will I want) to always stay inside of people’s homes, which is why I got the camper— to be able to be as little of a burden as possible. If I am invited, great. If not, no problem; I can park in the driveway or figure something else out.

At the same time, if someone flat out does not want to see me, not even for an hour or two, I will take them off my friend list. Not to be childish about it but I don’t see the point in being friends on the Internet, if we can’t be friends in real life. Vice versa, once all my friends are onto what I am doing, I expect some of them will want to remove me from their list and that’s fine. I expect that.

Why are you doing this?

I don’t know. I mean, it’s for a lot of reasons. I want to be home again but not in one particular spot. I want to write and this seems like it will provide a lot of material. I feel a little foreign in my own country, so this will hopefully help me get over that. I love to travel. I love people. I love the idea of having all my stuff* with me all the time, like a turtle in its shell.

It was just an idea that came to me almost out of nowhere one day last year and I did not really question it that much. I feel this sort of driving force to do it and it could be a total failure but I hope not. I hope it works out and not just for me. Without being too preachy, I think we are getting more and more into an anti-social society of computers, and while I love my laptop and my iPhone and Skype and Facebook, and the fact that I can order something from Mexico and have it delivered to a good friend in England, all within a day or two, I also love an impromptu boardgame at the kitchen table, or an unplanned drop-in from a good friend. And I worry that we’re getting away from stuff like that, because everything we think we need is in pixel format. So, this project is also a little bit about returning to that “old-fashioned” notion of meeting each other face to face— checking in to see how the other is doing.

I’m also a little behind in my pop culture references, so maybe some people can educate me along the way on that, too.

Where are you going to go?

That’s a secret. I am going to be letting the people who I will be visiting in on my route, as it will affect them, but I am not going to make it public where I am until I have passed through there already. That means that my posts will always be a few days after something has actually happened, which I know is a tough concept to chew in the Land of Twitter, but as a single gal in a mad, mad world, I think it’s a precaution I need to take. I love the idea of a realtime map that you can use to follow my little car icon as it bumbles along but I think that would be asking for trouble. And we all know that trouble seems to follow me wherever I go.

I will say that my friend distribution is going to take me to most corners of the U.S., and a few little crannies in Canada. And just to be clear, Europe: I’d love to do it but I am afraid my budget has limits. Oh, and Mexico, I love you, too, but I think we’ve spent enough time together for awhile; don’t you?

How are you going to get in touch with people?

Thus far, I have just been using Facebook to get in touch with people and I am sending them all private messages at the moment, just because I am having to write to people with whom I have been out of contact for years and some of whom I never shared much of a connection to start, so I want to gently explain to them what I am doing. But Facebook being Facebook, I also want to utilize some of its handy tools, like the Event option. Once I get the departure date nailed down, I’ll create an event page for this project and invite all the people from my friends list in the States and Canada. I imagine I will sometimes use my status bar and people’s Walls, too, but without giving away too many specifics on where I am.

What are you most worried about right now?

Finding a place for all my stuff. It’s pretty small back there in the camper, so I am a little uncertain about how I am going to organize it and whether I am going to manage that by Aug. 14, which is when I hope to hit the road.

What if it doesn’t work out?

I’ll figure that out when I cross that bridge, if I have to. I’ll probably go into teaching, though. Someone was telling me the other day about the teachers who serve military bases and that sounds like something I would be into. But first, I’d probably have to work a few day jobs to get money to go back to school to get certified to teach, because I don’t think my TEFL certificate would cut it. So, let’s hope it works out.

That’s it. Did you want to add anything?

Nope. I think you covered it for now but if anyone wants to ask anything in the Comments section below, I will probably be more than happy to answer your questions— provided they’re not rude.

*A good portion of my life is still stowed in boxes in my parents’ attic from when I moved to Spain in 2005.
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12 Comments Post a comment
  1. Amanda
    Aug 5 2010

    Just wanted to throu it out there that you are likely the only person ever to successfully produced a web cam self-portrait. You look darn cute on the web cam. Everyone else looks like a mess. Can’t wait to see you in person!
    p.s. Roxanne sort of looks like a turtle, right?

    • Aug 7 2010

      That’s sweet to say. I think full credit should go to my Mac, though. It makes anyone look okay. Oh, and Roxanne is flattered by the turtle comment. Steady wins the race.

  2. SirenaSteve
    Aug 6 2010

    You and your Mobile Home will be just fine. Working? You lived successfully in Mexico for two years without working all that much… 🙂

    • Aug 7 2010

      I know you didn’t just call Roxanne a mobile home. And yeah, running a hotel was *easy* : )

  3. Pep
    Aug 7 2010

    I would be better to be the heir of the inventor of Apple. iPod, iPhone and Mac, all for free. Although Maggie Jobs, doen’t sound so good! 🙂

  4. Kay
    May 6 2011

    If you have not left the Austin area, you might want to head towards San Antonio and have a look at the blue bonnets. Checkout Lady Bird Johnson’s wildflower spot (can’t remember exactly what it’s called but everyone in the area will know). Since you are so close you should try to see Lukenbach too. If you go as far as Big Bend don’t miss the McDonal Observatory. The scenery in Texas changes so quickly and drastically when you drive from the Hill country to Big Bend. Your dog will love Big Bend.

    • May 6 2011

      Ooo! Thanks! I am still here for a bit longer. Wish you were in Texas to visit you!


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