Monday, February 6, 2012

boldly going nowhere.

It's said that getting outside one's general area and treading the streets of another locale and immersing oneself in a world different than your own is a good thing, and something I agree with to some extent, but I also wonder how much one gets out of said experience if one's mind is closed and so convinced of its rightness, or so focused on one thing or another that any chance to truly learn or get a sense of wonder is lost.

I listened to someone today extol the virtues of traveling abroad and learning another language not to understand the culture, do cool things,  or connect with kindred souls or get a sense of history or anything cool, but to make money (because businesses will pay you more money if you've got experience in other cultures) and be a Real American (it's my patriotic duty evidently because it helps to fight the War on Terror) and more or less work for a big corporation or the military-industrial complex. I'm trying to maintain some degree of stiff-lippedness, which is impossible because my face always betrays me, because the absurdity and the myopia are such that I can only process this by nearly bursting into laughter.

What astounds me is that this person in question has traveled to more locales than I could ever hope to see, albeit for maybe less altruistic motives. 

Maybe I should have done the study abroad thing, but I was paying rent, trying to get through school with a minimum of student loans, and working 30 hours a week at a shred above minimum wage and didn't feel like I could justify it. Besides, it seemed like a lot of those programs were geared towards international business majors and not geeky undergrads. Maybe there was some kind of blue-collar inferiority complex at play too but at that point I was eating food from dumpsters and living on pasta and facing a high likelihood of unemployment that made such a venture seem frivolous and out of reach.

I find that I get jealous of those who get the chance, and just use it to get drunk, rich, laid or all of those things at once, when all I want to do is wander through old places, take pictures, talk to people and learn stuff. I really don't care about wine country, I really don't want to ride tour buses or be in large gaggles of Ugly Americans taking pictures of the usual touristy things, and being a solitary female with no command of other languages whatsoever, I'm not sure I want to go it alone, and at this point in life I don't have another compadre to take with me.  I've had the cash saved up, but I don't want to do something stupid, and I'm afraid of flying and don't know if I can get the time off. Excuses, excuses I know, but every time I try to make it work it always falls through.

In the meantime, I get to know my town, plot excursions around the country. If I can't get there, at least I'll see what I can here, I guess. And I wish Henry Rollins would start a tourism company even though that would never happen. I'd be the first to sign up for sure because I like the way he does it.


  1. Voting, you forgot about informed voting. And lack o' scratch is no excuse, it's your Patriotic Duty to assist the CIA.

    Hey, watch the wine country dig, you're forgetting about meandering rivers and chateaux (just stay away from the tourist-infested wineries, bien sûr).

    Dammit, now I want to travel. I'm sure we can get the PTBs to sign off on paying for it as library continuing ed, right?

  2. You know I love hills full of vineyards as much as anyone, but being in the presence of multiple Uncle Cracker Americanskis is a terrifying thought indeed.

    oh if only, but you also know how that would go down.

  3. once you get to London you can get a pretty cheap rail pass to venture onward, shouldn't be too risky traveling alone tho as you get on the Mediterranean the men can be grabby and a bit threatening. not sure if touring the vatican would be a sum positive for the art or a negative when you see the mother church in all of its imperial glory. maybe just start with the UK, have you been to Montreal?

  4. dmf,
    If I can be massively entertained in Buffalo and Pittsburgh, I think anywhere pretty much anywhere would be amazing. I'd love to see the Vatican for the history and the art for sure, and sadly the only Canada I've been to is Niagara Falls and I'm not sure that counts.