Wednesday, April 28, 2010

I take it back

I lied. I think maybe I do need to find myself again.

Sometimes I wonder if I've hit that weird quarter-life crisis we've discussed so often during production nights at The Cord. I feel like that one section in Dr. Seuss' "Oh the Places You'll Go" about "The Waiting Place."

I've graduated, I have a great job lined up as Editor-in-Chief, and I've been accepted to some amazing graduate schools to study African development, something I've wanted to study since before I can remember. But I still get this weird feeling of not being fulfilled - is it that I'm missing Africa? Do I crave adventure more than I realize?

Maybe it's just the result of all the changes that have gone on in my life this month, not just with this trip. I've moved into a new apartment, graduation is around the corner. Is it perhaps that I've misjudged my adaptability? Am I not the chameleon I thought I was?

Or is it just those pre-trip jitters?

Maybe I'll learn more about myself on this trip than I thought...


...You can get so confused
that you’ll start in to race
down long wiggled roads at a break-necking pace
and grind on for miles across weirdish wild space,
headed, I fear, toward a most useless place.
The Waiting Place…
…for people just waiting.
Waiting for a train to go
or a bus to come, or a plane to go
or the mail to come, or the rain to go
or the phone to ring, or the snow to snow
or waiting around for a Yes or a No
or waiting for their hair to grow.
Everyone is just waiting.
Waiting for the fish to bite
or waiting for wind to fly a kite
or waiting around for Friday night
or waiting, perhaps, for their Uncle Jake
or a pot to boil, or a Better Break
or a sting of pearls, or a pair of pants
or a wig with curls, or Another Chance.
Everyone is just waiting.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

A New Leaf

When I was 12, my family's car broke down on our way back from vacation in Florida and all I could do was be excited that the motel in the hick town we ended up in had a pool.

People say I'm adaptable. Rolling with the punches is a quality I tend to take pride in.

So when my plans changed from backpacking Europe to another volunteer stint in Africa, one can imagine I adapted quite quickly.

I found flights and my accommodations within days - hours, really. But was it too quick? Maybe some would say yes, that to change my plans and life so drastically could only be the workings of a woman on the edge. But I'm not.

Others are saying that I'll go to Africa to "find myself again." But the truth is that I haven't been lost in quite some time. Probably not since my first trip to the continent. I always learn new things about myself while I'm out on the project, but in no way do I believe I will have an epiphany and become a new person.

This trip is to take time for myself, to learn and grow and see what I can make of life when I return. It's a chance to show myself that on a whim I can enjoy myself with just... myself.

I refuse to be sad or mad when things change, because from the outset no one can tell if change will be good or bad, so who am I to judge what the future holds?

I used to fear change, until my dad made me read the self-help book "Who Moved My Cheese?" When he forced me to sit and read it at age 13, I didn't understand why accepting change was so important. Now, I understand that if you're not adaptable in the world, you'd better move over because there are some real chameleons out there. There's no use having a freak-out over changes you can't control.

This is becoming so cliche it's hurting my brain. So if you've made it this far you'll know 1) I'm adaptable, so don't pity that my plans have changed because 2) in Africa I am truly myself and 3) I enjoy life anywhere I go, even if it's a hick town with only a pool.


Change is the essence of life. Be willing to surrender what you are for what you could become.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Why Prague?

Everyone has told me that if I'm backpacking Europe, Prague is the place to be. But Lonely Planet warns that Prague's charm can often be masked in a great number of tourists, so I'm having some apprehensions.

Stuck right in between two of the places I am most excited to see, Prague has slipped my mind on numerous occasions despite being one of the most highly recommended spots to me on our trip.

I'm worried that Prague's beautiful architecture will be lost on us after the experience we will surely have at Auschwitz.

Luckily, by the time we arrive in Prague it will still be low season in May, and there certainly won't be an abundance of tourists. I hope that we can find ourselves off the beaten track and away from the staple town square and castle.

Facts about Prague
  • Almost one-half of the national income from tourism is spent in Prague.
  • The city offers approximately 73,000 beds in accommodation facilities, most of which were built after 1990, including almost 51,000 beds in hotels and boarding houses capable of satisfying all categories of visitors.
  • One of the only major Central European cities to be left unscathed by WWII.
  • Many bars in Prague have signs that say "NO STAG PARTIES" because they are seen to be reckless and the boisterous nature and singing of attendees tends to be so loud that it scares off customers.
  • The Prague restaurant Allegro received the first Michelin star in the whole of post-Communist Eastern Europe.