What’s New?

It’s… been awhile. In fact, I hate to even look at the timestamp of my last post. To use the age-old (and rarely justifiable) excuse; let’s just say that life got in the way.

As a side note, I recently finished a book gifted to me by a friend titled, Save the Cat Writes a Novel, which is a guide on how to write a book. In it, the author sorts writers into two different categories: “planners” and “pantsers”. Planners, well, plan out their writing process. Pantsers fly by the seat of their pants. When I put a post together, it usually starts with an outline (or two), before I even getting to the actual writing part. This time, I thought I’d play for the other team. This is a long-winded way of saying that I didn’t plan out this post at all, and I can’t offer a writer’s guarantee that the following paragraphs will be very coherent.

Now, how about some updates?

After a summer largely divided between the United States and Europe, I returned stateside to start my job hunt. I landed a couple of offers within two weeks; each with decent pay and friendly staff. It seemed a little too good to be true.

In a way, I was right.

As my start date approached, I kept feeling the nagging sensation that I wasn’t so sure I wanted “marketing copywriter” to be on the list of things you rattle off to acquaintances about your life. So, after a couple weeks of research, I turned the offers down and headed to back to college for a semester to fill in the gaps in my professional skillset. By December, I had a much better understanding of photo editing techniques, film production, and even shook off the dust on my French language skills.

Then, it was back to Europe through the beginning of January, a couple months of freelancing, and the genesis of the wild idea to move to Los Angeles and pursue a writing career in the entertainment industry.

Why burn so much ink on an explanation for my absence? It might be a little bit more for myself than anyone else, and to show just how much my previous perception of time hasn’t aged well in the months since a large portion of the world seemed to go into hiding.

Covid-19 has thrown a sizable wrench into everyone’s lives, each relative to their own experiences, and I am no exception. Both of my freelance jobs got suspended, and when I hoped to be in LA by the beginning of summer, I now hope to get there by the end of the year. The looming three-year anniversary of my college graduation, coupled with the realization that where I am now is not exactly where I pictured, aren’t exactly doing wonders for my morale. When I finally thought I had it all figured out, I was left with the frustration of really being unable to move forward.

However, I can’t deny that my situation is extremely lucky. I have the support of my family, and so far, everyone is healthy. But like I said, our experiences are relative, and I can only speak for myself.

What’s been most surprising to me about this whole situation was how quickly everyday life changed into what many are calling a “new normal” (though I really hate to use the term). Suddenly, we’re rationing toilet paper, waiting in line to get into grocery stores, wearing protective face masks, and going months without seeing friends and family.

Contrary to what some readers of this blog may think, I’m quite introverted, and when I’m not traveling, I tend to be a homebody. So, if quarantine is finally getting to me, I can’t imagine the emotional strain it’s putting on others (which, in turn, pales in comparison to essential workers, but there’s a point I’m meandering to here).

The crippling boredom probably explains the huge burst in chaotic creativity that’s spread like wildfire through the internet. It’s been fun content to consume, especially seeing older generations leap feet-first into meme culture. My creativity tends to be quieter, and I will not deny that I’ve just enjoyed the view from the sidelines over these past couple months.

Unsurprisingly, quarantine has also made it exponentially easier to get caught up in minute details of new hobbies, or whatever else you’re doing to try and pass the time. As for me, I’ve been listening to tons of new music, taken up journaling, continue to struggle through a book on Nietzsche philosophy, and binged an ungodly amount of Netflix. Yet, no matter how much you mix it up, it’s still difficult not to feel like you’re trapped in the movie Groundhog Day.

It was during one of those moments of mind-numbing boredom that I finally gave myself time to wonder what life would be like after this period of isolation. With restrictions slowly being lifted as of this week, people, whether they fear illness or not, are going to start to reintegrate themselves into society. And if we’re going to use the term “new normal,” it should be used to describe what’s to come after quarantine restrictions are lifted, not the months that came before.

That said, what I think inspired the revival of this personal project was the following question: Where exactly does travel fit into all of this?

While many of us have been encouraged not to venture beyond the confines of our homes and neighborhoods, hopping on a plane to some far off (or close) destination is suddenly very foreign, and even slightly intimidating, territory. Travel for leisure is not in the cards for many financially at the moment, and may not have even crossed the minds of others.

Despite these circumstances, it’s something that’s always on mine. I can’t help it. It’s why I created this blog in the first place. However, I was at a crossroads wondering which direction the words should go. For the moment, looking back would only dredge up memories of trips I want, but am unable, to relive. Looking forward could be just as disheartening. How many “dream days” can you plan before you start wondering if dreams are all they’ll ever be?

It’s easy to forget that there’s two other directions one can go. Looking outwardly, you can see how travel affects others. Looking inwardly, you can see how travel affects yourself.

For the time being, that’s where I’m going to focus my efforts. I’m still always planning those dream days in new cities (there’s a post on Singapore in my drafts begging to be finished), but I also plan on using this time to strike a balance between my hopes for the future, as well as acknowledgement of our current circumstances.

As I’ve said before (in some form or another), what you take away from your travel experiences doesn’t ever really fade. I want to tell more of those stories — narratives outside the best attractions to visit, or the best restaurants to dine. They’ll be pieces of the larger puzzle, rather than the entire picture.

So, wherever you are, please join me. We have some journeying to do. We’ll go far, but not quite in the way you’d expect.

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