January 31, 2007

[best read while listening to Recovering the Satellites by Counting Crows]

You might say it was one click of a button that led us to where we are now - which, of course, is five days and eighteen hours from boarding a plane to China. Little did we know that buying plane tickets to Guatemala in 2006 would change the course of our 2007. By clicking the "purchase now" button last April, we found ourselves bumming around Central America. But after 12 days we were left wondering how we could go back home with so much more travel left in us.

For years, the idea of wandering the world had been on our minds. (As freshman in college we almost dropped out to spend a semester traveling together.) But you know how the story goes - jobs, friends, money (lack there of) and life in general got in the way. It wasn't until we were laying under a mosquito net in Guatemala that we realized something: There will never be a perfect time. There will never be enough money. And careers can wait. So to hell with it. Let's just do it now.

So we hit the "purchase now" button again...this time for one-way tickets to China.

I think we're ready.

January 30, 2007

[best read while listening to Where It's At by Beck]

Drifting Around the World in 10 Almost Impossible Steps...

Step 1 -- Decide, against all odds, that traveling the world is what you want to do for an extended period of time. (Then reflect on how crazy it is that you have the luxury of even thinking about traveling the world.)
Step 2 -- Open a savings account and start saving as much money as you can. No matter what your budget is, you'll need lots of cash. And how much cash is determined by how long you plan to travel, the countries you want to visit and the kind of trip you want to take. Beware though...you may have to not buy stuff. We budgeted $25,000 for a year of traveling through majority world (read: 3rd world) countries.
Step 3 -- Buy your plane tickets. The key is to not buy insurance on them, so you have no choice of backing out.
Step 4 -- Avoid planning your trip. Instead, let the people you meet and the countries you visit determine where you go and how long you stay. And read as much as you can about countries you hope to visit.
Step 5 -- Sell most of what you own (okay, this is what we did and it's totally an optional step). It will make the whole trip more real and it throws some extra much needed cash in your pocket. After all, your couch could be worth a month in Laos. Plus, it's fun to get new stuff when you get back.
Step 6 -- Forward your mail, file your taxes and buy travel insurance.
Step 7 -- Get your passport
Step 8 -- Buy your gear. A couple of packs and a few necessities is all you need. We spent $450 on pre-trip gear, including iPods.
Step 9 -- Throw a party with your best friends. Make sure to talk plenty about the fact that you won't be working for the next _ months.
Step 10 -- Get a lift to the airport and try not to forget anything (especially your passports).

January 15, 2007

This one is simple. I have none. Literally, I don’t have one goal for this entire year. Maybe my goal is to have no goals. We leave on February 6 for a trip around the world and it may take up the rest of 2007. Our main goal for that trip is to drift… to let whatever happens to happen…to wing it. I feel similar things about my life goals. This year is going to be so unpredictable, so out there that I have no idea what to expect or even hope for. So this year, I commit to winging it. I’ll take my chances.

January 10, 2007

Please note: I have yet to see Children of Men and Dreamgirls. I think Children of Men would have made this list and Dreamgirls would have not. And I have yet to see either of Clint Eastwood's films or Pans Labyrinth. Be assured, I’ve seen everything else.

* denotes this movie available for rental
Movie in big lettering is my winner
The Three Burials was up for last years awards but didn't come out until this year

Best Picture: Thank-You For Smoking*, Half Nelson, The Departed, The Three Burials of Melquiadas Estrada*, Stranger Than Fiction

Best Actor: Ryan Gosling [Half Nelson], Tommy Lee Jones [The Three Burials], Leonardo DiCaprio [The Departed], Forest Whitaker [Last King of Scotland], Bill Nighly [Notes on a Scandal]

Best Actress: Meryl Streep [The Devil Wears Prada*], Kate Winslett [Little Children], Penelope Cruz [Volver], Judi Dench [Notes on a Scandal]

Best Writing: Little Children, Volver, Three Burials, Stranger Than Fiction, Babel

Best Director: Martin Scorsece [The Departed], Tommy Lee Jones [The Three Burials], Todd Field [Little Children], Dito Montiel [A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints]

Honorable Mention: Mark Wahlberg [The Departed], Devil Wears Prada [Best Picture], Brad Pitt [Babel], A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints [Best Picture], Will Ferrell [Stranger Than Fiction], Jack Nicholson [The Departed],

Worst Movies: Mrs. Henderson Presents, Failure to Launch, The Sentinel, You, Me and Dupree, School for Scoundrels, A Good Year, The Good Shepherd

January 8, 2007

After a year of planning (and saving), we left on February 6, 2007 to backpack around the world. We bought one-way tickets to Hong Kong with no plans or itinerary of any kind. Our trip ended 216 days later in Mexico City. You can read all about adventures by clicking on any of the links under Past Journals. Since our trip finished, my writing can be found at: http://jackatrandom.com/

*A vagabond is a (generally impoverished ) itinerant person. Such people may be called rogues, hobos or schnorrer.
*A vagabond is a traveling person that does not have a home, just roams wherever he or she pleases.
*Vagabonds are not bums, as bums are not known for traveling.


Lots of people travel the world for a year. But few do it with no itinerary, plans or agenda. And so it is with us, we go into our world trip with plans... to have no plans. For the rest of 2007, we'll be drifting around planet earth with only a vague understanding of where each week will take us. According to Wikipedia, we might as well be vagabonds.

We could have booked round-the-world tickets and saved some money. But the idea of having to be in a certain place at a certain time felt very un-driftlike. We probably could have saved a lot of trouble and time had we spent the last few months preparing (even a little) for this trip, but what's the fun in knowing exactly where you'll be sleeping every night?

Of course, we may regret this when we're sleeping on a park bench in Kathmandu. Yet the idea of meeting travelers and drifting with them to a far off place, just because we can, is impossible to resist. Besides, if we miss a boat/train/taxi because of the way we choose to drift, who cares? We've got all the time in the world.

So here's what we had planned from the beginning: On Tuesday, February 6, we arrived at LAX and got on a plane.

January 4, 2007

We got Scoop. We really wanted The Last Kiss, but it was completely out. Then we went for A Scanner Darkly and it too was already spread out across the apartments of some very cool Pasadena residents. So we settled on Scoop, mostly because we had seen every other movie in the store.

It wasn't very good.

Thank God Kari makes the best popcorn on earth AND we had several glasses of Yellow Tail. I think popcorn and wine could rescue just about any movie with the exception of The Good Shepherd, which I yawned through last weekend.
We leave the country 5 weeks from...yesterday. I keep thinking about how much stuff I have to get done before then. Then I realize that all that stuff will probably only take me 2-4 days. But still, I sort of feel like I did in College in the weeks leading up to Christmas vacation. You cram and study and cram and study and stay up all night writing papers...then one day you hand everything in and suddenly you're completely free from deadlines, stuff, all nighters and constant tiredness. You can pack up your car, go home and rest for a couple of weeks. I loved that feeling. Now I get it all over again. The moment I step on that plane headed for Hong Kong, all the chaos is completely put to rest. There's no more money to make, no more people to see, no more careful preparation, no more giant to-do lists. All I'm gonna care about is what movie is playing first.