A Life Of

I’ve always just wanted to travel. 

This is a phrase I hear often, mostly from people who hold down full-time jobs and have a salaried income and are looking to settle down with a house and a dog and what could be considered a normal life, a real life. Even though I am all for the average person branching out and seeing the world; visiting new countries and meeting new people who live lives completely different from anything they have seen before, it still makes me a little nervous to hear this.

For some, travel is something they want to hit on the weekends, something that, for perfectly good and logical reasoning, is not worth giving up stability and a place to live for. They want to book a trip to the beach for two weeks a year, spending a couple well-earned days soaking up some sun with a fruity drink in their hand, or maybe even still visiting somewhere new and kind of scary and exciting.

However, when I hear this, I’m the one that gets scared because I know that is never going to be good enough for me. I know that two weeks a year, a measly 14-day break from my desktop computer and my coffee cup, is just not going to cut it, no matter if the destination is the Jersey Shore or New Zealand. To me, it’s not funny that some can’t wait to finally get to work just so they can begin counting the hours they can go home and do it all again the next day. It’s not ironic, it’s just very sad.

Right now, the seams-of-your-pants, no-strings-attached, washing-clothes-in-the-sink life doesn’t feel within my reach, which seems odd because in theory, this should be easy, at the least more fun, than nine-to-five cubicle life. However, it becomes remarkably easy to attach yourself to a detached normal life, one that involves a morning and evening commute and patent leather heels. You can really do it without even thinking and barely noticing, trust me.

But what I do know is that this isn’t the end for me, and the time I have spent trying to find my place in the big scary world and finding the perfect suitcase and crafting the perfect travel pitches has not been in vain, even if today, it all seems like another lifetime and the next chapter feels impossibly far away. People say that life is short and that they should enjoy it – I actually feel the opposite. Life is incredibly long and if you spend it being bored and complacent, it is a slow-moving dragging of the feet to nothingness.

For some, two weeks is fine (although four would be nicer). But for the rest of us, we would rather face a little uneasiness and a lot of fun instead of a lifetime of simplicity and typicality.


Facing The Morning Pilgrimage

When I die and go to Hell, I will spend an eternity sitting on route 80 in bumper-to-bumper traffic, making bets to myself on how long it will take me to get to work as I slump behind an 18-wheeler and a beer-bellied plumber.

As rogue travelers, we spend a lot of time on the road, usually going somewhere cool (or cool in theory). However, I don’t think “a lot of time on the road” should translate to 30 miles and an hour and a half to work each way.

Am I the only one that sits in an obscene amount of traffic twice a day, everyday? No, I’m not – because if I did, route 80 would be empty for at least some of that strip of 30 miles. And honestly, that’s the part that really irks me. According to a 2011 Texas A&M University study, traffic congestion caused Americans to travel 5.5 billion hours more and to purchase an extra 2.9 billion gallons of fuel, which adds up to 56 billion unnecessary pounds of carbon dioxide released during that year.

Hard to grasp? Yeah that’s probably because it is. Also, just so you know, this adds up to an average of 38 hours per commuter per year, according to Adam Werback in The Atlantic. Personally, I spend about 480 hours in my car each year just commuting to and from work, so this figure sounds pretty awesome to me, as well as my 100,000 mile ’02 Ford Focus.


This picture actually gives me anxiety

In America, we go on about how we have to save the environment, about how we should recycle, drive hybrid cars, and use reusable products, which is all good advice since Americans make up for five percent of the population yet use 20 percent of the world’s energy, according to the World Population Balance. However, also in America, train station stops aren’t necessarily accessible, nor are they necessarily fairly priced, or necesssarily reliable.

Conversely, we are also constantly told we need to put more time and effort towards our personal lives; that we need to spend more time with the kids, take the retriever for a walk, have dinner with the wife. According to the International Labour Organization, Americans work 137 more hours per year than Japanese workers, 260 more hours per year than British workers, and 499 more hours per year than French workers. Somehow, I highly doubt that every single one of those Americans chooses to work an extra ten hours each week.

What great advice! Too bad it’s totally unrealistic, especially considering there are three unemployed people competing for every position, says Fox News, which makes for slim pickings for jobs.

To top the whole thing off, many of us come home angry, frustrated, and anxiety (and back pain) ridden – just from coming home from work. Exhibit A: Today at about 8:00 pm, a 60-or-so-year-old man in a small yellow convertible car actually followed me back to my apartment complex, parked behind my car, proceeded to walk up and then bang on my windows screaming “You know what you did,” and then trying to physically open my door. Luckily, I had locked the doors, feeling like the fact this guy had been behind me and then drove into my complex for six miles or so was kind of weird. Then after he left and I went inside, I looked out the window and saw that he had come back and circled around, most likely copying down my license plate so that he could find me and kill me. True story people. If I go missing, you know why.

I’m no genius (obviously). I’m not an engineer, I don’t know the makings of how to build a highway, or how to manage traffic issues, or how to deal with energy usage in this country or any other problems that I have mentioned here. But I do know one thing for sure – something isn’t quite right, and it’s not the residents of 740 Park who are seeing the effects. It’s you.