Saturday, October 24, 2009

Detours

We interrupt Fly Brother's Round-the-World Adventures for this important existential rumination:

Back in March, while finishing up my fourth year of living and working in Colombia, I was struck by a post-quarter-life crisis of modest proportions, elucidated not quite succinctly in this long but engrossing post, "Fly Brother and the Curse of the Aimless Intellectual." Basically, I had no idea of which of many paths to take: writing full-time and working part-time, working full-time and writing part-time, traveling indefinitely, loafing creatively, etc., etc. Eventually, I settled on traveling around the world for three months, then moving to São Paulo to concentrate on a novel whose storyline is set there. I chose to follow my immediate desires and attempted to let the universe steer me towards unlimited creative energy and subsequent financial success through the associated creative endeavors. There was nothing to it but to do it. But several things have happened in the course of my trip that have thrown my original plan off course.

First, I fell in love with Berlin. I felt like I was cheating on my baby, Sampa, but I also felt like Berlin could give me some of the things SP couldn't: ease of travel, logistically and economically, to other regions including Brazil; a larger artistic platform from which various creative projects could be developed more thoroughly; and better earning potential.

Second, I ran out of money. It's impossible to plan and calculate every expense in anticipation of a trip, especially one circumnavigating the globe. I completely miscalculated ($8 hot dogs in Sweden did not bode well for the budget) and ended up at the mercy of friends and family, essentially borrowing, begging, and (well, almost) stealing in order to complete my journey. I wasn't stationary in one place long enough to earn any real money and need for immediate income generation caused me to re-evaluate my timetable for resuming traditional employment.

Third, my mother was involved in a serious car accident: three cracked ribs and a totalled vehicle. She's doing well now, surrounded by her friends and the rest of my family, but I decided to cancel my Australia ticket and go home to Florida for the first two weeks of November. Ahm comin' home, Ma! At her urging, I've not cancelled my Brazil ticket yet.

But Brazil still not a foregone conclusion anymore because I'm actually being drawn more towards travel writing than book-length fiction. It could be the combination of being on an epic journey and the relative ease of penning articles from the road versus novel chapters in interminable need of rewriting, and as I ruminated in previously, it's much easier to base myself in Berlin or, say, Hong Kong and travel cheaply than be in Sampa and expect to pop out of town for the weekend.

Subsequently, I've found two paths toward offering something of a balance between the finances and the time: returning to high school teaching or joining the Foreign Service. I do think teaching in Barranquilla was on the extreme end of dues-paying when it came to student discipline and social life in the city, so I'm thinking that other schools in other places (like Brazil, Germany, or HK) would be a touch less stressful. Meanwhile, the benefits package for foreign service officers is unequalled, and My President is in the process of expanding the diplomatic corps. How fly is that?

I'm starting preliminary paperwork for both career paths. The uncertainty is anxiety-inducing, but I guess I should just enjoy the ride and see where the cosmos takes me.

Stay tuned.

We now return you to Fly Brother's Round-the-World Adventures, already in progress.

Fly Brother welcomes your views. If this post hit the spot, please comment and/or click.

10 comments:

Stacy said...

First off, I'm sorry to hear about your mom. I'm glad she's ok.
Secondly, WOW! Well, when you're a traveler you gotta be open to completely chucking one plan and following a totally new path-- thank goodness you're not afraid to do that. Berlin sounds awesome (one of my best friends, a musician, moved there a year ago with about $200 in his pocket and has found a bit of success AND is having an absolute ball)-- and considering how much you loved it, why not check it out? There's always a reason that we're called to go someplace. Its worth trying to find out what that reason is. And plus, Brazil ain't going no where.
Good luck to you and can't wait to read about what happens next!

kwerekwere said...

your post sounds like my life over the last two months. [when you get a minute, buzz me. i'll probably be working.]

i'm spending 3 months in podunk, pennysltucky for family matters, but have decided to otherwise work on a london - dubai axis for the same reason you are choosing-ish berlin.

i *might* break my germany ban [it's irrational, i know, especially since i can actually speak german] and party with you there, as long as you steer me towards where i can get fufu and/or curry goat. i can't be anywhere that i can't get either of those two things. :)

anyways, good luck. and drop me a shout.

Cynthia said...

I love Brazil and Germany so I won't fault you on living in either place.

I'm trying to find my way back to Germany myself, I'll get there one of these days.

I'm sorry to hear about your mom and I'm glad you are going back home to see her.

Ebriel said...

Sorry to hear about your mum and also that you won't make it down here to Sydney.

BUT as usual it looks like you are continuing to keep professional development at the fore, along with exciting experiences.

You're living the experiences that will make for a fantastic book someday (I got my first book gig through my blog, and yours is absolutely book material). Speaking of publishing, do you ever read The Intern? http://internspills.blogspot.com

'Drea said...

Definitely enjoy the ride and glad that your mom is okay.p

sean said...

Good luck been following the blog for a long while now..you may enjoy this site http://www.afrolatinos.tv/

from an Afo brasillian\Indo Guyanese living in the UK...good luck with the book and hope mom's gets better soon

geotraveler said...

Sorry to hear about your mom. Here's wishing her a speedy recovery.

You do epitomize resilience and "going with the flow" so whatever you end up doing will only add to your ever expanding world of experiences.

Cheers

Nikita said...

yes yes fly brother! do the damn thing. i am living it up in bangkok and wishing you had decided to come here on your round-the-world tour, cuz it is da sheeit. when you leaving hk? did you end up going to macao! it was so fun to have finally met you, if you lived in hk we would be "roll-dawgs" for sure! best of luck on the rest of ur travels and reserve me a space on your floor/couch cuz if you do end up in sao paolo or berlin, i will DEFINITELY be coming to visit. :-)

Fly Brother said...

Everyone: Thanks for the well-wishes for my mom. She's recovering nicely and I'll see her on Monday.

Stacy: Wow...moving to Europe with $200! That's hard core. Yeh, you can't ever be too insistent on plans, because circumstances'll change up on you in a minute.

Kwere: I'll holla at you this week so you can give me the update. PA? That so ain't you, player.

Cynthia: Aren't they both great?! For so many reasons.

EBriel: Oz is definitely next on the schedule, but this time for longer (and with more money) than originally planned. I need to get to reading your blog as well as "The Intern." Thanks for the link.

Drea: Thanks again, lady.

Sean: Thanks for reading and for shooting me the link. Afro-Brazilian-Indo-Guyanese...you're the whole history of the Caribbean in one person!

Geo: I guess you don't realize how relative experiences and situations are to people until someone frames them from a different perspective. I always tend to see myself as not having it together and being wishy-washy. "Resilience and 'going with the flow'" sound nicer! 'Preciate that!

Niki: Twas a blast, madame! BKK'll be on the itinerary soon, no doubt. For the one night I was there, Macau was actually pretty tight, but I need to put you in contact with my CouchSurfing buddy there who knows all the ins-and-outs of the place - y'all should meet. You get first dibs on the new couch, wherever it's located! How's the trip going?

Kevin said...

Glad to hear Mom is on the mend, and that you're probably arriving soon there...

One thing I would advise: do not view the Foreign Service as any sort of solution to your unique ambition. The process to get in is a bit lengthy, and if you do get in, you start at the absolute bottom of the pecking order and you won't have much say in where you get sent for many years. Given your age, you will likely begin your career with superiors who are younger than you, and be given fairly shitty work to do (as one 32-year old entry-level junior officer friend of mine remarked, with the voice of the "Dunkin Donuts" guy from TV commercial yore: "Time to stamp the visas...Time to stamp the visas.")

That said, the FS is indeed a very nobel and ultimately rewarding career for those who embrace its lifestyle and the patience required to gain seniority and begin to have some control over your destiny. But do NOT view it as a means to a travel-writing end, E. I would hate to see you feel stifled yet again.