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As I mentioned before, I spent a lot of time in Canada while I was growing up.  Another source of delight for me was the fact that my allowance stretched much farther north of the border.  I would splash out on clothing and CDs knowing that the money I was spending wasn’t real and only cost me a fraction of the sticker price.  My senior year of high school, the Canadian dollar was particularly weak: 1 Canadian dollar = $.60 US, which made every concert I went to that year, and every pint of beer I bought seem like a wonderful gift, “Oh, Band X, I don’t even really like them, but it seems a shame not to go, it’s so cheap.”

Fast-forward to my recent trip to Montreal with Wise Lawyer Friend.  I used my credit card for most purchases, and when I came home and saw what kind of exchange rate I’d gotten, I nearly threw up.  The first meal we had there, Carlos y Charlies (I know it’s silly to eat Mexican food in Canada, but what’s done is done) cost me $40 Canadian, and $40.82 US.  I kept staring at the statement think I must somehow be reading it wrong, but finally came to the conclusion that the unthinkable had happened, the Canadian dollar was stronger than the US.  I half expected my cat to start talking back to me in full sentences and the sky to turn pink– that’s how impossible this seemed to me.

I immediately called my brother and told him what was going on.  We both agreed that it was bizarre, and reminisced about the good old days before deciding that America was clearly in a lot more trouble than we had previously realized.

On my most recent trip to Canada, we listened to CBC radio quite a bit where the announcers, in their cheerfully distant, but never downtrodden tone announced that Canada is officially in a recession.  None of their banks have failed, and they most likely won’t, but unemployment is up slightly, and holiday spending was down.  The strangest thing, and I’ve forgotten this about Canadian broadcasting because I haven’t listened/watched it in years– there was very little emotion about the whole thing.  There were few scary words, there was little encouragement, it was “just the facts”, and it didn’t make me want to hoard food– maybe because it wasn’t my country they were talking about.

When I got home, I checked my bank account and found that the $100 Canadian I had taken out at the ATM, only cost me $85 US, and my $19 museum entrance, only $16.52.  This makes me feel like the world is making sense again, and gives me a feeling of optimism that I haven’t had in a while.  Yes, I paid 14% Provincial sales tax that I will never get back, but it cost me less than it used to.

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I grew up 30 minutes away from Canada. We got two Canadian television channels, Canadian radio, there was always Canadian currency mixed in with the American, and it took me until about age seven to understand that Canada, where the buffalo museum was, was a country, and Wisconsin, where my cousins lived, was a state. The first time we visited Winnipeg, MB was for the Ice Capades. It was a magical afternoon of ice… capades, and novelty glowing sticks, culminating with a trip to Canadian McDonald’s for ice cream.

When I was in high school, I spent a lot of time at bars in Canada, and going to concerts in Winnipeg. Most of the concerts were at large venues, which required paying way too much for parking and/or staying at a crappy hotel that was slightly close. One concert was at the West End Cultural Centre— a teeny tiny venue in a part of Winnipeg that I’d never ventured to before. There was only street parking, but Map Fleece and I got a spot that was fairly close, and rocked out solidly for about two hours.

When we were walking back to my car, we noticed that the dome light was on.

“You left the light on?” Map Fleece asked me.

“I guess so, but at least it’s still on so we know that the battery isn’t dead.”

Turned out that I hadn’t left the dome light on, rather my car had been broken into and the thieves absconded with my car stereo, purse and contents, and a puffy down jacket that I had given Map Fleece that said “versatile.” Thankfully, the thieves were very skilled and made little mess of my car, and thankfully I’d brought my ID into the concert with me– though they did get all my credit cards, passport, and Social Security card.

Once back home in Fargo, I called in to work and then called my mother, who was not sympathetic at all.

“Well, why were you even there?” she demanded.

“For a concert, I told you that.”

“You live in a big town, go to concerts there. You shouldn’t be driving to Canada.”

I wanted to point out that it was she who had first brought me into Canada, where I’d been a hundred times by that point and never once been the victim of any kind of crime– probably not even a dirty look. She was the one who started this whole chain of events, and I really wanted to point out that just because I live in a place that’s somewhat big doesn’t mean that everything I want to do and everyone I want to see will come there.

“It was a Canadian band, mother, no one here has heard of them…” But it was no use. I promised to change my locks as she was convinced these thieves would drive the six hours from Winnipeg and steal everything in my apartment– “”They have your address, Annie, and your keys.”

I spent the rest of the afternoon canceling credit cards and watching Brokedown Palace. Though I had to watch it in black and white with no sound because it was on HBO, which I wasn’t paying for, it still drove home the message that there’s always someone sadder than you. Yes, I would have to go get new documents, and change my locks, but at least I wasn’t in a Thai prison.

Now I’m going up to Toronto for a four-day mini-break, which I told my brother about on the phone the other day.

“Toronto? That’s like nine hours away, that’s damn near Michigan.”

“I suppose so,” I agreed.

“If you’re so eager to drive that far, you might as well come back here and visit for once.”

“Well,” I pointed out, “It took me longer than a days’ drive when I was moving out here, and I am planning on coming back at some point.”

“See that you do.”

I don’t know why traveling to Canada always makes my family angry with me, but there it is. Thankfully, my brother got over it faster than my mother did.

I have, so far, been unsuccessful in my attempts to “take to the sea”.  Taking to the sea has been a goal of mine since moving to the Ocean State, but lack of boat, friend who owns boat, and sailing skills put a bit of a crimp in things.  Jewish Friend and I tried to catch the ferry to Newport earlier this summer when it was free for students, but found out that it only leaves Providence every three hours, and we certainly could take it to Newport, but we would have wasted the entire day waiting at the dock and there would be little left to do upon our arrival.  We just drove instead.

I could have taken the ferry to Martha’s Vineyard or Block Island, but I guess I didn’t push for that as much as I could because I’ve taken ferries before and that’s not as pure of an experience as I wanted.

I was going to take sailing lessons but work and finances prevented that.  I’ve been meaning to ingratiate myself to people involved in the sailing/boat owning community, but short of hanging out at the docks like some kind of prostitute, I’m not quite sure how to make that happen.  You’d think with all the time I spend in Newport, something would have just worked out, but not yet.

So when I got the email about the Graduate Student Association’s sunset cruise, I was intrigued enough to buy a ticket:

For the low-low price of $5, I can take to the sea, eat for free, and drink– really sounded like the perfect way to spend a Friday evening.  I asked Jewish Friend if she wanted to go, and also drive so I wouldn’t have to drink less, and she agreed to both.  Everything seemed to be going well.

Friday evening, it began to sprinkle lightly just as we were leaving Providence.  “The boat will have some kind of roof.” I assured Jewish Friend, and tried to distract her from any pessimism by giving her White Cheddar Cheez-its.  It worked pretty well until we got to the pier, realized had no idea where we were needed to go, and that the rain was officially a part of our trip.

“If we missed the boat, or of we can’t find the boat we’re going to Crazy Burger.” Jewish Friend asserted.

“We’ll find the boat.” I assured her, “We know where the water is, and that’s where the boat will be.”

Except when we found some of our other grad student friends, they were all standing on the pier, in the rain, looking longingly at the sea.

“What are we waiting for?” I asked.

“Ummmm, the boat.” Debbie Downer (who does not get a more clever nickname than that because she sucks too much) told me sarcastically.

“Well,” I returned, “There are boats all around me, Debbie.  How would I know which one we’re supposed to get on?”

Turns out that the boat we were supposed to take needed to be charged (?)  At this news, Jewish Friend looked at me and said, “We wait 20 minutes, and then go to Crazy Burger.”

About 18 minutes later, someone started handing out tickets for one free drink as an apology for making us wait in the rain.  Crazy Burger started sounding less appealing to me, but Jewish Friend was getting increasingly cranky.

After 30 minutes of us growing more and more saturated, we finally boarded the boat and pounced upon the free food.  Most of us took two slices of pizza– like you do, planning to go get more after everyone else has had his or her share.  These guys:

and a few other thick-necked types who apparently were wasted when they got on board, and may have later thrown up over the side, piled two to three plates each and eliminated the stash of lukewarm pizza before many people could get any.

Overall, I felt like I was on a boat with frat bros rather than grad students.  I took to the drink as well as the sea, and by the time we docked, my hair was almost dry.  I told Jewish Friend that she could plan our next adventure and she responded with, “I plan good adventures.”

I don’t think the sea and I are enemies, but I think the GSA and I are.

My parents and brother are visiting me for a few days, and I’m reminded again how much my parents baffle me.  They’ve already been to Tim Horton’s more than once– standard, they’ve complained about walking to and from sights, then gone for walks just for leisure, and immediately upon arriving at my apartment, my dad poured himself a glass of milk and ate a handful of dry-roasted peanuts– just like I predicted he would.

The odd thing this time, is that they drove out here.  They had a detailed itinerary for the trip out– Lincoln museum in Springfield; visiting friends in Ohio; Gettysburg; Chocolate in Hershey, PA; Baseball Hall of Fame, Ben & Jerry’s factory– and then when they got here– nothing.  No real plans were made except I guess we’re going to Maine on Sunday. I don’t know what we will do once we get there, but I suspect the real reason for the trip is because my father has never been, and this will be his 48th state.  What I said before about him having no interest in Alaska or Hawaii seems to have been right on, but maybe he’ll start planning a trip once Maine is officially checked off.

Today, I am at work, and they are in Providence doing who knows what, probably going to Tim Horton’s and going for walks.  They came to Newport yesterday and I showed them around the library where I work since it’s beautiful and historically significant– they drifted off and read the paper.  I plan on taking them to Waterfire tonight cause it’s kind of pretty, and old people seem to love it, but I suspect they’ll complain about the walk.

This is all reminding me of a conversation I recently had with a co-worker at my other job.  I’ve complained, at length, about the lack of good Mexican food in this part of the country.  Thankfully, there is a Chipotle not too far away, so I can get a decent fix when I need it.  Recently, I arranged for this Chipotle to donate burritos for one of the teen events at the library.  They gave us a ton of food, and were incredibly nice and easy to work with.  Unfortunately, the teens didn’t really like the burritos because they had never had anything like them before, and found them strange and slightly scary.  I was a little bothered by this, but happy because there were lots of leftovers for the staff to take home.

I hauled ass back to the breakroom and sequestered three of them for myself immediately, planning on taking more, once fewer people were watching.  A few of my co-workers were baffled as to this bounty because they had never heard of Chipotle before (the one I got these burritos at was only 10 minutes away), and didn’t seem to understand burritos.  Who cares, more for me.

As I was leaving that night, I walked out to my car with a different co-worker, and asked her if she had gotten a burrito.

“I don’t really like burritos.” She told me. There was a slightly awkward silence, and she followed up with, “I like Del’s.”

This confused me because we had been talking about burritos, and Del’s is a soft-frozen lemonade drink which couldn’t actually be less like a burrito, but good for her.  Then there was silence until we reached our cars.

So I’m not sure what the story has to do with my parents, but I feel like it sums it up somehow.  The thing that most baffles me is that I feel like they’re doing all of this adventuring when my back is turned, then when I make myself available, they crap out.  It’s like imagining that your toys get up in the middle of the night and play without you.  I’m glad I didn’t realy take any time off work because I guess they have more fun without me trying to shepherd then around.  Thankfully, I’ve never been to Maine (and I stressed that bit of information), so I can just give them their head and follow; but I feel like I should bring a guidebook or something just in case.

A while ago I was having a conversation with Wise Lawyer Friend about life, work, and passions. Apparently, she has a co-worker who recently discovered bird watching. This person had never previously been the outdoor sort, but now she vaults out of bed in the morning eager to get an eyeful of what’s chirping.

I don’t really understand the appeal of bird watching, but this woman has never been happier. At the time we were having this conversation, we were driving back from a play starring Theatre MILF Friend that was about an hour away from where we live, and at least 90 minutes away from Theatre MILF’s town.

“What are you passionate about?” Wise Lawyer Friend, “Clearly Theatre MILF is passionate about this since she would put in so much time and effort, arrange babysitters, memorize lines etc.– so what’s yours?”

I listed off a bunch of things I would consider myself passionate about, after reminding Wise Lawyer that the word “passion” is a bit too reminiscent of Oprah for my taste, among them books and learning, travel, good music, new experiences, solid friendships…

“I don’t know if I would ever want to be passionate about just one thing like the bird watcher,” I said, “I’m happy for her, of course, but I have a very big fear of being one-dimensional, and I’m far too eager to try new things.” Then I remembered the line that I wrote in my introduction to my masters thesis that I liked the best. We were meant to be talking about our favorite writers and how they influenced us, and why we write. I said that writing is important to me because it’s the one thing I’ve never quit. I’ve quit most other things that I’ve attempted– for a variety of reasons, or put things on hiatus– but writing is the thing that I’ve been doing since I learned how.

I also mentioned to Wise Lawyer Friend that I didn’t understand the appeal of bird watching, “My husband went once, I’m sure he’d be willing to take you sometime.”

“Yeah, sure.” I said automatically, knowing that it was something that would never happen, but we would make an amorphous promise and never follow through. “Actually, no, I really don’t care about trying out bird watching, I just want to understand the appeal– like James Patterson, or romantic comedies. If it was something I really wanted to do– I would have done it already.”

That’s my new philosophy. Sure, there are moments when I look at a beautiful garden or hear people telling stories of amazing quilts, or triathlons, or whatever when I get a pang and think maybe I should do something like that. But then it turns out that I really don’t care, or I’m not very good at it, or the work involved is just more than I’m willing to do. Inevitably I feel a bit guilty and lazy, but then I get over it.

Now, I’m going to leave these things to the people who really care, and know that I could do it, but it’s okay to just not want to.

I’ve done the things that are important to me, and I’m still doing them. I write nearly every day; I read every day; I keep on getting advanced degrees and even while working on that, I learn as much other random stuff as I can (I totally schooled a park ranger last week on my knowledge of self-supporting marble domes); I have many good, reliable friends; I have up-coming travel plans; and I’m constantly on watch for something new (should I really want to take it on). By my own standards, I’m a success, and even if the day-to-day is a bit of a drudgery at times, it’s all fitting into the big picture quite nicely.

I haven’t worn a watch in years. I have had a number of them over the years but they always break or I lose them, or I realize that they are ugly, uncomfortable etc.

Quite a few years ago, I was on a cruise and first really discovered Duty Free. I’d bought duty free booze en route to Canada many times, but always bypassed the perfumes and jewelry because even without tax, it was still expensive, and why would I need a giant bottle of Joop!? On this cruise ship, however, all of the duty free shops were located along the Grand Promenade and I had to walk past them to get my free coffee and free fro-yo. Also, on this cruise, we had at least two full “at sea” days, meaning that you are stuck on the ship with nothing to do but eat and watch The Thomas Crown Affair in six languages (English, Italian, Spanish, French, Portuguese, Japanese). Oh sure, the more savvy cruisers had made spa appointments, got up early and grabbed chaise lounges on the sun deck, went to the gym, casino, and didn’t mind paying $22 to play Bingo for an hour. I was not a savvy cruiser, I slept in, got room service, and then had a whole day to fill and no options other than wandering, reading, and eating– I quickly became bored.

So I wandered the length of the ship over, and over. Finally on the last at sea day, the duty free stores had a sidewalk sale, and I found the perfect watch. Small, but not too small, feminine without being girly, it didn’t pinch my arm, and it didn’t weigh me down– only problem was that it was too big around my wrist. I managed to convince the guy in the store to adjust it for free, even though he said he wasn’t supposed to. Then I bought a ton of duty-free scotch.

I decided that this watch would take me through the good times and the bad. This was the watch for me, and would be henceforth referred to as “my watch” the only watch I would ever need again in my life. Whatever else went wrong, I had the watch thing sorted.

Of course the watch wasn’t waterproof, and about two months later I took it off to go skinny-dipping in the Adriatic Sea, and it fell between the slats on the dock.

I got another watch, but it wasn’t the same. It never fit right, and looking at pictures of myself wearing it elicit a what was I thinking feeling. Since surrendering that watch, I just use my phone if I need to know what time it is. This is imperfect in that I look very rude, and if I have a message of any kind, I have to clear it out before I can see what time it is– but it works.

Except when it doesn’t. My phone simply could not get a signal in Montreal. I lost my signal somewhere around Vermont, and then my phone battery started going dead from the monumental task of “searching for signal.” I shut my phone off, and immediately felt reckless and unsafe. What if there was some kind of emergency? What if my mother called and my father had had a heart attack? What if something else bad happened?

Really though, in my family, if something bad did happen, my parents would probably forget to tell me– like they forgot to tell me that my cousin had run away and I had to hear it when I went in to work at TV station, “Andria, this ______, are you related to her?”

“She’s my cousin, what did she do now?”

“She’s been missing for three days– didn’t you know?”

I started feeling a bit free without the burden of cellular technology weighing on my mind.

The first night in town, Wise Lawyer Friend and I just wandered around our new neighborhood. She had visited Montreal annually for Model U.N. when she was an undergrad, but it had been about four years; so she knew the lay of the land, but it had changed slightly. We had a disappointing Mexican dinner (can I never find good Mexican food on the East Coast?), drank a Brazilian beer in some kind of beer garden that may have had something to do with the Euro Cup (?), and returned to our hotel to plan our day while watching Deadliest Catch on the Discovery Channel, which I realize I can do any old time, but it’s more fun in a hotel room.

The following day was a great mish-mash of adventuring made more of an adventure because neither of us ever knew what time it was. We were going purely on instinct and it was really cool.

“I feel hungry, are you hungry?”

“Yeah, a little. What time is it.”

Then we would look around briefly to see if there was a clock anywhere.

“There are no clocks in this town– like Vegas. Let’s go to Little Italy and have lunch there.”

After a while, we got used to never knowing what time it was, and stopped looking for clocks. It was very freeing having no timetable, no set time when you eat whether you’re hungry or not, just kind of remembering what it feels like to actually be hungry, and then seek out food.

We studied the sun like ancient people and approximated, but mostly didn’t care (except that we wanted to make it to the Archeology Museum before closing).

Perfect vacation.

Back in March, my Jewish Friend approached me with the information that the annual ALA conference is in Anaheim this year. “We should go.” she said, “my rich uncle would probably fly us out for free and we can stay at his mansion in Beverly Hills.”

Saying the word free makes almost anything appealing to me, and crashing at a mansion and basking in the sun sounds like a perfect way to spend part of my summer. So I took the time off work. Then we found out that rich uncle was going to be out of town that week and was unwilling to fly us out to stay at his house when he isn’t going to be there.

So we re-grouped. We started brainstorming places where we could stay for free or cheap.

Chicago, NYC, and Montreal were all mentioned.

Jewish Friend lacks valid passport, so Montreal is eliminated.

Chicago is decided upon, and I find a cheap plane ticket online– things are looking promising.

I get into a car accident, missing an extra shift at work, and incurring at least $500 in car repairs.

Jewish Friend’s father is hit by a truck while crossing the street, so Jewish Friend heads back home.

I start planning daytrips that I can do by myself: New Haven, Cape Cod, beach etc.

I find out that my hours at work are being cut– in half. I start reconsidering whether or not taking a vacation at all is wise, maybe I should just try to grab any extra shifts that come my way, or perhaps I should do a “staycation.” I decide to do a combo staycation/vacation and eliminate my daytrip to Cape Cod, then pick up an extra shift at work to make myself feel better.

I ask Wise Lawyer Friend if she maybe wants to go to Montreal for the weekend. Since she is a pragmatic person and hyper-scheduled, I never really expected her to say yes, but thankfully her brain was a little broken after taking an intense one-week summer class, and she needed a getaway too.

I get my car back from mechanic beautifully fixed, cleaned, with topped-off windshield wiper fluid. Mechanic informs me that I do not need to pay my deductible as he has “worked it out for me.” I want to buy my mechanic a fruit basket, but instead take business cards and promise to send him any business I can– and I will. I love my mechanic, and if you need any bodywork done in the Providence area, ask me for his number.

Wise Lawyer Friend decides to blow off work and come on my New Haven daytrip as does Male Canadian Friend. I feel a cold coming on, but pack tissues and try to ignore it. We have a lovely day ending with a lovely meal.

A little later that night I start throwing up unexpectedly leading me to believe that I have food poisoning. I spend the night in a sleepless cold sweat punctuated by trips to the bathroom.  My cold has also gone full-blown so my head, already spacey from lack of nourishment, is also full of mucus that needs to be expelled.  It was a very wet night.

The following day, I pack for Montreal, try to eat bland food, and buy some Sudafed.  Jewish Friend’s father is doing better, he’s out of ICU but a long way from being good, and she is back in town. She buys me egg drop soup as well as giving me a cold care-package.

Wise lawyer friend and I drive to Montreal without incident, and have a lovely weekend (more details later) proving that optimism and determination are the keys to success!

For all of the faults and quirks that my parents have, one area I feel they really succeeded in was making sure I see AMERICA. My dad is one of those guys who I suspect is always humming Proud to be an American silently in his head (ain’t no doubt, he loves this land), and he and mom made it a point to see as much of the lower 48 states as possible (apparently, they have no interest in Alaska or Hawaii).

When I was growing up, we took a major family vacation every summer, usually in the car. We saw all of the roadside attractions: Storybook Village, Storybook Island, Olde Tyme photo places, Flintstone Village, the Wisconsin Dells, the place where Al Capone died (or maybe it was just where he hung out), we took DuckBoat and Trolley Tours, and a whole lot more. They were also willing (albeit reluctant) to occasionally fly places, which is how, at the somewhat snarky age of ten, I first found myself at DisneyWorld (which is the one in Florida).

At DisneyWorld’s sister theme park EPCOT (Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow– bet you didn’t know that, or its rather hilarious, and true in the early 90s acronymal nickname Every Person Comes Out Tired), they celebrate the world of the future as well as the world most people who long for a vacation at DisneyWorld are less inclined to seek out– the rest of the world. The World Showcase Pavilions. You can experience a country in 15 minutes and speak to people who are actually from there. Drink beer in Germany, buy tea in England, eat pasta in Italy, and get heckled by vendors in Mexico– it’s all there!

EPCOT’s popularity has been dwindling in recent years because the entire premise of the park (besides the World Showcase), is the marvel and wonder of the future. Unfortunately for the park, the future is now, you can’t build rides fast enough to keep up with things, and videophones stopped impressing people years ago. One of my favorite bits is The American Adventure. While the other countries are merely named as what they are, American becomes an adventure complete with a 1/2 hour movie about the history of our great nation narrated by animatronic Benjamin Franklin and Mark Twain.

As awesome as that is, it really pales in comparison to the Hall of Presidents at DisneyWorld. Located in Liberty Square, which was called New Orleans square before Katrina (seriously, kick them while down), Liberty Square is where you go to buy all manner of Americana and take in the greatest animatronic spectacle ever.

I first took in the wonder and majesty of the Hall of Presidents with my dad choking back sobs next to me, and I do think that we had to re-visit before the end of that vacation. He occasionally still talks about the experience in hushed tones. I was more dumbfounded by the fact that they had created robot replicas of every single president (even the crappy ones), and all of these robot replicas moved and twitched and seemed to really resent Lincoln as he got to get up and made a speech while they were forced to just sit there and fidget. So, many years later when I visited DisneyWorld with friends, I insisted that we re-visit this hallowed space.

I was with a friend who is generally a good sport, a former history major, and a friend who can’t read. I thought the non-reading friend would be the loudest complainer since all of the rides at EPCOT had been “too talky” and “fucking boring” for her. Turns out all three were equally vocal about their displeasure, and that was even before we were told that we’d have to wait 35 more minutes until the next presentation.

I don’t regret forcing my friends to wait 35 minutes, maybe they didn’t appreciate seeing Calvin Coolidge bob his head, or Franklin Pierce stand in the back looking confused, but I think my joy was enough for everyone.

Now I’m reading Sarah Vowell’s Partly Cloudy Patriot, and she’s mentioned that at the Lyndon B. Johnson Memorial Library there’s an animatronic LBJ who tells folksy jokes. I immediately started thinking of ways to get myself to Texas, which is an urge I’ve only ever had once.

Interesting.

It’s a bizarre fixation, and a misunderstood one, but the friends I made visit the Hall of Presidents with me admitted that it wasn’t as bad as they had thought. Perhaps others will come to feel the same way.

I’m in the throes of a vacation craving more intense than I’ve felt in years. I think I’m alienating friends by being so singularly focused, but I realized a while ago that I have not left the lower 48 (except going to Canada briefly), in 7 years. This is not ok with me.

How does a girl who professes to love travel more than most things, let it slip this far? I’m not completely sure, but I intend to stop it.

In all honesty, I though that moving to the East Coast would calm things a bit– it’s not that same as traveling to a completely foreign land, but creating a new life in a completely different part of the country never previously visited, must be close. As much as I want to explore my new home, I really have to admit that driving to Cape Cod is unlikely to satisfy me.

This begs the question: why have I not chosen a career that allows me to travel, or even requires me to travel? Answer: because I do not know what career that is.

For all of my searching as an undeclared sophomore, I still have no idea what people do for a living. I grew up in a small town where things were clear-cut: doctor, policeman, teacher etc. The small-townness of it all, allowed to stereotypes of the 50s to prevail, and people had jobs that were readily understood by anyone else unlike, say, “I’m a shoozit, which means I do x, y, and sometimes z, but usually my assistant handles that.”

I spent the first two years of college reading books, taking test and surveys, all in an effort to understand what the hell I should major in because I thought that would determine what job I would do. All the tests said either lawyer, or writer. All of them. In my mind, two choices could not be further apart, though both appeal to me. Although, after I finished my first masters, when I realized that I could not be a full-time writer, I also realized that I love the idea of going to law school, but would rather never practice law– thanks meyers-briggs.

So, now I’m going to be a librarian, which is a career choice that has felt the more comfortable of any I’ve ever made, and one that I could have made even given my rather limited wordview on careers (it may be just that I overthought things)– except all I can think about now is travel and how librarianship stifles that. Even though I would be basically unemployed as a writer because I lack discipline, and the ability to write anything that doesn’t sound smartassed– I could legitimize traveling because it would lead to the next big novel, character, article, vignette, script etc.

Librarians, mostly need to be on-site to manage the goings on at the library.

This is why, as I told a friend a couple weeks ago, I plan to be a librarian turned professor turned writer turned editor turner writer/lecturer who is in high demand but can be picky. I don’t think it’s unreasonable.

So, I needed librarianship to make writing fun for me again, I need travel to make librarianship fun again, we’ll see what happens after I achieve travel because I’m seriously running out of passions– maybe thats when I discover the whole new talent that I previously never knew I had.

I’ve mentioned before my love (or rather need) for watching travel documentaries. Well, I was perusing the ol’ library stacks a while looking for something about India, when I came across a travel documentary about Rhode Island. What better way to get to know your new home, than to watch a low-budget movie about it? I thought. So I got it, and watched it, and that has already come in handy because on Sunday I went and watched the ceremonial burning of the H.M.S. Gaspee (more on that later).

The DVD (yes, it was actually a DVD), also included a glimpse of The American Diner Museum in Lincoln, RI. Diners apparently started in Rhode Island: “It is generally agreed that the first diner was a horse-drawn wagon equipped to serve hot food to employees of the Providence Journal, in Providence, Rhode Island, in 1872. Walter Scott who ran the lunch wagon had previously supplemented his income by selling sandwiches and coffee to his fellow pressmen at the Journal from baskets he prepared at home. Commercial production of lunch wagons began in Worcester, Massachusetts, in 1887. The first manufactured lunch wagons with seating appeared throughout the Northeastern US in the late 19th century, serving busy downtown locations without the need to buy expensive real estate. It is generally accepted that the name “diner” as opposed to “lunch wagon” was not widely used before 1925.”– Wikipedia.

So they created a museum to honor this contribution to eating, and showcase the history of the loveable institution of “the diner.” Sounds great to me.

A while ago my Jewish Friend and I were driving home from a super-fun-adventure-Sunday hiking in Purgatory Chasm and then eating ice cream. It was early, and we still felt like more adventures could be had. So I pulled out Susan, the trusty GPS and asked her for a list of local attractions.

“Ohhhh, The American Diner Museum.” I said, “I just watched a travel documentary about that. Do you want to go there?”

“What is it?”

“It’s like a tribute to the American Diner.”

“Sounds good.”

Susan was not on her game that day and she made us drive in circles for quite a while leading Jewish Friend to yell out, “Why is she making us drive in circles? Doesn’t she know how expensive gas is?” Finally, we found the museum, and found it to be closed. There were no posted hours on the building, nor did the recording give me any when I called them. So we went home.

The following day, I found their website which promises: “Visitors to the Museum’s permanent home will be able learn the history of the diner through interactive video and exhibits commemorating the numerous diner manufacturers. The Museum’s reference library will provide access to manufacturers’ literature and records, a registry of diners and a collection of photographs and artifacts.” Except there are no posted hours on the website either. So I sent them a politely worded email. I thought maybe, it’s only open during the summer months, and we had visited too early.

The email bounced back– three times.

So I called them, and left a politely-worded voicemail explaining that I’m new to the area, saw the museum on a travel documentary, and would simply love to come visit if they would only tell me when I can actually get into the building. No response.

Now, I have to ask, what is the point of having a museum that no one can visit? Do I need to be a part of a documentary crew in order to get inside? Someone must be paying the phone bill, so why is he or she not checking messages?

I was fully prepared to visit this establishment, appreciate the contribution that my adopted home of Rhode Island made to food service, marvel at olde tymey cooking gadgets, and then leave satisfied and say nice things about it to other people– no more. I fully intend to scoff every time someone else brings it up and say something like “good luck getting in.”