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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.

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.

Last January, as I blogged about previously, my dad (Wayne) and I traveled to Florida to run The Walt Disney World Marathon and Half-Marathon respectively. We flew out of Minneapolis, where neither of us lived, so we have to do the “get up early and hit the road” thing. We stopped at a Holiday station on the way so I could get a giant coffee and he could get—cookies, I guess. He bought 4 giant cookies in a variety of flavors, offered me half of one, and when I refused, ate them all.

This was strange to me, but I thought, okay, maybe this is the carb-loading that people say you should do before a big race. Maybe it’s not pasta the night before, like I always thought, but cookies, five days before. For the duration of the trip, he just kept on eating cookies. Every day. “I’m going to go get a cookie for breakfast.” He’d say. The day after my race, when I was lying in bed and praying for the sweet release of death (or actually unconciousness)—he brought me a cup full of mini-chocolate chip nibblers that I’m sure were grossly overpriced.

Fast-Forward to this Thanksgiving when the parents came out to Providence to visit me. They would get up early every morning to go for a long walk around my shady neighborhood, then complain later when I took them on walking tours. These moments were all punctuated by my dad eating cookies. There’s a Tim Horton’s down the street from me that Wayne would visit constantly. Every time we’d drive by he’d say “Tim Horton’s, I hkasjlha frequent that place.”

“You do what, Wayne? You’ve gotta frequent that place, or you kind of frequent that place?”

He’d just nod and say “yup.” This happened more than once.

I’d been living next to that Tim Horton’s for three months by that point, and had never gone in. I still haven’t gone in. I’d had Tim Horton’s before, in Canada, and it was fine, usually. There was the one time when I asked the girl for half ‘n’ half for my coffee and she demanded “Half and half what? Half of what? What are you asking me for? I don’t understand you.”

She kept getting more and more agitated, so finally, I just spluttered “Cream.” I guess they don’t do half ‘n’ half in Canada.

She indicated the end of the counter, where it was hiding behind some napkins, and gave me an amazingly dirty look.

I don’t hate Tim Horton’s based upon that experience, even if it may sound like I do, I just don’t need to go there. For coffee-on-the-go, I seek out the state religion of Rhode Island—Dunkin’ Donuts.

When mom and I were working on the finishing touches of paint in my place, Wayne hovered around like an eager puppy, asking over and over if we were hungry, finally just saying, “I’m going to run down to the Tim Horton’s, if you want anything.” We said no, we were fine, but he came back with a bag of six cookies in a variety of flavors. When we finished up, washed our hands, and actually did want a cookie; we found that Wayne had made short work of the ½ dozen. He was quick to offer to go back and get more, though.

He got more cookies, also sandwiches, and the following morning, muffins. While he was on the second cookie run of the day, I finally asked mom, “What is the deal with Wayne and all of the cookies, is he always like this?”

“No, I don’t think so anyway. I think it’s just when he’s on vacation, he thinks he needs to eat cookies all the time.”

She looked thoughtful for a bit, until I finally asked her, “Do you think it’s weird too?”

“Yes, also, it’s not very good for him.”

Then Wayne showed up with 6 more cookies in a variety of flavors, and three sandwiches.