It’s the relationships, stupid!

Over the past week I’ve been reminded how much connections, networking and conversations matter.

Last weekend I went to the Boston Globe Travel Show, where I talked to and heard from a variety of other travel professionals. Yes, I heard some new ideas, and some things said sparked new ideas for me. But an even more important element of these conversations, given the personal and professional stagnation I’ve felt over the past few months, was the reaffirmation that I do have something valuable to offer. My history in the tech/internet industry, plus my continuing interest in technology, social media, and business models, gives me perspective and expertise not particularly abundant for many tourism boards, tour operators, and even travel/tourism writers. I can offer this expertise as an adviser, or I can use it as a perspective from which to write or as a competitive advantage.

This week I’ve been hitting Social Media Week in New York. Honestly, most of the dozens of panels essentially cover the same thing over and over again (Social media is important! Crowdsourcing! Curation! Pinterest!), within the context of niches – advertising, travel, health & wellness, journalism, politics, and so on. Nothing I heard blew my mind, but I did meet particular people who are doing interesting things and have interesting things to say.

And now I must shut up and continue following up with a bazillion people or so.

Chumming the waters (and Andrew McCarthy)

Twitter finally paid off.

Last week I followed a link in a random tweet by some random person – I can’t even remember who – and arrived at the site of the Boston Globe Travel Show. It would happen in 4 days, I read, and there would be an “industry” day before the public show. Within minutes I had registered (as “press”) and was ready to meet some fellow travel industry peeps.

There are many reasons why the suburbs (where I’ve been sequestered lo these many months) are a painful, awful place to live (if you don’t have kids in school). The biggest is that you are cut off from other people. Certainly from interesting other people.

Even more important, I was starting to feel like the only “travel person” in the world who was not posting pics from Guatemala or New Zealand or space . Twitter et al is great to follow, discover and connect with people. But the continuing need for humans to connect face-to-face with like-minded people is proven by the steady stream of conferences, trade shows and meetups that sell out on a regular basis. I needed some of that.

The first half of the “industry-only” day consisted of networking meetings. By about 4 I was almost out of business cards.

Among the dozens of people I met were Brian Bigda and his dad, who just started It’s a (you guessed it) bicycle tour aggregator. They’re looking for destination pieces that set the scene and give context for their tours.

Continuing the bike theme, I also met Norman Patry, owner of, which arranges bike tours in Maine, Canada, Italy and a few other places. A former unhappy financial services guy, Norman quit to start SummerFeet, he says, after a series of stern “conversations with my ceiling.”

Getting away from bikes (which still kinda freak me out), I had a great chat with Dan Hopkins of GrassTrack Safaris, which runs low-budget camping safaris in Bostwana. He started the company, he says, “because I like camping in the bush.” His first such experience was in high school, when his aunt paid his way to go on safari with none other than Charles Darwin’s grandson. I imagine such an experience would, you know, be inspiring.

For the second half of the day, they let us loose on the exhibitors – representatives of the tourism boards of countries around the world, as well as a number of tour operators.

My quest was to “chum the waters,” as they say in shark diving. I specifically asked to be put on every single PR list.

As I made the rounds, pressing my business card into every outstretched hand, everyone in the exhibition hall magically consented to rebrand the much-maligned “press trip” as a “fam trip” – so-called “familiarization trips” (arranged and paid for by tourism boards with support from local tourism businesses) that are strictly taboo for those aspiring to ever write for the NY Times Travel Section but without which any travel writer, great or small, cannot afford to do her job.

My far-and-away favorite from this portion was Mario Aguirre from the Honduras Tourism Board. I loved Honduras during my too-brief trip there (despite the hospital stay and stitches) and to which I’ve always wanted to return.

I left that first day exhausted, carrying about 287 kilos of schwag, a giant stack of business cards and an equally giant stack of ideas.

The second day – the first day open to the public – was less interesting for me. With such a crush of people booking cruises and filling out entry forms for free trips, it was hard to have conversations or do business. So I did what any sane person would do. I entered every single trip-giveaway sweepstakes, ate a delicious pork sandwich at the International Culinary Stage, and blathered nonsense (after pressing my card into his hand) at actor, director and wonderfully thoughtful, prizewinning travel writer Andrew McCarthy, who says, “If Americans traveled more, they’d be less fearful.”

Here here!

Personal business plan: zooming all the way out

Just as I was putting the finishing touches on my personal business plan, I realized something awful. One of the main pillars of the plan – finding a part-time consulting gig “just to pay the bills” – was wrong.

I could tell it was wrong because the plan contains few details about it – I’m not excited about it, so I didn’t care to fill in the gaps properly. (Also, I woke up at 4:13 am, thinking about it with a sense of dread.) I didn’t want it in there. I didn’t want it to be part of my plan. Ugh. Now what?

This is the second time this has happened. The first time was last year, when I was doing research about “how to be a successful (i.e. money-making) travel blogger.” I read blogs, listened to podcasts, talked to people, started planning…and realized that I don’t want to be a travel blogger – at least not one who earns money primarily from blogging.

“Well, Koukkos, how do you want to make money, given that your lottery tickets never seem to win?” That’s the question that led to my personal business plan.

In other words, I had to zoom out. And now I have to zoom out again.

Think of it this way. Imagine that I’m trying to take a photo. I’m in the forest. I’ve got my 300mm camera zoomed all the way in, slowly panning across the thick green of the trees. I’m doomed – I’ll never get the right shot, because I don’t even know what I’m looking for, never mind where to aim.

That’s where I was with my vague “how to make a good travel blogging site” research. I had my equipment and a vague idea of what I wanted to accomplish, but no real goal.

So I let my camera hang around my neck and just listen. I hear something calling from above. I look up, and through the thick greenness I notice a spot of red. “I want to take a photo of that bird!” I say to myself. I reposition myself so that the light is behind me. I stand on a fallen tree to get a better angle. I contort myself to compose the shot, zoom in, focus. I’m about to take the photo when I realize…that red thing is just some mundane cardinal in a mundane setting. I definitely want a photo of a bird. I just don’t really want this photo of this bird. That’s where I found myself at the end of my personal business planning.

What I needed to do is to zoom all the way out – all the way into myself. I had to ask myself some fundamental questions. Continuing my hypothetical bird-pic, I asked myself things like:

  • Why do you like taking photographs?
  • Do you particularly like taking photos of birds in forests? Or animals in their natural environment? Or just birds? Or just things with contrasting colors?
  • Is it that you like forests – not necessarily taking photos in the forest?
  • Is taking photos (or walking in forests, or birds) something you want to do for a living?
  • If yes, how can you make a living from it?

…and on and on.

This exercise, guided by online “career coaching” resources and some material from The Five O’Clock Club – materials I got thanks to the disaster of my last full-time job – has been extremely useful. It’s helped me see my options more clearly, and given me a grounded, thoughtful strategy on which to zoom in to everything else – my personal business plan and eventually the specifics of executing that plan.

I don’t think I could have gotten here without all the struggles, diversions and failures of my life so far. And I definitely wouldn’t be here without my successes and achievements. So once again: Here’s to The “f” word!

Just to finish off the photo-taking metaphor…it will take all that work (and more) to find myself in the Central American rainforest, new Nikon D800 in hand (drool drool), tracking a Quetzalcoatl for National Geographic Traveler.

It’s never too late to start planning

Over the past month or so I’ve been doing something I should have done ages ago. I’m writing a personal business plan.

For those who don’t know, a business plan is an outline of an entity’s strategy and operations. It sets goals, defines a target market, describes broad tactics, and projects financials – profits, losses, and cash flow. It’s used, mostly by for-profit businesses, to document their goals and/or as an application to a bank or other source of capital for a loan or investment.

In short, it answers the questions “Where are you going?” “How are you going to get there?” and “What will your profit be?”, whether you measure profit in dollars, value to society, personal satisfaction (or sanity), or whatever.

I’ve never done any real life planning stuff before, because I never thought it would be relevant for me. I love serendipity. I thrive at making things up as I go along. I get a buzz from uncertainty. My disposition seems to preclude any sort of formal planning.

This approach has always worked for me. Why? Because there was always one stake in the ground, one tether, to control the swing of everything else. At different times the tether has been a steady job, a city or sometimes a set of relationships.

But over the past few years I’ve come to realize the old approach isn’t working for my new Range Life. With no steady tether, the relatively clean arc of my activities have turned reactionary and scatter-shot. I’ve replaced the careful curiosity of a cat with the yipping ADD of a puppy. I’ve seen this lack of focus in a company, and I know where it leads. More specifically, I know that it leads nowhere.

To get started, I’ve taken tremendous inspiration and guidance from Chris Guillebeau’s annual review over at Art of Nonconformity. He says it explicitly, but what I and thousands of others are trying to do is to prove that if you choose to do so, you can be successful outside of the traditional 9-to-5 (or 7-to-7!). You can – I can – live a Range Life.

In further testament to my ADD, as I write my personal business plan I get so excited about certain things that I set the planning aside and take a step or two towards one of my goals. But now I’m too impatient. I’m going to finish this plan by mid-week and let myself loose on the execution, which is the fun (and hard) part.

2011: Good riddance.
2012: Let’s do this thing.

2012: Let’s do this thing.

In typical fashion, I’m more than a week late posting my end-of-year wrap up.

“This is no way to run a blog!” say the experts. I wholeheartedly disagree. This is in fact exactly the way 99% of bloggers run their blogs: posting sporadically for a while, and then falling off the face of the earth.

This is, however, no way to run a blog and have more than a Tebow’s chance of gaining more readers than Lis, Henry and my mom.

So where have I been? What the heck is going on? Beyond the self-fulfilling prophesy of my laziness, I’m late posting because I spent the better part of 2011 hiding. When people have asked me about my next move, I’ve told them that I’ve been taking care of some family business. That’s kinda true, but mostly bullshit. I’m certain I’ve spent more hours getting angry about American politics, getting angry about Hungarian politics, getting angry about baseball politics, and playing Angry Birds.

Oh….fine. I suppose I did do some things of redeeming value last year.

In a nod to my old, money-earning life, I took on a few freelance Web-product and editing gigs. In so doing I was reminded that I really am pretty effing good at it, and even enjoy it…at least in small doses.

And then there was my new, non-earning life.

After publishing a few stories on Matador Network, I represented them on a fantastic press trip to Papua New Guinea, sponsored by the PNG Tourism Board. In the process I met fellow travel media types the Scuba Diver Girls, “Gonzo” Robin Esrock, and Bronwen Dickey, all of whom I continue to admire.

I was ignored by countless editors.

I pitched, repitched, repitched, repitched, got an assignment for, and reported, wrote and edited a story for a major regional glossy mag…only to have it killed at the last second. The good news: I was paid in full for the story. The bad news: I earned about $0.02/hour, and (worse!) didn’t get the clip.

I pitched, repitched, clarified, reclarified, got an assignment…and had the assignment retracted for a different story in a national glossy mag.

Through all this, I’ve been trying to figure out what to do next. Which is scary. Thus the hiding.

Do I want to be a freelance writer? (I do.) Do I want to be able to pay the rent? (I do.) Do I know how to make both things happen at the same time? (Well…)

My night dreams take place on creaky buses and dusty roads. There is a biking trip through the ‘stans. There’s a string of Greyhound bus trip rides to San Diego, then continuing southward for a few years. There’s a return to familiar SE Asia to get my PADI instructor cert and settling down in Thailand.

In these dreams it’s easy to forget the isolation of life on the road. I’ve been back more than a year now, and I once again take for granted the ease of conversation with a friend who really knows me.

My day dreams are slightly different. Walking the streets of New York, my brain is full of, well, New York. My brain sparks and whirs. I’m in New York. I’m alive.

This is a very different reaction from when I first returned last September. At that time, I eyed New York – the physical manifestation of my old life – cagily, like a trap, like the strangely seductive nothingness of sweet nothings. Sweet nothings, I suspected, from an insincere lover.

But slowly, slowly, the city has eroded my defenses with glimpses of what was and what could be again. Yellowing autumn oaks vying for luminescence against blue skies. The purposeful stride of the sleekly dressed along Fifth Avenue. The woman in Penn Station singing (opera) for her dinner. The easy availability of a bagel with lox and scallion cream cheese.

It’s not just these physical things. It’s also the intellectual stimulation – of conversation beyond hostels and bus schedules and schemes and scams and cultural perplexities and the precise location of the new frogfish spotted at Artificial.

Slowly, insidiously, my latest affair with New York spread its roots. And then, sometime in early 2011, amidst the jackhammer of weekly snow storms, it sprouted new buds. Love, or deep affection, sprang from 10-foot snow banks. I was once again smitten. Stuck. Damn.

So what to do? Stay or go? Listen to my dreams or my daydreams? Or instead listen to the sucking sound coming from my savings account?

In these situations, some people pray. Others visit a life coach. Still others talk to their friends, family, bartender, or strangers on the bus. I write. And writing, like other types of therapy, requires time to produce understanding.

So far, just one thing has become clear. My next thing will finally recognize and make explicit the unheralded force behind my life so far: cultural anthropology. It’s why I couldn’t escape my generic suburban hometown fast enough. It’s why I moved to Hungary on (basically) a whim. It’s why I love cities (and why I fell particularly hard for New York). And most vitally, it’s why I need to explore new places and new cultures in order to feel sane.

I even have a new name for my blog: Taking the Fork. The name is inspired by one of many wise teachings from the great (despite his Yankee-hood) Yogi Berra: “When you come to a fork in the road, take it.”

So. 2012. The year of taking the fork.

Taking a risk

I just had lunch with a good friend who is in the middle of trying to raise money for her startup business. Her description of the fundraising process sounded exactly like a freelance writer trying to get published. In fact, she used the term “authorpreneur” in describing one aspect of her business. That’s me!

What both she and I are trying to do is to get someone else – in her case, an investor; in my case, an editor – to take a risk on our story.

Luckily, we both have connections and networks from our past lives that can help us get in front of the right people. But what then? In her case, her story doesn’t have the sexiness of a 19-year-old boy-genius geek with hot new technology that will change the world, man. (In fact, there are no boys at all in her story.) She’ll have to find a different hook.

We talked about how most people are followers, even if they imagine themselves to be leaders. In her case, she’s trying to get few *real* risk-takers on board, after which (she hopes!) it will become easier to get the ones who imagine themselves as risk-takers to follow. In short, she’s looking for her big break.

To be successful, both of us need to be very well prepared, create a measure of luck for ourselves, and above all, be tenacious as hell. It’s not easy to get a relative stranger to take a risk on you.

Homecoming dream

After a tiring but drama-free 26-hour odyssey from Bangkok via Kuwait City and London, my Kuwait Airlines flight arced over Long Island on its approach to JFK. From my aisle seat I struggled to peer out the window, struck by the familiar and orderly rows of houses lit pink by the pastel and silver sunset. “That’s it,” I thought to myself.

Unlike my previous reentries after long absences, there was no wave of delight or fear or comforting familiarity to greet me on arrival. I simply noted the details that indicate a different country from the one I had just left. There are more skin colors, for instance. The directional signs no longer indicate the way to “Immigration” – they have been edited to indicate the way to “US Customs and Border Control.” Welcome, no more. Now it’s law & order.

As I stood in line to be border controlled, Wolf Blitzer interviewed Bill Clinton on CNN. “Has Obama lost his mojo?” he asked the perpetually smirking former president. I didn’t bother listening for the answer.

“Business or pleasure?” asked my border control agent. This flustered me. “Uh…both?” I answered. He looked up from my bevisa’d passport. “How long have you been away?” I looked sheepish. “Seventeen months.” He smiled, unfazed. “Welcome back!”

I bounced down the stairs to baggage claim, praying that the cheap zip-up bag I had bought to carry my enormous fins had made it in one piece. As it turns out, it hadn’t. The thing had been torn apart and was now held together by plastic straps attached by some airline baggage handler. Miraculously, nothing was missing, but the bag was now rather difficult to carry. Baggage carts at JFK cost $5. Five dollars! Ridiculous. On principle I ignored the carts, threw one pack on my back, the other on my front, and carried the remains of my cheap plastic bag through customs like a giant, unwieldy baby.

I have to admit, I was 80 percent sure – or maybe just hoping – that some of my friends would be waiting for me in the arrivals hall, with balloons and babies and hugs. It was, after all, Saturday evening – not a school night. I had been away for so long, and had dreamed of the tears that would flood my face when, for the first time in a year and a half, I would see someone who knows me. I stepped through the customs doors, where a throng of New Yorkers were laden with balloons and babies and hugs…though none for me.

Since my bag was in pieces, I quickly abandoned my plan to take the subway to Andrea’s apartment and decided to spring for a cab. As we sped through Brooklyn, Queens, and over the bridge into Manhattan, I kept waiting for that homecoming wave of delight and nostalgia. I’m still waiting. Any such delight in being home has instead come in spurts.

Of course, there was a mini wave of exaltation the morning after my return, when the ever-gracious and thoughtful Andrea threw me a New York style brunch, complete with bagels, cream cheese, lox and bloody marys. Many of my closest friends were there, and while I didn’t burst into tears it was wonderful to see them.

Indeed, now that I’m no longer imagining my homecoming but participating in it, it feels like I never left at all. Yes, the children (and Sammy dog!) are all 18 months bigger and more mature, but neither the adults nor the places seem to have changed much. Just ask Andrea – when I first struggled into her building, dragging the unwieldy child of my worldly possessions, my first reaction was not to give her a giant hug but to express shock at what a giant, muscular dog her puppy had become.

It’s been nearly a month since that first bagel, and the biggest surprise has been the question I’ve been asked most often. It’s not “How was your trip?” or even the dreaded “What’s your plan?”, but “How does it feel to be back?” There is no simple answer to any of these questions, but for some reason the last one freaks me out the most. Maybe that’s because its answer must include the answer to the other two: how I feel now depends on how I felt in the recent past and how I feel about the future.

Less philosophically, the past month has been a bit of a blur. I’ve met friends for coffee, lunch, drinks and dinners that cost the same as a three days in Laos. I’ve discovered that I have completely forgotten how to calculate a tip. I’ve been to the last Red Sox game of the season (thanks Sue & Chris!) and the first NY Rangers game of the season (thanks Drea & M2!). I’ve watched Monday Night Football over Buffalo wings and booze, and spent one glorious day on the couch watching football and baseball from noon to midnight. I’ve played catch, Wii, “name that flag” and “tickle worm” with my two oldest nephews. I’ve been farted on numerous times by both my youngest nephew and my friends’ Boston terrier. I’ve even been puked on while riding the NYC subway on a Saturday night. I have not eaten any noodle soup, instead binging on a near-pornographic stream of cheese, red wine, whole wheat bread, gin martinis, olives, burgers, steaks, cheese, hummus, steamed veggies, giant salads with crispy lettuce, nectarines, whiskey, cheese, salami, roast beef sandwiches, Greek yogurt, strawberries, and cheese. I’ve gained like 3 kilos, mostly in (you guessed it) cheese.

Oh yeah – and I’ve had two job interviews.


A momentous decision

Today I decided to commit to working as a DM at Scuba Junkie for 6 months – until June.

I resisted the idea at first – I’m meant to be traveling, not unpacking my bags. How can I write a blog called “the range life” if I’m not in motion?

But such thinking is rigid and silly. Time to live life, and take the opportunities that present themselves. If I have found a place where I’m happy, where I can learn more about diving and about myself, what’s the point in rushing off? I always said this wander around the world would be free of rules, would conform to a plan only in the roughest sense.

There are practical considerations as well, of course. First and most importantly, by committing to 6 months part of my “pay” will now include 4 cases of beer per month. An insane amount of beer. I’ll also build up a good number of guided dives, which will give me both experience and CV-filler that’ll make it easier to get a job elsewhere later.

Finally, by settling down for a while – not planning and traveling and seeing stuff – I can continue to work on the backlog of writing I built up since I landed in St Petersburg more than 8 months ago.

(Editors, please respond to my story ideas! They’re sitting in your Inbox.)

So, what is it I’ve been doing?

Let’s start with a quick explanation of how the PADI system works. Divers-to-be must first take an Open Water diving course and become PADI-certified to dive. It’s only then that I can guide them – since I’m *not* an instructor (that requires more training), I can’t teach anyone to dive.

Each day I’m assigned to a boat going to one of the islands in the Celebes Sea: Mabul, Kapalai, Sipadan, Sibuan, Mataking, Mantabuan, Siamil, etc. There are usually 2-3 divemasters assigned to each boat, and no more than 4 customers per DM.

Once we get to our assigned island we choose which dive sites to go to – we do three dives per day, and each island has many dive sites. We take into consideration the experience level of the customers, whether they’ve dived the sites before, the conditions (current, weather, and so on), and also where we’ll see cool stuff.

Next I give a dive briefing to my group of divers. I describe the site, go through the hand signals we’ll use to communicate under water, establish how I want to run the dive, remind them of safety procedures, answer any questions, and tell them what kinds of marine life we’ll see.

Dive, rest, repeat * 2.

After the third dive we head back to Semporna, where the DMs offload the boat, rinse and put away all the gear, take a quick shower, and meet our customers at the bar to log the dives. I give them the stats from the dive (time in, dive time, maximum depth, etc.) and then list all the creatures we found – from white tip sharks to teeny whip-coral shrimp.

After that it’s back to the dive shop to set up the boats for the following day. Then a quick dinner, a beer or three, and off to bed.

Long, intense, wonderful days.

On the road again?

Last Wednesday I packed my bags for the first time in 6 weeks and hit the road again. A week later, I’m sitting in the food court in KL’s central station, where there’s free wifi, food and (most importantly) handy tables where I can sit all day writing.

After staying put for 6 weeks, hitting the road again was…this is weird for someone like me to say….disorienting. My body wanted to go diving, my heart wanted to spend more time with my becoming-friends at Scuba Junkie, and my head couldn’t grasp the concept of trip-planning and logistics. It was a trip I wasn’t ready for.

Luckily, DrC was ready: he found a hostel in KL, hired a car, and planned a few spots to explore in Peninsular Malaysia. After leaving KL we visited Georgetown, an old British settlement on the island of Penang, off the northwest coast. Unlike Melaka, Georgetown was only vaguely interesting, for about a day. On the second day we toured the island, visiting a fruit farm and eating durian that did *not* smell like feet. In fact, durian tastes like rich butterscotch pudding. Delicious.

I slowly started to get back into the travel groove. I read the Lonely Planet. I looked at maps. I even took some pictures. Suddenly I was impatient to get some time alone, to write. But it’d have to wait a few more days, for DrC to leave.

After Penang we drove east to the Cameron Highlands, nice and cool at 2000 meters. On the way there I got an email from Scuba Junkie, inviting me back to work as a DM. I was pleased, of course – this is what I had wanted before I left Semporna. But now I was traveling again, thinking about going to Thailand, hoping to go to Siberia for my birthday. Unlike most places, Semporna was less appealing in my mind, from afar, than it had been in person. Did I really want to go back, to stay still for *months*?

I did. I agreed to go back for at least 3 months (until my birthday in early March), and take it from there.

In the meantime, DrC and I continued uphill. Everything in the highlands is soaking, dripping wet and covered with spongy greenery. When we arrived, starving, we ate chicken tandoori followed by strawberry crepes with coffee, waiting out the rain. We visited the tea plantations, which carpet the humid hills like peat moss.

Before I could go back to Borneo, I would have to do a visa run (cross the Malaysian border and back to get a new 3-month visa). I figured I’d just find a cheap AirAsia flight to Thailand or wherever when I got back to KL, but DrC had other ideas. We would make a mad rush to the Thai border near Kota Bahru. He would stay in Malaysia while I crossed the border (and back) on foot. Then we’d carry on down the east coast of Malaysia.

So that’s what we did: On Sunday we drove from the tea plantations near Tanah Rata to Gua Musang, in the less-touristed Kelantan province. On Monday we woke up early and raced north to the Thai border. I was across and back in 40 minutes – not even enough time for a green curry. Knowing we had to be in KL by noon the following day, we drove most of the way down the coast, to Kuantan, that afternoon.

About 400 km of driving in hot, humid weather = two rather cranky people. At our rather seedy hotel, I stomped on a cockroach, climbed into bed and was asleep before DrC finished telling me he was going to take a shower.

Back in KL I gave DrC a big hug goodbye and checked into the Backpacker Traveller’s Inn, a hostel in Chinatown. It’s only 11 Ringitt/night (about $3.50), but you get what you pay for: a cramped 7-person dorm with no free Wifi, no fan and a/c that is only turned on from 9 pm – 9 am. Oddest of all: midnight is lights out. Which means one of the managers slips into the room, wordlessly switches off the light, and slips out again. No matter if you’re reading, talking, brushing your hair – she just switches off the light, without warning or regard to the people in the room.

I had planned to stay in KL for a week to write and whatnot, but given the state of my accommodation, I panicked – I admit it, I panicked – and booked the first reasonably priced flight back to Semporna. So I go back tomorrow, on Friday, with too much writing left to do. I’m regretting it now, but what can you do? I’ll find some time and space to write when I’m there.

And that’s the tension, the undercurrent to the past week. When I was moving all the time, I could find some time to write because I had no social obligations. When I was doing my DM, it was impossible to write – not just because of the long days, but because part of the deal was to get to know the rest of the staff. And that takes time and mental energy.

Now that I’m going back, and to a place where I have already established some relationships, I’m hoping I can relax and write more. Gawd I wish I was able to just sit and write something real (not just notes) in a stolen half-hour here and there. But I can’t. Sux.

OK, that’s the catch-up post.

So the plan is to divemaster by day and write by night and on my days off. The theory is that my DM job is like a waiter job – a day job that pays my expenses, with any money I make from writing going into “savings.” Of course, I *love* diving, so it’ll be the best day job possible.

Traveling, writing and diving. What more could a girl want?