Where have I been?

April 28, 2012

If asked a year ago if I’d traveled much, I would have said, “Not really.”

The biggest city I had been to at the time was Philadelphia, followed by Indianapolis, and Austin, TX. I know this because I just looked up the statistics on largest U.S. city by population. Of those cities, Austin is probably my favorite, on weirdness alone. Technically, I have also been to San Antonio, which is more populated than Austin, but I only just drove through it from the airport to a wedding at a gorgeous ranch at least an hour’s drive away, so it left little impression other than “Holy frak, that is a lot of chain stores!”

As one who is from the Cincinnati, Ohio area, and thus utterly landlocked, I often feel a great deal of wanderlust for other locales, especially places near oceans. In the last year, I haven’t slaked that thirst yet, to be near water I shouldn’t drink (haha, see what I did there, poorly constructed joke and all). However, I have traveled across an ocean and, for the first time, visited a foreign country. I still find it rather unbelievable that I got to do so, that I found a way to make it happen. I learned a lot from the entire experience, and I feel like it was a great lesson in how one’s hard work can produce awesome results. If I want to go to more amazing places, I am going to have to work really hard to get there.

In the past 6 months, I have been to London, England. I have been to Cardiff, Wales. I have been to Chicago (for the AWP conference). And I have been to Washington, D.C. (for the Reason Rally).

Later this year, I will definitely return to Atlanta, GA for Dragon*con. I also plan to drive up to Columbus, Ohio for Origins, and to Indianapolis, IN for GenCon (and to visit my oldest brother). (Note that GenCon’s website was all frakked up at the time I wrote this, so I felt this was the next best informative link, complete with website link once they have fixed it.)

A friend is trying to convince me to go to TAM, but dropping funds on that seems out of the question right now. Airfare alone is insane, and once factoring in the hotel and the cost of the convention, there’s no way I can justify the expense. And anyway, I really need to focus on my thesis this summer anyway. Bonus, that I won’t feel too sad about missing it because Bunbury Music Festival is happening in Cincinnati on the same weekend.

There are a couple of things about these travel plans that I find disappointing. One: conventions tend to be insular little bubbles, so it can be frustrating to step away from that and actually enjoy the cities (read: WANDERING!). Two: none of my current plans are going to help cure that oceanic wanderlust.

Annoyance #2 I will have to sort out next year, because my travel budgeting truly isn’t going to work out any other way this year. Annoyance #1, on the other hand, is somewhat solvable, with a cost.

In Chicago, at the AWP conference, there were tons of panels that were vaguely interesting on paper. But as it goes, I would attend a panel and find that it was rather missing something, and that the agenda of the panelists was quite dissimilar from my expectations as an audience member. Also, there is this smugness about published authors that make me want to punch them in the face. Perhaps it is tied into the evil little complex that holds me back from success, like how not submitting your work is easy, because you face no rejection? Something along those lines anyway.

Some of my favorite parts of the convention was getting away from it, exploring the city, riding the El, wandering in the strikingly bitter cold of late February, and struggling to open doors against the legendary winds of Chicago. Possibly because my travel-mates were awesome, I am not sure, but I felt like we balanced out convention with city exploration rather well. While we didn’t get a chance to go to any museums while we were there (other than the Art Institute, where we discovered they no longer offer the free night that was mentioned in our outdated tour book). Instead, we got a glimpse at the city, enough to want to return, to get to explore the museums we missed.

Anyway, clearly my thoughts about where I have been and where I am going are conflicted, confusing, and out of order. Appropriate enough for the future, as it is unwritten, but I suppose I should at least try to make more sense of it if I plan to write about it here. I should make a more detailed post of the Chicago shenanigans anyway. Until I finish my final paper for this semester, though, I shouldn’t be writing any more blogs. They are as jumbled up as the current state of my graphic novel final draft.

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