If someone were to personify my 2016, she’d be a truck stop waitress with big dreams of making it as a reality TV star in Hollywood. I think I hustled hard this year, but with no money to show for it- I started January flat broke and on the last sunset of this god-for-kraken year I got five dollars on my pocket and some loose change kept for good luck. But waitresses are feisty- I should know that because I was one for over two years, and doing that gave me the means to go gallivanting around the world in the guise of discovering the light within the universe but instead it really was just indulgent, self gratification. However old habits die hard and no matter how much this place ticks all the indications of being a dead site it is still very much a travel blog. Just that I don’t post entries much anymore since this is essentially a thankless job, but tonight I’m forced to write while on a cramped Airbus because I have long hours to burn with no free food or in-flight movies to spoil me. I’ll tell you a secret though, even if I just had to passively aggressively fight for my god given right to fidget my knees, and spend an hour in fear of being slapped with a 150$ oversized baggage fee I would not trade this flight for one in business class, not even the one on Emirates.
I think this has been a cataclysmic year for some more than others. The bigger picture is that sadly we seem to be regressing from a more progressive culture. We witnessed demagogues get elected, proving once and for all that people don’t care whether they are in the right side of history as long as they can push their own self-interests forward. Good thing I only get my homeland news from the professional heckler so at least I can mask my despondency with a bit of comedy.
Maybe aging comes with a side dish of pessimism- one of my many, many jobs this year was to peddle “health supplements” to hapless Americans over the phone. I knew it was shit, deep down they probably know it too but sometimes if you get a great deal on something, it doesn’t matter if it’s on shit. I have to think they only do it for the shits and giggles because anything else is too depressing. I didn’t last that long working there, even if the money was good and the people are even better. Working in that disheveled office by the glamorous area of the city enabled me to pay for my current migraine inducing flight, but I walked way from financial security because I’m an idealistic idiot and I thought that some things are more important than money and I guess it’s been hectic, like being in the middle of a mad rush as an overwhelmed waitress . I froze and saw my face on the polished spoons and said to myself I don’t want to do this forever. So I stopped.
Instead of collecting paycheques, i finished prep school this year, by the skin of the hair of the edge of my teeth, no less. And I am also very old now so it’s not like doing so is a big accomplishment. Still, I’d probably hand myself a couple of certificates, one for Managing To Make Term Papers Despite Having A Paperweight For A Laptop or Not Running Off To Morocco In The Middle Of Exam Week, but my favourite award would probably be Second Best Cat Petter In The World.
Unfortunately, petting a ginger cat and pulling out redundant essays from my butt are not the most lucrative of professions so I had to trawl the back pages of Craigslist for jobs. I sold my friend and my sister to participate in a scientific study for 30$ and to do it, we had to go to the edge of the city at night to visit a mental institution at the banks of a frozen river. I also decorated a lot of Manishevitz wine bottles for export to Israel. It gave me 80$ and a week of carpal tunnel syndrome. I worked my shoddy magic in a fancy boutique and a very big black dog visited while I was there, I smelled like sweaty poop for the rest of the afternoon but he was a very good boy. At the very least I can now say someone paid for my art. The best paying gig I got is getting 100$ for an hour of my not-so-precious-anymore time so I could answer a few questions about an ad for a genetic disease, if I could do that for about ten more times I think I would be pretty happy.
Aside from selling myself like that on Craigslist, I also did it online. It isn’t as profitable, and I’ve always considered that PayPal is cloud money so during better times I would spend it buying random crap from Chinese eBay that would take forever and a half to arrive. But it’s desperate times so I tried my hand at writing articles for a party tent website and I can now confidently say that I know more about gazebos and pop-up tents than I would ever need in this lifetime. Writing two articles about the glories of having a lifetime guarantee on your pop-up tents netted me about 50 units of cloud money, which is very much appreciated. Aside from that I also sold the integrity of this website by whoring out some old posts and inserting links for a measly 30$. So I had to make do and answer a bunch of online surveys for money, meanwhile referring every single person I know- about 5 people tops. Annoying my friends and dotting at random circles of “how likely would you be” gave me 15$ which is more than what I had in my bank account, which is two dollars and fifty seven cents I think.
Earlier during the year I worked at a survey company haranguing people who just want to enjoy a quiet dinner at home with their family on their opinion whether Canada Post is legally required to break even and other patriotically riveting questions. I also tried my hand bagging gourmet tea within sweatshop conditions, I lasted about three days. But I got a nice paycheque of about 150$ earned with the measly price of putting my dignity on hold.
So with all these jobs, why does my anorexic bank account currently sit at a pitiful ten dollars and thirty two cents? I think it’s because I spent my cloud money booking a trip to Auschwitz. My survey and studies money for a cruise in Budapest. My on-the-borders-of-legality sales job for a flight to Berlin and Reykjavik. My Israeli wine bottle artworks on a special night spectacle in Prague. Like I said before, travel is an immensely difficult habit to break. There is no methadone for wanderlust, and it’s a part of our humanity that only a few people can ever outgrow.
Funny how a rock hard hostel bed can feel more indulgent than booking legitimate hotel rooms and buffet breakfast, even if it is still only two stars and less than 30$ I think maybe because I’m no longer doing it alone. Travel becomes less superficial, less introspective and less serious. Let’s face it. I am not out to save the world or create something magnanimous just because I spent three days in Nepal.
Maybe it’s because I want the inside jokes that I can share years after a trip. I want the “do you remember that one time…” stories that will seem so faraway but vivid when we both recall what we think really happened. I want the misadventures and the growing up that comes along with it, that quiet serenity of being content at how little a space you occupy in this large and lovely world. I want that kind of life- and when you are privileged enough to find someone who shares the same passion for spending unintelligible notes for unfamiliar food, being lost in jumbled cobblestone streets and embracing the humor of being just another hapless tourist. Then you should hold that hand and never ever let go.
I am quite pleased to report I did a that and more for my twenty sixteen, and I did have that incredible backlog of memories I someday hope to put in here, as a keepsake. I think that’s why I’m so broke, and you know what- I plan to be just as broke this twenty seventeen. I hope you will all be lucky like that for this year as well.
*No not really, oh god please help me eat normally by buying a guest post or inserting a paid link. Thank you! This post was brought to you by your friendly neighborhood Pandelicious- :)