Before my current lifestyle …And Now
Let me begin by saying ‘brevity is not my strong suit’…
Think of me as a modern day drifter who after a lifetime of being the dutiful daughter, ala Simone de Beauvoir, is trying something my parents would never have condoned: the ultimate road trip. This site is just a way of documenting my very odd (for me) lifestyle choice of embracing early retirement and choosing instead to become a full time traveler, usually solo, while allowing anyone who wants to to vicariously just come along for the ride. (To be honest, after about 2 years of traveling solo I began to get a bit lonely; I have since then put out the offer, to friends whose lives can accommodate it, to join up with me.)
In July of 2015, when I first decided to give this lifestyle a try, I accepted the reality that if I was going to spend a massive chunk of time traveling around by myself, with no job, then I at the very least needed to start blogging about it (which in this day and age qualifies as productive employment), for when I decided that I needed …and or wanted.. to go back to work. Since I’m the sort of person who posts to Facebook incessantly anyway (no really, five times a day minimum), my friends suggested that I document it. To paraphrase a good friend who’s an LA studio executive, ‘tell folks you took a year off to just bum around the country and they won’t hire you because they won’t feel they can trust your work ethic, but if you tell them you decided to try your hand at traveling around like this, AND blogging about it with the hope of maybe someone offering you a book deal, which if you are very lucky might be optioned for a movie… THAT they can trust’ even if you tried and failed.’
My blog’s name “yes she went there” was suggested by a friend of 20+ years that I first met while doing a summer program in photography at the Royal College of Art in London (who is impressively entrepreneurial with her art, and has a blog of her own, see RoverAtHome.com). She recommend it because — to paraphrase her, ‘you are unabashedly ‘out there’ in most ways, which I don’t think any of my friends disagree with, both via TMI and my willingness, nay desire, to be different. As my cars have always been easily identifiable by their bumper stickers she was also the one who suggested a photos of them as my header image, the car shown, a ’97 Nissan, has since been decimated in a pretty nasty collision (YAY for airbags!). My new car has so many high tech safety bells and whistles that it practically drives itself — so I feel much safer.
So, who am I?
In high school I was friends with this pair of Irish twins whose parents were both professors at the University of Chicago (probably one best Universities in the world) who said to me, “you know, Rebecca, for an American — you’re really very well cultured.” 25 years later when I was toying with the idea of getting certified to teach high school social studies a professor of mine in my teacher-ed courses said to me, “You’re probably one of the best educated people I’ve ever met.” …. or, You know those insufferable twats who constantly take those Meme tests of “have you eaten this, or been there, or read that?” and proceed to constantly test in top 3%… that would be me.
From a resume point of view, I’m a 50+ year old female academic from the Chicagoland area with a Ph.D from Northwestern University in cultural anthropology from NU (specializing in considering international business and law from a cultural viewpoint), an undergraduate degree in fine art and photography from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and a post graduate certificate in history (also from NU). On a personal level I’m an introvert who functions as an extrovert, or what Enneagram folks refer to as a counter-phobic 6… which sort of means,”if that way (north) there be dragons, than that way (north) I must go”– and living the way I’m currently choosing to do it, it terrifies me. I also used to explain myself to my students this way, “I was born without the embarrassment gene” so what you can count on from me, dear reader, is the unvarnished truth of my thoughts and experiences from my completely biased and personal perspective.
When I first started art school it had been with the intention of being a makeup artist and/or set designer for the theater. My high-school, New Trier, is famous nation wide for its theater and music programs, and I had been the head of stage-makeup crew, as well as 2nd chair viola in our string orchestra — our first chair went to Juilliard after graduation, so I was never going to be better than her, nor did I want to be. However, the Art Institute of Chicago, where I ultimately ended up at after an aborted attempt at studying political science like my parents wanted me to (they were hoping for a lawyer) really wasn’t focused on theatrical arts, so I quickly got diverted to photography. I had been accepted to the school not because my teachers thought I’d make a great artist, I wasn’t and I’m not, so much as they felt I’d make a great art critic — I have a what some refer to as ‘a great eye’ and the talent to put what I’m seeing into words. In addition to those areas I spent almost three years teaching courses in marketing (otherwise known in the world of academia as ‘applied social studies’), or more specifically, I focused on teaching consumer behavior, which is applied psychology, symbolic anthropology, cultural anthropology, history, etc., all rolled into one. I grew up as a University brat who followed my parents as my father lectured all over Europe, and in my University days worked as one of his assistants as he consulted for Universities and companies in Asia, as well as a short stint in graduate school living on the Navajo Reservation with a local family while investigating cultural impediments to economic development on the Res., — so traveling is sort of in my blood.
I love travel, food, art and theater. As a kid, every summer, in order to escape the ragweed which debilitated my mother, we’d go to Europe (this was back in the 1970’s when kids flew for free) … usually following my father around as he presented academic papers at conferences. If we weren’t doing that we’d visit my paternal grandmother in London, and spend most of our time being unwillingly dragged around by our mom to the theater and ballet (often two shows a day), museums and great houses (we used to joke that we’d seen EVERY great house in England at least twice), and doing all of it on a very tight budget by my mom was the master of stretching a dollar. (We were kids, we hated it! We wanted to stay home and watch TV) But G-d bless her soul, that’s how I continue to enjoy traveling.
This blog, therefore, won’t be about what in consumer behavior might be referred to as “aspirational travel” where you look at amazing retreats with $200+/night rooms that you can’t afford — but hope to someday. Rather, this is travel anyone, even someone on a normal middle class retirement budget could manage. I’m staying either with friends, Airbnb rentals, cheap hotels, and even at youth hostels. I’ve downsized my life to fit into the trunk of my car with the rest of my stuff either being locked up in a storage lockers, or up in the mostly empty attics of friends’ homes …. and I am traveling…
(See where I’ve been in my life, below)