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 been ok with: the ultimate road trip. This site is just a way of documenting my very odd (for me) lifestyle choice, i.e., embracing early retirement and choosing to become a full time traveler, usually solo, while allowing complete strangers to vicariously just come along for the ride. (To be honest, after a few years of traveling solo I began to get a bit lonely and I have since put out the offer to friends whose lives can accommodate it to join up with me. One person did it for a about a year — till I couldn’t take the hair in the sink anymore, another spends her vacation time from work with me ’cause her husband prefers staycations.)
In July of 2015, when I first decided to give this lifestyle a try, I was convinced that I needed to start blogging about it (which in this day and age qualifies as productive employment), for when I decided that I wanted to go back to work. To paraphrase a good friend who was an LA studio exec at the time, ‘tell folks you took a few years 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, while blogging about it with the hopes of maybe getting a book deal (ala, “Eat pray love”, or “Wild” with Reese Witherspoon), which if you are very lucky might be optioned for a movie… THAT they can trust’ even if you tried and failed.’ … not that I’m holding my breath 5 years later but hey, it could happen.
My blog’s name “yes she went there” was suggested by a bestie of 20+ years that I first met while doing a classes in photography at the Royal College of Art in London (who is impressively entrepreneurial with her art, had a blog of her own, and has since started converting her photos in home goods, see SmithHonig.com). She recommend it because — to paraphrase her, ‘you are unabashedly out there in most ways, which I don’t think any of our friends disagree with, both via TMI and your 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 is a ’97 Nissan, that has since been decimated in a pretty nasty collision (YAY for airbags!). My new car has, in addition, so many high tech safety bells and whistles that it practically drives itself — so I feel much safer — along with a system that automatically calls for help if the next accident happens on a lonely road. Modern technology is a wonderful thing, and one of the things I reference often in my posts.
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 of the top 5 Universities in the world — one of these guys went on to work at as a UN attache) 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.” …. I’m also one of 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%… Yup, that would be me. What would have offended my parents is not the constant world traveling — we did that together as a family — it would have been doing it without being simultaneously gainfully employed. 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 during graduate school of 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.
As a kid, every summer, in order to escape the ragweed (mom, who wasn’t originally from the US was HORRIBLY allergic to the stuff), we’d go back to Europe where my folks were from (this was in the 1970’s when kids flew 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 (my bro and I joked that we’d seen EVERY great house in England at least twice by the time I was 10), and doing all of it on a very tight budget (mom was the master of stretching a dollar). That said, we were kids, we hated it! We wanted to stay home and watch TV … so part of the goal now is to retread the steps taken back then, when I was kid and not paying attention because I usually had my nose in a book, or asking, “can we go home yet?”.
From a resume point of view, I’m a 50+ year old, former academic from the Chicagoland area with a Ph.D from in cultural anthropology from NU (specializing in international business and law, specifically contractual relationships, from a cultural viewpoint), an undergraduate degree in fine art and photography from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and a postgraduate certificate in history (also from NU). On a personal level I’m an introvert who functions as an extrovert, which sort of means,”if that way there be dragons (north), than that way (north) I must go”– in other words, if it scares me, I have to do it. 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 — I LOVE the theater, and this blog will contain a lot of reviews of shows. My high-school, New Trier, is/was 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 to be honest did I want to be (to the chagrin of my parents and teachers). However, the Art Institute of Chicago — where I ultimately ended up at after an aborted attempt at studying political science — really wasn’t focused on theatrical arts, so I quickly got diverted to photography. That said, I had been accepted 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, which a lot of folks can’t do. Years later, after the dream of being an professional artist died in favor of maintaining my standard of living…. 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 — so expect to see some of that here.
So, all that said, I mean it when I say I love travel, food, art and theater and doing it all on a budget. This blog, therefore, won’t be about what is referred to as “aspirational travel” where you look at amazing retreats with $200+/night rooms that you can’t possibly afford — but hope to someday. Rather, this is travel anyone, even someone on a normal middle class retirement budget could manage. I’ll be 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)