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27 August 2010

Travel Plans

Blogging is a journey. We usually start out slow, sharing vacation photos, screaming into the void. Then we meet people (like-minded and otherwise) who open our eyes, tempt us into deeper waters. We express ourselves differently, experiment, play dress up. Over time, our blogs can resemble maps of epic road trips: zagging and zigging along, state to state, up hills, along coasts.

Writing is virtually the same. You get the sudden itch that can only be soothed by putting pen to page. Stories come, issues confronted and little by glorious little, your unique voice emerges, old army jacket comfortable. If you're lucky, you set out to write a mystery and end up with one. Most of us, I'd wager, dabble in several genres, try them on, toss them back in the trunk.

This blog has been my dress-up chest, a place to discover, uncover. Every six months I've run off down rabbit trails, desperate to capture a voice I was hearing. Things grew stale, stiff, and I grew bored with words.

This summer has been rough. I found out I have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome which, thankfully, enlightened me to why I can't seem to focus, lack energy and feel most days like I'm going mad. It's put my life into a different focus. Balance has become key, one I'd previously lost. My job takes all my energy and can't be pared down just yet. I have realized that if I'm going to drag myself out of this symptomatic chaos, I've got to rediscover the reasons I started writing in the first place.

Passion.
The burning desire to communicate, enlighten and learn.
To discover new places and new things and pass them along.

Worlds becoming words.

Through a happy series of circumstances (and one truly remarkable book), I re-realized a few of my first love, predominately travel, food and culture. I've always wanted to travel, experience new cultures and report back my discoveries. I've been blessed to travel some but not as much as my younger self predicted. I've yet to walk a mile of the Great Wall, see the sunrise over the sphinx or sipped Turkish coffee in Istanbul. Those are still goals, ones I'm working towards. A joyful re-discovery and an agony of realization.

Until...

I remember the beginning: Worlds becoming words.

For the next year, I am taking on a rather ambitious, self imposed task of world travel via cultural culinary discovery, riding the magic carpets of Internet, library and local area jaunts. My route of choice? Across Asia to Europe What started out as a journey across the Silk Road turned into a trek from China to the British Isles and into Ireland.

I don't have the financial ability to physically sabbatical abroad just yet, but I do have an insatiable curiosity, an itch to learn, a proximity to a culturally diverse city and a gas stove begging for regular use. I'm not yet able to write a first hand experience of trekking over the Italian Alps, but I can research, communicate and re-create local dishes in my humble loft kitchen. I can shop at ethnic markets and discover culture through food and report it all back here. To you.

If you're game.

I know. Culinary travel and cultural vagabonding are a far cry from young adult fantasy. But these are my roots, the echoing, bold declaration of an eight year old's proclamation "I will one day write for National Geographic". It's absurd, a bit mad and completely liberating.

Won't you join me?

When: September 01
Where: Here! The blog name will change to my pen name: J. Stanton Chandler (same as the blog site address)
First Stop: China. The sidebar will keep you up to date on the "trip"
What to Expect: Missteps, large learning curves and possible road rage
Why: Why not?

10 comments:

Karen Walker said...

Jen, this is so cool. A virtual world tour. Can't wait to travel along with you.
Karen

Brian Miller said...

ha. sounds like a fun trip...i am game...

Mary Aalgaard said...

Will there be recipes? Can't wait to join you on the journey. Write on!

Jennifer Shirk said...

China sounds wonderful to me. :)

Elana Johnson said...

Ooh, China. And I love the last part. "Why: Why not?" That about sums up my life.

Erin Kuhns said...

Jen, I feel physically excited about this!!!! I can't wait! I think this is SUCH a fantastic idea. I'll be stopping by very often. Guaranteed.

Let the travels begin...

Amanda Cooper said...

Yay! This sounds like a really fun, enriching experience, and I hope it works out really well for you.

maggie's garden said...

Sounds like fun....I'm in. Love your idea of creativity and ability to work with what you've got. I'm sure you'll have me believing you've boarded the jet and arrived at all kinds of far away places. And I love to cook and EAT....so all new food experiences are welcome.
Best of luck on your new adventure.

deb said...

I'm thrilled for you that you have come round to what you truly have a passion for.
I'm here...

Kittie Howard said...

Jen, I'm sooo looking forward to your virtual travels. I know how much you'd like to travel and think this is a beautiful blend of far-away places and your fabulous writing skills. I'd like to encourage you to think about turning your idea into a book. There are so many people who can't travel for financial or health or family reasons (or are afraid to go but want to see) that there's a market for what you're doing.

I really enjoyed Colin Thuborn's "Shadow of the Silk Road". Starts in Xian and ends in Iran.

About CFS, tis better to know what's wrong than worry about what's wrong. I think your positive attitude will get you over those mountainous days when energy lags. I've known several people thru the years who had CFS. All went on to lead happy, productive lives.

All's fine here, busy with the silly 'season' that comes at the end of summer.

Hugs, tight hugs, for you!